Here’s my latest article for the ‘Credo Column in the Newark Advertiser.
Last August I wrote in ‘Credo’ about a new initiative that I wanted to try out in Newark – Pub Theology. At the time, whilst I knew that I wanted to give it a go and I thought that it had a chance of working, there were no guarantees that it would be a success. I remember sitting in a room at the Prince Rupert in September 2017 at 7.15 on the evening of the first session wondering if anyone else was going to turn up. Perhaps I was wrong to think that there would be an appetite for theological discussions in Newark over a pint.
Well last month Pub Theology in Newark had its first anniversary. I think it’s now fair to say that it’s been a success. We had 14 people at the last meeting, including 5 who hadn’t been before. There are over 25 people ‘on the books’ – if they all turn up we are going to need a bigger room. And, as I had hoped, we have people from all sorts of places on the spectrum of faith: quite a lot of Christians (of various persuasions), but also atheists, a member of Hearth and Home, Newark’s Pagan community, and someone from the Newark Odinist Temple. (Did you know that there were Pagans and Odinists in Newark?) It would be great to have people from other faith groups to give their perspective on things too – if you’re reading this and you’re a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Hindu or anything else you’d be made most welcome.
The really great thing for me, though, has been the quality of the discussions we have had on some interesting and topical issues. Here are just a few of the things we’ve considered:
• Can there be a purpose in life without a concept of God?
• Is it right for the UK to hand over evidence for the trial of people in the USA where they may face the death penalty?
• Should what people wear (clothing or symbols) as a result of their religion be subject to political control?
• How do you come to a belief in one religion rather than another?
Without exception everyone has been willing to share their point of view and to accept the fact that others may have a different view. No-one has fallen out with anyone; no-one has tried to impose their views on others; everyone has been prepared to listen respectfully. We’ve learned such a lot from each other and we’ve had fun doing it. The Prince Rupert couldn’t have been more supportive.
My guess is that as you read the examples of the discussion topics above you will have given them some thought as to what your point of view would be. Congratulations – you’re doing theology! Come and join us, or look at our Facebook page for more examples of what we are up to. Or for more information write to me at Newarkpubtheology@virginmedia.com.
Perhaps the next thing to do is to hold a service in a pub…