Pub Theology: where potato wedges and a beer are a eucharistic experience

ISBN 978 1909281 68 4
274 pages.
Published 4/4/2021

£9.99 -£14.99

Paperback, Kindle, Epub

A unique collage of voices of professionals as they intersect their life issues, struggles and pain with their faith traditions. This results in a grounded and lived theology that stares real life in the face, is self-disclosing, and hopeful. These voices may well inspire you to a deeper spiritual journey.

“Here is a ‘lay’ theology from the gut and not simply from the head and from the street and not only from the library. Here God is wrestled with and not simply known in quiet certainty. Here the pain of life is faced in the hope of healing and transformation.”

Irene Alexander has a background in psychology, missions, tertiary education. Now in the third half of life she is a spiritual director, a formator of spiritual direction, and a grandmother. She has written and edited several books including Dancing with God; A Glimpse of the Kingdom in Academia; and Awakening Desire. She is a companion of Northumbria Community. Charles Ringma has taught in universities, colleges and seminaries in Australia, South-East Asia, and Canada. He is Emeritus Professor, Regent College, Vancouver. He is a Franciscan Tertiary (tssf), plants rain forest trees and works for social justice. His many books include: Seek the Silences with Thomas Merton and Hear the Ancient Wisdom. For further contact: and

This remarkable book contains truth wrung out of personal experience, the good and the bad of it: loss, anger, loneliness, unemployment, divorce, immigration, marginalization, laughter, provision, mission, and neighbouring, just to mention a few. This book could not have been written by one person, though the two editors have magnificently introduced what could be called “street theology.” On this subject the Egyptian monk, Matthew the Poor, said, “Life is but one single way that leads to the kingdom of God.” Yes, theology it is, but not the arid intellectual kind one sometimes gets in seminaries or the pulpit. I, for one, savour this book and covet it for others to read and find their own way into the kingdom of God.

R. Paul Stevens, Professor Emeritus, Marketplace Theology, Regent College, Chairman, Institute for Marketplace Transformation, author of several books dealing with everyday life including Work Matters, Money Matters, The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity, Doing God’s Business, and Seven Days of Faith. 

What makes this book a stand-out is its combination of mature personal reflection with careful attention to lived realities in our social world and the environment. What’s more it is enriched with a well-informed and articulate reflection about the ways of God. The book is like taking a gulp of fresh theological air. This is public theology that filled me with a desire to take up the call of God more deeply and widely.

Dr Tim Dickau is an Associate in the Center for Missional Leadership and is the Director of Citygate in Vancouver, Canada. His latest book is Forming Christian Communities in a Secular Age.

“There is so much that is valuable in this book, that I am unable…to do it justice, except to say that of the many books I have read in recent years it would be close to the top of list of those I would recommend.”

Paul Arnott is Executive Director of CMA’s Q4 ministry to Australian Christians in their retirement. He is author of No Time to Say Goodbye and Live the Moment.

“Just like a great pub that offers generous serves from a wide menu prepared by experienced chefs, this pub theology provides an enticing array of reflections on a life with God from seasoned practitioners.  It brings critical theological reflection on the harsh, often painful, and sometimes humorous lived experiences of ‘everyday’ Christians, that open up evocative questions on our wider interpersonal, socio-political and economic realities.  These meaty reflections offer hope to a wider culture hungry for meaning.

Rev Dr Tim McCowan OAM, is involved in teaching and spiritual formation at the University of Divinity (Melbourne) and Asian Theological Seminary (Manila).  He is a spiritual director and retreat leader and founded and directed Building Bridges in Schools, an interfaith program fostering transformation and cooperation among those from diverse backgrounds.  Tim is married to Mary with four stepchildren and 12 grandchildren. “

Pub Theology is a collection of voices of normal people, each making sense of huge spiritual themes through their own lived experiences. Here is emotionally intelligent theology in conversation with the messiness of life, designed not to give answers but rather to ask and spark better questions. This book invites me to listen in on the kinds of conversations I love being a part of.

Tim Yearsley, Emerging Generations Lead, The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity [LICC]

“Here is lived, contextual theology at its best, where God’s story meets our little stories with transforming insights and practices.  Kudos to the editors for such an insightful, refreshing collection of grassroots theology. The people of God — here represented by thinking Christians from different professions —  engage their worlds with the living Word. Doing theology is as wide as creation and so the essays cover wide-ranging topics such as human belonging, theology of weakness, anger,  vocation, and community. I highly recommend this book for courses on contextual or practical theology.”

Tim Gener, PhD, Chancellor and Professor of Theology, Asian Theological Seminary

Not just ‘potato wedges and a beer’ but all of life is presented in this book as an eucharistic experience. An excellent presentation of lived experiences of ‘real people in the real world’ where one meets one’s own dark nights of the soul. All that is earthy, work, worship, longings for home, desires, emotions and sexuality is taken up to the heavenlies. Pub Theology is a must read for all of us who want to make sense of the brokenness and the fullness of life…

Dr Joseph Thomas is a Senior Specialist in Maternal Fetal Medicine at the Mater Health Services in Brisbane. He trained in Christian Medical College Vellore, and worked in mission Hospitals  in India. Working in fetal medicine, he is confronted by beginning of life issues and keenly interested in early human formation and perinatal ethics.

A feast of diverse and engaging stories. Laced with theological reflection, these stories are inspiring, compassionate, insightful and refreshingly honest. What we get is theological wisdom grounded in lived experience. 

Bill Walker is an independent scholar, honorary fellow at Deakin University and occasional tutor at Ridley College. He worked in aid and development for over 30 years. His interdisciplinary PhD, “Power to the people?” explores how marginalised groups hold the powerful accountable.

This book on ‘Pub Theology’ makes perfect sense. A pub is a place where people go to socialize with a drink and recount stories, big and small, about their life.  Pub stories are from the heart – personal, raw with emotion, and street humour.    

The ‘theology’ stories in this diverse collection do the same. The authors give us stories that are personal, imbued with significance, emotionally raw, painstakingly honest, spiced with humour, and engaging with their imperfect humanness on the journey of lived faith. God should be impressed, and so should you.    

Dr. Geoff Dean is a world expert on religious and ideologically-inspired violent extremism and terrorism. He consults and trains police, government, and community agencies worldwide. He is a retired Adjunct Professor for Policing, Security and Terrorism Studies, at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. One of his seminal books is Organised Crime: Policing Illegal Business Entrepreneurialism (Oxford University Press, 2012).

“This book is theology in context. It is born out of personal narratives, told in conversational style, seeking to overcome the silo and see life in a holistic way.”

Philip Hughes is Professor at Alphacrucis College, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Divinity, Senior Fellow of the National Centre for Pastoral Research, and Senior Research Fellow with the Christian Research Association, Australia.

Theology on Tap, Brisbane is a welcome, enriching and highly valuable innovation – a much needed breath of fresh air. The Place – a Pub – an everyday place for everyday people, open to all of any or no faith. The Space – safe and free of judgment enabling genuine fellowship by folk searching for a deeper understanding of a life of faith. People of all walks of life share and explore the realities of their life from a faith perspective. It can be quite varied. It might involve a deeper examination of one of the Gospels, a reflection on the practical every day relevance of faith in the ordinariness of life or the place of the Gospel and other faith traditions in contemporary society. At times people share their lived experience of the ongoing journey of faith as they endeavour to tie together their individual story with the Big (Gospel) story. ‘Pub Theology’ captures the heart of Theology on Tap. It is a wonderful and possibly unique publication and will richly reward every reader. 

Geoff Wilson is a former Member of Parliament, Queensland, Australia and Cabinet Minister under former Premiers Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh.  He served as a Minister in three portfolios – Health, Education and Training, and Mines and Energy. Previously he was a Barrister, senior trade union official and Commonwealth Public Servant. In retirement he volunteers with a number of not-for-profit bodies including the Centre for Men and Families in Brisbane which provides support to men wrestling with a loss of meaning in their lives or struggling with a significant crisis or life challenge. 

I spend the majority of my time seeking to help people live more integrated lives. That’s why I’m delighted about this book. The personal stories and deep insight into real-world issues are enriching, but perhaps more importantly, this book will help people to connect the dots between who they are, what they believe, how they behave and the change they create in the world.

Pub Theology is creative but concrete. It is embodied but imaginative. In it you will find suffering and hope. This is not abstract thought, this is real life.

I have been privileged to learn something of the way of Jesus from a number of the contributors to this book. For any who are seeking to make meaning of the world, to understand a calling, or discern a life purpose, I highly recommend this book to you. In it you will find examples that will guide you as you discern for yourself how your story fits into the bigger picture of the Creator’s story.

John Beckett was the National Director of Micah Australia. He is now the Founder and CEO of Seed which has developed special mentoring and resource programs for business and social-enterprise entrepreneurs.


Introduction: Introducing Pub and Narrative Theology

Introducing the Presentations

Part 1: Longing and Belonging

Chapter 1. Migration and the Migrant God Charles Ringma

Chapter 2. Belonging and Home Sharne Winter-Simat

Chapter 3. Longing and Belonging: Biographical and Biblical Reflections on Home and Homelessness Johannes Luetz

Part 2: Reflections on being human

Chapter 4. Theology of Weakness  Ross McKenzie

Chapter 5. Human Experience and Divine Invitation  Chris Brown

Chapter 6. Fight, Flight, or Faith—My Journey with Anger  Susie Paulsen

Chapter 7. What God Has Joined: Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, Singleness in Today’s Society  Irene Alexander

Chapter 8. The Trouble with Being a “Self-righteous Bastard”  Dave Andrews

Chapter 9. Don’t Forgive Too Soon John Steward

Chapter 10. The Lame will Leap for Joy  Paul Mercer

Chapter 11. The Dark Night of the Soul—Transformation and the Dance Terry Gatfield

Part 3 Vocation 

Chapter 12. The Creation Story Neville Carr

Chapter 13. Faith Moving Mountains Wally Dehtlefs

Chapter 14. Unemployment  Paul Tyson 

Chapter 15. Between Tree, Tower, and Temple: How the Knowledge Project (De)Forms Us David Benson

Chapter 16. Suffer the Little Children—My Journey in Paediatric Palliative Care Anthony Herbert

Chapter 17. Laughter is the Best Medicine Paul Mercer

Part 4 Mission and Community

Chapter 18. Treasures, Sparrows, and All these Things Cathy Delaney

Chapter 19. A Journey in Fragile Solidarity Neil Hockey

Chapter 20. Upward and Downward Mobility: Movements of Choice and Grace  Denese Playford

Chapter 21. The Way of Being Neighbour Kenn Baker

Chapter 22. Silence is Golden but My Eyes Still See Rachael Kohn

An Afterword

Name Index

Subject Index

List of Contributors