Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Good Cheer tonight: Catholic ills and thrills...

Father Joe will join us tonight at Good Cheer to help clear up some misconceptions about Catholics and certain topics which are near and dear to some of our hearts: "drinking, smoking, cussing and other things Catholics do."

Then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI enjoys a good German beer.
As a "convert"to the Church later in life, I can attest to the fact that this was the impression of Catholics that I carried with me throughout my pre-Catholic childhood and formative years: that Catholics drank, smoke and cussed. We Baptists never did those things. ...right? You know the old joke that there are three truths in modern religion: Jewish people don't recognize Jesus as the Messiah, Protestants don't recognize the Pope as the head of the Church, and Baptists don't recognize each other in the liquor store. There's a kernel of truth there for some.

Now, I'm not picking on my Baptist friends and family. In fact, many good and holy Protestants that I know and love - my parents, for example - simply don't drink out of principle. And for this, they are to be commended.

But there is a big difference between individuals who choose to refrain from using alcohol and an entire brand of Christianity which paints any use of alcohol as sinful. C.S. Lewis, the darling of modern evangelical Christianity (and, for what it's worth, one of my favorite authors in matters of spirituality), wrote about the same issue when he spoke of the virtue of temperance. He wrote:

"Temperance is, unfortunately, one of those words that has changed its meaning. It now usually means teetotalism... [In the past,] 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 teetotalers; 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 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 use them, he has taken the wrong turning."

Nothing kicks off a fun evening at the bar like a good Lewis quote. Let's talk more about this tonight.

The fun starts at 7pm at The Library. As always, everyone's welcome!