Monday, January 16, 2006

Pints of View

Peter Howick-Jones and Nick Wills

How many obstacles do we want to put in the way of those we are seeking to reach out to? So often the venue, the cultural assumptions, the language used, the length of the event, the expectation to stay and join in and say things that might compromise someone’s integrity, all conspire to act as barriers. Pints of View [which is held in a pub] seems not only to eliminate possible barriers, but actively find points of connection. On one occasion we turned up half an hour before the event, and found that one of the tables right in the middle of our usual area was already taken, by a young man and two young women. In preparing the area, we began chatting with them, and explained what was about to happen, and asked if that was OK with them. They were fine, and said, ‘No, you carry on, we’re going soon.’

The event started, and the people at the table were chatting away, and sometimes listening in. Someone then asked a question about asylum seekers and illegal immigration, and particularly about new Government legislation placing the onus for ensuring that lorries were not carrying illegal immigrants, on the drivers. We responded to the question, and said that we felt it was unfair to punish lorry drivers for another individual’s illegal actions.

At this point the young bloke at the table turned around and joined in, telling us that he was a long-distance lorry driver who was just passing through. He engaged with the discussion with a lot of passion and then he and his friends continued to do so as we talked about other issues, and he raise genuine questions of faith.

Afterwards we chatted some more with him. He was amazed the clergy were doing something like this, and felt able to talk openly about his life and beliefs. All this happened because we had chatted with them, and then found a point of contact which nobody would have predicted beforehand.

From chapter 3 of Pints of View – encounters down the pub, published by Grove Books 2005
Post a Comment