Sacrilege for Your Health

One of my favorite places in Chicago is a heavy metal burger bar called Kuma's Corner. Not only does the joint rock those sweet metal tunes, but all of the burgers are named after metal bands. And all this month they've had a limited edition burger dedicated to the band, Ghost. For those who aren't familiar with the band, Ghost is about as sacrilegious as metal gets. The lyrics are absurdly satanic, the lead singer wears a skull mask and a cardinal's outfit, and the artwork is replete with historically blasphemous symbolism.

Ghost burger
Now Kuma's has recently gotten some press over their char-grilled homage. For starters, the patty is made with both beef and goat. Then there's the red wine reduction. And if that wasn't enough, there's an unconsecrated Communion wafer that tops it off. Needless to say, many Roman Catholics are outraged. In fact, I've heard only criticism and scorn from most within the Christian community.

I have my own reaction to this, but it's a little more nuanced. I think the burger is hilarious.

I know as a good Christian that's not the reaction I'm supposed to have, but I can't stop laughing at how clever this is. And I don't just mean the presentation. The idea is great marketing because they knew they could count on publicity from Christians. In truth, we all know that we can count on Christians to express their outrage whenever they feel marginalized or mocked. It happens all the time. Which leads me to wonder if the bigger question here is whether we're upset for our sakes, or for God's.

I say that because I see a distinction between sacrilege and blasphemy. They may technically be synonyms, but the former is used more often for disrespect directed at a religious rite or ritual. Whereas the latter is usually directed at God himself. It's the difference between mocking God--his name and his character--and mocking the rituals and institutions that man has established.

In the case of the Ghost burger, some will certainly say that the Eucharist was established by God; therefore, according to my definition, it constitutes blasphemy not sacrilege. Because God clearly prescribed all of the rites we now observe like the somber atmosphere, the confession before each element, the substitution of wafers and Welch's for bread and wine taken usually once a month.

It's not as though we have a tendency to ritualize every passage in the Bible with the day's latest paraphernalia. No, I'm not saying that the body and blood of Jesus Christ is a laughing matter (and I'm more than willing to concede that the burger and my levity is borderline). It's just that taking offense to things that the Bible gives little detail on is so silly that we must be joking.

Take the trend that Jon Acuff started with his book, "Stuff Christians Like." Many would probably find his satire of Christian culture sacrilegious. After all, there's nothing funny about the Christian life. Which is exactly the point. Christians take themselves too seriously. And we have this annoying habit of calling every act of service we do for God sacred. Every theostatic doctrine must be sanctified simply because it's been tried and prooftexted.

To that I say, only the things that God has called sacred, are sacred. Speaking shamefully of the incarnation, the crucifixion, or the resurrection is one thing (that being blasphemy). But there is nothing sacred about weekly church attendance, weekly tithing, or daily devotions. And to think otherwise exposes a glaring need to be seen more highly than we ought.

So as far as I'm concerned, bring on the sacrilege. May it test the integrity of our indignation, and foster humility where it is not.