Crass Commercialism
February 8, 2008

I live in Northern Indiana. Home to the University of Notre Dame, St. Mary's University. There's a Catholic convent here. Retirement home for priests. In some areas, there's literally a Catholic Church on each of the four corners of an intersection. (Apparently so there could be a Hungarian Catholic Church and a Polish Catholic Church, and a regular one and who can remember which group the fourth is.)

AM General, a good-sized factory, serves fish every Friday, year round in the cafeteria. There are other food choices as well, but during the Catholic season of Lent, they only serve fish in the cafeteria.

Lent is a big deal around here. You see signs like this one on nearly every fast food joint - and even many larger restaurants:

2 fish sandwiches for 3.33

So when I drove to the grocery store last night (sans camera phone, dammit), I could NOT stop laughing at the Arby's sign. You see, Ash Wednesday was this week. Lent has begun. Today is the first meatless Friday for those observing the practice.

And my Arby's had this sign up:

free roast beef friday

Yeah, I had to go back there today with the good camera (so I suppose it's lucky I didn't have the cell with me last night) just so I could snap this shot. I'm still snickering.

With everyone else catering to the Lenten practice of meatless Fridays, I'm sure the local manager thought it would be good to cater to the many people in the area who do not observe this practice. And while the absurdity of the entire situation - fish advertisement as well as free roast beef - still makes me chuckle ... in light of one of the online community explosions this past week, it also makes me sad that so many can boil down other people's fervently held beliefs into an opportunity to sell more crap.

But I still can't stop giggling, either. It's just all too surreal and absurd. Almost as if the fast food joints are now announcing at the drive-through window - "Hey, you want religion with that?" I know for a fact that one chain around here already offers politics with their food - they required all of their employees to wear shirts hawking the chain owner for local government in last fall's elections.

My issue is that I want my politics and religion separate from my retail experience. It's not that I think someone should put their religion in a box and leave it there - most faiths ask exactly the opposite of you - that you live your faith. But selling your faith - to me - simply cheapens it. Proselytizing tends to turn off a far greater number of people than it "helps" because it often (sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally) disrespects the beliefs or opinions of the person having to listen to it.

For example, I bought something off eBay quite a while back and received a little "business card" with my order. Only it was a Bible tract printed on it and an "invitation" to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. It pissed me off and I never ordered from that person again. Why? Because it implied that

1) I had not already done so
2) that I did not have my own faith
3) that their belief system was better than any I might already subscribe to

They may not have meant it that way. I don't know nor care. My brain ... oppositional as it often is ... immediately thought how offensive this would have been to me had I been Jewish.

To me, it's simply about respect. If I am conversing with someone and a topic or issue comes up which touches on faith beliefs or political beliefs, then we can discuss such things. Throwing a confetti of religious tracts around in the hopes of helping all the poor people who do not believe as you do ... it's arrogance. Discussion with mutual respect is one thing. Scattering your seed EVERYWHERE is something else entirely.

Ooops. I kind of strayed away from the original intent to post a funny sign. Meh, I think it's a better post for having opened up the field a bit.

Posted by Red Monkey at February 8, 2008 12:06 PM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | Vacations and Photos | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

 

Maria said:

I know how you feel. :)
I want my stuff separated too - mainly because I'm Agnostic.
Lol

February 8, 2008 5:04 PM

 

newnorth said:

I loved the Arby's sign :) ...and I agree with the end, about it being arrogant

February 9, 2008 12:33 AM

So now I'm wondering if Arby's owned by the Devil? So much temptation to stray from the Lenten path...I always thought there was something suspicious about have three choices of fried. I think you are on to something here.

February 9, 2008 2:54 PM

 

crunchycarpets said:

I am just boggled that Lent is so 'out there.'
Until the blog world I have never seen it talked about soooo much.

I must live in a religious vacuum.

I grew up in the UK where religion was more culture than faith and remember Shrove Tuesday and all that...but it really amazes me to see it talked about so much on the blogosphere.

All over mom forums people are asking what we are giving up for Lent..which is a massive assumption on their part that any one else follows this at all.

It just wouldn't occur to me

February 9, 2008 4:31 PM

 

Tara R. said:

I love the way you think.

February 10, 2008 6:17 PM

 

Les Becker said:

I won't get into religion with you (but I agree with you... ahem...*), nor will I discuss politics, but that's just because I'm not bright enough to win any political debates... but the Arby's sign is freaking priceless! I could just picture the manager saying to the staff, "Screw it, we'll give it away before we throw it all out." I'm still laughing!

February 10, 2008 11:40 PM

 

Business Cards said:

hahaha...i too really laugh with Arby's sign...i agree with Les Becker maybe that is the exact thing that the manager was thinking...hahahaha

February 12, 2008 2:57 AM

 

Xers said:

At first I thought on Piper's post --mentioning a McD's fish commercial...I won't go there; it was just a funny thought.

And, I had all this intelecutall stuff I was gonna write, but started sneezing and bit my tongue; got all distracted!

Any way, I do remember ctrl+c'ing this : "My issue is that I want my politics and religion separate from my retail experience. It's not that I think someone should put their religion in a box and leave it there - most faiths ask exactly the opposite of you - that you live your faith. But selling your faith - to me - simply cheapens it. Proselytizing tends to turn off a far greater number of people than it "helps" because it often (sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally) disrespects the beliefs or opinions of the person having to listen to it."---to which all I can say is: Fucking awesome; I wouldn't mind wearing that one as a tattoo in Old English.

Anywho, funny post; I haven't been to Indiania in a long time: last time I was there I got to spend some time with a godbrother and an Almish family (had an incredible time!).

February 13, 2008 7:13 PM

 

jafabrit said:

I enjoyed your post and I am not surprised you had a bit of a chuckle with the signs.

err, your blog is definitely not boring LOL!

February 14, 2008 9:26 AM
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