Monday, December 26, 2011

Drinking to Celebrate Christmas and New Year

New year is a time to rejoice and celebrate. Parties, both at work and at churches, take for granted the presence of liquor. It's no longer news that Catholics do more drinking than all the other religious groups. This was made known a few years ago in a survey of the religions in Korea. The Peace Weekly, in an article and editorial, discusses the issue and gives some guidelines for a healthy culture of drinking.

The article mentions a couple of parishes that do not allow any drinking on their property; even with events, parties, parish excursions, or bazaars to help the poor, no liquor is seen. The editorial reminds us that Korea is number two  in the consumption of liquor; loss to society from the consumption is astronomical.

It is not difficult to surmise what the men think of the parish ruling; the women are not generally adverse to it.  The reason for the ruling is obvious: there were serious abuses, and it was an effort to bring the idea of temperance to the attention of all.

Often, after a meeting, the men go off property to drink, which would usually be a period of time much longer than the meeting itself. Not only do the middle aged men drink but also the young. Drinking among the young is not less than that done by the older groups, and many of the high school graduates say they learned how to drink in these groups. But many would also say it helped bring the different age groups together, making for camaraderie. 

The Protestants have a reputation in Korea for not drinking or smoking, while the Catholics have a reputation for being very tolerant of drinking. The writer quotes a priest professor who mentioned a number of Scripture quotes that allow drinking, but there also are many that warn of the evil effects from liquor when over-indulged, drinking, he said, needs to be done in moderation.

There are parishes that, instead of drinking at meetings or other gatherings, provide either at the parish or in other areas cultural activities such as watching films, plays, and drinking tea or coffee. There are many who have difficulties in joining some of the parish groups because they don't drink, which is another issue. If the drinking could be limited to one glass, quoting one of the Christians, there would not be a problem.
He leaves us with the well-known phrase, "Too much of a good thing is bad." This applies especially, he feels, to the use of liquor, and adds, quoting from Sirach 31:28, "Joy of heart, good cheer and merriment are wine drunk freely at the proper time." When they are drunk to excess these good things become poison.                                                     

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