In my walking tours around this odd new world of the future, I’ve noticed that some of the enterprising vendors of your modern apparel called “T-shirts” and other merchandise intended for the tourist trade have taken one of my sayings and turned it into a veritable cottage industry.
What I am referring to is the oft-reprinted saying, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” I am a bit concerned that this was taken out of context. My original observation, shared in a letter to Abbé Morellet (1779), would be more properly quoted as “We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana, as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!”
So you see, the common perception of my message was incorrect on two counts: (1) I was speaking of wine, not beer; and (2) I was attempting to make the point that God’s miracles can be seen every day, in the natural cycle of rain which nourishes crops, particularly grapes used for winemaking. I was not trying to make a case for God inventing wine (or beer) just to make us happy.
Personally, while I certainly do enjoy quaffing beer or wine on occasion, I also remember situations, such as the time spent in England during my youth, when I was engaged in a printing enterprise which employed a few individuals who very much enjoyed their ale. I happened to win the favor of my employer simply by abstaining from such frequent consumption of alcoholic spirits, and consequently demonstrating much higher productivity on the job!
Of course, in this unusual future year of 2013, I have also observed that there are now other additional intoxicating substances that have become popular to indulge in, such as the derivative of the cannabis plant, commonly referred to as “marijuana.”
In fact, in my home state of Massachusetts, I am aware that there are great controversies brewing as the result of recent legislative actions that have made it legal to cultivate and dispense this substance for medicinal purposes. The only problem is, many towns and villages do not fully agree with the statewide referendum that made cannabis legal, and have therefore raised great objections to the opening of “dispensaries” to distribute the medicine locally to persons in legitimate need of the cannabis.
So what the state legislators have deemed acceptable is considered unacceptable in the eyes of provincial officials. This situation is not all that foreign to me, for I can recall similar disputes and disagreements in the 1700s—perhaps not on the matter of intoxicating substances, but certainly on issues that put colonial, royal and local governments at odds with one another. Our American Revolution was a perfect example.
Back to my original concern, however: I do wish that those ingenious entrepreneurs hawking merchandise with my likeness depicted on it, followed by the “beer” slogan I mentioned earlier, would take the time to print my full, original, more accurate theological statement about wine and God’s providence, rather than the adulterated version (which unfortunately, begets more customers, I’m afraid.)
Your humble servant,