Turning Right at the Burger Barn


Here we go on church authority.

Let’s say there is a Catholic teaching, infallibly defined, that says “turn right at the burger barn.” Catholics staunchly defend it as right, sensible, just, proper, Scriptural; all the ECFs supported it, Aquinas defended it, and C.S. Lewis was in favor of it. Tolkien referred to it, as did a whole bunch of other Catholics.

I, Protestant, have never heard of such a thing. We ALWAYS turn left there, if we go there at all, which we tend not to do anyway, as there is no need. Since my Catholic friends have been insistent, I dig into it. I find it insane, disproportionate, improper, a waste of time: I find no reason ever to do it. I cannot fathom the idea. So I turn to Scripture. I find no burger barns and certainly no turning right at them in Scripture, despite the inferences and hints that the Catholics allude to. I dig through the ECFs: while Cyprian mentioned a Burger Barn, and Augustine talked about turning left, once, I can find no other reference. Ambrose is in favor of turning, Basil of Burger barns. Athanasius is silent, and Theodoret just confuses me with distinctions that are beyond me. I can’t figure out what Aquinas was saying, but it didn’t seem to have much to do with either turning in any direction or with a Burger Barn. Lewis, Tolkien, et al, carry no authority with me, so I don’t care. The other sources I cannot track down, like the 1303 Ecumenical Council in Freeman Missouri and the 160 Council in Ottawa.

So I present my research to my Catholic friend, who immediately tells me that despite my lack of evidence, my mountain of lack of evidence and counter-testimony, none the less the infallibly declared dictum to turn right at the Burger Barn stands, not on the evidence, but on the fact that it was infallibly declared to be right, because that is the power of the Magisterium at work, and he needs no other argument. Not only that, but you should cross yourself when you do so.

So why did he marshall all this other “evidence”, now torn to shreds, when this really, at heart, was his argument?

Note: I am NOT trying to make the point that such decrees are without basis! That is not at all the point here. I guess the question is whether you as Catholics believe a decree for its own sake without any evidence, even if all the evidence you know of points against it. But this was fun to write.


basically yes, I trust that the magesterial authority of the Catholic Church, with its 2000 years experience of navigation, knows when to turn right and when to turn left, and that there is no need for be to bring along my atlas, GPS, yellow pages, onstar, or that huge book of maps my DH insists on bringing on every vacation that takes up half the back seat, every time I want to go out for burgers.

since in my study of history, I cannot help but observing that historically those who have turned left have generally become lost and arrived late or not at all, that gives me added confidence, although since I know Jesus gave the GPS to the apostles and their successors, I can trust their navigation skills and advice. I don’t have to be Christopher Columbus or Lewis and Clark and map out a new route every time.

of course, in this analogy, out of charity we will not discuss those who refuse to ask for directions at all.


Truly, and no offense meant, but your arguments sound much like those who are not Christians. They have researched it and just find it…(propaganda for the masses, illogical…). Respectfully, just because you don’t see the truth doesn’t mean there isn’t an objective truth. I and many others have come to the Catholic Church because we came to the exact opposite conclusion of you, based on the same resources:shrug:

However, if after doing the research, and *you *don’t see the claims for papal authority, your next question should be where is the closest Orthodox Church?

God Bless,


He’s probably investigated lots of things he had questions about and found that every time he investigated it, there was evidence in the early church fathers and in the bible. All of the things with lots of evidence have gotten him to believe in the authority of the Catholic Church. So one or two small exceptions to the rule aren’t going to be enough to make us change our minds about the church. Most of us probably have a bit of trouble with one or two things the church teaches, but we accept it because we strongly believe in the teaching of the authority of the Church for other reasons.


I would have to say right off the bat that defined doctrine got that way through deliberation and study.

Now if turning right at the Burger Barn is decreed as a tenet of the faith then that only leaves one possibility after all you describe. Somehow everyone you have asked is ignorant of the basis for the tenet.

I am constantly embarrassed that I, (as a lifelong RC), am shown up by converts who in their questioning have found the basis for things I take for granted and therefore am simply ignorant about. (ignorance here being defined as untaught or unknown facts).

So, if you want the defined answer it is like arguing with the phone company. Start with the one who answers the phone, step up to the supervisor and so on until you get the one who has the answers. Anything that is the RC catechism has a long history and an evolution of thought attached to it and should be able to be read and considered rationally. From what I have researched even defined heresies have a body of thought attached that was defeated by another body of thought which lead to Church defined doctrine that the other body of thought had the superior validity.
(read this sentence twice, I had to to make sure I wasn’t going in circles)
If all else fails, google it! :smiley:


The question you have posed is predicated on a rather glaring assumption that some infallible declaration of the Magisterium could contradict the implied teaching the Church may have held in the past. To demonstrate such a thing for any one doctrine would require much more than the isolated impressions of one or two Church Fathers.

In any event, your example is easily refutable since the Fourth Council of Detroit directly addresses the propriety of turning right at the Burger Barn, albeit without the requisite anathema. This point is further corroborated by Pope Larry XIII’s encyclical Essum in Via ut Dei wherein he praises taking a right turn at the Burger Barn after admonishing believers to avoid the fish sandwich there. Thus, we can see that the right at the Burger Barn is a concept that is simply not alien to the Church and its infallible definition definitely not something new.



:bounce: Gotta say this is kind of a fun thread with all the travelling. I’ve got that classic sense of direction that says “Eventually I’m going to find a street I recognize and work from there”. (Sadly, so it has been with my life!!)

But as for the infallible teachings…as I grow older I find that acceptance of this is becoming much easier. I didn’t do such a good job of interpreting scripture or knowing what is the will of God on my own, so it’s nice to know that I have a spiritual leader that I can look to for guidence. And given that the Holy Father knows a heck of a lot more about the Catholic faith than I do, I think I can trust his judgment a tad more than my own. :smiley:


It seems to me that a lot of our Non- Catholic friends Think that the Pope just says, “Today I will say something infallible.” It has always been my understanding that a lot of study and prayer goes into all of these statements. Am I wrong?


well, you sure have set up your story here with the assumption that whatever Catholic doctrine in question resembles this:

So I turn to Scripture. I find no burger barns and certainly no turning right at them in Scripture, despite the inferences and hints that the Catholics allude to. I dig through the ECFs: while Cyprian mentioned a Burger Barn, and Augustine talked about turning left, once, I can find no other reference. Ambrose is in favor of turning, Basil of Burger barns. Athanasius is silent, and Theodoret just confuses me with distinctions that are beyond me. I can’t figure out what Aquinas was saying, but it didn’t seem to have much to do with either turning in any direction or with a Burger Barn.

The Catholic Church is amazingly clear and reasonable with any of its doctrines, especially providing it has been around 2,000 years. It weighs tradition and scripture, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit decides on a conclusion to whatever doctrine that is in question. After all, that is the reason most doctrines are defined infallibly, because they were challenged.

You liked your little Burger barn story and wanted to tout is about here on the forum. It is pretty obvious because of the last minute, not really thought out question that you had to explain at the end of the story. Unfortunately your story is not accurate. Let me give you the Catholic perspective:

We know from tradition and scripture that for as long as we can remember people have been turning right at the Burger barn. Now these ‘people’ are starting to turn left and questioning why we turn right. We define why we turn right and why for as long as we can know people have turned right and settle the matter. Done.

this is pretty silly, and I think there are probably 14 other threads going with the same subject.


I get this impression almost every time I talk to a protestant about infallibility.
“hmmm, it’s Monday morning. Yesterday I defined that thing… what was it again? hmm, I can’t really remember that far back, Oh well… this morning I think I will define…”


the underlying principle, leaving aside the fun of the analogy, is that the doctrine does not aquire truth when the Church teaches it, the Church teaches the doctrine because it is true.


Clearly you presenting a false Church document. The real situation is presented in Incline dexter effundo commodus from the Council of the Roads. forums.catholic.com/images/smilies/ani/whacky.gif


No quarrel there. That’s the principle.


Yeah, but none as entertaining.



  • sees the burger barn over there, hires a construction crew, razes it to the ground and moves it across the way so that all the people who used to turn right at the burger barn and ending up on valley Rd will now turn right at the Burger Barn and be going a different way on Parker ave.

(sorry, couldn’t resist)


Yes. I can be wrong, and I can deceive myself. It is not clear to me that turning left is right, because so many say left is wrong, not right, or that turning right is right, because it doesn’t some right just because of the Rite. (sorry, I couldn’t resist this. Blame it on Syele;)).

Somehow you came to the conclusion, despite the evidence I see, that the Church is right in saying the right turn is right. Not that I have all the evidence, nor that I understand it all completely, or that I even read it correctly.

But that was not what the thread is about. It is about the fact that you ultimately fall back on the authority of the Magisterium for your turning right, yet you try to convince people that turning right is right for every other reason. So perhaps you are not really relying on their authority?


My feelings on the right or left is what does the road look like after the turn-off. The road to the right is rather straight with only a few minor exits.

The road to the left is full of unfinished highways, turn-offs that lead to dead ends, new roads that just spring up out of no-where, only to end. I think I saw a couple of roads that just led right off the cliff.

I think I’ll just continue to turn right at the Burger Barn. Oh, and don’t forget to try their cheese-fries!!! They’re wonderful! :slight_smile:


my Father told me how to get to the Burger Barn, i have learned
that my Father is always right, even when i think he’s wrong,
he is still right… :smiley:


Turning right is never a new thing. We can see the little footprints in the dust that makes a right turn a possibility.
Don’t forget there are an infinite number of directions you may take at every point if you feel like it, - but theres only one right way. Theres only one of everything thats correct, in fact. One Truth, One Religion, One Church, One right answer… One right direction.

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