"Triple-Bypass Burger"

That’s what they bill the super-duper burger at Las Vegas’s Heart Attack Grill. No lie. The sandwich is a “massive, one-and-a-half pound burger with three beef patties, cheese, special sauce and up to 15 strips of bacon.” Total calories—6000. The menu touts it as having “a taste worth dying for.” A few days ago a diner walked into the restaurant, ordered the “triple-bypass burger,” and proceeded to wolf it down. During his consumption, the diner suffered a real live heart attack. Guests began photographing the incident, thinking it was a publicity stunt, even as the diner was being wheeled out by emergency rescue personnel. Restaurant owner Jon Basso said he felt terrible: “‘Even with our own morbid sense of humor we would never pull a stunt like that’” (THE WEEK, March 2, 2012). How human of us all! With warning signs lining the way to what we know is potentially life-threatening (physically or morally), we are driven on by an insatiable hunger inside of us that refuses to be reasoned with. “I must have it—and I’ll have it now, thank you.” And so we do. And a marriage crumbles or a body folds or a career collapses or a friendship is lost or a conscience is deadened. The anatomy of a “heart” or a “life” attack—it is too often initiated by our brazen walking past all the warning signs. Not unlike life on the planet these days. Warning signs of economic unraveling (in spite of heady Dow Jones numbers), social/moral/ecological meltdown, political confusion (read turmoil)  ratcheted up at home and abroad, military oppression, nuclear threatenings—the list of cautionary signals goes on and on. And how many of our political leaders, our spiritual leaders—how many of us hurry on by with  hardly a notice any more? “Triple-bypass burger, anyone?” “While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape” (I Thessalonians 5:3 NASB). Notice that the collapse comes “while they are saying.” I.e., the indicators could be dire and foreboding, but the naïve optimism of some compels them to announce “all’s well” on the home-front. “Triple by-pass burger” time! And suddenly—heart attack. And it’s over. That’s why Christ was so insistent that when the warning signs are configured, lined up the way they now are on this earth it is high time to “‘keep a constant watch. And pray that, if possible, you may escape these horrors and stand before the Son of Man'” (Luke 21:36 NLT). Jesus’ invitation to “watch and pray”—is it undue alarmism? Hardly. Because when you’ve been handed a “triple-bypass burger” menu like the one we’re now holding, it doesn’t take rocket or culinary science to read the signs: Heart Attack Grill.

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