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.

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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.

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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…]

The artistic freedom of musicians and bakers

Liberal musicians have long objected to their work being used by conservative politicians.  And, as the link shows, they usually get their way.  After all, artists should have the freedom not to have their creative work employed in a cause they do not believe in.

So why don’t the culinary artists who make wedding cakes have that same freedom? [Read more…]

Amazon sues writers of fake reviews

Who among us does not read consumer reviews before buying an online product?  Or eating out at a new restaurant?  Or choosing a service provider?

These seem to me to be a valuable dimension of the online marketplace, and they have become very important to the businesses getting reviewed.  I appreciate it when companies post an answer to a negative review, pledging to address the problems that were noted.  For the marketplace to be responsive to consumers, it needs information, and now that information–from feedback to businesses to warnings and testimonials to fellow consumers–is now instantly available.

And yet it invites fraud.  I read one estimate that 10% of  reviews are faked.  Businesses can review themselves, or cajole or even pay other people to give them a 5-star review.  Review sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor try to police that as best they can.

Now Amazon, which posts reviews not only for books but for practically everything it sells,  is suing up to 1,000 writers who are part of a scheme to post positive reviews for $5 apiece. [Read more…]