In the interest of full disclosure, three of my six children either have or currently do work at McDonald’s and I, myself, am still trying to develop enough fortitude to resist what my younger ones call “fry air,” defined as that glorious smell that just surrounds the restaurant and draws you in to indulge in some delicious fries.
The international corporation of McDonald’s can be criticized for many things: destroying the rainforest to graze their cattle, enticing children to unhealthy meals with plastic toys, producing trash as we toss away all the disposable wrappers, and creating food that is loaded with fat and salt and calories. All of these things have an impact on the health of our bodies and our planet, but what is the impact on our spirits of feeding our kids from the drive-thru?
American culture teaches us that things should come quickly, served to us with the least amount of resistance. The fast food drive-thru is the ultimate example of our national disconnect and sloth: drive up, speak not to a person but a microphone, swipe the debit card, pull forward and receive hot and tasty food, hurriedly consume the food in the car (with or without conversation with family), keep driving to some important activity where we then throw away all those wrappers (or perhaps just leave them on the seat of the car).
It all takes little effort (except maybe the actual selection of menu items by fickle tweens). It’s fast. Easy. At our fingertips. No getting bogged down with chitchat. And we are on our way, having trained ourselves to have those expectations. I even remember times I have commented, “What is taking so long?!? I thought this was fast food.” Repeated quick and easy fulfillment of our desires trains us to expect them in all areas of our lives.
Our relationship with God does not develop so quickly. We cannot just order it up from a lighted menu as we sit back and wait for it to be handed to us. Nor is the cost so easily paid as to “swipe the card.” Connecting with the God who created and redeemed us requires time and effort and sacrifice and movement on our part. We need to be trained in the stamina and persistence it takes to move into full friendship with God.
American culture teaches our children that “faster is better” and “if it isn’t easy than it isn’t worth it.” If you don’t believe me pay attention to the underlying messages of cell phone commercials. Scripture, on the other hand, teaches, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily” (Luke 9:23). The drive-thru at McDonald’s sends only one of these messages. And it could be damaging to our children’s spiritual health.
(Christy Sheaff, Theology Teacher, Dowling Catholic High School)