Can a beer really change the world? Well, maybe a beer can’t but perhaps a brewer can – and did! Behind the best-selling Irish beer is an incredible 200-year long story of faith and social conscience. Here’s what author Stephen Mansfield writes on p. 122:
In the minds of most of the people in the world, Guinness is beer and that is all there is to the story. But this is far from true. Guinness the beer is magnificent, yes, but it is the Guinness culture that for nearly two centuries changed the lives of Guinness workers, transformed poverty in Dublin, and inspiried other companies to understand that care for their employees was their most important work. It was the Guinness culture of faith and kindness and generosity that moved men to seek out ways to serve their fellow men, to mend what the hardness of life had torn.
Arthur Guinness was a man of deep abiding faith in Jesus. That faith was not kept in a ‘Sunday only’ box for use while attending church. Instead, Arthur Guinness’ faith permeated his entire life and guided his work and his relationships and was imbedded in the hearts of his children. According to Mansfield: “It is important to know that the second Arthur Guinness was a man of deep faith. His father’s unswerving piety took root in his soul, where it merged with an evangelical fire.” (p. 87).
Perhaps the most startling passage for American evangelicals who came to faith in the context of temperance unions and teetotalling abstinence comes in his treatment of the Reformation and the resulting protestant work ethic on page 158:
This Protestant ethos of work found its way into the lives of the Guinnesses through the deeply reformed faith of the first Arthur Guinness and certain of his descendants. Many of them understood that brewing could be done as a holy offering, as a craft yielded in service of God. They did not see themselves as secular, but rather as called. They did not see themselves as apart from Christian ministry, but rather as in the Christian ministry of industry and trade…..They understood that this transformed workbenches into altars and the labor of a man’s hands into liturgies pleasing to God.
Regardless of your personal viewpoint on the consumption of beer or whether or not you are a fan of Guinness, you will find inspiration in the story of the Guinness family. It is a story of a deep and lasting spiritual legacy that did more than make a family rich. The Guinness legacy is one of thousands of families brought out of poverty, provided with training, health care, and decent housing that raised Dublin from a crime-filled, third-world existence to a center of commerce. I hope you will enjoy reading this book as much as I did! The Search for God and Guinness is available at Amazon.