"As Reformation ideas captured hearts and minds throughout Europe, priests and nuns renounced their vows, Roman Catholic cathedrals became Protestant churches, and monasteries closed, thus decreasing the production of beer. While this decline in brewing would not have deterred Martin Luther from his reforming work, he certainly would have grieved the loss of any fine brew, for he was among the great beer lovers of Christian history. ... He was German, after all, and he lived at a time when beer was the European drink of choice. Moreover, having been freed from what he considered to be a narrow and life-draining legalism, he stepped into the world ready to enjoy its pleasures to the glory of God. For Luther, beer flowed best in a vibrant Christian life. (Page 28)"
"Like Luther, Calvin worked hard to hammer out a consistently biblical worldview. He wanted all of his life to be submitted to the rulership of Jesus Christ and yet did not want to miss some grace or provision of God because of flawed theology or religious excess. He and Luther had seen too much of that in their pre-Protestant lives. ... This robust Reformation theology, which taught enjoying God's creation and doing all that is not sinful for the glory of God, filtered into the centuries that followed the reformer's work. (Page 31)"
"Clearly, then, though the Reformation diminished the production of beer temporarily by closing many of the European monasteries where beer was brewed, it also served the cause of beer and alcohol well by declaring them gifts of God and calling for their use in moderation. (Pages 32-33)"Mansfield's tone when discussing the Reformation is by and large heroic, to the point that it sounds as if these men were defending beer against the Catholic Church. These excerpts represent the worst of it, but this pro-Protestant tone pervades the text even though it has little to do with the story at hand, making an otherwise enjoyable read strangely slanted. Nor does Mansfield acknowledge the obvious question raised by this assessment -- how does this Protestant view of beer differ from the Catholic view that fostered so many medieval abbey ales?
Labels: beer, books, church, faith, history