Saturday, January 30, 2016

On Rhetoric ~ Socratic Dialogue 1 [Ashton Kutcher]

Rhetoric @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We’ve talked quite a bit about the 5 Common Topics of Invention (a great dialectic tool) this past year. [The Question] It’s time to learn something new. Let’s move up a rung on the ladder and chat about rhetoric. [The Conversation]

A year or two ago, I had the privilege of speaking on the topic of Rhetoric at a couple Classical Conversations Parent Practicums. As is always the case, I’ve learned so much more about the topic after the fact.

Now I’m itching to lead a Socratic discussion on the topic of Rhetoric using only two videos.

I’m not the person with answers, I’m the person with questions. Will you join me?

I’d like to introduce you to the very basics of formal rhetoric, and then we’ll practice identifying the elements of rhetoric after watching a[n entertaining] persuasive speech.

Come on—it’ll be fun!

Rhetoric is persuasion aimed at the truth. According to Plato, it is the art of soul-leading by means of words.

As Scott Crider writes in The Office of Assertion:
The study of rhetoric educates one in a particular liberty, the ‘liberty to handle the world, to remake it, if only a little, and to hand it to others in a shape with may influence their actions.’ Through this ‘office of assertion,’ the writer is a leader of souls… Rhetoric is ‘the care of words and things’; that care is associative, a practice one learns—and never stops learning—in the presence of others, the ones you lead and are led by. Such soul-leading is a liberal power, one which in its finest and fullest manifestation is a form of love; the finest rhetorician not only loves wisdom, but also loves others who do so. The finest rhetor, then, is a friend.
Let’s cover the basics briefly. [The Art of Manliness has an excellent introduction to rhetoric, if you’re interested in reading just a smidge more.]

Canons of Rhetoric

Invention (inventio): [This is where Aristotle’s 5 Common Topics of Invention belong.] The content of an argument (gathering information and ideas)

Arrangement (dispositio): The structure of an argument (arranging the content)

Elocution (elocutio): The style of an argument (discovering the best style and words in which to express the ideas)

Memory (memoria): The memorization of an argument (including the memorization of general knowledge to be used in conversation and debate)

Delivery (pronuntiato): The presentation of an argument (formatting writing or delivering a speech with effective body language and voice)
Writing in particular focuses on the first three canons.

“Invention is what you argue, organization [arrangement], in what order you argue, and style [elocution], how you argue.” (Scott Crider)

The Institute for Excellence in Writing program, used by Classical Conversations students in 4th-6th grades, focuses on structure (arrangement) and style (elocution).

The Lost Tools of Writing program, used by CC students in 7th grade and up, places more emphasis on the invention process with the 5 Common Topics and slowly guides students through the arrangement of a formal persuasive essay while adding elocution elements one at a time.

I’ve covered invention (the 5 Common Topics) frequently here on the blog, so let’s move on to a brief introduction of arrangement.

What is arrangement? It is the ordering of your thoughts.

Basic Arrangement of a Persuasive Argument

I. Introduction—Exordium [Draw in your audience with a joke, question, quote, statistic, anecdote, or challenge.]

II. Background Information—Narratio(n) [Give your audience context for your argument along with any background information they will need (time, place, characters, causes).]

III. Proof of the case—Confirmatio(n) [State your thesis, state the number of proofs you will using, and briefly state each proof (reason to support your thesis), then detail each proof with supporting information.]

IV. Address Opposition—Refutatio(n) [Refute the opposition by stating the counter position’s possible proofs and explaining why these proofs are not persuasive.]

V. Conclusion/Amplification—Peroratio(n) [Restate your thesis and proofs. Tell the audience to whom the issue matters and why. Inspire enthusiasm!]
In order to be a soul-leader, you must consider your audience as you are preparing and delivering your argument.

This is where the modes of persuasion come in to play.

Modes of Persuasion

Ethos is an appeal based on the speaker’s credibility.

Logos is an appeal based on reason and logic.

Pathos is an appeal to the audience’s emotions.

Wes Callihan introduces the modes of persuasion in the following video from his Western Culture DVD series.

Cicero on Rhetoric: Ethos, Pathos, Logos (Old Western Culture)

Now that you have a basic idea of the canons of formal rhetoric, the arrangement of an argument, and the modes of persuasion, let’s watch an unlikely example of rhetoric and identify these elements.

[Heads up: the speaker uses the word “crap” and “sexy” in this video if you are watching with kids and that concerns you.]

And now a few questions for you.

Who is Ashton Kutcher’s audience?

Does his audience need to be persuaded of something?

How does he initially connect with that audience? How does he get their attention? [Exordium]

Is his delivery (voice, body language) appropriate to the audience? [Pronuntiato]

Is his style and word choice appropriate to the audience? Is the length of the speech appropriate to the occasion? [Elocution]

Does he give any background or context for his argument? [Narratio]

Is the order of his speech clear? [Dispositio]

Is the purpose of his speech clear? Does he state a thesis or subject for his speech? Does he state the number of ideas (proofs) and introduce them briefly? Does he flesh out each idea with supporting information? [Confirmatio]

Is he familiar with his topic? Does he have enough information gathered? [Inventio]

Is his speech memorized? [Memorio]

Is his speech logical and reasonable? [Logos]

How does he establish his credibility for his argument? Is his credibility strong or weak? In what ways? Is his credibility weaker for any of his arguments? [Ethos]

Does he appeal to the audience’s emotions? How? [Pathos]

Does he restate his ideas in conclusion? Does he identify his audience and tell them why his speech matters to them? Does he inspire them to action? [Peroratio]

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Part 2 is coming up. I can see you on the edge of your seat! [grin]

Friday, January 29, 2016

Reading Flannery O'Connor

Reading Flannery O'Connor @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[Yes, I have been a complete and utter blog slacker this past month, though I have been quite active on my Facebook page. I won’t bore you with excuses; let’s just get on with business as usual, shall we?]

Flannery O’Connor!

Last year, my Schole Sisters group deep-read Hamlet using the 5 Common Topics of Invention to discuss the play. It was an incredible experience and one we wanted to continue. After some deliberation, we chose Flannery O’Connor as our worthy literary project for 2016. Eleven women met this month at my house to discuss two short stories (led by my brilliant friend Mindy Pickens), and several more women read and joined us in spirit if not in body. [I am also in a small online Schole Sisters group which is also reading and discussing Flannery, so I’m digging in deep this year!]

Flannery can be intimidating.

Her stories, at first glance, may seem shocking or harsh or violent. Using her biography and essays as a background to her stories, however, has helped me in my understanding of what it is she was trying to say.

Are you unfamiliar with Flannery O’Connor? Have you tried to read her short stories (or one of her two novels) and had difficulty enjoying them? Please allow me to share a few podcasts and articles to give you a better introduction.

[Many of the following podcasts and articles, as well as her biography and essays, contain spoilers for her stories.]

Start here:

:: The Commons (CiRCE Podcast) #7: Flannery O’Connor, featuring Jonathan Rogers (author of The Terrible Speed of Mercy: A Spiritual Biography of Flannery O'Connor). This is a fantastic introduction to Flannery O’Connor as a person and as a worthy author. I found the biography of Flannery by Jonathan Rogers a fascinating and enlightening read. I’ll share some great quotes later in this post.
[You can also read an interview with Jonathan Rogers regarding Flannery O’Connor at The Gospel Coalition.]

:: A Flannery O’Connor “Starter Kit” @ CiRCE [If you are not sure where to start, you may want to begin with these stories. I purchased her Complete Stories for convenience.]

A Good Man Is Hard to Find is one of Flannery’s most memorable stories, but it is not her easiest. I appreciated reading her own comments about this story in her book of essays, Mystery and Manners. (Again, I’ll share quotes later in this post.)

If you need more help understanding or appreciating A Good Man, you may enjoy the following podcast:

:: Close Reads (CiRCE Podcast) #1: A Good Man Is Hard to Find

The following is a recording of Flannery O’Connor reading A Good Man Is Hard to Find. We enjoyed listening to much of it together at our last Schole Sisters meeting.

More blog posts and articles about Flannery O’Connor:

:: Flannery O’Connor: Gifts of Meaning & Mystery @ The Imaginative Conservative [This is a long, detailed post about O’Connor. She is a frequent topic at The Imaginative Conservative.]

:: My God [excerpts from her prayer journal] @ The New Yorker

:: Flannery O’Connor on Why the Grotesque Appeals to Us @ Brain Pickings

:: The Promise of Flawed Characters @ The Atlantic

:: Interview with Flannery O’Connor @ World Magazine

:: The Displaced Person @ The Paris Review

And some quotes from her biography and book of essays:

The Terrible Speed of Mercy

"'To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.'"

"If the stories offend conventional morality, it is because the gospel itself is an offense to conventional morality. Grace is a scandal; it always has been. Jesus put out the glad hand to lepers and cripples and prostitutes and losers of every stripe even as he called the self-righteous a brood of vipers."

"She's like an Isaiah who never quite gets around to 'Comfort ye my people.’”

"Truth is hard for O'Connor's characters; she seems to take it as a point of honor not to make truth easy for the reader either."

"In O'Connor's unique vision, the physical world, even at its seediest and ugliest, is a place where grace still does its work. In fact, it is exactly the place where grace does its work. Truth tells itself here, no matter how loud it has to shout."

"There's a kind of comfort in finally facing the truth about oneself. That's what happens in every one of Flannery O'Connor's stories: in a moment of extremity, a character--usually a self-satisfied, self-sufficient character--finally comes to see the truth of his situation. He is accountable to a great God who is the source of all. He inhabits mysteries that are too great for him. And for the first time there is hope, even if he doesn't understand it yet."

"In O'Connor's oeuvre even the most damaged sinners long for transcendence whether they know it or not, and transcendence makes its presence known at long last."

"Perhaps the most important thing that sets O'Connor's work apart from that of her Southern Gothic contemporaries is the possibility that her lame will walk again and her maimed will be made whole."

[In bad health] "'I have enough energy to write with and as that is all I have any business doing anyhow, I can with one eye squinted take it all as a blessing. What you have to measure out, you come to observe closer, or so I tell myself.'"

"Each day for the "hillbilly Thomist" ended with twenty minutes' reading in Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica--a daily brushup on the fundamentals of her faith. 'If my mother were to come in during this process and say, "Turn off that light. It's late," I with lifted finger and broad bland beatific expression would reply, "On the contrary, I answer that the light, being eternal and limitless, cannot be turned off. Shut your eyes," or some such thing.' It's a classic O'Connor moment. The practical, solicitous mother issues an order. The witty, overeducated daughter smarts off piously."

"'My talent lies in a kind of intellectual vaudeville.’"

"'A serious novelist is in pursuit of reality. And of course when you're a Southerner and in pursuit of reality, the reality you come up with is going to have a Southern accent, but that's just an accent; it's not the essence of what you're trying to do.'"

"Remarking on the work of another Catholic writer, she commented that it 'is just propaganda and its being propaganda for the side of the angels only makes it worse. The novel is an art form and when you use it for anything other than art, you pervert it.'"

'"I have got to the point now where I keep thinking more and more about the presentation of love and charity, or better call it grace, as love suggests tenderness, whereas grace can be violent or would have to be to compete with the kind of evil I can make concrete.’ ...These aren't tender mercies O'Connor speaks of.'

"Sin and grace and forgiveness and love and mercy and hell and heaven are all mysteries. 'If they were such that we could understand them, they wouldn't be worth understanding... A God you understood would be less than yourself.' For O'Connor, the purpose of fiction was to portray these and other mysteries--to embody them--in human manners. She did not expect fiction to explain mystery, but to gesture at its unfathomable depths, and thus to preserve the mystery that dogma guards."

"’Writing is a good example of self-abandonment. I never completely forget myself except when I am writing, and I am never more completely myself than when I am writing. It is the same with Christian self-abandonment. The great difference between Christianity and the Eastern religions is the Christian insistence on the fulfillment of the individual person.’"

“'I am mighty tired of reading reviews that call A Good Man brutal and sarcastic,' she wrote. 'The stories are hard but they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism. I believe that there are many rough beasts now slouching toward Bethlehem to be born and that I have reported the progress of a few of them, and when I see these stories described as horror stories I am always amused because the reviewer always has hold of the wrong horror.' For O'Connor, the real horror was never violence or deformity, but damnation. Horror that awakens a soul to its own danger and prepares it to receive grace is no horror, but a mercy.’"

“'The moral basis of fiction and poetry, she wrote...’is the accurate naming of the things of God.’ ‘It's only trying to see straight and it's the least you can set yourself to do, the least you can ask for. You ask God to let you see straight and write straight.’ Seeing straight, for O'Connor, first meant seeing this world and from here learning to see another world. ‘For me the visible universe is a reflection of the invisible universe,’ she wrote. ‘The visible universe is one way eternal truths are bodied forth. Another is through story--the accurate naming of the things of God. And the most important was the sacraments.’”

Writing to a friend who revealed her shameful background. "’...But there are times when the sharpest suffering is not to suffer and the worst affliction not to be afflicted. Job's comforters were worse off than he was, though they didn't know it... Where you are wrong is in saying that you are a history of horror. The meaning of the Redemption is precisely that we do not have to be our history, and nothing is plainer to me than that you are not your history.’"

Mystery and Manners

[Regarding A Good Man is Hard to Find, with spoilers…]

"The heroine of this story, the Grandmother, is in the most significant position life offers the Christian. She is facing death. And to all appearances she, like the rest of us, is not too well prepared for it. She would like to see the event postponed. Indefinitely.

"... I often ask myself what makes a story work, and what makes it hold up as a story, and I have decided that it is probably some action, some gesture of a character that is unlike any other in the story...This would have to be an action or a gesture which was both totally right and totally unexpected; it would have to be one that was both in character and beyond character; it would have to suggest both the world and eternity... It would be a gesture that transcended any neat allegory that might have been intended or any pat moral categories a reader could make. It would be a gesture which somehow made contact with mystery.

"There is a point in this story where such a gesture occurs. The Grandmother is at last alone, facing the Misfit...

"Our age not only does not have a very sharp eye for the almost imperceptible intrusions of grace, it no longer has much feeling for the nature of the violences which precede and follow them...

"In my own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace. Their heads are so hard that almost nothing else will work. This idea, that reality is something to which we must be returned at considerable cost, is one which is seldom understood by the casual reader, but it is one which is implicit in the Christian view of the world.

"This story has been called grotesque, but I prefer to call it literal...Now the lines of motion that interest the writer are usually invisible. They are lines of spiritual motion. And in this story you should be on the lookout for such things as the action of grace in the Grandmother's soul, and not for the dead bodies."

"With the serious writer, violence is never an end in itself. It is the extreme situation that best reveals what we are essentially, and I believe these are times when writers are more interested in what we are essentially than in the tenor of our daily lives... The man in the violent situation reveals those qualities least dispensable in his personality, those qualities which are all he will have to take into eternity with him; and since the characters in this story are all on the verge of eternity, it is appropriate to think of what they take with them."

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Day in the Life ~ Monday

A Day in the Life - Monday @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

A Homeschooling Monday in the Life of Levi (14), Luke (11), Leif (9), and Lola (5) [And Heidi, Too]

Mondays are our Classical Conversations community day.

[I spend a good portion of Sundays prepping for Mondays. I go to the grocery store. Make sure the kids have their papers and whatnot for school. Do laundry. Set out (and iron if need be) clothes for Lola and myself. Try to have the house relatively clean and neat (though this is a losing battle). Have Leif and Lola bathe. Try to get the kids to bed at a decent hour (also a losing battle). After the kids are in bed, I prep for my Essentials class, write out a task list for Levi, and set out lunch bags and snacks and such for Monday morning. I usually fall in bed around midnight or after.]

6:00  I hit the snooze button. Repeatedly. I am not a morning person. My preferred wake-up time is 9 am. Even 10 am would be nice...

6:20  I grudgingly roll out of bed and head to the shower. After getting myself half ready, I read my Bible and devotion book for a few minutes and pray for strength for the day. Russ leaves at some point. (He’s usually gone before I get out of bed, but his schedule is off this week.)

7:00  I wake the boys and go to check my email. Internet isn’t working on my computer. Luke pops out of bed, gets dressed, empties the dishwasher, and cooks some bacon. I pack Lola’s snack bag and begin packing lunch. I repeatedly go in the boys’ room to wake Levi and Leif.

7:30  Levi finally drags himself to the shower.

7:45  I drag Leif out of bed. I make eggs for Leif and myself and egg on toast for Levi. Luke toasts a bagel and eats it with cream cheese.

7:50  Lola wakes up and I give her Greek yogurt.

8:00  The push to the finish line begins. I stagger down the stretch, carrying Levi, Leif, and Lola. “Brush your teeth. Get dressed. Pack your snacks/lunch. Brush your teeth. Comb your hair. Get dressed. Gather your things. BRUSH YOUR TEETH. Where is your snack bag? Lola, stop playing with your toys and get dressed.” Leif sits like a stone in the living room. He refuses to get dressed because his jeans aren’t comfortable. I finish getting myself ready. I put a ponytail in Lola’s hair while Luke loads all our stuff in the truck and starts the engine so it will warm up. “Get your shoes on!” Lola won’t let me help her so I leave her to do it herself. She throws her shoes across the room. Levi is still getting ready and I’m starting to twitch. He asks, “Mom, do you think it would be unethical to augment a human with cybernetics?” (Clearly his mind is not on teeth brushing.) I’m supposed to take a frozen pie to a friend (for a swim team fundraiser), so I get a cooler with ice ready. And then I can’t find the pie. We leave the house a disaster.

8:50  We’re all in the truck by the skin of our teeth. The truck makes a weird beeping noise when I put it in reverse, and I wonder what’s going on. Luke says in exasperation, “We’re going to be late if you contemplate the baffling enigma indefinitely!” (I’m pretty sure he means “Forget it and get moving!” but I’m glad the vocabulary from Essentials is sticking.)

8:51  Lola realizes that she left her presentation (her toy for show-and-tell) at home and starts wailing. I tell her that’s the consequence of not getting ready with a good attitude. Levi hooks up his music to the truck speakers so we listen to “Fear Not This Night” from Guild Wars at top volume.

8:53  We’re at my mom’s house to drop off Levi with his bin of school work. [He’s doing some of the Classical Conversations Challenge B work at home and with his friend. Russ usually works from home on Mondays so Levi can stay with him, but this week he has to be in his office all week for training.] I chat with my mom and dad for a few minutes. Luke counts each minute and calls for me to stop talking.

9:01  We leave for our day at Classical Conversations. Lola is still screaming and she proceeds to scream the whole way there.

9:13  Lola has now been screaming for more than 20 minutes. Luke unloads the truck and the boys go to class. Lola refuses to pull herself together. We finally walk in (late) while she’s still throwing a fit, but she refuses to go to her class (for the first time ever). She sits in the back of Luke’s class and looks at her book. Luke’s class is learning about Ghiberti and working on an art project. The moment I’m distracted watching Luke, she disappears. I find her, she still won’t go to class, so I take her back to Luke’s. We go back and forth between classes for most of the morning, and she never finds her groove. She does manage to "massage" her face with sandpaper from their art project, and then has a painful red rash around her mouth for the rest of the day. I peek in on Leif’s class a couple times. The classes learn their new memory work in timeline, history, Latin, English grammar, math, science, and geography. They learn about core samples with a science activity. Each of the students give presentations and eat snacks. Then they review past memory work.

Time Out @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

12:00  It’s finally lunch time. I spend most of the time talking. (And dealing with Lola. And losing Lola.) I’m late setting up my class. I’m late taking Lola to afternoon play camp in the gym.

1:00  My Essentials class begins barely on time. Game on. Luke and Leif are in my class. We cover complex, imperative, S-Vt-IO-DO sentences and then active and passive voice verb structures. We take a quick break and then come back to read IEW papers and cover the multiple-source, fused-outline research assignment with a new style tool (luckily it’s the subordinating conjunctions that we covered during grammar). Leif is completely checked out half way through the afternoon and reads a book in the back of class while humming. (I’m trying to figure out appropriate expectations for him as we’re adjusting to a Tourette Syndrome diagnosis along with other comorbid diagnoses such as ADHD.) We end the afternoon with a rousing math game of Battleship Board Slam.

3:15  Class is over and I’m exhausted. I try to keep a fairly high-energy class, and my voice is shot. Clean up begins, but I have great helpers. Luke gathers up most of our class stuff and loads the truck. I pick up Lola from play camp. It seems she had a rough afternoon, as well. I see an early bedtime in our near future.

3:40  We finally leave CC.

3:55  We pick up Levi and I chat with my parents for a moment. Levi shows me the new Doctor Who shirt he got on a shopping trip with Bambi.

4:05  I stop next door at my sister’s and drop off a bin of girl clothes and pick up mini muffin tins.

4:15  We’re home. Hallelujah. We unload the truck. I discover I left the kitchen window open (from the bacon fumes). Oops. The house is still a disaster. I change into my pjs and grab a cold beverage. The kids have lost screen time, so they head outside for an epic Nerf battle. I pre-heat the oven for frozen pizza and discover I bought thin crispy crust instead of the thick crust that we like. I lie down in bed until the pizza is done.

5:00  Internet still not working on my computer, but I figure I can type up a log of our day. I hear a strange noise and can’t figure out what is making it.

5:05  I discover what the curious noise is: Luke is on the roof.

5:15  The kids come in for pizza.

5:45  Luke finds the pie I couldn’t find this morning—buried in the chest freezer. He begs to bake something. I relent and give him a recipe for glazed lemon muffins.

6:25  Russ arrives home. He brings me chocolate and fixes my internet. I heat up some food for him. I finish blogging.

7:00  Luke is finishing "cleaning" up the kitchen from his baking mess. It's read-aloud time and then an early bedtime for everyone. Maybe I'll get some reading in tonight. Or maybe I'll just go to sleep. Yeah, that sounds good.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Rhetoric and Poetry ~ More on Parallelism and the 5 Common Topics

Rhetoric and Poetry @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

In November, I explored the topic of parallelism here on the blog, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it or finding examples in my reading. The above quote is similar in some ways to the quote I shared in the previous blog post:

Parallelism ~ On the Grammar and Poetry of Things @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I’ve noticed that many of the quotes to which I am drawn employ parallelism in some form. The structure seems to make them more accessible, logical, and memorable. The first word that often comes to my mind is “brilliant!”—so simple and yet incredibly profound. Parallel structure also tends to distill a quote down to the basics and eliminate extraneous or distracting words and ideas. It reinforces the idea that a tight form requires a precision of ideas while counter-intuitively increasing creative thought process (hello, poetry!).

I’ve thought more deeply about these two quotes than almost anything else I’ve read recently.

But not as deeply as I could think about them if I decided to use the 5 Common Topics.

Let’s do that.


I could spend a whole conversation defining one of these words:







[To what broader categories (genus) do these things belong? What are other things (species) in that category? How does each word differ from the other things within the category? What are its parts? Take each word separately, or put them all together. The point is to think about ideas!]


[Note: I’ve found a few different versions of the Yeats quote online but here I’ve used the version I found in Greg Wolfe’s book Beauty Will Save the World. For discussion purposes, we’ll use this version specifically.]

How are the two quotes similar in structure? Different?

They both use parallel structure. They are both similar in length. They both contain two independent clauses (the clauses in the first quote are connected by a semicolon, the second quote is expressed in two sentences).

They both use antitheses (contrasting opposite ideas: others/ourselves, rhetoric/poetry and justice/mercy, grammar/poetry).

The first quote uses anaphora (repetition of words at the beginning of phrases, clauses, or sentences: “out of the quarrel”).

The second quote uses epistrophe (repetition of words at the end of phrases, clauses, or sentences: “of things”).

Anaphora and epistrophe are similar (repeating words), and yet opposite (beginning and end).

The first quote contains an action verb (make).

The second quote uses a linking verb (is) to create metaphors.

How are the ideas similar? How are they different?

They both say something about the nature of poetry. The first concerns the origin or impetus of poetry. The second addresses a quality of poetry by use of metaphor?

They both express contrast and relationship of ideas.

[Clearly these questions are more abstract. Answers will vary widely. That’s why I want to sit down and have a conversation over cups of favorite beverages with all of you!!]


Both of these quotes are specifically addressing the relationship of things.

How is justice related to mercy?

How is grammar related to poetry?

How is rhetoric related to poetry?

How are we ourselves related to others?

Which came first? Is one dependent upon the other? Does one cause the other?


What was the circumstance or context in which each quote was written?

From the Frederick Buechner Blog:
The following is an excerpt called “Justice” originally published in Whistling in the Dark and later in Beyond Words
If you break a good law, justice must be invoked not only for goodness' sake but for the good of your own soul. Justice may consist of paying a price for what you've done or simply of the painful knowledge that you deserve to pay a price, which is payment enough. Without one form of justice or the other, the result is ultimately disorder and grief for you and everybody. Thus justice is itself not unmerciful. 
Justice also does not preclude mercy. It makes mercy possible. Justice is the pitch of the roof and the structure of the walls. Mercy is the patter of rain on the roof and the life sheltered by the walls. Justice is the grammar of things. Mercy is the poetry of things. 

The Cross says something like the same thing on a scale so cosmic and full of mystery that it is hard to grasp. As it represents what one way or another human beings are always doing to each other, the death of that innocent man convicts us as a race and we deserve the grim world that over the centuries we have made for ourselves. As it represents what one way or another we are always doing not so much to God above us somewhere as to God within us and among us everywhere, we deserve the very godlessness we have brought down on our own heads. That is the justice of things. 
But the Cross also represents the fact that goodness is present even in grimness and God even in godlessness. That is why it has become the symbol not of our darkest hopelessness but of our brightest hope. That is the mercy of things. Granted who we are, perhaps we could have seen it no other way.

According to biographies of William Butler Yeats (and here), he seemed to wrestle at great lengths with his ideas about religion at least, and he was an acclaimed poet. The quote is found in “Anima Hominis.” I won’t claim to understand anything about it, but I found the following excerpt from this analysis fascinating.
In "Anima Hominis," Yeats defines the soul/psyche/mind of the creative individual by means of his Anti-self/double/mask theory and then adds a Daimon element. The focus is on artistic creativity, and how it is served by the tension between self and anti-self: "We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry" (331). It is to poets that the other "self" comes--not to "practical men who believe in money": "The other self, the anti-self or the antithetical self, as one may choose to name it comes to those who are no longer deceived, whose passion is reality" [reality, in a Platonic sense] (331). This anti-self is demanding, and accepting its strictures is different from passively accepting the mores of society: "If we cannot imagine ourselves as different from what we are, and try to assume that second self, we cannot impose a discipline upon ourselves... Active virtue, as distinguished from the passive acceptance of a code, is therefore theatrical, consciously dramatic, the wearing of a mask..." (334)
What other things were happening or being said about the ideas at the same time?


What do the authors of the quotes have in common? Differences?

Both men. Both alive in the years 1926-1939. Both acclaimed writers. Both spent time contemplating theological ideas.

Buechner—American novelist and theologian (wrote fiction and non-fiction), Presbyterian minister, born in 1926, still living, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1981.

Yeats—Irish poet, 1865-1939, awarded Nobel Prize for Literature, born into Irish Protestant family but seemed to wrestle at great lengths with his ideas about religion, eventually joining a new group called "The Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn" which incorporated astrology and traditional European Cabalistic Magic.

Who else has something to say about justice and mercy?

Psalm 103:6,8
The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

[ETA] Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Rhetoric and poetry?

Aristotle? The author of both Rhetoric and Poetics.
Rhetoric is “the power of discovering the possible means of persuasion in reference to any subject whatever.” 
“Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular.” (More antithesis: poetry/history, universal/particular)
“I hold that no one can be a true orator unless he is also a good man, and, even if he could be, I would not have it so.”
Saint Augustine?
“Eloquent speakers give pleasure, wise ones salvation.” (Hello again, antithesis…)
N.D. Wilson and Douglas Wilson in The Rhetoric Companion?
“The point of true rhetoric, in all its guises, is to deal with ignorance, bring about like-mindedness, and motivate to action.” (More parallelism.)
T. S. Eliot?
“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.”
Robert Frost?
“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” 
“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”
[Poets have a lot to say about poetry…]

Who or what is popularly considered an authority and why? Do you agree?


Now that we’ve reviewed the 5 Common Topics, we’ll move from dialectic to rhetoric in the next post.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It's That Time Again


Yes, time for a re-set.

I’m starting another Whole30 this month. [I had planned to start on the 2nd, but life. Party leftovers, illness, inclement weather…So I’ve had a “soft start” the past few days.]

I’m trying my own mayo for the first time around. I’m also hoping to get a batch of home-brewed kombucha going. My sister gave me a beautiful recipe book and a brewing jar for Christmas and I can’t wait!


A detox mixture of water, apple cider vinegar, lemon, and cayenne pepper (Yes, it’s nasty.)

Green tea (I love Tazo’s Zen tea.) (I add a tablespoon of coconut oil to the first cup of the morning.)

La Croix sparkling water (or other sparkling waters like Trader Joe’s lemon) (I live on these...)


Fresh fruit or vegetables

Black olives

Dill pickles

LARA Bars (in case of emergency)


I almost always eat some combination of eggs and veggies (scrambled and sauteed, respectively). Today it was eggs with mushrooms, bell peppers, and asparagus. Occasionally I’ll add sausage or bacon.

On rare occasions I’ll eat a sliced banana topped with coconut milk, cinnamon, a pinch of sea salt, and toasted sliced almonds (too many carbs and not enough protein, so it doesn’t last as long).

Even more rare (because it’s more time consuming and, again, not enough protein), Sweet Potato Latkes and fried apple slices.


Salads with various cold meats with either guacamole or olive oil and vinegar dressing like this Greek Dressing or Caesar dressing using homemade mayo (I love taco salad or a salad with sliced cold steak in particular.)

Veggies dipped in guac and a few slices of cold steak (I love the individual serving guacamole cups at Costco.)

BLT Lettuce Wraps (These would be delish with sliced avocado.)

Lettuce-wrapped tuna salad with tomato and homemade mayo

Cold Sesame (Cucumber) Noodles


My go-to dinner is some sort of BBQ meat and roasted veggies. It’s easy and fast. I also keep Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages and organic beef or chicken stock on hand (available at Costco) for emergencies. But here are a few more ideas for you.

Slow-cooker Piquant French Dip (lovingly called “the roast that does everything” at our house) [3-lb chuck roast, 2 cups water, 1/2 soy sauce or coconut aminos, 1 tsp dried rosemary, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 bay leaf, 3 whole peppercorns; place in slow-cooker, cook on high 5-6 hours or until beef is tender, shred beef, strain broth and skim fat; use leftover meat and broth for veggie soup.]

Loaded bunless burgers [I usually top them with some combination of dijon mustard, avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato; but you could add dill pickles or marinara sauce or grilled pineapple…]

Personal Pesto Chicken Meatza

Asian Ground Beef Broccoli Slaw (I just use the kale salad mix from Costco instead of the broccoli and spinach.)

Korean Beef-Wrapped Asparagus (Leave out the honey if you want it to be Whole-30 approved.)

Lettuce-wrapped tacos (Turkey Lettuce Wrap Tacos with Chiles, Cumin, Cilantro, Lime and Tomato-Avocado Salsa)

Paleo Chikfila Chicken Nuggets

Bruschetta Chicken

Very Greek Grilled Chicken

Oven-baked Chicken Fajitas (This is one of my favorites. I serve it with tortillas for my family.)

Proscuitto-Wrapped Rosemary Chicken [Chicken wrapped in prosciutto with rosemary- marinate the chicken with rosemary, white wine (use a vinegar for Whole30), pepper, garlic, olive oil and red onion. Wrap the prosciutto around the chicken with a sprig of rosemary tucked in and bake for 40 minutes.]

Lemon Garlic Dijon Chicken

Cilantro Thai Grilled Chicken

Chicken and Asparagus Lemon Stir Fry (Substitute alternate oil and coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.)

Skinny Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles (FYI: the wine is not Whole30-approved.)

Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli

Baked Salmon with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Asparagus

Pulled Pork with Slaw (I use Costco’s Kirkland Signature pulled pork and the kale salad mix for the slaw veggies with this creamy dressing.)

BBQ Brats and Sauerkraut

Sausage and Cabbage Noodles

Asian Cauliflower Fried Rice (with Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Rice)


Heirloom Tomato Avocado Caprese Salad

Grilled Artichokes with Roasted Garlic Olive Oil Dip

Green salad (with guacamole or oil and vinegar dressing)

Roasted veggies (potatoes with bruschetta seasoning, sweet potatoes with cinnamon, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers and onions…)

Sauteed snow peas

Green beans

Need more inspiration? You’ll find endless ideas at these blogs:

Melissa Joulwan’s Well-Fed

Elana’s Pantry (but no baked sweets during Whole30!—even if they are Paleo)

Everyday Paleo


nom nom paleo

Against All Grain