Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Keg in the Desert Shall Spring Forth

We all know that when Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, the Son of God resolutely declined. But what if the Sneaky One had rejoindered, saying "fine - take these stones and from them make BEER?" The fact that he did not is proof that the devil is not a Lutheran, if Jesus was, he would have had a hell of a time finding a snappy Bible verse counter here.

Thankfully for salvation history, no suds were spilled that day in the desert. However, a non-denominational Iowa home-brewer is putting the party back in penance by undertaking the Lenten discipline of abstaining from all solid food except water and beer (see the story here). Aside from raging jealousy (alcohol is verboten for this blogger this season), I'm also quite intrigued. Eric Marrapodi of CNN, describes J. Wilson, the home-brewer and suds enthusiast whose blog's motto is "an ideal condition of harmony, beer and joy" as " not a suds-soaked frat boy, but a careful home brewer with an eye for history and a hope for a spiritual breakthrough." Nor is he the first to undertake such an endeavor:

"Three hundred or four hundred years ago, a group of Paulaner monks in a Bavarian region had made a stronger beer in a town called Einbeck and they called it bock. The monks started making a stronger beer, a double beer, called doppelbock," Sorensen said. "The story goes the monks would give up eating and literally would drink this 'liquid bread' to sustain them through their Lenten fast."

And apparently, the monks were on to something. In addition to imitating their imbibing habits, Wilson has also taken on other contours of their devotional discipline:

He said has been reading through the Old Testament book of Psalms, meeting with a pastor and tried to increase his prayer life as part of the spiritual elements of the fast. He also spent last weekend visiting an group of monks at Conception Abbey in Missouri.

He said there have been many little spiritual breakthroughs living like a fasting monk in the modern world.

"I think in the first few days there were lots of little tidbits of enlightenment. I felt like I was in a tunnel and really focused. You could live among the craziness in the world and be a focused Christian."

Definitely a discipline to ponder for future journeys with Jesus into the heart of the Lenten season. Apparently, Wilson is keeping a blog, Diary of a Part-Time monk, where you can follow his exploits.

In the meantime, if the devil offers you mug of frothing beer in the midst of your desert sojourn, perhaps the correct response would be to take it, chug it down, and then chuck the empty glass at the horny little bastard so you can contemplate in peace. Martin Luther would be proud, and, I like to think, so would the Lord.


  1. Phil has told me before that monks used rather strong and dark beers to help them through times of fasting. It's really neat that Wilson is giving it a try. You sure can get your calories that way.

  2. Would you also have awesome visions?

    That's one way to keep a vigil! Love it.

    Just a bit more than three weeks left; hang in there.