I just came across this nifty band, Switchfoot, and I really liked their music. If I were to describe it, I'd probably say that it's a type of rock, but it's not too heavy. That's exactly the kind of music I've been searching for. So I started listening, and I got addicted to Switchfoot. After listening to the songs a million times and savoring the bittersweet lyrics, I looked into their meanings, and was astonished to find that Switchfoot could also be described as a Christian band. That appeared to me as beyond shocking. How many Christian bands are there in this corrupted world that have the perfect sound and cool lyrics without going overboard on the religion thing? This was sort of the way the article, "The Truth About 'Inherit the Wind,'" surprised me. From reading the play, I had a vague idea that Matthew Harrison Brady was a caricature of whoever he was modeled after. But when I read the article by Carol Iannone, I found that Matt Brady's model was William Jennings Bryan, a respectable, friendly, and caring man. Bryan was just about the opposite of Brady--the Brady I had analyzed and who I thought that I was so familiar with turned out to be a cheesy joke.
Personally, I have to admit that I'm a Catholic, and therefore a Christian, and I always have been, and always will be. That's just me. But another part of me is that I'm not excessively devoted to attending church, reading the Bible regularly, and all of the work that comes with being a Christian. I just go through the motions and call myself a Catholic. That may be because I'm the first child in my whole family to ever go to public school, and I don't have time for anything but band, homework, and basically school in general. Personally, I think that being pious is awesome and inspiring, but there are people who take their devotion a tad too far, and it can push them off the deep end. Switchfoot is great, because its music lets me enjoy myself, but still have the satisfaction that I'm worshipping in my own special way. Switchfoot is sort of like my church alternative. They don't take piety overboard.
If Matthew Harrison Brady was supposed to be a character based on William Jennings Bryan, he must have been an incredibly torn and worn-out rough draft. Brady was literally a humongous man who loved food and religion. In my opinion, Brady took his faith way too far. He went by exactly what the Bible states, and nothing else. Brady had an "understanding of himself as a self-anointed prophet." That line of the article made me laugh out loud, because it was the truth. Drummond described Brady's situation as, "...But Matt Brady got lost. Because he was looking for God too high up and too far away" (Lawrence 128). Matt Brady was an excessively pompous man, who gave off the vibe that he was the center of the world. He quoted the Bible right and left, and gave sermons to innocent bystanders. I feel sorry for those poor, unfortunate people. Brady probably didn't even know what he was talking about, since it turned out that he just took the Bible for its' surface meaning. This sort of reminds me of the curds in milk. Brady just took the curds. Curds and milk, in my opinion, are both revolting, but that's probably because I'm lactose intolerant. So Brady took the disgustingly simple translations of the Bible and used them as his personal philosophies.
Though Clarence Darrow once called William Jennings Bryan "the idol of all Morondom" (Iannone ?), I really think he was just jealous. According to the article, "Bryan's kindness and sincerity were acknowledged even by his enemies" (Iannone ?). That's got to say something about him. Unlike the religiously zealous Brady, Bryan didn't actually take the Bible literally, and he probably actually knew--like Drummond did in Inherit the Wind--more about Darwinism than anyone else involved in the trial. The play made a huge deal out of the fact that Brady didn't really know what the Bible stood for, and that he was as dense as a chimes mallet. Bryan, on the other hand, knew what he was talking about when he defended the Bible, but he proved to people that he wasn't just an ignorant fundamentalist; in fact, according to the article, he didn't defend fundamentalism much at all. When he arrived in Dayton, Bryan actually began a friendship with John Scopes. Brady, though, only wanted to befriend those delicious chicken drumsticks made by Mrs. Krebs and her posse. The town made Brady look like a complete and total idiot when they declared him as some sort of honorary Hillsboro colonel. At this event, Drummond declared, "I am not familiar with Mr. Brady's military record" (Lawrence and Lee 42). Though the beef headed Brady wasn't ever technically a colonel, Bryan served as a colonel during the Spanish-American War. In the play, Brady died only minutes after the trial was over, out of rage, and as E. K. Hornbeck put it, "...Brady died of a busted belly" (Lawrence and Lee 125). Though Bryan also died soon after the trial (only five days after), he had a diabetic condition and actually died during a peaceful nap after a hearty meal. For me, this proved that Brady was a terribly exaggerated caricature of Bryan. It was icing on the cake. Or crusty curds floating on the milk's glassy white surface. Which is another disgusting way of describing my reaction to the play through the article.
To me, it seems like Lee and Lawrence used their hatred toward William Jennings Bryan as a cheap excuse for a play, even if the play turned out to be a timeless masterpiece. According to Switchfoot, "...I'll bet / That that T.V. set / Tells us what we've wanted to hear." In this case, they were right; Lee and Lawrence exaggerated some of Bryan's bad qualities and turned him into a pious, meaty monster just for the amusement of the public. It just goes to show that some people take their beliefs a little overboard.
Lawrence, Jerome, and Robert E. Lee. Inherit the Wind. New York: Bantam, 1960.
Iannone, Carol. "The Truth About 'Inherit the Wind.'" First Things. Feb. 1997: 28-33.
Switchfoot. "Adding to the Noise." The Beautiful Letdown. Sony Entertainment Inc. 2003-2004.