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Stuff Luke Carey Found: August

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American Catholics evangelize while sipping suds

Note: When I write of drinking, I mean the simple act of drinking an alcoholic beverage while over the age of 21. Many equate the word ‘drinking’ with the act of drinking excessively. That is not the focus of this article.

“In Catholicism, the pint, the pipe and the Cross can all fit together.” — GK Chesterton

My history professor shared a statistic I found fascinating. America used to have a serious alcohol problem. We drank, on average, 7.1 gallons of alcohol per capita in the year 1830. This was immediately met with the temperance movement, which culminated with Prohibition. (Interesting side note: technically, prohibition worked. During the Prohibition Era, the average American only drank .9 gallons of alcohol) To paraphrase my favorite historian, Gordon S. Wood, “We very much seem to be an all or nothing group of people.”

A quick survey of modern American culture shows that drinking is socially acceptable and celebrated. Our cultural practice of drinking does pose an interesting challenge when people drink to excess. A recent study suggested that while drinking itself is not necessary on the rise, binge drinking is.

I feel this all or nothing American tendency creeping into my mind when I think about my own drinking habits. There’s this inherent desire to do one of two things: reject drinking all together or scream “bottoms up!” When I look for answers within my Catholic faith, I find something different.

Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper defined temperance as “preserving and defending the realization of man’s inner order.” Everything that has a purpose, has a place. When I witness drinking gone wrong, it tends to lack at one of these two aspects. When we enjoy alcohol with purpose and within its right place, it can bring people together in a very unique, and let’s be honest, fun way. In fact, healthy drinking naturally provides opportunities for witness and evangelization. Some might find the link between drinking and evangelization to feel a bit absurd, but our Catholic history tells a different story.

This is where Sarah Vabulas’ work under the ‘Catholic Drinkie’ guise becomes valuable. (www.catholicdrinkie.com) Catholic Drinkie’s book, podcasts, talks and writings appeal to both the senses and the heart. Her book, The Catholic Drinkie’s Guide to Homebrewed Evangelism, explores the relationship between beer and faith, the patron saints of beer, tips for home-brewing as well as the history in Scripture. She even has a podcast that discusses the faith over a choice beverage. As a guest on her show, I’m proud to say discussed my love for Catholicism and Cincinnati craft beer, especially the one or two Moerlein IPA

I find Sarah’s work at the Catholic Drinking to be a fantastic example of the New Evangelization in action. When we tap into our Catholic history, as Catholic Drinkie does, we are able to see answers to what Benedict describes as the ultimate question posed by of the New Evangelization: how to live a life.

Twitter Follow of the Month: My good friend Michael Gormley, @layevangelist. He is a speaker, author and podcaster and all around good guy. He has what I call ‘different kicks’ throughout the years. One year it’s the writings of Tolkien, the next it’s libertarianism. Right now, he’s into exploring what it means to be a man and the importance of community. Regardless, he a great writer and speaker and an even better friend. He is well worth a follow.

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