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Monday, February 6th, 2017

Bible & brews

Public invited to explore life, faith and morality

By Tom Stankard

St. John Lutheran Church vicar Frederick Bartelt, right, leads a conversation du. . .

CELINA - People have met at local watering holes to discuss vital topics for ages.
In continuing the tradition, Frederick Bartelt, a vicar at St. John Lutheran Church, Celina, launched Pub Theology, which invites people to join a conversation that explores life, faith and morality.
"Be ready to engage with people of varying religious traditions, philosophical perspectives and life experiences," he said.
Pub Theology was started by the Rev. Bryan Berghoef of Holland, Michigan, who wrote down his own experiences while traveling abroad, Bartelt said.
During his travels, Berghoef spoke for hours with an older man at an Irish pub about theology and morality and decided to bring that experience back to the states.
Berghoef started a local Pub Theology in the U.S. and wrote a book to spread the word. In his work, "Pub Theology: Beer, Conversation and God," Berghoef contends that for too long the church has insisted on setting the terms for how one can find and encounter God.
"What if God is to be found in places we haven't been looking at all, like bars?" Bartelt asked.
Bartelt read the book and felt inspired to start a chapter called Main Street Pub Theology, which meets at 8 p.m. the first and third Wednesday of the month at Brew Nation on Main Street in Celina.
"I love conversation, I love beer and I love getting to know people. That's what Pub Theology is," he said. "Getting to know what others think and believe about different subjects."
Conversations can challenge people's beliefs, Bartelt said.
"You discover yourself through discovering others," he said.
Conversation topics can vary, he said. One question discussed was, "What's something that you've always wanted to do, but haven't been able to pursue?"
Another conversation topic was discussing how evil is perceived psychologically versus theologically.
"With us, there's almost no topic that (is) off-limits," he said. "We want to be open to discussing everything we can in an hourlong gathering."
Conversations like this help people get to know others and themselves, while encouraging us to avoid the "trap of not talking, which leads to society's downfall," Bartelt said.
Folks don't have to be religious to attend, he added.
"Everyone is welcome," he said. "We'd love to hear your inputs, because that helps us learn about what others think and also helps learn what we really think."
Main Street Pub Theology is one chapter among many others around the word, Bartelt said. Information on other chapters can be found at pubtheology.com.
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