Wednesday, February 23, 2005


I grew up in home where sometimes alcohol was overly consumed. Those who have grown up in the same environment know exactly what I am saying. I won’t go too deep into this right now. Many believe we inherit a gene that can make us alcoholic. Others feel it is an environmental matter. I know this, I could develop an alcohol problem just like anyone else. I am subject to the many pulls and stresses that cause some to go to the bottle as a crutch or an escape from real life. So I watch it carefully.

I have always enjoyed a drink. A glass of wine with dinner or a cold beer on a hot summer day seems to fit. When I am with friends a pint of lager or a dram of scotch adds to the experience and rounds off good conversation. I enjoy a good bourbon. A couple of years ago at the feast in Lexington a group of us visited the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and met Jimmy Russell, the Master Distiller. It was ten years ago I was introduced to the pleasures of single malt scotch while visiting a friend in Boston.

It might seem strange that a minister would be hosting a group of men in his home for a scotch tasting. It shouldn’t. Even though many fundamentalist religions equate alcoholism with sin because of the huge cost in human dignity and worth, we know the Bible does not forbid the moderate use of alcohol as part of life and even worship. We drink a cup of wine each year to symbolize the shed blood of Christ for our sins. When we use alcohol as food or for enjoyment and pleasure we are taking part in something God created for use as a normal part of life. This is something God intended.

This Saturday night we have an opportunity to come together as friends, enjoy a meal, fellowship and taste the classic single malts of Scotland. Through the video we’ll learn how it is made and why each malt reflects the region in which it is made. We’ll swirl and sniff and quaff a few drams of good scotch. But why do this beyond the obvious? There is a larger reason. It is to learn respect for something so grand and potentially so destructive.

A few months ago I read an article in Men’s Journal. The writer had made a pilgrimage to Lynchburg, Tennessee to visit the Jack Daniels distillery. He was a life long drinker, sometimes to excess, of this good sour mash. He toured the grounds and learned how the whiskey is made. He visited with the master distiller, Jimmy Bedford. Seems Jimmy is a necessary name for master distillers. He asked Jimmy how he squared making whiskey with the knowledge that many people abuse the product and wreck their lives, and that of many others? Jimmy replied, “Well, I just say I make something that is shipped around the world and enjoyed. Whatever you do in life you have to be respectful”.

Respectful. That is the key thought. We have to be respectful of alcohol. Respect it’s potential to both enhance and destroy life.

If we take that approach we can go through life in control, and that is a pretty important thing. More than that, we can also pass on an example and a legacy to our children.

The author concluded his piece this way. “My son Zack is only 14, but I would like him to someday be a part of the things I feel, to drink whiskey with me, as a man, as a bond. It would be a gift from generation to generation”.

May the glow we share on this night be one worthy to pass on.