Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Other than St. Patrick and the shamrock, what is more Irish than Guinness?
Stephen Mansfield writes a wonderful history of the Guinness brewing dynasty; a history that includes a strong faith in God that led the Guinness Company to pioneer social change in Dublin and throughout the world. We may think that companies like Google that provide for their employees well-being as a modern invention, but Guinness was providing for their employees in such a manner at the beginning of the 20th century. Just as amazing as the Guinness family’s investment in their employees was the story of Rupert Guinness who took his new bride and their £5 million pound wedding gift and moved into the slums to work towards improving the lives of the poor.
This book is full of beer history, Irish history, and the Guinness family’s commitment to social justice and care for the working class of Dublin. The first chapter is a thorough history of beer, the brewing process and the way that religion and beer have been inextricably linked throughout the years. The rest of the book tells the story of the Guinness family; it's business genius, it's commitment to God, and to the needy. Here are some quotes which give a ‘flavor’ of the book.
"They did not see themselves as secular, but rather as called. They did not see themselves as apart from Christian ministry, but rather as in the Christian ministry of industry and trade. They did not think of their brewing work as a menial way to pay the bills, hoping that they might compensate for such worldliness by giving occasional service to the church. No, they had absorbed the great Reformation ideal that everything a man did was to be done for God and that his calling and his vocation were usually the same thing. They understood that this transformed workbenches into altars and the labor of a man’s hands into liturgies pleasing to God."
“Arthur Guinness founded the first Sunday schools in Ireland, fought against dueling, and chaired the board of a hospital for the poor.”
“Henry Grattan Guinness, grandson of brewery founder Arthur Guinness, was a Christian leader of such impact that he was ranked with Dwight L. Moody and Charles Spurgeon in his day. He has been called the Billy Graham of the nineteenth century.”
“Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused,” [Martin Luther] once wrote. “Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women?”
“The truth is that most post-Reformation Christians believed as their first-century fathers did–that drunkenness is sin but that alcohol in moderation is one of the great gifts of God.”
In 2003, a researcher for the University of Wisconsin concluded that a pint of Guinness a day actually bolsters heart health and is infinitely better for you than the caffeine in coffee or the high fructose corn syrup in soda.
So, on St. Patrick’s Day: Up the Irish and down a pint of Guinness. Enjoy one of God’s great gifts and celebrate a family who worked for the Lord.