Readers get hot and bothered about ‘Sin Burger’ reports

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GetReligion is almost a decade old and, from the very beginning, many readers have struggled to understand a very basic fact about this blog. To state the matter bluntly, many readers think this is a religion blog.

Sorry, but this isn’t a religion blog and it isn’t a religion-news blog, either. GetReligion is what it is. This is a blog about the mainstream news media’s efforts — good and bad — to cover religion news.

Because of this misunderstanding, readers often send us stories and they want to know what we think about the news event or trend described in the story. Most of the time, this happens when a news story describes something that readers find outrageous, heretical, stupid or all of the above.

Thus, it didn’t take long for your GetReligionistas to receive emails asking us to comment about a particular hamburger being served at an edgy or outrageous joint up in Chicago.

A news story about a hamburger?

Sigh. This Forbes story was one of the better examples of the coverage, and here is how it starts off:

In Chicago, Kuma’s Corner, a heavy metal-themed beers-and-burgers restaurant, has ignited a debate over a burger that unites beef and the Eucharist.

The hamburger of the month is the Ghost, named for a Swedish metal band known as Ghost or Ghost B.C., the lead singer of which wears a Roman Catholic cardinal’s robe on stage. The burger features a 10-ounce beef patty accompanied by slow-braised goat, a “Ghost chile aioli,” white cheddar cheese, a pretzel bun, a red wine reduction, and an unconsecrated communion wafer.

Yes, you read that right. And the management claims that this hamburger is some kind of act of devotion:

The restaurant’s Facebook announcement deems the burger in “the spirit of our undying reverence for the lord and all things holy” and “a fitting tribute to the supreme blasphemous activities carried out by the band itself,” describing the red wine reduction as “(the blood of christ)” and the communion wafer as “(the body of christ).” The call to action: “Come pay your respects!” The cost: $17.

Now, as you would imagine, some readers seemed anxious for your GetReligionistas to be outraged and to strongly condemn this rather stupid PR stunt.

The problem, of course, was that most of the coverage of this alleged news event was rather pedestrian. The MEDIA COVERAGE was rather ordinary — not too hot, not too cold. Reporters described the restaurant. Reporters described people being outraged by this product. It was pretty clear that this stunt was meant to outrageous. Surf around in this Google News search file and you’ll see what I mean.

Now, here is the journalistic key to this situation.

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A stone, but no tablet, at the emergency room

It’s been a difficult few weeks for your friendly neighborhood GetReligionistas.

First, George endured major spinal surgery.

Then Mollie seriously injured her ankle.

I’ve got to tell you: I’ve been praying hard that tmatt — and not me — would be the next member of our team struck by a painful malady. But apparently, GR’s head honcho has deeper connections than I realized.

For me, that realization came just before midnight Friday when an excruciating pain struck my lower back. I immediately suspected the culprit: a kidney stone.

I had experienced the same ailment last summer and figured I knew how to treat it. I started chugging water and popping Tylenol and Lortab. I ran repeated hot baths and found a little relief in the tub. I repented of many sins and asked God to take away my punishment (I don’t claim perfect theology in the state I was in!).

Mainly, I lay on my bed and alternated between moaning and groaning.

I was home alone — with my wife and daughter visiting my in-laws in southeastern Oklahoma and my sons enjoying down time in San Antonio after a spring-break mission trip to Mexico. At some point, I decided I needed to go to the emergency room, but I didn’t want to call and wake up any of my local friends in the middle of the night.

By 7 a.m., I couldn’t take it anymore.

I grabbed the previous day’s pants out of the hamper and put on my Nikes (sans socks). And I drove to the hospital. Fortunately, we don’t live far from Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City.

Before I even got to the end of our street, I realized that I had left my cell phone on the kitchen table. For a split-second, I considered turning around and going to get it. I quickly decided against it. I did remember to bring my insurance card.

The kind folks at Mercy got me into a room quickly. The nurse gave me a gown to change into and a plastic bottle in which to provide a urine sample. I was a little slow providing the sample. So I was standing in my boxers — having not yet put on the gown — when the nurse returned. The good news: I was in no condition to be embarrassed.

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