A Drunkard and a Wine Bibbler. That’s what they called Jesus. Who called him that? The religious authorities of his day. In our day that would be Pastors, Priests, Bishops, Deacons, Ministers, and Televangelists. Why did they call him that? Because he hung out with the party people – ate and drank with them. He didn’t drink grape juice with them either, because if you carry grape juice around in the desert it doesn’t remain grape juice for very long. Come to think of it, things haven’t changed very much. The Methodists don’t allow alcohol in their churches, even for Communion – and they are far from the only ones. Apparently we have forgotten who Jesus hung out with, or else we have deceived ourselves into thinking that he was the only one who could do that without sinning.
Jesus enjoyed a party. How can I say that? I can say that because I believe that Jesus was a sincere guy, and an authentic guy. I don’t believe he ever felt the need to pretend to be something he wasn’t – even if we do feel that need. I believe wherever Jesus went he felt comfortable and was able to be authentically present to the people he was with. If he didn’t, then we relegate him to the category of sleazy con artist and I do not for a moment believe that is an accurate description of Jesus.
So, who cares? I care, because every time I get together and have a drink with people I realize just how much damage narrow minded religious fascists have done by refusing to associate with real people – damage to those people, damage to the church, and damage to Jesus Christ. I had a fantastic time at a wedding last weekend in northern Wisconsin – and I heard what I hear constantly in those situations. “When I saw you with a beer in your hand I knew I could talk to you,” and “I can’t believe a priest is having a beer with me, this makes me think about church in a new way.” Imagine that, a priest who is a real person and who is not only willing but actually wants to spend time with real people – not the plastic pseudo people that much of conservative Christianity has turned so many church people into.
The truth is that the plastic people and their plastic churches will eventually fade from the scene, populated as they are the psychologically unstable isolationists who spend all their time worried about what other people are doing instead of working on their own spiritual development. Good riddance, I say, for they serve only to diminish the very people they have been called by Christ to love – and they have the audacity to do it in the name of that same Christ. Meanwhile they miss they reality that when they criticize real people with real lives, they criticize the one they claim to serve – for that is who he was and is.
I am reminded of what Jack Nicholson said to Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment. He said to her, “I think you should have two drinks. They might kill the bug that’s up your ass.” I’ll buy.