Given that Lent is nigh upon us, it seems to me like a good idea to enjoy a quick pint before the 40 days of this penitential period begins. Hence follows another round of theologian and beer equivalencies, with an emphasis this time on the Christian East.
1. St. Gregory Palamas
Few names seem to garner as much quizzical or opinionated reactions as the name of St. Gregory Palamas. For a long time, it seems that the thought of Palamas stood in direct opposition to the scholasticism of the West, though some are now finding much in common between Palamas and Aquinas. Given that Palamas is considered a pillar of Orthodoxy in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and given the fact that he is a major touchstone for most Eastern theology that has come after him, I think it fair to state that he is comparable to Beamish Stout.
Like Guinness and Aquinas, Palamas and Beamish go hand in hand. Beamish is a deep and dark libation, nearly impossible to wade through or see through - as dense as any tome of Aquinas, flavorful, and yet entirely different, standing uniquely on its own. It is a most satisfying alternative to Guinness, but little known outside of Ireland it seems.
2. Bl. Raymond Lully
A little-known Franciscan theologian who engaged in missionary work and theological combat with the Muslims in his day, Bl. Raymond Lully is an interesting figure to study. His works bear much in similarity with Islamic Sufi mystical poetry, and he delved deep into a kind of ultra-mystical theology all his own.
One of the first beers that came to mind when thinking of Bl. Raymond is the sweet and delicious Estrella Damm. Not only is it a Catalan beer for a theologian who wrote the first major work of Catalan literature, but like Lully's mystical theology, it is strikingly pleasant to the taste, with a hint of honeyed sweetness.
3. St. John of Damascus
Many seem to think that scholasticism began as an entirely Western Christian school of theology and philosophy - not so, at least in my view. While some hold that St. Anselm of Canterbury was the first scholastic theologian, I must disagree and state that it was St. John of Damascus, who lived a few hundred years before St. Anselm.
St. John of Damascus emphatically stated that his theology would say nothing new, but be a compendium of orthodox Christian theology up until his time. He was a systematizer more than he was an original thinker in some respects, but to hold this firmly would be to do him a disservice I think. In many ways, his innovative method of systematic theology was rather refreshing, a precursor to the great medieval summas of the high middle ages.
With all of this said, it must be then that St. John of Damascus is Great Western Breweries' Original 16 Canadian Pale Ale. Presenting nothing new, but rather honing in on what makes a truly great and entirely orthodox beer, Original 16 is double-aged, much as St. John utilizes both Aristotelean wisdom of the pre-Christian era and combines it with the tried, tested, and true theology of the Church Fathers. It is at once a refreshing and yet timeless flavor that the libator finds in both.
4. St. Symeon the New Theologian
St. Symeon the New Theologian is a perfect example of what "theologian" sometimes means in the East, as compared to the West. Having written no systematic theological system, St. Symeon wrote works on the ascetic life, as well as profound mystical hymns - some of the best ever penned in all of Christendom.
Charismatic, fiery, mystical, and untouchably deep in his thought, St. Symeon must be said to be Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale. Unbelievably rich, Ebulum combines the powerful silky punch of a smooth black ale with a hint of luxurious fruit sweetness hidden behind all the swirling darkness. A fantastic drink and a fantastic saintly writer, both worth seeking out.
5. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
I've never been one to get into this whole "pseudo" thing when it comes to the greats of the past (so-called "Pseudo-Macarius" comes to mind). I prefer to think that the Dionysian corpus is really written by the Areopagite himself.
Regardless, the works that fall under the authorship of this enigmatic figure are short and beyond the deepest knowledge ever put to parchment. There is a power, a "dazzling darkness" to all of it that is beyond compare. Be assured, the writings of the Pseudo-Dionysius are not for everyone, and most certainly not easy to read. Though the Mystical Theology, for example, is only a few short chapters long, it is more dizzying and dense in its ascent-focused theology than anything else I have ever come across - few attain to such heights.
This is why the writings of the Pseudo-Dionysius must be compared to the rich flavor of Gulden Draak. Irregularly intoxicating both in alcohol content and in aroma, dense in a Christmas-like plum and raisin flavor, and reknowned throughout the world as one of the greatest of beers of all time, this Belgian icon of beer replicates the mystical darkness and powerful flavor of the mysterious Areopagite to a tee.
Source: Ascending Mt. Carmel (Blogspot)
Used with permission.