Pessimistic Pigs and Fast Food Day

Scrolling through my Twitter stream this morning, I learned two things I did not know yesterday. First, researchers at the University of Lincoln have concluded that ‘judgment in non-human animals is similar to humans, incorporating aspects of stable personality traits and more transient mood states,’ or as the BBC blithely summed it up, pigs can be pessimistic (see Second, today is Fast Food Day, which people (not you or me, presumably, but people) ‘celebrate’ by ‘going through the drive-thru, dining inside or ordering their fast food to go’ (see Perhaps the latter explains the former, for if I were a pig, I’d certainly be pessimistic about the future of a humanity that ‘celebrates’ fast food.

The semi-liturgical language used of Fast Food will not be lost on this blog’s readers, many of whom will be recalling three great saints today: St Margaret of Scotland, St Gertrude the Great and St Edmund of Abingdon. It would be easy just to poke fun at the secular inversion of Fast Food Day, but perhaps we ought to think for a moment. Nature abhors a vacuum. If the Church is no longer providing rituals and celebrations that capture the imagination of the millions who have abandoned formal religion, it is inevitable that the calendar will fill up with ‘days’ to mark this or that which substitute for what, in truth, we already have in abundance. I am not suggesting a false or empty antiquarianism but a reappraisal of what we have and what we do to affirm our faith. The lives of St Margaret, St Gertrude and St Edmund were all very different, but each of them would have understood, in a way we in the West no longer do, that faith is strengthened by the habits and rituals with which we mark times and seasons. When the whole world is in need of the true Bread that comes down from heaven, a burger is not an adequate substitute, is it?


5 thoughts on “Pessimistic Pigs and Fast Food Day”

  1. We cannot but deplore what ‘fast food’ has become, or any that is denatured, heavily adulterated (in any number of interests), commercially prepared or has travelled too many miles to be truly relevant to our own ecosystem and is inefficient at feeding our closest needs. There are layers of responsibility in this.

    But the conclusion I come to in reflecting on ‘the Faith of our fathers’, is that taken thankfully, blessed and shared, all food can be ‘made good’ in Christ and become sacramental, just as sinners can be ‘made good’ by the sacrifice of his Body. In this way, we extend the power of the Eucharist. It is real and actual and dynamic. It is health and strength and renewal.

    Jesus did advise us not to fear what goes into us, but what comes from us when we choose not to share in the Bread of Life.

  2. There is something about the rhythm of the liturgical year and the rituals that go with it.
    This applies to civic rituals and rhythms as well. So often we are in a rush and forget their importance and meaning . Thank you for the reminder.

  3. Perhaps the problem with ‘fast food’ (apart from the nutritional inadequacies) is that it cnfirms in us the idea that we can and must have things NOW, no forethought or preparation but NOW…and that we somehow have a right to be ‘fed on demand’ like babies. As soon as we feel hungry we ‘deserve’ to be fed immediately and there is a tendency for this to creep into other areas of our lives. ..everything is required ‘now’ and ‘straightaway’. I’m not pointing a finger – I recognize this in myself! I pray for the ability to wait, for accepting a slow pace and honouring it. At the moment I’m preparing for our Advent meditations – which provides the perfect place to be reminded of the value of waiting. Get thee behind me, microwave readymeals!!

  4. It interests me that we hear people say that they don’t like or understand the rituals and liturgy of the Church,. They are old fashioned or out of sync with the modern contemporary language.

    If the Church goes along with this, it’s accused of dumbing down or abandoning it’s doctrine or traditions or worse of no longer being relevant in our post modern, or even post-post modern world.

    But the rituals, doctrine and liturgy are a comfort for us, who were brought up with it (I think that I might still be able to follow a Latin Mass 40 years after I last attended one, while living in Belgium. Where our children were Baptized in a local Catholic Church in French for the arrangements, but Latin for our Comfort.

    In the Anglican Church, the Anglo-Catholic, so called High Church wing preserves many of those traditions and I feel comfortable while worshiping with them. My own Parish is a broad Church Parish, but people there notice that I do things a little differently – and I try to explain that being Catholic and Reformed, doesn’t mean that we have to abandon the Reverence to be accorded where appropriate during a service.

    I wouldn’t expect people to genuflect but a respectful bow when appropriate, might not go amiss.

    Am I a dinosaur? I hardly think so. Perhaps more someone who was fortunate to have been raised as a Catholic with all that it entails, and even though I have become an Anglican, retain much of the heritage gifted by that upbringing.

  5. I don’t think I am wrong is saying that CoE congregations are generally strong and growing in cathedrals, and much weaker in parishes. Personally, I believe it is to do with quality (rather than style) – while small aging parishes do their best, and often have closer communities, there is still something rather uninspiring about digging out the CD, or shuffling through the tattered paper order of service with the same old words.

    Not that this is strictly on topic for the blog this week… Sorry, I got distracted by my other thoughts about rictuals!

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