Thursday, December 15, 2016

Port and Crackers? Why not Grape Juice and Wonder Bread?

A handful of people have asked about the name of my blog. Why do I call it Port and Crackers? Why not something else? Of course the obvious answer is because it is my blog and  I can call it whatever I bloody well please. The more rational answer, and slightly less inflammatory, would be that I am an Anglican. Port and Crackers is, as you might guess, a reference to the elements of Holy Communion. I am a priest and I celebrate the Holy Communion at least twice each month and generally more than that.

Most Christians (all Christians for the vast majority of Christian History) use wine for Holy Communion. The rationale for this is simply that Jesus used Wine at the Last Supper/First Communion. There are of course some modernist American Protestants that argue that Jesus didn't use wine but rather the term "wine" in scripture actually just means "fruit of the vine" or grape juice. I simply invite those people to keep grape juice from autumn until Passover using 1st century technology without letting it become wine.

Anyway, as an Anglican it is our tradition to use Portwine. For many centuries the English pretty well stayed in a perpetual state of war with Spain and France. The English have always been good at making beer but Wine making was left to the continent, and rightly so. If you're at war with France and Spain where would you expect to get your wine from? Portugal of course! What sort of wine is made in Portugal, you ask? Portwine! The only sort of wine that could be readily obtained in England for many years was Port so naturally it was Port which came to be used in English churches.

Port has a litany of other benefits for use as a Communion wine though. (It is certainly a better idea than Sherry!) Port wine is almost exclusively red, and as you might imaging red wine has always been favored for Holy Communion. Who knows why? Perhaps it is something to do with the fact that blood is red. (Yes. That is sarcasm, thanks.) Port is also a fortified wine, which has distilled grape spirits added to it for flavor, preservation, and to increase the alcohol content (usually to between 18-21% Abv). Now I do not believe that there is a single documented case of anyone ever getting sick from the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, in fact I personally consider it heterodox at best for someone to believe that you can but... The simple fact remains that we live in a world full of paranoid people who are terrified of germs and disease. As Anglicans we practice communion by letting everyone drink from the chalice. Using a wine of 18%+ ABV makes it pretty certain that no germs an be passed around. Some Anglicans even allow people to dip their host or bread in the wine rather than drinking it (though this is a far less sanitary practice than drinking from the chalice). I promise that most people have dirtier fingers than mouths.

Either way, Anglicans generally use Port. I am an Anglican. This is my blog. I decided to call it Port and Crackers.

I'll explain the "crackers" bit later. :-)

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