Friday, October 23, 2009

The Search for God and Guinness - Stephen Mansfield

Ok, I admit it appealed to my contrary streak to get a book from a christian publisher about beer - and not one denouncing beer but telling how faith was as important in the heritage of Guinness as brewing beer. I was amazed at how well I enjoyed the book though.

The book description reads:
It began in Ireland in the late 1700’s. The water in Ireland, indeed throughout Europe, was famously undrinkable, and the gin and whiskey that took its place was devastating civil society. It was a disease ridden, starvation plagued, alcoholic age, and Christians like Arthur Guinness—as well as monks and even evangelical churches—brewed beer to offer a healthier alternative to the poisonous waters and liquors of the times. This is where the Guinness tale began. Now, 246 years and 150 countries later, Guinness is a global brand, one of the most consumed beverages in the world. The tale that unfolds during those two and a half centuries has power to thrill audiences today: the generational drama, business adventure, industrial and social reforms, deep-felt faith, and the beer itself.

It was a fascinating look on the history of Guinness beer and the Guinness family. I was impressed that one company, one family could do that much good and it shines an even harsher light on the modern companies whose main focus is following the almighty dollar.

I didn't know that Arthur Guinness - founder of the company - brought the first Sunday Schools to Ireland, and they were controversial. Rather than a short class after church, they were an all day class and an out reach to the children of the poor slums.

I didn't know that one of the Guinness descendants was a revivalist compared to Moody and Spurgeon and then founded a school to teach missionaries how to mission in China.

I admit to being a bit bored by the descriptions of how many barrels per year were sold and some of the other business-ey business. But it is a business type book so that is expected. And some of they business-ey stuff was interesting - like the talk of Guinness going into advertising (which it avoided for a long time).

All in all, it was a very interesting book. I would recommend it with one caveat - it is not an easy or quick read (though I suppose that depends on your background). I am a history buff and so found the history fascinating but someone who didn't and also is not interested in business would get bogged down.

I was given the book to review by Thomas Nelson Book Bloggers (click the button on my sidebar if you want to sign up). I received no other form of compensation or reward - just a free book. These thoughts are all my own (except for the quoted portion - duh).

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