Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Proper Role of Drink. Will Bacchus Back Us?

According to Saint Benedict, how much may a monk drink per day?

Dear Fred,

Thanks for your email.

In responsible societies where moderate drinking is the norm, alcoholic beverages are a great boon

To their credit, both Judaism and Catholicism consider alcohol a sacramental substance. 

Imagine... A toxin is the central sacrament of the world's largest religion!

However, Puritanism -- neo- and otherwise -- engenders irresponsible people for whom "forbidden fruits" become objects of obsessive fixation.

Therefore, Puritans are staunch supporters of The Law.

Chthonically, they suspect that without rigid enforcement of ram-rod Law, they themselves would be unable to exercise self-restraint. Puritans are essentially "out of line" and therefore need to be kept "in line."

For Catholics who understand the crucial importance of mercy and indulgence, a full "cup a day" is thoroughly salubrious - physically and metaphysically.

If, however, one is essentially puritanical -- and obsesses over impossibly pure principles -- then there is no reason to trust oneself since too pure principles are essentially unreal. 

Absent Reality, life provides no real nourishment and so severe legal restraint becomes a necessary default.

"The terrible thing about our time is precisely the ease with which theories can be put into practice.  The more perfect, the more idealistic the theories, the more dreadful is their realization.  We are at last beginning to rediscover what perhaps men knew better in very ancient times, in primitive times before utopias were thought of: that liberty is bound up with imperfection, and that limitations, imperfections, errors are not only unavoidable but also salutary. The best is not the ideal.  Where what is theoretically best is imposed on everyone as the norm, then there is no longer any room even to be good.  The best, imposed as a norm, becomes evil.”  Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

Pax on both houses


On Sat, Mar 23, 2013 at 2:54 PM, Fred Owens <> wrote:


National Review -- on drinking habits.

Pax needs to take a position on this. Is booze good?



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