Beer Street and Gin Lane,
Two engravings by William Hogarth (1697-1764),
Issued in 1751,
Engravings on paper
© Wikimedia Commons

Beer Street and Gin Lane,
Two engravings by William Hogarth (1697-1764),
Issued in 1751,
Engravings on paper
© Wikimedia Commons

Gospel of 2 December 2023

Debauchery, drunkenness and the cares of life

Luke 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:

Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’

Reflection on the engravings

Today is the very last day of the church’s liturgical year. The new liturgical year begins this evening when we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. In a few hours the Advent wreaths will go up in our churches. The colour of the vestments will change from green to purple. Advent is above all a time of prayerful waiting for the coming of the Lord. It is appropriate then that the gospel for the last day of the liturgical year, just on the cusp of Advent, should highlight the need for that attitude of prayerful waiting and watching.

Jesus makes his point through painting a picture that if don't watch ourselves, 'debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life' may well take over. He thus acknowledges that the cares and pleasures of this earthly life have enormous power to absorb us completely. Our defence against that is to be prayerful people, attentive and awake to the Lord who is both coming and present.

Our two prints titled 'Beer Street' and 'Gin Lane' depict what debauchery and drunkenness looked like in 18th-century England. Issued in 1751 by William Hogarth, they were made in support of what would become the Gin Act. The Gin Act was an act of Parliament aimed at reducing the consumption of gin and other distilled spirits, which was regarded as one of the primary causes of crime in London. Designed to be viewed alongside each other, the two prints depict the evils of the consumption of gin as a contrast to the merits of drinking beer (lower in alcohol content).

William Hogarth portrays the inhabitants of Beer Street as happy and healthy, nourished by the native English small beer and ale. Beer Street depicts industry, health, bonhomie, and thriving commerce. Gin Lane stands in stark contrast, showing the street as destroyed by addiction to gin. The poverty of Gin Lane is further accentuated by shocking scenes of infanticide, starvation, madness, decay and suicide.

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Rya Lucas
Member
Rya Lucas
2 months ago

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of the Advent. During the Advent I will shrink into myself till Christmas, the birth of little baby Jesus. Thank you, Jesus, that you came to the earth for me. I hope you’re not disappointed in me… I do my utmost to be a good follower, a good christian and a good woman. Please, watch over me during my life and bless me , so I can grow closer to You.
I love you, Jesus, You are my hero!

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
2 months ago

Beer may not be a strong as gin, but if overindulged the effects can be just as bad. It’s all a matter of how we use God’s gifts, of which alcohol is one. For centuries wine, liqour and beers has been approved for both health and cheerfulness. Charles Dickens: “I would endeavour, in my poor way, to teach people to use such goods of life, cheerfully and thankfully, and not to abuse them.”
Hogarth gives us the down side, the abuse. I was surprised to learn that Beer Street is interpreted as being a healthful contrast to Gin Lane. On first viewing, the characters, while cheerful, looked overweight and lazy. And they certainly wouldn’t have passed a breathalyser test!
Jesus was against anything that “coarsened the heart”, or blunted our awareness. We all have different tolerances: on the alcohol front mine being a very small whisky, gin (tiny) or vodka, and half a glass of wine. Or our “debauchery” could be too much television, drugs, or rubbish books that distract us from Jesus and His purposes for us. Or obsession with the cares of the world, my great fault is worrying about money.
Lord help us to use your gifts well, never forgetting to be fit to meet you face to face. Help us to use this advent time for joyful meetings together, and also for quiet contemplation of your approaching incarnation.

Last edited 2 months ago by Noelle Clemens
Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
2 months ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

Peace Noelle. Thank you for your post.

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
2 months ago

LOL i posted a comment and it says “awaiting for approval”
Oh my goodness…..is it the word “russian” that the system does not like?
too funny!
thats why today and the other day posts need “approval”?
but why can i say ‘russian’ in this comment?
russia russia russia! LOL

Last edited 2 months ago by Jamie Cardinal
Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
2 months ago

I love Advent……but for some reason, I do feel melancholia (if that is the right word) this time of year.

Sometimes a person cannot express something because there are not proper words in one’s own language.
I once heard about toska…….it is a Russian word……..they define it as:

“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

This time of year is emotional for so many……and most of us were not raised to be that way…..
especially people from the midwest in America and Canada LOL……
anyway, this is the time when so many of us want to feel good and merry…….let us pray that we turn to Jesus, our strength.
JESUS IS LORD!

If anyone is interested……. two marvelous songs that I love this time of year:
*Carol of the Bells…….the Vanbur version (Deutsche Grammophon )
*O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Traditional Choir (Traditional 12th century Latin hymn)

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
2 months ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

*Carol of the Bells https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdpW32JI9ok

*O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Traditional Choir https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xtpJ4Q_Q-4

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
2 months ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

Evening, Jamie, and all word-nuts out there: wonderful equivalents for the Russian toska: Saudade (Portuguese); Añoranza (Spanish); Morriña (Galego); Hiraeth (Welsh); Fernweh (German); and the French and English get by with Nostalgie and Nostalgia. Yearning, from old English, is expressive, though not much used. Lots more to be sure…..

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
2 months ago

These engravings still own my attention after an hour and half. The rhyming captions are a hoot. Alcohol impairs my self-control; I like it a bit too much. The Holy Spirit provides me with the strength to resist. Day 637.

England 1751: It was probably safer to drink beer than water.

Michele Jahncke
Member
Michele Jahncke
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Crain

Right! Didn’t it say they’d leave the water to the French 😂. Perhaps drinking makes for no self control and the cares of this world leads us to trying to have too much control🤔.

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
2 months ago

Thank you for your insight. Trying to have too much control leads to stress. Moderation in all things, or something like that.

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