Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

February, which is the shortest month, holds its share of special days.

Even when it does not include a Leap Day, like last year, it is still Black History Month. It is the month of Groundhog Day and Saint Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day. February is the month when the Lunar New Year begins.

This year, though not every year, February is the month of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent.

One day, though, overshadows the rest of these special days when it comes to craft beer and spiritual life. February is the month in which the Super Bowl is played.

Super Sunday is how we celebrate the place of the National Football League in our culture. A few of us still cling to the belief some other sport might be our National Pastime, but most of us know football has supplanted all others.

I was born and raised in a time and place which celebrated football, beer, and spiritual life more than once a year. In the Wisconsin of my childhood, beer and football were part of spiritual life.

Autumn was a season of leaves changing colors. The weeks grew colder and daylight grew shorter, and the weekends were dedicated to football, beer, and spiritual life.

In my memory, whether it actually happened or not, my family spent Saturdays in September and October raking leaves in the yard and listening to the University of Wisconsin football games on the radio. I can see us cleaning and preparing for the approaching cold winter while hearing about the exploits of the valiant Badgers.

Sundays, though, we focused our attention on the National Football League. Our spiritual life was partly about church on Sunday morning, but we also worshiped the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoons.

There were times when the Packers would play teams from the Eastern Time Zone. I remember Sundays when, if a sermon started to go a little long, people would get up and walk out of church. There seemed to be an understanding we worshiped not only God in church but also at the shrine of Packer glory.

I have watched the Green Bay Packers, and the Wisconsin Badgers, for as long as I can remember. Wisconsin has played in four Rose Bowl games since I moved to Southern California, and I have attended all four. I have yet to see them win.

Since growing up and going to school in Wisconsin, I also lived in Washington, DC, and Chicago as well as here in Los Angeles. Even during decades when the Packers were far from their once and future glory, nothing has enticed me to change my allegiance.

My own spirituality has grown and developed, changing shape and becoming something new. The beers I drink have changed dramatically. I remain a Packer fan.

Like spiritual life and our passion for great craft beer, football fans also share their enthusiasm for their teams.

It has been remarkable for me to watch my wife, an archivist who is a San Gabriel Valley native, become passionate about the Wisconsin Badgers and the Green Bay Packers. She started by watching me watch games, and her allegiance has been transformed from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten.

I do not, though, watch as much NFL football as I have in the past. After doing a little research about brain injuries in people who play professional football, I find it harder to watch now.

The Super Bowl now has less to do with football and more with advertising.

The Packers have played in five Super Bowl games, winning four of them. I can remember watching the flickering images of Bart Starr, Bret Favre, and Aaron Rodgers leading the team to victories.

It looked as though I might need to watch another Super Bowl this February. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Packers lost their conference championship game, so I no longer need to pay attention.

I invite you to join me in celebrating craft beer and spiritual life this month. Visit your favorite local craft brewery or tasting room, or store where beer is available. Sit comfortably and remember the times you have spent contemplating deep truths and tasting excellent craft beer.

We can celebrate our special days together.

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg has served as an assistant district attorney and an associate university professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com, and he writes a blog for the Contemplative channel on http://www.patheos.com.


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