I suppose it was about 25 years ago that a close friend of mine, at the time a Mennonite pastor in the Midwest, stirred up a hornet’s nest by writing a letter to the editor of the Gospel Herald, the weekly denominational magazine. Signed “name withheld,” this letter raised the possibility that maybe Mennonites should rethink their knee-jerk rejection of alcohol (I have to confess that I am going totally by memory here; I don’t recall anything specific about my friend’s argument).
For weeks, it seems, the Herald was filled with letters to the editor ripping into my friend for suggesting the worst of possible heresies. And I am pretty certain that no one wrote a letter defending his points (I certainly didn’t). To suggest that Mennonites should accept the validity of drinking alcoholic beverages simply was outrageous.
Now I knew back then that quite a few Mennonites did indeed drink, but they couldn’t do so publicly it seems (like the old joke—what’s the difference between a Mennonite and a Lutheran? the Lutheran will say hi to you in the liquor store). Continue reading “Mennonites and alcohol: Fascinating sociological dynamics”