Of Milkshakes and Malcontents

So I sat down a few days ago and attempted to actually write something up about the Chick-fil-a controversy. I first tried to write a comprehensive post on the whole thing, including a response to the various sides. What I ended up with was about 15 pages and 5,000 words of pure tediousness, and I wasn’t even halfway done. Shoulda known better.

Then I tried to just focus on a small selection of reactions and still ended up having to circle back and point to those details I put in the comprehensive piece anyway. At this point it was 2:30am and my brain had ground to a halt. G’night!

This whole imbroglio was a big mess. That’s what happens when buzz words reign, a lot of fundamental and important issues get mixed together, emotions run high, and people use insipid Facebook memes and bumper sticker commentary to discuss a situation that has deep meaning and importance for people on both sides of the isle.

There were a few on both sides that had some incredibly insightful things to say, but it was drowned out by the bumper sticker voices.

Whether it was the meme below (which was one of the worst and least thoughtful responses in all of this–yet most popular), the bumper-sticker-ish “Jesus didn’t come to rally people to a cause,” (neither did He come to post sweepingly general Facebook status updates, but that didn’t stop you, did it?), the claim that August 1 was unloving  and divisive, that gays and lesbians felt hated , that standing in line and/or posting pictures on Facebook amounted to “shoving it in their face,” that the conflict represented a naked commercialism, the call from a friend of mine to “unite under King Jesus!” and go to Chick-fil-a, or the ubiquitous chant that Chick-fil-a and its supporters are symbols of bigotry—all of it was incredibly unsatisfying, and with each response like that—and there were plenty–I was left with more questions than answers. Predictable, I guess, but I was hoping for more.

This one is just…plain…bad. You’d never see the number of people who posted this meme go help at a food bank. Instead of wasting your time arguing on Facebook that this is true, why don’t you go serve at a homeless shelter instead? That’s something Jesus actually said to do. *See what I did there*?

If you posted this, you are part of the problem. You…yes you

So rather than saying what’s already been said or attempting to tackle every possible response¸ I’m simply going to link to some of the more thoughtful voices, ones that I think need to be heard. If any of you still care to chat about it, you know where to find me…at Starbucks (where I am right now, writing this).

Ok, I admit, this one’s pretty bad too.

First, here is the single most insightful post I’ve found to date, written by Matthew Lee Anderson. Kind of puts a human face onto each side, while at the same time maintaining the need for rigorous debate.

On the heels of that is Anderson teaming up with philosopher John Corvino, who as a gay man himself argues for same-sex marriage in his writings. They “get it” insofar as healthy dialogue needs to happen where the actual arguments of both sides are heard, and that is exactly what is not happening in our buzz-word charged culture.

Philosopher JP Moreland responds to a Matthew Paul Turner piece. Turner argues that the church “failed” last Wed, while Moreland argues that Turner’s points ignore many key distinctions and thus exhibit “royal confusion” about the support of Chick-fil-a. Note: given that Turner’s critique was aimed at Christians and Moreland’s audience is the same, Moreland assumes much background that secular minded folk might object to. His aim was to rebut Turner’s points given the ground common to the main audience, so a defense of that common ground is a side issue.

Gay Patriot” has some good thoughts about the use of “hate” and “bullying” labels. I hesitate to return the favor—as he does—to the liberal left, but he nevertheless makes a good point about how those terms have lost their meaning. He also shows , as does this piece, that diverse voices have spoken in support of Chick-fil-a.

Last link from him: he has video proof  that Chick-fil-a does, indeed, discriminate—with LAZERS AND GUNFIRE!

I’m glad to hear that many, many libertarians and even liberals agree with us conservatives that the various politicians who weighed in greatly overstepped their bounds. They have been appropriately reigned in—for now. Actually, politicians getting away with this sort of thing isn’t new, so I think they will only be reigned in for a short while.

We frequently hear reassurances from the left that they “respect religious practice.” Ross Douthat says “whatever,” and therebye calls for some honesty. Nails it.

I’m not really the biggest Rachel Held Evans fan. However, she does have a few good thoughts in this piece from the other side of the ideological pond. We disagree about same-sex marriage and a whole host of other things…but she gets a few things right in this one…a few things. :)

The fact that she is a) coming from the left and b) leaves some space—however little—for the possibility that some went to Chick-fil-a on Wed out of justified principle makes the column link-worthy.

A friend of a friend writes about how a “Contrived Reciprocity of Conviction”  has led to much of the buzz-word speak.

Denny Burk  cautions us against buying into the overblown media narrative of what started this all. While you might object to the first point (though I still think it’s a good one), the second one is spot on. Both sides of the same sex marriage debate should pay attention to it.

Michael Kruger  gives a response to one prominent critique of CFA appreciation day.

Are Christians standing up to vicious persecution and tyranny? No, says Matthew Lee Anderson. The decision to eat or not eat at Chick-fil-a on Wed was not very morally momentous, and suggesting so cheapens the blood of the true martyrs that have given their lives for Christ all around the world. Still, while the statements of our politicians might not have been hard despotism, they reflected a kind of despotism nonetheless, and that deserves opposition. Anderson writes, “But the rightness or wrongness of a state of affairs isn’t determined comparatively, and to say that the calls by mayors and city councilmen to use the force of law to restrict Chick-Fil-A’s sphere of operations is wrong is not to say it’s the most grave wrong. Soft despotism may be soft, but it is still despotic.”

Lastly, on the topic of marriage itself–which I think is a side issue here with the whole Chick-fil-a kerfuffle, but nevertheless—James Everett  offers an interesting argument. Take special notice of the editor’s note: Everett is not promoting bisexual marriage, but pressing the point, via modus tollens, that many same-sex marriage advocates are inconsistent and discriminatory themselves, if we take their views on what defines unjust discrimination at face value. This is not a slippery slope argument, though that would be just fine. It is modus tollens. Though Everett doesn’t make this next point, a possible solution would be to define discrimination more reasonably, though that might mean one could not wield that accusation against conjugal marriage supporters. This shows the limits of such buzz word arguments.

There you have it. I don’t necessarily buy everything these authors are selling, but I link to them nonetheless because they represent some of the more thoughtful pieces I’ve read. I likewise can find some sympathy with guys like Turner, even though I think they largely miss the mark. We all might be sick and tired of hearing the words “Chick-fil-a” for the time being. Heaven knows I am! The issues the events brought to the forefront are enduring, though, and therefore deserve a sustained look, coupled with robust and rigorous public discourse (rather than the usual fare).

One response to “Of Milkshakes and Malcontents

  1. Good stuff. I read a few of them and found ’em helpful. This was the post I liked most, by my buddy Alan Noble over at Christ and Pop Culture. http://www.christandpopculture.com/featured/the-chick-fi-asco-why-boycotts-are-awful/

    I figured you and your readers will enjoy.

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