Slow Food for a Fast Life

A McDonald’s franchise was coming to Rome in 1986, adjacent to the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna.  Italian journalist Carlo Petrini was outraged so he helped organize a demonstration.    Instead of waving signs they brought a big bowl of penne pasta, dished it out to the crowd, and ate together at the Spanish Steps.  Their rallying cry was “We don’t want fast food.  We want slow food!”

They lost that battle but they may have won the war.  From there the Slow Food Movement began.  In their manifesto they proclaim: “We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods… A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life…”  The concept of conviviality is the heart of the Slow Food movement: taking pleasure in the processes of cooking, eating, and sharing meals with others.

There’s something that happens when people slow down, gather around a table, and spend an evening together.  It’s something that’s missing from our fast food way of life.  Our modern day way of eating has created the franchise where our expectations are that a Big Mac in Rome will taste the same as one in Reno.

Even churches have joined in. The evangelical world has followed the franchise model: grow, expand and then build another place that looks just like the original.  Even the preacher is the same, streamed live in each venue. In one article discussing this approach one church leader said, “We do the same things [the] same way you would do at Starbucks or a McDonald’s or a brand name that works.”[1]

We have to wonder if this is what Jesus had in mind when he spoke the words of what we call The Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus did not point us to the successful businesses of the world to emulate.  He gave us himself.  He is with us.  How he is with us is his plan for how we are to make disciples. If anything is to be franchised, this is it.

Jesus had a routine of talk, task, and table time with his disciples.  In his talk he gave his disciples teaching on how to live in the kingdom of God.  Then he would send them out to practice or perform tasks.

But he didn’t stop there.  He would spend table time with his disciples to debrief what had happened when they practiced the life of the kingdom.  Sometimes they did not do too well.  One time they were unable to heal a father’s son.  Another time they had no clue how to feed a crowd of five thousand.

Then other times things went well.  When the seventy returned to Jesus they were overjoyed because “even the demons are subject to us in your name!”  Jesus spent a lot of his time around tables eating with his friends and discussing life.  And that is part of disciple making.  His culture knew how to slow down and relate to one another.  It happened around slow food and tables.

The church should serve up something nutritious.  Its menu should include Jesus talk, Jesus tasks, and a lot of slow table time with him and his friends.

His pattern is the only thing worth franchising.

Question: How can the idea of “slow food” change the way you serve the world around you?



Pose Your Way into Better Outcomes

Usain Bolt bolts across the finish line and immediately raises his arms in victory.

A high school grad receives a letter of acceptance to the first pick on her college list and instinctively punches a fist into the air and yells “Yes!”

Wonder Woman stands in her Wonder Woman pose.

Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist from Harvard and TED Talk speaker, says that when people feel proud or powerful or victorious they tend to expand their bodies. It got her to thinking that if expanding our bodies when we feel that way is a natural reaction then maybe posing in that way could affect the way we feel and behave.

That’s the idea behind what is called the “Behavioral Approach System.” Cuddy tested the idea in one of the places many people feel powerless and unsure of themselves: the job interview.

A test was set up where one group spent some time in power poses (like sitting up straight, standing tall with arms out) before their interview and another group spent time in non-power poses (like slumping over, looking at the floor).

Each group endured an interview where the one conducting the interview gave absolutely no feedback verbal or non-verbal. She calls this “social quicksand.” If you’ve ever experienced it, you know what she means.

You can guess what happened. The ones who had spent time before their interview in power poses were the ones who would have been hired for the job. It gave Cuddy the idea that at times we need to “fake it till we make it.” Sure, you will still have to come through with the skill or ability or whatever is needed in the situation. But you have to show up in a way that others will respond to in order to get that opportunity.

She calls this “presence” (also the title of her book you can find here). The difference in the two groups in the test was that their “presence” was different. The more employable interviewees were more confident, passionate, enthusiastic, captivating, comfortable, and authentic.

Cuddy teaches that:

Our bodies can change our minds…

…and our minds change our behaviors…

…and behavior changes our outcomes.

If you’ve ever been down and decided you would smile your way into a better day, you understand what she is saying. If you’ve ever felt a lack of confidence entering into a conversation or meeting but before you engaged you stood up straight and lifted your head and then went in with a different attitude, you understand what she is saying.

So what can you do?

  • Before you enter a situation where you need to feel confident or powerful expand. Stretch your arms out in your best Usain Bolt imitation. Stand up straight. Pump your fists in the air.
  • You may want to do this in a place where no one can see you.
  • Spend about two minutes doing this.

Cuddy believes that you can do even better than “fake it till you make it.” She says to go a step further: “Fake it till you become it.”

Try it the next chance you get. You can pose your way into better outcomes. And your world before you might expand as you do.

Question: Think of an upcoming situation where your “presence” needs to be confident. What will you do to “fake it till you become it”?