There’s an old Internet meme, “Great minds on the Chicken Question,” which I received in an email way back when I had my first college e-mail account ca. 1994. A few years ago, I wrote my own variation on the theme. Updated a bit, here goes:
Discussion of the Chicken Question in Catholic theology class:
Genesis: The Chicken saw the road, and it was good, so she crossed it.
Exodus: Thus saith the Lord: “Let my chicken go!”
Leviticus: A chicken shall not cross the road on the Sabbath.
Numbers: How many chickens crossed the road?
Deuteronomy: The chicken will not cross the road, but her children will arrive in a land flowing with milk and honey.
Judges: The chicken crossed the road to confront the Turkey army, on her own, to prove that God was on her side.
Abraham: “The Lord will make of that chicken a great nation.”
Jacob: “If the chicken who crossed the road was pied, she belongs to me. If she’s made into a pie, I’d like that, too.”
Joseph: “I dreamt of a chicken who crossed the road. I believe it means I have a journey ahead.”
Samuel: There once was a man who had many chickens, and another man who had but one chicken, and the man with many chickens bade the poor man’s chicken to cross the road.
King David: If I forget you, O chicken, let my right hand wither!
King Solomon: I can cut the chicken in half, and leave one part on each side of the road!
Elijah: I bet I can get to the other side of the road before the chicken does.
Jeremiah: “Oh, why did the chicken cross the road! Why did you allow, it Lord?”
Isaiah: “And the day shall come when the chickens shall cross the road with the cars, and they shall not be harmed.”
Daniel: If the chicken crossed the road to be sacrificed to an idol, I want no part of it.
Ezekiel: The Lord said to me, “Do you see this chicken which crossed the road? Son of Man, go and eat that chicken whole.”
Jonah: If the chicken does not repent, God will smite it with fire from heaven! It must turn back!
Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior: The Kingdom of God might be likened to a chicken crossing the road, and when she crosses the road, there is great celebration, for she has found the goal she seeks.
The Blessed Mother: Jesus told her to.
St. Joseph: I don’t answer questions. Go ask my wife.
Zechariah: . . .
Peter, James and John: If only we might cross with it, after we take our naps.
Mary of Magdala: She loved much.
Martha of Bethany: to avoid the housework
Mary of Bethany: She was sick of everyone confusing her with the chicken from Magdala.
Lazarus: She had two mouthy sisters, who wouldn’t let her rest in peace.
Zaccheus: To get a better view
Thomas: I’ll believe it when I see the chicken with my own eyes.
Nathaniel: Can anything good come from the other side?
Paul: I, Paul, thank God continually in my thanksgiving prayers that the chicken did not cross the road in vain. It was by faith that she crossed that road, and God rewarded her faith with safe passage. I was not there to witness it myself, but my testimony is reliable, for I am myself an Apostle. Do not be deceived by those who use their ministry for personal gain.
Herod the Great: Find me that chicken!
Pilate: What is this “road”?
Herod Antipas: I need to see it for myself!
Pharisees: Did she do it on the Sabbath?
Matthew: Peter, James and John were somewhere over on the left.
Luke: Simon Peter and the sons of Zebedee were somewhere over on the right.
Mark: Peter and James and his brother John were in the middle of the road.
John (later): The beloved disciple was there. He himself witnessed it, and testifies to this, and his testimony is true.
The “Gospel” of Thomas: The chicken was not really there. It was an illusion created by Lucifer.
The Jesus Seminar: We cannot be certain of the authenticity of this chicken account, since the four Gospels do not agree on the details. We do not even know the author of the Fourth Gospel. Therefore, we think the Gospel of Thomas has the most reliable account.
St. Augustine: its heart was restless
Boethius: God knew that the chicken would cross the road, but the chicken still had the free will to do so.
St. Thomas Aquinas: Objection 1: The chicken did not cross the road.
Objection 2: The chicken crossed for no reason.
On the contary, the Philosopher says that the chicken did cross the road, and the Apostle says she had a motive.
I answer that, getting to the other side is predicated of crossing the road. The motive is to be found in the side itself, either in its genus or its species.
Blaise Pascal: the chicken has its reasons that the chicken does not know.
St. Teresa of Avila: The chicken crossed the road to drink from the water, by water I mean a metaphor for prayer, but I am just a simple woman and do not know how to explain these things. Consider that chickens sometimes drink water. . . .
St. John of the Cross: The chicken was detached from the other side of the road.
St. Ignatius of Loyola: Having examined her conscience, the chicken realized her greatest fault was sloth, so she committed herself to cross the road every time she was tempted to sloth.
St. Therese of Lisieux: Little chickens always cross the roads if their loving fathers will it.
St. John Bosco: We cannot have chickens wandering around our roads unsupervised! Give me land, and I shall build an oratory for the homeless chickens!
St. Pio: I kicked her out of my confessional, as chickens are incapable of receiving the Sacraments.
Bl. Teresa of Calcutta: The chicken crossed the road so she could be Christ’s feet!
St. Josemaria Escriva: The chicken crossed the road to offer her work for God.
G. K. Chesterton: Leaving was the only way the chicken could come home again to the first side.
The Marian Movement: The blessed mother was appearing on the other side daily.
John Paul II: To understand why chickens cross roads, we must first look into the phenomenology of chickenness we learn from modern zoology. Chickens must be indifferent to their own selfish impulses and cross roads only as an act of complete self-donation to the butcher shop across the street.
Leo XIII: Did the chicken get a just wage?
The Fraternity of St. Peter: The chicken crossed the road to look for a traditional Latin Mass.
The SSPX: The freemasons probably had something to do with it.
The folks at GIA and OCP: [cue guitars and bongoos] “Chickens, rejoice! God has made you, and you are good!”
C. S. Lewis: You see, this side of the road is merely a shadow of the reality on that side of the road, and the chicken had a painful desire to get there.
Karl Adam: to understand the chicken, we must look at both the theological and psychological dimensions of its actions. Theologically, crossing the road has no moral value. Psychologically, the chicken may perceive crossing the road as a personal quest.
Dietrich von Hildebrand: In World War II, I criticized the chickens who crossed too far to the right. Now I criticize the chickens who cross too far to the left.
Flannery O’Connor: Did I tell you I once had a chicken that could walk backwards? I would say the chicken wanted to imitate the spirituality of St. Anthony of the Desert, and crossed the road to try and get into the wilderness.