Poor Taste

October 03, 2013

A restaurant in Chicago finds itself under fire for offering a new burger that many find sacrilegious. Called "The Ghost," the burger is designed to pay homage to the heavy-metal band GHOST (whose members apparently dress like popes and monks). To honor this band, the restaurant's burger features a "communion wafer garnish" and a red whine reduction. The restaurant claims it is okay because the communion wafers are not consecrated and therefore not holy. That argument, however, does not work for many religious traditions where the wafers do not experience a formal consecration process. Additionally, the restaurant claims the wafers are not intended to carry a religious meaning, but just to help a band and sell burgers. That argument is what makes it particularly problematic. They are using actual communion wafers as a publicity stunt and not out of any deep theological or spiritual ideal. Communion should be taken much more seriously. Interestingly, the CNN piece about the burger ends with this note about the restaurant's spokesperson (Tobias) and a Catholic critic of the burger (Young):

There's one thing that Tobias and Young agree on, however: Communion wafers are not particularly tasty. 
"From a culinary standpoint, it's kind of worthless," Young said.
Kind of a sad indictment. Why must our communion wafers be so meaningless and bland. Is that the Christ we worship? While we should not dress them up in burgers - and especially avoid misusing the elements for marketing - it would be nice if the form would better match the message. While the burger is in poor taste, it would be nice if communion wafers were not so tasteless. It seems we need more efforts like the green chili cornbread communion I wrote about eating at the Wild Goose Festival. Communions like that one could challenge us to carefully think about the meaning of this sacred moment.