Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scotch, Cigars, and Creation

Without deep reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.
-Albert Einstein 

Nothing screams theology as loud as cigars and scotch.

If you were raised in the traditional church, you may disagree with me. As a matter of fact, there are several pieces of art whose content revolve around the concept that good Christians don't drink or smoke or play cards or do anything remotely fun. I like to refer to this as "footloose syndrome," and I think that many of us run into it today. 

Let me explain something that I think a lot of people who live in "reality" miss. Most believers do not feel that alcohol or tobacco are particularly evil (health risks and such not withstanding). In fact, for most of us, it's not the substance itself that causes the issue. It is a)the reason that people are using those substances, and b)what they do when they've gone overboard, that causes the trepidation that cause most modern people of faith to avoid the game all together.

But I was raised in the camp that says alcohol is okay in moderation, when it's a social event- (not an escape from life). And smoking the occasional cigar, or pipe is fine, as long as there's no addiction issue to worry about in the aftermath. I don't smoke,but I do drink occasionally, and usually these occasions find me in a large group of people who want to talk about God.

And so some of the best theological discussions that I've had have been outside the confines of footloose syndrome, over a glass of Rose. I think there is a simple explanation for this; If you want to talk about the philosophy of the world, of life, love and why, then you can catch me at any time. But if you want to talk about my core belief system, about the God who rules over my life, you better be ready to settle in. Get comfortable. We are going to be here for a while.

For a while after I turned 21, I went out drinking with friends like it was something to prove. Living with a faith that is often considered archaic can do that to the heart- we go and participate in activities that will make us fun and exciting like we have something to prove. "Sure I've got Jesus, but that doesn't mean I can't do eight shots of tequila or anything. It just means that I don't have to do it to forget my problems." As if my friends will see this and suddenly repent on the spot. In case you didn't catch on, that's a misguided falsity. And in case you were wondering, yes, Christians get hang-overs too.

Which is maybe why I prefer my alcohol on front porches, sitting with my brothers and sisters from church, sharing my thoughts on first Peter or Paul's greatest statement. Because there is a certain accountability about being there, in that moment, over those talks, that's going to keep my motivations pure and my mind where it needs to be, focusing on what it needs to think about. When we sit together in the midst of conversation about the creator, we aren't playing the world's game,but instead focusing on that which we are dedicated to, even in the midst of these activities which have caused the world brokenness for centuries.

If you are a believer, and you feel a strong conviction against these things, I encourage you to hold fast to that, but to also let your friends know, so that we can have theological milkshakes, or fruit snacks, or something else. But for anyone who reads this, please understand that if I am having a drink, it is not to impress you, my earthly friends. Instead, it is a tribute to the creator of universe, who brought forth fruit on the vine. And if you're not a believer, be warned- drinking, much like almost anything else, makes me want to talk about Him and what He means to me.

Cheers to that.

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