Monday, January 26, 2009

A bit more of me

Today's Link
Playing Down River

Saying for the Day
The first thing in the human personality that dissolves in alcohol is dignity. ~Author Unknown

Picture of the Day
Old Episcopal Choir Picture from Escanaba
Betty's Mother is first one in second row back.

It is time for me to share a bit of me with you. Usually I have a meme or something like that to work with. Last week I was interviewed. But today I want to tell you one fact about me and why it is so.
I don’t drink alcoholic drinks of any kind. Not beer, not wine, not whiskey , not any alcoholic drink. I never have.
Now I suppose you think this grows out of my religion but you would be wrong.
I made the decision never to drink when I was still an atheist.
My family had a plethora of problem drinkers to teach me.
I learned that when you were drunk you did stupid things.
I learned that when you were drunk you looked stupid.
I learned you had to pay money to do stupid things and look stupid.
One of my teachers was Tom. He was a boarder at my grandmother’s house. As a young man he got falling down drunk and fell across a railroad track. A train came and cut off one leg. But once he had a wooden leg he went back to drinking.
Another teacher was Fred who was also a boarder . He came into the family Christmas celebration , dead drunk, and knocked over the Christmas tree.
Lesson by lesson they taught me all about drinking.
I had uncles, a grandfather, and a father all of whom had trouble handling what they drank.
I had no desire to be like that. So I just decided never to start.
My classmates in high school had no such qualms. Some of them got drunk as often as possible.
We buried one of the popular ones five days before graduation. He had been drinking and he drove into a bridge.
I discovered in the UP young people did not look forward to “ social drinking” they looked forward to getting falling down drunk. That was fun. That took away your troubles. That I wanted to avoid.
As a Pastor I saw the damage excessive drinking did. I held the hand of a lady whose son was killed by a drunk driver. I counseled people whose lives were being pulled apart by drinking. I went with the sheriff to try and talk a drunk, who was shooting at people. into putting his gun down. By the time we got there he shot himself. I listened to the crying of the parents of a young man who died in a snowmobile accident that had excessive drinking as a cause. I visited young people in jail for vandalism who would never have done what they did if they were sober. I became a fifth step counselor in the 12 step program. I listened to all the terrible things people had done while drunk.
I experienced the intolerance that heavy drinkers have for people who don’t drink. I remember being at a bar waiting to go into a wedding reception when a fellow well on his way to being drunk and noticing I didn’t have a glass said “ What’s the matter Rev. drinken against your religion”.
To which I responded “ No! It’s against my intelligence”.
AS a Pastor I never condemned drinking as such. I knew people who had wine or beer with their meals and never drank to excess. I knew the history of prohibition and how it failed.
I saw my task as being a designated driver in life. To be there to pick up the pieces , to counsel, to cry , to help where I could. To set a different example of how to live a joyful life.
It’s possible I told you all this before. That’s how it is with us old people. We keep telling the same things over and over.

News from Pigeon Falls
The little town in my basement where the trains still run, dragons fly, and life is back to normal
It is Monday morning and Pigeon Falls is quiet.
Petrovich posted his demon Driblet to his website yesterday. He still doesn’t have the end for it. But it certainly doesn’t bode well for the town.
Pastor Joan is taking the day off and spending it with Oops. She feels bad that her finances are keeping her from getting Oops the kind of clothes she deserves. In the last few days she has learned a lot about Oops.
1. She loves Lego's
2. Despite not being able to talk she plays a wicked game of Scrabble . So she knows the words.
3. She and Herman have some kind of special bond.
4. She seems to have a lot of power.
5. Somehow she influenced the social worker.
6. She always seems to know when the dragons are flying over. She goes to the window to watch them.
7. She seems to be waiting for something or someone.
8. She loves chocolate bars and ice cream.
9. Sometimes when she says Oops she becomes invisible but you can still see her clothes. That’s eerie.
10 . Sometimes she is surrounded by a bright blue light.
Pastor Joan is certain she is not your ordinary child.
Wrap UP
Still another rough breathing day. I carried my little oxygen bottle around most of the day. Loaded this week's bible study to the St. Mark's website. Ran six copies for Betty to take to Bible study tomorrow. My sister called . I called Pastor Steve and told him of the nice comment he got on my blog yesterday. I spent the day catching up on things. I sent out the interview questions. I checked on our automobile insurance. I clerared up a lot of loose ends. Now I need a breathing treatment.


Blogger Janvangogh said...

Pastor Joan needs to read the driblet to Oops and see what happens.

I like the response of drinking being against your intelligence.

I have/had enough family members who are similar examples.

4:55 AM  
Blogger PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

It is strange how some young people see that type of drinking example and come to a decision to stay away from booze and others see something to emulate. I've known people my age who grew up around drinkers and seemed to think that lifestyle was completely normal, so then they were surprised to find out that their new spouse (when they were about 20 years old) was a bad drinker. What I am always amazed at are the number of young people who claim that "there is nothing else to do around here." They've had bad role modeling, I'd guess.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Carver said...

I love the photograph. It reminds me of the choir from my childhood. I know what you mean about alcohol. I only drink on big feast days about four times a year. I enjoy wine but after I started needing long term pain management, I decided it was too risky to drink regularly so I mostly limit myself to a glass of wine on my birthday, with Christmas dinner etc.

6:05 AM  
Blogger loisontheweb said...

THANK-YOU FOR YOUR COMMENT! When I went from being a waitress to being a bartender, I had never spent any time on the other side of the bar.
I had no idea what I was doing to people; I myself am somewhat resistant to the effects of booze. In my family, I had no first-hand problems with drunks. I work too hard for my money to spend it in the bar. I have too much dignity to want to risk looking foolish ... & being told about it the next day.
I was so embarassed that it took me so long, as a professional bartender, when it finally dawned on me, gradually ... that some people dear to me could get so drunk ... we'd have lots of fun (or problems) ... then, they wouldn't remember the next day!
What really scared me was to think that I was talking to my friend ... only to realize that the "lights-were-on-but-nobody's-home" ... if it weren't my friend that I'd been talking to ... what was it? THE DEVIL? SCAREY!

6:22 AM  
Blogger Melli said...

IF you told about why you don't drink, it was waaaaay back before I started visiting. I don't drink much now - but when I was younger I drank my share. That's probably the ONLY reason I don't worry too much about my kids drinking... because I think eventually they'll "grow out of it" ... but I'm not so sure about Amanda any more... I quit drinking altogether when I got married... Dennis still drank -- he has always had a beer or two - every night that I've known him! I think I've only seen him sloppy drunk once -- I don't EVER want to see that again! But neither does he! I didn't start to have a social drink again UNTIL my kids got older and started drinking. Then we would go out to a restaurant or something and I would have one with them. So now it's just a social thing - and still very very rare for me. But I've only been SLOPPY drunk twice in my life -- and you're right -- it's NEVER good! I guarantEE it will never happen again to me! I don't believe that having a drink is against God's will -- Jesus drank wine -- we KNOW that! We don't know if he ever drank anything else. But DRUNK is against God's will - and it pretty clearly states that in the Bible. At First Lutheran we use wine in Communion, but I know a lot of churches that use the grape juice these days. I used to think that was kind of silly - but I guess if you DO have a dry alcoholic in the crowd - then that little sip of wine could tip things off.

Pastor Joan catches on quick, huh? LOL!

7:47 AM  
Blogger Raven said...

Good post. I grew up with an alcoholic father. He was never mean, but he got stupid and did so on an almost daily basis. It messed with the family dynamics and created an atmosphere of terrible tension. At one point in my life I tried to drink stuff first so he couldn't get it. Not the smartest approach to coping with alcoholism, especially because I inherited the gene. I was lucky that I stopped before I passed the point of no return. Anyway... good, thoughtful post.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Margaret said...

I have never liked the taste of alcohol enough to drink so much as to get drunk. I often wondered if anyone truly likes the taste at all or if they just tolerate it for the after effects.

However I did enjoy an 8oz chocolate milkshake Saturday night that was spiked with a shot of Banana schnapps. I drank that to sooth my raw, sore throat and bask in the comforting reminiscence of my childhood favorite novelty ice cream treat. (Banana/Chocolate Bomb Pops.)

It's funny how we also learn what "not" to do from falling role models. I too had family and friend experiences with those who allowed alcohol to run their lives. Drugs too for that matter, legal and illegal. Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus to help run our lives instead.

You're a wonderful Shepherd Dr. John.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Family Man said...

I love your courage to stand up and break the cycle. While I had had alcohol in my life, we generally do not have it in our home, as it is not really a part of our lives. My father in law does not ever drink either, as he gre up around drunks, and has chosen the same path as you.

Yet another reason you earn the respect of your readers each and every day.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

I like a drink but never to excess, I've seen what that can do. Good on you Dr. John. :)

12:29 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Dr. John,
Great post!

I remember a comment you left back when I wrote on this same subject nearly two years ago: why I don‘t drink

I was writing then because some close associates of mine in leadership positions thought my personal choice for abstinence (just like yours and for the same reasons) was too "legalistic" when in fact, like you, I was not judging their position just asking them not to judge Christians who think it's best to avoid the stuff entirely.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Mountain Mama said...

Dr. John, this post should be on the front page of every newspaper in the world! I am serious.
You have done an outstanding job of telling it how it is from the perspective of one who has seen and knows.
I love your response to the man who asked you if drinking was against your religion. It is perfect and I plan to remember it and use it myself if the occassion arises.
I had an uncle who drank excessively and got falling down drunk. He ruined our family gatherings many times.
Keep up the great work, and for heavens sake keep on posting like this!

6:27 PM  
Anonymous quilly said...

I did more than my share of drinking the first couple of years I was old enough to do so legally. One night I came home, staggered into the house and straight for the toilet, where I heaved my guts out. I was still wearing my coat, hat, boots and mittens.

After, I was sitting on the floor with my face where faces have no place being, and my room mate came to the bathroom door. She asked where I'd been. I couldn't remember. She asked who I was with. I couldn't remember. She asked how much money I'd spent -- apparently all of it.

My friend just stared at me and shook her head. I shouted, "But I had fun!" She snorted and said, "I bet you did. It's too bad you don't remember."

In the morning when I staggered into the kitchen in search of coffee, my friend handed me a cup and then said, "So, you're hung-over, broke, and wondering where you were and what you did last night. Was it worth it?"

No. It wasn't worth it. And I've never gotten drunk again.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Alpha Dude said...

We don't drink and don't allow it in the house.
If we did though, you give some real good reasons to stop.

Blessings to you, Dr. John.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Gattina said...

In Belgium, Italy and France most of the people drink wine at table with their meal. It just belongs to the use and they were brought up like this. There are a lot of Beer drinkers too especially in Belgium and beer is not considered as alcohol neither is wine. Alcohol would be strong drinks like Whisky, Wodka, etc. As alcohol is part of the daily life just like water, nobody thinks about it. But of course there are many alcoholics too, but they are sick, people who don't find their way in life. Alcoholism is a very hard disease, it's a very strong drug, even worse then heroin or cocain and it's legal. When I see a real alcoholic person, It makes me sad and I think he/she needs psychological help. Occasionally boozed people are rather funny.
I stopped drinking 5 years ago. But before there was a time I went through hell !

12:50 AM  
Blogger tsduff said...

I went for 16 years without drinking. Then after my husband (raging alcoholic/heroin addict)went through his last hospitalization and died, I slowly fell off the wagon. Funny how that works... I began nipping on vanilla rather than "drink". Eventually I began and continue to drink on and off. I feel I drink responsibly by never getting behind the wheel while imbibing (I have been known to walk a lot though). But that doesn't take care of the occasional lapses in memory or fuzzy conversations with loved ones which might be embarrassing. I admire your wisdom.

1:57 PM  

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