Friday, January 9, 2009

A guy stepped into a bar ...

A NYT opinion piece argues that bars and AA meetings, like churches, provide spiritual fulfillment. The money quote:
On the surface these three places — an Irish bar, an Episcopal Church and an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting — don’t seem too similar. They are not even sympathetic to each other. In bars they don’t like to hear about A.A., and in A.A. they don’t like to hear about church. But in many ways they are the same, whether we pass a plate or a basket, whether we sit in uncomfortable pews or on uncomfortable folding chairs, whether we share our experiences, tell our troubles to the bartender, or confess to our minister. They are all part of our human search for the divine, places where through ritual and community we reach for transcendence and sometimes find it. (emphasis mine)


Jason said...

This guy is reaching and is reading the "divine" into something that has obviously left a deep and powerful impression on him. Perhaps as a jaded and dis-connected person, he is looking back at memories in which he felt whole, and then projecting the divine upon that experience of remembering or being re-membered. (Or perhaps because that is what he thinks an experience of the divine might be like?) But warm and fuzzy feelings do not a divine experience make (that might step on some toes, so I will add) in my opinion.

Maybe his comparison might find better footing in noting that in all three locations community is integral to his own experience of them. If we were to rephrase his closing sentence to reflect that sentiment, it might read, "They are all part of our human search for community, a place where through ritual we reach for fulfillment and sometimes find it."

This search for community is a life long pursuit, from middle school and rolled up jeans (sorry, I'm an '80s child) to modern-day Latino Kings Gangs, to purchasing an expensive country club membership. This search for community is, I think, integral to being human.

Now as for what constitutes a divine experience, I think I'll do the opposite of what good logical thought requires. I'm going to leave that open for some discussion. Thanks for the post Drew.

Drew said...

Jason, while I think you might be on to something about our search for community, I would also think we are information-seekers, constantly striving for answers to our existential questions, to which the search for the divine is integral.