How should Christians interpret the Bible? It was just the sort of weighty question this group of beer drinkers likes to mull every week at a dimly lit Gainesville pub not far from the University of Florida campus, in their “theology on tap” meetings. “Prayerfully,” was one answer. “As Jesus intended,” was another. On the sound system The Police sang.
“I think the Bible is meant to be struggled with,” said 25-year-old Maria Carter, office manager for Gainesville’s Presbyterian and Disciples of Christ Student Center. She grew up Catholic but now considers herself a Christian who is searching. She wore a navy cap cocked to one side, a piercing in one brow, and a tattoo on her wrist.
Heading up the “theology on tap” meetings is 23-year-old Rusty Poulette, a philosophy major at Santa Fe Community College who someday hopes to open his own nonprofit, a Christian whose coming-of-age may resemble many his age. He grew up Catholic and attended a Presbyterian congregation in high school but pulled away from church in college when he developed a passion for social justice.
He landed internships at youth-oriented nonprofits in St. Petersburg and West Palm Beach and eventually found the social justice-oriented Presbyterian and Disciples of Christ Student Center, where he now works as program director. He’s in charge of “theology on tap” every Tuesday, a dinner and discussion group every Wednesday, and a small contemplative service every Sunday. His forearms are inked with tattoos, including the letters “o” and “m” on two fingers. He doesn’t rule out divinity school in his future.