They said it was for our best interest. They said that it was how we demonstrated love for our neighbor, especially those weaker than us. Not to mention, it was the law of the land, it was what was expected, it ought to be obeyed for the general welfare of all. So with a particular American piety and sense of righteousness, the 18th Amendment banned the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors. It brought to this great country the long-forgotten era known as prohibition.
The ban on booze had a disturbing and sobering (pun intended) effect on other aspects of life. Bars and clubs where people gathered to drink were shut down. But in shutting them down they separated the venue in which people gathered from the common man. Overnight the places where stories where shared, where laughter and tears were common simply ceased to be. Alcohol may not be essential to the life of our society, but the camaraderie of man is.
It wasn’t just the alcoholic that yearned for an end to prohibition. Those who enjoyed the other gifts that came along with it, like the blessings of mutual conversation and consolation, suffered alongside. The memories made in the bar with old friends, the celebrations toasted to with a glass of rye, the joyful sip of champagne at a wedding, they were all important. And people wanted them back. So emerged the fabled speakeasy. The hidden establishment where booze was still poured and where real people still gathered around the real stuff. It may not be the same quality; the clientele may be a little suspect, but still it lived on in its new underground way.
I wonder how long it will be until the faithful get fed up with their virtual church experience. How long until pastors loose interest in being the next internet evangelist where everyone is now an internet evangelist? When will the church reform underground in small undisclosed locations to do what the church has always done; to be the flesh and blood embodiment of the gifts of our Lord? Will the church find ways to gather in secrete in order to avoid the wrath of the quarantine shamers looking to decry their lack of concern for their neighbor? Will they turn off their cell phones and refuse to post their worship on Instagram? Will they find ways to hand over the goods again, not settle for some stand-in placeholder until things are right, but the real stuff, the old stuff, the stuff our forefathers would die for?
Will it be weeks or months until we seek out the speakeasy church? Will we risk going out and scandalizing our family and friends? Or perhaps, we just wait it out, we pretend to honor our father and mother, and long each day for the 21st Amendment.