Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An unusual fast

I just came across a pretty amazing Lenten project. Iowan J. Wilson is following an ancient monastic tradition of fasting from solid food for 46 days while drinking only beer and water. Not just any kind of beer though, Wilson will be getting all his calories from doppelbock beer -- a style developed by Bavarian monks to provide maximum nourishment during their Lenten fasts. For this reason the style came to be known as "liquid bread." This isn't a stunt, and carrying it out will be considerably more difficult than your more typical fasting from meat or sweets. Nor, Wilson makes clear, is it an excuse to go past the bounds of moderation. I think he'd agree with G.K. Chesterton's dictum: "We should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them."

Here's Wilson writing at Diary of a Part-time Monk:

I’m a little torn that I’m sharing this experience with you. Matthew 6:16-18 tells us that Jesus fasted in private and in Isaiah 58, the reader is chastised for unrighteous methods/motives.

I’m sure there will be folks out there that question my motives. I thought I’d take this first post to be clear that I simply find this to be an interesting story. When I realized its dimension and difficulty, I decided to blog so others might follow along in real time.

The other edge of that noble sword is that there are blogs and media outlets all over the world that have really jumped on board in the last couple of days. My ugly mug was on the front page of the Des Moines Register on Sunday, and tonight at 6 p.m., I’ll be on KCCI-Channel 8 talking about the project. I’ve fielded a number of requests for interviews and just got off the phone with DRAFT Magazine a while ago.

So I’m out there. From a beer drinker’s perspective, that’s fun, and I’m glad that everyone seems as intrigued as I am.

But this project isn’t about me. It’s a historical study into the lives of these Christian monks centuries ago. I’m just the vessel. I want to be clear about that. I hope beer lovers’ learn something reasonable about Christianity, and I hope Christians learn something reasonable about beer.

You can follow Wilson's journey here. I've also added his blog to the Top Ten list at right.

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