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Routinely Eating Fast Food

It’s a Saturday morning and I’m out and about with my mind wandering.  Have you ever been driving and you get to your destination and you wake yourself up with the question “How did I get here?”  If you are like me, there are times that you are thinking about other things and the car is on auto pilot.  Anyway I catch myself between thoughts because as a creature of habit I am mechanically on my way to work instead of the intended store or other destination.  I say to myself “hey wait a minute, you don’t work today!”  I always catch myself after a mechanical turn or two, but it’s funny how much we are creatures of habit.

Maybe it can be said that we are creatures of routine.  If you are like me you wake up at a certain time for work and go through the same routine daily.  For me there is an order to when I take my shower, get dressed, eat my breakfast, brush my teeth etc.  I’m not sure if I have a morning routine or if it is my habit to do these things in the same order every day? One habit or routine I do have is that when I go into the bathroom I turn the light on. There have been times that we have lost electricity and I find myself entering the bathroom and automatically flicking the switch only to find the power is out.

I wondered what the difference was in routines and habits so I recently searched the internet and read an interesting article.  An example was used of a person trying to lose weight.  They changed their routine and ate Cheerios every day because they heard it is healthy and supplies the grain they need.  This is called a change of routine as they went from eggs and bacon to Cheerios every morning.  Unexpectedly something out of the routine happened.  They were invited to a breakfast and they discovered that Cheerios was not an option.  The routine was broken and they went back to eating eggs and bacon that morning.  They discovered how much they like their eggs and bacon and it became harder to go back to their new Cheerios routine.  Now consider changing a habit.  A habit is more broad based and long term.  In this example they make a habit of having more grain in their diet.  Usually the Cheerios fills the bill in the morning, but when the routine unexpectedly changes, they can still pick out something on the menu to fill the grain need!  In their mind they know that they stayed with their plan and carry on their new habit of more grain at breakfast!

Each of us have different mannerisms that make us individually interesting!  Our mannerisms are ways we react to situations.  Some people stick their tongue out for instance when they are concentrating.  My son and I were watching a baseball game recently and the batter kept stepping out of the box after each pitch to pull and adjust his batting glove.  My son wondered aloud why he needed to do this same routine after each pitch?  Or would you say it is a habit or mannerism?  It’s tricky how we react and sometimes it’s hard picking a label.

I was watching highlights of an old Dean Martin roast from the 1970’s.  Dean would have a special victim and he would have famous guests who knew that person.  The guests would all get up and make us laugh as they made light of the victims shortcomings.   On this particular episode they were roasting  Johnny Carson.  Rich Little was a famous impressionist at the time.  He had Johnny’s voice down but the thing that made it hilarious was he also had Johnny’s mannerisms down too!  He did what he considered Johnny’s three best jokes.  Of course the jokes themselves weren’t very funny, but the mannerisms Johnny has on stage were so realistically duplicated that it had me cracking up!

I’m still thinking about the routine vs the habit idea and eve throwing in mannerisms.  For some reason they all blend together in my mind.  The fact of the matter is that all of them can get so ingrained into us that they become automatic.  It’s like when you are driving your car and a deer runs out in front of you.  You don’t have to think to hit the brakes, it is automatic.

I’ve heard it said for so long that the reason it is so good to go on a vacation is that it gets you out of your routine.  I have to agree with that.  Although we get comfortable with routines we find that we are not living fully and feel almost mechanical.  Yes mechanical in that we feel like we need to have a schedule and stick to it!  We feel like we are in a box where we are conditioned to act and react certain ways.

If you ever have worked in fast food places you know what it is to get in a routine.  The fries and hamburgers are made a certain way and cooked a certain amount of time.  All of the hamburgers should look the same.  The customer always knows what they are getting.  You can go to a McDonald’s in Michigan and it will be the same as one in Alabama, Ohio, or Florida.  Nobody ever said that fast food is good for you.  The value of fast food is that it is convenient and fast.  It fills you up and it is a routine in itself.  You might get used to going through the pickup window or ordering from the counter.  Either way the employees are trained to get you through the line in a timely fashion!  Years ago I wrote a poem called Fast Food Christianity.  The thought at the time that I wrote the poem was that fast food wasn’t good for us! Similarly getting our spiritual nourishment in a fast food way wasn’t good for us either!

The Drive Through Routine

The Drive Through Routine

Fast Food Christianity

By Lewis Hamilton
From the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

Fast food restaurants
Computer Technology
Knowledge expanding
We’re in the new century

Planes flying everywhere
Scanners at the stores
Medical technology
like never before

Microwave ovens
next to fax machines
Instant relief from pain
Quick oil changings

Quick drying, fast moving
products that we try
See it on a commercial
Soon you’re going to buy

Fast stop Christianity
service ends at noon
Better not end later,
OK if it’s too soon

Big fancy churches
buildings made for men
We won’t be too humble
so God cannot come in

Sunday afternoon restaurant,
smorgasboard and all
Preacher got long winded
giving an altar call

Break this heavy chain, Lord
I’m spiritually tied
Fast food Christianity
has me satisfied.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 1:27

After thinking about routines and habits we all have I’m thinking a little differently about the meaning of this poem. You see we like our little routines and we like to categorize. There are times that God becomes a routine in our life. We drive the car of life like it is on auto pilot without thinking about others around us. Even things like going to church and praying can become a routine that we do because we are supposed to. The person in the poem realizes that fast food Christianity has satisfied them and they know that it shouldn’t. It’s like eating that hamburger and fries and thinking it is satisfying our nutritional needs. We have turned the power switch (like my switch in the bathroom) only to realize that the connection to the power is gone. Only by taking God out of a religious ritual of routine habits and into a loving relationship will we get the power back!

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