The Canadian years, 62 the whiskey priest

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Wednesday 28 January 20:04


The whiskey priest

Pastor Ohler had come early, he was clearly excited. We had to wait for my brother who was not home yet and my mother who had been resting. He sat full of pleasure with a glass of whiskey in front of him, at our table. My father sat next to him and they talked like old friends about early biblical texts. ‘Yes,’ said the pastor, ‘ever since John the Baptist, who baptized Christ, it has been a Christian sign’. He took a sip and let the whiskey roll over his tongue before swallowing it away. My father nodded piously and he cited a letter from the Apostle Paul.’ In Paul's letter to the Romans,’ said my father, ‘where Paul explains baptism to new Christians, he sees baptism as a burial of the old person, and the resurrection of the new man in Christ, from the watery grave. In Paul's letter to the Galatians, he calls baptism a valuable robe, which you put on, Christ being the robe.’ My father poured a shot for the pastor from the triangular Dimple bottle. Pastpor Ohler nodded approvingly, ‘I could not have said it better,’ he smiled, as he brought the glass to his lips.

And you’ll never say it any better,’ I thought, ‘you need to be my father to do so’.’ In the First Epistle to the Corinthians,’ said our Pastor, while the mouthwash ritual was applied again,’ Paul makes a comparison between baptism and the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea in the Exodus from Egypt.’ That's really a poor comparison, I realized, Moses and his people who passed through the Red sea, can not possibly be compared to a baptism, especially since they remained dry and the body of water that crashed behind them, drowned the enemies. Who were instantly baptized, but not with their approval and were instantly dead.


Whiskey placed scriptures in different contexts, so much became clear to me, I asked myself in earnest what the context of baptism and early Christian texts would be after a whole bottle of whiskey. It was a kind of tennis match, it was my father’s serve.’ The apostle Peter,’ My father said, ‘compares baptism with the story of the flood. Just as Noah and his family were saved through water, so wil the believer be saved, says Peter.’ My father looked satisfied with this statement.’Oh’, said the pastor, ‘that's a good one’ as if a joke had just been told. This comparison, was as lame as a lame duck, I thought.

 ‘What does young Daniel think,’ asked the Pastor? ‘That Noah, according to the Bible was saved by the Ark, but that the rest of the beautiful world, drowned. The pastor took a sip, and now kept his immodest glass next to the bottle, ‘I do not follow that, said pastor Ohler’. That was not surprising, I assumed that the fire water really decreased the concentration of our pastor. ‘Explain it to me,’ he said. ‘Baptism cleanses and gives new life and is a Christian sign which started in the time of Christ when, in your own words, John the Baptist had baptized him.

‘Yes’, said the pastor and brought the glass to his lips, ‘in the name of the father,’ he said as he took a sip. He means: ‘cheers,’ I thought stunned and the coin fell, the eagerness with which our pastor drank whiskey labeled him as a whiskey priest, he was an alcoholic. ‘Go on,’ encouraged the pastor, ‘speak freely, boy’ The examples are poorly chosen,’ I said. ‘The Red Sea and the Exodus, are not for nothing in the Old Testament in the Book of Exodus, which means ‘departure’. ‘Yes,’ said the pastor while he kept his eye on his glass. ‘Noah, in the example quoted by my father, with the flood, is also in the Old Testament, in the first book of the Bible; Genesis.

My father looked at me searchingly, with a smile from the other side of the table. My uncle chuckled. ‘What is so funny,’ the pastor asked my uncle and his voice betrayed the fire water .. I replied for my favorite uncle, ‘both stories are from the Old Testament. Baptism is heralded by John the Baptist and Christ in the New Testament, which was not recorded by the apostles until after the death of the Lord Jesus. Until that time, only the Old Testament existed. After the death of Christ the New Testament came into being. The time line is not correct in the examples. Additionally, the rest of the world according to the Bible, drowned during the flood. Those who got wet, the baptized were then dead, they drowned. Noah was dry in his Ark, had not been baptized and lived, I was thinking about that when you asked me for an explanation.’

‘This is very abstract said the pastor’, his hand now went automatically to the bottle and he poured himself and my father a drink. ‘What does Big Dan say?’. ‘Oh,’ my father said, ‘the examples were meant metaphorically’ and with that simple sentence, he did away with the poor examples.’ Yes,’ the pastor said, ‘mine too, I mean my example.’ ‘In addition, water is obviously the symbol of life’, my father continued. ‘Without water, no life. ‘And my uncle said, ‘no bread, no food’. What was lost on our priest. My uncle gave me a wink.

My mother came in and was greeted abundantly by our pastor. ‘Ave’, he said, ‘Hail.’ My mother looked at him blurred. ‘You as well,’ she said. What a circus I thought. My brother came in and my sister came out of the kitchen. Betsy came out of the bedroom with a small baby on her arm. ‘What ever I think of her,’ I thought, ‘she must not give the baby in the hands of the pastor, that man is well pickled.’ But she placed the baby in the arms of my mother, who lovingly looked at the child. Hi my beautiful girl,’ she said.

The pastor in Ohler won from the drink and he opened a bottle and threw it empty in a bowl. He looked at me and said, ‘this water comes from the Jordan River.’ He slurred a little while speaking and I thought from your tap, you mean.’ Johanna Jacoba,’ said the pastor, and he took some holy water from the bowl, I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, in this rite our Ohler was sober again. He dripped some water on the forehead and made a sign of the cross over the child. Ah, I thought, holy water droplets from the Jordan, or drops out of the Dimple whiskey bottle, what the heck, it's all meant metaphorically.


My mother looked confused, she heard the names and looked at my sister who was watching and then fondly back at the little person on her arm. She looked like she had to solve a difficult sum, knowing that some important detail was missing, but was about to break through. She looked at my sister and then back at the baby, then back to my sister.

‘Hey’ she said,’ I've got you here and you're already there.’ Lovingly she pressed a kiss on the head of the  little girl, ‘I've always loved you so much,’ she laughed through the anesthetic haze,’ I can see how you will be later. ‘Father, look at your daughter, is she not beautiful, it hurt me to listen to her breathing, ‘and she is ours’, she concluded. ‘Yes,’ my father agreed, ‘she is beautiful.’ My heart broke in a thousand unchristian pieces.

San Daniel 2015

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