Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Final Exam Essays: Kotahi Tarawhiti

Short Essay: Religion and Rhetoric

It has always been difficult to combine rhetoric with religion. The art of persuasion can be used for bad and good, depending on the intentions. Discovering when rhetoric is appropriate in religion, and vice versa, is very important to understand, especially for those who are religious.

St. Augustine, for example, wasn’t one that was easily impressed by the bible at first taste. He was an intelligent man, and his intelligence was apart of why he first rejected Christianity. The un-eloquent style of scripture seemed too dull for him to really grasp the true beauty behind the message. Later down the road, St. Augustine converted to Christianity when he realized that Plato’s teachings, alongside a lot of his own ideals for moral living, crossed with Christianity. He soon discovered that intellect, rhetoric and knowledge can be complimented by Christianity rather than be an opposing force to it.

In our day, rhetoric can be tricky to master within religion, specifically the skill of knowing when and how to say something. We believe it is important as faithful LDS members to make our beliefs known, so when certain conflicts arise we have a duty to defend our faith. A certain church policy pertaining to married gay couples was brought forth over the past few months, and caused a big division among LDS members. Online and social media outlets became the firing tool for opinions and emotional expression towards this policy, and soon turned a small flame into a billowing bonfire.

In class we discussed how using social media platforms sometimes turns an individual voice into a mob-like mentality when others voiced similar opinions. Instead of reacting rationally, most people were reacting entirely out of emotion. They ignored, the “how” and “when” something is said is crucial to properly defending what they believed. From this example we can see how properly using rhetoric when it comes to religion can be tricky, but if we are cautious about when and how we say things, rhetoric can be a great tool in magnifying our beliefs.

Like Augustine, we should look for ways that religion and rhetoric can compliment each other. His educational work was benefitted from religion and vice versa. I too believe we can be greatly benefitted by striking a balance between proper rhetoric and religion.

Short Essay #2: Rhetorical Anlaysis of Jacob 2-3

Jacob has a tough job to do in these chapters. He has been tasked with a large load of topics and principles to call his brethren unto repentance for. I noticed that at the beginning of his exhortation, he establishes his ethos by explaining the responsibility he has in magnifying his calling under the command of God. He continues to add to his ethos as he describes in detail how and when the Lord had asked him to preach unto his people. This credibility is important to Jacob’s task, for if the people understood that these commandments were from God, then they would feel more obligated to repent.

Jacob is distraught over the wickedness of his brethren and explains the great wrath of the Lord that will come upon them if they choose to continue in sin. He uses expressions like, “O that he…” and “O that ye…” which are forms of anaphora, or a figure of repetitive speech. He uses this form of repetition again in a following verse that reads, “But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.” This repetitive structure allows the reader to focus more on the message in a way that is simple, memorable and powerful.

As chapter two continues, Jacob describes different forms of sin, the punishment the Lord will inflict, and how they are to change if they desire to be forgiven. When discussing the great iniquity of plural marriage, Jacob makes a strong refutation against ancient leaders, Solomon and David, who had many wives throughout their lives. He gains great credibility to his refute by adding layer upon layer to his argument of why such a practice is evil before God. At the close of chapter two, Jacob uses comparison between his brethren and the wicked Lamanites for them to grasp how evil their actions had become. By comparing his brethren to their enemies, the Lamanites, the grievous but powerful exhortation packed a good ending punch.

At the beginning of chapter three, Jacob uses description to define the outcome of those who remain pure in heart and seek the Lord. This tactic is seen throughout all of Jacob’s teachings, and without it, it would be difficult to desire to obey God. All of these rhetorical elements combine to make a very strong Deliberative speech throughout both chapters. The prophet Jacob does an excellent job of establishing the laws that have been broken, and the blessings that are given when his brethren choose to obey God’s commandments.

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