Friday Links

–Marvin on the Presbyterian Church’s decision to allow congregations to call non-celibate gay and lesbian pastors.

–Libraries are part of the social safety net.

–“I hated vegans too, but now I am one.”

–On anti-Semites and philo-Semites.

–Mark Bittman asks, “Why bother with meat?”

–Jesus and eco-theology.

–Jeremy discusses Herbert McCabe and Gerhard Forde on the Atonement.

–Your commute is killing you.

–Rowan Williams’ Ascension Day sermon: “The friends of Jesus are called … to offer themselves as signs of God in the world.”

–Grist’s “great places” series continues with two posts on the industrial food system and its alternatives.

–Keith Ward on his recent book More than Matter?

–Russell Arben Fox on the Left in America.

–The Cheers challenge. My wife and I have already been rewatching the entire series. We’re on season 6 now, which replaces Shelley Long’s Diane with Kirstie Alley’s Rebecca. It’s one of my all-time favorite shows, although the earlier seasons are probably the best ones.

–Ozzy’s first two solo albums, which are generally considered classics, have gotten the deluxe reissue treatment. Here’s a review.

Drinking liberally

I stopped by my local liquor store this evening in the hopes of getting my hands on a six-pack of the recently launched local beer DC Brau. Unfortunately, they were all sold out and didn’t expect to have any more in stock for a few weeks. (From what I gather, it’s been quite popular.)

Of course, I didn’t want to leave empty handed, and as I was browsing the cooler, this caught my eye:

Yep, that’s Blue State lager, “the progressive choice,” brewed by Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg, Pa. They also have an ale, Red State (“the conservative choice”). Maybe they need something for independents–Purple Pilsner?

Anyway, it was priced at $4.99, which made me suspicious. So I asked the proprietor if it was any good or just some kind of novelty product. He said it was cheaper than Budweiser but tasted better, which seemed like a good value. And you know, it’s pretty good! Although, to me an ale seems like a more liberal beer and a lager more conservative.

Intelligent dissent on the food movement

I’m obviously sympathetic to a lot of the proposals of Michael Pollan, et al., but some of what passes for criticism of our system of food production can come across as simplistic, naive, or nostalgic.

That’s why I was happy to discover the blog of historian and author Maureen Ogle who, among other things, subjects “Pollanism” and allied movements to a healthy dose of sympathetically critical scrutiny.

See here and here for two interesting series she’s written.

Ogle is also the author of the book Ambitious Brew, an unabashedly celebratory history of the big American beer makers–the sort of thing that drives beer snobs up a wall.

Green beer – and it’s not even St. Paddy’s day

Top 8 Green U.S. Breweries

I haven’t even tried most of these, though I am a fan of Brooklyn Brewery.

(link via my buddy Chris)

Sometimes a beer is just a beer

I agree that Christians should drink beer (I mean, if they want to). But I’m not sure they need to put this much thought into it. Surely what the world needs now is not legions of hipster Christian beer snobs.

Extremism in the defense of beer

Great story about the rise of craft brewing in the US, focusing especially on Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware, maker of various “extreme” beers (really hoppy ales, beers with offbeat ingredients, etc.). For my birthday I treated myself to a 4-pack of their 90 minute IPA. Yummy stuff.

The article, though, becomes a kind of philosophical debate about the nature of beer: is beer best defined within strict parameters, such as those enshrined in the (unfortunately named) German “Purity Laws”? Or can beer encompass all kinds of odd ingredients and styles? When is a beer not a beer?

I was also charmed by the Trappist monk/brewer interviewed in the article who named Budweiser as his favorite American beer. Being catholic–at least in my taste in beer–I certainly appreciate the King of Beers on occasion (even if it’s now owned by a Belgian brewer!).

What’s in your booze?

The vegan booze list. I’m kicking back with a vegan-friendly Miller High Life (aka the Champagne of Beers, suckas!) as we speak.

Yuengling vs. the union

This story, if accurate, is a bummer. The writer is absolutely correct about its ubiquity in the greater Philadelphia area. And now that we’re back in the world of Yuengling distribution it’s been my go to beer.

Which makes this all the more unfortunate:

Earlier this year, the employees at Yuengling’s Pottsville brewery decertified — i.e. got rid of — their local Teamsters union after ownership stopped negotiating with the union. Anonymous workers told the Associated Press that brewery owner Dick Yuengling promised the employees he would close the place down if they didn’t boot the Teamsters. After losing the legal battle because terrified employees wouldn’t come forward to testify, the union fired back in May with a request for drinkers to boycott Yuengling.

(via the Young Fogey)

The triumph of the wine

This Slate article makes some speculations about why the popularity of wine in the US is skyrocketing while that of beer seems to be remaining, um, flat. The author argues that it has to do with selling a certain lifestyle, and beer isn’t keeping up. He says that wine, which used to be perceived as rather hoity-toity, has come to be seen as part of a relaxed and “passionate” Mediterranean lifestyle, a shift away from the associations with high English and French culture. This makes wine connoisseurship seem more accessible and egalitarian.

This may be a function of getting older and having a bit more money as much as anything, but I’ve definitely noticed that in the circles I move in wine seems to be the beverage of choice for dinners out, etc. Wine also has a reputation for being healthier, which is probably a consideration. And certainly the increased availability of mass-market decent quality wines must have something to do with it.

Against beer snobbery

I largely agree with this.

Also, not only are Bud and Miller union-made brews (as Matthew Yglesias points out), “macro” brews are often more likely to be vegetarian/vegan than many microbrews.

Now, look: I enjoy microbrews, but for an everyday drinkin’ beer I’d just as soon crack open a Bud or a High Life as most of them. Sue me.