A radio ad this morning clarified a web-site address: “Beers, yes, like my favorite drink,” or something like that is what I recall having heard.
Suddenly, I was back in the early 1960s. The national offices of the American Baptist Churches in the USA, where I worked, was in a dither over an article in a national magazine (Redbook?) indicating that “Baptists” surprisingly included a surprisingly large number of consumers of alcohol, according to a new survey.
“No way!” was heard all over the place. I myself shopped at a Pennsylvania State Store, for wine, as did a number of my co-workers. So I was surprised at what I was hearing. As a matter of fact, it made me wonder why I sometimes looked around the parking lot as I approached the liquor outlet, the only place one could buy wine in Pennsylvania. I could do something about that, at least, I thought: what would it matter if someone from work, or one of the 6,400 congregations served by the ABCUSA, were to see me?
A friend — one of my executive colleagues in the ABC — was Dick Beers, long time missionary. It’s a perfectly wonderful name, and I can only remember a few smiles at times when Dick was introduced to a church audience. But I also remember ‘way back to the 1940s, when I was an editorial intern in the Philadelphia office of the ABC.
Some of us would walk down Chestnut Street at lunch time looking for a nice place to eat — one that didn’t offer beer or wine. More than once, I asked (knowing the answer) why that mattered. Always I was told that Baptists wanted to offer witness to their belief in the evils of alcohol. I was just turning 20 and in my youth, I sometimes said I thought it would be a better witness to go where beer was offered, but not drink it.
Innocent, unconscious hypocrisy was being met with audacious, maybe arrogant liberal put-down. “What fools,” the imp says in Shakespeare, “these mortals be.” — Bob Cramer.