Random babblings from rare silence for my Jerusalem and beyond.
Friday, February 15, 2013
New Wine in New Beer Kegs
What would you do if a dead preacher left you $13,000? In 1752, Arthur Price, Archbishop of Cashel in Ireland, died and left the equivalent of about $13,000 to his godson, who shared his first name. This second Arthur, a 27-year-old entrepreneur who had recently experienced a spiritual awakening, wondered what to do with such an unexpected gift.
Those were tough days for the Irish and Arthur’s heart was broken at the state of his people. The “Gin Craze” raged as people sought escape in cheap booze from their sorry lives and unsafe water conditions. In the mid-1700s, it was said the average person consumed 45 to 65 litres of gin each year. Arthur was infuriated with this drunkenness and its effects, and began to sense God calling him to “make a drink that will be good for them.”
So he combined his broken heart, love for Jesus and entrepreneurial talents to develop a dark stout drink low in alcohol and high in iron, so people felt full before over-consuming, a drink that a 2003 University of Wisconsin study discovered bolsters heart health and is better for a person than coffee or pop. With the archbishop’s inheritance he bought an abandoned brewery in Dublin and went to work producing his creation. Oh, and he famously gave it his last name: Guinness.
That may be surprising enough, but consider further the impact of Arthur Guinness’s Jesus-centred life and work. His grandson, Hendry Gratton Guinness, became the Billy Graham of a spiritual awakening in Great Britain in the late 1800s. Other descendants transformed public housing and influenced the implementation of a system aimed at reconciliation based on Matthew 18 to end duelling as a means of resolving conflict.
By the early 1900s, Guinness became one of the best workplaces around. The influence of Arthur and his conscientious family meant 24-hour medical and dental care and an on-site massage therapy for workers. In addition to this, education and funeral expenses were paid, as well as a full pension. The company had libraries, reading rooms and athletic facilities.
And today the Guinness Brewing Company has the “Arthur Guinness Fund” that blesses social entrepreneurs in the tradition of Arthur to deliver measurable, transformational change to communities around the world. The fund was developed in 2009, the 250th anniversary of Arthur investing the archbishop’s inheritance, and has invested more than $5.5 million in social transformation. Everything from community gardens, mental health assistance and adult math classes to jobs for the disabled, to the mentoring of ex-prisoners, empowering those who work in search and rescue, and a program of men’s sheds where guys gather to fix bikes for local schools or repair furniture for people, have all been supported by the social entrepreneurship inspired by Arthur Guinness, who put the wine of the kingdom of God into beer kegs.
Now this tale is not told to defend the consumption of alcohol, but rather to make us think again about what a Spirit-inspired imagination can do for God’s glory and the good of one’s society. Arthur’s redemptive creativity was one small part of a new social transformation and produced a legacy of goodness. We, too, have a responsibility for the welfare of our locales (Jeremiah 29:7). Should not our love for God and neighbour awaken such inspired genius still? Ought not those who know the hope of the kingdom get creative for the common good? What would you do with $13,000?