A Lutheran and a Calvinist were wrangling about the ownership of a barrel of wine in a public warehouse, which contained some of the sweetest vintages in all Germany.
Both claimed that the priceless commodity was theirs, that the grapes had been grown in their vineyard and that the wood for the barrel was also taken from the trees on their respective properties.
They took their dispute before a local magistrate who was adamantly opposed to alcoholic beverages and had no appreciation for a priceless old wine. When the magistrate first heard the case, he mentally related the litigants and their claims to the two women who wanted Solomon to adjudicate their squabble over who was the biological mother of the living child. This story of Solomon gave him his grand plan: "If I threaten to take an axe to the wine barrel, and promise to give one half to the Calvinist and the other half to the Lutheran, the true owner will cry out, 'No! Give the barrel to him; it's his!' And the other will say, 'Divide the barrel with the axe; that's only fair.' Also, I will kill two birds with one stone -- ruining the devilish wine with one swing of the axe."
So, imagining that he was the reincarnation of Solomon and that his name would become famous in prohibitionist circles forever, the teetotaling judge pronounced his verdict.
"I command that the wine barrel be halved with an axe, and be divided between the Calvinist and the Lutheran."
So, he sat back smugly and waited for the rightful owner to humble himself before the bench, anticipating that the rightful owner would urge him to give the whole vintage to his antagonist.
To the utter surprise of the judge, both the Calvinist and the Lutheran rushed forward, and implored, "No, no, give the barrel to him; the wine is his!"
Friday, September 11, 2009
The Wisdom of Solomon
Jim West, Drinking With Calvin and Luther, pp. 49-50: