Pastor, youth worker, and social media expert Adam Walker Cleveland has started a creative series of events here in my hometown called “Theology Pub.” Basically, he invites people to show up at a local downtown pub and listen to speaker present a few theological ideas (in about 10 minutes or less) then he breaks everyone into small groups, gives them a few questions, and lets them talk as long as they are interested. Adam and the guest speaker move from group to group to address questions and stimulate conversation. A couple of weeks ago Adam invited me to speak on “Living Without Anxiety Within an Anxious World.” The Playwright Public House (which holds about 75 people maximum) was jammed with 50 or so folks for Theology Pub and another 20 or so for some woman named Kate who was turning 32. It was a crazy environment, most folks had no religious affiliation, just interested in reducing anxiety. The room was packed and noisy with televisions, Rolling Stones music over the speakers, and lots of loud talking and laughing from Kate’s party. Adam crammed our group into the corner (see photo above) and I shouted at the top of my lungs, but most folks still had a hard time hearing–nevertheless people strained their ears and stayed late into the evening talking about various practices that helped them “get grounded,” or “come home” to themselves. So many folks were desperate for another way to live/be in the world.
After the event wrapped up (around midnight) Adam and I planned a “part 2” which will happen tomorrow night at his church. My hope is to lead the inter-religious (and non-religious) group in a practice that will help them recall and remember moments when they felt “at home,” “grounded,” “connected.” This practice comes out of my work with the Center for Engaged Compassion and is a core practice in our work. If you’re in the area show up at First Presbyterian at 7pm, January 29th.