SOBER UP

Martyrdoms have been commemorated in stained glass through the ages. Only to our time, however, has come the happy thought of memorializing a hangover in glass. There on the neighbor’s serving table is a choice selection of beautiful “Swedish modern” decanters, the relics and mementos of the New Year’s binge that finished off the Christmas spirits. Through the generous self-interest of progressive distilleries a man may now hit the bottle and keep it as a trophy.

Perhaps a liquor manufacturer in search of art treasures for his advertising might be referred to the triptych on the Fall of man by Albrecht Altdorfer in the National Gallery. The left panel would be appropriate for an antique label: it pictures Bacchus, dissolute and obese, presiding over a loathsome mass of besotted revelers.

I sense the reaction of some of my “kin” among your correspondents: “You evangelicals find it so convenient to attack the sins of the flesh! Everybody is against dmnkenness and scarlet sin. What about pride … the self-righteous hypocrisy of a sanctimonious wife that drives a man to drink … the social sins that create economic misery from which alcohol seems to promise escape? Don’t you realize that the alcoholic is a sick man?”

Touche! But to plead that drunkenness is not the only sin or even the worst sin or that it involves physical consequences beyond the initial sin does not disguise the fact that it is sin. This plea suggests a mistake like that of the crusaders against “Demon Rum.” Passing social legislation is no more effective than smashing whiskey bottles in dislodging the demon from the sinner’s heart.

Only Christ can do that. Christian soberness ...

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