guinness for strength


Of all the wonderful things there are to eat and drink in this world, I must put Guinness at the top of my list. A well poured pint (and there is an art to the pouring) is a tasty pleasure that is difficult to match. A reasonably close second on my list is ice cream. Imagine my delight when I found this recipe here:

Makes 1 quart

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup Guinness stout (I guess that means you get to drink the rest!)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons molasses
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium saucepan, scrape in the vanilla bean seeds. Add the pod, milk, and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the flavors infuse for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together the stout and molasses. Bring to a boil and turn off heat.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk in a few tablespoons of the hot cream mixture, then slowly whisk in another 1/4 cup of the cream. Add the remaining cream in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

4. Stir the beer mixture into the cream mixture. Cook the custard over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, for 6 to 8 minutes or until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon.

5. Strain the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Process the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I know the combination is a little hard to imagine. My guess is the ice cream has a strong molasses flavor. What I love about the recipe is someone was willing to take a risk and see how two things they loved (I love?) would go together, thus creating room for possibilities.

We gathered for our church meeting last night, almost fifty of us, unsure of what the nix would bring. Our area minister was the selected mediator for the meeting and he did an amazing job calibrating the feelings and challenging us to speak the truth in love. And there were a lot of feelings, some hopeful, some bitter, and others all along the continuum in between. We sat together for two and a half hours talking through the hurt and misunderstanding. Much of what was expressed was old stuff, which would have been less hurtful and damaging if it had been addressed in the moment. The value of the meeting, to me, was we got a pretty clear picture of who we are and how we communicate with each other.

The challenge now is in what we do with what we learned.

By the time it was over, the level of anger and hurt had lowered somewhat. One meeting will not heal stuff people have been carrying around for weeks, or even years. What did happen that was significant is the group ended up less “us and them” and a little more “us,” which, as in any church, means a rather odd mixture of flavors, not unlike the ice cream.

Being church together is not work for the faint of heart. Living out our faith in concert means there are no unilateral decisions, no room for sniper fire. We can’t think of ourselves individually without thinking of each other; we can’t think of our local church without thinking about the world around us.

One of the things we say each Sunday in our church is “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.” A couple of folks repeated that statement last night and I heard it with different ears. I have mostly thought of those words as aimed at people new to our congregation; last night I realized we need to be saying it over and over to those with whom we share the journey week after week, mile after mile.

I sat next to one person last night who has hurt mostly in silence through this ordeal. A couple of weeks ago, he talked to the senior pastor to say he and his wife felt they needed to leave the church, not out of anger but because they could not take the stand the church was taking on a particular issue. At the end of the meeting I turned to him and said, “I know these are hard days. I want you to know I miss you, I pray for you, and I love you. Whatever choices you feel you need to make, that will not change.”

His eyes filled with tears and he hugged me: “Thank you.”

No matter who we are or where we are, we all belong in the recipe for church, however odd the mix of flavors.



  1. Aaron Sorkin wrote that democracy is advanced citizenship. I use that term often when talking about being church.

    Your words, “Being church together is not work for the faint of heart. Living out our faith in concert means there are no unilateral decisions, no room for sniper fire.”

    This is nicely written. The old idealist in me kicking and screaming in spite of the getting his ass kicked a few times over the years.

  2. That scene from “The American President” kept playing in my head as I wrote this morning. If we don’t believe church can be what ir was created to be, what are our alternatives?

    I mean the Red Sox won the World Series, didn’t they?


  3. I am new to the blogging world. I just recently created my own. I’m both confused by the concept and drawn to it.

    I woke up this morning wondering how things went at your meeting last night. That amazes me. I live in Texas. You and I will most likely never meet, this side of Heaven. And yet I woke up thinking about the hurt and turmoil in people I’ll never know who live across the country. I realized that I’d been impacted by what is going on in your life. It’s not that I’m lacking drama in my own life by any means! I’m just moved by a group of people striving to live together and love each other.

    I’ve looked forward all day to reading about the meeting. It sounds like things went about as well as they could have – healing happened but there is still work to be done. That sounds pretty healthy to me. I’m hoping that the man who has decided to leave the church will realize that your care for him and the care of others for him is far more valuable than almost any issue that might arise. It’s a lot easier to rally around an issue than to rally around messy people. I hope he chooses to do the latter. Glad you’ve chosen the latter as well.

    On an unrelated note, I like that you share about the music that moves you. I’ve been deeply touched by Andrew Peterson’s music and occasionally by Billy Crockett’s as well. Fun to know that some of what moves me moves others. Makes the world feel a little smaller.

    Blessings on the journey.

  4. Fen

    Being fairly new to all of this myself, I understand your sense of wonder at how we can feel so connected by a few web pages. I was telling my wife yesteday how I felt as though i had found a new community of friends by writing regularly.

    Thanks for your care and concern. I look forward to reading your stuff as well.


  5. Yeah, but Johnny Damon went to the Yanks.

    Sometimes, folks have to leave. It’s not a failure if they leave. It’s more about how they leave and why. It sounds like you did much to open people’s hearts last night (and yes, you’re right – old hurts take more than an evening to heal). Now, if they leave, it may be for the right reasons and not the wrong ones.

    You’re in my prayers…and if you think Guinness ice cream is an odd mix of flavors, can you imagine the creativity that led to oyster stew?

  6. It is interesting to me that the ones with the most tender hearts are some of those who have felt the need to leave, and they have left in good spirits. It’s the bitter ones who dig in: “This is MY church!” And, I suppose, in a way they didn’t mean, they are right.

    As for Johnny Damon, the latest T-shirt in Boston says: Johnny looked like Jesus, threw like Mary, and left like Judas.


  7. Just came to this blog for the first time. I visited the Guinesses Brewerary in St. James, Dublin over Christmas and was taught how to draw a pint. It was really sweet. I’ll have to make this icecream at some point!

  8. In our little liberal Baptist church in Austin, we had a difficult situation many years ago when we ordained a gay man as deacon. Many people who had been members of the church for decades felt it necessary to leave. Many others were moved by their love and respect for the individual involved to re-examine their beliefs on the matter. Some of those stayed, a few did not. It was painful for almost everyone. To those who left, I said almost the same words you did to the church member you spoke of — I told them I knew they had to do what they felt was right, but that we would always love them and welcome them in our church. I wish I could say that, suddenly, the church started thriving and all was beautiful. We are still, as we were before, a struggling, small congregation in a big old building that is in constant need of repair. But we have a lot of love for each other, and much less tension in our church conferences, and we are here to serve God until there’s no more money left to do God’s work. All this to say I know a little about what y’all are going through and I pray that you will come out well on the other side.

  9. I’m facilitating a faculty meeting 1/24 that is making me sick. Thanks so much for your insight. I might just be able to sit up and take a little nourishment!

  10. Thanks to Tim for leading me to your blog. What a treasure you are!!!!! So…someone’s moving to Dallas????




  11. Toscaninis ( is home to easily accessible, already-made-for-you Guiness ice cream, if you want to taste it before you attempt the recipe. I’m not a fan of Guiness, so I’ve not tasted it, but other people have told me it’s like a little bit of heaven in a cone.

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