A couple of nights ago I was part of a reoccurring event called Jesus and Wine. It is a monthly event at the Spring City Wine House in downtown Waukesha. It is the sister event to Jesus and Beer that is held at Bernie's Taproom in Waukesha on the second Tuesday of every month.
Both of these events are intended to open up the dialog to people who are curious about the life of Jesus. I say it in such a broad context because it is attended by everyone from the dechurched, to active church attenders, to people who question God's purpose in their life and our world, to those how have been wounded by the church or other Christians. It is all of these types of people and everything in between.
It has been termed Pub Theology and is a form of that. There is a part of me that likes it just because it is held in such a non-traditional place. Oh, and I like beer, too. The thought is that we are all adults and capable of having a social drink or two while discussing heady topics with people that are asking the same questions. It is church for grown ups.
On Tuesday night the subject was violence in the country and the world. A question sheet is handed out with ten or so talking points. The questions ranged from asking if God supports war to whether Jesus was a pacifist.
Before the discussion begins each session, the ground rules are laid out. People are asked to be civil, to listen first then react with courtesy. It is the pursuit of dialog not conversion or convincing. We are asked to respect the opinion of others in the hopes that we can carry that respect out into the world when we are done.
We wasted no time jumping into the whole gun argument. And the crowd covered the spectrum from people who had no guns to those that had multiple. The argument was largely that the perception was that guns helped people manage their fear. It is not my place to question whether or not that is a good way to handle their fears, but it was kind of interesting to know.
The NRA got dragged into the conversation and drew some interesting discussion. So did the second amendment. People talked about concealed carry, gun permits and mental health. They talked about how ugly those same topics get on Social Media. Part of the beauty of the Jesus and Wine events is that people are face-to-face instead of some faceless cyber person. The respect factor - seeing someone as a human being just like themselves - takes precedence over a nameless Facebook flaming/trolling.
Being a closet extrovert, I really enjoy going to these events. They make me think and help me to see the perspectives of others - sometimes radically different perspectives at that. I like it because it brings contemporary subjects up in light of our walk as followers of Jesus. I also like it because it is casual and respectful and challenging.
Next month we will be discussing sexuality, so that should be fun. ;-)