Wine With Dinner


Drinks before dinner
and wine with dinner
and after-dinner drinks.
Single-entendre, help me, Rhonda
look for my cufflinks!
Come with me and you will see
it all will be all right.
Rudolph the red-nosed wino
is gonna guide our sleigh tonight   ~ Loudon Wainwright III

One of my favorite church jokes is how you can tell the difference between a Baptist and a Methodist.  A Methodist will wave at you at the liquor store.

I like to take the time to inform people that it is not your father’s Evangelical Church out there. For example, you are more likely than not to see a grown man in shorts, during the summer, at your average Evangelical Church than to see him in a suit and tie.

A lot of Evangelical Churches has done away with the organ, piano, and choir. Now they have “praise bands” (note: my son plays lead guitar in one) and they sing “upbeat” contemporary songs that sort of sound like U2 if  U2 played “upbeat” songs.

The preacher comes out, sans robe or suit/tie combination and preaches. They no longer wear a lapel microphone, but rather this contraption that wraps around the ear and looks like something Garth Brooks would use.

Things have been loosening up at the old church house when it comes to alcohol.

think this was the doctrine I absorbed growing up in the church:  Drunkenness is a sin. Moderate consumption of alcohol is not a sin but should be avoided in case someone from the church sees you drinking and it causes them to drink and then they hop into a car and crash killing a family of five because that brother could not control his drinking because he saw you drinking and thought it would be okay, therefore, his sin is your fault. Evangelical doctrine can be tricky.

(Before I go further, I must acknowledge  there are some Christian denominations that see no problem with moderate and/or social drinking. We call them “Not Really Christian Christians”.)

(The above is just a joke. Lighten up, Frances!)

The evangelical church has divided into two categories: the vocal abstainers and the silent imbibers.

If you were to guess, you would guess the abstainers are in the majority. You would have guessed wrong. There is a whole lot of drinky-winky going on out there. However, unlike an Episcopalian (as an example), the average Southern Baptist (as an another example) would not feel comfortable admitting that Miller is both less filling and tastes great unless he knew the person wouldn’t rat on him to the Preacher.

It has even affected some members of the clergy.

Perry Noble was the pastor of  NewSpring Church, which is a Southern Baptist church with a name that wouldn’t horrify non-Baptists.  It is the largest church in South Carolina with a membership of over 30,000.  That’s a lot of Baptists.

He was fired from NewSpring due to  “personal issues related to alcohol”.  Like with most church firings, only a few people know what happened. I don’t know if he was an alcoholic or had a piece of rum cake at a Christmas party. All I know is that he is gone and it is hard for a preacher to get another job like that.

It is always sad with something like this happens because it disillusions the faithful and it confirms the suspicions of the non-believers.  You wonder how somebody could put himself in such a position. It is not like the dangers of “alcohol” are not known. It has been in all of the papers.

Some of it has to do with the “coolness” factor, which will bring down any Evangelical leader. This church’s praise band once opened an Easter  Service with AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell”.  The connection to Easter is lost on me.   If I had to bet (oops, another sin), I would bet Noble wanted to be cool and all the cool people drink.

Plus, he was a real big fish in a real small pond. 45 years old with the largest Southern Baptist church in South Carolina and he probably got too big for his britches, as my mom used to say. Some guys in that position think they can do no wrong.

Before anyone says the “J” word: I do not judge drinkers or nondrinkers.

Drinkers seem to get bent out of shape because non-drinkers might judge them. It is just my casual observation but there’s a lot of judgment going around on both sides. The abstainers think the imbibers are a bunch of sots, lushes, and Foster Brooks wannabes.  Imbibers think abstainers are a bunch of blue nose prudish wet blankets who wouldn’t know how to have a good time if it bit them on the leg, which is probably a sin too.

Alcohol always promises a good time and enhances a social gathering. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I worked in a convenience store while in college and I saw a lot of drunk people and none of them were close to being the most interesting man in the world.

One time, this guy got into a fight with a car full of college students because one of them called his wife “a whale”. He had every right to be mad, but there were about five college guys versus one scrawny guy. He lost the fight. He was drunk.

Another time, a man came in and told me, in graphic terms, about what his wife liked in the bedroom. His wife worked at my bank as a teller and I saw her once a week for years. He was drunk.

But, I’ve also seen people drink and handle it well. If they want to drink and don’t make you pay for it, it is a win-win for everybody.

For the record, I describe myself as a teetotaler, however, I have drank TWO beers in the past year. One in August in New York City and one in April for my anniversary.  I had wine with dinner during the cruise I was on. I know, I’m a party animal.

Booze is something I really don’t enjoy and I can literally take or leave it.  If you don’t like that, well, pray for me.