酒與宗教 ~ Alcohol and Religion
Alcohol and Religion
Hello, everyone. Today I’m going to discuss alcohol and religion. I think there are two sides to the relationship between the two. One is religious teachings about the use of alcohol in daily life, and the other is alcohol’s significance in religious ceremonies.
Alcohol has high standing in many pagan religions. They believe that because it increases virility and makes life more enjoyable, it’s clearly a gift from the gods. According to Norse mythology, alcohol is the sap of the World Tree. The ancient Egyptians consider Osiris, one of their most important gods, the inventor of beer. The ancient Greeks teach drunkenness is an encounter with Dionysis, the god of wine. According to the cult of Dionysis, orgies are good for us because they allow us to return to our original nature.
From another perspective, because alcohol can cloud our minds and make it easier to do things we shouldn’t, many religions restrict its consumption. For example, the Fifth Precept of Buddhism is “as the Buddha refrained from alcohol until the end of his life, so I too will refrain from alcohol until the end of my life.”
In Jewish Scriptures, wine represents joy, and it is also a sacred offering, but drunkenness often leads people into sin or disaster, so drinking should be done in moderation. During the seder on the first night of Passover, all Jews drink four cups of wine. Passover is a memorial of God freeing the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt over 3000 years ago. These four cups represent God’s four expressions of deliverance.
Though some prohibitionist Protestant sects have existed since the 19th century, by and large Christianity’s attitude toward alcohol is the same as Judaism’s. Jesus’s first miracle is the best example: the drinks ran out at a wedding party He attended, so He turned seven barrels of water into wine. Also, many Catholic Trappist monks support themselves by making beer or wine.
Wine has an especially important place in Christian theology. In the Gospel, Jesus says that His followers must eat His flesh and drink His blood to attain eternal life. At the Last Supper, He raised bread and wine up to heaven, distributed it to his disciples, said it was His body and blood, and asked them to consume it. He then ordered them to repeat this ceremony to remember Him, and so Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant services all have similar rites today.
Religions have moral codes in order to guide their members and rites in order to express their beliefs. Because alcohol is omnipresent, and its effects on people are so complex, there are all kinds of moral and customary responses to it in the religious world.
Since my time is limited, that simple introduction to alcohol and religion is all I can give you, but I hope it was enough to spark your interest in the subject. May the Lord bless you and keep you.
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