Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Guinness Is Good For You
I recently read the book The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield. My roommate Roy read it several months ago and I was intrigued by the things he learned from the book. It's the story of how the Guinness beer company was founded and what set the Guinness family and company apart.
Mansfield begins by explaining a little bit about the history of beer. One of the things that I found most interesting about this chapter is that one of the first things built when the Pilgrims landed in America was a brewery, mainly because beer was much safer than water to drink at the time. Mansfield goes on to show how integrated beer was with the church. It was seen as a gift from God and many drank it as a way to honor Him.
The rest of the book tells the story of how Arthur Guinness founded the company in 1759 and how this company impacted the world. The culture created at Guinness was unlike any other. Workers received far better pay than other companies and received benefits that were unheard of. One of the maxims around the company at one point was "You cannot make money from people unless you are willing for people to make money from you."
The other thing that made Guinness stand out from other companies was its investment into the community. It was a large help in turning the city of Dublin around during many years of poverty, famine, and sickness. The faith of many in the Guinness family caused them to put millions of dollars back into the community in the form of education, housing, and medical help.
Company leaders have also had a very large impact in the missionary movement. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, was good friends with the Guinness family and his ministry was helped by missionary training facilities funded by the company.
I love this book because it looks at a extraordinary company behind an excellent beer and shows the impact that Guinness has had around the world. I also love the way it points us to appreciate beer instead of getting drunk off of it or putting pressure on others to abstain from it completely. Somehow, the latter of these two extremes has been embraced by many churches (in error), causing a very unhealthy view of what alcohol is.
In the 19th century, liquor was often associated with drunkenness and the dilapidation of society while beer on the other hand was associated with a flourishing community. Partly due to this observation, the slogan "Guinness is good for you" was created. I would have to agree...mainly because it is delicious! If you drink (and you're over 21), I'd encourage you to go enjoy one with a friend and appreciate its history.
You can also click here for a video introduction of the book from the author.