Monday, October 24, 2011

“Christmas: Should we or Shouldn’t We” Rhetorical Analysis

In my English class we were discussing some things about rhetoric situations. As I was searching through and reading some blogs, I found a great blog from a Christian writer that speaks about her beliefs of different things like holidays and misconceptions of the religion. I thought she did an impeccable job of using rhetoric, so I decided to write and describe why I thought she did such a great job. These are my thoughts.

What if you aren’t quite celebrating Christmas the right way? Is that possible? We’ve all grown up believing that Christmas is for the sole purpose of celebrating Christ’s birth, and not about the gifts, and the decorations, and all the extra pizzazz. What if there is a bigger and more important reason to celebrate? Seane-Anne thinks there is. She focuses her thoughts to Christian people who celebrate Christmas in order to convince them to contemplate more important reasons for the holiday. In the post "Christmas: Should We or Shouldn't We?” Seane-Anna does a great job of getting the audience to confirm and hold true to their beliefs of Christmas. She even further goes into the article with a purpose of trying to convince the audience to consider greater reasons, she thinks, to celebrate Christmas. She does this by her impeccable knowledge of history and religious text, the way she invites the audience to side with her, her use of figurative language in the form of rhetorical questions, and the way she closes with inviting the reader to reconsider their celebration.

To begin, Seane-Anna’s post is greatly written because of her impeccable knowledge on the subject. She does not just make a statement and throw her opinion at it, but she really has some historical and religious details to back up her points. For example, when she says, “I've also known for years that in the Bible God tells His people NOT to worship Him the way the heathens worship their gods. I'm increasingly convinced that that's exactly what we're doing when we use pagan festivals to celebrate Christ's birth.” She uses very these strong points directly from the Christian faith that celebrates the holiday in the first place. Basically, in a way, she is saying, “look, here it is written in the Bible, so it is undeniable logic.” One of the greatest things a writer can do is make a statement and back it up with factual evidence that gives the audience no choice but to believe. This is, to me, the most convincing point, that she uses to persuade the audience one-way or the other.

Another creative way she makes her rhetoric strong is the way she invites herself into the audience’s side by siding with them. For example, she says "Of course Christians should celebrate Christmas. What would their faith be without the celebration of its founder's birth? From a cultural standpoint, I support Christmas.” Here she is stating the importance of Christmas and says absolutely it is important to have Christmas. I think this also boosts her credibility, in the way that people who celebrate Christmas aren’t reading this post from an atheist who, of course, would be opposed to celebrating Christmas. So it allows the audience to open their minds to someone who is just like them, and believes the same things they do, but has just a little different opinion and view towards the subject. Without the use of facts as mentioned above, I think this would still be such a strong rhetoric because of this aspect of her paper. Often times, people are more likely to believe someone who, in some ways, is just like them. A surgeon is more willing to listen to opinions of other surgeons before going through with an operation than a pizza delivery man. Just as a Christian is more likely to listen to another Christian.

She also has a creative way of using figurative language in the form of rhetorical questions. She has kind of the same question all throughout the post, "Should Christians celebrate Christmas" and then she continues to answer that in different and descriptive ways all throughout the post. For example, she asks the question and then goes into the factual evidence, then she asks it again and goes into a moral/personal opinionated standpoint, and finally, she asks it again as more of a personal, rhetorical question for the audience to think about for themselves.

I think this works for the author because she continually wants to reach to all types of audiences on a logical and emotional level and even more so, a personal level. She wants the audience to keep considering their beliefs and asking themselves if the way they celebrate is actually how they should celebrate it. So she'll ask the question, let the audience think about how they celebrate, and then give a "better" reason to do it through different types of reasoning's. This also ties into the point above where I had mentioned that the author invites herself into the lives of the reader. She asks the audience to rhetorically let her know how they celebrate Christmas, and then she goes into her opinion of why that might not be the best reason to celebrate. I think this is a great use of rhetorical questions to help further her opinion in her post.

A final characteristic she uses in her paper that she does well is her use of inviting the audience to really make their own decision. What I mean is she says all these things in her paper and gives all these facts and pretty much straight up says this is what makes sense, and I think this is what you should do. For example, she says, “I'm not telling anyone to stop celebrating Christmas. I don't condemn the overwhelming majority of Christians who observe the holiday. In fact, I still observe Christmas.” After saying all of this, she then says, keep celebrating it, celebrate it how you want, and this is why I think it’s better for you to celebrate it the way I recommend. This is a very effective tool she uses because most Christians grow up celebrating Christ’s birth for the reason of having Christmas and the way that she makes it sound is that it is great and important to do that, but maybe their should be a little more thought and feeling behind it. Maybe you should celebrate it as a time for recollection and thanks giving for Christ, and not just as a celebration to worship him.

I think that for the topics that Seane-Anna picks for her blogs, and the Christian audience she directs her thoughts towards, I believe she does a great job of using rhetoric tools to write a very convincing article in this specific post. It leaves questions in the mind of the audience and allows them to come to their own conclusions on matters. Are you celebrating Christmas for the right reasons? I know as I personally read the thoughts of this author, although it did not change my mind for the reason I celebrate, it did make me continually think throughout the post. It also helped even confirm my reasons even more so and stick to them even stronger because she really questioned my beliefs. It just confirmed it more for me. I’m sure her purpose was not to change everyone’s ideas about Christmas, but I do know that her purpose was to get people to start thinking and really figure out what they believe in. I don’t know about you, but the post really makes me want to reconsider some of the reasons I do a lot of the things I do, and make sure I’m doing them for the right reason.

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