Thoughts on Temperance on a Friday

I’ve been thinking about these thoughts written by C.S. Lewis in the current YIMC Book Club selection Mere Christianity.  They are from chapter 3 of Book III, The Cardinal Virtues. I thought of this when I saw this photograph of Our Pope and a tall glass of beer. Hats off to Athos over at Chronicles of Atlantis.

It reminded me of something Benjamin Franklin said, Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Here is what my new friend Jack Lewis has to say on the subject of Temperance,

Temperance is, unfortunately, one of those words that has changed its meaning. It now usually means teetotalism. But in the days when the second Cardinal virtue was christened “Temperance,” it meant nothing of the sort. Temperance referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further.

It is a mistake to think that Christians ought all to be teetotallers; Mohammedanism, not Christianity, is the teetotal religion. Of course it may be the duty of a particular Christian, or of any Christian, at a particular time, to abstain from strong drink, either because he is the sort of man who cannot drink at all without drinking too much, or because he wants to give the money to the poor, or because he is with people who are inclined to drunkenness and must not encourage them by drinking himself. 

But the whole point is that he is abstaining, for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying. One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons-marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.

Still not sure? Here is what Our Lord says about such things in the Gospel of Mark, (7:14-23) from the Daily Readings earlier this week,

The Heart of Man

After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable.And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and then out into the latrine?” Thus He declared all foods clean. 
And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

So be temperate, and prudent, and all the other Cardinal virtues. It’s almost Miller-time at Casa del Weathers.  Even if I’m under the weather, (ha-ha, no pun intended) it’s still one beer per man, per day in my household.  Adios, and please drink responsibly!

"Vaya con Dios, Leonard; Rest in Peace."

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  • steve

    One of my favorite pictures of B16! 🙂

  • cathyf

    I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer. — Abraham Lincoln

  • A new beer to try one day…Malteser Weissbeir

  • Maria

    Cathf–ROFLMAO. Terrific. Good post, Frank. If you are back to beer, you are fully on the mend, my friend.

  • Mary P.

    Frank, my favorite beer is Erdinger Hefe-Weizen, which is brewed in Bavaria. Since our pope spent a lot of time there, I'm sure it must have been one of his favorites, too. Just guessing.

  • My husband and I grew up in houses that didn't drink. Mine because of a history of alcoholism, his because of a fundamental belief that drinking was bad (not so much his parents' beliefs, but his dad is the pastor of a church where many people do believe this). We went to a university that did not allow drinking for students or faculty (with the exception of a wedding or communion wine). Now that we are on our own, we drink. But now I'm pregnant and can't drink, (just a sip here or there) and, go figure, I would begin to have pregnancy cravings for beer. *sigh* Temperance. I have to be satisfied with a mere taste here or there for the next two months. 🙂

  • I like how Lewis explains that this virtue was hi-jacked and incorrectly associated with drinking alcohol. Michelle, you are abstaining for a good reason and will be able to enjoy again shortly.

  • Anonymous

    Quoted from Anthony Capella (AC) author of, "The Various Flavors of Coffee."AC: I do remember thinking that, having written about someone who abandons duty for pleasure in "The Wedding Officer," I wanted to put the case for the opposite point of view, i.e. to write about someone who, in the course of growing up, realizes the limitations of unfettered sensuality and hedonism.

  • Anon 4:25,Temperance is the opposite of "unfettered sensuality and hedonism." As Lewis writes, to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further.Consider the following Psalm of Thanksgiving (Psalm 104:14-15),You raise grass for the cattle and plants for our beasts of burden. You bring bread from the earth, and wine to gladden our hearts, Oil to make our faces gleam, food to build our strength.