SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Gonzaga alumni chapter held its first Theology on Tap for adults in the Diocese of Salt Lake City at Squatters Brew Pub July 12.
Theology on Tap is a nationwide adult spiritual education and interaction program that provides a casual opportunity for learning and thoughtful discussion for adults to continue to form a spiritual life and integrate faith into their everyday life.
The event was facilitated by Jesuit Father Jack Bentz’s talk on the topic "Spiritual and Religious: Why I seek both in an imperfect organized religion."
Fr. Bentz is the chaplain of Gonzaga University’s School of Law and School of Professional Studies. He also serves as the director of vocations for the Oregon Province of the Jesuits.
"The goal of the first Theology on Tap was to make it a unique and uplifting gathering for participants," said Sarah Sherwood, Salt Lake City Theology on Tap coordinator, a Gonzaga alumna and Saint Thomas More parishioner.
Theology on Tap is really an excuse to get together, Fr. Bentz said. "It’s important for people to meet and talk first and build community and then later talk about the topic," he said.
Speaking on the topic, Fr. Bentz said he often hears students say, "Father, I’m not religious, I’m just spiritual," he said. "I wonder what those students are saying and how their parents who are paying their tuition for a religious education might feel. I also ask myself why I am spiritual and religious."
There are five reasons for being spiritual and religious, Fr. Bentz said.
The first is identity. "I’m Catholic," he said. "There is no way around that."
The second is community.
"I work with students who love community, which means companionship," he said. "There are other pieces such as accountability, which keeps me honest in my community and compromise, which forces me to meet people in the middle."
The third reason is the past.
"Tradition can be the living faith of the dead or the dead faith of the living," Fr. Bentz said, adding that he hopes it’s the first option. "All those decades of centuries of Catholics struggling with the things of life and coming up with conclusions – good, bad, wrong, right; they’ve dealt with everything, and for me that’s the tradition of social teaching."
The fourth reason is the future.
"Death," he said. "We’ve got eternity, but nobody wants to die. The future is what we are all headed toward – eternal life; that is what Catholics believe in and hang on to."
The fifth reason is the Eucharist.
"I remain spiritual and religious because the Eucharist is the religious part and we all gather around God giving himself to us," Fr. Bentz said. "It sustains us and the community and is the primary reason why I continue to be religious and spiritual."
Theology on Tap was well received in Salt Lake City, where it has been held before at Saint Catherine of Siena Newman Center and earlier in the Diocese of Salt Lake City with former Bishop George Niederauer, now Archbishop of San Francisco.
Mark Neisen, a Saint Therese of the Child Jesus parishioner, said he thought the evening was a good idea and a good way to meet people with a common religious background.
Cathy Cherry, a St. Catherine parishioner whose daughter graduated from Gonzaga in 2003, said she thinks Theology on Tap is a creative way to build community.
Jaelynn Jenkins, a Gonzaga School of Law alumna and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, attended Theology on Tap because she was interested in the topic and also in building a social bridge with the Catholic community, she said.