Considering Nothingness and Nothingburgers

We have a current concept in our culture applicable to political nothingness when we invoke the word “nothingburger.”  A nothingburger seems to be a promised meal that does not come through, that contains nothing, and certainly not a burger.

In “nothing,” there is no there, there: Ergh Jebbi, Morocco. Photo by Mark Eder on Unsplash

A parallel saying might be “there is no there, there.”  Instead of something, nothing appears.  That we have invented a new word and more and more invoke an old phrase (no there, there) suggests that nothingness is more and more on the table.

The current climate emergency, the rising of temperatures that are breaking all records in Europe and in China and elsewhere, and the refusal of 50 senators in the American Senate to be thinking about their grandchildren even for a second, this too is a nothingburger.

Senators elected to serve the people who choose to do nothing to fight climate change is an experience of political nothingness that can, in turn, lead to the Earth becoming one day nothing, meaning no place for living things to thrive again.  Nothing—no action–can bring on nothing.

Another example of the political experience of nothingness is the current Supreme Court.

Injustice requires resistance! Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

Today’s Supreme Court is a nothingburger when it comes to justice.  It is a something when it comes to sadism and misogyny and religious zealotry and being beholden to Opus Dei and The Heritage Foundation and its kooky ideas of originalism (which sounds very much like biblical literalism to me) and that is killing any pretense of justice.

It is no longer a court that cares about justice; it is an engine for kooky religious zealots who care more for corporations than for the survival of Mother Earth; more for defending fetuses than respecting mothers and the difficult and complex decisions they must make daily; more for their sadistic impulses of omnipotence than for the peoples of this country; all covered up with a fig leaf of pseudo jurisprudence.

On the brighter side, a powerful majority of ordinary citizens in Kansas have proven their strong distaste for Nothingburgers.  

To be continued.


See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. xxxviii, 258-263, 300.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner image: Nothing on a plate, by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Do you, along with a strong plurality of Kansan voters, have a strong distaste for Nothingburgers?  What follows from that?

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9 thoughts on “Considering Nothingness and Nothingburgers”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, You ask us today in our Queries for Contemplation: “Do you, along with a strong plurality of Kansan voters, have a strong distaste for Nothingburgers?” I do have a strong distaste for “nothingburgers”–I didn’t even like writing the word just then. Instead I prefer your alternatives: “there is no there, there.” “Instead of something, nothing appears.” After stating these alternatives, you list a couple of things that are going terribly wrong in the world due to our political leaders, such as: the current climate emergency–with rising temperatures that are breaking all records, and the Supreme Court, which you say (and I agree) “is a nothingburger when it comes to justice.” Finally you write: “On the brighter side, a powerful majority of ordinary citizens in Kansas have proven their strong distaste for Nothingburgers.” And I celebrate their “distaste!” What follows from that is that we speak out against what isn’t happening (isn’t-ness is like nothingness) so we are heard.

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    It seems like humanity, especially patriarchy and toxic masculinity, has not made much progress from our recent violent 20th century. Now with the beginning of this century, it seems like the ignorance and destructiveness of patriarchy and toxic masculine values and behavior are worse than ever with the destruction of our planet (sacred Mother Earth) and all Her blessed/living resources; continued injustices, inequities, and wars; and the rise of fascism around the world. No wonder that prominent environmentalists, scientists, humanists, and spiritual teachers (see 85 conversations in postdoom.com) are predicting the imminent ending of our global industrial civilization and possibly of our human species. Most of them seem to be recommending contemplative and indigenous spiritual values as a way of preparing ourselves mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually for the inevitable losses approaching — living compassionately, gratefully, and simply one day at a time with loved ones in small communities close to Mother Nature, and faith in God’s Loving Presence~Oneness….
    ?❤️?

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    Nothingburger is a new one to me, since I don’t follow popular culture, or the news, if I can help it. Of course, I don’t want it, made of air as it is. It seems that is all we are being “fed” lately by our “leaders”, and it is clearly fascist and sadistic, especially toward women and girls. Based on the past few decades of Supreme Court decisions that have harmed democracy, I don’t think we should be surprised at any future shameful acts and decisions by politicians. We do need to be aware and to act as best we can, using our voices on the phone, in the streets, by e-mail and letters, etc. But the only thing that we can surely do, each one individually, is to use our contemplative practices to center ourselves and be there for others, to bear each other’s burdens and walk each other home.

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    A “nothingburger,’ the promised meal that does not come through, calls to mind the catchphrase slogan that Wendy’s used on its 1984 fast food commercial – “Where’s the beef?” Recall, it was famously uttered by the ‘where’s the beef?’ lady, Clara Peller, who died in 1987 at age 87. ‘Nothing’ can be tasteful or tasteless, depending on its application. As it applies in today’s DM, seems it points to tasteless on several social activist agendas deemed unjust. I do think there are far more tasteless (without substance) things that occur in this world, particularly regarding sacred things. That has always been so, and always will be, though such is not an excuse for neutrality in a moral crisis. Mercy and justice are exclusive properties of the divine (not of humanity), the basis for ultimately settling all accounts. Studying the properties of the divine in world religions, and contrasting them with humanity’s flawed history, seems everything will be alright in the end, despite that latter’s errant ways. If things are not alright, it’s not yet the end. I place my trust and confidence only in that.

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    Cynthia Birkeland

    Wonderful post. So amazingly true, sadly. Painful to watch . Painful to endure these do nothings. The party of NO.

  6. Avatar

    A “nothingburger,’ the promised meal that does not come through, calls to mind the catchphrase slogan that Wendy’s used on its 1984 fast food commercial – “Where’s the beef?” Recall, it was famously uttered by the ‘where’s the beef?’ lady, Clara Peller, who died in 1987 at age 87. ‘Nothing’ can be tasteful or tasteless, depending. As it applies in today’s DM, seems it points to tasteless on several social activist agendas deemed unjust. I do think there are far more tasteless (without substance) things that occur in this world, particularly regarding sacred things. That has always been so, and always will be, though such is not an excuse for neutrality in a moral crisis. Mercy and justice are exclusive properties of the divine (not of humanity), the basis for ultimately settling all accounts. Studying properties of the divine in world religions, and contrasting them with humanity’s flawed history, seems everything will be alright in the end, despite that latter’s errant ways. If things are not alright, it’s not yet the end. I place my trust and confidence only in that.

  7. Avatar

    Mathew, Thank you for giving names to the monsters” as part of our collective consciousness growing in not ignoring them. This weakens them and strengthens many of us who now recognize (re-think) the cacophony of destruction past, present and future. https://greektraveltellers.com/blog/greek-mythology-monsters
    Your choice of “nothingburger” illustrates for me the most egregious abuse in false prophets promising us food for worshipping their maligned/malignant tactics of power rather than love. How topsy turvy the monster’s presentations and falsehoods are, in denial of all that is upon us now, and yet to come. Denial is a high energy consuming defense and consumes all psychic energy that could be devoted to change our many imprisoning paradigms. Collectively, May we all abandoned the many belief systems, propaganda, and monstrous ways we have been following and open to our Creator’s guidance again by discharging the spaces that the monsters occupy so that Divine Light enter, and we find our many new paths out of the mess we have all participated in, to some extent giving them power rather than follow our purpose to learn compassion and love of ourselves and each other, one and the same.!!!

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