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AJ on Alcohol

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Before I started my year of living biblically, I had feared that I'd be forced into twelve months of sobriety. After all, I knew the puritans had a reputation for condemning alcohol. And certain fundamentalist Christians think of booze as up there with adultery, idol worship and South Park. Some even argue that the "wine" drunk in the Bible is not wine at all, but actually grape juice. This was apparently the thinking of a temperance advocate named Thomas Welch who tried to sell "unfermented wine" in the late 19th century for communion services. He failed. At least until his family changed the name to grape juice and marketed it to the secular.
The truth is,

Biblical wine is wine. But is it a good thing or a bad thing?

In some passages, wine seems like a gift from God. In other passages, it's portrayed as a wicked toxin:

"[wine] bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind utter perverse things." (Proverbs 23:32-34).

To clear things up, I found the expert of all experts, a Christian oenophile named Daniel Whitfield who has made an astoundingly exhaustive study of every alcohol reference in Scripture Bible "“ all 247 of them.

Marijuana and the Bible, the negative and positive references to hooch, and what happened when Noah got drunk all after the jump...

On the negative side,

(I'm quoting Whitfeld's findings here) there are 17 warnings against abusing alcohol, 19 examples of people abusing alcohol, 3 references to selecting leaders, and one verse advocating abstinence if drinking will cause a brother to stumble. Total negative references: 40, or 16%.

On the positive side,

there are 59 references to the commonly accepted practice of drinking wine (and strong drink) with meals, 27 references to the abundance of wine as an example of God's blessing, 20 references to the loss of wine and strong drink as an example of God's curse, 25 references to the use of wine in offerings and sacrifices, 9 references to wine being used as a gift, and 5 metaphorical references to wine as a basis for a favorable comparison. Total positive references: 145, or 59%.Neutral references make up the remaining 25 percent.

If I could add one observation to Whitfield's study: There is also one reference to medicinal alcohol: "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments (1 Timothy 5:23)

It comes down to the battle between the Bible's gusto for life, and the Bible's wariness of excess. Between its Epicureanism and Puritanism. You can find both themes in the Scriptures. The Epicurean side is best seen in Ecclesiastes:

"There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God."

The key seems to be to enjoy wine as one of the many great things that God has provided us. But don't enjoy it too much. Use what Anheuser-Busch public service announcements call "Responsible drinking." Otherwise, bad things happen. For instance, after the Flood, Noah got sozzled and passed out naked. Noah's son Ham walked in on him nude and presumably mocked him, and Noah cursed Ham's descendants to slavery. So that didn't turn out well.

Or else there's the remarkable story of what happened when Lot "“ the one who fled Sodom "“ drank too much. Lot had escaped to a cave with his two daughters (his wife, as you know, had been turned into a pillar of salt). The daughters, thinking all other men in the world had died, got their father very, very drunk "“ and slept with him. Both got pregnant. Their incestuous offspring founded two nations "“ Moab and Amon "“ which became enemies of Israel.

Too much wine is an abomination. But a glass or two? That seems fine. Incidentally, I did an Internet search for marijuana and the Bible. As I suspected, someone has figured out a way to make the Bible seem in favor of pot-smoking. Not only does the website equalirghts4all quote Genesis 1:29 ("Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth."¦To you it will be for meat"), but it claims Moses' holy anointing oil contained a high concentration of THC. This, as my high school hero Jeff Spicoli used to say, seems totally bogus.

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25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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