February 25, 2004 (Ash Wednesday). I was riding the train to work, sleepy as usual, pondering various issues of the day. I found myself thinking of the start of the Lenten season. There were a couple of events that brought my train of thought to this station. My wife and I had been going through the application process to adopt a child from overseas. Since we were working with a religious-based organization, we had allowed ourselves to be judged on the level of commitment to our faith and to raising our prospective toddler "right." Somehow we had passed their scrutiny, but I wondered if perhaps I might have "faked" meeting their standards.
<P>Years of Catechism has ingrained the idea that I should be "giving up" something for Lent. When you’re a first-grader, this is just something you were expected to do without much justification, only that it would be wise to do without candy for awhile. Later on, it’s explained that we should make some kind of a sacrifice that will serve to remind us of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, yada yada yada (lest you think I’m starting to proselytize here). Even into adulthood, I would attempt this discipline, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes, when asked about the topic (and in a Catholic family, you do get asked), I would say "I just give up."
<P>This past weekend, though, I had gone to a beer-related event; the unkegging of the "Sub-Zero Barleywine" at the Rock Bottom in downtown Chicago. I went with Marc (different spelling), a friend I’ve known since college who, I’m perversely happy to say, I helped bring off the wagon after five years of sobriety. It was a great event. Our wristbands, and steady tips, kept a waitress coming back with more sampler glasses of the dark, strong stuff, and between barleywines, we tried out some of Rock Bottom’s other finer microbrews. At about 9 o’clock, we headed o