Do heroes exist essay

Publicado em Agosto 2017

Anything that makes your life easier is good and positive, no matter what anyone else thinks. Last month, I received a similar “invitation”. It was a complicated question. I couldn’t enjoy one drink now and then. We often feel like outsiders when we get together with multiple couples because we don’t drink. Reading this essay let me know I’m not the only one who is thinking this, and that I’m not alone in choosing to abstain nothing more than I feel God has something better in mind that doesn’t include alcohol. I have a phd from a big 10 university, have always been employed, and have been married 20 years with two great kids. ” In every sense, she has accompanied me through my life. I loved your post! At the end I was just drinking once in a while but it always ended in drinking to much. In my dream I was physically running from the enemy of my soul when I turned and covered him with an urn full of the ashes of the Lord and He was gone, then boom…I was starring at a gigantic stimmed glass with sparkling red wine in it. ” In my first letter to Renault, I poured out my story—ancient Greece, discovering her books, discovering that I was gay through her books. Most of our closest friends are non-believers. Like nearly everything I wrote then, it was about an intense friendship between two fourteen-year-old boys, one of whom was, inevitably, serious and dark-haired and creative, while the other was, just as inevitably, carefree and blond and athletic. ”) Had Mary Renault discussed me with her companion? I too grew up in a dry house and as an adult embraced the freedom to drink and be culturally, socially acceptable. Actually, caffeine and soda can be spiritual issues. I think that conviction has gotten a bit of a bad rap in the Church over the past little while. Responsible use of alcohol once you were of legal age was never seen as sinful. Does that mean we should all sale all of our earthly goods or else we are not saved?? I began to notice my friends who were in recovery. Their relationships with some family members became tense because no one remembered how to hang out without a beer. Laurie, by contrast, is a kind of holy fool: “His loneliness had preserved in him a good deal of inadvertent innocence; there was much of life for which he had no formula. ”) She told me that her late husband, Gerald, a lawyer and writer, had been a member of PEN South Africa when Mary was president, and that the two couples—Nancy and Gerald and Mary and Julie—had spent a good deal of time together. ” (“That really bucks me up,” she exclaimed, when this remark was reported to her during her final illness. In it, a corpulent king is getting the lowdown from his vizier on a visiting delegation: “The Athenians are here, Sire, with an offer to back us with ships, money, arms, and men—and, of course, their usual lectures about democracy. Television was a desert. I liked the celebration of champagne, the warmth of a cabernet, the summer light of chardonnay. As said in the essay “But in our steering away from legalism, I wonder if we left the road to holiness or began to forget that God also cares about what we do and how we do it and why. Your post is so full of love and grace and acceptance and that is exactly what Jesus is all about! He had decided that afternoon that this cigarette would be his last one! Playing Candy Crush can be a spiritual issue. And so, though I actually didn’t drink growing up, I notice everything alcohol-related in that childish way. It was NOT an essay about dealing with alcoholism. You’re human, and your vulnerability is much more appealing and relatable, than the “I did it because God asked me to. On the drinking subject I did quit drinking all together and I truly felt the lord telling me that’s not you anymore and I want you to set this example. )… But I have noticed all the same things you outline above and I can’t unnotice them now. As the daughter of an alcoholic who decided drinking could be okay when I was 21 I just connected with so many of these struggles. I’m not saying my family is perfect (none are), but our relationships are genuine and healthy. The next weekend, I went to the public library and checked out the sequel, “The Persian Boy,” which had just been published. ” Alexander asks in the latter novel’s opening scene. Maybe, with all that grief around her just then, she thought she could at least avoid the grief that comes of never making contact. Now I was putting those feelings onto these translucent sheets, which protested with a faint crackle every time I advanced the carriage. Thank you for vocalizing the difference in saying “yes to God” and walking into freedom. Thank you for affirming Christians who choose not to drink and who have felt judged for that personal choice. Alcohol can be so complicated, and it’s a really personal thing. And no one cares either way. She began by thanking me for the New Yorker cartoon. She had shown me a picture of what I was, when I needed to see it, and had given me a myth that justified my fears and limitations. I was raised in a Christian home. Guuurrrrrlll…so good. I went for about five sessions. I had visited the house he shares with his partner, which is filled with small mementos of Renault: Venetian glass paperweights that had sat on her desk and windowsill, the statue with its add-on penis. I Can’t. After he left for work, and taking my children to school, I went, of all places, to the bathroom to sit and let the tears fall as my heart cried out WHY????? A sort of socially accepted self mortification. I was surprised at how wide and spacious I began to feel in my soul. God bless! Thank you for sharing. But he certainly felt happy at having them discussed at drinking parties. Well, it spiraled further and further downward as the years went by – about fifteen of them. Thank you. When I was fourteen, the characterization of homosexuality as a “limitation” seemed reasonable enough. I enjoy wine, and beer, and mixed drinks. I think this is well written, deeply personal essay, and I’m so happy all of this has worked out for you. It’s a “nervous habit”, a place I seek comfort instead of from God-sin. Such a good read. A nasty divorce threw me into overdrive and if I could have gotten drunk every single night I would have but I couldn’t tolerate it. They tried not to judge others but they knew what they knew. But the freedom to use it does not annul the law of sowing and reaping. I remember telling my dad once that I didn’t think I would ever drink because I have an addictive personality and didn’t think it would be smart. I thought of my onionskin pages, blackening and curling in the flames. On page 44 there’s a scene in which Simonides, who was famously ugly, recalls how, as a youth, he had resolved to kill himself: having climbed to the parapet of a temple, he looks up at the bright sky and realizes he’s being foolish. When they converted to Christianity in their thirties, they were under no illusions and they were desperate to make everything new. It was not a happy home. We stayed in a hotel overlooking Camps Bay. Thank you for these perfectly beautiful words❤ Love Laura Thankful for this more than words can say! The Eagle Books “Fire from Heaven” and the Bantam “Persian Boy” are now so fragile, the pages so brown and brittle with age, the covers so mummified in Scotch tape that long ago lost its adhesive, that you can’t really read them. Everyone who knew of it blamed the hormones of pregnancy, and when it continued and worsened after the birth, they said it was simply post-partum depression. Then one day a friend with whom I’d joked like that many, many times confessed to me that she was an alcoholic starting recovery. I quit almost two years ago, after about a year of the Holy Spirit gently, but persistently inviting me to stop. I really loved it. It took 4 years to go to my first AA Meeting here in this Small town, and have been attending regularly since. Renault’s book recasts the Platonic conflict as a human drama. She makes it very, very (as in crystal) clear that this is simply her story…her conviction…and that she makes zero judgments about other people’s decisions. But I’ve learned something very interesting since marrying into a Catholic family: alcohol doesn’t have to be a big deal. ” But I didn’t. Renault, who was born in London in 1905—she emigrated to South Africa after the Second World War—had published a number of crisply intelligent contemporary love stories between the late thirties and the early fifties; to her meticulously researched re-creations of the past in the later, Greek-themed books she was able to bring the emotional insight and moral seriousness you expect from any good novelist. Nor did it occur to me to question a central element of the text: the rather dated assumption that it would be better for Andrew never to be made aware of his sexuality. Hanging on the wall opposite my desk is a signed photograph of Mary Renault. In her reply, which arrived in mid-April, just after my sixteenth birthday, she deftly deflected my adolescent effusions while putting to rest my anxieties about form letters: Are there really writers who do that? It was a spiritual decision with all sorts of biblical and spiritual rationalizations around it (as is this entire post). In the autumn of 1974, she fell and injured do heroes exist essay her leg, necessitating an irritatingly lengthy recovery. ” Its cover featured, in miniature, the haunting image that appeared on the hardback edition from the library: a Michelangelo drawing, in dusty-red chalk, of an epicene Oriental youth in three-quarter profile, wearing a headdress and earrings. Like all writers, Renault spent much of her time alone; a good many of her friends, as I also learned later, were gay men, often ballet dancers and actors and theatre people. I read and reread the letter. That beautiful moment of clarity when our free all intersects with the Holy Spirit was my experience in stopping drinking and using over 16 years ago. No.. I never like how I behave or feel afterwards. (“You’re the best of all . No one has to explain themselves. My parents had a complicated relationship with alcohol; not exactly personally although there was some of that but within their larger story of family and friends. ” The fact is that I wasn’t spending much time on Plato. The first summer I lived in New York, a friend told me about a gay therapist who “did group” on the East Side, and suggested that I join; it was a great place to meet nice guys, he said. ” I didn’t have an answer. The journal ends there. And I thought about the Ragamuffin for many, many days. Classical Greek tends to be loaded with participles and relative clauses; Renault reproduced these tics. Indeed, it’s possible to see in her lifelong fascination with dashing male heroes—Alexander the Great above all—an unusually intense authorial projection. I read it with a kind of sour enjoyment; it matched my mood. ” Or would he say too us “It’s bad for your health! By a kind of literary osmosis that is possible only when you’re young, I absorbed without question Renault’s idealization of severe, undemonstrative men; I wasn’t yet able to recognize, in the author’s clichés of gay effeminacy, certain unexamined prejudices of her own. At some point, I asked Owen Murray—a former ballet dancer to whom Renault, he told me with a sly grin, had once said, “I wish I’d been born with your body and face”—whether she knew about what really went on between men. ” One of the memories she’d jotted down was of the family who lived in the bungalow next to Renault’s, “with lots of kids, all very blond. I have only ever met one Christian who liked drinking who actually complimented me on abstaining and said it was a great thing. This was partly because of the author’s own idealized exaltation of platonic love, and partly for reasons that she identified as writerly ones. Although there was much of life for which I had no “formula,” either, I thought I knew enough to decide that, if being gay meant marching under the black banner—aligning myself with my music teacher, or the few characters you saw on TV who, you somehow knew, were gay: the limp-wrists and the effete, the spineless Dr. Parent didn’t drink. To my surprise, the handwritten note inside suggested that this companion knew who I was. Fortunately, it didn’t run in my mom’s family. I quit drinking years ago because I grew up in a home where drinking was the rule, not the exception. The fact that it needs to be filtered out, is somewhat evident that it isn’t actually being beneficial to the body. At first, the Second World War setting disappointed me; I had no interest in modern history. I put the kettle on for a cup of tea. My story is very similar. I barely drink soda and don’t drink anything with caffeine for health reasons. I have previously enjoyed your writing and appreciate your voice Sarah. Mendelsohn. “But she understood why they wrote her personal letters. ” That did it for me! I’ve known about my addictive personality since high school (20 odd years ago), known about the alcoholism that runs in my extended family (on both sides), and, by the grace of God, knew myself well enough to not touch alcohol. I know that as believers we have the freedom to take a little wine for the stomach as long as we do not become drunk. I can bike 100 miles in under 6 hours and bench press well over 200 pounds. Brian began to enjoy craft beer. Isn’t having a glass of wine with dinner so grown up? It’s definitely a difficult subject and a very individual matter, everyone’s line of balance is probably in a different place. ”) Now, of course, I can read the book as it ought to be read, as a coming-of-age story: Laurie abandons the inchoate but potent ideals of adolescence, symbolized by the pure and curiously sexless Andrew, in favor of an adult relationship, one that is physical as well as emotional, with complicated and compromised Ralph, who, like Laurie, bears physical as well as emotional scars. So I started drinking again. We are not suddenly perfect and without sin or shortcomings when we are saved-the Holy Spirit leads us and guides us toward becoming like Jesus along the way. Old. “I will try to do better next year. ” Sometimes she would make suggestions. It’s understandable. The handwriting was firm and clear, although she was quite elderly. Habits can be positive or negative in our lives. We sipped wine occasionally and turned the radio to NPR. I have zero judgement on anyone else’s choices. Friends and family have obviously started figuring it out at this point, and questions get asked, but I just say “I just dont want to anymore”. Finding out that Baptists and many other Protestants from non-liturgical traditional thought taking a drink was sinful seemed weird to me at the time, along with social dancing, going to movies that were not G rated (well, maybe PG). ” I recorded this incident in my journal. You are a gifted writer and changing lives with it. Nope. Your words give me courage. Hi, I just wanted to thank you for this post. It was stressful and hard. Pop music meant nothing to me, since all the songs were about boys wanting girls or girls wanting boys; neither did the Y. He said, “If you like Mary Renault, there’s another one I think you’ll be interested in. I can hardly believe I don’t miss my old “must-see” show! But I do not do this for show I just want to follow the one who saved me and forgave me. His face has haunted me for years. And nowadays so many people do have problems with drinking and drugs. Or I would have to take to those “form letters”—rather than which I wouldn’t answer at all. She would have been so chuffed! Maybe if it were understood that temperance wasn’t a forced legalism but a choice of positivism its benefits would counteract the happy beer commercials much easier. Your own style will develop later. I decided a little over three years ago to stop. This was my husband’s and my proposal and we were invited to share the communion message to explain the change. For the letter I wrote that day, I used the “good” onionskin paper, anxiously feeding each sheet between the rollers of a black cast-iron Underwood typewriter that had been salvaged from my grandfather’s braid-and-trimmings factory in the city. To this day I have a list of foods that are my alcoholic foods…one taste and I’m staring at the bottom of a bag, a box or a carton and moving on to the next “hit”. But she is up there, watching me as I write. He’s hugging you, His daughter a little closer now! It was my father who put the book in my hands. And that is a good thing. I’m not blaming the alcohol but I did make these bad decisions after I was very drunk. I told Him I didn’t think I COULD quit. Some more than others. I was starting to worry that, even if I were to “make contact,” the ideal I’d found in “The Charioteer” didn’t exist. ” Published in 1953, it is set, despite its classical-sounding title, during the Second World War, and wrestles with the issue of “Greek love. Daltons bookstore in the Walt Whitman Mall, in Huntington, where, for a dollar ninety-five, I bought my own Bantam paperback of “The Persian Boy. ” I never went back to “group. We didn’t write often—a few exchanges a year—but knowing that she was out there, interested in my progress, was like a secret talisman. Thank you. (It “would scatter his whole capital of belief in himself,” Laurie thinks. It may look like counselling. I’m always glad for it. Then I burst out laughing, amused by my own theatrics; it was a beautiful autumn afternoon, and in a year I’d be in college, where I’d be able to study Greek and Latin and find new, like-minded friends; where, I secretly hoped, there might be a Laurie Odell for me. “Oh, Mary,” the big-nosed lover of the beautiful ephebe said, and only after a moment did I realize that he was not referring to the author but addressing me, “join the real world! But, as time went on, we started trying different wines. I was twelve years old when I was asked by the bigger kids on the school bus “Do you want a drag? I’ve attended Christian recovery mtgs that also include Food Addict groups and yet after the mtg they serve desserts, etc , which most of us abstain from, just as an alcoholic abstains from alcohol. Then one morning, on our houseboat, about 5:00 in the morning, a dream woke me, and I was listening to God. I notice when people cannot interact socially without a drink. ” Which is a healthy choice because it’s a way of seeing reality and dealing with stress and difficulty in a responsible and clear way. This issue is definitely something Christians struggle with. It’s confusing that, as a culture, we’ve come to need alcohol for every gathering. Thank you for this post. Then I began to wonder about stumbling blocks and I couldn’t seem to shake off early church admonitions to consider one another, to give preference to one another’s weaknesses. Well done! But had there been anything else? Sharing in the way you have, person to person, face to face, is what has kept me sober for over 27 years. But here’s the thing: now I want to circle back up on something with you all. When I did start to drink in college, it was a mess from the get-go. For all the reasons you write above. As I was reading this, I started feeling God’s thumb, and I know he’s asking me to have faith in him, not food, to deal with pain and feelings. It’s my parallel to that “cast off parasitic sin” scripture. I love your comments, being a teenager in the 70s when alcohol was cool, if you got it for everyone you were cool, then I seen the change after the 70s, 80s and 90s blew by , i was still stuck with alcohol, not on a daily basis but extreme on the weekends, saturday and sunday was devoted to getting over my hangover, till i said no more one day, so at the same time I quit drinking and smoking, and I felt like a tennis player without a tennis raquet, some friends wrote of the new me,we had nothing to say to each other sober, the aftermath of my decision took 6 months to settle down, but as you wrote I feel free now of the weight of alcohol, I can get up in the morning with my head clear, and I never looked back because it feels good, so thank you for sharing the great story of your personal freeing from alcohol,everybody can do it when its their time and with no pressure. In time, the bonds fall away, but if you look very closely you can sometimes make out the pale white groove of a faded scar, or the telltale chalky red of old rust. Thank you for your kindness in reminding me! Hey, hi there. A shrewdly unsentimental historical portrait of Athens at the beginning of its moral and political decline, it is enlivened by a love story between two of Socrates’ students and deepened by a surprisingly vivid re-creation of Socrates’ philosophical dialogues as, well, dialogue. Any advice? So glad to read an article on this subject that isn’t playing Holy Ghost for the rest of us. In my mind, people who ask for help are heroes. Very good. A month later, a card arrived. When we had checked into our hotel, we found an envelope from Nancy containing a few handwritten sheets labelled “Remembering Her. Down below the fold, next to the contents, under the heading “Inside,” was the item that had caught my eye: “Mary Renault Dies. I love you. ) The combination of historical precision, literary texture, and epic sweep won Renault a large public, particularly in the United States; her books, which have been translated into some twenty languages, have sold millions of copies in English alone. I commend you on writing this. In “Fire from Heaven,” Renault sympathetically imagines the awkward beginnings of the relationship between Alexander and Hephaistion, a Macedonian of high birth who, the evidence strongly suggests, was his lover. I am grateful for that. I grew up with alcoholics, my mother is still drinking 2 bottles of wine a day. Your nice letter came this morning. “I certainly wish they had not raised the hopes of so many actors in this way,” she replied, explaining that the movie rights hadn’t even been sold yet, “and I wish too that so many actors didn’t imagine that the book author has any say in the casting! It will be 6 years this October 18th. It may look like creating a plan for success. I’m relieved when friends take my not drinking in stride, and I’m more relieved when I’m not the only one drinking water. God’s journey with each one of us is individual-and our walk is a journey. There are rich and nuanced cameos of historical characters (not least, Socrates himself) and grand set pieces, all rendered with exacting fidelity to the original sources. I suppose it was for Nancy and Gerald. I tell people now, my attitude is the same as my blood type: B positive. Once he finished it he then took the rest of the pack of cigarettes and threw them into the trash can in the kitchen. He sat down in his chair and began reading that days newspaper he then lit up a cigarette. I have seen alcohol cause so much hurt and so much pain in the lives of people that I love and also contribute to so many societal problems. It was fun. I too feel the freedom and peace that comes with casting off such a heavy burden. It’s clearly from the same sitting as the one that appeared on Renault’s dust jackets, the one in which she’s crinkling her eyes against the sun. I also try to stock my fridge with fun nonalcoholic drinks whenever my husband and I have company so that anyone not drinking can still enjoy a selection of beverages. I didn’t make a copy of what I wrote that day, but I must have confided a fear that my correspondent would reply to my effusions with a form letter, because when her answer came, a few weeks later, typed on a pale-blue aerogram—the first of many that would find me over the next eight years—it began, “I wonder whoever told you I’d send you a ‘form letter’ if you wrote to me. I was much more willing to discuss the issue with non-Christians because they were always more respectful of my decision not to drink. I lied to my parents and went to a party at a friend’s house where we drank cheap red wine and those sickly sweet wine coolers with all of the cool kids. I too feel amazing since refraining, I’m still having fun, and have lost all “need” or “desire” – a blessing I don’t take for granted by any stretch. Gone were the exalted adolescent yearnings of “Fire from Heaven,” gone the plush erotic Orientalisms of “The Persian Boy. I recently quit drinking (1 month ago), I felt that thumb for years. Growing up my father was an alcoholic. I knew I had no right to expect anything else from her. In the dialogue called “Phaedrus,” the soul is likened to a charioteer who must reconcile two horses, one white and well behaved (the rational and moral impulses), the other scruffy and ill-bred (the passions). I began to wonder if I was thinking of myself and my own freedom more than I was considering others. ”) There were some copies of manuscripts (“Notes on Oedipus,” “Notes on the King Must Die”), given me by Roy Sargeant, a theatre director who was making plans to stage a play he’d commissioned, in which the shades of Renault and Alexander meet in the Underworld. Dear Sarah Thank you so very much for sharing this. ) Patrick O’Brian, the author of “Master and Commander,” was an admirer; he dedicated the fourth Aubrey-Maturin book to her, with the inscription “An owl to Athens”—the ancient Greek version of “coals to Newcastle. I wanted a glass of wine while I painted, or a cocktail while out with friends. I don’t think Bessey was saying everyone should stop drinking. The word “homosexual,” for instance, is a solecism, a hybrid of Greek ( homos, “alike”) and Latin ( sexualis, “sexual”). And there is freedom in obedience untold. When we are honest with ourselves these medications can be anything including card games on the computer, Facebook, reading, work, hobbies – we ALL have something that we use to put off dealing with problems we cannot face right now. No moderation, nothing good about it. And He is asking because He knows what is best for us. My husband said to me yesterday “All you do is talk about how you have stopped drinking and AA. To be most effective, recovery cannot be an individual pursuit, or a cooperative effort with God, but also needs to involve other recovering humans. I put Mullard’s card in a large manila envelope that, years earlier, my mother had provided for this correspondence, labelling it, as she liked to do when she organized my things, with my initials, in blue Magic Marker. This is quite amazing and I feel your story has saved my marriage and possibly my life! It was a celebration, a milestone, one that my sister and I didn’t quite understand but we felt the relief in our home. ) Shrewdly drawn scenes of apprenticeships, of actors or princes or poets learning their craft, figure in a number of the novels. My husband’s Polish Catholic family drinks. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling as you listen to the Holy Spirit. That’s a good point. If I don’t drink soda or caffeine, is it a spiritual thing? I feel alcohol is one such way. :)) I too have used the term “God put his thumb on it…” for the drinking and other things. Same goes for a glass of wine or a beer in my husband’s Catholic family and among the staff of the Catholic school I worked at–have some or don’t. A mathematician who worked for an aerospace corporation, he had been a Latin whiz in high school and sometimes enjoyed thinking of himself as a lapsed classicist. Thank you for sharing– I haven’t read any of your other items– but this one was shared on facebook and it hit me like a brick to the face. If someone feels God calling them to give up anything that might be a habit (coffee or pop included), Sarah is simply encouraging them to obey. With delight I learned that “ephebe” consists of epi, “upon,” and hēbē, “youth”: an ephebe is a male at the acme of his youth. And that was one of the hardest and best things God has ever done in me. Our God sees hearts-hearts striving for faith and the gospel-and He blesses. Your words have been my inner dialogue for quite some time now. ” Older gay men can recall that, in the fifties and sixties, to walk into a bar with a copy of this book was a way of signalling that you were gay. I am a runner – so the bible quote spoke to me, its a great picture, but I never read it in that way. Your excuses have been mine. What I read was the standard Protestant routine of alcohol being a big spiritual issue. Jesus knew that possessions were a stronghold and a stumbling block in this particular young man’s life and would always come between him and a relationship with Jesus. The negative consequences of alcohol are many, the stress reliever and helpful components less so. ”) Then she went on to tease me. I haven’t had a drink since then. It quotes what people of His time said about Him and about John the Baptist. For me, I LOVE my choice and I love following this conviction I had. The difficult part of alcohol is how habit forming it is, and the alcohol’s ability to inhibit judgement which makes “Well if one is good, one more must be better! “Verseël Eers Die Twee Syklappe, Dan Hierdie Een—Seal The Two Side Flaps First, Then This One. I read at least 2 books a week, and still spend a lot of time with my kids. The entry ends with the sentence “I ought to write Mary Renault soon. My dad did all of his drinking during the two years that he served in the U S Army in Europe during WWII and once he returned home he gave it up. In “The Last of the Wine,” Socrates, faced with an earnest, if pretentious, student, resorts to “teasing him out of his pomposities”—as canny a characterization of what it’s like to teach freshmen as any I know of. Because I am a food addict, I’ve also cut snacks and second helpings out of my lifestyle. The intense desire to drink was gone. On the front, the words “ IN MEMORIAM MARY RENAULT 1905–1983” were printed in black. Last year I gave up drinking for Lent. The bottles made that glug-glug noise when the pouring is too fast for the opening. Nancy is small and vivid; she greeted me and my father wearing a floor-length, brightly patterned cotton dress, with horn and wooden bangles going up both arms. During the first few years, when I was still in high school, I tried not to be too familiar or too earnest—the mistake that I had made in my first couple of letters. As a result of this minute attention to stylistic detail, the novels can give the impression of having been translated from some lost Greek original. I was both curious and embarrassed. But, I just wonder how many young people are influenced to drink alcohol because their parents are “not being legalistic,” who then might end up being the “one” who can’t handle it. But I also thought about drinking a lot. I also often think of the Brene Brown line about being a ‘take-the-edge-off-aholic’… Speaks to my 9ness and my tendency toward numbing. I did. I didn’t drink anymore AND quit smoking. It’s a deeply personal choice. And why, even among adults who aren’t fundamentalists, alcohol still has the whiff of transgression, which is part of what makes it “fun. Never wanted to hurt myself….. Sometimes I comforted myself with this thought: hadn’t Laurie Odell also been a loner? It could include eating, smoking, swearing… We have grace and freedom (AMEN), but we’re also suppposed to value others more highly than ourselves (Phil 2:3). A quiet beautiful moment that opened me up to an abundant life. In 1978, when I was in my first year at Virginia, her penultimate novel, “The Praise Singer,” about the great lyric poet Simonides, was published. God pointed me to your website today. “I am delighted you’ve been reading the Phaedrus,” she wrote to me early in 1978, when I was a senior in high school. In all her work, boyishness is an unequivocally positive quality—even, or perhaps especially, in women. Thank you so much for giving us a non-judgmental essay on a personal experience of God’s hand leading where we should go. Thank you for sharing it will spark change in so many other lives. I’m not prepared to accept a standard which puts the whole of my emotional life on the plane of immorality. ” Our standard answer is not just to say, “no thanks,” but to be sure and clarify – “We don’t drink alcohol. Even if I was not a Christian. It featured an ambitious photo spread about the upcoming movie adaptation of “The Persian Boy,” and referred to young dancers and actors who were hoping to be cast as Bagoas. Over dinner, they all traded what were, clearly, favorite anecdotes. However, I recently quit drinking. Thank you for this. I too am fine with others who choose to drink alcohol, but for me, I choose not to. She remains alive on life support, but she probably will not survive. That summer, I decided that I wasn’t cut out for “the real world,” and began to make plans to apply to graduate school in classics. It also lowered my defenses and I started doing really, really stupid things. Later that day, I ran out of my house and walked around the blandly identical neighborhoods for hours. (The swimmer had grown up in Virginia; I thought there might be someone else like him there. “All of us had to! I read this first when Jen Hatmaker shared it on facebook. Three weeks later, a handwritten letter with colorful South African stamps was forwarded to me. Now I’m done…. Over all these years I have seen more and more drinking being part of every social gatherings…I don’t want to judge… it just makes me wonder… why? Thank you for sharing! Something happened in my youth that I never suspected would affect me the way it did as a young adult, but after my Navy enlistment was up and my new husband (also a Navy veteran) and I moved to his family home, nearly 2,000 miles from my childhood home, I became pregnant, then suddenly fell into a deep pit of depression. This is why I said “yes” when, after a year of writing to Nancy—a correspondence that has grown far larger, by now, than the one I shared with Renault—she invited me to come to Cape Town, to see Delos, the bungalow down by Camps Bay, the beach where Renault and Mullard had lived, where Renault had received my letters and written hers to me, and to meet some of Renault’s friends, who had also wondered what had become of “the American boy. He talked slowly and loudly, as if addressing the others, but I knew that he was talking to me. He searched in a bookcase for a moment until he found what he was looking for. Perhaps she thought that a letter from an American teen-ager every now and then might provide some distraction, despite (or perhaps because of) the adolescent turmoil it contained. Inch-by-inch physical descriptions are the ketchup of the literary cuisine, only required by the insipid dish or by the diner without a palate. Full lists of citations appear at the end of each page. There’s no judgement in drinking but there’s no immunity to addiction either. Old. I decided I wanted to have wine with dinner like civilized grown-ups. Alcohol doesn’t make me a better person, doesn’t help me grow closer to Jesus, doesn’t optimize my health in any way. I studied hard and absorbed my grammars and didn’t confide any of this to Mary Renault. We listen with hope and grace, and tell each person who shares, “thank you for sharing. Once I quit the bowling leagues my days of drinking came to an end! Within hours she was on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma. Okay, this spoke to my heart. Although I had been enjoying the anecdotes and reminiscences, I was feeling unsatisfied; there was no way of knowing, finally, what Mary Renault would have thought of the man that the American boy had become. It was because of a review of a book of mine, a collection that contained an essay I’d written about Oliver Stone’s film “Alexander. ” I remember the day that this teacher handed me the jacketless hardback of “The Charioteer,” with its dark-gray buckram boards. I am thankful that they have not seen a need to experiment because I know for some all it takes is one drink. If we stopped that, then we wouldn’t have all the issues that Sarah cites here where she feels like she couldn’t quit as she would be left out or worried about what others thought or felt that there is pressure to drink alcohol. So, I drink about 15 drinks a week (beer, whiskey, and occasional wine). The historical novelist Mary Renault, who based many of her best-selling books on the legends of ancient Greece, died in Cape Town. Renault clearly felt the pull of all this longing, too: in addition to the three Alexander novels, she wrote a psychologically oriented biography, “The Nature of Alexander. But in my letters to Renault I swaggered and lied and pretended to be using my classical learning to gain insight into the real world. By then, I was obsessively in love with a yellow-haired swimmer who put up with my dogged stalking for three years before he turned around one day early in our senior year and, planting himself in front of his locker, which I had gone to some lengths to insure was next to mine, told me quite calmly that he didn’t want to talk to me anymore, and didn’t. But it is JUST AS AMAZING and just as miraculous for you to put your hand up for help and to surrender to the daily work of sobriety. We lived on Long Island, in one of twelve identical “splanches”—split-ranch houses—that lined a street in a suburb that had, until relatively recently, been a potato farm. I had these uncontrollable urges to drink and had tried before to quit but that it never worked. In “The Last of the Wine,” the narrator muses on the abnormality of Xenophon’s apparently exclusive heterosexuality: “Sometimes indeed I asked myself whether he lacked the capacity for loving men at all; but I liked him too well to offend him by such a question. It may look like a long road of reconciliation and forgiveness. Beautiful story, Sarah. The silent watching of other boys, the endless strategizing about how to get their attention, the fantasies of finding a boy to love, and be loved by, “best”: all this was agonizingly familiar. In the old hard drinking days of business, my father never veered from his Diet Coke once. ) In later life, the author made no bones about having wished she’d been born a boy. Feeling very much the author, I was emboldened to ask her whether she, too, had a kind of compulsion to write—although I secretly doubted whether hers had the same source as mine. The only other person in the elevator was old Mr. I feel God’s thumbprint sometimes too, moving me and compelling to to be more of what He meant for me to be. Nancy was the sole survivor of the little group. In recovery we hold no judgement. Wow. Love what you are doing and do it as well as you can, and the tree will grow. Most of them never have more than one drink on any occasion. So this is a journey all of us must take – to recognize our addictions to things that we medicate the pain of our lives with and face them with God’s help. ”) I was convinced that this lofty effort would persuade her that I would be a worthy correspondent. I was comforted by the incantatory rhythms of grammatical paradigms; by syntax, which was soothingly indifferent to emotion. I am 27 who in the last 12 years didn’t always make the best decisions. During the next couple of days, I visited some of the men who had been at Nancy’s dinner. They poured out all of the alcohol in the house in a grand renunciation of the old ways, the old bondages, the old addictions, the old possibilities. Thanks for this xo Thank you for this post. Alcohol was a fixture in my darker days, before I truly saw the light. What I did with it, after a few anxious months of trying and failing to picture the vast, nearly featureless landscape of the future, one in which the only road sign now, brand-new, freshly painted, bore the word “queer,” was to try to be good—to try to be like Laurie Odell. That is what I remind myself when I am tempted to join the ranks of social drinkers. Whenever someone mentions “1973,” or “junior high school,” this small, delicate, reddish face is what I see in my mind’s eye. I pray for strength to maintain my commitment daily. This isn’t limited to drinking, either. It’s not easy. I feel free and happy like never before. This touches me. We have talked openly with them about it from early on, as they picked up on the fact that there was alcohol at the other houses but not at ours. It’s been about thirty years since that decision now. I love how you describe the invitation of God to lay down a weight, and the process of trusting God by responding to that invitation. In my soul, I could see the Holy Spirit practically jogging alongside of me to say every now and again: “Aren’t you ready to put that heavy weight down yet? ” Someone utters it during a climactic scene at a birthday party that’s being given for a young gay doctor. The temptation was gone. I see the creep of social drinking into the fabric of our social abilities, how it is the reason to meet and it is the focus of relaxation, and I wonder if we can do without it as a group. I loved the way this post is written. But it’s never stopped me. I like this in so many ways. The title of “The Charioteer” alludes to Renault’s beloved Plato. I love this… written beautifully… no condemnation… I grew up in an addicted family … and like your parents I gave it all up about 40 yrs ago when I found Jesus. This time, I felt no great disappointment. He is patient and long suffering with me, and I’m glad for that. I cried and could barely speak. It’s never about deprivation, it’s about becoming who we were meant to be all along. There was, I knew, a gay student union that met regularly in one of the many red-brick-and-white-stucco neoclassical buildings on campus, undistinguished knockoffs of Jeffersonian originals. Her first-person narrators are always men. The man who placed it in my hands was a music teacher, around my parents’ age, whom we knew to be gay: he had a “roommate” with whom he shared a house in a nearby suburb. Watching the tragedy of this young woman, learning how the alcohol attacked her body, contemplating the disastrous results for her and the circle of those depending on her all make me want to shout warnings. I saw my father drink a couple of beers every evening. There was even the threat of division in the church over the Lord’s Supper bc some wanted wine instead of grape juice and I protested that it was a stumbling block to the weak. This is not to say that alcoholism doesn’t exist (there is an alcoholic on the fringes of my own extended family). Thank you for sharing. And still the Holy Spirit sat with me, waiting for me to trust this invitation. This is also the reason that I will NEVER drink. It will look like showing up. Sweet Sarah, Your post could have been my post. This is very rare in these days of mean memes and forwarding fake news. It’s really hard to order a water or a soda from a bar and not feel like A Christmas Story standing there awkwardly in a giant bunny costume. Are there really writers who do that? Today, the book is referred to as a “gay classic. One of which is very personal. Old then. He eventually passed away about two months before he and my mom’s 57th wedding anniversary. It’s your time to put it down. Addiction is a monster and most people can’t just will it to be over and it work. There were stories about Mary and her love of sports cars, stories about how Mary had found out that her gardener was growing marijuana and spent the night flushing it down the toilet, the story of how Mary and Julie insisted that the fig leaf on a bronze statue of Mercury they’d bought be replaced by an anatomically correct male member. As she had done before, and would do again, Mary Renault ignored the impermissible self-pity and the earnest humorlessness, and simply encouraged me: Just carry on enjoying yourself with writing. I quit drinking almost 3 years ago to the day. Nobody really knows just how far the decision of drinking may take them. But at the end of the day, it’s not really about alcohol is it? Novels I’d read, for the same reason. , to turn a corrupt Sicilian tyrant into a philosopher-king. I just one day, quit. Simple as that – I asked for God to change my heart for years, and when He knew I was ready, He did it. I don’t need it, never needed it. ”) I continued to send her the stories I was writing. ” This time, I enclosed a few pages of one of the short stories I had secretly written. For many people it means accountability so that we don’t slip into the old way of doing things and a determination to not just stop something but to put something better in its place. Alcohol was bad, drinking was bad, and there was a lot of legalism surrounding not drinking. I struggled with drinking alcohol for twenty years. What you shared here really resonated with me. But I was dismayed to see that the building was right in the middle of the campus; I was terrified that someone I knew would see me going in. Now, as we stood there in Nancy’s living room next to the chair, looking out the large plate-glass windows at the surf where the neighbor boys had played, I thought: Mary Renault had turned away from the blond boys to write to me. For years I never had an issue with drinking until one day I did. We made an occasion out of that moment as a family. (Under “I” there’s a page on which she wrote the word “Ideas,” and then a few lines with a sketch for a scene that ended up in “The Mask of Apollo. I grew up in a sober home where adults having fun was never linked to clinking ice cubes or lipstick stains on a wine glass. We need you, I promise. Why do you think I didn’t? They’re sitting on a shelf in my bedroom, as wizened and unrecognizable as relics. And yes, there may be liberty, but is it a good do heroes exist essay idea? Soon afterward, Mullard, who was high-strung, suffered a minor breakdown and had to be briefly institutionalized. But the struggle is real. Ditto to the love of this delicious drink, the fun with friends, and sharing new discoveries of deliciousness like blackberry wine. I was raised in a deeply Christian, non-drinking household. “Now I must think what to do with it. Since that conversation a year ago, I’ve mostly stopped with the wine jokes (entirely with her), because I don’t know for whom it’s a joke and for whom it’s more serious. He knew that the cigarettes were destroying his lungs and damaging his heart. Somewhere in “The Persian Boy,” when the young Bagoas is being schooled at Susa in the arts of the courtesan, the kindly master who is preparing him for service to the King reminds him of a crucial rule of life at court: “Never be importunate, never, never. He then went on to live to the ripe old age of 84 years! Soon after, she turned to the Greeks. ” I shut up and listened to the stories. My mother and father were open-minded, and they saw nothing wrong in letting their four sons hang out with this civilized man, who took us to concerts and restaurants, and who let me sing with the church choir he directed. ” I stopped asking myself if I wanted a drink. Look at the Symposium! It IS stressful and hard and lonely. So I implore you – if you are feeling that alcohol has a hold on you, if you feel dependent, if you know you are addicted, if you are losing yourself, if you are paying the price already, if you are tired and hung-over and miserable and longing for freedom: please get help. The text, I remember, was “Philoctetes,” a play about a crippled hero who has been abandoned on a desert island for so long that it’s no longer clear whether he can rejoin society. He sees your heart desiring and striving do heroes exist essay for holiness. D. I used it to type up school reports and term papers and, when nobody was around, short stories and poems and novels that I never showed to anyone—single-spaced pages so shaming to me that even when I hid them in the secret compartment under a drawer in the oak cabinet across from my bed (where do heroes exist essay I also hid certain other things: a real ancient Egyptian amulet I’d got as a bar-mitzvah gift from a shrewd godparent, a half-completed sketch I’d made of a boy who sat in front of me in English class) I imagined that they gave off some kind of radiation, a telltale glow that might betray the nature of the feelings I was writing about. I finished it in a couple of days. ” And then we would say “Then why do you smoke? Thank you. Page) with no year. But I wanted to be obedient. ”) I’m pretty sure that, as I did so, I told myself that this was the last letter I’d ever be receiving from Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa. (She once said that the Theseus book didn’ t jell until she had the idea of making the mythical overachiever diminutive in stature: he’s a legendary hero, but also just a boy with something to prove. I follow Jen Hatmaker on Facebook and as I was browsing through, I saw the link to your article that she posted. A homo- word with a purer pedigree, as I learned when I started reading Homer in Greek, was homophrosyne, “like-mindedness,” which is the word Odysseus uses, in the Odyssey, to describe the ideal union of two spouses—the kind of union that he’s trying to return home to. They were new people, a new creation, a new story was going to be written about their family. We corresponded for the next eight years. When I was finished, I put the letter into the lightweight airmail envelope on which I’d typed the address: Delos, Glen Beach, Camps Bay, Cape 8001 South Africa. When an emergency occurs, when one is fuzzy and warm due to alcohol, how can one rise to the challenge responsibly? Hear it all your life and it clicks one day, His timing, His grace. In “The Persian Boy,” Bagoas, sold into slavery at ten, already world-weary at sixteen, finds himself drawn to Alexander, who has suddenly become his master as well as the master of the known world. It helps to not feel alone. I quit caffeine two years ago without a spiritual crisis. ) I don’t want to let this be a wedge, I do want our relationship to grow, so that the love of God will spill into their lives. Starting with drinking with friends to gradually drinking alone and feeling lonely in ourselves. Pepper till he was 60 and now, if he drinks at all, it’s a cooler of some kind. That’s difficult to do when one has dulled the edges of everything. I rationalized it all away . Her kidneys lost function. Athens allowed her to write about homosexuality as natural. As lonely as he is, Laurie finds himself resisting the temptation of joining this group—of “making a career” of his “limitations,” as he puts it to himself. My goodness. God has a plan for this. Your words are gentle and true. No one will ever make a tragedy—and that is as well, for one could not bear it—whose grief is that the principals never met. ” Personally, I’m struggling with downing waayyy too much Diet Soda. Again, I’m super glad it has worked for you that way, but you’re definitely in the minority. ” “What you are . Neither of us knew what we would find there. ). ” I had ended the piece by mentioning how Renault’s Alexander novels had inspired me to become a classicist and, eventually, a writer. Congrats again, and all the best for your journey! If it’s sin, sure, like me, you can – in cooperation with the Holy Spirit – pull the root out. Sugar, however, is a different story, but today I mark 58 days clean. Six years ago on that date I woke up in the hallway in a dried puddle of vomit. What would she have made of my first book, with its matter-of-fact descriptions of the way that I and so many of the gay men I know have lived—the endless talk of wanting boyfriends, of finding a “real” relationship, and the late nights spent hooking up online? But it is to say that we may sometimes err on making drinking or not drinking alcohol a bigger issue than it is. But to be honest with you, I can’t help but feel like this was written behind the guise of spiritual obedience, and the real vulnerability of why it was given up, was covered with scripture. So I never saw an adult drunk in my childhood to my memory. Over a grainy black-and-white photo of the ruin as it appears today you could flip a color transparency of how the building had looked in ancient times, gaudy with red and blue paint and gilding. He and I have had alcoholism on both sides of our family. Not that it is too much trouble; writing a book is very much more trouble; but if I wrote more than one thank-you letter to all the people who are kind enough to write to me, I would never write another novel again. I don’t think drinking is even the problem inherently, it’s a symptom of something that is covering for something else. After I knew Jesus was the way for me I started to feel many convictions which I have been able to feel freedom from and it has been a blessing. God spoke to me in a similar fashion roughly five weeks ago. “Mary used to say to people who wrote wanting to know her that they should just read her books. Were we judging the ones who abstain as legalists? Again, I’m super glad it has worked for you that way, but you’re definitely in the minority. And I started realizing that I was using the wine or the cider or the craft beer to cope–to take the edge off, to numb myself against all of that even the slightest bit. How did you make contact? I told her I knew she wasn’t asking me to do this, but I was doing it for her. “As nurses,” Renault had told the workman, “we certainly know what penises look like. One of my most vivid childhood memories is of my mother and my father standing at our kitchen sink in Winnipeg surrounded by the last empty bottles, big smiles on their faces as my mother poured each one out. Thanks for so eloquently giving voice to this issue. It seemed like the thing to do, and all the passages about “stumbling blocks” came to mind as I said it. Thank you for being honest and sharing your experience with others. I felt that challenge from the Holy Spirit for a year before I began in earnest to lean into the healing, into the renewal of hope again in my life. ” Of course in being raised in a Christian home where alcohol did not even exist My experience with drinking was very short lived. And I didn’t know you were from Winnipeg and with (former) alcoholic parents. ” I joke about the mommy-wine, and can’t wait for the outing at the Christian conference that makes me and my friends freer-than, smarter-than, those uptight Christians of yesteryear who would never partake. As always, thank you for being obedient to the Spirit and gently reminding us of the freedom that can come in surrender. The Spirit is calling me in a different area of life, and I’m in the “research” stage. I am a bit older than they were on that day in Winnipeg when they poured out the booze. Then we went on vacay and I had three cocktails over the course of eleven days. The holy spirit made this post show up in my feed. Praise the Lord, I have been free for some twenty years. Maybe she liked the thought of having a student—someone to tease out of his pomposities. I kept getting depressed, until one morning my husband growled something at me (he later said I misunderstood what he’d said) and I felt as if I was falling headlong into a deep, black well of despair. Thank you so much for this. ” in a recursive line of reasoning seem valid under its influence. We compromised with alcohol-free wine. Until I got Nancy’s letter, I thought I would never know. Then, interestingly, the alcohol started to not work . The bible says in proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise”. After initial diagnosis and treatment in December , she failed to follow orders to eliminate the alcohol. Smith on “Lost in Space” and the queeny Paul Lynde character on “Bewitched”—then it would be better to remain alone. I wanted to know about the world of wine: tastes, bouquets, tannins, regions, all of it. And you learn, too, to sniff out a fake. But it seems like bartenders don’t care, and possibly understand that you might be the ‘designated driver’ or not drinking for some other reason. Just as I wasn’t what I pretended to be, so everyone and everything else, I thought, concealed secret meanings, communicated in hidden codes. Our personal experiences shape us as we all make up the beautiful body of Christ. A question worth asking oneself — and God. I think I assumed other women were similarly exaggerating. We are anxiously anticipating all of them falling in love with Jesus. Forty years later, I wonder how much he’d already guessed, and just what he was trying to accomplish. I have alcoholism in my family. The best known and most commercially successful were “The Last of the Wine” (1956), which takes the form of a memoir by a young member of Socrates’ circle, through whose eyes we witness the decline of Athens in the last part of the Peloponnesian War; “The King Must Die” (1958), a novelization of the early life of Theseus, the legendary Athenian king who defeated the Minotaur; and a trilogy of novels about Alexander the Great—“Fire from Heaven” (1969), “The Persian Boy” (1972), and “Funeral Games” (1981). “Say that you love me best,” Bagoas dreams in “The Persian Boy”; “I love you. No one who does drink feels the need to explain themselves, either. After I’ve become a Christian with 33, I’ve made several attempts to quit until I finally broke through more than five years ago, the year I became 40. When Nancy Gordon first wrote to me, she mentioned that she had it, and that she had been wondering to whom she might give it. Wondering whether I have gone from enjoying it simply for enjoyment to wondering if I am having one to help deal with a hard day. – Chris This is so honest and true. “I must make some good resolutions for the new year,” I had written in my diary. I understand that others will see this article as all about “to drink or not to drink” …but I see it entirely differently. It looks to me like it’s getting heavier the longer you hold on. Sometimes it means a surgical removal like the journey above. “If characters have come to life,” she once wrote, “one should know how they will make love; if not it doesn’t matter. ”) So she sent it to me, and I framed it. Then cutting back actually made it harder to drink in social situations because my tolerance was lower. I kept it in the kitchen cupboard. People were people to her. Like you I will never judge anyone else, this is a personal decision. How silly those stories had been! I drank plenty as a teen, so much that it got me in trouble I dare not talk about here. My mother was pregnant with me and she would be drunk every day, but one day when she was drunk she fell down the stairs. I didn’t give it much thought until my senior year of high school . I like what you say about conviction being more an invitation than a condemnation. (“I am 87. When I first started dating my husband, he nonchalantly mentioned he didn’t drink anymore (once he became a Christian as an adult). Thank you for this beautifully crafted testimony of His power and gentle nudging in a life submitted to His leading. My husband is the same. I too was surprised at the experience of giving it up. ” He paused and then gave me the do heroes exist essay tiniest smile. ”) Instead, I would tell her about what I was reading, some of which, of course, was chosen with an eye to pleasing her. I tried reading a book about it, but the pain then was real, and I couldn’t finish it. Sabbath rest, giving Him first place and snares that hinder me and mine. Fate deals its stroke; sorrow is purged, or turned to rejoicing; there is death, or triumph; there has been a meeting, and a change. So any of you out there in despair, it can be done. I was a Christian through all this, having been baptized while in the Navy (age 21), and one day at church a woman invited me to go with her that afternoon to check out a new support-group ministry nearby. You mean more to me than anything,” Hephaistion exclaims in “Fire from Heaven”; “Do you love me best? Page B5. ’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. It can become a vehicle by which we feed a void, a punishment, and penance. Sarah, thank you for sharing your story. And one does not have to be an alcoholic or problem drinker for the Spirit to encourage one to stopping using alcohol. As someone whose ministry is focused on men with addictions I’m sure of it. I went to the local bookstore every day to see if it had come in yet and, when it did, bought it and read essay on death penalty it right away. To me, Andrew and Ralph were figures in a vast allegorical conflict. I’m so grateful to hear this you have absolutely no idea. I joined the support group for a while, hoping to share the wonderful freedom I had found, but the members only seemed to want to wallow in their pain, not to be freed from it. But I have noticed the frequency with which other women around my age with young kids will joke about needing a glass of wine after a day of being Mom, employee, housekeeper, wife, etc, and I find myself joining in just to make conversation, even though my wine intake is better measured by the month than the day. ” When asked why I then very proudly proclaimed “Because my dad quit smoking when I was eight! I wrote about this incident to Mary Renault, aware, as I did so, of wanting her to perceive that I was learning from her—that I wasn’t giving in to adolescent foolishness. Nobody ever did their best work at 17 except people who died at 18! I had 2 alcoholic parents. (“I can’t give it to just anyone. I haven’t even had the urge to. Love some advice. The prodigal daughter returning home with such relief . But calling anything ‘a weight’ and ‘I gave it up because God asked me too’, seems so one sided. I thank our great God for your writing this and for my “happening across it”. Thanks for putting yourself out there and thanks for a beautifully written article! God WILL help you. An important narrative thread in each novel is a story of awakening young love—homosexual love. And it’s great that we can all learn from and be encouraged through each other’s faith journeys. Sitting at my desk while he shrieked into the phone, I was too timid even to quit. ” This. It’s like saying “I like myself better when I feel less in control of my thinking and self. By this point, one (or sometimes both) of the two inseparable friends who were always at the center of my fiction, the brunet and the blond, the writer and the athlete, would die of a rare disease, or meet with a terrible accident. I wrote that I was forgoing graduate school because I “hoped to gather knowledge of the world”—probably because I had read somewhere that she had become a nurse in order to gain real-life experience to write about. There’s a scene in “The Persian Boy” in which Bagoas realizes that he’s in love with Alexander; in the slightly high style Renault developed as a vehicle to convey Bagoas’ Oriental provenance, she describes this moment as (I now realize) a kind of internal coming out—a moment when, for the first time, a young person understands the nature of his own feelings: Renault was herself a lesbian, the elder daughter of a doctor and a primly conventional housewife. No sugar, no flour for the last 57 days. It is hard to walk the line between legalism and grace for sure but seeking God’s will and His good pleasure can reveal what is best for our lives. I never meant to get drunk…. ” As I reread her books in high school, I looked in vain for signs of what lovemaking might actually be like; what (for instance) “a trick I learned at Susa” (as Bagoas recalls of an attempt to liven things up in bed with the Persian emperor) might be, or what “the sufficient evidence of his senses” (the hint that Laurie and Ralph have finally slept together, in “The Charioteer”) might allude to. As a result I was born with a bad cleft palate and cleft lip. It actually does just the opposite. Old. You can’t blame them, really; apart from the fact that about half the people who write to them must be morons who think they really are Cleopatra or whoever, they get such thousands that if they attempted answering themselves they’d never get to the set. I began to drink after I had children, because that’s what the other moms were doing when we met for dinner, and I’d begun to lose my center a bit. I always didn’t. Not to moderation, not to legalism, not to “counting drinks” or “accountability” or reasonableness. This has been the source of a lot of transformation in my life: something that was okay suddenly becomes not-okay and inside of that, there is an invitation to more shalom, more peace, more hope, more love, more trust, more wholeness. No one who doesn’t drink feels the need to explain themselves. Occasionally, I’d bring someone home, or go to his place, and often it would be pleasurable and sometimes it would be someone I liked. ” I then said “No Thank You! Now that drinking has gotten so “acceptable” and “normal” in the church–which definitely was not the case 40 years ago–there are times when I feel like I don’t fit in or I avoid certain social events because I will be the odd man out with a glass of water. Ha! I pray I can find my own courage to act on them. I was raised in a Lutheran family in the 1960s in a community where most people were Lutheran or Roman Catholic. I also come from a long line of alcoholics on my dad’s side. I’ve been having similar thoughts — why do I have to signal myself with a glass of wine that I am off duty, having fun, an adult who at the end of the day can finally lay down my responsibilities. I worked in a Christian school for six years where a teacher found to have had one sip of alcohol could be fired (Sarah’s husband’s alma mater, btw). When I pressed Murray on this point, he said, “She liked her friends to be coupled. ” He motioned me to follow him upstairs to his bedroom. Hugh’s, a women’s college at Oxford, she studied English. A lot. God has blessed you with your writing talent and your way of writing without condemning. To us, it is not worth the risk where our children are concerned. I have another addiction – food. It gave me confidence in social situations. I greatly appreciate your sensitivity to the recovery community. In some occasions I don’t mind being around someone who has a drink, but I am always more appreciative of them asking or choosing, at least for the moment and more my sake, not to have a drink. There is a big difference between sin and addiction – but you don’t need to take on any shame or condemnation for either one. I read “The Persian Boy” in a day and a half. They may not get the same value in tip, but it doesn’t seem to be the worst thing on earth for them. ” I was too mortified to reply. I still drink some for now, but there are other weights I’ve felt convicted of just reading your post. I find it interesting when people who do not have a problem with alcohol are quick to make judgement of the ones who do….. I was done!!! ” But it was hard for me to fathom his response. ) As it happens, “longing”—in Greek, pothos—has, since ancient times, been a key word in the Alexander narrative. Dad came home drunk one night and he fell and hit his head on the side of the house and died. I drink the way you describe your early marriage, my husband doesn’t drink at all mostly because, as I say, he has the palate of a five-year-old and prefers soda and juice. So, it was pretty much every OTHER night. We have so much in common. Somewhere along this broken road I found Jesus again . I gave up drinking when our 21 year-old son got into recovery for addiction to alcohol and other drugs. But slowly I began to drink more than my husband. I didn’t like it much but I kept at it: after all, it was worth the effort, look at how I was fitting in now. Thank you so much. I thought of my mother and my father in their brand-new believer zeal, how all of those years earlier I had witnessed this same moment in their lives. “Dear Miss Mullard,” I began; and then, not for the first time, poured out my heart to a stranger in South Africa. Just to clarify: There’s certainly nothing wrong with not drinking, but the spirit clearly prompts some people to drink and to enjoy it, in my case 15-20 drinks a week (most weeks) with no negative consequences and a high level of physical and mental well-being (much higher, in fact, than a vast majority of people who abstain from alcohol for whatever reason). They could as fruitfully approach the office cleaner. What else had they talked about? I had an stressful time and instead of turning to alcohol, I turned to other people. We have an overcorrection to a lot of the legalism and boundary-marker Christianity that damaged so many, the behaviour modification and rule-making and imposition of other people’s convictions onto our own souls. “Have you ever tried Malory’s Morte Darthur? Yes I have forgiven them. Which led to the decision that I will attend just to hear you, which led me to looking into your blog further so I would know more about you, which led to me reading this and realizing God was speaking directly to me on this as well. If I had a bad day I looked for a Bible verse, prayed, whatever. Thank you for sharing, Sarah. Drinking, etc is not the sin but a symptom (one of many) of sin. Would you be willing to mine this a little deeper in another blog post? I’m not an alcoholic and I never was an alcoholic: that is why I could quit drinking with such little fanfare or suffering or process or support. dissertation convaincre persuader plan ” I run there all the time without remembering that Jesus promises me abundant life. It seemed perfectly reasonable to have sex if you couldn’t find love. The ziggurat of books has been disassembled and reconstituted in various apartments and graduate-student lodgings over the years, but it is still there. “It’s good furniture for any mind. I always addressed her as “Miss Renault” or “Mary Renault”; I still can’t think of her as “Mary. A lot of their friends and family have joined them in their temperance now. This post resonates with me today. ” I might add that with all the Bible verses about remaining alert and sober-minded, how can a follower of Jesus feel right about imbibing? Blessings my new friend! Thank you for your openness and honesty here. She ended up paralyzed and she also had brain damage. But I had never thought of my feelings for him as “gay” or “queer”: it simply was how I felt. ’ ” My American boy. In a 1982 BBC documentary, the two come off as unpretentious and suspicious of self-dramatizing fuss. I stopped posting pictures of wine on my Instagram. Don’t read for duty, try all the good stuff though, sample it, then devour what stimulates and enriches you. My dad said, “I think you should give this a try,” averting his eyes slightly, in the way he had. It was laughed at to abstain. …and then I moved to start a new job, and turned my whole life inside out. I guess the idea is to find the point where you enjoy life and it doesn’t negatively affect your wellness or those around you. I’m right with you, Bethadilly! It was very flat. On no account read a version pulped down into modern English, it ruins the flavour. When I read Sweetman’s biography, ten years after Renault’s death, I learned that the mid-nineteen-seventies had been a particularly trying period for her. I doubt that, at the time, I registered the implications of “which may be derivative”; it was enough that she thought I had a future as a writer. I can’t sacrifice my family and my life on the altar of a beverage. Most importantly with what pastordt said before that you may have saved a life or two. What she did not have in her life, as far as I know, was children—or students. It was in Africa that Renault wrote the last of her contemporary novels. ” And the more we drink the more inward and isolated we become. And I think He’s pretty darned impressed (if God can be impressed) with your essay-the first one and this follow up! Besides a birthday weekend last month, I’ve been on this journey a while, mostly influenced by Daniel. So grateful to hear your story. I will have to retrain myself on a better way to soften the hard days. No Laurie Odell had materialized. ) and they just didn’t speak to me as this one does. Some of the men were in relationships with each other: one couple consisted of a tall, extraordinarily handsome young man of about my age and his “lover,” a short, quite ugly man in his forties with a gigantic nose. Yep, that is just how much He loves me…. I mean are you me? Drinking isn’t who I am anymore. I also have no problem with anyone who abstains. I quit the group and gloried in my newfound weightlessness without that awful burden. When my kids were little, we didn’t drink alcohol. I didnt shout it from the mountains or post it online. The body feels better when not being poisoned and the mind is stronger because it’s accepting itself as important, resilient, and a valuable person. That was it. We’ve had the whole alcohol debate in our wider family, and are trying to balance the freedom thing, and the wisdom thing, and the non-judgmental thing. And, perhaps better than any other of the Greek novels, “The Last of the Wine” demonstrates how Renault used subtle but telling touches to persuade you of the Greekness of her characters and settings. From The Existential Primer. In a history of Alexander’s campaigns written by the second-century-A. Alcohol was a REALLY BIG DEAL. Thank you, I will be praying for you and I beg you and any praying friends to please help me pray for more faith and be willing to lay this 150 pound burden down. I will never know why she changed her mind and wrote again, eight months after she said that she couldn’t go on corresponding; at the time, I was so excited by her overture that I didn’t dare ask. I feel like a kindred spirit! We dated for a while, but, as before, I wasn’t quite sure what to do, now that I had a “relationship. My parents seemed snobbish in their faith that drinking was a failing of the soul. One year later, I had the idea for my book and CD and found my vocation that (so I feel) had patiently waited for me until I could really handle it. Were we setting someone else up? ” As I read this, I heard Sarah encouraging people to listen to the Holy Spirit for their personal calling (whatever that might be) and, even if that calling is to stop doing something that isn’t “across the board sin”, to listen and obey in order to experience a wholeness and fulfillment in Christ. Mostly, I was going out to bars: Boy Bar, down on St. So many of our illnesses and troubles boil down to not paying attention to what God is really telling us in our hearts and minds and then trusting that making hard choices will get better as time goes on. The couple stayed in England during the war, but after Renault won the hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollar MGM prize for “Return to Night,” a 1947 novel about a woman doctor in love with a handsome, troubled, much younger actor, she became financially independent. I related to so much of what you said and was delivered from a dependence on alcohol 8 years ago! I wanted to stop. It was odd, as we drove there from the airport, to see the words Camps Bay on road signs. Most people and I assumed my decision had to do with my new-found faith, but now I think it had more to do with my absolute fear of going down that road myself. Many reviewers appreciated the way she reanimated both myth and history by means of ingenious psychological touches. And now, having had two years to regain my sense of self, I see how much, how frequently drinking lies at the center of my social network. We are not Mormons who don’t drink. “Mary, Julie and Gerald are all gone, but I feel somehow called,” she wrote, “as humble messenger from Mary, to salute you. At the party, the characters start arguing about what would now be called identity politics: about whether the thing that sets you apart ought, in some fundamental way, to define you. Inline citations take the form (Author p. My fascination with these books had little to do with their canny evocations of Greek history, the persuasiveness of which I couldn’t appreciate until years later. The climax of our visit was a dinner party at which Nancy Gordon gathered a few of Mary Renault’s old friends. Stopping drinking is just part of the process of choosing, “My sober, tempered self is fine and doesn’t need to be empowered by some other vehicle to be likable or to have fun. The first time I drank alcohol, I was about fourteen years old. I never saw my parents drink growing up. As long as a person can maintain that temperance, I think alcohol is fine. I’ve been thinking about it but I’ve not yet come to quit. It views Alexander’s conquest of Persia and his nascent dream of forming a vast Eurasian empire from an unexpected angle: the book is narrated by a historical figure called Bagoas, a beautiful eunuch who had been the pleasure boy of the defeated Persian emperor Darius and who later became Alexander’s lover, too. Also the promise of alcohol “to have a good time” doesn’t really live up to the expectation usually. I’m afraid that my addictive, compulsive personality would take me down the same road my father walked. How sweetly written this is. Historian Arrian, pothos recurs to describe the inchoate craving that drove Alexander—far more insistently than any mere lust for conquest or renown. These verses settle the question of whether alcohol consumption is always wrong. You are now just getting the soil in your garden right—except that unlike a garden, even at this stage your work is producing flowers, very likely not yet ready for the flower-show, but giving you a lot of joy. This habit just like any other habit can become an idol. Perhaps I was always headed towards this same emancipation. It shows up in alcohol, food, sugar, Netflix binging and flaking out on social media. To each man or couple, Nancy would exclaim that I was “the American boy” to whom Mary used to write, all those years ago. His rare growler of beer still lasts but my bottle of wine on the sideboard began to disappear a bit sooner and then the bottle became a bigger bottle of cheaper variety and then the big bottles became a box of wine. “She made everyone read Malory,” someone cried out. And no one gets troubled about it. I like that you did it quietly, too much pressure if someone else knew…I think like you my children will notice as well, they are paying attention. “Dear Daniel Mendelsohn,” it began, and went on: My correspondent identified herself as Nancy Gordon. Because alcohol is just another beverage, albeit one only for the legal adults. So much wisdom here. He said how proud of me he was, and I wish I had listened to myself, because I was right. I was 7 yrs. He sees YOUR heart, as well. Protestant Christians have turned alcohol (among other things) into a big spiritual issue whether they drink it or not. You described it so eloquently. ” The boys, Nancy wrote, had all been excellent surfers, and Mary had loved watching them. ” In early May, she replied. She read these later stories, too. And of the drinking stops well for me, it stops I think about this often as one who doesn’t drink either. Eventually, my father fell asleep. I have a feeling I won’t ever regret accepting God’s invitation either. I was a gay adolescent; I was accustomed to overinterpreting. At just about the time that Renault and I exchanged our first letters, she had decided to put her affairs in order and make provisions for her estate. Just, stopped. When I was a junior in high school, the teacher who had given me “The Charioteer” showed me an issue of a magazine called After Dark, which I only later realized was a gay magazine. Well, that’s how it felt for me. After my hubby and I left Seminary and traveled north to serve churches…we could not believe the commonness of drinking among Christians. I also began to notice how the church had begun to embrace drinking as well. Unlike Renault’s Greek novels, which portrayed desire beneath the scrim of a historical setting, “The Charioteer,” whose characters used words like “queer,” allowed for no evasions. Under the white banner of Andrew there was Renault, and true love, and the ancient Greeks, with their lofty rhetoric and marmoreal beauty; under the black banner of Ralph there was Playgirl, and sex, and thoughts about naked men—the messy and confusing present. Present tense is used when referencing a published work, while past tense is favored on these pages because the major figures are… dead. I do know this sort of transformation whatever we want to call it hardly ever happens all at once, it’s a slow burn and it refines and clarifies and distills. In the spring of 1983, I wrote her a letter that I ostentatiously typed on our company stationery (“ DANIEL MENDELSOHN, ASSOCIATE”): “I’ve found that reading Plato while one isn’t actually studying intensively gives one an entirely new perspective—like being a Christian on weekdays. At one point, I climbed to the top of an overpass and looked down—not serious, but serious enough. But always in the back of my mind was a certain image of what I wanted, and since nobody I met quite matched it, I held back. I had got her street address from the Who’s Who in our school library, where I often spent recess, bent over an encyclopedia entry that I particularly liked, about the Parthenon. The stranger to whom I wrote that day lived in South Africa, a fact that I had gleaned from the brief bio under the author photograph on her book jackets, which showed a middle-aged woman with a pleasant face and tightly coiled gray hair, her eyes narrowed and crinkling at the corners: perhaps humorously, perhaps simply against the sun. It’s quite the opposite. (We feel that way because we are the ones who are always inviting the group to our house. I’ve dabbled in drinking a couple of times in my youth, but I honestly just can’t let myself go there. This vow and way of life creeps up to challenge me frequently. ” Between 1956 and 1981, Renault published a number of critically acclaimed and best-selling fictional evocations of Greek antiquity. How could it not be a handicap, when it left you with freakish feelings that no one else you knew seemed to share, apart from middle-aged men who left dirty magazines around for you to pick up, feelings that you knew, more instinctually than consciously, you had to hide? What to do with it” is a paraphrase of a line from “The Charioteer. Keep at it; very few people get published at 16 or even 20, but don’t worry. It certainly can become that any way. Luke 7:33-34 doesn’t settle the question and indicate that Jesus drank alcohol. ” A year earlier, I and the other eleventh graders had been made to memorize the opening lines of “The Canterbury Tales” in the original Middle English, an exercise that we both feared and derided; reading her letter, I began to wonder, as I hadn’t done before, what it might mean for language to have “flavor. I want no part of it. Last night, after skimming this blog just before bed, I prayed that God would continually convict me, invite me, until I make that conscious choice to do what He has been wooing me to do for awhile now. Thank you for this testimony today. I often wonder why smoking is treated differently within the “Church” than drinking? It is very beautiful. And when something becomes a REALLY BIG SPIRITUAL ISSUE, it can be blown out of proportion into something it probably isn’t. And how it was somehow just as hard to be an abstainer in the Church as outside of the Church. I began to notice how hard it is to be in recovery, to be an abstainer, in a world of drinking. This is by far one of the best and most beautifully articulated posts about the prompting of the Holy Spirit to let go of alcohol and experience the freedom to be all that God truly intends! I wasn’t ready to let THIS go . Never miss it! During my senior year, “Funeral Games” was published. I knew that I never wanted my children to grow up around that, so when I became a Christian in my early twenties, I made the decision to not drink–ever. But I still held onto my little secret. No one needs to make it a “deeply personal choice”. This show of confidence dulled the disappointing force of her equally graceful but firm leave-taking: Yes, you are right, I do have a compulsion to write and am very frustrated and unhappy if I am kept from doing it. On the bottom she had scrawled, “With love from Mary”; but there’s nothing at the top, no dedication. I never pretend, when visitors ask me about it, that it was meant for me. I literally only discovered your blog because of the recent Hashtag #thingsonlychristianwomenhear, then found out you are coming to our city’s prayer breakfast. Addiction is a monster and most people can’t just will it to be over and it work. From the start, she seems to have been searching for an ideal boy protagonist, a fictional reflection of an inner identity. It that sense, I agree it is sort of a weight that drains the body of health and energy. Your life is worth saving. I thought I would feel sorry but as you wrote I feel the freedom. I enclosed, as I sometimes liked to do, a cartoon from this magazine having to do with the ancient world. Yes, where you were, is where I am now. He would buy a six-pack of beer and it would last for six months. At some point, inevitably, I mentioned the Mary Renault books and what their vision of love meant to me. ”) I went on grandiosely, “After all, it wasn’t meant to be read and discussed at cocktail parties, but lived, in a way; or so I think. To lay down our burdens. In April, 1983, I wrote my last letter to her. Even our spouses. Most people who are struggling with drinking NEED HELP. Like the works of Marguerite Yourcenar (“Memoirs of Hadrian”) and Robert Graves (“I, Claudius”), authors to whom she was compared, Renault’s novels were often cast as first-person narratives of real or invented figures from myth and history—a technique that efficiently drew modern readers into exotic ancient milieus. Of course he meant his ideas to be lived. Everyone does it. She was admitted to the ICU. I was struck by the starkness of the narrative. Oh tkess tigers who needed to read this blog that is so beaotodylky written! It was then in 1966 after my mom and dad became Christians when I was eight years old that my dad made the decision to quit smoking. Then I reread both books. No, I was under no illusions, this would be a full scale surrender, a laying down my preferences and rights to embrace what just might something better. It’s possible to see Renault’s shift from the present to the past as motivated by something other than intellectual curiosity. But, because I was so young when I read the novel for the first time, I saw the arc from the ideal to the real, from youth to maturity, as a tragic one. I’ll just have one more drink . ” Sex rarely appears in Renault’s books; it’s either omitted altogether or suggested with such elegant circumlocution that I sometimes didn’t realize that certain passages were sex scenes when I first read them. Pay attention! For me, as for many beginning classics students, learning Greek and Latin unlocked the secrets of my own language. It comes back to me every time when I’m seeking God to Hear Him more clearly, to grow in wisdom and as a bonus, health and strength: he and his friends were found ten times wiser, ten times stronger, and ten times more discerning. If HG asks me to quit, of course I will but that hasn’t happened yet. Both of my parents were alcoholics as were both of my grandfathers. I love this post. There are no coincidences in life. There is desire in me to rest, to escape, to numb, to relax, and celebrate. If she dies, she will leave behind, in addition to the children, an 80 year old father and a mother with Alzheimer’s who she had committed to care for until their passing, and a husband who has an impairment of mind or character that prevents him being a provider for his family. Oh, Sarah this may be better than the initial post! I was wrestling with this decision. It wasn’t awful at all. My intent was to join a group so I could help my husband end his addiction to alcohol. Sarah Bessey, thank you for sharing this. We chose NOT to drink not because of the rules but for the fact that we didn’t want to influence our kids towards alcohol. As I write this, I’m sitting in my office. It would great to add a “p. Not all sin is clear-cut: it’s often deeply tied to our motives and our hidden choices. So so thankful. I may have a couple of beers with a steak and then not give it another thought for weeks. I found myself having more problems and feeling more out of control. It’s socially acceptable yet is a vise and can take hold by not necessarily making you into an alcoholic but making this a habit as you describe. You’re being your readers’ “keeper”. I did think about quitting. God then gave me the courage to speak to others about it, to share what he had done for me, and I helped some that way. He said it was because he didn’t want to drown out the Holy Spirit in any capacity – or give Satan any potential foothold. Grace and heart and soul peace be with you. All the others, they act like my non-drinking lifestyle is equal to my condemning them or they try to convince me to try some. If I drank at all, I drank too much, and I needed to stop. Of course I felt for “Mary. I read this article and literally felt like I was reading my own story and thoughts about this. This will seep in to your own work, which may be derivative at first but this does not matter. ” She only ever addressed me as “Daniel Mendelsohn” and, once I was in college, “Mr. Better than anyone,” the doctor tells her lover in the novel’s final pages. Thank you for sharing so beautifully. Two years had passed since I’d read the Alexander books—paperback copies of which were now stacked, along with Renault’s other books, into a neat little ziggurat in my bedroom cabinet—and there were things I wondered about, specific things, that weren’t described in the Mary Renault books. So I would walk past the posters for the meetings, my eyes briefly alighting, as tentative as a fly on a peach, on the word “gay,” as I made my way each morning to Greek class, during my first year, or, the next year, to Greek 201 (“Plato’s ‘Apology’ ”), or, the year after, to the course in which, for the first time, I read Sophocles in Greek. “Mary wanted her men friends to live up to the Greek ideal,” he said. To use His love, not food. I’m doing just fine drinking 15-20 various beers and whiskeys a week, always have, and very likely always will. I personally have to treat myself like the addict in recovery that I am, I cannot touch that to which I am addicted. Quoted long passages appear indented with the tag and cited in the format: One spring day in 1976, when I was fifteen years old and couldn’t keep my secret any longer, I went into the bedroom I shared with my older brother, sat down at the little oak desk we did our homework on, and began an anguished letter to a total stranger who lived on the other side of the world. This story, which was more ambitious than the others—it had a prologue set in a kind of classical limbo—was, like the others, a slavish pastiche of Renault: her diction, with its faint aura of prewar England (“Phaedo, whatever do you want? It’s a personal conviction. I promised her that she would never feel like the “odd girl out” in a larger group of women with wine glasses in hand because I wouldn’t drink when we got together anymore. Something tells me you are going to have a future as a writer. I think it will be easy to do, I have quit lots scholarship essay for college of things in my life. I was raised in a home where my parents didn’t drink. It seemed harmless, but I wonder the influence that it has had on my now grown children. Sarah, Thank you for sharing your story and especially your inner struggles. But it feels strange to feel strange, standing at a party without a glass, to be the only one, to feel eyes on you and wonder if they think you’re judging, to smile happily and hope they know you aren’t. Almost giddy, I walked away from this desire, full of joy, with no desire since that early morning, for any alcohol! Mmm… Yes, it is good to say yes to God, isn’t it? I still share a drink now and again with family or friends on special occasions, but your post inspires me to push forward with giving up completely. I always do heroes exist essay struggled with the young man in the Bible who wanted to be saved and Jesus told him to give away everything and follow Him. I do think that it is hard to be social and sober because craft brews and wineries are where people meet and socialize. Anything that was made for our enjoyment can very easily become what we depend on to try and satisfy our longing and bring us the joy we crave. We all have our vices that we lean on when we feel weak, tired, frustrated, or happy even. Then I put our fancy wine glasses away and I liked how open and clean everything looked now. She contracted flu, and then pneumonia. Curious because of course I wanted to look at pictures of naked men, having spent hours pretending to be interested in the Playboy centerfolds the kids on my block would steal out of a neighbor’s garage; and embarrassed because I perceived that it wasn’t appropriate for this middle-aged man to be making porn available to a fourteen-year-old. Good day, bad day . My children (adults now) drink socially and it doesn’t bother me. It is an insidious and quiet killer of joy and peace. Then one night it was as if God himself spoke audibly and asked me why I continued to drink so heavily (or even at all) when I had Him to rely on? ” It has happened about other habits or dependencies or sins or stumbles in my life as I’ve followed Jesus. Tuesday she was rushed to the emergency room, having fallen. No one does this with coffee, for example. She had brought me to the Greeks, and had shown me what I was, and it was somehow shaming to let on that I was having a hard time finding anyone like the characters in her novels. ♦. It was so scary, but God’s grace is so much bigger! ” Someone else mentioned a prominent American politician who had come out to Renault in a letter, as I had done all those years ago; the others nodded knowingly, enjoying the expression on my face when I heard the famous name. Very relate-able. Marks Place, where young men, self-consciously “over” the disco aesthetic just then, lounged in khaki shorts and Topsiders and played pool at a table under a giant stuffed fish; the Pyramid, where you’d go afterward, once your standards had started to erode; the Works, on the Upper West Side, with its aloof actor-waiters in their too carefully pressed polo shirts, lined up neatly against the black walls like empty bottles; bars that didn’t last long enough for me to remember their names, while I tried, as I continued to put it to myself, to “make contact. I tried and tried but a beach trip or a party or a wedding, and then, I would be drawn back in. Indeed, an invitation to spend that new freed up time on greater, sweeter things. Your words touched me deeply because your decision to quit, based on a nudge from the Holy Spirit, describes my journey the past year. It’s hard in France to be a non-drinker. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could admit to myself that I wasn’t like other people. Hello Sarah, I just read your honest and compelling piece—thank you for your poignant honesty. I took it home and started reading it. Because I gave it to God and realized I didn’t need to give anything else a hold on my life. Something else has occurred to me. For one thing, I had decided not to go on to do a graduate degree in classics, which she had once urged me to do, on the ground that it was always good to have “solid” knowledge of a subject, even if one wanted to be a writer rather than an academic. In both novels, arduously achieved seductions give the narratives a sexy charge: Renault makes Alexander the aloof object of the longings of the other, more highly sexed characters, Hephaistion and Bagoas, who must figure out how to seduce him. And a year later, I had more regrets than any fifteen year old should have. There have been women look at me and I can feel their thoughts almost. I would wait for my teacher to go into another room, to start dinner or put on a recording of Thomas Tallis, and would snatch the magazine up and look at the photographs, which both titillated and repelled me. “Your letter gave me very great pleasure,” she began her reply: My letters to Renault were even less frequent after I graduated from college. It is deeply important so I implore that if you shared that “So I Quit Drinking” essay to please share this status update, too. ” It was as if all feeling had been stripped away. I knew film stars do. Both the contemporary and the Greek novels feature unsettling depictions of bad marriages and, particularly, of nightmarishly passive-aggressive wives and mothers. “Married men who were secretly gay, closeted men—there were thousands of letters when she died. Curiosity prevailed. And I remembered what my Counseling professor once said: all addictions begin as a coping mechanism. ” I remember that day he quit smoking as if it were yesterday! That’s because I wasn’t writing anymore. (“Mary Renault: DA. But what had she felt for me? I guess I just want to say ‘thank you’ because these words meant a lot to me. Like you deserve a medal or something”. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know the date because I recorded it in my diary. But he also knew that one day his children would ask about wanting to smoke and what would he say to us? ” I, too, was an innocent. You are taking full responsibility for your work. The plot pushes Laurie toward a culminating choice between the two men. In the distance, we could see Table Mountain’s strange flat top, the mist pouring over it like dry ice off of a stage. I hear your heart saying it’s not about the alcohol, but it’s all about listening to the voice of the Spirit in the rhythm of life. I grew up in a tea-totalling Protestant family. Yes, it was lovely to learn about wines and fancy beers, to try the mixed drinks I’d only heard of. After a while, he started asking some other kid for notes at the end of lectures. I’ve stolen food, eaten out of garbage cans, whatever to get my “fix”. The “Greek ideal”: what could this mean in real life? You are still destroying your body and more importantly you are destroying God’s Temple! (“Will & Grace” was twenty-five years in the future. Some days, I think I’d like a glass of wine or a beer, but I don’t. I love this Sarah. The writers we absorb when we’re young bind us to them, sometimes lightly, sometimes with iron. Tell someone. I cannot have a relationship with God if I’m not willing to open up and be vulnerable and honest about me. ”), her settings (“Under the ancient olive tree, the two young men were talking”), her characters (“Speaking of Sokrates, have you seen him lately? “I’m glad you’re enjoying Plato. ” and we would then ask “How old do we have to be? I was, after all, someone who had a future as a writer. I knew something about pothos, and thought of the humiliating lengths to which it could drive me—the memorizing of certain boys’ class schedules or bus routes, the covert shuffling of locker assignments. I quit drinking 32 years ago without the Holy Spirit (long before I accepted Christ) but you’ve beautifully captured the struggle no matter where you’re at. And I am NOT kidding you. We all laughed off our regrets from a “crazy night of partying” Then, years later, it started to take a turn and become a crutch, something I thought about ALL the time. I was a “social drinker” starting at around 18 years old . I HAVE had other areas of my life that The Holy Spirit has spoken to me about. “That,” she wrote back to him, “would be gelding the lily. Toward the end of the evening, the conversation turned to the many correspondents Renault had had. S” at the bottom addressing recovery as a whole and acknowledging that most people *DO* need help to quit and that doesn’t make their journey any less than. And He will bless you with a greater sense his holiness. We pass invites to evenings at the bar and we often feel like we are not invited to dinner parties because we don’t drink. ”) She also used “k” rather than the more usual Latin “c” in her transliterations of proper names—Kleopatra, Sokrates—which gives her pages just the right, spiky Greek look. For me, it was simply a matter of a quality decision. I knew, of course, that she had read my letters carefully—and not only because of her thoughtful replies to them. I really agree with you that any invitation from Jesus is an invitation into abundance. God bless you and your family! When a righteous man such as David Wilkerson writes a book entitled Sipping Saints, one must surely pay heed! I remained awake, replaying in my mind the events and conversations of the previous few days. I’m especially touched by your pointing out and robert frost essay acknowledging that showing up for counseling appointments and AA or NA or FA meetings is “good and holy” because it’s not the outward appearances that matter. This is nothing short of miraculous. I tried to compromise: just a few glasses (never happened), just beer and not wine (worked a few times), and so on. Sarah – we don’t know each other but our stories couldn’t be more similar. She must have noticed, at any rate, that I was no longer enclosing short stories with my letters. Renault’s special feeling for the relationship between a teacher and a student imbues the poignant finale of “The Mask of Apollo,” her 1966 novel about an Athenian actor who gets mixed up in Plato’s disastrous scheme, in the three-sixties B. My mind is no longer in a fog and my priorities are not longer what party to go this weekend. She’d sometimes come over to our place for a drink looking out at the beach and I remember she would suddenly get up and say, ‘I must go write to my American boy. And we will all be cheering you on. Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that we know God’s plan (although if one had to guess they would clearly conclude that God’s plan is for me to drink based on the positive results). “Fire from Heaven” traces Alexander’s childhood and youth, ending with his accession to the throne, at the age of twenty. Jesus’s first miracle he turned water into wine. He loves us more than anything, enough to sacrifice his only begotten Son for our sin, and truly, the root of our pain is our sin. “I know what I am,” I wrote in my diary the day I finished reading it for the first time. But I’ve chosen the higher road out of love for those who are addicts or youthful. One particular thing I’ve noticed is that when we’re at a restaurant that serves alcohol (and makes a lot of money doing so), they oftentimes begin with explaining the drink “specials. I’m not a criminal. At this moment, there is a 40 year old mother of two young boys (6 & 7), lying in a hospital. And I do not have to explain myself to anyone. So many mtgs at church, etc use food as a “centerpiece”. I never want to be a stumbling block to anyone. ) But there was nothing else, apart from the scrawled signature and, below it, printed instructions about how to fold the aerogram. I grew to love the imagery of wine in Scripture, to see it as an emblem of the New City and of heavenly banquets. Feeling so raw and ready, but afraid. She published her biography of Alexander and two more novels. To them, this wasn’t even a choice to stop drinking, it was simply who they were now. Instead of a glass of wine at night to help me sleep I drink water, and it’s fine, I don’t always sleep right away like I used to from wine (occasional insomnia) but when I wake up the next day, even tired, I really prefer not feeling the after effects of the toxin in my body. I think this is well written, deeply personal essay, and I’m so happy all of this has worked out for you. ” I do heroes exist essay finished reading “The Charioteer” for the first time on December 28, 1974, when I was fourteen. That doesn’t make (whatever it is) wrong to take part or indulge in for everyone. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I hope they also understand how dangerous alcohol can be. C. They said that John was demon-possessed and that Jesus was a drunkard – both of which are clearly and entirely false statements. “I began to see women of my generation becoming increasingly dependent, as wine was marketed to women as the rest or as the treat they deserved for their exhaustion and their diligence and their selflessness. Then again, when you’re a writer, you never know who will end up reading you, or how. I couldn’t wait to get home and have that drink then the 2nd, then 3rd. My personal relationship with Jesus grew exponentially after I gave up alcohol! I was astonished, halfway through “Fire from Heaven,” to find that this kind of thing had always been happening. ” The hinge that connects her earlier works, love stories in which intelligent people—doctors, nurses, writers, actors—struggle with various emotional conundrums, and the later, historical fiction, in which the fact of love between men, at least, is no conundrum at all, is a novel called “The Charioteer. Renault’s mother had clearly hoped for a “nice” girl instead of the unruly tomboy she got, and preferred Mary’s younger sister. I was twenty-one; I was going to be a scholar, not a writer. Maybe two if it is a holiday. Over the next months, as my stalking of the blond swimmer became more abject, as more and more meals ended with me bursting into tears and locking myself in my room as my parents clumped helplessly down the hallway after me, the sentence “Something tells me you are going to have a future as a writer” served as a charm. But like you, I feel frustrated when fellow Christians feel sorry for me as if my faith is week because I’m legalistic. I’m over three years sober now, and it has not always been easy, but it’s been the right thing for me. Hey Sarah, my wife just sent me this article. That gentle yet relentless nudging has been there now for some time. “We,” because I took my father: I owed him this. ” Toward the end of her life, Renault wrote that the novel was “the best thing I had ever done. C. It would great to add a “p. We don’t make a big deal about it, but there is still weirdness.  I was already smoking a pack day, what was a bit of booze? It was my way to not have to deal with issues, pain, grief. It does not always have to be about not drinking, although if you don’t want to that’s fine. ” (Sweetman, in his biography, relates how a young actor had written to her, offering to have “the operation” if it meant getting the part. (“I don’t know if it would have amused Thukydides; he didn’t amuse easily, he had seen it all; but I bet it would have given a good laugh to Philip of Macedon, when that arch democrat Demosthenes made a pact with the Great King of Persia. ”), even her punctuation. Thank you again for this gentle, loving, honest testimony. The reviewer mentioned the Renault connection. So just thank you, I know I needed to read this though I’m not fully sure of the implications yet… maybe still in the avoidant, afraid I will be no fun kind of way. For a while, it was the one thing I did that wasn’t about the baby, that was only about me. I cannot imagine how many people you have touched, but you surely touched me. It’s in response to this debate about identity that Ralph articulates the liberating formula: “It’s not what one is, it’s what one does with it. You have put into words almost precisely what I have been trying for 6 years to say. Temperance isn’t really the virtue it used to be, but I realize temperance is good for the body and mind. I hope to meet you in Heaven and you’ll know that your testimony meant so much to God because He loves you and because He loves me and. I’ve read other articles that were judgmental and fear motivated (why risk having one? AND, sadly, concerning food addiction, churches, even many recovery places don’t understand how serious addictions to food are(esp sugar…which more and more reports show can be more addictive to some of us, than cocaine). I’m struggling and some days I can’t even remember why I stopped drinking. Above all else – let us love. ” At the end of the letter were her signature and e-mail address. I made a bunch of really poor choices that had a profound impact on my life. But afterwards some came forward expressing struggles of their own so we could see God was at work. Taped to the refrigerator were photographs of Murray, shirtless, still muscular, smiling broadly, at gay parades, on gay cruises, at gay clubs; I figured that he would know what I meant when I said “what really went on between men. It is also easier to judge the motives of others. (In “The Charioteer,” Laurie is described as someone who “usually got on with strong-minded old maids”; was that how she saw herself? ” I don’t admit that I’m a social menace. And I am a big big big fan of you getting the help you need. I held a steady job, usually preferred to drink alone so no one knew and just kept on pretending all was well. Years after the fiasco, the actor meets the teen-aged Alexander, already charismatic and alive with curiosity about the world, and realizes, wrenchingly, that this youth would have been the ideal student for Plato, now dead: All tragedies deal with fated meetings; how else could there be a play? We were downstairs in his den, and he’d been playing me a rare LP of ancient Greek music. I stopped drinking for awhile because I was tired of the mess, but I longed for the ease other people had. (I had to think a moment before I realized that “a duplicator” was a copying machine. (Decades after I first encountered Renault’s books, it occurred to me that all this could well be the source of the “love me best” motif that recurs so often in her work. I still wasn’t sure how you got to be the author of your own life. Thank you again! It just feels good to not be judged for something that’s just not for me. ” I’m not saying I will never have another cocktail but it will no longer be an every day thing. If you enjoy wine and can handle it, then for goodness sakes drink it without feeling guilt. I never witnessed an excess of alcohol. I had come to feel that getting involved with real people was, somehow, a betrayal. I asked where all these letters were and what had become of them. But, I very glad that you shared that none of those things actually came true. For a long time, I have felt that God has wanted me to give up certain things that from an outside view are not problems or sinful. Owen gave me an address book, with alphabetical tabs, in which Renault had scrawled notes on various works in progress. It has changed my personal relationship with God and has eliminated so much guilt. Excited, I wrote to Renault asking for details. I’m so glad I came across this. ) I started learning Greek during my first semester, and found a kind of happiness in grammar, which insisted on a level of precision not available in English: the nouns, often familiar-looking ( anthrōpos, historia, klimax), each one of which has five different forms, depending on how it’s used in a sentence; the vast spiderweb of the verb system. I think that this is possibly the best article that I have read on the internet about what it means to live a holy life. They untethered drinking from their identity and never looked back. But I can speculate now. ) They emigrated to South Africa almost on a whim, after reading travel advertisements following a particularly grim postwar winter in England. Sarah. I moved to New York City and found a job as an assistant to a small-time opera impresario whose obscene tirades against disloyal conductors and greedy sopranos would seep, like his cigar smoke, beneath the smoked-glass door of his inner office in the tiny “suite” he rented, in the Steinway Building, on West Fifty-seventh Street, into the area where I was stationed. Vodka cranberry was my drink of choice and the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “why do you need it? I am ashamed of the way I behaved when I was under the influence of alcohol. Sometimes 20. All what you said is what I felt. Some people don’t. It was about drinking but it was also about discipleship. I remembered Brennan Manning – the man who has translated the love of God in a way that I could receive it more than probably any other writer – was addicted to alcohol and I re-read up one of his last books before he died: “ All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir” where he vulnerably writes about what this battle has cost him, even as he experienced the unending and unconditional love of God in the midst of it, how he experienced regret and pain and loss alongside of the love and tenderness of God in this dependency. I was too embarrassed. Your story of quitting drinking may look like getting yourself to Alcoholics Anonymous every single time the doors are open. Alcohol, though nice on occasion, and not necessarily a bad thing, is essentially a essay on a friend toxin that invades the blood stream which the kidneys and liver need to filter out. I did the same thing quietly about a year and a half ago… I still haven’t said I have ‘quit’ (forever) (maybe this is the nudge I need? Now that I am a writer who has received mail from young readers, I appreciate the patience and gentleness of this paragraph. It was incredibly vulnerable to share my weakness in front of an uncomprehending audience. I wrote to Renault less frequently once I went off to the University of Virginia. I personally have to check myself often, being fully aware of those things that I’m using to fill the voids that only God can fill. I believe that accepting the Lord gave me a legitimate reason to not do so. It was WONDERFUL. In real life, he went on to have a happy and fulfilled career. But… I know exactly this conviction, this weight, this ignoring of His voice inside of me that you wrote about. In 1934, she met Julie Mullard, a vivacious young nurse who became her life partner for nearly fifty years, until Renault’s death. Owen said that they had been destroyed after Mary’s death, in part to protect the men who had written them. I have not had a problem with drinking but my husband did. But in college I had finally, if fleetingly, discovered sex, and in New York it was everywhere, if you wanted it. I hate alcohol because of so many past negative experiences, yet few Christians openly respect that. So in my world, I do deserve a medal. Finally, one day, the others turned to me all at once and asked me to talk about myself. I’m an adult child of an alcoholic. ” We spent four days in Cape Town. Conviction isn’t one size fits all. Maybe someone has a time management issue, or has placed a certain physical item in a place of too much importance in his or her life. I didn’t like the way it made me feel anymore. ” Occasionally there would be an item about her or one of her books in the news; it gave me a thrilling sense of privilege to be able to write to the author herself to learn more. I liked the sophistication of wine, the theology of wine, the metaphor of wine, the community around wine at the table. I shoved the Times in his direction and pointed. I grew up around drinkers, but saw how it could easily lead to harm so have always abstained even before I started following Christ. ” It’s no accident that her very first book, written when she was eight, was a cowboy novel. As I reached the end of high school, these were getting darker: the beginning of my senior year, in the fall of 1977, had been scarred by the confrontation with the blond swimmer. I could drink a whole pint and just feel gross but not drunk . Because at the end of the day, we are talking about a beverage. In college, however, I ran into a lot of Christians who grew up in non-drinking or minimal drinking Christian homes and saw it as their free right and were always rude to me when I would express my distaste for it and lack of a desire to drink. She had indeed paid attention. The product of her inspiration was “The Last of the Wine. I was a classicist, and I knew that the ideal of “Greek love” was itself a fantasy of Victorian “inverts” who, as Renault had done, projected their pothos for an accepting society onto the distant past. It’s just a constant reining and re-centering that perhaps isn’t the best choice for some, in which case quitting entirely is perfectly fine. I do not believe drinking is a sin, and I do not believe I am any better than anyone else because I choose not to. Instead, the Lord put his arm around my shoulders and gently pushed me in the direction of another group, where I was shocked to find the actual cause of my depression and took the first steps that led to my being freed from it. None of these are wrong used in the right place and time however all can be abused when we use them automatically without asking if there are better, more healthy things I should be doing. Until that moment, I had never seen my secret feelings reflected anywhere. Love this. I’d been writing the name for years, and had never thought of it as a real place. His timing. And for me, I knew I could like it too much, so decided not to…thank you for sharing. ” David Sweetman, in his “Mary Renault: A Biography” (1993), referred to “Fire from Heaven” as “a love letter to the boy hero. A very strong voice spoke saying,”It is not the liquid in the glass that condemns you, it is your hand holding the glass. It was beautiful, thoughtful, and thorough. The novel begins as Alexander is dying and proceeds to describe in grimly unsentimental detail the story of the internecine power struggles that resulted from his premature death. My middle daughter does. Because we have never made coffee a big huge spiritual issue. Food addiction abounds and so little is said about it as it’s become acceptable, which breaks my heart for many still struggling. No one cares. I hope you read Sarah’s story all the way to the end. The church’s failure is that it has tried to make itself the Holy Spirit and the judge and jury in the lives of it’s members – judging and convicting instead of discipling, leading by example, and loving others towards Jesus. I love the way you pointed out that we can sometimes become slaves to our “freedoms”. I run to the place of “No. Laurie Odell, a wounded young soldier who is recovering at a rural hospital—his given name is Laurence, but Renault pointedly used ambiguous names and nicknames whenever she could—finds himself torn between a secret love for an idealistic Quaker youth, Andrew (who seems drawn to Laurie in an innocent, nonsexual way), and a more complex, physical relationship with a slightly older naval officer, Ralph. S” at the bottom addressing recovery as a whole and acknowledging that most people *DO* need help to quit and that doesn’t make their journey any less than. Very well done! I don’t judge anyone who drinks moderately as their conscience allows. ) Now, in a novel about people from another place research on police brutality and time, it was as if I had found a picture of myself. We are called to be holy and set apart. ’ Luke 7:33 & 34. Early in September of 1983, I walked out of the Steinway Building just as a handsome man, blond and square-jawed, pedalled past on a bike; he grinned and rang his little bell at me. But if you choose zero, no one cares, either. Although Renault was entranced by the Greeks from an early age—by the time she finished high school, she had devoured all of Plato—at St. I’ll be the first one to admit that calling on, leaning into and relying on Jesus is not my first go-to even though I know he is the only source of true satisfaction. I wrote her to tell her how much I’d liked it. If it is, Jesus was a sinner. Even the Christian people I knew who did choose to occasionally drink alcohol made it a REALLY BIG DEAL. ” and always I would respond to myself, “No, I’m a non-drinker. As she later told the story, the decision to start setting her novels in ancient Greece began with a question rooted in her early reading of Plato. Others of my generation who had also grown up in legalism regarding or abstention from alcohol perhaps, and so were exploring their emancipation with micro-brews and homemade wine over thick theology books and bible studies and hymn-sings. And like your parents, I decided to turn my back on that old “friend” and raise my kids in a booze free home. I didn’t read that the author turned *alcohol into a “big spiritual issue”, but rather what God was calling her personally to do, and it happened to be with her drink of choice. Hey friend! Criminals are blackmailed. I still remember the thrill I felt when one of my college professors wrote, in the margin of an undergraduate essay, “You have semicolonitis! I have been noticing this as of late and have felt a tug on my own heart about how easily and off handidly I can join do heroes exist essay in on this kind of discussion. In it, I lied and concealed and sprinkled the pages with allusions to Plato. My parents were young, they were filled with life and joy and hope. “I know what I am,” I wrote. That choice implies another: whether to remain a loner or to enjoy the solidarity afforded by the local gay set, whose members Renault paints in campy colors: they’re named Bunny and Binky and Bim, and wear Cartier bracelets. I would buy a bottle of red and it would last for a week. A. She’d quit and started up again many times since her late teens, but around the time she weaned her last baby her father died and it got the better of her. I’ve “pretty much” quit now after being on a downward slope of frequency the past several years. Give it ALL TO HIM. It was in my late twenties to early thirties that I joined a couple bowling leagues and so to fit in I would have a beer or two. Or they don’t drink. I had been thinking about sending Renault a Christmas card but hadn’t got around to doing it. Then, toward the end of the evening—during the conversation about all the people who wrote letters to Mary Renault—Owen, who’d been watching me react to the surfeit of new personal details about her, spoke up. Thanks for writing this piece. Yes, this is exactly how Alcoholics Anonymous works. Then it is easier to see a dependency or even create one. There are so many reasons I love this. That essay was about my personal experience of journeying with God and about how things that are not “sinful” per se can become a weight to us. Would he say “Your too young! Most seductive of all to me was the young characters’ yearning to love and be loved totally. He never makes us feel guilty, just that gentle niggling until we know that we must do what He is asking . With this being said, I understand the legalism aspect and in no way want to pass judgment on the many Christians (and non-Christians) whom I love and respect who simply enjoy a social drink. Never wanted to hurt my family….. This is a beautiful essay, with a beautiful update. I’ve never involved a normal person or a minor or anyone who wasn’t in a position to exercise free choice. Before the others arrived, she pointed to a chair in the corner of her living room: “Mary used to like to sit in that chair. I am SO thankful God cares so much he didn’t give up and finally reached out and got me to stop. We learn compassion for ourselves and by extension we should extend that to others when we internalize what consciously dealing with the pain means. I, too, do not believe drinking is in itself a sin but God walks with each one of us personally and He knows what can become strongholds of the enemy in our lives. There is only one way to learn to write and that is by reading. Koretz, the Holocaust survivor who rented the office next to ours. I know where you are coming from. Never having had a lover, and embarrassed by my lack of experience and, even more, by the secret ideal that was keeping me from experience, I rarely said anything during the sessions. I was surprised at the push back I would get from believers who were now walking in “freedom” that I didn’t drink… they just assume I was walking in bondage … but it was truly freedom for me. A title is included if there might be confusion as to the work. He had just arrived home from a hard days work at the tannery. But I was “just partying” on the weekends. I’m asking because I identify with this and I suspect others would as well. In addition, I think what she’s saying is we need to be conscious of the “weaker neighbor” a la Romans 15. That was last year. I felt lighter, free-er, when I wasn’t celebrating “it’s five o’clock somewhere. Who needed alcohol now? It was not alcohol, but an entertainment that had always been “ok”, and was suddenly “not ok”. ” Reading Renault’s books, I felt a shock of recognition. Setting a novel in fifth-century-B. ” (That last phrase is an almost verbatim citation from “The Charioteer. (“She was never aware of any generation gap. My friend sent me your link and I’m so glad she did. I had become so dependent on my cynicism, on my know-it-all tendencies, on my “yeah-but…” when it came to everything that I was missing so much of life and goodness and hope and possibility. She developed liver damage from excessive drinking. When I gave my life to Christ at 20, I stopped drinking. I wonder whether something like this was in Mary Renault’s mind that day in December when she decided to write back to me after all. I am exercising more, trying to do more meaningful activities. Similar process. It caught my attention because I have been struggling with this for the past 8 years plus. (“He, hearing that a youth called Philon, with whom he was in love, had been taken sick, went at once to him; meeting, I have been told, not only the slaves but the boy’s own sister, running the other way. I wonder whether she wished for some. With God all things are possible. “He must never know. And in circles where drinking alcohol is not a big huge spiritual issue, such as among most Catholics, it is the same as coffee. ” During that time, I finished high school, went to college, graduated, got my first job. Yup, as others have said, this feels like you’re in my head. We do drink on occasion now. The enemy is trying to get a foothold in our lives in any way possible. After taking her degree, she decided against teaching, one conventional route for unmarried, educated middle-class women, and instead trained as a nurse; her first three novels, published during the war years, were written during her off-hours from clinics and hospitals. In the old days, they used to call this “holiness” or “sanctification” – both words we don’t hear much because they lost some meaning by their misuse perhaps. I think it’s time you stopped this one. There was a boy in one of my English classes, a tall, dark-haired prep with a beaked nose and a Tidewater accent, who, I now realize, was trying to make contact with me. Here’s a portion I copied for you: “I still don’t think drinking is “sin” across the board. Drinking may not work for everyone. ” It’s not hard to see why she thought so. When he gave me the paperback, I looked at the cover and frowned. Some people like it and grab a cup. I still made the excuses even though I cut back considerably. The only additional item is a clipping from the Times, dated Wednesday, December 14, 1983. No matter what I might think it is before I taste and see, it always ends up being good. ” I was no longer sixteen, and I was determined never to importune her. It may look like a support network and accountability. We never wanted to be do heroes exist essay legalistic about it. I consider myself to be quite liberal on many social issues, but have struggled with how much we glamorize and celebrate something that contributes to so much pain for so many of God’s children. ” I slumped against the back of the elevator and started crying. ” But I never called him back. I had already found the Mary Renault I needed, years earlier. I thought again of the yellowing books on my shelf; I thought, too, of the relationships that had never quite worked out, edged aside by a phantom out of a novel. This encouraged me on my journey – from a swedish girl I grew up in that “legalism” kind of Southern Baptist rule following life and drinking WAS NOT COOL, I will assure you. It was exciting to see the nude male bodies, however patently silly the cowboy boots or policeman hats might be; but it was hard to connect those images to the ideas of love that I had taken away from “Fire from Heaven” and “The Persian Boy. ” Later that month, I wrote in my journal, worrying that, whereas the characters in books seemed to have so much forward momentum, I didn’t. ” Responses are sometimes odd, but I’ve never been sorry to stand our ground for what we feel is the best way for us to honor God. I hope you start a revolution with your honesty. So yes: I still felt for Mary. Please don’t say you did it for God – you did it for yourself, because maybe you needed to and God knew that ahead of time. Good stuff. Don’t know all the details. 😉 Bless you Sarah, thanks for sharing this. Sure, we can say we do things in our relationship with God, with the context of obeying him and living a disciplined, surrendered life. And this is the reason I can’t go on writing to you. For me, writing was a kind of sympathetic magic, a way of conjuring the swimmer boy and keeping him close. I wanted to ask about the part where you felt challenged in regards to your cynicism and ‘pressed in’ to find healing and hope. The first year was very challenging but the last 2 have been great. I’m grateful for that – this is a conversation that we need to have, it seems. Mostly, I abstain. The other friends arrived. In a letter to a friend, Renault recalled admiring the head of a statue of the Macedonian conqueror, which had given her an “almost physical sense of the presence of Alexander like a blazing sun below the horizon, not yet quenching the stars but already paling them. We grow into our new choices. (These expressions of deep emotional need run like a refrain through Renault’s contemporary novels, too. I’m a 43 year old pastor and your story (both the alcohol and cynism) is almost identical to mine. When I asked why, his answer surprised me. I was feeling very grownup and was trying to impress him with my passion for all things Greek—a subject that led me, soon enough, to Renault’s novels. It saddens me that Christianity and Christians seem like robots that want to please a loving, living God, through personal sacrifices that garner praise when revealed on a public stage or forum. It just makes the day that much better. With this, you are thinking not only of your original message but also the impact that message had on your readers and beyond. I’m glad you shared your thoughts that you originally had…funny…they’re very similar to mine. It really made me think and think and think. (Recalling a lesbian novel she write a reflection essay disliked, Renault wrote of its “impermissible allowance of self-pity” and “earnest humourlessness. The banquets in heaven, the last supper on and on. But it did. Each showed me some precious relic, and each offered me a keepsake. And I’ve never gone back to enjoying it the way I did. My understanding of the necessity of vulnerability in relationship has grown because now there is nothing to take the edge off. I lost so much. Nancy gave me the dainty porcelain cup Renault drank from as she worked. Beneath my fear of being found out, a larger anxiety lurked. I’m prepared to go to some degree of trouble, if necessary, to make that point. I was brought up that way and now have taken a ‘vow’ if you will, to abstain. (Renault, according to her biographer, had a particular fondness for the semicolon. My own quest for homophrosyne was proving unsuccessful. The illustration, of a blond young Greek holding a shield aloft, wasn’t very convincing; I thought he looked a lot like the boy who lived across the street, who had once taken a bunch of us waterskiing for his birthday. I know that God made wine and it’s fine for some. And if it’s addiction, you might be set free instantly and I pray for that! I wanted the lovely glass of red beside me as I read my books. Renault fans like to cite her stirring description of the great Athenian fleet’s departure for its invasion of Sicily—a misguided campaign that ended in disaster. There is nothing to dull my awareness of God. ” It’s a brave thing to share our most vulnerable pieces. “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon. 😉 My family has buried two young people in the last two years from drug overdoses and another is in rehab now–and all three of those young people’s paths to destruction started with drinking. ” After work, I hurried home to write a condolence letter to a person whose existence I couldn’t know of until I turned to page B5 and saw there, at last, the discreet proof of a suspicion I had long entertained but never dared ask about (“the writer’s companion of the last 50 years, Julie Mullard”). At that moment, I wasn’t so much afraid that my confidences had been shared as I was startled to realize that Renault had existed for other people: that she wasn’t only “Mary Renault,” who wrote novels and sometimes wrote to me, but was also “Mary,” which was how Mullard kept referring to her, a woman who might have casually discussed this and that with her companion—for instance, the letters she had been receiving over the past decade from a young American—the way my parents discussed this and that: work, New Yorker cartoons, things that had come in the mail. I remember when I felt that thumb press down on my cynicism, for instance. I feel closer to God and life in general. I don’t know where that thought came from – I have my suspicions that was prompted by the Holy Spirit. ” At one point, I mentioned that she had made me read Malory’s “Le Morte D’Arthur,” and everyone laughed. We never drank while our kids were home and now they all drink…. Then, that Wednesday morning, I walked into the Steinway Building, went through the lobby past the display of grand pianos, got into the elevator, scanned the front page of the Times, and suddenly said, loudly, “Oh, no! “People used to write her all the time,” Owen said. I asked God to remove this way of life from me. There is nothing innocuous, though Satan would like us to believe otherwise. I have seen family members who are believers and strong in their faith give their hearts, money and affections to alcohol (“I need my glass of wine or bourbon in the afternoon to relax me”), while my husband and I quietly abstained. ” I sat and listened, waiting to hear something that would give me a clue to what she’d have felt about me and my writing. In particular, I was thinking of something that Owen had said at Nancy’s house. I don’t drink and I’ve often thought if I do I would be addicted. I had a similar “run in” with the Spirit the beginning of January – He asked me to lay it down for a month. Then, after taking my dad’s copy of “Fire from Heaven” upstairs and placing it inside the oak cabinet, I got my mother to take me to the B. Thanks Now, as a thirty-something mom, I wonder what my actions are teaching my kids and slowly, I have felt God speaking into these same areas. I thought she must be appalled by me. He’d stop me after lectures and ask if he could borrow my notes; once, after mentioning that he was in one of the choral groups, he called to invite me to come to his dorm room to listen to his new LP of Purcell’s “Come Ye Sons of Art. So……that essay about quitting drinking seemed to hit a nerve with a lot of folks, eh? I could tell that something was going on as he took longer than usual to smoke it. ” Academic classicists were also enthusiastic. Never wanted to feel terrible…. She was responding to the Spirit’s prompting. There is not a good in between for me and I’m actually excited to be done- excited to share why- excited to be a better example for my kids- excited to be present. Put your hand up. What my parents didn’t know was that the music teacher sometimes left copies of Playgirl lying around when I visited his house. But for people who are addicts or are in the grips of the disease of alcoholism or people who have become dependent, you need to know that my story here is not prescriptive nor is it normative. My prayer is it will encourage others who are longing to hear this and be free. I’m able to stop when I feel like it (when I have a cold, for ex. One eminent Oxford don told an eager amateur that to get a sense of what ancient Greece was really like one had only to read Renault—“Renault every time. I thought it surprising that they would be together. I would think, “Do I want wine tonight? He never drank anything stronger than a Dr. I think stopping has been key in my growing relationship with God. ” At that moment, sitting at a table eight thousand miles from home, I saw that I’d come to South Africa chasing a chimera. They wanted something new and different and better. During a pleasure cruise that she and Mullard took up the east coast of Africa, Renault recalled, she got to thinking about the Greek historian Xenophon—a stolid, less intellectually adventurous fellow-student of Plato’s in Socrates’ circle, who later became famous for the military exploits he recounted in his “Anabasis”—and began to wonder what the members of that circle might actually have been like, as people. Yes, our social media culture, even in the church (or these days I feel like almost especially in the church), has become one of posting about wine and how wonderful it is. I would sit there, day after day, contentedly toggling between the drab present and the richly hued past. Some of my family has quit drinking also. If you know someone who is abusing alcohol and you have any power to intervene, please have the courage and love to act.