On March 22, 2007, I’m scheduled to lead a beer tasting class titled “Beer Is Divine,” at the Tria Cafe’s “Fermentation School” in Philadelphia.
While researching the connections between religion, spirituality, and beer in preparation for the class, I stumbled across Theology on Tap (ToT), a Catholic evangelical outreach program designed to reach the youth where they gather – i.e. in the bars.
Started in Chicago in the early 80s, the program seems to have caught the fire of the holy spirit and spread across the country, with groups now meeting in 46 states. The idea is straight forward. A priest walks into a bar (seriously) and starts talking religion to the masses.
This NPR segment reports on the Theology on Tap program in Manchester, NH where the local preacher sips a Frangelico after his sermon. Frangelico is an Italian hazelnut liqueur named after Fra Angelico (Father the Angelic One), a dominican monk who doubled as a painter in the early 15th century. The liqueur comes in a bottle shaped like a friar somewhat resembling a bottle of Aunt Jemima maple syrup.
Here’s an excerpt from the ToT NYC chapter’s FAQ:
Come on! Discussing theology in a bar? What does the Church say about that?
Theology-on-Tap is in perfect alignment with the Pope! The Holy Father tells us to bring the gospel of Christ into the streets and to speak it from the housetops, and to go to where people are. Theology-on-Tap aims to discuss the teachings of the Catholic Church in a non-threatening, comfortable environment.
I know the program is reaching out to Catholics in their 20’s and 30’s. But can anyone come?
While we do primarily reach out to Catholics in their 20’s and 30’s, everyone is invited: Catholics and non-Catholics, beer drinkers and non-beer drinkers, ages 21-101.
Their logo is, appropriately, a tapped keg. Though not religious myself, I must say, drinking beer and talking about religion (and politics and everything else for that matter) is one of my favorite activities.