A spir­i­tual quest, one barstool at a time

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - THE GO GUIDE - Ben Crandell

Life does not need to be com­pli­cated: a good beer, a good dog, good mu­sic and some fel­low­ship. Who knows where an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of life’s sim­ple virtues will take you? Ask Bill Miller.

The man more prop­erly ad­dressed as Father Bill is a Tex­as­born Epis­co­pal priest, au­thor, bar owner and world trav­eler whose re­sume prompted me to triplecheck that the 10 Com­mand­ments do not in­clude the pro­hi­bi­tion, “Thou shalt not covet thy neigh­bor’s life.”

With a web­site (FatherBill.net) ti­tled “Spirituality for real peo­ple,” Miller be­lieves that paths to en­light­en­ment come in many forms. Even in his bar, Padre’s, in arty Marfa, Texas, which re­cently closed its doors (Miller is seek­ing an in­vestor) af­ter a New Year’s Eve con­cert by the Flat­landers’ Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gil-

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“One of the things I learned is how sim­i­lar be­ing a bar owner is to be­ing a parish priest,” Miller says. “You have th­ese di­verse com­mu­ni­ties, with great mu­sic, joy­ful move­ment, an at­mos­phere of ac­cep­tance, po­tent sacra­men­tal bev­er­ages, an oc­ca­sional brawl, and you mix all that in with th­ese mo­ments of tran­scen­dence and con­fes­sion and pen­i­tence and love and loss. Trans­for­ma­tion hap­pens.”

Miller will be at Books and Books in Co­ral Gables at 4 p.m. Sun­day to share sto­ries of hap­pi­ness and hop­pi­ness in “The Beer Drinker’s Guide to God: The Whole and Holy Truth About Lager, Lov­ing and Liv­ing,” a 2014 col­lec­tion of es­says pub­lished by the Si­mon and Schus­ter im­print Howard Books. Just re-re­leased in pa­per­back is a 2005 book in­spired by his Airedale ti­tled “The Gospel Ac­cord­ing to Sam: An­i­mal Sto­ries for the Soul” (Se­abury).

Miller has spent most of his religious life lead­ing con­gre­ga­tions in Hous­ton, Austin and Dal­las. His church in Austin be­came a desti­na­tion for the artis­tic and lit­er­ary crowd in the city, in­clud­ing Wil­liam Broyles Jr., for­mer editor of Newsweek and the Os­car-nom­i­nated screen­writer of Tom Hanks’ “Apollo 13” and “Cast Away.”

In a blurb for “The Beer Drinker’s Guide to God,” Broyles calls Miller “a ma­gi­cian with lan­guage. His sto­ries are beau­ti­fully writ­ten. They’re para­bles, gate­ways into the deep mys­ter­ies of life, love, and death. They find great joy in the ev­ery­day won­ders of life. The sim­plest things be­come beau­ti­ful


Ad­mis­sion to Craft Beer Car­tel’s an­niver­sary car­ni­val on March 19: $5. The chance to dunk Ju­lian Siegel (left, with wife Lisa and part­ner Adam Fine) in a vat of wa­ter? Price­less.

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