The liquid bread fast

In the 17th century, a strict order of monks gave up all solid foods for Lent.  So to sustain themselves, they developed a particularly rich version of what they called “liquid bread.”  That is to say, beer.

This was the origin of the Paulaner brewery, which still makes its acclaimed beer.

A few years ago, a Christian  journalist went on an all-beer fast.  Intoxication faded.  Hunger subsided.  And he developed a remarkable “clarity of focus” and devotional intensity.

I suspect that any kind of long-term fasting can have that affect.  (Can anyone speak to this?)

I should add, don’t try this at home!  Most beers today lack the nutritional substance of the old brews.  (The journalist found a special doppelbock.)  And there can be other unintended consequences. [Read more…]

$12 coffee and the positional economy

16091786152_cb28be709e_mStarbucks is opening some exclusive “Reserve Roasteries and Tasting Rooms,” which will offer high-end coffee experiences at around $12 per cup.  George Will discusses the phenomena, drawing on an economist who distinguishes between the “material” and the “positional” economy.

First we have to meet our basic “material” needs (food, shelter, clothing).  After that, what once were luxuries (automobiles, air conditioning, computers) are turned into necessities.  After that, we spend money on high-status goods that enhance our social “position.”

Read this analysis and my questions about it after the jump.

Would you buy a $12 cup of coffee?  If you like coffee enough, I suspect you would, if only once, even if no one saw you do it. [Read more…]

The invention of grape juice to avoid communion wine

Grape juice didn’t exist, as a product, until 1869.  It was invented by a Methodist minister named Thomas Bramwell Welch who sought a non-alcoholic alternative to communion wine.  This is where we get Welch’s grape juice to this day.

Christianity Today tells how this happened, excerpted and linked after the jump.

[Read more…]

Sugar industry paid scientists to blame fat

In the neverending battle against obesity, heart disease, and bad health, what are we supposed to avoid eating, fat or sugar?

The question is important, because, if you fear fat, those fat-free products you may be substituting are packed with sugar and other carbohydrates.

We should consult science to settle the issue, but it turns out that the nutritional science of the last few decades has been seriously compromised.  It has been discovered that back in the 1960s, the sugar industry paid all-too-human scientists from Harvard large amounts of money to shift nutritional blame from sugar to fats.  Those studies have continued to influence other studies, which build upon them.  The scientists, who are now deceased, include one who helped draft the government’s dietary guidelines.

[Read more…]

America, the beer

Budweiser beer will be calling itself “America” this summer, with patriotic slogans plastered all over its cans. Read about it after the jump.

What does this say about Budweiser, America, patriotism, etc.? [Read more…]

Theology & beer

A trend today is holding Bible studies, outreach ministries, and theological discussions in pubs, with the accompaniment of good beer.  I’ve spoken at some of those.

But talking about faith with what is sometimes called “the Lutheran beverage” is not a new phenomenon.  It goes way back, according to an article in Journal Sentinel from Milwaukee (natch!), and was especially instrumental in the Reformation.  (I would add to the article’s examples the importance of the White Horse Inn in Cambridge, where luminaries of the English Reformation such as Tyndale, Coverdale,  Barnes, and Cranmer, met to discuss the latest writings out of Wittenberg.  That English tavern is where the radio show got its name.)

Favorite takeaway from the article:  Catholic countries drank wine; Reformation countries drank beer.

What do you think about this today?  Should a church sponsor such events, or does it work better on the parachurch level, as informal gatherings, or when the theological discussions over a pint occur naturally among friends?  Or do you think the combination of alcohol and religion is totally inappropriate? [Read more…]