Busted Halo
feature: politics & culture
October 9th, 2013

Holy Ghost Burger

Different opinions on the controversial new burger topped with a communion wafer


communion-burgerWho doesn’t like a good burger? Well — that depends on who you ask and in this case, what the toppings are. A Chicago restaurant called Kuma’s Corner is serving up a new menu item this month called a “Ghost Burger.” It’s a 10-ounce patty topped with an unconsecrated communion wafer and red wine reduction sauce. Sounds a little bit like…Hey wait a minute! The burger was created to honor the Swedish band Ghost and has stirred up some controversy. Louis Sullivan, Busted Halo Intern and Contributor, and Fr. Steven Bell, CSP, Busted Halo Associate Director, weigh in on the question: Is Kuma’s Corner Ghost Burger offensive?

Louis Sullivan: Personally, I don’t have a problem with the Ghost Burger. It’s not something I would order, but nonetheless it doesn’t offend me personally as a Catholic. From where I’m standing, it’s a publicity stunt and little more than that — Kuma’s Corner is trying to drum up some attention for their restaurant and the band the burger promotes. It certainly has our attention, but to let some red wine and an unconsecrated communion wafer that anyone can buy on Amazon get us all riled up is only going to give these people exactly what they want. The restaurant’s owner has been gracious about the situation, donating to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago (who turned the donation down) and stating that the burger is not intended to offend anyone. Let’s not forget that the true meaning of the Eucharist is not in the bread and wine as earthly food, but in the miracle of their consecration and transubstantiation into the Body and Blood of Christ. What’s on the burger isn’t the Body and Blood — it’s some red wine sauce and a wafer.

Fr. Steven Bell, CSP: It is true that the Ghost Burger does not feature the consecrated Eucharist. However, there is still a rather serious offense committed. These particular wafers were made for the purpose of consecrating them at Mass. The intention of the manufacturers was to have the work of their hands assist the prayers of the gathered faithful during worship. It’s an intention that is typically printed right on the box. Many (if not all) of these manufacturers are religious organizations who work prayerfully, in fact for some, their work IS their prayer. So, using those wafers as a burger topping becomes a serious affront to the prayerfulness of the people who created them, as well as the ones who use them.

All things have a value before they are instituted as sacred. Imagine how you might feel if you prayerfully whittled crucifixes that someone purchased to use as tent stakes and justified their actions on the basis that they were used before they were blessed, thus they are pretty much only carved wooden stakes. Or, how might you feel if you spent time making hamburgers for a picnic only to have several of the guests use the meat to feed their dogs and the bread to feed the birds before the picnic started. One can say that in both of these scenarios no real harm was done. Yet, intuitively, we know that there are many ways to inflict harm. Kuma’s Corner may not see any harm done in creating their Ghost Burger. And they may have the best of intentions while trying to promote musical stylings and donating to Catholic Charities. But, in fact, the harm that is being done by using something created prayerfully for the use of prayer is too egregious to be excused by such intentions.

Now that you’ve heard from Louis and Fr. Steve, what do you think? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

The Author : The Editors

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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Bob Faser

    Even if the wafers used are unconsecrated, I believe the intent is disrespectful. As it seems to be mostly a publicity stunt, it’s probably better to ignore it because the owners of the restaurant want people arguing about it.
    Re the disrespect shown, as an ecumenical staffer who is also involved in interfaith dialogue, I know there are many examples shown in the public space of contempt for people’s religious faith. While Christians (and particularly Catholics) are on the receiving end of a lot of this, it’s not really accurate to say that it’s only Christians. Our Jewish and Muslim neighbours receive a high level of disrespect as well, My feeling is that people of faith should be as vocal about protesting disrespect for someone else’s faith as we are for disrespect for our own — possibly even a bit more so.

  • TruthSeeker2011

    Has anyone actually gone to Kuma’s Corner’s website and watched the video of Ghost performing? In their robes with upside down crosses? The lead singer in a robe depicting a cardinal’s vestment with upside down crosses, a skull mask and blood pouring down the mask? The video hurt my heart, my head, and my soul! And I could only watch a little part before I was in pain. NO, communion wafers should not be used in this manner. I for one, don’t think Jesus would just walk away and let it go, either. He didn’t do that when His Father’s House was being desecrated by the money changers!

  • BJM2

    Yes, I agree that, as a Catholic, I would prefer they not use that unconsecrated symbolism for their burger, and, Yes, I agree that the wording of “some foreigner” is not nice, especially when every single one of us has a family member who was a “foreigner” once unless we are pure native American. So, adopt the thinking of W.W.J.D. just smile and LET IT GO! It can become an amusing discussion even, without having any negative connotations. If we humans could adopt a philosophy of live and let live and, of course, W.W.J.D., we would have God doing a dance of joy in heaven!!

    • aimer

      I was born in the United States in 1966, NYC. The United States of America is my native country. I am therefore a Native American, right?

      Not that I understand what that has to do with this article of a gross looking cheeseburger.

  • Shawn

    God forbid we ever associate those cardboard-esk disks that we profess become the body and blood of Christ with actual food. That is clearly not the symbolism Jesus was going for when he instituted the Eucharist.

  • Faith Richardson

    Who is selling the communion wafers to them? Aren’t they more culpable in this?

    • Doug Renze

      Maybe. But that is, of course, assuming that they care.

  • A Catholic

    I really get upset when Catholics and Christians are not allowed to offend someone else’s religious beliefs. We can’t publicly display crosses any more. We have to hide our nativity scenes and not put them in our yards any more. We have to put up with everyone saying our religion means nothing. Well here we go again, some foreigner, ( by the sound of its name) making a mockery of Catholics. When will America stop being so weak?

    • Jo

      Umm…you’re welcome to come to my house an hour outside “Portlandia”- nativity scenes are not hidden; ours resides in glowing 1960’s splendor on our portico every December. I agree that the burger is in poor taste- but the comment about “Some foreigner, by the sound of his name” is equally offensive, if not more so.

    • CK

      I agree with Jo. The “some foreigner” comment is not only offensive, but inaccurate from what I can tell on their website. If you don’t want to be disparaged as a Catholic, don’t start by disparaging others. Be the example that is above reproach. I can understand your frustration, but that’s when you lean on your faith the most. Be a proud Catholic and remember that you are not alone.

    • JuliePurple

      The problem with display of nativity scenes and suchlike is when it is on public lands and paid for with public funds. On private land, funded privately, no problem. That’s reasonable. The public is composed of a great variety of belief systems; it’s not fair to highlight any one.

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