Sunday, July 20, 2008

The perils of near beer

I had to chuckle a bit when I stumbled on this. An excerpt:

In an article entitled, "The Beer Facts" it quotes:

"A lot of people like the taste of beer, they like to drink beer, and they don’t end up as alcoholics or drug addicts," says Rick, a former beer drinker. "The problem I see is that once you start drinking, the Spirit is going to withdraw from you. So although your drinking might not get out of hand, you still can’t have the influence of the Holy Ghost with you because you’re drinking." (Laury Livsey, "The Beer Facts," New Era, Mar. 1993, 44)

Not only would you be unable to have the spirit, what about the example you are setting? Will people know the beer you're drinking doesn't have alcohol in it? People will know you're a member of the Church, how do you think you will affect them with your example?

It is not that somebody's ardent pursuit of living out their faith is innately humorous to me... it is just that this reminded me so much of myself not too many years ago.

Most people get passionate about something when they are in high school. For some it is one or several sports, others it may be one or several members of the opposite sex. Perhaps somebody may captain a debate team, another may be a national competitor for Future Business Leaders of America. Whatever it is, high school is a time to throw all your energy and enthusiasm into an area and see what happens. Me, I was the president of the bible club. Yes indeed, First Priority. We met weekly, prayed fervently, had leadership events, pizza parties, and plenty of good clean Christian Rock.

For me at that point in my life, I had a very deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ, that also ended up being very public. Trying to live out that type of faith meant a buzz of activity (3-4 days at church per week) and a long list of no's- no drinking, (wouldn't think about it, nor was I ever given the opportunity...) no swearing, no secular music, no dating (a personal choice, because courting girls is more holy), no believing wrong theologies, no reading the wrong translation of the bible (king james 4 eva!!!), no keeping quiet about your beliefs or your friends are going straight to hell. Its funny to think of what my rules omitted, like playing uber-violent video games, or letting my grades slip... How much time did I waste 'trying to be a good example' when nobody was paying attention? How many people did my hideious little attempt at righteousness actually discourage from engaging in some form of faith for themselves?

Bear with me, this is a rather painful era of my life to reflect and write about... Since then my journey of faith has been 'interesting' in the most wonderful ways. In moving away, getting an education, going off to the big city etc. I found two things to be true:

1. You actually can't escape God...

2. None of those pledges, none of that piety, none of those lofty principals have had any lasting value on myself or others, except to perpetuate more piety.

It was actually pretty amazingly uncanny... I spend a good part of my college career and subsequent years trying to disassociate myself from the particular brand of faith that I had subscribed to. At times I doubted the validity of my entire system of beliefs. There were several times others and even a versitage of my former self would say that I was 'falling away' from The Way or 'backsliding'. As my learning, experiences, choices, and doubts were tearing at the fabric of my faith, I expected God was eventually going to smite me it I wandered too far off the path. If I didn't get smitten(that is the right word, right??) then it was all for naught after all. The amazing thing it that I actually do now feel that there is God behind all of that working mysteriously to strip away all of those deep set patterns of religious piety and allow me to walk in a faith that is completely freeing. The gospel is actually about freedom from slavery- and it is good news! Something to actually get excited about...

Before, I felt like I knew pretty much everything I could about theology, and I definately knew I was right. Now, I don't feel like I know very much at all, and I don't know if I'm right about anything. I do feel confident that there is an unfathomably large diety out there that has a character that is anything but black and white, who happens to take great pleasure in messing with us humans, and who at the end of the day is working things together for the better, though the really better things almost never look that way.

Wow, that was a long bunny trail about my journey of losing my religion to find my faith. I said all that to say this: the idea of not drinking near beer because you are worried about what somebody will think of you- that is funny to me. So funny it hurts.

P.S. - Though the article I cited was by and for members of the LDS church, I was not specifically targeting that faith as being to pious. In fact, beleivers from all sects of Chrisendom and beyond fall prey to systems of moralism that betray the freedom found in the Gospel. Mormons are just better than most of us at living really 'clean' lives...

P.P.S. - Much of what I said has been inspired by the work and words of Pastor Eric Blauer. You can read a good article here and listen to a good sermon on the subject here. Wait, was he not an instigator of my former zealotry? Indeed... and it has been a pleasure walking down the road of faith together.


fcb4 said...

For I can testify on their behalf that they have a zeal for God, but it is not in keeping with full knowledge.-Romans 10:2

Such is the challenge of leading and growing is grace...grace to learn and grace to let go of the good and the bad of the past.

Recovering the gospel has saved myself and others from myself.

BryanK said...

Nice thoughts and that tension is ongoing and evolving in each one of us and in our own collective history as a society, sect, denomination, nation etc.

On another note I can't believe anyone would do FBLA or Debate, what losers...