Tea and Philosophy
Your moms have been worried. Many of you headed off to college a few months ago and they’ve been fretting for weeks now over whether you’ll eat something other than Taco Bell for the next year and if you’ll separate darks from whites when you do laundry. But greater things concern them as well, like what kinds of friends you’ve made and if you’ll fall into the right crowd. In light of this, your moms probably haven’t been encouraging you to join extracurricular school groups like Berkeley’s Young Queers United for Empowerment to meet new friends. But becoming friends with people in Concordia University Wisconsin’s TGB Society may just make your mothers a little less hysterical.
The group was founded in 2003 by two students who w ere interested in philosophy and theology. It was loosely modeled after C.S. Lewis’s conservative literary club called The Inklings. Since Lewis and his friends met at the University of Oxford and since CUW’s philosophy chair Dr. Angus Menuge is from England, the two students decided to add a touch of British flair to their own group by serving scones and hot tea at every meeting. Even though the group consequently began to be known as the Tea Society, more students—even males—continued to join.
After a year passed, the name morphed into the TGB Society, focusing on the three classical ideals of truth, goodness, and beauty.
Meetings generally spotlight student-led discussion regarding things philosophical and how they relate to a Lutheran’s worldview. CUW student Nathan Fischer r egular ly attends the meetings and believes that “TGB does a great job of discussing contemporary topics from a philosophical perspective, all the while working under the authority of Holy Scripture and confessional theology.”
Topics range from The Da Vinci Code to existentialism to anti-French jokes to the meaning of evil. While all of these conversations help students sharpen one another’s beliefs, most attendees are simply interested in exploring philosophical matters from a Lutheran perspective. In essence, student Jeff Dock explains, “We seek to bring a truly Lutheran voice to contemporary issues and especially apologetics.”
Teachers from all departments are also welcome to attend the meetings. Most agree with the students’ viewpoints, but some don’t. In the majority of cases though, the students realize that as former CUW student Lucas Christensen states, “The role of attendant professors is typically in helping t o facilitate meaningful conversation. These teachers have been doing—in their respective vocations—that which we gather to discuss, namely: providing meaningful answers to the problems within a society starving for truth.” Teachers, especially from the philosophy department, are also on hand to point the students to useful resources when further research or follow-up is desired.
TGB Society is the perfect group for students with questions. “For college students,” notes Fischer, “our worldviews are really being called into question and rigorously examined, not to mention being developed into the worldviews we’ll have for the rest of our lives.” Attending the club’s meetings is helpful for students who need to sort out their beliefs among like-minded Lutheran peers. He adds, “TGB provides a place where worldviews can be philosophically and confessionally thought out and put to the test.”
These are the kind of kids your mom wants you to hang out with, not the Free Radicals club from Berkeley who label themselves “Chemists for Peace.” TGB is a normal group made of normal students who come from normal backgrounds, making it a good club especially for all you college freshmen out there. You really can’t go wrong with a group like TGB, says Jeff Dock. “Having a well-grounded Christian worldview is important as students start their studies in their various fields. It’s hard to know what’s wrong about something if you don’t first know what’s right ab out it, and hard to know what are lies when you don’t know the truth.”