January 28, 2008


Last semester I went to a meeting of folks who work with religious groups around campus. Part of what we discussed, in small groups, was how our various traditions treat the use of alcohol. This is a big topic among university staff who work with students. We all wish that students would use alcohol responsibly, that they would not drink themselves into oblivion, that we could help them be safe and wise and responsible.
In my small group discussion at this meeting, the Muslim fellow spoke of how some in Islam view the ban on alcohol. She said that a Muslim is to refrain from using alcohol so he or she can be fully aware of the presence of God all the time. I was so struck by this observation -- not necessarily the part about not drinking but more about the focus on being aware of God. My faith tradition does not prohibit alcohol -- in fact, we use if for Communion. But I don't think we talk much about constant awareness of the presence of God, either. It is a daunting challenge to consider. What if we did work on practicing the presence of God? I suspect it would make more of a difference in our lives than whether or not we had a glass of wine with dinner.
So, to my Muslim colleague in campus ministry: Thank you. Tonight, I am being aware of the presence of God in my life - not because of the absence of alcohol but because of you.

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