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This post has little or nothing to do with wine, but here it is anyhow


Look, I fully recognize that some people have a substance abuse problem, whether it be with alcohol or drugs. So before you slam me for not “getting it,” let’s get the foregoing straight, okay?

Having said that, last week’s news that President Bush, for the first time, candidly talked about his history of alcoholism has me wondering why so many people who go through this struggle end up talking about Jesus Christ. I mean, do you have to be an ex-addict to discover that old time religion?

CNN reported on Bush’s fess-up, quoting him as saying, “I’m a faith-based guy. Sometimes, to help change a person’s behavior, you have to change their heart.” We have to understand “faith-based” in the context of another quote in the article, from a baseball player named Josh Hamilton, who told Bush that his own drug addiction was cured only after “I opened my heart, and that following night I committed my life to Christ.”

That’s what makes me uneasy with this entire anti-alcohol movement. I’ve posted many times on this site about neoprohibitionism and accompanying moves to curtail the use of alcohol, if not to eliminate it altogether. When I wrote my blog on “Seven reasons not to vote for Sarah Palin if you love wine” (Sept. 7), it alluded to this concern. I have little problem with professionals who rightfully point out the dangers of excessive use of substances, including alcohol, and I understand, as I explained above, that some people feel they just can’t take a single sip of alcohol without endangering themselves. Hell, I have relatives in that sad situation, and I feel sorry for them.

But why do so many of these crusaders have to juxtapose Jesus Christ and born-again Christianity with their recoveries? Do the two have anything to do with each other? Does that mean an agnostic can’t be a recovering addict, or a Jew, or a Buddhist? When my Jewish relatives went to AA and gave up alcohol, they didn’t run all over the place yakking about Moses and Abraham, they just quietly got their stuff together in a dignified way. Why can’t people like Hamilton and Bush do it the same way? It’s their religious certainty, and the need to pompously showcase it for everybody else, that bothers me about these recoverers — the same ideological certainty Bush displayed in his disastrous war in Iraq, in the anti-science bent of his administration, in his reflexive instinct against gay people, in the arrogant middle finger he gave to the rest of the world through his go-it-alone foreign policy. I could go on and on. I completely agree with Oliver Stone, who said:

There’s nothing more dangerous for America than an ex-alcoholic President who tells you to believe in Jesus.

And before you accuse me of being anti-Christian, I’m not. Hello! Jesus was a great Jewish rabbi. What I’m against are Christians who want to impose their narrow religious beliefs on the rest of us, tear down the wall between church and state, and replace the Constitution with Leviticus.

By the way, Mr. Bush, what about your use of cocaine?

On Monday, back to wine!

  1. Steve, I am starting to worry about you. You have covered politics and religion in your wine blog. If you write a piece about sex, I will be forced to cancel my subscription to your blog.

    You are losing the plot old chap. Engage brain before posting.

  2. IRONY: It was the nuns who taught me that moderation is the key to life. For me, that means everything from wine to religion, and hair ties in between… That’s why I consider myself a spiritual person who enjoys a glass of wine a day… All things in moderation.

    Could it not be the same behavior of overindulgence that leads someone who can’t put the brakes on alcohol to also not be able to put the brakes on religion? By that I mean… it’s one thing to enjoy a sense of religion for the sake of one’s own soul; it’s another to take that sense of religion, and feel that it also has to be imposed on others as the “only way.”

    I had a delightful kindergarten teacher Mrs. Simpson. In my heart and soul, she was an angel in public school, when I was four years old and she was teaching me. Then, at age five – upon entering St. Patrick’s School – the dogma began.

    One day, Mrs. Simpson was babysitting for me (talk about being lucky!).

    I clearly remember this time with her. She was sitting in an arm chair; I standing beside her, wiggling back and forth with five year old energy. I asked her, “Mrs. Simpson, are you Catholic?” She said, “No, I’m not,” to which I replied, “Then, you’re going to hell.”

    She smiles and said, “I am, am I?” I said, “Yup.”

    There it is…. Thankfully, I gained my wits back and I realized the whole thing for what it was… Over indulgence in one’s thinking… Same as the alcoholic… Too much of anything doesn’t leave room for wiggle.

  3. Addicts are indoctrinated to believe that they are powerless to break free of their addictions (and they are, I see this daily in earning my paycheck: their brains need the drug and the concepts of ‘free will’ or ‘determination’ are childish delusions in this context).
    This is a pivotal of the 12-step ideology.
    Insofar that substance abuse is a way for the person to self-medicate an underlying derangement in their neurophysiology (and it is – I see this on a daily basis in earning my paycheck; people with functional abnormalities in certain regions and circuits in the brain tend to have problems with drugs that actually help them cope with the symptoms resulting from those availabilities), then what one chooses to cling to in place of their ‘substance of choice’ is only a replacement for that substance: be it belief in a god, marathon running, activism, paxil, Marlbororos or whatever tends to play the same role as the original substance did.
    If that replacement got you away from the stigma of the original substance and the attendant health, personal and family nightmare, wouldn’t you be touting its value to others?

  4. Automatic spell check/correction got the best of me:

    that one sentence should read:

    “people with functional abnormalities in certain regions and circuits in the brain tend to have problems with drugs that actually help them cope with the symptoms resulting from those *abnormalities*”

  5. This is honestly one of the oddest posts I have ever read anywhere.

    All of AA, as I understand it, is based in realizing there is a Higher Power beyond yourself. Seems like a good idea to me to not think the world revolves around you.

    I’m a fairly observant Jew in Chicago….and I am not afraid of religious Christians as a group. Quite the opposite.

    Stone’s idea (and yours) that “there’s nothing more dangerous for America” is to me, well, batty.

    We live in a world where real people want to kill us and our kids literally! And NONE of them are Christians last time I checked. I think those people might be a little more dangerous for America.

    Back to the wine!


  6. Richard, well, it was a slow news Saturday, it’s my blog, and so I felt entitled to go off topic. Usually I don’t post on Saturdays but I’m thinking of reserving that day for odd stuff. Thanks for your observations.

  7. Steve, that was an odd, brave, and well-written post. Thanks. David

  8. Good for you and your comments. “All these non Christians want to kill us” has allowed the trampling of our values and Constitution. What are we then defending? I’m not afraid of the terrorists and I’m tired of fear driven politics. Richard’s idea that the only threats are from those non Christians is, well “batty.” And there is no difference between the goals of far right extremists, no matter what their religion. Thanks for the post. Cheers!

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