The Search for God and Guinness

The Search for God and Guinness
Detail from the cover of 'The Search for God and Guinness'
Arthur Guinness wasn’t fooling around. He was mad as a hornet and wielding a pickaxe. Stand back.

The year was 1771 and Guinness needed more water for his brewery. So he opened up a new watercourse and swapped out the pipes running to his shop from the River Liffey with larger ones. In addition to the increased flow, he increased the ire of his neighbors. The city of Dublin insisted he stop. Nothing doing, he responded. He “would defend [the water] by force of arms.”

Out came the sheriff with a crew to stop Guinness’ water. Arthur’s men resisted the sheriff until Arthur showed up. He was seething. Here is author Stephen Mansfield on what happened next:

Arthur quickly sized up the situation, grabbed a pickaxe from one of his men, and “with very much improper language [declared] that they should not proceed . . . that if they filled [the watercourse] up from end to end, he would immediately reopen it.”

That’s just a sip from Stephen Mansfield’s new book, The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World, an exciting title that just shipped from Thomas Nelson, where I work. Mansfield is best known as the New York Times bestselling author of such books as The Faith of George W. Bush and The Faith of Barack Obama. Now, in this new book, he tells the story of the faith under the frothy head of a glass of stout.

Arthur’s story is the story of all inspiring entrepreneurs—he was innovative, tenacious, forward-thinking. And he was very successful. But the story is more than that. Arthur, who grew up on the estate of an Irish archbishop, was swayed by the evangelical and social teachings of John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield, moved by their concern for helping the needy and neglected.

“What distinguishes his story,” says Mansfield, “is that he understood his success as forming a kind of mandate, a kind of calling to a purpose of God beyond just himself and his family to the broader good he could do in the world.”

That’s the story Mansfield tells. The Search for God and Guinness follows the Guinness family through the generations and highlights not only the fascinating brewing side of things, including the unique corporate culture of Guinness (the Google of its day), but also the surprising philanthropy and missionary work (did you know, for instance, that Hudson Taylor’s work in China was funded by the Guinnesses?).

And Mansfield’s story is as relevant as it is riveting. In a time when corporations and individual businessmen have squandered trust as fast as they have wealth, the Guinness story is an extra stout corrective, one that shows how a company can prosper while also bettering the lives of millions.

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