Two words: Alison Griswold. We met on Twitter and have been in the same room as each other but haven’t ever officially met. Funny how life is. She is a character and you should all follow her on Twitter. I laugh out loud. Anyway … onto her post
Living in South Carolina, socializing with Team Catholic is somewhat of a rarity. I frequent coffee houses, Bible studies and bars with a collection of great friends who are affiliated with a variety of denominations. Now in high school, conversations with different denominations usually consisted of “my youth minister’s hotter than yours” or “we get REAL wine for communion. Sparkling grape juice is for losers.” It’s neat when you shift from these mature comparisons to discussing life and how your faith helps you deal with it.
A recurring conversation that we have is about alcohol. Unlike Catholic circles where the question, “what should I bring tonight” reveals if your host or hostess is high maintenance and expects a bottled import, is easy-breezy and is fine with Miller Lite or just plain awesome asks for “whatever you like to mix with rum or tequila,” I learned (from some rather awkward experiences) that when a southern non-Catholic Christian asks you to bring “drinks” to a party … they mean lemonade or sweet tea.
While sitting across from my first non-Catholic roommate, discussing the ins and outs of dirty dishes and splitting utilities, she paused and asked, “Also. One more thing. Uh, I keep wine in the house sometimes. If that bothers you I totally won’t. I know you work for a Church and stuff …” “What would that have to do with it?” I asked. “Didn’t Jesus like, make wine?” She gave a nervous chuckle. This apparently had not come up in her Sunday school. One of my favorite bloggers, Jon Acuff, has tackled this question twice in his blog www.stuffchristianslike.com and even suggested some handy strategies for finding out if your new Christian friends drink beer, such as investigating their key ring for bottle openers (cause no one drinks that much soda) or faking a move to see if they bring you boxes from a liquor store. Post here: http://stuffchristianslike.net/2008/07/remix-34-subtly-finding-out-if-you-drink-beer-too/
I’m getting better at straight-up-asking new friends, “so, when you say let’s do coffee, are you down for happy hour margaritas at $2.00 each, cause that’s cheaper than starbucks and you get chips and salsa … and by that raised eyebrow you’re giving me I realize I now need to laugh quickly and pretend that was a joke” because in a small town, people will find out if you drink eventually, so I like to know what makes people happy and comfortable. When I get the raised eyebrow I am fine with coffee. When people’s faces (and 9 times out of 10, it’s the pastor’s kids) light up at the mention of tequila, that’s fun too. Living in the Bible Belt, I’m learning to appreciate an intangible aspect of Catholic culture that appreciates the sacramentality of life … now I’m not talking about those in recovery that abstain — that’s a different story altogether (and one worthy of further examination in a blog post) but as Catholics, we recognize that enjoying the world God created can bring us closer to Him … That’s what I appreciate about what @CatholicDrinkie is doing. Much like our ability to accessorize separates us from the animals, it’s what separates Team Catholic from the rest. Cheers.
Alison Griswold holds a B.A. in Theology and Religious Education from Franciscan University of Steubenville, as well as a Certificate in CPR from the American Red Cross. She is currently the Director of Youth Ministry at St. Francis by the Sea Catholic Church in Hilton Head, SC and a freelance columnist for the Bluffton Packet and Catholic Miscellany. She once beat Fr. Andrew Trapp at Texas Hold’em and holds the diocesan record for most speeding tickets obtained in one year. Follow her on Twitter @alisongriz.