Monday, December 14, 2009

Review - The Search for God and Guinness

November and the first half of December have been really hectic month at work, but things are starting to quiet down coming into the second half of December. I'm finally getting back into a more normal reading routine, and was thankful that the Vine program at Amazon could supply me with another book to review - "The Search for God and Guinness: A biography of the beer that changed the world" by Stephen Mansfield. The title intrigued me, to say the least.

Mansfield is an author who has written several books on the fringe of politics or business and faith, including "The Faith of Barrack Obama" and "The Faith of George W. Bush". In The Search for God and Guinness, Mansfield looks at the history of Guinness - a famous brand of beer, looking at the amazing generosity and innovation of a great Irish family. If the connection between the two seems odd to us now, it sure wasn't back in the 1700's in Ireland. Water was often undrinkable at the time, and the common alternatives of gin and whiskey were devastating civil society. Beer was actually brewed by Christians like Arthur Guinness, as well as monks, as a healthy alternative. Almost 250 years later, Guinness is an internationally famous brand. I can tell you from my visit to Ireland as a college student, it's held in very high regard in the land of my grandparents!

Overall, the book was a very interesting approach to the history of beer, to the need for corporate responsibility and involvement in the community, and a fair bit of philosophy. I would say the book was good, but not great. I could tell the author had become a huge fan of the history of Guinness, but the prose was not quite as compelling as the title. The search for God aspect was significantly weaker than the historical narrative, which started to drag over its 304 pages. The big highlight of the book for me was a discussion of 'calling' in Chapter 5 - "whether work that is not specifically religious can be work done for the glory of God. Another equally important question is whether God calls men to trades and vocations in the world as part of his unfolding plan...' The author makes a strong case that the Guinness family  had "absorbed the great Reformation ideal that everything a man did was to be done for God and that his calling and vocation were usually the same thing... A brewer can serve as valuable role in the Kingdom of God as a missionary, a priest or a pope."

I would go on but frankly, I'm more than a little thirsty. If you want to chat about this, we can meet at Nine Irish Brothers in town. And if you've been burned by a church or people misguided about what it means to serve God and love people, the first round is on me! :)

1 comment:

Inky said...

Wow! A christian brother who enjoys a friendly brew. Thank you my friend. Have a Blessed Chritmas!