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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Aqua Vitae

Next Friday, Aqua Vitae kicks off at my home.

Aqua Vitae is a new passion of mine. It is somewhat of a secret society, a coveted membership and a brotherhood.

Over the past couple of years, I have delved into the world of Scotch (especially single malt) in an effort to expand my horizons, learn some history, and become a connoisseur of a gentleman’s drink.

Any Scotch aficionado will tell you that Scotch is not about mere alcohol consumption, it is not about partying, and it is not about getting drunk. True Scotch drinkers are set apart. It is more about an intoxication of the senses combined with a community aspect and an appreciation for a commitment to process and journey.

A lot like life as a Christ follower.

If Jesus had made his appearance in Scotland circa 1400, he may have turned the water to Scotch. And not just the run of the mill Scotch . . . the good stuff.
So, I birthed Aqua Vitae. Here are some basic definitions for you to see what is inside my head.

1. Aqua Vitae 1 (Latin: "water of life"), is an archaic name for a concentrated aqueous solution of ethanol. The term originated in the Middle Ages and was originally used as a generic name for all types of distillates. It eventually came to refer more specifically to distillates of alcoholic beverages.
Aqua vitae has also been known to apply to the single malt scotches. The earliest written record of whiskey production in Scotland from malted barley is an entry on the 1494 Exchequer Rolls, which reads “Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor, by order of the King, wherewith to make aqua vitae.”

2. Aqua Vitae 2 (Latin: "water of life") is the metaphor/name Jesus referred to himself as in John 4. In this chapter, Jesus met with a woman at a well who had a less-than-perfect reputation. He asked her for a drink of water. Then he told her he could provide her with water that, if she drank of it, would quench her thirst forever. She ran to the town to tell everyone about this man.

3. Aqua Vitae3 (Latin: "water of life") a group of gentlemen, ne’er-do-wells, theologians, question askers, poets, artists, businessmen, and guys that generally like to have a good time who gather for a period of 6 months to discuss issues of God, church, life, art, culture, family, and a host of lofty ideas while enjoying the finer flavor, aroma, and finish of a variety of Scotches. A cultural/historical and spiritual endeavor.

On May 11th, the brotherhood will convene at my home. They have all been chosen for this endeavor. They have all responded enthusiastically.

This has caused quite a stir in the underground of Westwinds and beyond. A good stir. Wives are asking me how they can get their husbands involved. Other churches are asking me how they can start a chapter and what materials we are using. I have received calls from out of state from other churches wanting to take a similar path.

This endeavor has caused me to engage God in ways I never have. As a pastor/artist/thinker I am always looking for God in the mundane but Scotch has opened up a new world for me.

This all started a couple of years back when I met a man at Westwinds who is somewhat of a Scotch aficionado. I loved seeing the passion in Ted as we drank Scotch together and he talked about the culture, the history, the process. I was fascinated. Then, my best friend Michael Hill and I sat in Ireland in the pubs last year talking to locals and sipping Highland Single Malt. I am fascinated with it all. I’m hooked.

The other night I sat drinking a Scotch while my son and my wife sat next to me on the couch. It was a new Scotch for me—a brand new bottle I picked up duty free in St. Thomas. I was so excited. They laughed with me (at me?) because I was so excited. I passed it around and asked them to tell me about the smells they detected. Chocolate, butterscotch, lavender, the sea. It was a worshipful experience for me. I sat thanking God for beauty and process and journey and the ability to enjoy life and have life more abundantly.

Someone recently joked with me and asked if I was going to start bring Scotch to the worship time on the weekends. No. I will not be bringing Scotch to worship. But, you can’t stop me or fault me for bringing worship to the Scotch.


Mark Jaffrey said...

J-Vo, that is fantastic. I am seriously impressed, not just by the idea of a Scotch based men's group, but also by the Aqua Vitae moniker - a very inspired piece of thought.

As I sat down to read your blog, I selected a glass of fine port, but it was a close call - I almost picked the Macallan or the Dalmore.

Anonymous said...

Worship Scottch.

Anonymous said...

Buechner says of wine: "Wine is booze, which means it is dangerous and drunk-making. It makes the timid brave and the reserved amorous. It loosens the tongue and breaks the ice, especially when served in a loving cup. It kills germs. As symbols go, it is a rather splendid one." Sounds as though you may have found another.

I don't personally have a lot of experience with Scotch, but as I am playing with Michael tomorrow, perhaps I can get a few pointers.

I would be interested to hear how the evening went. Will you be posting about it? Or do you have to take some oath of secrecy ala Masons?

Unknown said...

Denny Crane, a Tuesday night vice of mine, inspired my aspiration for a fine scotch. So, every Tues night my neighbor and I partake in a tasting of Drambuie, my favorite taste of scotch by far. How do you join such a wonderful conversation as your Aqua Vitae?