Morgan Spurlock’s documentary “Super-Size Me” details his experience of a McDonald’s diet for one month, taking the ‘super-size’ option any time it was offered. The effects on his body were astounding: aside from the 12 kilos he put on in one month, his liver showed signs of massive deterioration, his libido vanished, and muscle tone disappeared. Spurlock undertook the exercise as a cultural critique, something which might be lost in his personal outcome.
Super-sizing is an agenda which drives many aspects of our life. It was in evidence when the merger epidemic became prominent amongst businesses over a decade ago, as corporations sought to gain advantages of economies of scale. On our supermarket shelves we have larger quantities of product available, attractive to consumers because of apparent savings. Cinema complexes and shopping centres have grown in size, along with houses. McDonalds didn’t invent super-sizing.
And super-sizing is available in christian spirituality, with the emergence and emphasis on the megachurch, and growth in brand-names such as Seeker-Sensitive, Hillsong, and Purpose-Drive style churches, whose success is extolled in proportion to the numbers attracted.
The evidence of super-sizing in the West is evident in the terms Spurlock articulates: growing obesity, declining participation in sport, and evident general apathy amongst Westerners. It might also be argued that the supersize approach has suppressed the creative business edge in Australia. And what of the church?
Reproductive vigour? Creative expression? Effective mission? It is generally recognised that mainstream denominations are struggling in these areas. We have become prisoners of our own success, investing to reinforce and protect what we have invested much in. For manoueverability a large body is grossly inadequate and cumbersome. Stability is its value, with a tendency towards inertia.
And we also need to run the grid over our own spirituality. Are we comfortable with a small range in significant quantity? Or are we stretched and strengthened by the regular exercise of our spirits through prayer, dialogue, reflection, and action? One thing I have learned about being fit – one needs to be prepared to be made uncomfortable, and to be stretched regularly.
Do you want fries with that?*
* French fries are the most eaten vegetable in America