It was a light but enjoyable evening of Pub Theology last night. The art, on the other hand, was once again ominous and imposing.
The hyped-up “Duel of the Deities”, or whose God was ‘bigger and better’, was instantly over when I pulled out my article. Who could argue with a headline like that? :)
We began discussing breakast. What we had that morning, and what an ideal breakfast would be. Actual breakfasts ranged from oatmeal, to a scone, to yogurt. Ideal breakfasts included vegetable-heavy omelettes, bacon, homemade pancakes, French toast, and my fav – a Turkish breakfast comprised of cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, a boiled egg, yogurt, and toast.
The Presbyterian-heavy crowd had some thoughts on the second topic: are human beings sinful by nature?
I certainly grew up hearing again and again that I was ‘totally depraved’. That was hammered in pretty well. Sinful, broken, and separated from God, and barely tolerated by him. We connect this to original sin – the initial sin by the first human pair. Yet how do we balance this with God’s initial, earliest declaration of humanity as good? (Even very good!). One participant noted Matthew Fox’s book (no, not Jack from LOST) called “Original Blessing” which attempts to swing the pendulum this other direction, toward humanity as goodness. I haven’t read the book, but the idea makes sense to me. Our original status, you might even say, root status is that of being good, of being made in the image of God. If that were not the case, why would, according to the Christian story, God become incarnate as one of us? Why would he bother with us at all?
All of us agreed that we are broken, sinful, and all that, but that perhaps we ought to balance the story, and remember that we are, in the end, God’s good creation, indelibly stamped with his mark, and that God in Jesus is now a fellow embodied person. (Normally we would have a contingent who would have preferred different language than ‘sinful’ such as evolutionary tendencies, or biological imperatives, for example – in other words, interpreting harmful actions materially rather than theologically).
In the midst of conversation, we were able to sample some homebrew (under the table), including the incredible “Last Rites”, an imperial IPA. There was also some Scotch Ale of the sour variety (no comment). This balanced out the Raisin-Ade I had from the cask (very flavorful), and the Bitchin’ Brown, a very nice brown ale.
We pondered momentarily whether or not there is an ‘age of accountability’, an age at which one is responsible for one’s moral actions, or responsible for turning to God or not. In other words, does it make sense to say that a five-year-old who dies could be in hell? What about a twelve-year-old?
Conversation late in the evening turned to my unfortunate article headline in the newspaper. A couple who hadn’t read the paper or the article had the initial response: “Wow, that’s defamation of character. You should totally let them know how you were misrepresented.” Alas…