Drink, Drink, Everyone Drink


I can’t say I’ve ever been much of a drinker. While I’m sure most of my peers were getting drunk well below the legal drinking age, I never did, and I rarely drink even now that I’m of age. Mind you, I think a lot of that has to do with my lack of a social life. It’s not like I had a religious or philosophical reason not to consume alcohol beyond a general distaste. I was thinking about how some groups consider not drinking to be a point of pride and identity, and how this is sort of a modern idea. Not entirely, because Islam has forbidden alcohol for centuries, but at least as far as Europe goes. In medieval Europe, everybody drank beer and ale regularly, because it was what was available.

What else were you going to drink? Most of the water was too dirty to consume without boiling, and boiled water drinks like tea and coffee weren’t introduced into Europe until later. Even the kids drank beer, although it was very watered down. It seems that most of it was, in fact, with the alcohol primarily being used as a preservative. The Industrial Revolution changed this somewhat, as factory work required an attention to detail that could only come with sobriety. Fortunately, it was also around this time that technology reached the level where it could make water safer to drink, and refrigeration allowed for the preservation of non-alcoholic beverages like fruit juices. The fact that people didn’t have to drink alcohol and that bad things could happen if you did led to the temperance movement, and to American Protestants often promoting teetotalism.

I’ve even heard that some churches insist Jesus turned water into non-alcoholic grape juice rather than wine. Yeah, sure, and the miracle of the loaves and fishes actually involved McDonald’s Fillet O’ Fish sandwiches.

The temperance movement was presumably at the height of its influence around 1920, when the United States instituted nationwide Prohibition. This, of course, was a spectacular failure, and it’s somewhat difficult to believe this total ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages took place less than a century ago.

I guess the moral is that Americans love alcohol, but some of us also love making a point of not drinking alcohol.

This entry was posted in Christianity, Drugs, Food, History, Islam, Middle Ages, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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