Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | June 10, 2012

Beer (for) Beersheba

When you begin thinking “another fast”, you start thinking about all those cucumber cookouts and what to have with that cucumber (hot dog substitute). I mean do you use the usual condiments like ketchup, mustard, and so forth, go exotic with some veggie chili… or what? And what do you drink with that thing?

And so we come to… well… summer beer. Yeah, I may be out the Antiochians Golden Archdiocese, but I’m still hangin’ with Bishop Thomas’s line on beer: “It’s essentially bread and just fine during a fast.” No one believes me… they usually answer, “Then why isn’t Vodka just potatoes?” or “And isn’t whiskey just corn?” and so forth. Which of course is perfectly sane, correct, and a logical parallel construction. But I guess we have to remember that we’re not logical legalists, but legalists with a heart or something. I like the heart… it’s a good escape mechanism… helps to have a heart when the argument isn’t working. But perhaps a better way of looking at it is to refer to the advice of that agency in the sky (literally) that wrote those ads Moses must have seen running across his Talmud scroll… only like before he wrote anything.

“It’s not that we’re not logical or rational or something like that, but that we’re supra-rational, supra-logical. Given a choice between our ideas and our reasons, we go with God’s. God has a better idea.”

Realizing that about now most folks are thinking this sort of flakery pretty much okays just about anything, seems it’s time to take a look at some real live authority. So after years of sketchiness, I’ve finally got chapter and verse on this Bishop Thomas perspective. Stumbled upon “A Guide to Orthodox Life” written by Fr. David Cownie, a member of an Old Calendarist group – one of those bastions of novelty and convenience in the Orthodox life known formally as the Synod of Bishops of the True (Old Calendar) Orthodox Church of Greece. Dust jacket review caveat by Dr. M Orlov of “The Orthodox Bulletin” says, “Though I am not an Old Calendarist, I see in this excellent book evidence of the truth which they speak.” Read… no bull.

And what does our good hard core Fr. David have to offer? Ah… thought you’d never ask. This is from the “generally accepted rules of fasting in the Orthodox Church…” and the surprisingly detailed and lengthy section on Alcoholic beverages in particular:

“Beer is usually consumed any time and is not considered an alcoholic beverage.” p. 25

And they’ve had two thousand years to reconsider this but apparently, the consensus hasn’t re-opened the subject. Good decision. And y’know, coincidences being what they are, I read this with the rediscovery of a few things. First of these, a film clip from the “Lighthorsemen” where the Austrailian Lighthorse (mounted infantry) take Beersheba from the Turks in 1917… the last great victorious “cavalry” charge:

My guess is that the history of fighting here, given we’ve got Austrailians… famous for Foster’s… a substance which is not water, but beer…. aka beeyah, the word must have been: “The Turks stole our keg! Keg party in Beersheba!” Why else would folks cross the desert to fight for what appears to be nothing? And then there’s this tune, which I’m sure after the victory morphed from “The Wah Watusi” to something more meaningful… like “Beer for Beersheba”. Battles have been fought for less, and battle cries had less meaning.

So there you are. Nothing but God’s honest truth.


  1. Congratulations! And God bless your summer fasting. I wish I liked beer.
    My husband and I are coming to MD for 2+ weeks this July – maybe I’ll see you at church!

    • Ah… my sentiments aren’t too far off of yours. Probably I have more of a taste for the stuff…. especially if kept iced and over ice… so it stays cool.
      My problem with beer is that I drink it sooooooo slowly that it tends to warm. Nothing worse than warm beer. Some friends from New Orleans helped my wife and
      I overcome the “beer over ice is uncool” thing. New Orleans folks don’t put much stock in the ice is uncool position. That change made, now it’s just another
      cold drink. Put it in a wine glass… and you overcome some of the other shortcomings. Try to get a waiter or bar tender to do the same? Not a chance.

      Love to see you at St. Marks! Of course, we’re out the weekends of 21st and 28th in South Carolina… but would love to see you, too.

  2. Personally I subscribe to the vegetable based products fasting rule. Having been Antiochian, Greek and Russian I see the big picture…. the hard edge of fasting has to be gladdened. I’ve put ice in my beer for decades and don’t flinch in public when I do it. I just can’t do lukewarm beer. I think that is what God spewed out of His mouth in Revelation.

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