The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World

In: Resources

3 Aug 2011

  • ISBN13: 9781595552693
  • Condition: New
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Product Description
The history of Guinness, one of the world’s most famous brands, reveals the noble heights and generosity of a great family and an innovative business. It began in Ireland in the late 1700s. The water in Ireland, indeed throughout Europe, was famously undrinkable, and the gin and whiskey that took its place was devastating civil society. It was a disease ridden, starvation plagued, alcoholic age, and Christians like Arthur Guinness-as well as monks and even … More >>

The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World

5 Responses to The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World


B. Furby

July 18th, 2010 at 10:02 pm

I was a little doubtful that I would enjoy this book, but decide to read it anyway. I thought I’d plod through it, not really like it that much, but maybe learn a little history about Ireland.

I was wrong.

I really, really liked this book. I liked the first chapter that focused on the history of beer pre-Guinness. I liked the second chapter that told the story of Arthur Guinness, his faith, and his philosophy on business and wealth. The third chapter goes on to describe the passing of the chairmanship of the company from one Guinness to another through each generation. The fourth chapter was excellent and focused on the social good that Guinness has done throughout the years by benefiting both their community in general and their workers specifically. The fifth chapter was an interesting look at the Guinness line that did not participate in the brewery business but went into various forms of ministry from evangelistic preaching to foreign missionary work. The sixth chapter took a look at the business as it grew into and through the twentieth century. Finally, Mansfield ended with a superb epilogue that summarizes “The Guinness Way” and how we might learn from it today both in our business and our personal lives. This would be a great book for the beer lover or history buff in your family!

Favorite Quote: “Drunkenness is when the tongue walks on stilts and reason goes forward under half a sail.” – Martin Luther (pg. 30)

Favorite Passage: …it must also be true that a company should be measured by the culture it creates. Culture. It means “what is encouraged to grow,” the “behavior and ways of thinking that are inspired.” Despite what a company’s advertising may boast, aside from what mascot it adopts or the slogan it uses, it is what is inspired in the life of its people that is the most important indicator of how noble a venture that company may be. (pp. 121-122)

DUH Moment: Did you know that The Guinness Book of Records originated from the Guinness company as a pamphlet meant as a promotional gimmick in 1954 for pubs in Ireland and the United Kingdom? Duh. Never put the two names together!

Interesting Fact: In 1954 Guinness dropped 50,000 bottles with messages dropped in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans with the intent for people to find them and then contact Guinness to find out where the bottle was originally dropped. Oh, and to receive a “suitable memento of the occasion.” In 1959, Guinness dropped 150,000 more bottles for their 200th anniversary. Bottles were found in the Azores, South America, the West Indies, the Philippines, and India. Bottles are still found today at a rate of one or two a year! Bet we couldn’t have a company do an advertising promotion like that today!

I highly recommend this book. It’s well written, historically interesting, and spiritually edifying. As a matter of fact, I’m passing it on to my boss next week! Enjoy –

Rating: 5 / 5


Lisa Ahlstedt

July 18th, 2010 at 11:15 pm

The relationship between God and an alcoholic beverage might be a bit startling at first, but the book The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield shows that the connection makes perfect sense in this instance. The book begins with a very detailed history of beer itself, even tracing some arguments that state the desire to brew beer contributed to the abandonment of the nomadic lifestyle of early humans. In the early 1700s, when the Guinness family first started brewing beer, the water was undrinkable but gin was cheap and plentiful. Arthur Guinness wanted to provide a drink that would be safer and more nutritious than what was currently available. Because of his deep faith, as his business became successful Guinness became active in social causes, founding Sunday schools and hospitals for the poor. After his death, future generations of the Guinness family continued with socially responsible activities, paying a high wage to workers and providing generous benefits. This example of generosity set the standard for other employers in Dublin and improved living conditions for everyone in the city. The book is written in a chatty, amusing style and the author’s glowing respect for the company is obvious.

Rating: 3 / 5



July 19th, 2010 at 1:40 am

Guinness is a name that is synonymous with beer, but Stephen Mansfield shows that there is more to the famous family than just

the black stout that bears their name. The founder of the world renowned brewery, Arthur Guinness, was a godly man who

truly loved his fellow man as well as a pint. He felt that brewing a stout beer was a service to his fellow man by offering

a healthy beverage, but he also believed it was a calling upon his life by God. The bane of Irish society at the time

was gin and whiskey drinking, which was tearing families apart. Most people considered beer to be the answer to

this problem. Enter Arthur Guinness. The good that was done by Guinness for over two centuries, is recorded by Mansfield

with plenty of historical documentation.

I was very curious about the angle of this book. I mean, I never would have thought to put God and beer in the same sentence,

let alone read an entire book about it, but here it is. It was very interesting, and I am not even a beer drinker. My father was

a beer man and I have only recently even drank wine, but the way Mansfield presents the history of beer, going back thousands

of years to Mesopotamia and then going straight to the pubs of 1700’s Dublin, he gives us an interesting read. He also points

out the social aspects of “having a beer” and how people have always bonded over the drink. The family history of the godly

character of the Guinnesses was of great interest, especially how they cared about the brewery employees and the neighborhoods

of Dublin during a time of poverty, pestilence and filth.

Personally, I have a hard time agreeing with Mansfield’s idea (which was also the idea of most brewers) that beer was/is

a gift from God, a symbol of His grace. With that being said, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to the curious Christian

as well as the beer drinker who may or may not be a Christian as well. Well written, engaging and full of interesting information,

especially about the clergymen who were Guinnesses. It almost made me want to go to the corner public house and down a pint.

I am a member of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger program
Rating: 4 / 5



July 19th, 2010 at 2:52 am

Beginning with much promise, Stephen Mansfield’s The Search for God and Guinness: A biography of the beer that changed the world, left me a little disappointed, somewhat confused, though pleased I’d had the opportunity to read the book.

The book begins with an exploration of the connection between Christianity, beer and wider society. Mansfield seeks to show the reader that not only should beer not be seen by Christians as an `evil’ in society but rather, when `well respected and rightly consumed, can be a gift from God’ (xxv). At this point, it seems that there will be a strong link between the Guinness people, the Guinness beer and service to society. Yet, as the story unfolds, these links become increasingly tenuous.

For those who enjoy history, biography and beer, this remains an interesting read. The stories of Arthur Guinness and, indeed, the Grattan Guinness clan are revealing and well told. Though, as Mansfield does make clear, there seemed to be three, sometimes rather distinct, vocational paths for Guinness family members: beer, clergy and social concern. To make a link between beer and God when the brewery-owning Guinness is not the same person as the evangelical social crusader seems a tad disingenuous.

I think the book would have benefited greatly from the inclusion of a family tree at the outset. If the book had then been divided into more chapters or, at least, subsections, there could have been an image of the part of the family tree relevant to the persons being discussed in each section.

Nevertheless, it was an interesting project on which to embark and has been well-researched and written by Mansfield. It may not go down as one of the most inspiring or gripping books I have read, but I would be pleased to recommend it to others who would be interested in some of the history of the great Irish beer.

Rating: 3 / 5


Adam C. Young

July 19th, 2010 at 3:56 am

So I’m part of this cool “we’ll give you a free book if you post a review in your blog” dealy-o with Thomas Nelson Publishers. The first book I picked was something that immediately piqued my interest – a book about the Guinness brewery. It has been a dream of mine for some time to take a trip to Ireland, and one of the places I would definitely visit is the place where Guinness is brewed. I don’t drink very often – and at my latest position, I had to sign something that stated I wouldn’t – but I’ve always liked the way Guinness tasted and have had a few of them in my life.

It’s interesting because a few months ago I was having a “conversation” online on a message board about a story I had heard concerning Guinness – that the founder of Guinness looked around his Dublin neighborhoods and saw fathers who were drinking away their money rather than spending it on their families, so he decided to create a drink that would be good for them, be filling so that they only spent a little on alcohol and that they would support their families. The problem in this conversation was determining the validity of this story: googling it produced nothing, so we assumed that since we couldn’t find any sources denying it, that it must be true.

It’s not. That’s one of the first things you discover reading The Search For God And Guinness. Which for me was kind of disappointing; after all, we all love good stories, especially those heart-warming stories about incredible people (not to mention it’s always a good thing when you can find some justification for drinking a beer: “Hey, I’m drinking Guinness because it will fill me up and I won’t spend as much money on beer.”)

However, The Search For God And Guinness is a fascinating tale of the Guinness brewery and the family who founded it: starting with Arthur Guinness, who was quite the man. Although generations of the Guinness family grew the company to what it is today (a beer empire), it was Arthur Guinness’ vision that started the whole ball rolling.

To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of Guinness was the way from the beginning the company took care of its employees. These days (well, maybe not so much “these days”, since a lot of companies are cutting health care benefits and other things because of the economy, so let’s say “in recent times”), we take it for granted that a company would want to take care of those who work for it, but back in the early days of Guinness, that was a rarity. Arthur Guinness understood that if he wanted his employees to work hard and be loyal to his company, he had to provide them with benefits that would keep them happy and their families taken care of.

Guinness also not only cared for its own employees, but also for the community around the brewery. Arthur Guinness started the first Sunday School program for kids in Dublin, which showed how religion played an important part in his life. Several of the Guinness family throughout the ages have decided to forgo the brewery business to enter in the ministry, and church was a staple in most of the Guinness families’ lives.

Another fascinating part of this book was the description of the life of Dr. John Lumsden, who was brought on board as the chief medical officer. Lumsden was a man of deep conviction and compassion and helped improved not only the lives of the Guinness worker and family, but also the lives of the underprivileged and poor of Dublin. He was the one who urged the Guinness brewery to champion the cause of the poor and needy. The amazing thing was not only the compassion of this man, but also that the leaders of Guinness decided to do it! From the book:

It is a tribute to the enduring benevolence of the Guinness firm that the board that convened in 1901 was eager to follow Dr. Lumsden’s suggestions. It might have been otherwise…They might have felt themselves bullied and manipulated by this upstart, this fresh-faced young doctor with his novel ideas of corporate duties to the poor…instead, they threw themselves into the vision Lumsden had set.

Lumsden offered nine suggestions for improving workers’ lives:

1. Technical education for the younger generation

2. Popular lectures of educational value

3. A program of athletics and exercise

4. Literature encouraging hygiene and the prevention of disease

5. Courses in cooking for mothers and young women

6. Education regarding the feeding of infants

7. Recreational opportunities in the form of concerts or social

8. Opportunities for management and laborers to meet and socialize

9. Housing

Like most biography type books, there were certain sections that I felt were a little too detailed, but for the most part The Search For God And Guinness kept me intrigued throughout the book. Here were two issues that I think resonated with me the most:

1. Corporate Responsibility

In today’s age, with all of the corporate scandals and greed, and the ever-increasing gap between the CEO and the workers under that CEO, it’s refreshing to read about a company who cared for the well-being and development of its workers over making money. We all understand that a company’s main focus is to make money, no one is debating that. But to make money at the “expense” of the workers who are making it happen is a travesty. Now, I know that there are many “secular” companies who are doing good things for their workers, and good things for the community and such – however, we mostly only read about the “bad stories”, after all bad sells (Enron-World Com-nameyourmessedupcompanyhere). However, I believe a generation is being raised up right now of people who are demanding that companies exist for more than just the bottom line: the almight dollar. And they aren’t just demanding it, they are using their buying power to make changes. I think we will see this movement grow throughout the next decade, and it would be beneficial for corporations to look in the past and see what the Guinness brewery did and emulate their corporate responsibility code.

2. The Divide Between “Secular” and “Sacred”

Guinness helped break down the wall between secular and sacred by showing that a person didn’t have to be a minister or a missionary to make a difference spiritually in the lives of people. Good things can happen outside of the walls of a church, it can even happen inside a brewery (gasp!). Stephen Mansfield, the author, showed his distaste of other biographies on Guinness, because too often they branched the Guinness family into three groups: the brewery Guinness family, the banking Guinness family, and the God-following Guinness family. To do so, argues Mansfield, is to lessen the impact that the other branches (brewery and banking) had spiritually as well. This type of thinking is one of the reasons why we as ministers feel like we have to do everything in a church: because our people don’t recognize (either because we’ve told them or because that’s their expectation) that no matter what they do as a career, it can be used for God.

I really enjoyed this book and it gave me new appreciation for the lasting impact a company, even a brewery, can have on the world. My hope and prayer is that we will see more companies take the example of Guinness and show more corporate responsibility towards its employees and the community around it.
Rating: 5 / 5

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