Would You have a Drink with It?

“One of the tests that should regularly be applied to the results of any thinking process, however plausible, is: Would I like to sit down and have a vermouth with this thing I have just talked myself into? On that scale, ballerinas, oysters, free speech, and romantic love come off just fine. Computers, the Modern Presidency, National Honor, Protective Reaction, and Keeping America Number One make terrible drinking companions.” – R.F. Capon; Hunting the Divine Fox, Chapter 10 Computers

I am reminded of an essay I read once and have since lost track of by Garrison Keillor on how to look like an interesting person in public by reading a news paper. He covered the order, how to fold it, and speciffically that it must be an actual newspaper, not a digital one. His point was if you are trying to be an interesting person they physical object is vital, an iNook is not intresting everyone is staring at a divice. THey signal, “do not talk to me.” By driving people away you become uninteresting. There is something about the physical thing that lends itself to pleasure. A pint with my laptop is not nearly as enjoyable as a pint with a book. The pleasure of a good draft is enhanced by the feel of the paper on my fingers, the sound of pages sliding across one another as they are turned. I want to have a drink with my books, I am driven to drink by my laptop. 

I would assume for many at some point a cage stage Calvinist has stained what should have been an otherwise good theology, “full of sweet, pleasant and unspeakable comfort to godly persons” as Article 17 would say. The Doctrines of Grace should be the best drinking companion but often it is has been introduced by a loud and obnoxious drunkard. I would not want to drink with that idea and its jerk of a friend, and neither should anyone else. But when understood rightly, a better evening could not be wished for. Lewis called it Chestertonian Calvinism and it is the kind of idea you want to stay the weekend for a proper bash where the good scotch is brought out, the cigars are Churchills and you enjoy it because you know you don’t really have any other choice.

What else then has been accepted as an uncomfortable drinking companion? Capon largely talks about ideas and I appreciate his criteria for some mental housecleaning. It is a healthy practice to consider what our drinking companions are that serve more to drive away people than invite them in by being interesting. In a world of think as I do or be banished to the outer darkness we have become a miserable people, our own worst drinking companions.

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