Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blessings rock!


Hey! Blessings! Have I told you guys how much I love you?! (apostrophe) I mean, let’s be honest. You guys, are pretty great. You’re possible the greatest things in my life! You make me just as happy as ice cream when I’m sick (comparison). I wish I could spend more time counting these amazing blessings that I have in my life. I see them standing in a queue waiting patiently for their turn to make me happy!(personification) Unlikely those annoying cursing which always try to ruin my day. Like have you ever noticed when you’re having a great day and then all of the sudden everything seems to be going wrong? Ya, it’s obnoxious (digression and opposition). 

As I was saying, blessings are rad. In my life, blessings mean family and friends. They mean a healthy spirit and a healthy mind. They mean knowing that I’m living my life in the best possible way (definition). I truly feel as though I am blessed beyond my deserving.

The List of Thanks

It was a foul failure's fault that a certain November became the most memorable month of my youth [alliteration].

"You have two weeks to write down all that you are grateful for," my dad directed my older brother and I. "On Thanksgiving day we will see who comes up with the longest list" [dialogue].

He went on to explain that whoever won would win a portion of a rare seasonal dessert, unusually creamy yet crunchy with a garnish like the crystalized snow [periphrasis]. Our appetites wet, our minds alert, we set to work.

The special day of family and food knocked at the door of grandma's house [personification] before we arrived there. I was sure I would win the friendly contest [metonymy] as my father called Tyler and I to the finish line. We each presented our sheets of gray lined paper, scribbled upon with smudged lead, and the decider read off our gratitudes. General categories like "family" and "food" and "the Church" graced my page, and I was proud. But, I soon heard that specifically named people and objects and video games populated Tyler's list [comparison][isotope]. "Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, Bishop, bread, milk, cheese, eggs, turkey, pumpkins, Donkey Kong 2, Mario Kart 3, Super Smash Brothers 4" and on and on. That he had conceived to cheat in such a way, I could not believe [anastrophe/hyperbaton]. My list reached fifty items, but his over 150 [ellipsis]!

To my utter dismay, Tyler was victorious. He relished his pie in front of me [paranomasia].

But in the end, I was grateful to my merciful father who snuck me a piece of chocolate pie anyway, equal to if not above the quality of Tyler's premium [antanagoge].


To thank is to bring happiness

The holiday known as Thanksgiving is a day set apart for giving thanks to God. (Definition) So often we have heard about gratitude yet we still have not mastered this divine attribute. “Count your many blessings, name them one by one.  Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.” (Repetition) How often do we focus on our wants? Much more than we do with that which we already have. (Anthypophora) Often forgotten are the possessions that are of the most importance – a friend, a family, an example, the gospel, a body, a perfect plan, and the ability to feel and love.  (Asyndeton)  To a remembrance of that which is good Thanksgiving brings us. (Anastrophe) Thanksgiving, you make us better, bring us closer to God, and help us to recognize our blessings.  Why must you only come once a year? (Apostrophe) Giving thanks is nutrition for our souls. (Metaphor) Our spirits are uplifted and edified when realizing all that we have been given.  If we give thanks, then more happiness is ours because we are satisfied with what we have.  (Cause and Effect)  All the happiness in the world can be ours if we give thanks. (Hyperbole) Gratitude is a quality of a true follower of Christ.  Let us remember this Thanksgiving all that we have been given and be grateful always.

Warm Arizona Sun

The roosters “cock a doodle doo” to wake the local neighborhoods up so they can enjoy their warm day. (Onomatopoeia). The blazing hot sun flexes it’s powerful rays upon the dry, scorching desert. (Personification). It is like the whiff of warm air that people feel as if they have just opened up the oven after baking delicious cookies. (Simile). Whether it’s 10 in the morning or 10  at night, the heat radiates freely. (Contrarium). It is an incredible blessing to be able to escape the cold, bitter winters of Utah and enjoy the warm Arizona soil. (Comparison). The salty sweat slides off of the foreheads of the population as they don’t have to worry about bundling up for cold weather. (alliteration). Oh the joy one feels as their seasonal depression escapes them! (Exclamatio). Should I take advantage and go for a nice swim in November? Obviously. (Anthypophora). What an enormous blessing it is to have a tiny bit of sunlight. (Antithesis). Sometimes I wonder if spending my holidays in Phoenix would be a smart use of my time. Then, I quickly repent and realize the clear answer as I arrive and I feel my energy levels replenish. (Correctio). 

Beep, beep!

Would the world be better off without the confining rules of the road? Most certainly not! [anthypophora] What would ensue would be detrimental to everyone, drivers and walkers alike [division]. Chaos, danger, blaming! [asyndeton] That is what would happen.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the rules that guide road conduct. I’m am grateful for the happy green lights [personification], the cautious yellows [metonymy], and the warning reds. I am grateful for the yield signs and right of way laws that allow me to get to and from work without question about who can drive, where, and when.

I am grateful for clarifying ambiguity, the ability to correctly place blame in the instance of collision, and for the steps that keep me safe and sound and free from the guilt of causing an accident. It is no small thing to get into an accident and be unsure about fault [litotes]. With all the gazillion [hyperbole] idiotic things that I see happen on the road WITH the laws, I would hate to see what would happen without them!


If I had the choice of any car, I would not be driving my frail, little, and old Geo Metro, Leonard, but as it is, he’s all I’ve got and I’m glad to know that I am a bit more [degree] safe because of the laws.

Thanksgivings Point of View

I am not just a day on a calendar (opposition), I am more than a table spread with bounty of turkey, stuffing, potatoes mashed, and pie ( description/ degree). Behold, my name itself denotes my anointing, holy day, indeed, open wide door (apostrophe), let loved ones enter, greet those whose presence and well being brings warmth to your soul, embrace, laugh, share in memories passed. Am I a mere day? No, I bring love and a grateful heart (anthypophora ). 
 Though I my time is but a few 24 hours, the power of my presence precedes my coming and lingers long after I have departed. My colors are the leaves of autumn, the drawing of a hand turkey, the contrast of white cream whipped atop of a moist pumpkin pie. I am found whenever blessings are counted, wherever there is appreciation uttered. I am thanksgiving. (personification)

Sun sun sun


Sun, I would like to thank you. [apostrophe] Can I feel your warmth every day? No, but do you shine every day? Yes. [anthypophoria] You are constant, unceasing, steady, eternal, and reliable. [repetition] I am grateful for the way you make me feel when you shine on me, I feel full and peaceful, like my heart is glowing. [periphrasis] At times you are fiery and the strength of your warm rays is fluid like flowing hot lava. [comparison] Even though your intensity varies, I know I can count on you and your habits of rising and setting. [personification] I am glad that I have been able to learn more about you, and know that I can always find you in California, but not in Utah. [opposition]

Thank you, taste.

The bright orange skin of the small orb you peel glistens back at you, a fresh scent accosts your nostrils as juices coat your skin; then, the long awaited moment approaches, and you place the beautiful little segment of orange fruity flesh (alliteration) on your tongue. Taste, how grateful I am to have you (personification). You make possible the enjoyment of every meal (hyperbole), most especially the blessed spread of Thanksgiving, that most blessed day of thanks (repetition). You are the angelic hallelujah (alliteration) of this mortal plain, the aurora borealis of the senses (metaphor), God's most precious gift (hyperbole). Whenever we part I anxiously look forward to our reunion; goodbye, until we rejoice again together (personification).


Homework, Thank You!

      It comes in all shapes and sizes.  It comes during the day, and even the night (contrarium).  O homework, how you doth bequeath my understanding with experience (personification)!  Even as the delicate hands of angel caress those of the weary (comparison), do my hands attend to thee (metaphor).  Thou are deserving.  “The pen is mightier than the sword” they say, and the luster of ink shines ever brighter in this world of doom and woe (metonymy).  The earth hath circumnavigated the sun many times with thee as my faithful companion.    At moments might I thee blame, but alas, it is on the contrary. Only canst I thee fail (hyperbaton).  I enjoyeth the satisfaction that cometh when I complete thee, even more so when I have done so in a timely and sensible manner.  What ho? Is that the squawking (onomatopoeia) of disapproval?  Doth mine ears betray me?  Roommate, you complaineth in the background, but you understandeth not, nor doth the ignorant (apostrophe).  No one understandeth you, o homework, the way I do, because “you’ve got a friend in me.”

Relative gratitude



Driving up and down the hills, my eyes rest upon a old familiar rooftop leafed between the orange and gold leaves of the Tennessee woods[polyptoton]. I thought to myself, 'Oh house of memories, how you remain, unchanged by time all these years[apostrophe/exclamatio]!' These sights and sounds trigger memories that stretch across my years [digression]. A wave of nostalgia fills and envelops my head as soon as I pull up the door. Who's already here when I arrive? My uncle, aunt, cousins, grandma, grandpa, father all come out to greet us in the rental [repetition/anthypophoria/asyndeton]. The new baby I never met wakes up and cries to the euphoria of academy award-sized cheers around him [hyperbole] as we are escorted through the front door to greet the turkey sitting readily on the counter.

The pitter-patter of happy little feet on linoleum and jabber of comments about our trip flood my ears as our suitcases and bags scuttle across the floor and are moved to the guest bedrooms [onomatopoeia]. The anticipated but ever feared kisses from grandma come before they can be suppressed and I get a comment of how good I look with facial hair. I blush, but only for a moment before Grandpa gives a holler for the food to be eaten while it's still hot. There's a scuffle and and in seconds, every seat in the kitchen is filled, all staring at the mountain of food before us [setentia]. My dad offers to say the thanksgiving prayer. Every head bows as humble words are offered. Thanks is given, in hushed tones, even while the baby is crying, roaring to be fed [antithesis]. When grace is said, the food is distributed and I look back to the walls and decorations of walls and a roof holding decades of Thanksgiving traditions [paraphrasis/end digression]. I smile to myself and give my own thanks to God for my family.

Dear Thanksgiving Feast

Dear Feast,


Oh glorious thanksgiving feast, how we always seem to meet around this time of year never ceases to bless my life, as well as my belly [apostrophe]. Your contents of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, rolls, jams, jellies, pies, and other deserts help me to remember that you are as numerous and diverse as the blessings that I have received from above [comparison]. I wonder to myself, without your annual appearance would I be as mindful of my blessings that I receive throughout the year? Most likely not [anthypophora]. You are the center of the time of thanksgiving, you bring together what is most important to me in family, friends, and God. If you weren't around perhaps those I cared to share this time of thanks with would not gather together at all like they currently do [antecedent/consequence]. Each year when we come together, those I love in toe, I realize that I have neglected and forgotten portions of your great display of carbohydrates and proteins from the previous year. This error on my part is once again where you, oh great feast, teach me another important lesson: though my blessings seem endless, they will come to an end if I forget that they are there [paradox].

At Last, to Slumber!

The smooth silk sways [Alliteration] my desires to sleep.  Oh how I have missed you [Apostrophe], the Silent Night(s)! The silence and the sleep somehow always seem to escape from my reach [Ethopoeia/Personification] each night. What must one man do to find such rest? Why must it be so difficult to sleep in peace [Epiplexis]? Who is to blame and to whom must I proclaim? But wait! At last, the Silent Night(s) have returned [Ethopoeia]. Like the wind sets sails to the voyager, you send sanity to my soul [Simile].

It has been far too long, far too few of nights where I have found true slumber. In truth, to slumber is next to impossible in this “college-life” [Hyperbole]. So how grateful I am to have finally found it. For this week, starting tonight, I will sleep like a baby [Maxim/Proverb] once more. I speak of the silent nights in which the night slumbers [Metaphorical use of Verbs] along with you. No sound, no stress, no midnight spars [systrophe].


At last I have found the week of slumber.  Grateful indeed, I am [anastrophe]. For this week there will be no stereo, no yelling, no late night in-door basketball playing; no noise. This week Silent Night(s) will love me and I her [Subjectio]. I cannot wait to beginnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Plastic Giving Thanks


Hurrah! [exclamatio] We come out of the cabinet, slightly stuck together from the lack of use of our slightly opaque bodies [personification]. We have waited all year for this day when we are allowed to rule the large cooling box [metonymy]. You fill us to the top with still-warm turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables, and stuffing [description]. Then you put on our matching hats [periphrasis] and set us to the side. We huddle on the counter in the neat rows you put us in, anxiously awaiting the next command from your ever graceful hands [synecdoche].
Oh blessed Thanksgiving! Oh blessed Thanksgiving [repetition]! How we love the amount of leftovers you produce! For only on you do we have a such a glorious purpose and meaning to our having been purchased [apostrophe]! For even when the day comes when these humans despise our continued existence, our never-ending contents, our endless supply of the remnants to the feast they once enjoyed [articulus] we shall know that we have a coveted spot in the refrigerator [prolepsis]! And when it comes our day of emptiness and we run out of food to provide, we will be allowed to rest and rejuvenate in the relaxing riptides of the dishwasher and then return and be restored to our rooms in the cabinet [alliteration]. When will we see the light of the kitchen again? Perhaps not for another year [subjectio].


The Thankful Heart of a College Student

I am thankful for my bed, I am thankful for the heater, I am thankful for the opportunity for me to gain an education, I am thankful for the 23 year old minivan I get to drive around with pride, I am thankful for my professor's enthusiasm while teaching [repetition]. O beautiful Earth, I am grateful for the mountains that I gaze upon everyday bring me such happiness [apostrophe]. I now know through experiencing winter's harsh cold, that I cannot take the wonderful warmth that summers in California bring for granted [comparison]. I am indebted to my wonderful coat that keeps my shivering body, numb and stiff fingers, and goose-bump covered skin warm during the cold winters [description]. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my computer that runs all day, helping me complete my assignments and notes [personification]. Let's not forget the long wait at Wendy's fast food joint to get a frosty at 1 am [oxymoron]! Most importantly I am thankful for my opportunity to go to BYU, the best university in the world [oxymoron (to some people, but not to me :)]. As I draw my conclusion to my gratitude, I think I am finished naming all that I am thankful for, but when I think about it more, I know I have much more that I can list [correctio].

These Boots were Made for Thanking



My One True Love
There're so many boots to choose from!!!
What more can a young woman ask for than that magical cloth to enfold the feet? [Interrogatio/periphrasis]  With soft, supple, smooth, silky, sinful suede [alliteration] her soles [synecdoche] she enrobes [anastrophe].  Oh boots!  [Apostrophe] Weaving your magic from toe to ankle to Achilles, to calf, even to above the knee [blazon] —Oh, the joy of the above-the-knee boot! [Aposiopesis]  Boots are every woman’s joy.  I, as a young woman, own thousands of these joyous pairs, every last one a deeply held treasure [hyperbole].  From my patent leather Ralph Lauren riding boots to my soft, pine-green Uggs with usuable side pocket to my short ombre Lucky Brand tie-ups [Demonstratio], the number of boots I own is no small feat [Litotes].  And every pair is a soft, fluffy cloud of fashionable condensed water [Metaphor].  My feet are the happiest [Personification] when tucked into the cloud of a pair of my many wonderful, lovely boots. [Metaphor].  I give thanks to boots.  I give love to boots.  I give my heart to boots.  I give my whole soul and everything inside of me to boots. [Anaphora/Climax].  I yearn for my next pair that I will buy someday in order to increase my love.  My thanks will increase as my pairs increase.  My love will grow as my collection grows.  My soul will expand as my assortment expands. [Parallelism]  Like a new child added to the family, boots only expand my capacity to love, not diminish the love I have for my other pairs [Simile/Contradiction].  Black Friday, I look to you to expand my love with your lovely prices on my one true love—boots [Apostrophe]!

Oh hot hub, the resplendent.

Oh marvelous hot tub, what thanks is due to you [apostrophe]! For you, oh warm basin, [paraphrasis] melt my stress as the warm like the resplendent sun melteth the bitter snow [simile]. How could I resist your warm embrace? I cannot. How often have I visited your soothing borders? Every night this week. Do I plan to cease in my visitation? I certainly do not [anthypophora]. Your only description is delightful! Wonderful! Sublime [ecphonesis]! Though I spend weeks within you I have no wish to leave. [hyperbole] Oh hot tub, with your billowing beautiful bubbles [alliteration] and your soothing simmer of steam. The subtle splish-splash [onomatopoeia] of the water can sweep away my every care. You are my gentle care taker whose skillful hands remedy my soreness daily [personification]. Heed not those who say you are a but a luxury, [affirmatio] No, you are essence of relaxation [corrtectio]. Calls me either with warmth or relation [epizeugma]. Traps with the peaceful soothing. I do not mind your subjugation, for within your waters I am a king [antithesis] In your waters my tears dry [paradox]. I know I cannot repay your services, but I thank you for your warm hospitality in this inhospitable cold [eucharistia]. 


Valves and Chambers

I have a love of valves and chambers [synecdoche].

I do not love them for what they are, but for what they do [contradiction]. They do not hesitate; they do not shrink; they do not fail [opposition]--rather, they guide tiny red cells on their path toward home [personification] consistently and diligently [antithesis]. With every thump-thump [onomatopoeia], they propel another fleet of oxygen-carrying vessels [paraphrasis] into the sea of vessels [antanaclasis]. And rarely do they ever, if they ever, for anyone, stop working [climax].

Yet sometimes they do stop working, like mini rubber toys that squeeze and then lose their spring [simile]. Still do I love them, and love them the more [parallelism], for a gentle prodding will not bring them back. It takes a shock of awesome power--a strike that burns, leaves a handprint of red, demands a reaction--to send them running back to their positions [appositio]. It is their difficulty, their absence, that makes the heart grow fonder [adage].

When they are not stopped, they are pools of swirling ocean spray, collecting life for others to peer at briefly before the next tide sweeps it away [metaphor]. Pulsing, breathing, swelling and stirring, they delight at the feel of thick liquid rushing along their paths [personification]. More than delight [degree]. They live for such a purpose.

They wouldn't mind then, would they, if we sent love their way [rhetorical question]? They're so tall at carrying blood [catachresis]--I figure it wouldn't be hard to add a drop of emotion to the mix. Carry our blood. Carry the lifeblood of humanity, too [paranomasia].

I will always have a love of valves and chambers.

Give Me Thanks

"O Blessed Bird," you cry, drawing near to me with your lips while your hearts are still far from me [imitation].  So easily you forgot to give—where are these, my blessings [anastrophe]?  A missing head, a lack of feet, and crispy skin bereft of plume.  This is not a gift, nor is it a way of thanking me [litotes]!  It is an outrage!  To slaughter me though I be innocent, then devour my flesh.  Such an act is a crime—a sin!  "To be used sparingly," and "only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine," God commands regarding this abominable act [epicrisis].  Yet here I stand, if I had the legs, preaching to you pudgy pigs [alliteration]!  Even so, I, myself, have been made fat with the stuffing plunged up my nether regions.  Disgusting!  Vile [exclamatio]!  And then you make me stew in the filthy drippings of my own corpse!  Wretched beings!  Would that I were returned to the Mother Earth and spared this ignominious fate [personification].  I am the dirt you till, the air you breathe, and the water you drink [prolepsis].  Wilt thou have mercy and finish the deed?  Why doth this fowl occurrence recur year after year [paronomasia]?  Is this not enough?  Must my kind never find rest [pysma]?  Brothers, sisters, those fallen prey to the ravenous beast known as man: cry not, for the end is soon upon us.  O sweet release [apostrophe]!  Come, gather us under thy wings!  

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Thankless Black Friday Ads

Calling, taunting--the unmarked pages lay neatly stacked, witholding the majesty of their secret deals (anastrophe).
Through your casual lounging, your quiet presence, your mysterious stare you reel in your victims and spoil their feelings of gratitude (articulus).
And while you innocently sit there, does your very existence not stand to contradict the very spirit of thanks which is being celebrated (interrogatio)?
You hypocrite! Impostor (exclamatio)!
Evil black and red ink cursing the whole land with a nasty spell of want and greed (hyperbole)!
My vision blurs over the red word sale, my thankful red heart tries to resist, my thankless hand draws a menacing circle with a red felt-tipped marker (traductio).
My eyes get green with great, guiltless greed (alliteration).
Another day of wanting.
Another turkey eaten in vain.
Another holiday hijacked (anaphora).
And will the madness ever stop? Of course not. We politely gave you one day and you greedily now take two (subjectio).
Black Friday, you should lose your association with Thanksgiving. Why? Because you contradict everything it stands for and impede on the thankful spirit that unites the nation. You transform once humble and domestic people into deranged, wild beasts that trample each other to satisfy the craving for a good deal (ratiocinatio).
I desire not your blood thirsty sales and late night shopping, but your offering of an evening Thanksgiving family tradition of marking your smooth pages (correctio).

Gratitude for the Glorious Game



Oh graceful pigskin [synecdoche], how I enjoy watching thee float over defenders, how I enjoy watching thee run through defenders [apostrophe and complexio]. Defenders [anadiplosis], you fools, who can stop Peyton Manning? [rhetorical question]. Touchdowns are all he throws [hyperbole]. My beloved Broncos, beam [alliteration] is all I do as I watch you gallop past the hash marks [metonymy]. How grateful I am for the day you win at the grandest stage of them all [periphrasis]. Then the world will know what I already know, that you are a raging bull [metaphor], with the rest of the league trampled beneath your feet. Oh how grateful I am to have witnessed you Manning up, and missed the Tebow trials [contention]. But should I be grateful? Should I praise this day? Naturally I suppose [ratiocinatio], for better now we are then ere before [anastrophe]. But what about Elway? Aye, a beast he was, but not a one can match what Manning has done [anthypophora]. The records quake as he thunders nearer and nearer [personification]. I wouldn’t want to bring attention the records he has broken, like career touchdowns, or yards in a season, [paralipsis] for any who watch can see his glory. And once they see his glory they too may be grateful for that pigskin.

Assignment: Rhetorically Amplifying Thanks

In our course on rhetoric and civilization, my students and I explored the medieval art of poetry and found in Geoffrey of Vinsauf's treatise (from about the year 1200) a familiar concept of amplification. This was varied a bit by the medieval setting and the focus on poetry, but is remarkably similar to methods outlined by Quintilian for the ancient Romans (as well as by others before and following him).

Medieval Christianity reconfigured classical rhetorical practices for its own purposes, as we have seen in the arts of letter writing and preaching. The use of amplification can simply become a mode of invention, as in classical times, but the topics about which Christians wrote and spoke were aligned with Christian belief. High among these is the concept of grace: Christians have traditionally "counted their blessings" in order to appreciate God's role in their lives.

At the occasion of Thanksgiving, I wish my students to practice this Christian content (the topic of thanks) while understanding medieval rhetoric through an exercise in amplification. In short, their assignment is to take a familiar and even hackneyed topic (giving thanks) and use the approaches taught in Geoffrey of Vinsauf's Poetria Nova to make this concept fresh and interesting:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

High-low Balance


In an effort to persuade the audience, Augustine relies heavily on the testimony and documentation of the prophets of old to fuel his main rhetorical function of teaching. The fast majority of his discourse relies on his ability to instruct the audience on the nature and intricacies of repentance and forgiveness. Augustine goes to great length to implement the Lord’s Prayer as median to instruct the people. He quotes the line “forgive us our debts” from the that Prayer implying that none in attendance could sincerely utter that line to the Lord if he has not already at least attempted to repentant to those whom we have wronged and forgive those who have wronged us. Furthermore, Augustine makes meticulous work of teaching the need to forgive those who have wronged us and then let go. He makes it abundantly clear that once we have forgiven those who have offended, we need not be concerned with that act any more. He ingrains his point into the reader with effective use of anaphora.


Though his main rhetorical function is a low level of just teaching, he definitely amps up his speech by calling to action. Inherent in teaching about repentance and forgiveness is an appeal to be repentant and be forgiving. Though this high level of style was in the vast minority for the bulk of the sermon, I think the ratio seems appropriate. One would be hard pressed to sustain such a high level of style for an extended period of time. Furthermore, it would be extremely stressful for the audience to be called to action, either directly or indirectly, for an overly extended period. At the end of the day, Augustine does an excellent job teaching the people why they need to repent and helping motivate everyone to do so.

High and dry...not really

Courtney noted the high style of the darkness metaphor: I want to explore what makes it high style.

The extended metaphor (conceit) equates spiritual darkness to the darkness "that is suffered by those who are shut up in prisons." Characteristic of high style, this comparison presents a strong pathetic appeal in order to move to action. The image of a dank, gloomy prison instills fear in the audience that scares them away from hating their brother. Hating a brother would allocate them in a spiritual place that was equally dark.

In addition to the metaphor, Augustine racks the listeners' conscience with fear by using two back-to-back rhetorical questions that catch the guilty in their sins: "Do you hate your brother? Are you unwilling to be reconciled?" Every listener who secretly hates his or her brother or who refused to be reconciled in some way or another feels a sudden guilt or godly sorrow because his or her own sins are exposed through the question. They do not have to verbally respond to the question, but surely they must respond inwardly to themselves. By so responding, people feel guilt for any act of sin towards a brother, and eventually feel persuaded to change the situation and repent in order to be free from sin.

By first instilling fear of spiritual darkness, then stirring up guilt with rhetorical questions, St. Augustine's high style moves sinners to repentance.

Spencer pointed out the middle style that St. Augustine used at the beginning of "Sermon 211 for Lent" in order to capture his audience's attention. Which rhetorical figures are used to create a middle-styled balance between pathos and logos?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Low low low

RYAN got these ideas out minutes before!

Several classmates posted about Augustine's high/grand style in this sermon.  Kelly wrote about how the chiasmus and intense words (murderer) put the "sermon somewhere between the middle and grand styles." Adam wrote that Augustine's use of metaphor scripture show that "the entire sermon is entwined with high speech designated at everyone to move them for one single purpose of reminding them of the struggle that it is to forgive and be forgiven."

I read this sermon from a non religious standpoint.  From that exercise, in my mind, the sermon is mainly a low style.  In section one, Augustine teaches how to pray.  In section two, he teaches about what an apostle says in the scriptures.  In section three, he teaches about how to adapt a prayer when you are struggling with the issue of forgiveness.  In section four, he teaches about our relationships between our friends and God, and how to deal with sin in those relationships.  In section five, he teaches about how to deal with forgiveness in a servant-master relationships. In section six, he teaches about the timing of forgiveness.  In section seven, he reminds the reader of what he taught. 

I think this analysis works for reading the sermon as I was reading it from a non-religious perspective, and the above paragraph would be my take-away.  That being said, I don't believe in teaching just to teach, I believe in teaching so that people do.  I hope to always plan my lessons and speeches by first identifying what I want my audience to do.  "Know, feel, do" may sound familiar to anyone who has spent time in the Missionary Training Center.  That is what I really believe in. 

Where Would We Be Without Instructors?

     Due to the fact that the strong majority of the class seems to agree that all three styles were displayed by St. Augustine in the reading, I am going to argue that his style was used for the sole purpose of to simply instruct. Though there may be hints of trying to move the audience, the overall effect was to teach and to instruct as he used the low style. Throughout the entire reading, he would describe and explain specific principles about forgiveness, love, and so forth and then he would continue to back up his teachings with scriptures and biblical references. More than anything, he teaches us to forgive like Christ forgave. I really liked Macey Richardson's post about this principle and how he exploited the kairos to make this point even stronger.

     Kelly's blog post brought up legitimate points about how St. Augustine just seemed a little too intense and memorable to just be part of the low style. However, I would absolutely argue that all of the great teachers and instructors of the world are incredible and memorable. They instruct with passion! Teaching can be fun and exciting and I am sure that if love truly is what is motivating St. Augustine, there is a fire within him to motivate and teach passionately.



     Lastly, in a way, I think I would very much agree with Austin Pena to a certain extent in the fact that if St. Augustine really desired to make something more of his speech and make it a moving, life-changing ordeal he definitely would have bore a personal testimony to conclude. He could have done it in so many better ways if he really wanted to. However, I think it's clear that he uses a very low tone and simply explains things to the audience as he instructs them on biblical history and examples. Overall, I think that St. Augustine was very much capable of making the speech more "moving" if he really want to yet he made it very distinct that his purpose was to instruct.

St. Augustine's got the love

The intermingling of all three styles was very prevalent throughout St. Augustine’s sermon on forgiveness. I’m assuming he is giving this sermon to a congregation of regular people, so the intermingling of the three styles really help to cover all the listeners. But then again wouldn’t this sermon have been given in Latin? Were the people even able to understand Latin? If this sermon was pronounced to group of priests, who could all understand Latin, but also already have a deep understanding of scripture and doctrine- why wasn’t it more intricate? There are several places in St. Augustine’s sermon where he is very clearly using low style for teaching, but I feel the things being taught are pretty fundamental. I don’t know if the low style was intended for the common person who couldn’t understand it, or for the priest who didn’t need it, but I don’t think it was well executed here.
 
Kaunas Cathedral, Lithuania  
St. Augustine’s views on scriptural interpretation really shone through in this Sermon. The whole thing was focused on loving your brother and forgiving him of his trespasses. St. Augustine really hammers this point throughout his sermon. I would have liked to have seen him take a scripture which appears to be in conflict with loving one’s brother and then reasoning it through like he instructed to do in book four of On Christian Doctrine.

I did like how the Author ran through scenarios and explained how one should conduct themselves. I think that this is an example of grand style. He is going methodically through some of the major obstacles of asking or giving forgiveness in a personal matter. Tailoring different scenes to fit different people’s situation is very powerful and motivating. No doubt people’s ears perked up when they heard something which described their situation coming from the pulpit. 

All of the Above!

While reading others' blog posts, commenting about which style, I found I agreed with almost all of them, which brought me to the conclusion that Augustine uses all of the styles in a different way. Augustine would start out with the low style, simply teaching about the scriptures and giving clear examples. He would sooth the audience into and out of these conversations using the middle style. When he used the high style, he was using direct and powerful language to convince the audience to forgive and seek to be forgiven before the time of repentance comes. All three styles are proven by the statement he gives in his fourth paragraph, when he says "I have admonished him; now I console you..."
In class, we questioned whether knowledge, speaking, style, or delivery were more important. I find that Augustine used all of these modes to make a convincing argument. He talks to the audience as a confidant and friend, while also admonishing action and giving strict counsel. He uses scripture and words of Christ to back up his argument. He also arranges the argument in a way that makes it easy to understand and easy to find his target audience.
I noticed that Augustine took his own advice and looked to the advice of the language to determine if the meaning was literal or figurative. In ever case, Augustine pointed to love as the motivator for what he taught. I also found that he uses extension to emphasize each point. He makes many points clear with the main sentence or scripture, but continues to elaborate for a whole paragraph to make his point more clear. He uses extension to draw in the audience, also. In a continuation of the sentence I referenced early, in Augustine's paragraph 2, he could have left it at "now I console you" but he continued to extend his meaning of "you" with the following phrases.

The last striking thing that I found in Augustine's discourse, was his use of parallelism and repetition. In several of his sentences, he writes "you..." at the start of successive statements. This emphasis bonds him with the audience and encourages the audience to pay more attention, as he is speaking directly to them and counseling them to do things. He uses many subtle tools such as this to engage the audience and bring about his point. Overall, with his style and the words he spoke, he created an argument that couldn't be ignored.

Did We Miss the Punch-Line?

In reading the posts by each member of the class it was apparent that, for the most part, each of us are in agreement in the style, form, and rhetorical devices used by St. Augustine. I too, feel that St. Augustine uses all three levels of style with one ultimate goal as stated by James in his post, “teaching alone (in the sermon would not be enough, action would be required.” The end goal was move the audience to action.

I desire to point out a two methods that may have added more power to his sermon. One being the more apparent use of the topic, documents. While St. Augustine quotes the scriptures if he were to deliberately use the scripture reference and then quote it may bring an added emphasis to the importance of that source.

Other posts clearly and correctly point out the power of St. Augustine’s Sermon throughout but I desire to focus on the last paragraph (7). I believe this to be the most important and powerful paragraph of his speech. As mentioned by Macey Richardson and Macey Bleazard, this last paragraph has a deeper meaning. Both of these posts come to a different interpretation of the significance of what St. Augustine meant.


If we, having the text before us, are unsure as to St. Augustine’s meaning than surely, those who only had an opportunity to hear the words once would have struggled to grasp the final moving piece of the sermon. How could St. Augustine have made this more effective? I believe if he would have continued to use his established pattern (anthypophora) to explain what he meant by the last sentences it would have allowed the audience to make the powerful connection as explained by Macey Richardson. I fear that because St. Augustine ended so quickly his most powerful motivation or the punch line (in connecting us to the Savior) was missed by the majority of the audience. 

Murder and Chiasmus

I can just picture Augustine at the pulpit, breathing down repentance and pronouncing blessings upon the faithful.  Can you imagine him in General Conference?  First off, I’d like to identify his audience as I see it.  The people he is addressing are just like you and me.  Overall, we know the scriptures.  We know we should be good.  We know we should not be bad.  How many talks have you heard on forgiving others?  I think that these people know they should forgive each other’s trespasses, and I think Augustine thinks the same way. 


This leads me to his style of approach.  While much is very instructive, I don’t necessarily feel that this sermon is a low style of preaching.  It has a somewhat grander flair to it.  I feel that he is trying to present the topic in a way that is new to the audience, or at least more appealing, or memorable.  For instance, his use of chiasmus in his introductory and second paragraphs is an incredible tool often found in the scriptures, which is pleasing to the mind and directs the flow of thoughts to specific ideas.  (Read it again, it starts and ends with “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.”)  Augustine breaks down the door when he throws out the words of St. John.  If you were sitting in the audience and had a particular person in mind who you wanted to get even with, how would you respond if you were suddenly called a murderer by one of the early apostles?  I tend to think of this sermon as somewhere between the middle and grand styles, due to his intensity and fervor.

A cry of repentance


 Several members of the class have already made remarks on the separations that St. Augustine makes when giving his sermon. He makes each one in order to reach to all those within his audience. I think that there is more to be said on the grand speech in his sermon


While some note that St. Augustine's sermon is pretty cut and dry in regards to where he puts his style, I would like to add the fact that the entire sermon is entwined with high speech designated at everyone to move them for one single purpose of reminding them of the struggle that it is to forgive and be forgiven. He takes several scriptures, all focusing on the universality of brotherly love, and seeds them through to make his point. For example, early on in the speech, he quotes from the Savior's sermon on the mount and reminds us of the beams in our own eyes. He then compares the pride and anger to a sapling or twig that will grow into a tree blooming in hatred if we do not uproot it ourselves. He uses such eloquent words and phrases to inspire the people to work for their own forgiveness from God and from others.

Now, St. Augustine may not have pulled out any of his own life experiences in his sermon, which would've theoretically won him points in the pathos and ethos categories, but he does retain a symbol of a servant of God and official, which also pulls up his ethos. I think though that he does include himself in his sermon. For one, he never claims exemption, and second, he makes the point that it applies to everyone by using "we". He seems to consider himself part of the group and does not exclude himself at all.


A good orator is his audience... sort of.

"Confessions" by Augustine contains
a lot of his story, this is mostly what
we read from in my Freshman class.

In a class that I had at the University of Utah my freshman year we studied Augustine briefly, but instead of focusing on rhetoric, we focused on philosophy and the intellectual tradition of western civilization, so we read his memoirs and treatises, but none of his sermons. I remember the memoirs most clearly, because in them it seemed like Augustine was putting more trust in his audience by writing about details of his life; I gained a lot of respect for the man because he went through a lot of repentance and had to experience a lot of forgiveness on his path to becoming a Christian, and it seemed like his conversion was as complete as any other I've heard of, he was a changed man. Augustine's sermon for lent would have been more powerful if he would have shared some of those personal experiences that he had. I'm not saying that he needed to confess any of his specific past transgressions, but sharing that he had personally experienced in a real, tangible way what the scriptures had taught him would have added so much power.

The act of personally relating to an audience through personal testimony of his or her experience seems like it could be a part of all three categories of style (high, low, middle). All of you have done a great job describing how all three categories were present in the sermon, I agree, and it was cool to see the arrangement of the sermon and how it effected flow of the oratory style. One interesting part that stood out to me was when he included himself as the audience, "... do not be ashamed to seek pardon. In the same manner I speak to all, men and women, young and old, lay persons and clerics, and to myself, also. Let us all hearken; let us all fear." He puts us all on the same level! But at the same time utilizes high style to try and inspire action.

Most of us think of a good leader as one who works a long side those he leads. My mind turns to Jesus Christ; a great deal of the love and respect that many have for Him stems from the fact that He, the single greatest being in the Universe has been through everything that we go through, He's descended to our level, so that He can lift us up to His level. Augustine kind of does the same when he uses the pronoun "us", but could have done it to a greater extent by sharing relevant personal experiences, which, when effectively done, is done in all three styles: high, low, and middle.

He's our best friend!