Dive Bar Theology

I love a good dive bar, and the best dive bar in Little Rock, Arkansas is the White Water Tavern. It’s a good place to stop in any time, but it is at its best when there is live music. Last night Tulsa-based songwriter John Moreland played to a packed house.

Moreland is a ridiculously gifted wordsmith with a very loyal fanbase. But I may have missed out on some of the magic of the music. I got caught up in more than one song’s lyrics that told me Moreland is a member of an unenviable club with far too many members: the kinship of the badly churched. Those whose experience with Christians is something they have to recover from.

And not much makes my heart hurt more than hearts that have been hurt by the church.

I have no doubt that there were many who felt a kinship to Moreland last night. Those who have felt more welcomed, accepted and understood in the dive bars of the world than in the pews of the churches. At a dive bar, no one ever looks at you sideways for laughing too loudly, no one judges your fashion choices and every one fits in because there is no norm.

(Of course, at a bar, nothing is required of you other than paying your tab, but that’s another blog post.)

Maybe church members should spend a little more time in dive bars to learn how to be the church. Maybe then that club of folks who have been badly burned wouldn’t be taking on any new members.

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