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Author Topic: Orthodoxy and alcohol...  (Read 9434 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #90 on: November 16, 2012, 03:35:17 PM »

I think the proper answer is that thing St. Paul said about some things being good but not beneficial or something along those lines. In other words, there is nothing wrong with an alcoholic beverage in itself--provided you drink it maturely--but it may not always be beneficial for you, depending on the person. Some people can control themselves and drink responsibly, whereas others cannot. In the case of the former, it is okay for them to drink, but in the case of the latter, it would probably be better if they refrained from drinking.
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« Reply #91 on: December 03, 2012, 10:22:17 PM »

No alcohol on fasting days?

I never heard about that... No WINE means beer is ok.

And whisky?

Beer is forbidden during the Fast. Whiskey is okay.  Fasting is supposed to "strengthen your spirits" Wink

I think this depends on your tradition. My understanding is that the Russians would disagree with you about beer being forbidden.

I don't know about "forbidden", but it is pretty clear that abstaining from non-wine forms of alcohol demonstrates a proper appreciation for the spirit of the prohibition on wine. I do not understand why some Slavs persist in the legalism inherent in saying "wine means wine": it is a mindset I find quite bizarre and strangley offensive in its resemblance to modern Anglo-American jurisprudence.
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« Reply #92 on: December 03, 2012, 10:54:09 PM »

I don't know about "forbidden", but it is pretty clear that abstaining from non-wine forms of alcohol demonstrates a proper appreciation for the spirit of the prohibition on wine. I do not understand why some Slavs persist in the legalism inherent in saying "wine means wine": it is a mindset I find quite bizarre and strangley offensive in its resemblance to modern Anglo-American jurisprudence.

I agree, although I suppose there are perhaps somewhat more sensible historical reasons for it, rather than the "wine means wine" argument used by some. What those may be, I don't know.
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« Reply #93 on: December 03, 2012, 11:12:41 PM »

I don't know about "forbidden", but it is pretty clear that abstaining from non-wine forms of alcohol demonstrates a proper appreciation for the spirit of the prohibition on wine. I do not understand why some Slavs persist in the legalism inherent in saying "wine means wine": it is a mindset I find quite bizarre and strangley offensive in its resemblance to modern Anglo-American jurisprudence.

I agree, although I suppose there are perhaps somewhat more sensible historical reasons for it, rather than the "wine means wine" argument used by some. What those may be, I don't know.

Probably arctic-cold Slavic winters, the same thing that makes fish permissible more frequently.
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« Reply #94 on: December 03, 2012, 11:50:47 PM »

No alcohol on fasting days?

I never heard about that... No WINE means beer is ok.

And whisky?

Beer is forbidden during the Fast. Whiskey is okay.  Fasting is supposed to "strengthen your spirits" Wink

Is that in the UGCC?  Or did you become canonically Orthodox overnight and forget to change your profile?
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« Reply #95 on: December 03, 2012, 11:53:09 PM »

I don't drink not because of religion but because even one drink gives me severe migraines.  Having said that to quote the local OCA priest "Look boys Christianity is a drinking religion as long as ya'll do it in absolute moderation".
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« Reply #96 on: December 04, 2012, 12:11:50 AM »

The 2 worst words in the English language, mod eration
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« Reply #97 on: December 07, 2012, 09:54:24 PM »

One of my "I love Orthodoxy" moments was when at the Paschal feast while I was a catechumen (in a GOA parish) the priest brought the beer! And it was good German beer! Couldn't stand the hypocrisy of hearing someone preach about the "inherent evils" of alcohol, esp as someone raised to do "all in moderation, nothing to excess."
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« Reply #98 on: December 07, 2012, 10:15:12 PM »

One of my "I love Orthodoxy" moments was when at the Paschal feast while I was a catechumen (in a GOA parish) the priest brought the beer! And it was good German beer! Couldn't stand the hypocrisy of hearing someone preach about the "inherent evils" of alcohol, esp as someone raised to do "all in moderation, nothing to excess."

Mine was when we had beer with our Bishop.
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« Reply #99 on: December 07, 2012, 10:40:27 PM »

The 2 worst words in the English language, mod eration

Definition of mod; to be erated.  Definition of erated; to be mod
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« Reply #100 on: December 08, 2012, 12:44:54 AM »

No alcohol on fasting days?

I never heard about that... No WINE means beer is ok.

And whisky?

Beer is forbidden during the Fast. Whiskey is okay.  Fasting is supposed to "strengthen your spirits" Wink

I think this depends on your tradition. My understanding is that the Russians would disagree with you about beer being forbidden.

I don't know about "forbidden", but it is pretty clear that abstaining from non-wine forms of alcohol demonstrates a proper appreciation for the spirit of the prohibition on wine. I do not understand why some Slavs persist in the legalism inherent in saying "wine means wine": it is a mindset I find quite bizarre and strangley offensive in its resemblance to modern Anglo-American jurisprudence.

To be parted from Georgian wine is an intense ascetic experience.
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« Reply #101 on: December 08, 2012, 12:50:32 AM »

No alcohol on fasting days?

I never heard about that... No WINE means beer is ok.

And whisky?

Beer is forbidden during the Fast. Whiskey is okay.  Fasting is supposed to "strengthen your spirits" Wink

I think this depends on your tradition. My understanding is that the Russians would disagree with you about beer being forbidden.

I don't know about "forbidden", but it is pretty clear that abstaining from non-wine forms of alcohol demonstrates a proper appreciation for the spirit of the prohibition on wine. I do not understand why some Slavs persist in the legalism inherent in saying "wine means wine": it is a mindset I find quite bizarre and strangley offensive in its resemblance to modern Anglo-American jurisprudence.

To be parted from Georgian wine is an intense ascetic experience.
Georgia wine is quite good.
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« Reply #102 on: December 08, 2012, 01:03:52 AM »

No alcohol on fasting days?

I never heard about that... No WINE means beer is ok.

And whisky?

Beer is forbidden during the Fast. Whiskey is okay.  Fasting is supposed to "strengthen your spirits" Wink

I think this depends on your tradition. My understanding is that the Russians would disagree with you about beer being forbidden.

I don't know about "forbidden", but it is pretty clear that abstaining from non-wine forms of alcohol demonstrates a proper appreciation for the spirit of the prohibition on wine. I do not understand why some Slavs persist in the legalism inherent in saying "wine means wine": it is a mindset I find quite bizarre and strangley offensive in its resemblance to modern Anglo-American jurisprudence.

To be parted from Georgian wine is an intense ascetic experience.
Georgia wine is quite good.

Ah, the imposter Georgia named for the imposter English king.
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« Reply #103 on: December 08, 2012, 02:19:23 PM »

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« Reply #104 on: December 08, 2012, 02:22:21 PM »


Easy enough.
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« Reply #105 on: December 08, 2012, 02:23:25 PM »

Kvass (which would loosely be in the beer family) is a fermented drink made from bread (hence liquid bread) with a low alcohol content that was/is popular in Slav lands and not forbidden during fasts.  The non-prohibition of Kvass seemed to extend to Beer among the Slavs once it became more common.
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« Reply #106 on: December 29, 2012, 10:21:07 AM »

I just returned yesterday from an Orthodox meeting organised by the ROCOR (Old calendar, so still on the nativity fast). The borshch was with soy smetana, but the beer was real.
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« Reply #107 on: December 29, 2012, 10:32:55 AM »

I don't know about "forbidden", but it is pretty clear that abstaining from non-wine forms of alcohol demonstrates a proper appreciation for the spirit of the prohibition on wine. I do not understand why some Slavs persist in the legalism inherent in saying "wine means wine": it is a mindset I find quite bizarre and strangley offensive in its resemblance to modern Anglo-American jurisprudence.

I couldnt disagree more.

Wine is not forbidden because it gets you drunk, but because it is linked with joy, celebrations and festivity. And at least in Europe, drinking beer is not a particular sign of celebration...
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« Reply #108 on: December 29, 2012, 10:38:01 AM »

And at least in Europe, drinking beer is not a particular sign of celebration...

 Huh
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« Reply #109 on: December 29, 2012, 12:56:07 PM »

I've always thought that 'no wine' days meant 'no alcohol whatever'. Doesn't matter what the booze is made of.

If I were inclined to quibble, I'd have an interesting personal conundrum: Cider over here is lumped together with the beer/ale family. In my understanding, long before I moved to the UK, cider is wine, just made of apples instead of grapes. So should I go with my personal definition (and abstain) or with the cultural one (and indulge)?

Not that I do have such a dilemma, but jus' sayin', yo.
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« Reply #110 on: December 29, 2012, 04:31:57 PM »

gorazd, which european countries have you been to / lived in?
did you miss the special cultural mixture of beer and football?

arachne (is your name because you like spiders?),
i think it's a great idea to have no alcohol on 'no wine' days.
fasting is about abstaining after all.
i think in europe, for a long time, the water quality was very poor, but there was readily available
very low alcohol content fermented drink (mead, beer etc), which would be safer to drink as the yeast and alcohol decreased the bacteria levels. so people (including children) would generally drink it when they could.
so if you want to have a 1% alcohol home made brew on your fasting day, this would probably be ok.

extra strong lager / cider would not be ok. it's also bad for your bowels.
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« Reply #111 on: December 29, 2012, 04:48:54 PM »

arachne (is your name because you like spiders?),
i think it's a great idea to have no alcohol on 'no wine' days.
fasting is about abstaining after all.
i think in europe, for a long time, the water quality was very poor, but there was readily available
very low alcohol content fermented drink (mead, beer etc), which would be safer to drink as the yeast and alcohol decreased the bacteria levels. so people (including children) would generally drink it when they could.
so if you want to have a 1% alcohol home made brew on your fasting day, this would probably be ok.

extra strong lager / cider would not be ok. it's also bad for your bowels.

I don't exactly like spiders, but I find we have a lot in common. Like the tendency to work on something all the time, no matter whether it will ever be finished, and incorporating everything that falls in my way into it. Wink

I'm far from teetotal, but I'm not a habitual drinker either, so abstaining from alcohol is not an issue (chocolate, now, is a whole 'nother kettle of fish!). I grew up on the old Greek drinking culture: wine, beer and ouzo or tsipouro, always in a social setting, and always with food. The UK 'lager lout' trademark still amazes me.
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« Reply #112 on: December 29, 2012, 05:53:10 PM »

If a football team loses, the fans drink, too. Maybe even more, in order to drink away their frustration. So it's not necessarily festive.

Actually, beer was already known in antiquity. And I am not aware of an Father of the Church who forbade it during fasting periods.
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« Reply #113 on: December 30, 2012, 05:38:41 PM »

If a football team loses, the fans drink, too. Maybe even more, in order to drink away their frustration. So it's not necessarily festive.

Actually, beer was already known in antiquity. And I am not aware of an Father of the Church who forbade it during fasting periods.

Im interested in reading everyones opinions about this. As a recent convert, I have always been unsure whether or not beer was ok. I havent really asked about it, but from what I can tell other people in my parish seem to drink beer on fast days. (i know that doesnt necessarily make it right. It just seems like ive seen tweets and instagrams of beers during fast times...)

Usually, I do drink beer on fast days but not wine.  My wife and I do like to drink red wines together (she isnt Orthodox) so typically on fast days she would have wine and id have a beer with dinner.

I totally understand how someone could make the point that you shouldnt drink any alcohol at all on fast days, and I have plenty of respect for that.  But what was the original reason for wine not being allowed on fast days? (not trying to justify my beer drinking, but this is a legit question.) Wasnt part of the reason because it was stored in animal skins and on fasts we try not to eat anything that comes from an animal? If thats the reason, (and i could be wrong) why would it be an issue to have beer? Especially if Gorazd is right and the Church Fathers didnt seem to prohibit it?
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« Reply #114 on: December 31, 2012, 07:32:18 AM »


Im interested in reading everyones opinions about this. As a recent convert, I have always been unsure whether or not beer was ok. I havent really asked about it, but from what I can tell other people in my parish seem to drink beer on fast days. (i know that doesnt necessarily make it right. It just seems like ive seen tweets and instagrams of beers during fast times...)

Usually, I do drink beer on fast days but not wine.  My wife and I do like to drink red wines together (she isnt Orthodox) so typically on fast days she would have wine and id have a beer with dinner.

I totally understand how someone could make the point that you shouldnt drink any alcohol at all on fast days, and I have plenty of respect for that.  But what was the original reason for wine not being allowed on fast days? (not trying to justify my beer drinking, but this is a legit question.) Wasnt part of the reason because it was stored in animal skins and on fasts we try not to eat anything that comes from an animal? If thats the reason, (and i could be wrong) why would it be an issue to have beer? Especially if Gorazd is right and the Church Fathers didnt seem to prohibit it?

Maybe the reason of storing wine in animal skins was the primary cause of no-wine during fasting days. However, I'll repeat, that I link drinking alcohol (of course, especially wine) with something festive. On fasting periods we should avoid something what's pleasure for us and can lead us to sin (if we drank too much...).  I'm much greater sinner than Church Fathers and I know that drinking alcohol during fasting time (I only drink it sometimes on "usual" Wednesdays and Fridays) is not the best idea. I really like to drink alcohol, so I must have some periods of abstinence, and and thanks to Orthodoxy I have plenty of them.  And even after little amount of alcohol the way of your thinking is changed, so (at least for me) it's easy way to break fast.
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« Reply #115 on: December 31, 2012, 02:35:34 PM »

If a football team loses, the fans drink, too. Maybe even more, in order to drink away their frustration. So it's not necessarily festive.

Actually, beer was already known in antiquity. And I am not aware of an Father of the Church who forbade it during fasting periods.

Im interested in reading everyones opinions about this. As a recent convert, I have always been unsure whether or not beer was ok. I havent really asked about it, but from what I can tell other people in my parish seem to drink beer on fast days. (i know that doesnt necessarily make it right. It just seems like ive seen tweets and instagrams of beers during fast times...)

Usually, I do drink beer on fast days but not wine.  My wife and I do like to drink red wines together (she isnt Orthodox) so typically on fast days she would have wine and id have a beer with dinner.

I totally understand how someone could make the point that you shouldnt drink any alcohol at all on fast days, and I have plenty of respect for that.  But what was the original reason for wine not being allowed on fast days? (not trying to justify my beer drinking, but this is a legit question.) Wasnt part of the reason because it was stored in animal skins and on fasts we try not to eat anything that comes from an animal? If thats the reason, (and i could be wrong) why would it be an issue to have beer? Especially if Gorazd is right and the Church Fathers didnt seem to prohibit it?
It was mostly stored in amphorae which were made of clay.
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« Reply #116 on: December 31, 2012, 02:44:19 PM »

And at least in Europe, drinking beer is not a particular sign of celebration...

 Huh

It is in Netherlands?
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« Reply #117 on: December 31, 2012, 02:45:38 PM »

It can be a sign of depression too, in which case it should be allowed. A contrite heart and a broken spirit...
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« Reply #118 on: December 31, 2012, 03:42:35 PM »

Like most questions, this is an "ask your spiritual father" one.

As has been noted, Slavic practice generally allows for beer on "no wine" days.  In Greek practice, "no wine" is usually interpreted as "no alcohol".  The difference in Greek and Slavic practices with regard to beer consumption on "no wine" days may be largely related to how different cultures and regions related to beer and wine historically.  Others have mentioned how beer became somewhat of a staple in Western Europe and other areas where water contamination was a major concern.  In such contexts, beer consumption was a matter of sustenance and survival, so allowing beer in such contexts during "no wine" days is easy to understand.  It should also be remembered that the beer consumed for sustenance in these contexts may also have been of fairly low alcohol content compared with commercial beers that are typically consumed today.   

It seems that beer never had much of a prominent role in Greek society as it did in other parts of the world, and this may at least partly explain the “no wine = no alcohol” rule in Greek practice.  I have a better understanding of the role of beer in Western Europe historically than I do of its role in Slavic history.  It would be interesting to know something about the beer that was allowed in Slavic practice on “no wine” days, and what the role of beer was in Slavic culture at the time. 

At one time, Russian monasteries were famous for their meads.  I assume that mead was considered a “honey wine” and thus not permitted on “no wine” days, but this would be interesting to know for sure.  It would also be interesting to know if the allowance of beer on “no wine” days extended even to the Russian Imperial Stout styles imported from England, which could be around 10% alcohol. 

Personally, I think that the “no wine = no beer” rule is a good one, especially keeping in mind how modern society relates to beer.  Probably all of us on this list have access to a good source of water and plenty of food, so beer consumption for us is probably more of a matter of pleasure and luxury rather than sustenance and survival.  The practice I have been given to follow is that “no wine = no alcohol”, and that I should also abstain from alcohol the day before receiving communion.  I don’t say this to imply that anyone else should do the same (go ask your own spiritual father what you should do!), but I do personally find this rule to be very helpful in observing the fasts and in preparing for receiving communion.  As a home brewer, I do appreciate a good beer and am never without large quantities of very excellent beer, as well as hard ciders and such.  Yet, as one who also wants to make sure that I am ultimately dependent only on God, I appreciate these days of required abstinence as an excuse to exercise discipline and to ensure that alcohol does not have a greater role in my life than it should.     
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« Reply #119 on: December 31, 2012, 05:13:24 PM »

In Greek practice, "no wine" is usually interpreted as "no alcohol". 

Although I have Slavic ancestry, I mostly attend the Greek parish in Frankfurt, Germany. And I have never heard of such a rule there. Neither in Greece itself. Also German Catholics, such as Franciscans, traditionally drink beer in lent.

So I guess it's a Greek-American practice. I don't understand why Americans cannot adopt a more casual attitude towards alcohol. It seems to be either dry or drunk... What about just having a normal glass of beer for dinner?
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« Reply #120 on: December 31, 2012, 05:14:25 PM »

  But what was the original reason for wine not being allowed on fast days? (not trying to justify my beer drinking, but this is a legit question.) Wasnt part of the reason because it was stored in animal skins and on fasts we try not to eat anything that comes from an animal?
That's for olive oil.
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