Of Catholics, Ghost Burgers, And My Dad..

Of Catholics, Ghost Burgers, And My Dad..
The Ghost Burger at Kuma Burger in Chicago...unconsecrated.

Here’s a real Monday question: Would you eat a “Ghost Burger” from Kuma’s, knowing what you know now?

“Kuma’s Corner is aware that in some cases, people have unfortunately found reason to find offense at our recent special menu addition the Ghost. We make hamburgers for a living. We are a small nine table restaurant in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago. And we love heavy metal. There is a band doing music that we enjoy particularly called Ghost. They are from Sweden…..”

In standing with our policy of supporting charity and Chicago at large, we have made a $1500 dollar donation to the Catholic Charities of the Chicago Archdiocese as we understand that they share our mentality of serving anyone in need from any walk of life.

Michael Cain, Luke Tobias   Kuma’s Corner

Do you buy their explanation? For the past week, Chicago’s been in a tizzy over a “sacrilegious” piece of meat festooned with an unconsecrated communion wafer.  With a red wine reduction. It made Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, not a Catholic, madder than h-e-double-hockey-sticks!

Here’s the cause of the uproar, as published on Kuma Burger’s Facebook Page:

“In the spirit of our undying reverence for the lord and all things holy.” And they listed the contents. A 10-ounce patty, chile aioli, braised goat shoulder, white cheddar cheese and two other special ingredients,  Red Wine Reduction (the blood of Christ) with Communion Wafer garnish (the body of Christ). Come pay your respects!”

Hmmm….I don’t buy the explanation of the Swedish band, because not a mention of the band Ghost was in there to begin with in the burger description. And my “High Gloss and Sauce” friend Jenna Karvundis doesn’t either…

I didn’t make it to Mass yesterday, but I will lay odds that the Ghost Burger was a topic of many homilies by many priests on Sunday morning. The fact that the Bears were playing the “Saints” (and judging by the Bears dismal play yesterday, which side God was on) probably took a back seat.

I started thinking that I should really have an opinion about this, given that:

  • I’m Catholic. Really.  A convert, and proudly so. And my faith means everything to me.
  • I am also a meat eater. A convert again. For a very long time, I gave up meat for health reasons. My Dad had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and I didn’t want that, so I stopped eating red meat for about 20 years.
  • That was just fine until I started bleeding for three months straight, four years ago. I thought…well, I didn’t know what to think. A polyp robbed me of so much blood, I was inches away from transfusion stage.
  • My doctor explained that the fastest and best way for me to rebuild my red blood cells was to eat meat a couple time a week.  So I had my first hamburger since the Bears won the Super Bowl, 23 years later.

Truth was, I think I know too many people (including myself) with tongue-in-cheek senses of humor who understand the difference between disrespect and ball-busting. And I think Kuma’s owners flicked at the balls of the Catholic church, which believes in the Transfiguration, where the wafer and the wine actually become the living body of Christ.

Kuma Burger’s action was irreverent, for sure. Also, with such a large Catholic (and lapsed Catholic) population in Chicago, it was sure to hit a nerve somewhere.

Apparently, there’s no humor in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, for some audiences.

But I grew up thinking the opposite.  My late Dad always said, “Alison, if the Good Lord has a sense of humor, I’ll make it to Heaven.”

Dad and me in the Summer of 2012

Dad and me in the Summer of 2012

I do believe that the Good Lord does have a sense of humor.  He had to, in order to create such unique individuals. I also believe my Dad, a true man of faith who took his family, not himself, seriously,  is in Heaven as we speak. Nearly six months now. Hard to believe. The Ghost Burger would have been a source of conflict for him, I think. Dad would have gotten the snarkiness and tongue-in-cheek humor of using an unconsecrated Communion wafer and Red Wine reduction, but would have looked at his ever-present Rosary and shook his head, smirking ever-so-subtly.

But is anyone going to Hell over this transaction? Doubtful. After all, a $1,500 donation to Catholic Charities is very nice, and very much needed. I hope Kuma Burgers will make this an annual tradition. Just to be sure.

What Kuma’s has done, beyond a Ghost of a doubt, is create enormous publicity for themselves and an obscure Swedish band who probably didn’t have much of a following in the United States. At least before this.

They do need to take it a step further and own up to the fact they, in fact, wanted to up the ante during the month of Halloween, a time when the spiritual and commercial come together in a mystical, profitable union.

However, to all naysayers and those who are offended, let this be known:

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”  

John 20:23

The Ghost burger will be available at Kuma’s Corner throughout the month of October.


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