Spot, Sweetness 7, Café Aroma, Newport Natural, Opus.
Opus is the latest coffee house in my life. A town is not home until those places that make it feel like home tether us to the earth there. For some people it is the local bank or bakery, the farm stand or grocer, the diner or bar. For me it is the coffee house (café in contemporary parlance).
Churches used to be that kind of place, a place where people gathered and made connections. That still happens but most churches have become congregations of the like-minded and so monochrome that most of those in attendance fit snuggly in the same socio-economic niche. That leaves commercial venues that don’t care what race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation the customer’s money comes from to create a broad and lovely hospitality.
Ironic, isn’t it? The spiritual community derived from the wisdom of a man so hospitable that he violated every social norm of his day in order to gather people around the same meal, now needs to learn from moneychangers how to create such a space.
I confess to a moment of deep professional pride when, in a former church in another city, it was reported that a wealthy scion announced in the most exclusive social club in that town, that he wouldn’t go to that church any more because “now they let anyone in.”
Churches that want to buck the system and become something other than homogeneous will lose members. That is guaranteed. Some of the people in the pews are there because it is more comfortable to be among ‘our own kind’ and when that changes they leave.
We need to be aggressively welcome to everyone but not “for” everyone. If we stand for something in particular, like the social and economic radicality of Jesus for example, some of the people that oppose it will not want to continue. They leave, not because they are not welcome but because they no longer embrace what we stand for and who we stand for.
It goes back to a previous post or two I have written about keeping wider circles of social embrace.
I could not be more opposed to Donald Trump and what he represents, but if I have no significant connection to anyone that does then I will be missing the insight and understanding that can only come from being in relationship with people who seriously disagree with me. At a moment in our history when our culture is moving us into ever more segregated social and public opinion chutes, we need to be subversive and break out.
What happens as we get older and do not exercise and do not stretch? We lose flexibility. The same is true for us mentally and socially. If we are not connected with a diversity of thought and opinion we become more and more brittle. An inelastic mind is a fragile mind, and too many of those in any single family, organization, business, or culture and bad things are bound to happen.
Fortunately, in my new small city, there is more than one café and even though I prefer Opus, I try to circulate in order to remain elastic and feel the differences going on around me. Still, Opus is home.