Friday, November 30, 2012

Beer and Jesus

Yeah, yeah, I know—don’t ever talk about politics or religion. But, I came across a blog post by Christian Piatt that, I have to say, made me do a double take.

Before I get into it, I do have to preface this by saying I am not a religious person—at all—I’m not anti-religion or atheist, it’s just that I’m lazy more than anything. Some people like to hedge their bets by saying, “Oh, I’m not religious—but I do go to church on Christmas and Easter.”

Not me.

Why? That’s right—I’m lazy. Feel free to go to church if you want. You can even tell me about, I’m cool with that. Hell, you can even judge me if you’d like—again totally cool with that. I also understand that being an un-religious, lazy, non-church go-er, I may have a few preconceived notions of what “church” is or is not. One of those preconceived notions might be that beer and church don’t normally go hand in hand. That idea is exactly why I took a closer read of Piatt’s post.

Christian—a musician, public speaker and contributor to the Huffington Post—and his wife Amy are the co-founders of the Milagro Christian Church in Pueblo, Colorado, and after reading some of Christian’s other posts, I’ve come to realize that he’s somewhat—to use a superbly appropriate word—unorthodox when it come to his spirituality. He refers to himself as a father, son and holy heretic on his website and revels in posting pictures of epically failed church signs on his blog. He seems to be going at this religion thing from a slightly different slant.

So where does the beer come in? The Milagro Christian Church hosted a beer and hymns night last weekend. Yup, I just said “Beer” and “Hymns.”

Am I right to think that your preconceived notions about church just got blown out of the water, as well? Granted, Piatt realizes that his approach may have been a tad controversial, but worth the effort. He said of the idea in his post:

If you invite most people … to a hymn sing at a church on Saturday night, they’d decline. I know I would, and I work at a church. But add beer to the formula, and suddenly the event becomes something entirely different. Why does the beer matter? I have beer at home, and it’s not like it was some orgiastic free-for-all; we had a two-beer limit. About half of the folks who came didn’t even drink. So what’s the big deal?

It says something important without words. It says that this isn’t the church of your former understanding. It says to expect the unexpected, to blur the lines between church and the world, to come with an open heart and find, with nothing more than a child-like sense of “what’s next?”

Piatt has tapped into an aspect of beer that often gets overlooked, or at least un-thought of because of the binge drinking reports on television news and the DWI blotters in newspapers. Beer celebrates community, and if your celebrating family and friends, why not—if you’re so inclined—also celebrate God? How far off is what Piatt and his congregation did, from a group of folks signing around a piano in their local pub? In this celebration of God, community and beer, Piatt has also turned "church" on its head—in a good way. As he says in his post “...we had BEER IN CHURCH. The walls didn’t crumble. No strikes of lightning. Just joyful spirited community.” 

Joyful. Spirited. Community.

I've got to admit, religious or not, that sounds like a pretty good time to me.


  1. You've not been to Bavaria then, if the combination of God’s omnipresence and beer seems unusual to you.

    1. Barm—When I was writing this, I thought about the connection of the "old world" church and brewing—obviously the Trappist come to mind. The U.S., however doesn't have anything like that, and honestly I would imagine that to most Americans the idea of drinking in or at church as taboo. Secular behavior is very much separate from religious behavior, and religious mores are very clear—regardless of your position on them. What Christian and Amy are doing is pretty unusual, in my own personal experience.