You’ve heard of “brewpub theology” no doubt, but a theology brewing company?
Obviously, “The Theology Brewpub Company,” is a play on “brewpub theology,” it also turns the concept of brewpub theology topsy-turvy. Almost all brewpub theology is designed to convince you that host’s theology — whatever that may be — is the correct theology. It’s, well, a form of evangelism.
The Theology Brewing Company on the other hand, is about brewing theology in the companionship (Facebook Group) of others who are also brewing theology. It may be that what they’re brewing is not the same as what your brewing. That’s the fun of it: What everybody is brewing is their own speculative theology based on their own personal God-experiences. Such a theology happily is never absolute and always evolving. With The Theology Brewing Company it is quite alright to be skeptical, agnostic, or even atheistic. (For the record, I am an ordained minster who identifies as an "agnostic-believer." That is, I believe, and from my belief I have formulated a theology, but I could be all wet. That’s why it is speculative.) Most importantly, I seek to live according to the words and actions of Jesus.
Or to put it another way, quoting the "Naked Pastor" (David Hayward): "My home is in Christianity, but I have cottages everywhere." And although we speculate, we are seriously seeking ways to live in a sorely fragmented world as reconcilers.
You can stop reading now. However, if you like word-play, read on….
A name means nothing if it doesn’t mean something right?
I do like how “The Theology Brewing Company” rolls off the tongue, but that’s not the reason for the name. What “The Theology Brewing Company” implies is.
Follow along with me as we start with “company” and work back to the “the.”
”Company” comes from the Old French word, compagnie meaning “friendship,” “companionship,” “intimacy” and “society, fellow sojourner.” That word comes from the Late Latin, comanio, literally meaning, “bread-fellow,” that is, the one(s) we break bread with.
Let’s take comanio a bit further. The word comes from combining the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) “kom” (“along side”) with panis, “bread” (from PIE root, pa, “to feed).
In The Theology Brewing Company we break bread together as companions: bread of the intellectual kind, bread of the spiritual kind. Even if we don’t eat the bread in the same way, the breaking of bread together is still an act of companionable intimacy. Companions on the same pilgrimage.
And because it is an act of intimate companionship it should never reject the one who eats the bread differently from another. The Table is open to all.
Before we leave, “company,” we must note its relationship to “commune” and “communion.” When we are in an intimate companionship we commune [“share one's intimate thoughts or feelings with (someone)”] with each other. “Communion” is that what happens when we share. We don’t have to agree with each other. What we have to agree to is not let our differences break our communion.
As we commune, as we share, as we listen to the other, our thoughts begin to brew. ”Brewing” has its roots in the PIE root, bhrey, which means “to boil, bubble, effervesce, and ferment.”
What we do at The Theology Brewing Company is brew, or ferment our thinking in many, many ways. Like with beer, sometimes the brewing gives you a good beer, others times, it is better thrown away. But the brewer doesn’t know, until the fermentation is underway.
Bhrey, is the root of “brood.” As we all know, this is what a mother hen does when sitting on her eggs until they hatch. Sometimes we have to just sit on our thoughts, brood over them until they take form and are “hatched.” The Theology Brewing Company seeks to encourage our brooding.
We often use the word “brood” as a verb, as in, to mull over unhappy thoughts. Sometimes unhappy thoughts give birth to creative ideas if we brood over them long enough. Life can be unhappy at times, The Theology Brewing Company hopefully will be the place where we can brood over life’s misfortunes in a way that gives birth to creative outcomes.
There’s one more definition of brood that applies: A brood is a collection of small animals, or for us humans, children. Thoughts are like our children, they grow and mature, hopefully in a positive way. Those of us who are parents and grandparents often seek support in the raising of our children. Not support in the sense of “This is the way!,” but rather in the sense of someone standing alongside of us with encouragement— companions. The Theology Brewing Company will to the best of our ability stand by you as companions as your thoughts mature. We won’t criticize, although we may offer suggestions for you to consider. And even if your thoughts mature differently from the rest of us, you are still one of the companions.
Bhrey, is closely related to phrear, "well, spring, cistern.” A goal of The Theology Brewing Company is to assist you as you in drawing upon those bubbling, thought-filled, holy wells and springs of your mind and spirit. In ancient times, wells and springs were holy spots were the gods spoke to humankind.
We have arrived at out next to first word, ”theology.”” Of all the words in “The Theology Brewing Company” name, “theology,” etymologically speaking is the “newest.” It was coined in the 14th c. to denote the “science of religion and the study God and his relationship to humanity.” [I use “God” and “his,” as theology was first applied to the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic “science of religion,” and in the 14th c. God was always referred to in the masculine gender.] Since then, of course, the word has become much broader.
The word comes from the Greek, theologia, “an account of the gods.” Theos, from the PIE root dhes, is a “forming word” for religious concepts. Dhes appears to be an extension of the PIE root, dhe, meaning “to set,” or “put.” In other words, to set things in motion.
[Related words (although not always in appearance) are feriae (holidays), festus (festival), fanum (temple). Our words, elf, fairy, faith, and wisdom are also related.
The Greek ology is derived from -logia, “to speak, to tell.” The Greek word for “word” is logos. The PIE root is leg-, to collect, or gather.” When we collect out thoughts, put them in words, we speak.
The Theology Brewing Company is about gathering up and exploring theological ideas that flow from our God-experiences. “Flow” in the sense of from the holy spring of our God-experience. The Theology Brewing Company is also about encouraging our brooding over these experiences while we brew our understanding of the Divine and the Divine’s relationship to humanity.
We have arrived at the last word, ”The.” “The” is a definite article. I could have used the indefinite “a.” However, The Theology Brewing Company is not designed to be one among many, but to be the different one where we can all freely dialog without fear of rejection or ridicule. It is not to be about Theological Absolutes, but rather it is to be a speculative place where we can use our God-experiences, assisted by scripture and “God-Truths" from many sources, to brew our speculative theology in the companionship of many like-mined pilgrims.
Now just so you know, I approach my theology from the speculative concept of “Christian Universalism. My present God-Experience is greatly influenced by Celtic Christianity. However, here at The Theology Brewing Company it makes no difference how your approach you theology as long as it is speculative rather than dogmatic.
The purpose of The Theology Brewing Company is to afford people an opportunity to express doubts, and ask questions, and offer differing ideas (via The Theology Brewing Company Facebook Group). It is also to assure us that our doubts and even our lack of faith and belief having nothing to do with seeking to live wholly with the divine.
© Frank A. Mills June 2, 2020
* Frank available for preaching and speaking engagements. He loves to conduct workshops on Brewing Theology, Celtic Christianity & Urban Culture. (link takes you to "Portal.") *
Category: Brewing Theology