McDonald's

Sweaty Spirituality: Fighting Obesity with Paul (Romans 12:1-8)

l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock.com
l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock.com

Do you want to know a secret about working out? Here it is: we don’t grow our muscles in the gym. When we lift weights we perform controlled damage to our bodies; we literally tear our muscle fibers, forcing our bodies to adapt. We improve outside of the gym by consuming healthy foods. To “battle the bulge” requires a commitment to strenuous exercise and healthy eating. All who have enjoyed (or endured) a strenuous workout or have disciplined their dietary practices understand that results are impossible without bodily sacrifice — no pain, no gain.

Furthermore, if it is true that we are what we eat, then Christ-followers ought to take a long, hard look at the kinds of things we are putting into our bodies. Paul’s words to the Christ-followers in Rome offer us some food for thought (pardon the pun; couldn’t help myself).

Paul beseeches us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, that is, to submit our lived reality to the standards that God deems acceptable. Such a way of being in the world is deemed reasonable — spiritual even, as the NRSV translators put it. This is our tangible act of service to God.

Why I Marched on McDonald's

Rev. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, consults with Shyrl Hinnant Uzzell. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

Recently, I marched with McDonald’s workers from three dozen cities to the company’s corporate headquarters outside of Chicago. After they refused to leave the corporate campus of the fast-food giant with its $5.6 billion in profits last year, 101 workers were arrested.

I knew I had to come when the workers invited me to share some of the lessons we have been learning in North Carolina about civil disobedience — and moral support.

I watched my new friends sit down. I watched the police gather. I prayed with the McDonald’s workers as the police looked on and then slapped plastic handcuffs on more than 100 of the workers and arrested them.

I could not help but think of the historic arc of the civil rights movement. For all the gains we have been making, the treatment of low-paid workers by some of the most profitable corporations in the world ranks high in the more significant causes of the growing inequalities in the U.S.

Grace, Magic, and Hard Work

Beyond the typical objections that the Harry Potter books will turn children into Satan-worshipers and encourage them to disrespect authority, one mom complained that she found it inappropriate that at Hogwarts food magically appears on the table at mealtime. Her argument was that she wants her children to have a good work ethic and not to believe that anything in life is free. She wanted her girls to know that preparing meals is hard work and so would therefore be sheltering them from this absurd depiction of people getting something for nothing.

I think at the time I had to restrain myself from asking if she also banned her kids from hearing the story of the feeding on the 5,000 in Sunday school, but it was hard not to think about her objection a few months later as I read The Goblet of Fire and its subplot about house elves. As it revealed, food does not magically appear on the tables at Hogwarts, it is prepared by hardworking elves who in the wizarding world are generally kept as slaves.

An Interview with Morgan Spurlock

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is not afraid to get messy. When tackling an issue on film, he gets right down in the trenches, often compromising his own health and well-being to unveil systemic problems in America with microscopic scrutiny. He did it most notably with Super Size Me, a documentary in which he examined the problem of obesity by eating at McDonald's for every meal for 30 days. His declining health and subsequent depression was enough to send longtime McDonald's patrons running to the nearest farmers market.

Spurlock spoke with Sojourners editors Jim Wallis and Jeannie Choi about his newest project, The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special in 3-D on Ice, and explains that though his projects be madness, there is method to them.

 

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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Glocalization (say what?)

McDonald's 29,000 restaurants in 120 countries make it the largest fast food franchise in the $112 billion-a-year industry. "Glocalization" is when a global corporate giant attempts to appear like a locally owned business. Here are a few things to ponder with your fries.

  • Astérix (the Gallic comic hero who fought Roman occupiers) is replacing Ronald McDonald as McDonald's new French mascot.

  • McDonald's is selling its Aroma coffee bars for half the original cost because it no longer fits its "meal-occasion strategy."

  • No two countries with McDonald's franchises have ever gone to war.

  • Houston's Brentwood Baptist is the first church in the nation to have a McDonald's franchise on its grounds.

  • A British McDonald's ad claims there are 40,312 possible purchase combinations of its eight products. (You do the math.)

Sources: The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Fast Food Nation, BBC, The Guardian, www.blackenterprise.com.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 2002
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Save the Chickens

Chickens have evidently found a soft place in the hearts of McDonald's management, who recently announced they will stop buying "debeaked" chickens for use in their McNuggets and other McDelicacies. ("Debeaked" is the technical term for…well, you know.) The fast-food behemoth also insisted on fair coop standards that will give hens at least 72 square inches of space each. They also demanded an end to the practice of withholding food and water to increase egg production. Apparently, the eggs no longer justify the means.

"Big companies are increasingly being held responsible for the practices of their subcontractors—like Nike and other sneaker makers with plants they don't even run in Third World countries," says financial analyst Bruce Raabe. "This should be seen as a company trying to get out ahead of a potential problem and turning it into a potential asset."

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 2001
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