Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Beer Drinker's Guide to God by William B. Miller

Miller is an Episcopal priest who owns a bar. The idea is about bringing people together and on some level “bringing people into an awareness of the good gifts of a living God.” (9) Miller loves his beer and reports, “people of Christian faith actually come from a long line of beverage aficionados.” (2) He argues, “Jesus partied, but he partied with a purpose.” (224) He wants us to understand, perhaps, “that to be upright you don't have to be uptight.” (231)

Miller tells lots of stories, mostly about his own experiences. I found it interesting that he started out with many stories where his better judgment was compromised because of alcohol. He does realize there can be an abuse of alcohol but like all good things God has created, it is inherently good as long as we don't abuse it. (8)

There are some spiritual insights in the book. He draws spiritual lessons from beer drinking. His analogy of supporting sports teams to living the devoted Christian life was great.

Much humor is offered in the book. Quite a bit of it is tongue in cheek, like the story of Jesus turning light beer into actual beer, his disciples keeping that quiet and noncanonical. (225) My Calvinist background prompts me to shudder when the author makes light of something spiritual. Evangelical Christians may find that Miller's understanding of salvation does not agree with theirs.

This is a book men might appreciate, particularly if they enjoy their beer. The language frequently used in the book is common to drinking buddies, including words I would not use in public.

Reading the book did make me think about what faith is and how it is expressed. “God does not necessarily call us to be normal. God distinctly calls us to be different.” (240)

I would have never suspected there was a sacramental possibility in beer (89). But then I never thought I'd see the day when brewing and drinking beer would be fashionable among Christians, as is the case at a friend's church.

Father William (Bill) Miller is an Episcopal priest at St. Michael and All Angel's Episcopal Church in Kauai, Hawaii. He is also co-owner of Padre's, a live music venue/watering hole in quirky Marfa, Texas. He is the author of The Gospel According to Sam. He appreciates both God and strong drink. Father Bill currently resides on the beautiful island of Kauai with his dog. Find out more at www.FatherBill.net.

Howard Books (a division of Simon and Schuster), 340 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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