fish

Fish sandwiches equal Lent: Maybe there's a religion hook in this meatless burger trend?

Fish sandwiches equal Lent: Maybe there's a religion hook in this meatless burger trend?

First, a confession: Which is a good thing during Great Lent.

I totally admit that the following headline caught my eye because, as Eastern Orthodox folks, my family is currently in the middle of the great pre-Pascha (Easter in the West) in which we strive to fast from meat and dairy. It’s a season in which the Orthodox have been known to debate the merits of various tofu brands and ponder the miracle that is apple butter.

Every now and then, people like me end up traveling — which means looking for Lenten options in the rushed, fallen world of fast food. Thus, you can understand why I noticed this headline in the business section of The New York Times: “Behold the Beefless ‘Impossible Whopper’.” Here’s the overture:

OAKLAND, Calif. — Would you like that Whopper with or without beef?

This week, Burger King is introducing a version of its iconic Whopper sandwich filled with a vegetarian patty from the start-up Impossible Foods. The Impossible Whopper, as it will be known, is the biggest validation — and expansion opportunity — for a young industry that is looking to mimic and replace meat with plant-based alternatives.

Impossible Foods and its competitors in Silicon Valley have already had some mainstream success. The vegetarian burger made by Beyond Meat has been available at over a thousand Carl’s Jr. restaurants since January and the company is now moving toward an initial public offering.

As I dug into this story, I had this thought: I realize that there is a religion angle here for strange people like me. But would the Times team include any kind of reference to the other religion angles linked to lots of other people who avoid beef?

Obviously, there are millions of Hindus in America and many of them avoid beef, for religious reasons. Then there are Buddhists who are vegetarians or vegans. Among Christian flocks, many Seventh-day Adventists strive to be vegetarians.

Then there is the Lent thing. Is there a religion angle to several fast-food empires — even Chick-fil-A, for heaven’s sake — emphasizing fish sandwiches during this Christian penitential season? #DUH

So I wasn’t looking for lots of religion-beat style content in this story. But maybe a paragraph noting the increasingly complex religious landscape in the American food marketplace?

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Sweating a few fine (even fried) pope details in the wake of #PapalGoofs

Sweating a few fine (even fried) pope details in the wake of #PapalGoofs

Just the other day, Father James Martin started a Jesuit Twitter fest with #PapalGoofs, a hashtag dedicated to helping journalists who -- forced into religion-beat duty with the arrival of Hurricane (Pope) Francis -- could use a online Catholicism 101 course.

While the padre, who is best known outside of bookstores as the official chaplain to the old "Colbert Report," has yet to jump back into the Twitter fray, others have picked up #PapalGoofs and are using it as a hook for social-media discussions of fumbles and outright errors in coverage of events and trends linked to the arrival of Pope Francis.

For example, consider this a nomination for the most simplistic (folks, the competition is fierce) use of this pope's most famous out-of context soundbite. This comes to you care of The Memphis Commercial Appeal:

When Francis was asked whether homosexuality is a sin, he replied, "Who am I to judge?"

Not even close, as one can see with even a glancing look at the actual transcript of that off-the-cuff papal press conference. The actual question?

I would like permission to ask a delicate question: another image that has been going around the world is that of Monsignor Ricca and the news about his private life. I would like to know, Your Holiness, what you intend to do about this? How are you confronting this issue and how does Your Holiness intend to confront the whole question of the gay lobby?

The pope was asked about rumors concerning a specific Vatican priest and, in his answer, stressed -- using the word "sin" over and over -- that those who confess their sins can be forgiven and those sins are gone, in the past.

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The final days march past: Was there any news in Lent 2014?

Let’s face it folks. There is a very real possibility that this posts exists as a rather flimsy excuse to post this wonderfully ironic Baton Rouge, La., photograph sent by a witty priest to Rod “friend of this blog” Dreher. Actually, this photo does symbolize a question — a journalistic question, actually — that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit during Great Lent this year: Do mainstream journalists realize that there is more to Lent than food?

I mean, the U.S. Catholic bishops have in recent years put quite a bit of effort into a public campaign to promote — following ages and ages of tradition — the importance of believers going to Confession during the season of Lent. I kind of expected that this the “light is still on” effort might get more press attention this time around, especially after the media-storm called Pope Francis did a daring thing the other day by choosing to go to Confession in clear view of the world.

So take a look at a Google News search for “Catholics,” “Lent,” “Confession” and “light on.”

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Got news? A fishy hole in all those Lent stories

So it’s a Friday in Lent (only in Western churches, at this point), so what did you have for lunch?

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