Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Something to Say - Matthew West


Notice the rhetoric ~ not only in the song itself, but the well-placed scripture throughout the entire video. This one doesn't pop up first when you search the song on Youtube, but it's my favorite because of those verses.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Class Assignment: Encomium **warning** [somewhat] lengthy post ahead

Assignment: Write an invective/encomium about the following topic: "the value of a humanities education." The paper that you write should be 600-900 words in length. Show off your rhetorical abilities to make a strong appeal to your audience.

    So this is it—your baby's about to head off to college, they're still debating what they want to do with that four plus years of their life, and you're sweating bullets. Time to to do a little time travel, folks. Fire up that flux capacitor and take a ride back to your senior year of high school—what do you see?
    A few of you have your degree choices or maybe even your whole life mapped out at this point. Props to you, but you're in the minority here. To be perfectly honest, most of you are excited and hyped to the nines, but you're also scared silly. I mean, just these four years could decide what the rest of your life is going to look like, and you have more control over that destiny now than even you care to admit. But there is so much for you to choose from, and perhaps your desires are tugging you in a direction not quite aligned with that of your parents...
    Now, regardless of your decision or what your parents thought of it, and with the benefit of hindsight, what are you going to say to your child? You want them to have a career that is highly beneficial to them in the long run. But you want them to do something that they love. And sometimes it just doesn't look like the two can mix. Can't let them go and take a deep breath as they plunge into the future that awaits them—whether it be nuclear scientist or starving author? Maybe I can help.
    Try to imagine a bird without its feathers. A flower without its petals. A tree without its leaves. Sure, they would all function in essentially the same way. But the bird would not catch your eye as it flitted past; it would be hopping around, mournfully earthbound, looking wistfully at the sky. Flowers would no longer be bought for sweethearts on Valentines Day, and the bare skeletons of trees would make you think ever of winter even during the blissful balminess of spring. They would all be in essence what they were before—so why would we miss their feathers, petals, and leaves so dreadfully? Because they were what endeared these things to us, gave them their vibrancy, lifted them about the mere dreariness of basic functionality.
    Now consider this: science, math, engineering—all those promising paths that ensure almost certain career success—these are the basic structure, the skeleton, the building blocks on which society is built. But the humanities—language, religion, the arts, philosophy; those uncertain, almost tainted career paths in today's culture—these are the feathers, the petals, the leaves which make the human life more vibrant, more attractive, more colorful. They add a certain unexplainable life and depth to the basic structure of everyday-ness and seem to breath a new dimension into the strict orderliness demanded by science.
    The science professor didn't learn to teach in his science courses. Those taught him what to teach. His language professor taught him how. Those cathedrals in Europe you swooned over during last year's vacation? Someone had to know some fairly precise mathematical equations to be able to build them, but they also depended on the expertise of many others to make them the majestic buildings that inspire awe in art historians to this day.
    My point? You could make a cake with just the flour, the salt, and the baking powder. It would be a cake. But it just wouldn't taste the same without the vanilla, the sugar, and the cocoa. Don't try to force your child into making what you think would be the best decision for them. Not because your parents did and you swore you'd never make the same mistake with your own kids. But because you know that in the end, it takes all kinds to make the world what it is today—and you'll be bragging about them to your friends regardless.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Class Assignment: Enthymemes

Assignment: Some popular slogans are conclusions or premises of enthymemes. The statement that "Elvis has left the building" is part of a long enthymematic argument whose other premises are never stated. Think of three popular phrases or slogans and articulate their other premises.

Milk is good for you.
Famous people drink milk.
Got milk?

Think you know what is possible?
AT&T will help you think again.
Re-think possible.

Tastes good.
It's cheap.
I'm lovin' it ;-)

p.s. "Beginnings of a Project" has been updated ;-)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What's Your Narnia Name?

Mine is Queen Helen.

Wonder how I got it? ...yeah, it's a long story. But long story short, tonight several family members and I actually sat down and had a semi-serious discussion on giving every. single. one of us Narnia names. We started out with "good" names and had so much fun we went on to "bad" names. After much bantering and bickering, each of us had a pair of names we were at least partially satisfied with. It was then we got to really sit back and think about why we had been given those names ~ and how strangely appropriate they were. It's a subtle ~ and yet, not-so-subtle ~ rhetoric that hints at your character and who you are as a person in just a fun little naming game.

So go ahead, ask your family ~ what's YOUR Narnia name? :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When words just aren't enough... shut up

 A huge part of rhetoric is knowing when to speak ~ a well-placed silence can say volumes.

"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... we need silence to be able to touch souls." ~ Mother Teresa

"There are times when silence has the loudest voice." 
~ Leroy Brownlow

"Do not speak unless you can improve the silence."

"Silences make the real conversations between friends. Not the saying but the never needing to say is what counts." 
~ Margaret Lee Runbeck

"Saying nothing... sometimes says the most." ~ Emily Dickinson

"We must have reasons for speech but we need none for silence."

"Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute." ~ Josh Billings

"Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content." 
~ Helen Keller

"The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak." ~ Baruch Spinoza

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Ultimate Love Song

You know my name
You know my story
Still you have taken on the world
Just for me
And I am amazed that you hear me speaking
You listen close to every word I say
Who am I to be loved this way?

~ "You Know My Name" by Detour 180

Yes, there's only one who's this perfect. And he actually acknowledges my existence ~ me! And even better than that... he died for me. Gotta love that guy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Born Again - Newsboys


Who says us stuffy Christians can't rock out? Not me :-)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

They're Made Out of Meat

Before you go on to read the rest of this post, go and read this. And if you feel like watching a video version of it, go watch this. But definitely read the article. And then come back here and attempt to follow my thought process ;-)

So you've just read and/or watched "They're Made Out of Meat" by Terry Bisson, a short and fairly amusing story that is by far the easiest thing we've had to read for philosophy class up to this point. But if you're not one of those people (like me) who believes in an all-powerful Creator who breathed life and a soul into us, this little tale raises some interesting and rather disturbing questions. We have a physical body, with bones, muscles, and tissue, but we also have a mind; something that actually makes the inanimate cells of our body form a warm, living human being. What's the connection? or is there one? From these basic questions springs the issue that philosophers like to call the "Mind-Body Problem."

What's more disturbing to me is the effect this short piece of fiction could have on someone who doesn't have the comfort of knowing exactly where that connection came from. Ah, the power of words.