Free coffee for the constant readers
Published 6:12 pm Thursday, March 24, 2022
Stephen King calls his fans ‘Constant Readers.’ I’m not suggesting I should come up with a name for those who read my column regularly, but I do want to begin by offering thanks to those of you who do read the column, well, constantly! Judging by the comments I receive, it’s far more than I would have imagined. I know that not every column is a real winner. I’m confident that some of my words have even become birdcage liners. But’s that’s alright! For me, the delight is in the writing and the sharing, not in the recognition. The recognition is kind of nice though, and I’d be a charlatan if I didn’t admit it.
This column began as a place for me to experiment with a particular type of public theology. So many years ago, thousands even, there was public space carved out to talk about God, the Universe, and everything in between. In Athens, it was the Areopagus upon Mars Hill. In Rome, the forums held space for these kinds of exchanges. In cultures all around the world, there has been space to hold conversations that went deep below the superficiality of meaningless chatter. This tradition has been upheld in many places around the world still. The Speakers’ Corners in London come to mind.
But somewhere along the way, we lost it here in America. We relegated these deep issues to the private spaces of sanctuaries and prayer books, or the hidden places in our hearts. Philosophy has virtually vanished from the public eye in America. It wasn’t that long ago that religious and philosophical articles ran regularly in Time Magazine. In the 1960’s, even Playboy Magazine published a series of articles on theology and the Church! If you want to know about Descartes or John Locke, you should be prepared to pay good money in tuition and fees. Or watch something on YouTube. You get the point, I hope.
Our political rhetoric has devolved such that it’s no wonder we can’t talk about these deep mysteries without recourse to insult and injury. We have collectively lost a sense of the common good. And when that is lost, so too is the ability for us to meet human-to-human, to see in the face of one another a person worthy of respect, dignity, and love.
I don’t think there is any ‘going back’ to a time before. And I don’t really want to. But I do wish that we could evolve as a people to a point where new avenues of conversation and respectful disagreement emerge. It will first require, however, that all those who are convinced they hold the Absolute Truth in the palm of their hands to let go just a bit of that ironclad grip. Be curious about how other people make sense of their place in the universe. You might even find that you come to appreciate your own beliefs or traditions that much more.
So, if anyone has read this far, I’m inviting you to get coffee with me on Monday, March 28, between the hours of 12-3. I’ll be at Giddy Up Coffee House on Highland Dr, just across from the CVS. Maybe we can make a beginning on one of those new conversations. If not, we can at least have some good coffee. Oh, and I’m buying.
Chris Adams is the Rector at St. Peter’s Church in Washington.