Confession: I am celebrating craft beer week. Well, actually, I gather with men from my church every first Thursday of the month.

Justification: It all started innocently enough a few years ago. As an academic I was doing a project on men’s spirituality and needed some men as guinea pigs. What better way to loosen their lips to talk about God than to consume some beer once a month! The project ended, but a few months later the deacon in the group proposed that we meet again for counsel and refreshment of the body and soul. Now, we have become so obsessed with craft beer that we are meeting twice a month, once locally and once for a “field trip” to visit other micro-breweries in the Pacific Northwest [and they are numerous]. Craft beer is up to $7 a pint and sometimes one is not enough, but it has become a life-giving religious ritual. Consider the support of local crafts people, the communion around the table, and perhaps most importantly the simple enjoyment of God’s good gifts.

Those who are wondering why this needs to be the subject of a confession may not understand my background. I grew up in a conservative Mennonite church that broke away from the larger Mennonite church in 1812 over various liberal tendencies, one of which was the brewing and consumption of alcholic beverages. Incidently, I have now joined that larger Mennonite church, which gives me the freedom to enjoy beer, but not without occasional nagging feelings from my past.

Penance: Divine judgment is upon you. It came symbolically with the sampling of that devilishly delicious dark malt with hints of coffee and chocolate, entitled, “the back hand of God.” I’m not sure what this means.