Monthly Archives: July 2014

Christian Beer Guide

Years ago, I used to write for a now defunct “Christian Satire” publication known as the Witttenburg Door (yes, the title is intentionally misspelled). I recently found the manuscript for one of my most-liked pieces. Perfect for summertime:

Christian Beer Guide

By: Philip Leiter

 

What would life be like in the brotherhood and sisterhood of saints if it were not for a frosty mug of the foamy substance every now and then?

With the popularity of home micro-brewing, pious pew warmers no longer need risk the embarrassment of a late night encounter with Pastor Bob at the Seven-Eleven as they try to sneak out with a six pack of Pete’s Wicked Ale.

In our continuing effort to promote harmony and understanding within the church, we have prepared a list of the best Christian micro-brews.

These potent potables are making the rounds at tailgate parties outside Promise Keeper rallies, Amway presentations, and Christian Rock concerts nationwide.

Our crack staff has sampled many of these divine distillations (often in one sitting) and offers this handy guide.

We have categorized these by theological proclivities because imbibing without consideration of your denominational inclination can lead to profound spiritual consequences

 

 

The Amish know how to party, and when they do, they reach for a frothy mug of Der Schtikkenmudd Plain Folks Ale. A hearty blend of natural hops, barley, hat-brim sweat, and Old Testament pages, this brew is a great compliment to the Sunday afternoon pig, beef, ox, goat, deer, elk, caribou and road-kill roast.

 

Anglican faithful have been harrumphing over the tasty bitter ale produced by the Abbot Brother’s Brewery called Henry VIII’s Ninth Wife Bitters. It is easy to see why the faithful are losing their heads over this voluptuously traditional English styled ale.

 

When our Apostolic friends aren’t tending their snake pits, they enjoy the sweet flavor of Tongues O’ Fire Malt Liquor. With an alcohol content of 7.9%, this brew will definitely leave you tongue-tied.

 

The Assemblies of God gather together at a river of oak-barrel aged Slain Spirits Bock Beer. A simply charismatic blend of ginger and chocolate flavorings make this unique brew a special selection of the chandelier swingin’ set.

 

Brother Bob’s Basement Brew Pub and Bible Tract Publishing Corporation has produced a brew Baptists literally interpret as possibly the best thing since total immersion: Premillenial Malt Liquor, a rapturous dispensation of wild hops and humble barley. For those “left behind,” Brother Bob offers Pale Horse Pale Ale #666, a stiff brew for a stiff-necked people.

 

 

Hail Mary and pass me a pint of Friar Tom’s Magical Mystery Mead (Transubstantial Ale). Some say it is, some say it ain’t, but those who know, never dribble the Triple M. Catholics of all stripes love this traditional dark ale brewed in the Vatican cellar under the watchful eye of Friar Tom. The good Friar refuses to reveal the secret ingredients under penalty of Limbo.

 

Christian Scientists may deny it, but they take their brewskies seriously, and Say It Ain’t So Sour Mash Malt is one serious beer. Brewed in John Travolta’s garage, this beer takes the bold step of being totally natural – without using a pasteurization process. Those who become ill are advised to “just get over it.”

 

If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much and KierkaBier is as Dutch as it gets. This stout beer is brewed at Calvin College in the west wing of the philosophy department underneath a poster of Dutch Reformed theologian, Abraham Kuyper. Devotees of this dark, sturdy beer say they can almost taste the dusty, dank bohemian studios of Dutch thinkers at Amsterdam University. However, at the price of $9.95 a six pack, DRC members – famous for their, uh, frugality – are known to serve Goebel beer at house parties.

 

Episcopalians of all stripes tip a pint of Stodgy Bottoms Amber Ale after a long day on the “links.” This bright red, slightly fruity beer is brimming with Protestant work ethic.

 

Scandinavians, when not warming their bones with Glogg, enjoy a hearty, dark Pilsner called Yasuryabetcha Brown Beer. Flavored with just a hint of cardamom, this official beverage of the Evangelical Covenant (Swedish Free Church) is a perfect compliment to pickled herring and Swedish meatballs.

 

Aimee’s Holy Ghost Ale is particularly suited to the Foursquare Gospel denomination with its precise blend of four sanctified grains and pure California spring water. Named for church founder Aimee Semple McPherson, this amber ale is one spirit-filled experience.

 

Friends don’t let Friends drink rowdy beer, and Peaceable Kingdom Pale Ale is one mellow brew. Conscientiously objective and decidedly low brow, this simple, “hoppy” beer won’t fight with your palate or quake ‘yer sensibilities.

 

Don’t slam the door on Jumpin’ Jehovah’s Witness Wheat Beer until you’ve transfused a draught of this delightfully heady brew. Bottled under the watchful eye of the Bible Tract Society, this new wheat beer is delivered to your door early Saturday morning by two faithful followers of your local Kingdom Hall. Don’t even pretend your not home!

 

Martin Luther would have posted no thesis on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral had he tasted the flavorful subtleties of Nearly Catholic Chocolate Malt Liquor.  Aged in wormwood casks, this chocolate flavored malt beer is one brew Lutherans in every synod agree is worth the protest.

 

“Extremely rigid, yet surprisingly mellow” is how Mennonites of all beard lengths describe Oaken Pew Lager. From an old recipe of Menno Simmon’s grandson, this handcrafted Lager is uniquely flavored with orange Jell-O highlights.

 

Historians claim that John Wesley preached over a hundred sermons a week during his barnstorming evangelical quest of early nineteenth century Europe. With that grueling schedule, a cool draught of Brother Charles’ Methodical Malt helped the itinerate holy man maintain an even keel. Carefully brewed in virgin oak barrels, this saintly beverage prepared the savage heathen for Wesley’s Methodist message to the New World.

 

 

 

A new breed of adult beverage is making the scene at posh new Non-denominational, ecumenical mega-churches across the fruited plain. The Practically Perfect Suburban Pilsner is a blend of discarded hops and barley from some of the more outspoken brews reviewed in this guide. Pleasantly nondescript in taste and temperament, this near beer is appropriate for any gathering of nearly similar saints.

 

Like a baseball bat to the head, Sons of Thunder Malt Liquor is the in-your-face-favorite of Pentecostal penitents everywhere. Holy Ghost Tent Revival Brewery, located somewhere in the hills of Tennessee, has been bottling this hell-fire and brimstone inspired concoction for the faithful since 1965.

 

Calvin & Hops Session Ale is precisely brewed and fermented in stainless steel vats where only the select dare trod. It’s preordained that this fruity, full-bodied ale will keep the elect upright and true. Presbyterians will never tell, but rumor has it that every Elder, Deacon and Session meeting begins with a tall glass of lukewarm C & H.

 

“Interstellar Star-Stuff” is an actual ingredient on the fanciful labels of Ostentatiously Metaphysical Inter-Galactic Omnisciently Sentient Hybernian Pale Ahle (Celtic spelling of ale, we think). Brewed, or some would say boiled, or rather; “left to stand,” in pure silver globes representing Mother Earth (although, one does not have to believe in any earth-mother, per se) for a fortnight (but not necessarily a real fortnight, although no one is quite sure what one is) and stirred for exactly one turn (or more than one, possibly three) with a switch of birch from a low branch of an Essex heath row from an eastern facing bough, this beer – or some would say; “essence of pure earthly mead” – has ambiguous flavorings that tingle the utterly good inner being of the essential Personkind. The official (but non-binding) brew of the Unitarian Universalist denomination, OMIGOSH  Pale Ahle is intended to be consumed in pure ceremonial crystal goblets dedicated to the god of Universal Mead, Lord Humbug (or some such).

Creative Writing and the Jensen Michaels novels.

“Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.” – Mark Twain

Creative storytelling begins in our childhood almost as soon as we can form complete sentences.

Parents call it fibbing.

Small children often get away with the best whoppers. It’s because of their innocence. We think they always tell the truth.  Those big, doe-y eyes, rumpled shirts and tousled hair – the perfect foil!

The veneer of innocence lasts until around 3 or 4 years old. Then one day, something unfortunate happens: You broke your mother’s favorite planter.

Fortunately, you have a younger sibling who has not yet joined the ranks of the articulate, and the first story plot of your life is hatched: Blame it on sister or brother!

That was easy.

Or; … not.

Some of us are terrible story tellers. We don’t have a game face. We blush, we stammer. We make up impossible tales:

A Martian came down and held a ray-gun to Bobbie’s head and he, he… and he knocked over the vase.

Some of us are more creative;

Oh, mother. [dramatic pause] I have some unfortunate news: Bobby was trying to take his first steps and he stumbled. Thinking nothing of my own safety [establishing the fact of your reliability], I ran to catch him, but we accidentally knocked over your vase.

 

Those of us who succeed in the art of misdirection eventually become either writers or politicians.

Fortunately for the world; I chose the former.

Creative writing is something that comes naturally to me.  Every time a school teacher would assign an essay project in lieu of actual work, I inwardly cheered – even as my classmates groaned.

Convinced, however, that the life of a novelist would be one of poverty and loneliness, I pursued the next best thing: Journalism. More specifically: Photojournalism.

To my consternation, Photojournalists are not supposed to be writers, even though we took the same writing classes in college as our writer colleagues. Union newspapers actually forbade Photojournalists from writing our own cut-lines (the captions to photos).

A convenient way around this dilemma was the Photo Essay.

The photo essay evolved into more full length articles, and for a time, this tamed my inner storytelling beast. The only disappointing aspect of this genre was being constrained to what actually happened. It put limitations on my churning imagination.

A change from staff member of a daily newspaper to photo editor of several weekly newspapers allowed me more freedom to choose the story. I now had the option of at least one photo essay a week.

I left the newspaper business behind when I became convinced that the economics of Journalism were not sound. I was working nearly 80 plus hours a week for a compensation that barely rose above minimum wage. Thus began my various careers in sales – more “creative story-telling?”

This is when I began working on my novels.

For years I’ve carried the plots of various stories around in my fertile imagination. One story involves an intrepid newspaper photographer (autobiographical?) who discovers a secret, mystical religious cult operating out of his own small town in Ohio. This story is called Raising the Dead, and will explore the vast and complex world of mysticism in religion.

Tea Party was an idea that came to me as I was reading about a little known plot to overthrow President Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency in 1933. It was at the height of the Tea Party movement, and this polarization we’ve seen as a result is uncannily similar to how divided the country was at that time. The fear of socialism was a call to action.

So, I ceased all of my other novels in progress and pursued this idea until completion. You can order Tea Party through Amazon. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can download a copy for free for 14 days.

It took me two years of writing at least one hour a night from midnight until sometimes 2AM to complete. I would also write while on vacation.

My writing style is character driven. I visualize a personality in my mind and build a story around that person.

Jensen Michaels, the main character in Tea Party, is a composite of what for me defines a true hero. My father was my hero growing up. He was intellectual, but unassuming. He was brave, but not rash. He was the type of person who had a clear understanding of what the priorities in life are. He would not hesitate to come to the aid of those in need, and would never sacrifice integrity for self-gain.

The risk of this type of personality is that on occasion, you are led down the wrong path pursuing what you think is a noble cause. Perfect fodder for a novel!

Tea Party is a fun read. It is chock- full of little factoids, but not so pretentious that it becomes bogged down.  The plot is fast-paced, and takes several twists and turns that will reward the reader with anticipation and relief. It took me, the writer, on an unexpected adventure and hopefully, you will share in that pleasure.

More importantly, I think that Tea Party sends a message. One reader described it as “a cautionary tale.”

I think that as a nation, we have lost the ability to discuss political issues with civility and common sense.  More often than not, I have witnessed close friends and family members feuding over political and religious issues because we have the mistaken notion that we must be resolute in our beliefs, otherwise we show weakness. Certain radio and television talk show hosts have made fortunes on this notion that there is only one correct worldview and political orientation.

We have reduced our arguments to “talking points” and are missing the whole middle field upon which we can build common ground. It is my hope that Tea Party will begin the dialogue.

 

The next novel in the Jensen Michaels series, currently being written, is called The Farmer with a Dell, and is about Ralph and Adele Farnsworth, pig farmers in southern Illinois, who become tossed about by the Alternative Energy lobby and Federal regulators.

One day, Adele decides to blog about these experiences – on an old Dell computer – and becomes a folk hero for all the zanies itching for a fight. When things spiral out of control, they call on our hero, Jensen Michaels, to help.

A Farmer with a Dell will be available this fall.