In December we launch a new series through our men’s group called, El Lector. El Lector is an off-shoot of Eagle & Child, part of Granada Man.
Uh… let me ‘splain. (This is the part where you can stop reading if you already know what this is about. But, if you’re new to what we’re doing you really should read this.)
A Brief History
See, Granada Man was not the first incarnation of our mens group (by first I don’t mean “first ever”, but rather the first since I’ve been involved. Granada Presbyterian has a long and cherished history of men who have come and gone before; some who thankfully still remain). The first group was a group of rough men who started meeting on my back porch over 2 years ago and still meet today. We named this “The Eagle & Child Men’s Forum”. The Eagle & Child is a pub in Oxford, England made famous as being the watering hole for “The Inklings”, a small group of literary junky friends made up of such notable writers as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. We are inspired by great literature, philosophy and theology… and The Godfather films. This group has been attended over the last 2 years by men who seek to ardently follow in the footsteps of such giants of the reformed faith as Luther, Calvin and Spurgeon, which means we like to drink beer and wine and smoke cigars. As we celebrate the whole of reformation history over bottles and smoke, we also venture into great conversation. Sometimes the conversation isn’t so great. Sometimes it’s just what someone in the group needed to hear. But on occasion, the right chord is struck and we are all amazed. It is amazing what can happen when men move past their pretense and let their guard down. Greatness and authenticity emerge, and a memorable evening is created. We laugh. We challenge each other. Over the years, we have become brothers. That is Eagle & Child. It is a time for men to relax and be themselves; not the posers we usually are.
After some time we decided we had to be at least somewhat religious. After all, most of us do attend church. But that idea was quickly shot down because on second thought, religion is overrated. People get all self-righteous and impressed with themselves. We wanted to stay away from pretense. We wanted to do something different; think outside the box. Eagle & Child was all about breaking away from religion-as-usual. We wanted to be real. If we took ourselves too seriously, the next thing you know we’d have a cheesy slogan and some frat-boy logo.
Anyway, Granada Man was launched and we expanded our men’s ministry.
Thankfully, the Eagle & Child guys continue to meet.
So, what then is El Lector?
El Lector is a new speaker series born of Eagle & Child. Basically, we needed another forum; something with a little more punch. Over the years Eagle & Child showed us how shallow and vapid Miami culture can be. Also, there are very few outlets for thought and reflection; places where one can go and be challenged spiritually and intellectually on a deeper level. It’s especially difficult for men. Most men in Miami are too busy working and making a name for themselves. Others just get caught up in the hedonism that is Miami; this is a rough place for a guy to live and not be distracted. As my friend Worth likes to say, Miami is a candy store for men.
But Miami has something that is unique, and that is a strong Cuban community. The largest concentration of Cubans in the United States is here. And what is one thing that Cubans are known for (besides talking loudly and black beans and rice)? Cigars. In fact, we have some of the best cigar manufacturers in the world centered right here in Little Havana.
Cuban cigar culture goes way back. In the 1800’s cigar kings in Cuba built great factories and provided work for thousands of Cubans. In fact, my own grandmother and my father worked for cigar manufacturers in Havana. If you were alive in the 19th century, you could walk into most factories and find a man reading from a newspaper or book. Sometimes letters and trade papers from the tobacco unions were read. On other occasions, maybe a Shakespearean play. You might hear poetry or fiction; history and classic literature. The reader was called “El Lector”, and his job was to keep the cigar workers entertained while they performed their monotonous work. El Lector also helped stimulate thought. It is said that while many cigar workers could barely read or write, they were able to recite Cervantes or Homer (okay… maybe not Homer but they could recite really smart stuff!).
It is out of this tradition that the El Lector Speaker series was born. Like the cigar workers of the 19th century, men in Miami live in a monotonous routine of work and play. We have lost ourselves in the mundane emptiness of life. We stay away from religion because we have so much baggage we’ve collected over the years. “Church is for women”, we say. “I don’t have time for that” is our chant. “It’s all about me” has become our creed.
Like Eagle & Child, El Lector focuses on going deeper as men, and leaving the shallows of Miami. We will offer writers, thinkers, educators and storytellers to an audience of men who are looking for something more. El Lector will offer stimulating conversation and debate. At El Lector, men can light up a cigar. Whenever an El Lector event is held, men will have a rare opportunity to decompress and go deeper. Depth is our objective.
Cuban Crafters Cigars in Miami has agreed to allow us to hold El Lector meetings at their great facility. Sometimes we will hold the events at our church, depending on the projected size. On the 23rd of December, we will host actor and advocate Victor Rivas-Rivers at Granada Presbyterian Church in Coral Gables. He will be sharing his story of violence and victory with us. Victor has been in countless movies and TV shows, but his story was not all Hollywood. He has a great tale to tell.
So that is El Lector. Please feel free to invite your friends to this men’s event (that’s right… it’s a men’s only event). we hope to see you there.