Saturday, April 20, 2019

On the resident goodness of creation............

     Nothing appalls me more than to hear people refer to the drinking of wine as it it were a forbidden and fascinating way of sneaking alcohol into one's system.  My flesh creeps when I hear the legitimate love of the fruit of the vine treated as if it were a longer-winded way of doing what the world does with grain neutral spirits and cheap vermouth.  With wine at hand, the good man concerns himself, not with getting drunk, but the drinking in all the natural delectabilities of wine;  taste, color, bouquet; its manifest graces; the way it complements food and enhances conversation; and its sovereign power to turn evenings into occasions, to lift eating beyond nourishment to conviviality, and to bring the race, for a few hours at least, to that happy state where men are wise and women beautiful, and even one's children begin to look promising.  If someone wants to bare effects of alcohol in his bloodstream, let him drink the nasty stuff neat, or have a physician inject it.  But do not let him soil my delight with his torpedo-juice mentality.
     Wine is not—let me repeat—in order to anything but itself.  To consider it otherwise is to turn it into an idol, a tin god to be conjured with.  Moreover, it is to miss its point completely.  We were made in the image of God.  We were created to delight, as He does, in the resident goodness of creation.  We were not made to sit around mumbling incantations and watching our insides to see what creation will do for us.  Wine does indeed have subjective effects, but they are to be received gratefully and lightly.  They are not solemnly important psychophysical adjustments, but graces, super-added gifts.  It was St. Thomas, again, who gave the most reasonable and relaxed of all the definitions of temperance.  Wine, he said, could lawfully be drunk usque ad hilaritatem, to the point of cheerfulness.  It is a happy example of the connection between sanctity and sanity.

-Robert Farrar Capon,  The Supper of the Lamb

photo via Kelsey Knight/Unsplash

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