Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sacrilicious Books & The SpiritMoon Cafe

Mix Sweet Shop
12oz Decaf Americano
Orange Macaroon (already nommed)

I used to imagine a little bookstore in a downtown somewhere, with a coffeeshop attached, that sold books on metaphysics and physics, religion and philosophy, and any other book that endeavored to understand and improve the Universe and ourselves within it.  Within the discretion of the owner, of course.  Which would be me.  As I used to shelve books at Borders in the philosophy section, I would try to drive out Monty Python's "Philosophers Song" by fantasizing about my future store.  There would be no "Inspirational Fiction" section, though I would obligingly special order any of the Left Behind series if someone had to have it - I'm not down with censorship.  I would have a Nerf gun under the counter to threaten anyone who dared to set a book sideways on top of the other books in the section (don't you know what that does to the spines!).  I would have a bookstore cat, a grey tabby named Melville.

And in the coffeeshop next door there would be a special menu.  There would be a Philosopher's Blend, of course, maybe a Student's Brew sold at cost around mid-terms and finals.  But there would also be a Poor Richard's Menu all the time.  Just a handful of essentials, potent and healthful, sold as cheaply as we could make it.  I've since heard of a trend at some coffeehouses where patrons will  buy their own coffee and then buy a coffee for someone else to claim in the future for free.  I would have loved to adopt something like this, too.

But my favorite fantasy was holding Sunday Services.

Back when I was closing up at midnight on Saturday nights at Borders, I imagined opening my own bookstore at that same hour, welcoming in a group of fellow over-thinkers.  I imagined speaking to this broad and random group of people, giving my thoughts on a certain topic, then opening the discussion to the rest of the room, to question, to wonder, to argue.  It would be in the spirit of the Socrates Cafes described in the book of the same name, which I used shelve.  Open questioning, open listening.  Coffee would be complimentary.

In the decade plus that has followed, this dream has all but disappeared.  It is completely unfeasible now, and with almost 100% certainty, it will remain so.  This used to deeply sadden me.  Now, the thought of it exhausts me.  Finances aside, the amount of energy such an endeavor would require are just beyond me now.  But the thing I most regret is the loss of the dream of Sunday Services. 

It seems like what this world needs most right now is to sit down and talk to each other.  We can get at each other faster and sharper than ever through modern technology, but we're not talking to each other there.  We'll mingle amongst the like minded but there is a casual brutality thrown at anyone who disagrees.  Frankly, I hate that data-mining has lead to (among other more nefarious things) the customization of ads and suggested pages.  I don't want to have my previous opinions repeated back to me.  I would like to talk to people who may not think like I do now and see what common ground we share.  The end result is that we are becoming more and more isolated from our great plurality.  This is the fastest way to suffering and intransigence when trying to find solutions that we can all live with.

However, the internet also remains the greatest opportunity to reach out, to connect, to change things.  So, in that spirit, I have decided to try to adapt Sunday Services to today's dream.  With the help of anyone who reads this, if you're willing, I'm going to start a new blog and call it "Sunday Services."  It will be a little more focused on a topic or question, and will hopefully be a little less wandering storytime with Chandra.  I will try to put it out consistently on Sundays, and then - here's the audience participation part - I ask you readers to assemble somewhere with other people and talk about it.  Ask, listen, rant... and then feel free to add what you're group covered to the comments section.

I can only hope that would elevate the tone of standard comments section on the internet.

So what do you think?  Are you game for a little experiment in changing us all for the better?

Hell... Stranger things have happened.

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