ShareThis Page

No joke: A bishop, a minister and 35 young adults walk into Plum bar ... to talk about religion

| Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, 11:03 a.m.
Bishop David Zubik leads 'pub theology' gathering at Somma's Pizza in Oakmont, Dec. 20.
Christine Manganas | For the Tribune-Review
Bishop David Zubik leads 'pub theology' gathering at Somma's Pizza in Oakmont, Dec. 20.

Beer, pizza and talk about religion mix nicely for a group of under 30-year-olds who meet regularly at a bar and restaurant on Coxcomb Hill Road.

Pub Theology is hosted by St. John the Baptist Catholic Church's young adult minister, Matt Scruggs, every other week at Somma Pizza and Sports Bar. Typically, about 15 young adults meet to weigh in on faith-based discussions. But more than 35 showed up when visitor Bishop David Zubik of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh was in the house just before Christmas.

“This discussion is just another opportunity to open up to a group of people who feel like they might not have a place in the church,” Zubik said. “I want them to know that they do have a place and that their ideas do matter. This is a way to meet them where they are.”

Topics change from meeting to meeting, but hit on everything from the pope to homosexuality in the church.

“We try to do edgy topics that young adults care about now,” said Scruggs, 28.

Zubik asked the eager audience what the church could do to tear down walls that keep many young adults away from services.

“The church tends to err on the side of conservatism when it comes to politics and social issues,” said Janie Messina, 23, of Plum, citing the church's position against gay marriage and abortion. “Those two issues are so important to people that they won't come to church because of it, or they won't think about being Catholic because we don't back those issues.”

Zubik's follow-up question — what can the church do to promote discussion of such issues — was met with uncertainty. It was easier to identify barriers than to tell the bishop how to open up discussion about the issues, audience members said.

The bishop said it is important to him to try to give people a better understanding of the Catholic church and its views. For instance, he said, its “pro-life” position runs a lot deeper than simply being against abortion. Opening up dialogue about such topics is key, he said.

While on this night, his audience appeared mostly to be Catholics, that's not a requirement of Pub Theology. Everyone is welcome to the discussions where beer and religion do mix.

“Its good to hear these voices heard by figures like Zubik, because a lot of the times that doesn't happen,” Scruggs said.

The next Pub Theology meeting at Somma is Jan. 17.

Christine Manganas is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me