A Kindred Spirit

I have recounted elsewhere about a family background of alcohol abuse that impacts an entire generation, or more, sometimes causing a lifetime of trying to be normal.  The results of that life can go in several different ways.  The most common are the extremes of running from it, or embracing it.  In the case of my siblings and me, some have done both.

In my younger years of foolishness, like many young and foolish, I imbibed in a modicum of liquid spirits usually with bad outcomes, none of which were serious, but really uncomfortable.  At the time I ran with musicians who are notorious for throwing caution to the wind and excessive imbibing.  As time went on I gave serious thought to the influence I would have on my family and made a conscious decision not to drink, which was not hard to do since I didn’t like it anyway.  That happened to coincide with becoming a Christian and beginning to think of the things that emerging spiritual maturity reflects on.

One reflection was that whatever my Dad did if I did the exact opposite that would be a pretty good decision.  I was determined not to do the things that I knew were defective in my upbringing.  I took the extreme position of running away from anything I deemed destructive which included the use of alcohol.  I have been pretty much a teetotaler except that if anyone invited us to a gourmet dinner served with a glass of wine, I would be polite and not refuse (now, after the third glass, I would surely put my foot down!).  Fat chance of that, though, we hang out with normal folks who prefer pork fat.  We’re sort of into peasant food.

It is increasingly rare to find any non-drinkers these days, even among professing Christians.  The changing social climate is erasing the taboo of drinking that once was held by all believers with the exception of the liberal denominations.  Hardly a month goes by that I don’t read about another Christian organization that is leaving the issue up to the individual conscience.  My question for anyone using drugs, and while I’m at it, decorating his or her body with ink or metal items has always been, “Why?”  Especially since lemonade tastes better and I can buy paintings.  But, oh well, whatever.

I ran across a group of wealthy persons who don’t imbibe including Donald Trump, Warren Buffett, the late Steve Jobs, and Jennifer Lopez (a sip to toast, only).  Always having something interesting to say, Trump commented, “I tell people, ‘what are you drinking for?’  And they don’t understand what I’m saying.”  It is interesting to note that his brother died from alcoholism.  He knows first hand the damage it can do.  We both understood and ran away from it.

What prompted me to write this (I finally get around to it), was an article in the current edition of Reader’s Digest by Robin McGraw, wife of Dr. Phil, the popular television psychologist who hosts a program of troubled people who don’t mind telling the world about their personal problems.  While these folks might have, in addition to the presenting problem, a proclivity toward exhibitionism, I’m sure Dr. Phil’s intervention has indeed helped.  She recounts a childhood in which her father, due to his drinking and gambling, subjected the family to a life of poverty.

A harrowing experience one night at the age of 13, related to her father’s drinking and gambling, prompted her to make two life decisions.  “One, I would never marry a man who drank or gambled.  And two, I would be a powerful woman who protects her home and family,” just as she witnessed her mother doing.  Robin was determined that her children “would not live in fear of their father’s alcoholic drinking.”  On her first date with Phillip (Dr. Phil) she asked, “Do you drink alcohol?”  To which he replied, “Actually, I think I’m allergic to it.”  In their 37 years of marriage Robin has never seen Phillip drink.

Once again here is a person with the first hand experience who chose to run away from anything alcoholic.  Whenever I read these types of accounts, I fully understand their attitudes toward drink.  All of us who have lived through it and want a better life feel the same way  (additionally we should know that alcoholism seems to run in families, which makes avoidance even more important).  We know each other in a deep way without even knowing each other.  We are all kindred spirits.  Just so I’m not accused of being hopelessly naïve, I know the primary reason for anyone imbibing is not for taste, even if lemonade does taste better.


Proverbs 20:1 states: “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise” (NIV).















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