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Tuesday, March 20, 2007



I recall being ina London Chaplains' meeting, when one chaplain tried to start a conversation about the drinking culture amongst undergraduates. He was, literally, shouted down with laughter. The usual lines about students letting off steam, experimenting and so on were hauled out and he was not taken seriously.

But I think he had a point and my feeling at the time was that part of why he wasn't taken seriously was because, in part, the church in the UK is reticent to speak out against its own culture of drinking.

Having grown up in Australia I've seen a fair bit of recreational drinking to oblivion. But, to be honest, it is far less common to see people my age, in Australia, especially people with lots of social advantages to their name, getting blotto on a regular basis.

I heard a lot of sermons during my years in the UK, more than a few one social ills and problems, but never one on sobriety. Is it fair to say its a problem the church tends not to speak out about?


Fernando - In my experiance there was quite a differance between the attitude of churches in Scotland and England over this matter, at least in evangelical circles.

This has changed in the past 15 years, so now drinking has become more acceptable in the Scottish context.

That said I can't remember hearing the issue addressed at all in any sermons I've heard say in the last 10 years! That said it's an issue we reguarly deal with in youth work.


Brodie - thanks for this post. this is obviously something that is an issue here in Ireland as well. It is such an ingrained part of the culture that it is almost a hands-off topic at any level. It doesn't help that Guiness is the largest export the country offers, and the romanticizing that comes with it. anyway, thanks for the food for thought...


Brad - Your right to point out the similarities between Scotland and Ireland. You have Guiness, we have Whisky. What I think has changed in our cultures is that we have moved from a culture where drinking was part of socialising to where getting drunk is what it's all about. Gone are the days when people would go out and sit with the one pint all night and at a push have a second.

So I think we can be counter-cultural without advocating abstinence, although in certain contexts this is perhaps the better option. I try to encourage the young people I work with who are of a drinking age to set a limit of what they will drink in a night out that they know is below what would get them drunk. We probably also need to help our young people think about the wider issues of drinking safely, i.e. how to avoid getting you drink spikes, how to avoid fights etc.


It's a good Q, was it for freddie getting drunk, or for his behaviour that being drunk caused him to do [with all the embarassment generated] or how it was likely to effect his performance on the pitch and off it as a role model/leader? Or all of the above?

I wonder if being drunk gets less coverage in churches because in some way most people who are in church have been drunk before? Maybe that collective we've been there is not helping the people who continually go there - and indeed whether it is an addiction that has maybe less to do with alcohol and more to do with self image, sex or something else. So we treat the symptom but not the cause?


Paul - Interesting point about treating the symptom but not the cause.

I wonder as well if we talk so little in our churches about issues like this because we're scared to seeming legalistic, we're scared of being different?

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