May 7 2009
Who knew the California wine industry was the center of the non-believers, not even agnostic, uncertain about God’s presence because s/he has never revealed himself, simply non-believers without faith, atheists.
Atheists are usually reluctant to reveal themselves, as it is something of a social taboo to cop to being faithless.
Yet, I know a dense number of atheists exist in California and on the West Coast, particularly the wine industry, despite what the statistics tell you about population and religious identification.
There cannot possibly be much Christmas in Napa, Sonoma and elsewhere.
Despite this obvious Godless existence in the wine industry, I do not hold it against them, I am generally open and welcoming of things I do not totally understand, even if others are not.
There are approximately 80-90 million Catholics in America and I am one of them, at least by baptism, church protocol and 12 years of Catholic education. One in four people in the U.S. are Catholic, and the numbers add up even more as a percentage of the population if you count total Christians.
It is a funny thing about Catholics (and all Christians). We actually believe that Jesus was born by Immaculate Conception. Immaculate Conception as in: God put Jesus, the Son of God, in the tummy of Mary, without Joseph even getting to do the fun part, and unto us was born a Savior.
Another funny thing about Jesus – he could work miracles – cure lepers and turn water into wine.
And, Jesus was able to do something that nobody I know of has been able to replicate – he was dead for three days and then came back to life.
Wow. Now that is a party trick.
Catholics even add to this wonder with some specific beliefs and rituals. There is communion at every Mass and Catholics believe that the Eucharist and wine, when consecrated by the Priest, actually turns into the body and blood of Christ—literally, not symbolically.
Catholics also believe that we can be absolved of our sins by periodic visits to a priest to confess our sins and serve a penance, usually some “Our Fathers” and “Hail Mary’s.”
Likewise, Catholics believe in purgatory, so, you know, if you are not ready to go straight to heaven because you are carrying venial sin (essentially a forgivable offense) then you can hang out in Purgatory for a while to work the sin off, kind like a New Year’s diet to work off 10 holiday pounds.
You know this Christianity stuff is, if looked at objectively, peculiar stuff.
After 12 years of Catholic schooling, theology classes, Mass attendance, altar boy work and the like, I was imbued in the faith. I was a believer, or at the least, not a conscientious objector.
Then, I fell in love with a Jewish girl, my wife. To her, Jesus was a fine Jew and a carpenter, but not The Chosen One, as he/she has yet to grace us with their presence.
We could both agree on the God part, though. My wife and I have an interfaith marriage. When we start a family, according to Judaic canon a child born to a Jewish mother is Jewish. We will raise our kids with respect to the Judaic tradition with a nod to Unitarianism. Though, admittedly, I feel more spiritual than anything and I worship at “St. Mattress” on Sunday mornings. St. Mattress is the Patron Saint of Sleeping, particularly on Sunday mornings before drinking coffee and reading the New York Times, you may worship with him, as well ...
Seriously, though (kind of), the Unitarian church is rather welcoming, it is not your God, or my God; it is more of an “All God’s Creatures” kind of thing, recognizing Jesus, but not necessarily his divinity, which is good because I actually like the Eastern philosophical nature of it, very welcoming, very open to a diversity of views and individual expression of belief and faith. I bet you there are even some neopagans like Wicca practitioners that believe in the religion of nature that happen to attend Unitarian churches.
It is inclusive, not exclusive.
Now, all of this introspection about the nature of religion is well and good, but it really is related to wine, particularly Biodynamic wine.
There is a backlash against Biodynamic wine. A bunch of people in the wine business think it’s voodoo, shamanistic withcraft and a quasi-cult. These people have strong opinions, including St. Vini from the wine blog Zinquisition and Stuart Smith from Smith-Madrone winery (amongst many others not as vocal, albeit at stage right speaking in a stage whisper).
These people, who are vocally critical of Biodynamics are undoubtedly atheists—restless, rootless, faithless and Godless.
This Godlessness amongst so many in the wine industry is somewhat hard to believe, I know, but it is true. St. Vini even thanked God twice in his recent post that was rich with Biodynamic skepticism, a Freudian slip, undoubtedly.
Yet, I know that he is an atheist and without faith.
How do I know? Because surely anybody that looks down their nose at somebody who practices something that isn’t completely understood, can’t simultaneously also believe that Jesus was dead for 3 days and rose again to be the Lord Savior, as all Christians believe. Nor, just to make sure I have covered all of my bases, can he have any faith in any religion that relies on divinity in their belief system.
Therefore, I am left with only one conclusion: if you do not believe in BioD, you do not believe in any higher power.
Faith does not discriminate.