On Jesus, Chicken, and Rhetoric

Now that the national uproar over chicken sandwiches, gay marriage, love, hate, and free speech has moved out of the spicy rhetoric of the 24 hour news cycle, I’ve had a chance to process what has been rolling around in my head. While I may not be as angry about the whole affair as I was at the time, my opinions haven’t really changed much. In short, we really screwed up. All of us. My day job’s office is two blocks from the local Chick-Fil-A, which happens to be owned and operated by the university’s dining services (I find that to be a little ironic in this whole mess). I happen to frequent the establishment once a month or so because I’m a fan of both chicken sandwiches and milkshakes, especially good ones. My usual response to criticisms of Chick-Fil-A’s politics (and when people say that, they really mean the politics of the owners of the corporation) is that my relationship with Chick-Fil-A ends with the exchange of money for chicken sandwiches. Period. No one tells me how to spend the money that I make, and I try not to make the same demands on others. I don’t want to write about the pros and cons of boycotts, but honestly, do you know what happens to the money you give your babysitter, your dog walker, your supermarket, your gas station, your therapist, your doctor, or whatever? We don’t know and we don’t care how those people spend the money we give them, and there’s no way to do anything differently. In my mind, it makes this whole Chick-Fil-A thing even more ridiculous. I tend to avoid political, social, and religious debates like the plague, having spent most of my self-righteous indignation in my youth. I try to politely excuse myself from those conversations, especially when it looks like someone is gearing up for an impassioned discourse on the worth of their own opinions. Part of my inner monologue responds “I’ve spent a fair amount of time wrestling with this issue, and I already know what I think. You’re welcome to your opinion, and I’ll keep mine. Thanks.” I knew something was up when I rolled into Chick-Fil-A a few weeks ago to redeem a coupon for a free chicken wrap (stick to the sandwiches and nuggets – trust me on this). I was early, being intentional about beating the lunch rush, but the place was already packed. I puzzled over this for a while, since the college students weren’t back in town yet and things should have been pretty quiet. I saw a friend from church ahead in the line and commented “I guess it’s the wrong day to go to Chick-Fil-A.” He responded “No , it’s the RIGHT day to go.” Then it hit me. It was THAT DAY. It was the I-Support-Chick-Fil-A-Jesus-And-Free-Speech-Because-Their-CEO-Gives-To-Anti-Gay-Causes Day. I looked around and confirmed my suspicions. There were people sitting at tables with little signs saying which church they represented. The line was out…

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