Yes, I’m on the way to decline. In the past several weeks, I have almost doubled my entire lifetime consumption of alcohol. It’s sadly true. (Of course, you probably used more water to brush your teeth this morning than all I’ve ever swallowed of the stuff!)
Incident #1 – While in Texas I visited a church that had communion. Before I realized what was going down around me, down went a cup of real wine instead of the evangelically-approved Welch’s Grape Juice. Dreadful stuff! Oh my!
Incident #2 – I was with my dear friend Jim Warner at a dinner on the evening of his 40th-year celebration of being released from 5.5 years of incarceration in a North Vietnamese prisoner camp. He bought a bottle of champagne for a toast “to freedom.” Without doubt, the occasion was bigger than my scruples, so, I lifted the glass and participated in the worthy honor of the moment. Oh my! Is that what is meant by something being very “dry?”
Incident #3 – I won a six-pack of beer in a bet with a friend. I was at a political convention where a person was making a floor speech. The guy next to me remarked that this young man was the same who had spoken at the previous convention and made a terrible fool of himself. Knowing for a fact that he was not, I said that “no” it was a different person. My friend, being convinced that he was correct said, “I’ll bet you a case of beer on it!” I knew I would not lose, so I took the bet! At a break, we verified with the speaker that indeed I was correct and that he was not the foolish fellow of some months before. I had forgotten about the bet until my friend brought me a six-pack of “ginger beer.” More dreadful stuff.
Explanation #1 – Lots of people presume that my anti-alcohol stance is due to some experience of trauma from a drunken family – not at all … I cannot name a relative that I know who ever drank anything. If my distaste is from childhood, it is actually from a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game. While descending the stairs at the old Connie Mack stadium to get a hot dog when I was about maybe 8-9 years old, a Philadelphia drunk turned the corner and threw a whole cup of beer onto me. I was wearing a wool sweater, and oh my, did it ever stink for hours! I was nearly literally nauseated to the point of barfing from the smell. Ever since then, I can smell the slightest whiff of alcohol at a great distance in the same way that sharks are able to smell blood in water. I’m not proud of this talent. But that experience totally sickened me to any curiosity about imbibing.
Explanation #2 – I hate the predominance of alcohol in our culture. The ill effects are daily in the news as roots of multiple tragedies. Though I know this is nothing new – dating back to Noah’s family at least – it seems to me so very unnecessary. So, my summary line remains, “Though I grant the freedom of conscience for the Christian to consume, I completely dispute the wisdom, and I submit the highest virtue is abstinence” …. Well, at least relatively so. If you disagree with me … oh well, we probably agree together on a greater number of issues.