Part of me agrees, you know. I wish I could stop talking about it too, this revolution. But apparently, I’m just not supposed to shut up about it yet.
I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving, and I’m feeling so–well, frankly, unbalanced about it, how strong the impulse to praise God is in me. Though the usual discontent hasn’t gone away, so it’s sort of like an inside-out rant these days.
I just started reading The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll, pastor of the Mars Hill community in Seattle where Sheri and I lived before moving to Colorado to work at Focus. We didn’t attend this church. Sheri was already serving at University Presbyterian when I arrived from my world-hopping to start working at convincing (conniving?) her of my sincere rebirth into the marrying type.
But this isn’t about that. This is about Mark’s book and his chapter, “the sin of light beer”–and how God is using it to convict me of my complicity with a “Christian” culture that equates avoidance of evil appearances with holiness.
In this chapter, Mark says history shows that our watered-down American beer comes from the women’s sufferage and prohibition movements around the turn of the 19th century. He argues that the effort to prohibit drunkenness put out of business all but the largest brewers. Microbreweries like those that flourish in the Pacific Northwest are now helping to bring real beer back (a fact strangely similar to the little publishers like Brook Street and others, valiantly attempting to revolutionize the state of the book market).
So here’s a little story that may help explain my strange mix of gratitude and discontent. When I graduated from Westmont College with an English degree, I did the most logical thing and went off to London to become a waiter. After that I started bartending in LA and then at a winery in Santa Rosa. I held multiple, concurrent bartending jobs toward the end of my liquor-slinging career. I’ll never forget the characters I met or the many stories I heard about men leaving their wives, homosexuals hiding from employers, drug dealers buying half-million dollar houses, famous stars’ abandoned children trying to squeak by on their parents’ borrowed fame. It was an education I fear I’m losing the longer I go without writing about it. My life is largely free of all such “messy” complications these days. My obvious problem is finding a publisher willing to take such things.
Anyway, toward the end of the beer chapter, Mark interviews Mike Hale, founder and president of Hale’s Ales Brewery. Mark indicates he has no inteniton of doing anything specifically “revolutionary”: He’s just a Christian guy trying to be faithful to his calling. “Most people are surprised that a Christian would brew beer or own a pub,” he says. Which initially makes us think, Well, of course. But then again, Why? Jesus drank. He drank so much actually, that he was blasted by his accusers of public drunkenness (Matt. 11:19).
Oh, heck. Just buy the book. Mark makes the case so much better than I about the clear distinctions between the gospel, culture, and the church.
And as I sit and eat my turkey tomorrow, I’ll thank God for all of you who have committed with me to what we, in humility, hope to earn for our convictions: similar accusations as Jesus’ enemies made when faced with the uncomfortable truth that won’t be quenched by the “light beer” currently produced for this country’s consumer Christians.