The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Hamburger excommunicated

In a move with ecumenical and culinary consequences, a Roman Catholic theologian in Pisa, Italy, condemned the hamburger, French fries and Coke as "the fruit of a Protestant culture."

In an interview in a Roman Catholic newspaper, Massimo Salani said, "Fast food reflects the individualistic relation between man and God introduced by [Martin] Luther."

The story gained wide readership across Italy, a country that takes its three-hour lunches seriously, with headlines such as "Theologian excommunicates hamburger."

"Lacking the community aspect of sharing, fast food is certainly not a Catholic model," Salani said. Reactions from Italians — 600,000 of whom eat at McDonald's each day — have been mixed. Lutherans have been critical.

"I find it very difficult to imagine Martin Luther sitting down all alone eating a Big Mac," said Hans-Michael Uhl, a Lutheran pastor in Rome, defending Luther.

But Timothy Lull, president of Pacific Lutheran Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., and author of Conversations with Luther (Augsburg 1999), based on his "meetings" with the reformer, said: "I am planning to meet Luther over a Big Mac to discuss this. He advises me to reread his writings critiquing the practice of excommunication, which he suggests are still relevant."


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