I Can’t Focus…And I Blame You, Ronald McDonald

Today, I went against my better judgment and had a number one value meal at McDonald’s. I feel somewhat justified in this borderline sinful action because I didn’t pay for it…my mother-in-law did. Yet, I consumed it…

However, all I can think about since consuming the meal is the McD.L.T.

I’m sitting here in the office…trying to focus on putting together a message on forgiveness…and I can’t seem to focus.

All I can think about is the “genius” of the McD.L.T. Sure, it’s long gone. But, it still holds a special place in my childhood memory.

To be honest, I totally preferred the Quarter Pounder with Cheese and the Big Mac. But, the McD.L.T.’s packaging totally won me over. There was one side that kept the hot food hot, and the other side kept the cold food cold. Pure American genius right there! And so, totally sold on the glamour of the packaging, I found myself under the spell of the McD.L.T.

Forget Happy Meals, those were child’s play. I wanted to look sophisticated. I wanted to look mature. I wanted a McD.L.T.

Oh, McD.L.T., how I miss you!

And, let’s be honest, the Big n’ Tasty is just a lame attempt to satisfy the McD.L.T. lover’s cravings. But, it totally fails…as it is neither Big or Tasty.

So, here I sit, totally consumed by a sandwich and its packaging…a sandwich I can no longer truly consume…and it’s stealing my focus…and, you, Ronald McDonald should be blamed. I know you put an addictive chemical in your meat and fries that create an unhealthy craving in my entire being to consume more of your food. And, you’ve even found a way to stir up childhood memories through some kind of sensory manipulation. Well done, sir.


Maybe I’m Not Crazy

So, shortly after posting my blog “Burning the Quran while Protesting a Mosque and Loving My Neighbors”, I received an e-mail with a statement from Bishop Coyner. Here it is:

Religious freedom is our heritage
Both our United Methodist Church and our United States constitution guarantee and advocate for religious freedom. In recent weeks the news of growing religious intolerance in our country has been disheartening. We United Methodists, especially here in the United States, have always strongly affirmed religious freedom for all people – even for people who hold different religious beliefs than our own. In that spirit, I call upon United Methodists here in Indiana to be advocates for religious freedom for all persons, whether they are Muslims, Jews, Christians or persons of other faiths. We who follow Jesus the Christ must also follow his own example of tolerance, peace, and compassion. – Bishop Michael Coyner,
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church

Burning the Quran while Protesting a Mosque and Loving My Neighbors

Lately, I’ve been wondering where the Christian message of “love” has been in our world…especially in the good old U.S.A.

When I turn on the news and hear reporters talking about groups gathering together to protest the building of a mosque due to its proximity to “Ground Zero”, my stomach turns. I’m pretty sure I learned something about “religious freedom” being some kind of “first liberty” in these United States? But, I suppose that’s only a liberty for Christians.

When I turn on the news and hear reporters talking about a pastor leading a Quran burning, my stomach turns even more. In fact, I even feel anger welling up so deep that I find myself on the verge of cursing (of course, no foul language would ever come from my mouth…right?) Yes, the pastor has now called off the burning, but the damage has already been done.

You see, I wonder what folks are trying to accomplish through these protests and book burnings. I know there are all kinds of reasons behind it all. I know that September 11th was a horrible tragedy in our nation. But, are protests and burn parties the appropriate response? What are these groups trying to communicate?

Are they trying to communicate God’s overwhelming love? Are they trying to show God’s grace, mercy, compassion, patience, and kindness?

What all of this communicates to me is a lack of love for one’s neighbor.

And, to those outside of the Christian faith, it most likely communicates that all Christians want to burn the Quran and keep people of other faiths from building places of worship.

In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Generally, we like to think of our neighbors as those who are most like us. We reduce the idea of our neighbors to the people who talk like us, look like us, dress like us, worship like us, and live like we do.

However, Jesus challenges these ideas early on in the book of Matthew. In chapter 5:43-48 he says, “You have heard that it was said love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Instead of protesting and burning stuff that we don’t necessarily agree with, how can we demonstrate our love for our neighbors…and our enemies?

“There’s No Need to Argue, Parent’s Just Don’t Understand!”

As the main cook in our family, I prefer to do our grocery shopping. I’ve found that grocery shopping is an interesting experience. Any time you have people in a centralized location, you’re bound to encounter some fascinating individuals.

The last time I went to our local grocery store, I visited the fish monger. While surveying the bountiful supply of “fresh” (which, in Indiana I believe means “previously frozen”) seafood, I encountered a rather bizarre individual.

This individual was a young mother, escorting her child to the display of seafood. What made this mother interesting was the one-way conversation that she started with her child. It went something like this,

“This is seafood. That’s a fish. That’s a shrimp. That’s a mussel. That’s a crab. And, it’s all disgusting. It’s all gross. You will never, never, never eat it.”

So, I began to wonder what inspired this strange educational experience. Could it be that this young woman was a hardcore vegetarian? Could it be that she had some religious objections to certain types of seafood and simply decided to reject them all? Did she have a bad experience with seafood in the past and it has scarred her for life?  What could create such a sense of hatred towards salmon, tilapia, scallops, and the like? I just couldn’t wrap my head around her position.

So, I did the whole “peer into the other shoppers cart” thing (this is something that I don’t normally practice, but learned from observing church folks peer into my cart when I happen to bump into them while shopping…the whole “I wonder what the youth pastor is eating and drinking” thing”).

Doing so totally wiped out the vegetarian angle. The cart was full of processed foods…chicken nuggets, pot pies, Jack’s pizza’s, frozen meatball’s, canned lasagna and ravioli, chips, soda (Mt. Dew), Pop Tarts, and so on.

The whole “peer into the cart thing” did reveal something to me. I believe that her opposition to seafood centered around the health factor. A serving of seafood is healthier than a serving of chicken nuggets dipped in honey mustard…therefore it is evil. Fish would require actual cooking (heating something up or re-heating something does not count as cooking) and therefore it is a hassle…which means it’s evil.

Of course, when she peered into my cart and saw fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, pork, and beef she probably thought I was bizarre. As much as I do not understand this woman’s opposition to seafood, I’m sure she doesn’t understand my pro-fish agenda.