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What Would Jesus Drink?
February 19, 2008 8:36 AM   Subscribe

What Would Jesus Drink? -- “A rabbi, a priest and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender looks at them and says, ‘What is this, a joke?’ In one Pennsylvania bar, it's no laughing matter. On the last Friday of every month, teams of chaplains...set up camp in the Market Cross Pub in Carlisle, Penn. for a few hours to lend a sympathetic, non-judgmental ear to patrons looking for someone to listen to their tales of woe.”

We're not going to strong-arm anybody,’ Chuck Kish, the Assemblies of God pastor who started the bar chaplaincy program [says], adding that the bar chaplains aren't there to proselytize or stop anyone from drinking. ‘We give more pastoral care, listening to what you have to say.’

Even if you're slurring your words and don't remember it the next morning.

There is little consensus across religious traditions about whether alcohol consumption is morally right or wrong, beyond the near universal condemnation of drunkenness.”
posted by ericb (42 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
a sympathetic, non-judgmental ear

That sounds great, but I have to wonder if these guys are even aware of their bias. For instance, the AA program requires one to submit to an unnamed "higher power". But isn't one of the sources of alcohol abuse the idea that you can be saved from without (i.e. "drinking to numb the pain") rather than from within? Swapping a physical addiction for a mental/emotional one is great for your liver, but maybe not for your brain.

But that program was created a long time ago and I'm no expert. Maybe, as the quote and story suggest, they will take a more listening, psychological approach to a human being in distress rather than a lamb gone astray.
posted by DU at 8:49 AM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gospel accounts say Jesus' first public miracle was at a wedding in Cana where he turned jugs of water into fine wine -- think Chateau Margaux, not Two-Buck Chuck -- for wedding revelers who were already three sheets to the wind.

Dr. Feelgood. Scripture does not record if he was holding too.
posted by three blind mice at 8:50 AM on February 19, 2008


This would be a good way to keep me from going to your bar.
posted by item at 8:52 AM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Buddhist Monks have apparently done the same.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:54 AM on February 19, 2008


This would be a good way to keep me from going to your bar.

The article suggests they sit in a booth waiting for people to come to them. If so, why would you care?
posted by rocket88 at 9:05 AM on February 19, 2008


A bunch of churches already hold "Scripture on Tap" meetings in bars. For a while, there was a bible study group that held meetings in my favorite local brewpub.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:18 AM on February 19, 2008


A rabbi, a priest and a minister walk into a bar.

I hate to break it to the author, but all three are ministers.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:22 AM on February 19, 2008


Also, I'm not sure they could even be really said to be different religions. They call it "Judeo-Christian" for a reason.
posted by DU at 9:23 AM on February 19, 2008


"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Ben Franklin
(I wonder if Ben had a similar view of Hippy Lettuce?)

posted by spock at 9:40 AM on February 19, 2008


For instance, the AA program requires one to submit to an unnamed "higher power".

The only requirement for membership in 12 Step recovery fellowships is a desire to stop drinking/using.
posted by The Straightener at 9:49 AM on February 19, 2008


Actually, almost every twelve stepper I know seems to adhere to rules more like this, which includes a higher power and surrendering to it. Maybe there are regional variants?
posted by BeReasonable at 10:11 AM on February 19, 2008


BeReasonable, most twelve steppers do subscribe to those steps, (and there aren't supposed to be regional variants), but they are not a requirement for membership.

I don't really know where the 12 Step groups fall on the religion continuum. If you do subscribe to the 12 steps, (and yes, pretty much everyone does or you eventually get bored of the whole thing), you pick your own higher power. A lot of people use things like "collective wisdom of the program and the people who got sober before me," or "the universe." One person I knew used the ocean. Lots have used Gaia.

Around here, I bet 50% of people don't have a pre-formed god to tap into. Either they didn't grow up religious, or the religion they grew up in was so toxic that using its god would do more harm than good. It's a completely personal thing, and in my experience the specifics almost never come up in the meetings. (Meaning, if you say "god," or "higher power," no one will ask what you mean by that.)

/12-step derail

On topic, I think this is a very cool idea. At a fair a couple of years ago, a couple of Episcopal priests (one of whom is a theologian) opened a booth labelled "Theological advice: $1." They were mobbed!

Mostly people were asking them to explain fundamentalist beliefs and various weirdnesses pressed upon them by religious authorities in their youths.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:33 AM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gospel accounts say Jesus' first public miracle was at a wedding in Cana where he turned jugs of water into fine wine -- think Chateau Margaux, not Two-Buck Chuck -- for wedding revelers who were already three sheets to the wind.

Don't forget also about the Irish saint, St. Bridget, who at a party for thirsty clerics who had nothing to drink, turned her own bathwater into beer.

Personally, I've always wondered if this was a literal miracle, or whether the priests just got intoxicated at the idea of drinking water that once had held a naked nun.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:39 AM on February 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Don't forget also about the Irish saint, St. Bridget, who at a party for thirsty clerics who had nothing to drink, turned her own bathwater into beer.

you can still buy it today
posted by pyramid termite at 11:14 AM on February 19, 2008


Jesus: “Another glass of water, please”
Zam! 12 year old single malt.

There is anecdotal evidence that he engages in similar antics while playing golf.

Having clergy in the pub with the drunks isn’t the problem. Having the drunks finding religion, that might be a bit of a poser.
Here’s an old one to illustrate that point:

A drunk stumbles past a baptismal service down by a river. He walks down into the water and stands next to the Preacher.

The minister turns and says: “Are you ready to find Jesus?”
The drunk says: “Yes, I am.”

The minister dunks the drunks head under the water and pulls him out.
The minister says: “Have you found Jesus?”
The drunk says: “No. Not at all.”

The minister dunks the man’s head under the water again, longer this time. He pulls the drunk up and says: “Now brother, have you found Jesus?”

The drunk says: “I have not.”

So the minister holds the drunk’s head under the water for a good half a minute before bringing him up again.

“Have you found Jesus now my brother?” he yells.
The drunk shakes his head, coughs and says: “No. Are you sure this is where he fell in?”
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 11:27 AM on February 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


This sounds like something jonmc would think of, and I mean that in an entirely positive way.

It's not a bad idea. Going to where people are in need is an ago-old tradition of the clergy. If you've ever bartended, you can probably imagine how happy the bartenders must be able to point and say 'Why don't you talk to those fellas over there?'
posted by Miko at 11:29 AM on February 19, 2008


I know that these find religious folks serve at rison executions and during wars, so they get around. Would they also do thing at gay bars?
posted by Postroad at 11:31 AM on February 19, 2008


/not, of course, that this isn’t a good idea. Particularly in neighborhood type bars. But those do seem to be shrinking and giving way to the blaring music warehouse style nightclubs.
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 11:31 AM on February 19, 2008


But if at the Church they would give us some Ale,
And a pleasant fire our souls to regale,
We'd sing and we'd pray all the live-long day,
Nor ever once wish from the Church to stray

posted by CrunchyFrog at 11:36 AM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


The minister dunks the drunks head under the water and pulls him out.
The minister says: “Have you found Jesus?”


And thus was the practice of waterboarding invented...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:51 AM on February 19, 2008


I have to wonder if these guys are even aware of their bias

I'm sure they didn't realize they were evangelizing until you, this very moment, pointed it out!

Of course they have a bias, and of course they know it. They're usually ... pretty open about it. Ministers, that is.
posted by dhartung at 12:14 PM on February 19, 2008


first, they probably aren't non-judgemental, second, they probably aren't trained as counselors or therapists, third, keep them out of my god-damned pub!
posted by HuronBob at 12:18 PM on February 19, 2008


He's down there somewhere; let me take another look.
posted by hototogisu at 12:20 PM on February 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


They call it "Judeo-Christian" for a reason.
that's primarily a scholarly term. i'm assuming you don't have a dog in that particular fight, but in my experience the term "Judeo-Christian" isn't used by people of either faith, it's quite wildly inaccurate.
posted by mikoroshi at 12:23 PM on February 19, 2008


it's quite wildly inaccurate.

In detail, yes. But if someone from the set {minister, priest, rabbi} suggests a belief in an invisible sky daddy with a big white beard and flowing robes who has a well-known 10 step program, the other two aren't going to put up too much of a fuss.
posted by DU at 12:30 PM on February 19, 2008


I could look at this with cynicism and say they're preying on the weak in an attempt to convert them; but I prefer to look at this with an open mind, and so I'll say that a certain subset of people who drink in bars sob their story out to the bartender because they have nobody else to talk to, and so these people are doing a good service.

Mind you, it might be just as useful if it were social workers volunteering to do this regularly, and where one might be more useful than the other would likely depend on the individual person being counseled.
posted by davejay at 12:42 PM on February 19, 2008


He's down there somewhere; let me take another look.

Nice.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:44 PM on February 19, 2008


Huronbob: the bartender probably isn't a trained counselor or therapist. Since when does lending a 'sympathetic, non-judgemental ear' require any counselor or therapist training?
posted by garlic at 12:54 PM on February 19, 2008


Y'know, I think I'd enjoy this. Even if I have plenty of theological and ideological disagreements with clergymen and women of various religions, I've always liked sitting down and chatting with them. I did a lot of religion reporting for awhile, and it's cool to be able to kick back and talk about stuff with a priest or a rabbi or anyone else who isn't pummeling you over the head with talk about how you're destined for hell unless you do x, y and z.

Seriously. If these guys hang around, maybe I'll take a roadtrip down to Carlisle, PA one of these days and have a drink with them.

Besides which, if I remember correctly, you can still smoke in bars in Pennsylvania, yeah?
posted by brina at 1:45 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


“it might be just as useful if it were social workers volunteering to do this regularly, and where one might be more useful than the other would likely depend on the individual person being counseled.”

Quite likely true.

Unfortunately due to their training in confrontation management it might be harder to manipulate a therapist into driving you home than a minister.

Which really, is the hidden upside for those of us who enjoy a good stein hoist and can legitimately, although in perhaps a slurred manner, tell the wife we’ve been talking to a spiritual counselor.
Funny isn’t it how old Harry seems to forget his keys the first Friday of every month, from 9 p.m. to midnight?
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 1:52 PM on February 19, 2008


Doesn't seem like a bad idea to me, as long as they're not going around proselytizing.

I've always thought that there's a huge difference between someone who's sitting around as a representative of their religion, waiting to take questions from outsiders or adherents, and someone who actively tries to convert folks who aren't seeking or interested. The first strikes me as useful, the second totally obnoxious.

In fact, one of the arguments that comes up often in the discussions of Scientology is that Scientology is evil because they keep their doctrines a secret until you pony up big bucks, while most other religions put everything out there for anyone who's curious. This seems like an extension of the latter stance.

I can't find anything wrong with a religious representative (yes, even Scientology) making themselves available for questions or for people who want to talk to them, as long as that doesn't turn into conversion-seeking.

Ideally, religion ought to be a banquet, where you can partake of what you want, when you want, if you want, without having anything shoved down your throat.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:00 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


belief in an invisible sky daddy with a big white beard and flowing robes who has a well-known 10 step program
wow, wildly inaccurately, disrespectful, and immature.
metafilter trifecta!
posted by mikoroshi at 3:10 PM on February 19, 2008


Well, I was near to falling-down-drunk when I finally decided I'd had it for good. A little spirituality arrived in the person of a colleague who was quite active in AA most likely saved my life that night. I'm not trying to be melodramatic about it but I really had reached the quit-or-die approach. Said colleague eventually got to be a little too much, in my opinion, with his devotion to AA and belief that I needed his same commitment but still, had a religious rep been on scene, I would have been quite grateful as long as religion wasn't being shoved down my throat. And yes, I am still glad for my old pal's presence that night. I think this is a pretty good idea as long as there are boundaries. But what's rabbi doing in a bar on a Friday night? He, in effect, has moved his synagogue to the bar? Otherwise, he ain't supposed to be working.

As far as invisible guy in the sky--no, that's not for me. But I do believe something stronger than I am brought me to my senses and, most days, keeps me there.
posted by etaoin at 3:22 PM on February 19, 2008


Sorry, ugly cold/bronchial upset is making me sloppy. Should say "quit-or-die point." And a few other things are messed up.
posted by etaoin at 3:31 PM on February 19, 2008


Assemblies of God

Yeah. You know, the denomination that Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and John Ashcroft belong(ed) to. A wingnut, conservative evangelical TV preacher sect. Let's just say I'd find the "non-judgemental/non-proselytizing" thing more convincing if they were UU or something. Would you want to listen to some spiel about how God hates calico cats and titty when you're trying to get drunk?
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:00 PM on February 19, 2008


In their defense, and I can't believe I'm coming to their defense, I have met some really very lovely Assembly of God people. They have a horrible religion, but their day to day interaction with people was very loving. As an example, one woman had a gay daughter. She was sad about it, and wished her daughter would come around, but didn't feel it was her place to judge- it was god's. They got along fine. Not ideal, I admit, but a lot better than I expected, and a lot better than I've seen in so-called progressive households, where in theory the parents were supportive but really did all they could to undermine. The Assembly of God preacher was out there hauling muck out of flooded garages at all hours, taking people to the doctor, visiting sick people and making sure their pets and livestock were well cared for. If you needed help, he'd be there, getting his hands dirty. If people needed help making their mortgage, the church would give them a hand. My point is- while on paper they were hateful, intolerant people, but in practice they were there when you needed them, no matter who you were. Which, I understand, was also true of the Taliban, and which is why the Taliban's ended up with the support it has.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:31 PM on February 19, 2008


I will not stand by while calico cats are impugned.

I will sit down and drink.
posted by everichon at 4:34 PM on February 19, 2008


i've been to aa meetings in bars before. true, the meetings were held at 10 a.m. or something like that, but it proved to be quite a nice place to sit around and talk about drinking. especially considering that most aa meetings i've been to--and there have been many--are held in churches.

i think it's a great idea. plenty of people out there looking for a willing listener. in my experience, the dumper doesn't care one wit about the religious persuasion of the dumpee. or the sexual orientation, or what their bank account looks like, or anything else, for that matter. they're mostly just looking for an ear. or two. and for those who wouldn't drink in a bar where clerics meet to provide a sympathetic ear, would you drink in a bar where they serve ⟨gasp!&rang homosexuals? or [insert name of ethnic group here]? or anyone else who isn't spot on with your particular beliefs? it's just a bar, and it's just a drink.
posted by msconduct at 5:57 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's nice to see that they have all religions represented: Christian, Jewish and Miscellaneous.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:44 PM on February 19, 2008


I don't believe in any gods but I think there's something lovely about this.

There are many many lonely and disenfranchised people in the world who would just like a kind person to talk to. I am glad there are people out there who want to be that person.

I think most religious folk are well-meaning people. There has been lots of terrible stuff done in the name of religion. There have also been approximately a kajillion acts of kindness spurred by faith that go unnoticed every day.

I watched the Allan King documentary Dying at Grace not so long ago. It's a very raw day-by-day observation of a period of a few weeks in a palliative care unit in a Toronto hospital, without narration, without interviews. The reason I mention this is because the people sitting with the dying people, listening to their life stories and regrets, easing their fears, holding their hands while they cried, checking on their loved ones -- were not nurses or doctors but Salvation Army volunteers. Of course, the Sally Ann is, like, totally into Jesus. But you didn't hear anything about that. These were simply deeply loving people who voluntarily spent time caring for people in their last days of life.

To me? It sounds to me like complete misery in so many ways, to be surrounded by suffering and the indignities of illness and death and even just being in a hospital day in and day out. You couldn't pay me enough to do that job. But those people were doing it for free, for whatever motivation, be it getting JesusPoints™ or a sense of personal fulfillment or just a sense of it being the right thing to do -- you don't hear about that. They could have totally messed-up motivations. You don't really need to know. What matters is that they're doing something valuable, something that needs doing in this asshole of a world.

What people do, the results of what they do, the people who are affected -- those things often speak loudest. If these people in the pub are walking away from the experience feeling just a little bit more human, just a little more dignified and worthy, then I'm grateful that those clergyfolk are there.

The point of Dying at Grace is not to tell the story of the volunteers; they're incidental. The story is that of the daily life of the palliative care unit; of the lives that ended there during the filming; of the certainty that life ends. But to get a glimpse of people who are motivated by faith to do incredible things that most of us are incapable of, and that most of us never recognize or appreciate, but that make the world a better, kinder place, I highly recommend the film. It truly is fantastic.
posted by loiseau at 11:10 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Really? The 10th-grade God Haterz Club can even get mad about this?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:27 AM on February 20, 2008


If anyone makes the trip, the Market Cross has a great beer selection and is generally a pretty chill time.

Once you've had a couple, stroll over to the Gingerbread Man. Not bad if not overcrowded with Dickinson students.
posted by rachelpapers at 6:25 PM on February 21, 2008


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