40%, angelsportion, avengers endgame, double cask, elijah, falling down, gold, jesus, jonah, lutheran, mercy, red dawn, red sea, retribution, review, scotch, sin nature, the macallan, thoma, underdog, unforgiven, vengeance, victory, whisky
In my line of work, it’s not uncommon for people to ask which Bible story is my favorite. It’s also not unusual for me to avoid giving an honest answer to the question. In other words, I share favorite accounts, but I don’t necessarily say what I like about them.
For instance, I might say that I like the accounts in which all hope seems lost, but victory is suddenly had. The story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea is a perfect example (Exodus 14:1-31). God purposely led the people into a geographical dead end—a peninsular area that was inescapable. Their only hope as an unarmed mass of formerly enslaved people was to fight the world’s most powerful army or build a navy of boats that could carry all three million of them, including their supplies and animals, across the sea. So, what happens? God parts the sea. Amazing.
Another account I enjoy describes Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40). Essentially, Elijah challenges the prophets to test whose God is genuine. Elijah asks King Ahab for two bulls, one for himself and one for the Baal prophets. The goal: sacrifice the bulls and pray, and whichever deity answers by fire would be considered legitimate. The Baal prophets dance around, cut themselves, and do all sorts of stupid things. When it’s Elijah’s turn, he ups the ante against himself. He douses his bull three times, soaking it with so much water that it fills a surrounding trench, making the whole altar area unburnable. Then he prays. God sends fire down that reduces everything to ash, even drying up the water in the trench.
Good stuff. And whether you believe these things happened or not (which I believe happened), they both have the best elements that make for great storytelling.
But I didn’t tell you what I like about them.
Sure, they’re against-all-odds nail-biters. Indeed, their themes display God’s deliverance of those who trust in Him. Unfortunately, I’m attracted by the elements of vindication that end in divine retribution. God gets His people across the sea and drowns every last one of the Egyptians trying to kill them. God proves Elijah to be the true prophet and then slaughters all 450 of the prophets of Baal, a contingent of men and women who were no strangers to human sacrifice.
See what I mean. Like everyone else, I have my darker inclinations. In particular, I not only like seeing the good guys win, but I like seeing the bad guys get what’s coming to them. I can sometimes be a little like Jonah, a man sent to Nineveh to call them to repentance, and when they did, he was bothered that they didn’t get punished anyway. I’m sometimes like James and John, the two disciples who wanted Jesus to call down fire from heaven on a city that refused to receive them. Like them, I appreciate seeing Jesus stick it to a crowd of people rebuking a blind beggar. I grin a little when Jesus is laughed at for saying a dead girl is merely sleeping, and then He kicks the mockers out of the house before raising her from the dead. I’m not put off by seeing Jesus fashion a bullwhip and then use it on a few people as He kicks over tables.
I like movies in which the underdog wins big. I like stories in which the pauper eventually becomes the prince. But I also appreciate narratives of vengeance, ones that see the good guy cleaning house and inflicting upon the villains what the villains were intent upon doling out to the innocent.
I liked seeing William Foster (played by Michael Douglas) in the film “Falling Down” take out his Uzi and absolutely light up a phone booth so that a man who’d treated him incredibly rudely couldn’t use it. “I think it’s out of order,” Foster says and walks away. I liked seeing Thanos and his crew drift away into ash at the end of “Avengers: Endgame.” I wanted John Rambo’s return to town. I liked watching the kids in “Red Dawn” avenge their parents. The problem—and I’m admitting it—is that my secret joy in these things only proves how blessed I am as an equally rotten person to be spared. It’s like the kid in “Unforgiven” who, after executing an unarmed villain doing his business in an outhouse, tries to convince himself that the man had it coming, only to hear Clint Eastwood’s character say, “We all have it coming, kid.”
He’s right. We all have it coming.
Now, before this becomes a sermon, let me get to why any of this came to mind when I sipped The Macallan Double Cask Gold edition.
The Macallan is often considered the Rolls Royce of whisky and, as a result, gets a pass from far too many. And yet, as untouchably pristine as The Macallan might seem, its Double Cask Gold edition proves the inherent capability for failure possessed by all—and there’s a secret place within me that’s glad for this.
Although, let me be clear. This whisky is not horrible. It’s just not worthy of a snobbish place on the top shelf beyond the reach of the rest of us sinners. I’ve seen this in Michigan for just shy of $200. That’s too much. Double Cask Gold is a $50 whisky at best. It belongs in the middle—or maybe even lower—beside the likes of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve and Glenmorangie’s Lasanta.
For one, the nose seems artificial, somewhat reminiscent of a scented candle, and not a spiced candle designed to wash a home in fragrance, but rather a candle meant for keeping the mosquitoes away. It’s an unnaturally piercing citrus. The palate isn’t so bad, bringing along some of the better things The Macallan is known for, which are chocolate, caramel, and cinnamon. Still, it’s nothing new, nothing extraordinary.
The finish is where this whisky has me awaiting its dissipation into ash. Besides a fast-fleeting rendezvous with the chocolate from the palate (that has now become bitter), the whisky leaves behind very little else. It’s as if it knows that if it stays too long, it’ll eventually get what it deserves.