Sunday, October 31, 2010

quote of the week, october 31-november 6, 2010

The book that this passage comes from is, in my opinion, a must-read for anyone who loves the combination of theological and philosophical musings interwoven through recipes and cooking instructions marked by a peculiar reverence for God and profound appreciation of His creation - and all with unparalleled wit and sarcasm:

One might have hoped that, with so gracious a creature as wine, even the most ardent religionists and secularists would have made an exception to their universal custom of missing the point of things. But alas, between teetotalism on the one hand and the habit of classifying it as an alcoholic beverage on the other, they have both lost the thread of delight.
Consider first the teetotalers. They began, no doubt, by observing that some men use wine to excess - to the point at which, though the wine remains true to itself, the drinker does not. That much, I give them: drunks are a nuisance. But they went too far. Only the ungrateful or the purblind can fail to see that sugar in the grape and yeast on the skins is a divine idea, not a human one. Man's part in the process consists of honest and prudent management of the work that God has begun. Something underhanded has to be done to grape juice to keep it from running its appointed course.
Witness the teetotaling communion service. Most Protestants, I suppose, imagine that it is part of the true Reformed religion. But have they considered that, for nineteen centuries after the institution of the Eucharist, wine was the only element available for the sacrament? Do they seriously envision St. Paul or Calvin or Luther opening bottles of Welch's Grape Juice in the sacristy before the service? Luther, at least, would turn over in his grave. The WCTU version of the Lord's Supper is a bare 100 years old. Grape juice was not commercially viable until the discovery of pasteurization; and, unless I am mistaken, it was Mr. Welch himself (an ardent total abstainer) who persuaded American Protestantism to abandon what the Lord obviously though rather kindly of.
That much damage done, however, the itch for consistency took over with a vengeance. Even the Lord's own delight was explained away. One of the most fanciful pieces of exegesis I ever read began by maintaining that the Greek word for wine, as used in the Gospels, meant many other things than wine. The commentator cited, as I recall, grape juice for one meaning, and raisin paste for another. He inclined, ultimately, toward the latter.
I suppose such people are blessed with reverent minds which prevent them from drawing irreverent conclusions. I myself, however, could never resist the temptation to read raisin paste for wine in the story of the Miracle of Cana. "When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made raisin paste...he said unto the bridegroom, 'Every man at the beginning doth set forth good raisin paste, and when men have well drunk [eaten? - the text is no doubt corrupt], then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good raisin paste until now.'" Does it not whet your appetite for the critical opera omnia of such an author, where he will freely have at the length and breadth of Scripture? Can you not see his promised land flowing with peanut butter and jelly; his apocalypse, in which the great whore Babylon is given the cup of the ginger ale of the fierceness of the wrath of God?..." (Capon 2002 [1967]:89-90, emphasis original)


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References:
Capon, Rober F. (2002). The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection, 2nd Ed. New York, NY: The Modern Library. (Original work published 1967)

1 comment:

  1. Okay, this totally made me want to read the book! :)

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