The Gospel According to St. Arnold–Part 4

Solving Christians’ Drinking Problems With Sex and Money

Welcome to an essential brewvana series. Discussing The Role of Beer in a Christian Life OR The Role of Christianity in a Beery Life, “The Gospel According to St. Arnold” will be a Wednesday feature here at brewvana for the next few weeks.

If you missed the Preface, you can find it here.

If you missed Part 1–I smell a Pharisee, you can find it here.

If you missed Part 2–St. Arnold, Beer and Church Connections, you can find it here.

If you missed Part 4–What Would Jesus Brew?, you can find it here.

churchsexandmoneyTo be blunt, abstinence ain’t gonna happen. Prohibition didn’t work, and further restriction of progressive beer laws will only continue the deterioration of our culture and the responsible decision-making skills of the next generation.

Treating alcohol as a taboo subject is foolish. Education starts in the home. Why avoid teaching on even a single subject? The idea of an educational stance on touchy issues (I might even call them societal issues, or problems) is not unheard of to the Conservative Christian. Let’s digress into sex and money for an illustration (not that kind of illustration).

Money, along with children and wine, is mentioned in the Bible as a blessing from God. However, we’re also quite familiar with Paul’s quote: “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” Aware of this dichotomy, I don’t hear anyone lobbying hard for a bill on total abstinence from the almighty dollar. Instead, scriptural principles are applied by the church in teaching the responsible stewardship of money.

The love of money is where the danger lies. And this danger takes many forms. For some, it’s money. For others, it’s pornography. For others, it’s golf. The list could go on and on, but it’s important to note that included on that list is our beloved beer.

While beer is good and yummy, it is only a complement to a well-lived life. It is important for the beer geek, the homebrewer, the beer blogger to take stock of his or her priorities, stopping well short of idolatry. Is beer getting in the way of your marriage? Does it take more time than your children? Does it effect work? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might want to consider backing off. You’re not in brewvana anymore.

While there are scary numbers about AIDS, and other STDs, as well as rape and sexual abuse, I don’t hear a clamoring for the abolition of sexual contact from the conservative sect. Rather, the Church teaches responsible sexual behavior, again based on scriptural principles.

Money, sex and alcohol all three have the ability to cause death and destruction. Irresponsibly, alcohol is treated with contempt by our neo-prohibitionist brethren. It is demonized and given a reputation for increased damage, while a little education, care and concern could go a long way.

It seems a little odd that the brewers and beer aficionados should be thrust into the position of educator. Maybe not. The brewers, after all, are artisans. They are proud of their craft. They like talking about the flavors, aromas and mouthfeel. They enjoy talking about ingredients and the process. They talk tradition. They talk history. And they care that you broaden your knowledge and appreciate their hard work.

WBF crowdOne of my favorite parts of working for The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery was our approach to beer festival ne’er-do-wells. The ones that show up at your booth and respond to your pleasant greeting and offer of their choice of samples with: “I don’t care.”

“We don’t have a beer called that,” we’d say. “What can I pour for you?”

Some variation of, “whatever,” “anything,” “just pour something,” or another, “I don’t care” was occasionally the response.

We did care. We took the time to describe the beers and their flavors and walk them through making a choice. Often, this moment of personal contact was appreciated. Sometimes it was not. One can’t be offended. You can’t undo 21, 31 or 41 years of input and experience with one 2-minute conversation. I didn’t raise them. But it was a step in the right direction, if the seed ever gets water. These days, that’s more and more likely. In fact the educational initiative goes well beyond a brief beer festival conversation. The Beer Judge Certification Program and Cicerone Certification Program are but two examples.

If I learned anything in my many years of working with troubled youth and their families in both group homes and a crisis intervention center, it is this: nobody wins a power struggle.

The dogmatic approach of the neo-prohibitionist does not work. They pigeon-hole themselves as fanatics. They are ignored by reasonable people. And they scare the bejeezus out of a few, something that will surely stretch this fruitless dispute (and its inherent dangers) to another generation.

This is so unfortunate. They could partner with the craft beer world toward a positive impact that would enhance culture and moderation for generations to come. But if history is any indicator, the Pharisees didn’t join up with Jesus. I’d rather be a pessimist than a liar. A partnership of this kind may not come to pass.

I always used to tell our group home kids, “With freedom comes responsibility.” There are many instances throughout our life in which we are tested. Our first car (mine would go 120 mph). Our first boyfriend or girlfriend. Moving out. Our first paycheck. Our first credit card. The boss is out sick. Our wife goes out of town. Our husband goes fishing.

The mistakes we can make in life are innumerable. Alcohol didn’t even make the top ten. If it were such an issue, it would have appeared, cut-and-dried, in the Ten Commandments. Instead, a choice was given. Freedom. The freedom to stumble and make mistakes, as well as the freedom to live responsibly.

But we live in a diverse world. Some people are fun-haters, and we’ve been given the freedom to deal with them. Hopefully, we’re being sweet and kind to them. We don’t need to give them an ugly picture of the beer lover. While there are some rascals out there, my experience has revealed beer folk to be some of the best grain in the field. More important than avoiding an ugly beer picture is the part about them being People. Human beings that we should treat with kindness, despite differences.

We’ll catch more flies with sugar than vinegar, any day of the week. I just wish the neo-prohibitionists would reciprocate in their delivery.


Coming Wednesday, January 2: Part 5 –Closing thoughts on spreading the Gospel


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