April 3, 2014 by John Crapper
Special note: Exactly one year ago today I was attending my Mother’s funeral. It is also my birthday. My mother’s famous tagline, her go-to comment about many things was: “That’s a bunch of crap.” It is one of the reasons for my blogging name.
I post this article today for a special reason. My Mom suffered from dementia in her final years. The last cognitive conversation I had with her happened over a beer.
I was staying at her place watching over her and trying to calm her fears and offer reassurance. She kept repeating the same concerns and worries and after a few days I decided I needed a beer. I headed for the closest convenience store.
When I returned I asked Mom if she would like a little. She immediately said yes. I poured her no more than a quarter of a bottle into a glass and handed it to her. She proceeded to take a couple of sips.
Within a few minutes I noticed a marked elevation in her level of discourse. Memories and sequences of events were suddenly back into focus for her. She never even finished what I had poured but the little she had drank had worked some kind of magic on her mental processing and for the rest of the night she was back to her old self. We talked into the wee hours of the morning.
The next morning her dementia had returned never to be lifted to the same extent again.
It was a HOLY SHIT moment for me. It is a memory I will always cherish.
As Poop John the First of the Church of the Holy Shitters I’m always on the lookout for creative ways other churches are using to recruit members. I’m also on the lookout for ways to connect holiness with our excrement since in our Church Shit is elevated to the highest of levels.
Well I’ve had a revelation. It was one of those moments where I stopped what I was doing and said, “Holy Shit, why didn’t I think of this!” Some churches are trying to attract new members by creating a different sort of community around craft beer! So I decided to look into all this further.
Anyway, as it turns out I’ve discovered this practice is actually nothing new. For centuries apparently, beer has brought people together in worship. Not only that but interestingly some believe God actually inspired people to make beer too. (I hope it wasn’t Budweiser!) Here is what I found out!
I picked these tidbits up from an article entitled 5 Things You Might Not Have Known About God and Beer.
Beer brewing goes back to the ancient Sumerians, who had a goddess called Ninkasi who developed a recipe for beer. Pressed on a clay tablet dating back to around 1800 BCE it was called The Hymn to Ninkasi. This goddess is a predecessor to Christian St. Arnold of Soissons, who was one of many Saints believed to bless and protect the people’s beer.
Going back to the 18th century, Paulaner monks in Germany would brew and drink a heavy, malty beer called Doppelbock for Lent. The monks weren’t allowed to eat solid food through Lent, so the next best thing? Beer. The beer was so nutritious that it kept them nourished for the entire 40-day fast. The Paulaner Brewery in Munich still brews the Doppelbock beer today. (If someone will lend me the money I’ll double back to Germany and spend Lent drinking Doppelbock.)
Now let’s go to Ireland. We all know they have just a little knowledge about beer and God.
Arthur Guinness lived at a time when no one understood micro-organisms and how disease is spread. They routinely drank from the same waters in which they dumped their garbage and their sewage. Unknowingly, they polluted the rivers and lakes around their cities. People died as a result, and this made nearly everyone in Guinness’ day avoid water entirely. Instead, they drank alcoholic beverages.
Usually, this was done in moderation and all was well. Occasionally, though, excess set in and drunkenness plagued the land. This is what happened in the years just before Guinness was born, in the period historians call “The Gin Craze.” Parliament had forbidden the importation of liquor in 1689, so the people of Ireland and Britain began making their own. It was too much temptation. Drunkenness became the rage. Every sixth house in England was a “gin house,” many of which advertised, “Drunk for one penny, dead drunk for two pence, clean straw for nothing.” It was a terrible, poverty-ridden, crime-infested time.
To help heal their tortured society, some turned to brewing beer. It was lower in alcohol, it was safe—the process of brewing and the alcohol that resulted killed the germs that made water dangerous—and it was nutritious in ways scientists are only now beginning to understand. Monks brewed it, evangelicals brewed it and aspiring young entrepreneurs like Guinness brewed it. And they were respected and honored for their good works.
Guinness also applied the teachings of God to his brewing business.
Again from Stephen Mansfield’s article in RELEVANT Magazine:
The Guinness tale is not primarily about beer. It is not even primarily about the Guinnesses. It is about what God can do with a person who is willing and with a corporation committed to something noble and good in the world.
Next let’s go to London to the Greenbelt Festival. Here’s where people come together at Cheltenham Racecourse for a huge music festival to be inspired by God. The beer is what sets this festival apart from others. Take for instance an event entitled Beer and Hymns. At it people gather under a beer tent, grab their beer and sing along to the words scrolling across a big screen. With hands raised high, if not their heads, people are free to drink up and praise the Lord at the same time.
Moving closer to home, it is believed that Benjamin Franklin was quite the beer lover. This may stem from a quote attributed to the founding father, stating,
“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
However, Chicago-based brewing historian Bob Skilnik went back to take a look at the real quote. He found that the quote actually reads:
“Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”
So this beer quote, apparently, while well-meaning is not accurate. But what the heck. We already knew Jesus liked wine. He could easily whip up a batch anytime he wanted by uttering just a few phrases.
But it is comforting to now know that beer also has its place in saving souls.
In some ways I can see beer’s appeal as a recruitment tool for the Church of the Holy Shitters. It could certainly serve as a means of bringing people into the flock.
But since our Church is focused on our inflated self perception and ego I’m not so sure beer assists in the promotion of meekness within us. I’ve heard too many blowhards under the influence. The whole idea just might be a “bunch of crap!”