The young adult group at my parish and I once had a really great idea: we wanted to start a Theology on Tap for progressive Catholics. For those of you that haven’t heard of it, Theology on Tap is a Catholic speaker series for young adult Catholics, held in a bar. My experience of Theology on Tap…well, so I don’t really have any actual experience with Theology on Tap, and that’s because I have heard that it’s a more conservative crowd who attends. It’s also a diocese-sanctioned event, so I have always imagined that the conversation would a) be limited, and b) go places I would not want to go (i.e. – women’s ordination would probably be off the table, a discussion about women’s health and reproductive rights would go to a place that I disagree with). And to be totally honest, I don’t know how welcome I would feel as a queer person at a diocese-sanctioned event. It is for these reasons that I have never actually attended a Theology on Tap.
It is also for these reasons that we were so interested in hosting our own Theology on Tap. A Theology on Tap that catered to queers and progressives, a place where we could feel comfortable speaking about different issues plaguing the Catholic Church. Well, so, the idea never panned out beyond one night of dreaming and scheming (maybe someday…), but I was excited enough about the idea that I told my good friend Rachel about it. After describing the new and improved Theology on Tap, Rachel thought about it and then said “So, instead of actually dialoguing with people who are different than you and having a possibly difficult but productive conversation, you’re going to create a space for people who all agree so you can affirm each other over and over again?”
I was kind of peeved at Rachel for not thinking we were geniuses and offering to help find speakers. I also didn’t like the accusation that I was refusing to dialogue with people who were different than myself. I KNOW that you’re supposed to have diverse friends, I was a Sociology major for God’s sake, I did the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I think about social justice a lot!
When I calmed down about it (a few hours…or was it weeks?) later, I realized there was some validity to Rachel’s comment. There is a time for us all to be surrounded by people who agree with us. It’s an affirming time, it feels good (it’s called the Call to Action conference!), and it’s way easier than surrounding yourself with people who disagree with you. However, there is a time for us to get out there and have a dialogue with someone who’s different than you.
Yes, this blog is indeed about the trip I am about to take to Rio for World Youth Day, do you see where I’m going with this?
There are a lot of reasons I wanted to go on this trip, having confession on the beach is not the least of those reasons, but one of the things I think is most important is the dialogue that we will be having. If we had to sum up the goal of our trip into one word, I think that would be the word: dialogue. We are literally inserting ourselves into the biggest group of young Catholics we could find, so we can have some conversations. Some of the conversations are probably going to be difficult ones, because we’ll be with people who may not necessarily be on the same wavelength as we are, but the cool thing is there may be plenty of people there who are on the same wavelength. And even cooler the fact that we all have our faith in common, so maybe it will be more like Call to Action than I think.