matt solin

The Correct Answer


It has been a busy week for murder, religious intolerance and fast food.

First, there were the reactions to the shooting in Aurora, Colorado last week. Some of these were thoughtful, engaged, and reasonable while simultaneously sympathetic and angry. Some were partisan, litigious, and self-serving. Also, Obama went to visit the families of the victims. As the Onion points out, this is all par for the course. Alas.

Then, there were the comments from Dan Cathy, the founder of fast food chain Chick-Fil-A and the reactions. Mr. Cathy, whose business is making delicious chicken fried in peanut oil, decided to venture into the business of pontification. His statements to the Baptist Press were that the company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” This is a little surprising, as there are plenty of people who are very vocal about their support for traditional marriage. It seems as though Mr. Cathy, whose 1,600 stores are mainly located south of the Mason-Dixon, doesn’t have a lot to lose by making these comments, but I don’t really understand what he has to gain. All it seemed to do was rile up us Northerners. And it was extremely effective. You can see examples of this in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, to name a few. I personally will not be eating at Chick-Fil-A anymore. Luckily there, are plenty of copycat recipes for their nuggets.

What all of these things (besides the copycat recipes) have in common is the idea that the speaker has the RIGHT ANSWER. I will let their own words speak for themselves:

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'” – Dan Cathy

“They no longer believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation, they teach that God is OK with homosexuality, this is just increasing more and more. It is mankind shaking its fist at the authority of God.” – Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association

And, for good measure..

“I don’t think [the Constitution]’s a living document, I think it’s dead. More precisely, I think it’s enduring. It doesn’t change. I think that needs to be orthodoxy.” – Justice Antonin Scalia

Don’t even get me started on the Vatican’s treatment of American nuns lately.

What these things have in common are men who have decided that there is one right answer to any question being asked. What is marriage? What is the right way to live? What does the Constitution mean? These things have no correct answer, but only our best guesses. And these people, with a straight face, look the camera in the eye and say “I know what God/Thomas Jefferson/the Bible thinks/wants/believes/says, and what you’re doing is wrong.” It is we who are shaking our fists at the heavens, while they are only trying to point us in the right direction. Is it fear of uncertainty that makes them talk and think like this? Is it the thought that there may not be an objectively correct answer to their most burning questions? They seize a document, a book, or the words of long-dead men so they don’t have to face that we all are meandering through life, doing what we think is right with no thumbs up or thumbs down from the sky?

Whatever the reason, the kind of gall that these people have is breathtaking. By speaking for God, you make yourself into God.