It’s tricky writing about God. No matter what I type someone will, vociferously, disagree with me. If I write “God is good” I will get emails (in all CAPS) detailing the Crusades and the Inquisition. If I write “God is bad” I’ll get emails (in all CAPS) detailing the lives of Mother Teresa and St. Francis of Assisi. If I write that “God is what you make of Him” I will get a series of fundamentalist treatises (in all CAPS) that are heavily tinged with Old Testament vitriol and very clear definitions of what the author believes God is. So you can understand my trepidation today.
Nevertheless, I get paid the big bucks to take the occasional risk.
As I have noted before there is long, if somewhat mangled, history of alcohol and religion. From Egyptian priests and their granary beers to Jesus and his various wines, God seems, in the main, to support the responsible consumption of His gifts. The Catholic Church, in its Ritual Romanum (that’s the book of prayers and stuff that priests use to cover special occasions like bike blessings and so on), has a nifty prayer for blessing beer.
What? You thought they just made this stuff up as they went?
Bene+dic, Domine, creaturam istam cerevisae, quam ex adipe frumenti producere dignatus es: ut sit remedium salutare humano generi: et praesta per invocationem nominis tui sancti, ut, quicumque ex ea biberint, sanitatem corporis, et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Of course, you probably had that one memorized. What? You were sleeping through class the day everyone but you became fluent in Latin? Jiminy Christmas! Okay, let’s try it in English (it works in any language).
Bless (priest performs the sign of the cross, that’s what the little + sign above means), O Lord, this creature beer, that Thou hast been pleased to bring forth from the sweetness of the grain: that it might be a salutary remedy for the human race: and grant by the invocation of Thy holy name, that, whosoever drinks of it may obtain health of body and a sure safeguard for the soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
I like that. “This creature beer.” Very poetic if essentially vague.
Nevertheless, as all good Christians know, now is the time of Lent which is supposed to be symbolized by the faithful giving something up they love for the 40 day duration. Well, one man seems to have taken his devotion to a whole new, and interesting, level. According to MSNBC he’s given up everything EXCEPT beer.
Instead of fruits and vegetables, why not stick with beer? That’s what a man in Corning is doing, and he said it’s for religious reasons.
J. Wilson is attempting to recreate the way Fransiscan monks marked the holy season of Lent centuries ago. Until Easter, he’ll live on only water and four hearty pints per day of his own Doppelbock creation.
The newspaper editor is getting guidance from both a local doctor and a pastor. He knows living on 1,200 calories a day will be a challenge, but his goal is to never become drunk.
“It’s not something I’m taking lightly. My health is important to me. I’ve got a wife and two kids that are very, very important to me. So, it’s not like a joke,” Wilson said.
Actually, sir, you have a wife and two kids WHO are very important to you. They are human beings, not inanimate objects. That quibble aside, it’s pretty ingenious of the guy to figure out a way to drink beer every day and get a priest to sign off on it. They usually tend to favor more moderate usages.
His blog, mentioned above, is actually a pretty good read. I’ll give you a little sample.
But this project isn’t about me. It’s a historical study into the lives of these Christian monks centuries ago. I’m just the vessel. I want to be clear about that. I hope beer lovers’ learn something reasonable about Christianity, and I hope Christians learn something reasonable about beer.
And, after all, isn’t hope what it’s all about anyway?
3 11 2011