Archives For Pub Theology

Jason, Teer, Taylor, and Morgan hosted the Second Annual Live Podcast/Pub Theology at the Virginia Annual Conference 2017 with special guest Dr. Jeffrey Pugh.

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Oh, wait, you can find everything and ‘like’ everything via our website.

If you’re getting this by email, here’s the link. to this episode. Since there’s so many voices in this, I thought I’d post the video too. You can find it here.

Live Podcast

Jason Micheli —  July 8, 2016 — Leave a comment

13502037_1615405398788080_7321135075900787492_nA few weeks ago the Crackers and Grape Juice team assembled for our first ever Live Podcast.

We kicked off our denomination’s Annual Conference by hosting a Pub Theology at an awesome rooftop venue in downtown Roanoke, Virginia. We began by interviewing our podcast mate, Morgan Guyton, on his new book How God Saves the World from Us and then we fielded questions from a crowd of about 150.

A dozen different people came up to me during Annual Conference to tell me the Live Podcast was the highlight of their conference experience, so check it out.

Here’s the first half of the event.

Download the episode and subscribe to future ones in the iTunes store here.

For the love of all that is holy:

Give us a Many Starred review there in the iTunes store.

It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast.

‘Like’ our Facebook Page too. You can find it here.

12744280_1713461858909999_5768302360489547677_nI was the guest at the most recent Pub Theology gathering. Since its Lent, the topic I was given was Faith and Suffering. I apologize for how much I say ‘um.’ The poem I shared during the event is included below.

 

“A Prayer That Will Be Answered”

Lord let me suffer much

and then die

Let me walk through silence

and leave nothing behind not even fear

Make the world continue

let the ocean kiss the sand just as before

Let the grass stay green

so that the frogs can hide in it

so that someone can bury his face in it

and sob out his love

Make the day rise brightly

as if there were no more pain

And let my poem stand clear as a windowpane

bumped by a bumblebee’s head

– by Anna Kamienska

Theologian Kendall Soulen was our guest this week for Pub Theology.

Kendall is the author of The God of Israel and Christian Theology and The Divine Names(s) and the Holy Trinity. He teaches theology at Wesley Theological Seminary here in DC. Most importantly, he’s a Karl Barth fanboy too.

A special thank to Andreas Barrett who hosted this installment at his home with his exceptional home-brew.

Mark your calendars. Next installment is December 11 with Rabbi Brett Isserow: ‘Putting the מָשִׁיחַ Back in X’mas.’

Over 30 people came out to talk with Kendall. After beginning with a gloria toast to the Holy Trinity, I asked Kendall to answer the first question he asks his students on their midterm: Evaluate the following statement. Faith is personal; it doesn’t matter what you believe so long as you’re sincere.’

You can listen to it all here below or in the sidebar to the right. You can also download it in iTunes here.

If you’re receiving this by email, you’ll probably need to click over to the blog to listen.

PastedGraphic-1Next Tuesday, 11/11 at 7:00 Dr. Kendall Soulen, Professor of Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary, is our guest for a special Home-Brewed Edition of Pub Theology.

Local brew-meister, Andreas Barrett, will host us in the bosom of his home and Kendall will lead us in a conversation about brewing your own faith and theology.

You can RSVP here.

So I don’t broadcast Andreas’ address all over the internet, RSVP and we’ll email you with the directions.

To get ready, here’s a listen to Kendall’s last Pub Theology with us.

Kendall-Soulen

Kendall Soulen is one of the most significant theologians the United Methodist Church can claim as our own. You can find his books here. I highly recommend his book on the Trinity and think any pastor is irresponsible if they don’t own a copy of the God of Israel and Christian Theology.

After a bedroom voice intro by Teer Hardy, the Pub Interview lasts about 45 minutes with another 45 of Q/A from the crowd. Be sure to listen to Kendall answer the 10 Questions at the end, my theologically spin on James Lipton’s questions from the Actors Studio.

If you like what you hear, come out to future Pub Theology events.

mcknightForgive the brief plug:

Scot McKnight is a friend of this blog, curates the Jesus Creed blog and is a New Testament Professor in Chicago. Scot is the author of many acclaimed books for both scholars and lay people, including the forthcoming book, The Kingdom Conspiracy: Reclaiming the Radical Mission of the Local Church.

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Scot will be our guest preacher next weekend at Aldersgate’s main campus.

He will also inaugurate our new season of Pub Theology on Saturday evening- that’s this Saturday- beginning at 6:30 here.

I invite you to check Scot for both opportunities.

If you’re interested in Pub Theology, email me at jason@aldersgate.net as space is limited.

At all services and at Pub Theology we’ll have copies of Scot’s (not yet released) available for you.

 

 

We’re gathering this Thursday night for another installment of Pub Theology.

Our special guest will be Morgan Guyton whose Mercy Not Sacrifice blog was recently voted in the Top Ten of Christian Blogs.

photoA friend from college, Morgan’s a progressive Christian who was raised as a conservative evangelical and brings both perspectives to issues of culture, theology and faith.

He’s currently working on his first book, Mercy Not Sacrifice, in which he critiques and offers alternatives to the ‘getting saved’ Christianity of evangelicalism. We’ll be talking about his book and you’ll get a chance to give him feedback on his ideas as he’s in the draft stage.

Join us Thursday Night at 7:00 at Fionas Irish Pub in Kingstowne.

Click here for directions.

 

lightstock_75024_xsmall_user_2741517A week from Monday is Memorial Day, the national holiday when we remember those who’ve died in war.

A week from Thursday is Ascension Day, the Christian holy day when we remember that God has given Christ dominion over all the earth to rule as our Lord and King.

Suffice it to say, Christians live in the tension between these two days:

To whom do we pledge our allegiance?

How do we relate to the State?

What is our obligation to fellow Christians in other countries? Especially if they’re our enemies?

When can Christians say yes to war? When must they say no?

This Thursday night at Pub Theology we’ll think through questions like these.

M_Santangelo-1Our special guest will be Marco Santangelo, who serves as the chief librarian at the new George Washington Presidential Library. In addition to that vantage point, Marco also has his Master of Divinity and his Master of Theology from Asbury Seminary and Princeton respectively.

Once again, we’ll meet at Forge Brew Works at 7:00.

You can find them on Facebook too, here.

It’s just off the Fairfax County Parkway on Terminal Road. You can find directions here.

If you’re in the area, come join us.

Oh, and it’s BYOC (Bring Your Own Chair).

Jesus-the-Prisoner‘Christ didn’t just suffer in the past. Christ still suffers today with us, with anyone who suffers in the world.’

I first heard those words from Brother Alois, the prior of the Taize monastic community, last May during a pilgrimage to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

His words hit me with converting clarity.

Because not one of us 1K pilgrims missed the clear, straight, connect-the-dots line he’d just drawn from the Crucified Christ to the all-but-crucified Lakota Indians on whose land we prayed.

When Brother Alois mentioned ‘collective suffering’ an accompanying illustration or further explanation wasn’t needed.

imagesI thought about those words again last week at Pub Theology as I listened to a friend and lawyer in my church, Brian Stolarz, reflect on his experience of working for nearly a decade to get an innocent off death row in Texas.

Alfred Dewayne Brown had been convicted of a cop-killing in Houston. Despite a lack of any forensic evidence, he was sentenced to be killed by the State on death row.

Brown’s IQ of 67, qualifying him as mentally handicapped, was ginned up to 70 by the state doctor in order to qualify him for execution. This wasn’t the only example of prosecutorial abuse in the case.

At one point in his story, Brian shared a memory of meeting with Brown on death row and afterwards coming upon:

“a church group passing out bibles. They were also passing out fish platters for the prison staff because they were “doing God’s work,” according to a banner draped over a table.

I didn’t want to debate the fact that God would probably not be cool with an innocent man being executed, or probably executions at all, and they should check themselves a bit. I just took the bible and said thank you. I grabbed one and remember reading some Psalms and some of the New Testament on the plane ride home.” 

One Big Setup, 222

Brian went on to mention the dubious reaction from the Christians when he suggested to them that maybe he too was doing God’s work by advocating for the condemned.

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that those same Christians believed their ‘Christian duty’ was to prepare the prisoners (vis a vis the sinner’s prayer) for eternity, not accompanying them in the present.

Here’s what hit me about what Brian shared:

The ‘traditional’ evangelical understanding of the cross, what theologians call ‘penal substitution,’ not only has nothing to say to people like the Alfred Dewayne Brown, penal substitution speaks no good news to them because it simultaneously privileges people like me.

Penal substitution is an understanding of the atonement ideally suited for oppressors and people who benefit from oppressive systems.

On the pop level, penal substitution is the understanding of the cross that says ‘Jesus died for you.’

For your sin.

Jesus died in your place. Jesus died the death you deserve to die as punishment for your sin. Jesus is your substitute. He suffered (suddenly I realize how the past tense is key) the wrath God bears towards you.

On the purely theological level, I’ve always had my theological gripes with that way of understanding the cross, but when as I listened to Brian the this-world, moral deficiencies of penal substitution hit me like a slap across the face.

Saying Jesus Christ died for you, for your sin, for your sin to be forgiven is good news to… sinners.

But what about the sinned against?

What we flipply call ‘Amazing Grace’ is good news for wretches like Isaac Newton. For slave-traders and slave-masters. Thanks to the cross, they’re good to go. Their collective guilt and systemic sin…wiped clean by the blood of the cross.

Hell, we might as well continue in those sinful systems because what matters to Christ isn’t our collective guilt but our individual hearts.

Yet what about those whom the ‘wretches’ has made life an exponentially more wretched experience? What about those innocents wrongly condemned to die at the hands of the State- just like, it’s so obvious it shouldn’t need to be pointed out, Jesus?

At the Lord’s Supper we proclaim that Christ came to set the captives free, yet we persist in an understanding of the cross that bears zero continuity with that proclamation.

We spiritualize and interiorize gospel categories like ‘suffering’ and ‘oppression’ and ‘deliverance.’

Because it suits us.

Because we are ourselves are not oppressed, have no actual desire to be delivered from our ways in the world and suffer only the affliction of the comfortable.

Penal substitution, I realized upon hearing Brian’s words, makes the mistake of acting as though Jesus of Nazareth is the only one to ever be strung up on a cross of shame and suffering.

Put differently, there’s something profoundly wrong about any ‘theory’ of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross that doesn’t lead straightaway to Christian solidarity with modern-day prisoners.

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By making the cross theologically ‘necessary’ for atonement, penal substitution obscures the real, messy, historical fact that Jesus’ indictment, sentencing and death were all unjust.

When we abstract Jesus’ execution out of its historical context, it becomes too easy for us to stop identifying with those in Jesus’ place in our own contemporary context.

That 100% of Christians in America worship a God who was executed by the State but the majority of Christians in America support execution suggests that we’ve so theologized the story that we’ve lost the plot.

To suggest the primary meaning of the cross is that Christ died for their oppressors’ sins is to perpetuate, in a very real way, their suffering.

If Jesus wept over Jerusalem, I’ll be damned if he doesn’t weep over a place like Houston. And if he called the Pharisees ‘white-washed tombs’ for turning a blind eye to Rome’s oppressive systems, I wonder what he might call us?

Listening to Brian, I realized again that Christ doesn’t die for us so much as Christ dies

A) because of us and

B) as one of us.

With us. In solidarity with those who’ve suffered like him at the hands of empire and indifference.

Location, location, location.

Real estate can make you hear the gospel with different ears, even if it’s from behind bars. That’s what I realized again listening to Brian.

The cross is the opposite of good news unless it is today what it was for the first Christians: a symbol of protest, a demand for and a sign of an alternative to the world’s violence, a declaration that Christ not Caesar is Lord.

The primary message of the cross for someone like me, then, isn’t that God’s grace has saved a wretch like me though it can include that message.

No, the primary message of the cross is that it’s a summons to suffer, as Christ, for those whom the world makes life wretched.

Rather than Jesus being the answer, the solution to our selfishly construed problem, the Cross is meant to afflict us with the right nightmares.

1551602_768095979874489_1306517654_nA rabbi and a priest will walk into a bar local brewery.

Seriously.

Come on out for Pub Theology this Tuesday night, April 8, at 7:00 PM when our special Pub- Theologian-in-Residence will be Rabbi Brett Isserow.

It will be epic so invite your friends. 

In addition to possessing a wicked awesome South African accent, Rabbi Brett studied New Testament. That’s right, a rabbi who probably knows more about THE RABBI than you do.

The senior rabbi at Beth El in Alexandria, Brett will help us look at the Passion Story from a rabbi’s perspective to see what sorts of things we might miss.

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Once again, we’re meeting at Forge Brew WorksForgeHeader-258x210-1

You can find them on Facebook too, here.

It’s just off the Fairfax County Parkway on Terminal Road. You can find directions here.

Check out Rabbi Brett in action:

 

 

 

1551602_768095979874489_1306517654_nIs the Cross our means of forgiveness or salvation? Is it some form of cosmic child abuse? Is it just another example of what we do when God gets too close?

While the Cross is at the center of all four Gospels and, very often, at the center of all our sanctuaries, the meaning of the Cross is far from self-evident or obvious. What Jesus accomplishes on the Cross- or rather what God accomplishes through him- is not spelled out in any of the creeds. Jesus gives one answer to what his death means, but Paul gives another answer. The Gospels themselves narrate the events but, like all good dramatists, leave the reasons and results opaque, leaving the audience to chew on it after the story is over.

For Pub Theology next Tuesday: We’ll talk through questions about the Cross.

Here’s how it will (hopefully) work:

YOU submit a question via the Speakpipe.

It’s the little widget icon on the right of your screen that looks like an old timey microphone and says ‘Send Voicemail.’

Click on it.

Don’t worry you won’t get charged anything or receive any porn.

Click it and you can then use your computer/phone’s microphone to submit an audio question. Any sort of question about the Cross, Lent, the Passion, Christ’s Suffering, Sin, Atonement etc is up for grabs.

And let us know who you are and where you’re at too.

Your voice message will be sent via email to my underling, Teer Hardy.

Teer will collect all the voicemail questions, curate them, and then pose them to me next Tuesday for Pub Theology.

I’ll take a blind stab and then we’ll open it up to Q/A and Pushback.

We’ll record it so if you can’t be there you can at least hear your question tackled.

If you haven’t been before this is good, laid-back space to ask honest questions about things that matter. So, if you know someone who’s not into church invite them.

Here’s the details:

Once again, we’re meeting at Forge Brew WorksForgeHeader-258x210-1

You can find them on Facebook too, here.

It’s just off the Fairfax County Parkway on Terminal Road. You can find directions here.

 

 

The Ten Questions

Jason Micheli —  February 19, 2014 — 1 Comment

nup-154296-0005-jpgLast night interviewed Dr Kendall Soulen, theology professor at Wesley Seminary, as part of our Pub Theology event at Forge Brew Works. To end the interview, I put a theological twist on James Lipton’s 10 Questions from Inside the Actors Studio.

 

 

Lipton’s questionnaire concept was originated by Frenchtelevision personality Bernard Pivot on his show Apostrophes, after the Proust Questionnaire.

I’ll post the audio to Kendall’s answers to the tweaked questions soon, but I thought I would offer my own rapid-fire responses to the 10 Questions:

 

  1. What is your favorite word? Grace.

  2. What is your least favorite word? Should.

  3. What turns you on? A wry, knowing smile.

  4. What turns you off? Silence.

  5. What sound or noise do you love? My son’s belly laugh.

  6. What sound or noise do you hate? My wife’s hairdryer.

  7. What is your favorite curse word? Son of a bitch!

  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Cooking.

  9. What profession would you not like to do? Dancing.

  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Just by the skin your teeth.

Who’s brave enough to answer them too?

1551602_768095979874489_1306517654_nCome on out for Pub Theology this Tuesday night at 7:00 PM.

Once again, we’re meeting at Forge Brew WorksForgeHeader-258x210-1

You can find them on Facebook too, here.

It’s just off the Fairfax County Parkway on Terminal Road. You can find directions here.

This week our Pub Theologian in Residence is Dr. Kendall Soulen, who teaches theology at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Kendall-SoulenWithout exaggeration, Dr Soulen is one of the most significant Methodist theologians in the world.

His work has focused in particular on Judaism and Jewish-Christian relations. His book The God of Israel and Christian Theology is one of the most powerful books I’ve read; it’s argument is the spine of my sermon ‘The 614 Commandment’ which you can listen to on the sidebar.

His other books include Abraham’s Promise (coedited with Michael Wyschogrod) and, most recently, The Divine Name(s) and the Holy Trinity.

Different from weeks’ past, I’ll begin this Pub Theology by interviewing Dr. Soulen and hopefully my questions for him will trigger some of your own.

To wet your whistle, here’s a couple of videos of Kendall in action.

So come on out tomorrow night- you won’t be sorry

 

Pub Theology Tonight

Jason Micheli —  February 4, 2014 — Leave a comment

1551602_768095979874489_1306517654_nCome on out for Pub Theology this Tuesday night at 7:00 PM.

We’ve got an awesome new venue: Forge Brew Works.

You can find them on Facebook too, here.

It’s just off the Fairfax County Parkway on Terminal Road. You can find directions here.

ForgeHeader-258x210-1

 

If you’ve not been before…

In a nutshell:

Pub Theology is…
Open and honest conversation with friends (new and old!) about things that matter.

The format is simple.
Beer, conversation, and God. Everything is up for discussion, no assumptions, no barriers to entry. If you are going to get upset because someone questions something that is important to you maybe this isn’t for you, but if you think that whatever might be true ought to be able to stand up to being questioned maybe it is.

And if you’re still not sold…consider, even Lord Voldemort is planning to attend.

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PastedGraphic-1I invite you to come on out tonight at 7:00 @ King Street Blues.

Ward off the cold with a warming brew and conversation.
There is something about gather around a table of food and drink that allows everyone to lower their guard and be honest with each other.

In a nutshell:

Pub Theology is…
Open and honest conversation with friends (new and old!) about things that matter.

The format is simple.
Beer, conversation, and God. Everything is up for discussion, no assumptions, no barriers to entry. If you are going to get upset because someone questions something that is important to you maybe this isn’t for you, but if you think that whatever might be true ought to be able to stand up to being questioned maybe it is.

We will resume by choosing our topics (from a beer growler) at random, so if you have a topic suggestion please submit it on Twitter to @aumckingstowne with the #pubtheology.

And mark your calendars. Next month our guest pub theologian will be Kendall Soulen, professor of theology at Wesley Seminary.

His book the God of Israel and Christian Theology is quite simply one of the most important books I’ve ever read. 

Come on out.
First round is on Teer Hardy.

 

PastedGraphic-1Two weeks ago we gathered at Kate’s Irish Pub in Springfield for our first installment of pub theology.
Those gathered ranged in age from 25 to however old Jurgen Moltmann Steve Larkin is.
Only 1 pastor.

Amid the sounds waitresses serving gin & tonics and appletinis, we had what one participant described as “the most authentic discussion about faith” she had ever experienced.

 

There is something about gather around a table of food and drink that allows everyone to lower their guard and be honest with each other.
We discussed does it mean to have “true” faith, which lead down the trail of determining what exactly “true faith” is.  We wrapped up our time together discussing whether or not all people desire to be ‘good,’ how they can achieve being good, and where faith plays into it .

We got snowed out last week.

This Tuesday at 7:00 we will resume by choosing our topics (from a beer growler) at random, so if you have a topic suggestion please submit it on Twitter to

@aumckingstowne with the #pubtheology.

Our guest pub theologian this week is Mike Stavlund, a contributor at The Hardest Question, author of A Force of Will and a teacher at Wesley Theological Seminary.

Come on out.
First round is on Teer Hardy.

 

PastedGraphic-1Friends, if you’re in the DC area then I invite you to come out for our first evening of Pub Theology tomorrow night from 7-8:30 at Kate’s Irish Pub.

Pub [pb] = ‘open to the public,’ a place which in many areas serves the focal point of a community.

 

Theology [thee-ol-uh-jee]  = speaking of ‘God’

 

Pub Theology = Comfortable conversation over a pint on a variety of topics – art, religion, politics, faith, culture. ecology, economics, justice, or philosophy. Anyone and everyone (regardless of religious beliefs) is invited to participate.There’s no agenda, script or expectations.

               It’s just real people gathering around a table,

talking about real things in a real way. 

 

Antonyms for Pub Theology =

      Sunday School, Bible Study, Your Parents’ Church

 

As my underling, Teer Hardy, who’s organized Pub Theology for us, puts it:

A minister, an atheist, and a few other people walk into a bar… The minster says, “Drinking is against God’s will for your life.” The atheist responds: “He forgot to tell that to Jesus.” The others say, “This sounds like a great conversation – can we join?” And so it begins…

 

You can sign up (though there’s no need), RSVP or find out more here.

 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a blog reader, lay person, or clergy person we’d love to have you.

What’s more, if you know of someone for whom a trip to the proctologist sounds more appealing than an invite to church then this is the event for them. The only people not welcome are those who would (without irony) order an Appletini.

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