Rubicon – An Interview with Greg Fromholz
I heard about Greg Fromholz 4 years ago, just around when we decided to move to Dublin. People said he’d be a good person to talk to. But try as I may it took me 3.5 years to actually get a coffee with him…but when I did it was well worth it and I was inspired and encouraged by his story – inspired because here is someone that really wants to love and serve Dublin, encouraged because you can be from outside Ireland and still have an impact.
He is also the co-founder of Rubicon which is a really cool and niche event that happens every year. He’ll explain more below.
(1) Greg, tell us a bit about yourself, your family and how you fill your weeks. Also, what’s your favourite thing about Dublin?
I’m originally from the United States, having moved to Ireland in 1990. I fill my week in a quite a variety of roles that at times feel like I’m juggling chainsaws and badgers, but is incredible. I spend my fill my week writing, having published my second book “Broken; Restoring Trust Between the Sacred and the Secular” last August with Abingdon Press; speaking; directing music videos with everyone from Rend Collective to Guy Garvey of Elbow and documentaries “Phyllis” and the soon to released “Peterson: In-Between the Man and The Message”, a short film with Eugene Peterson; co0ordinating Young Adults work for the Archbishop of the Church of Ireland; serving our church plant Holy Trinity, Rathmines: and running the Rubicon gathering. And I love it.
I’m married to Alexandra, with three brilliant kids, Chloe, Joshua and Eden and one ridiculous dog named Mr. Bojangles.
I love roaming the streets of Dublin and discovering the art and coffee and people that continue to bring such a vibrancy to this old/new city.
(2) Tell us about Rubicon – why did it start? What was the vision? How have the first few years gone?
Rubicon started 5 years ago with Rob Jones and myself hoping to create a space for discussing and debating the interplay of culture and faith, a community where the big questions can be wrestled with. We wanted a conversational TED Talk styled event with 95% local speakers as well as a strong 5% from outside Ireland for outside perspective. The first years have gone really well, we’ve been able to maintain the boutique style of the event by limiting number to 120, so as not to lose the intimacy of conversation.
(3) What is the line up and theme for this years conference? Why have you chosen the focus you have?
The line up is really exciting this year- but of course I’d say that as I’m running it- but I do believe it. Brian Zahnd, Pastor and Author of “Water to Wine”, “A Farewell to Mars” and “Beauty Will Save The World” is our keynote.
Joining him are: Stephen James Smith – Slam Poet, Writer and Performer of “Dublin You Are” :: Pádraig Ó Tuama – Corrymeala Community Leader :: Dr. James Gallen – Lecturer in the School of Law and Government at DCU :: Sr. Imelda Wickham – Wheatfield Prison Chaplain :: Ferg Brown – Founder and Owner of Roasted Brown :: Natasha Paulberg – Dublin Composer and many more.
This year we will be looking at 1916-2016; Church State to Secular State, how the church has evolved, changed and atrophied over the past 100 years as well as it’s role going forward.
(4) If you were doing a SWOT analysis of the Irish Church, what would say are it’s strengths and weaknesses?
Great question. I can be like a teenager at times with the Irish church- loving it at times and annoyed with it at others. As a parent of a teenager this becomes more and more apparent as we go on. Yet, I have a deep hope that is rooted in the incredible communities and churches that are restoring a trust that has been severely shattered over the last decades and indeed centuries by the tradition and not so traditional churches. I think at times the churches strength is also it’s weakness, that of familiarity and it being part the cultural DNA; this gives both opportunity for influence but also gives the church a lot more work when it comes to restoring that trust. Work that I believe we should all dig our hands and souls into.
(5) Why should someone come to Rubicon?
Because being challenged beyond what we are comfortable with can also be great fun. And, let’s be honest, we are all pretty good at complaining about issues and maybe not so good at gathering, conversing and solving problems. Rubicon represents the opportunity for hope-filled conversations with diverse voices as we, together, explore culture, the arts and the future of Christianity in Ireland.
Here’s the details on the 2 days;
Rubicon | April 16, 9am-5pm | Church of Ireland College of Education, Rathmines
Rubicon+ | April 17, 12am-3pm | Holy Trinity Rathmines
(6) What’s the best book you have (a) ever read and (b) read in the last year (that’s not the bible)?