My resolution not to drink alcohol has gone better than the one to blog more!
However my resolve narrowly missed a partly submerged iceberg a few days ago, almost cutting a gaping hole in my progress: the ABV of non-alcoholic beer.
My lovely boyfriend had bought me a BrewDog Nanny State, their new low alcohol beer. This has only 0.5% of alcohol by volume, which I read with perturbation. I obviously couldn’t drink it, right? And come to think of it how much ABV had my other drinking choices contained?
Becks Blue, the option most pubs in London seem to stock, has “0.05% or less” in each bottle which, according to a MumsNet thread from 2010, probably has less alcohol than antibacterial handgel. Not the most helpful comparison as I haven’t been craving half pints of handgel this month.
I found a more useful comparison through a basic google search. Apparently a glass of fresh orange juice can naturally contain up to 0.5% alcohol, while malt vinegar is about 0.2% alcohol. I think 0.05% can therefore be excused!
I’ve been including Sundays, hence it being Day 42 rather than 36. That includes communion wine, which over the last few weeks has been communion juice. I’ve read or heard people say that Sundays don’t count during Lent, but I’m not sure about that. If anything Sundays should be even more holy, especially since the final Sunday of Lent is the day set by for celebration. It’s a better celebration surely if there haven’t been days off in between.
Back in 2005 Morgan Spurlock, who made the documentary film Supersize Me, made the first season of a television series called “30 Days” based on the premise that since the 30 days he spent eating nothing but MacDonalds had so drastically affected his attitude to fast food, 30 days of intensive new experience might affect other people’s attitudes to things.
Episode 3: “Muslims and America” saw David, a Christian from West Virginia, spend 30 days with Shamael, a Muslim, and his family in Michigan. I only watched this episode once but there were several moments from it that I have never forgotten. One was during Shamael’s friend’s stag do. The lads were playing basketball and having a laugh. However, David marveled that Shamael and his friends could consider this a proper stag do, since no one was drinking any alcohol.
I struggle to recall many of the details, but I remember that Shamael asked what David and his Christian buddies would have been doing. As David described all the drinking, Shamael was appalled by the picture. He asked how poisoning their bodies with alcohol could be rationalised with their Christian faith. I don’t remember David having a particularly good answer.
My friend Abdul-Rehman Malik – I recommend following him on twitter – chatted to me once during Ramadan about his own attitude to fasting. Fasting, or sawm, for Muslims isn’t limited to Ramadan, although fasting during Ramadan itself is a religious duty. Abdul explained that sometimes he would embark on a period of fasting as part of his personal devotions to Allah. This was something he’d self-imposed so he could break it and no doubt would be forgiven, but that with Allah always watching, it wasn’t worth lying to himself or to his God.
I’ve only given up alcohol. During the hours of daylight I’ve been eating food, sometimes very delicious food, in a period that Christians rather ambitiously consider “fasting”.
So before I congratulate myself for being so very holy for avoiding beer with 0.5% ABV and for keeping up the observance on a Sunday, I think I should take a long hard look at what fasting really means and to what extent it’s a devotion to my own God.