My wife and I have a small group of friends that take part in a bi-weekly book study. This group is unique in a couple of ways. For starters we are focusing on books of a spiritual nature. The book we are currently working through is Universal Christ, by Richard Rohr. Father Rohr comes from the Franciscan tradition of Christianity whose focus is mysticism. His concepts make a lot of sense at this point in my faith life. He kind of blows up the simplicities within the, say-the-prayer-and-be-saved-and-that's-all mentality.
The other part that makes the book study unique is we meet in a bar or brewpub. We were meeting at Raised Grain, a local microbrewery, but have moved to a smaller, quieter venue. Raised Grain is cavernous and hosts a lot of corporate events that get a tad loud. The House of Guiness is a much tamer venue, lending better to conversation.
But anyway, the book study is always relaxed and fun. Rohr's concepts are thought-provoking and paradigm shaking enough to spur great conversation. Much of his precepts are built on the thought that if God, or the Christ, created the world, the essence of God must be part of everything and everyone. This ripples into the fact that when a friend grieves, we grieve as well, because we're all connected as humanity. I'm way oversimplifying it here, you'll just have to read the book.
The real beauty of these study-sessions is the combination of friends, good beer, bars and books. Throw into that an exploration of our faith, both individually and as a group, and well, it doesn't get much better. We typically focus on the book for an hour and spend another hour solving global problems and airing our grievances. Things are generally over by 9:15, so it makes for an early evening, something we all agreed was a good thing.
I look at the group as another outgrowth of my friend group that are all in the throes of an empty nest. When we were all raising kids, we could never do these kinds of things, especially on a weekday. But, now things like this are possible and make a nice break in the week.
Much like my Tuesday coffee with the guys, this has become something I really look forward to.