Miniblog #158: Seeking Some Critical Feedback on My Rhetorical Strategy
Setting aside those who are arrogant, contentious, or dumb, quite often readers who I trust and respect will reply to my Facebook statuses or blog posts by referencing my argument.1 This word choice suggests premises, logical development, persuasive intention, etc. Quite often in such cases, however, I didn’t think I was crafting an argument as such.1.For example, “Where I didn’t think your argument held up was…” or “It seems to me the strength of your argument lies in…” My intention was to state what I believe, not why I believe it.2 I’m then puzzled because they assert that my position’s justification was weak or my methodology wasn’t rigorous. ‘Trust me,’ I keep thinking, ‘You’d know if I were making an argument.’2.Yesterday’s post about women’s ordination was such a case. It escapes my recollection whether the author was Philip Yancey, C.S. Lewis, or someone else, but I’m reminded of the quote that “[i]t’s little wonder we miss so badly that for which we do not aim.” To be clear, I’m not raising this issue to publicly gripe or belittle anyone.33.I’m more than open to the possibility that the majority of the fault falls on my shoulders. What I’m earnestly reflecting on is my rhetorical strategy. Is it more a case of their misinterpreting the genre–projecting their perspective and rhetorical strategy onto the text–or is it more that there’s something about how I’m framing the discussion that needs to be rectified?44.Obviously there’s going to be some fuzzy overlap here. I could be wrong, but my sense is that people read my musings on various controversial subjects and, largely because of their societally-imbued capitalistic and democratic impulses, often presume I must be seeking to convince others to hold the same belief, opinions, and perspectives.55.That is, to have them agree rather than merely to have them understand. In this way, it seems to me they’re not perceiving the important difference between explanation and persuasion as genres in relation to contested matters. Or, perhaps, that they’re seeing the criticisms embedded within the explanation of what I’m thinking and then suppose an argument must also be present.66.Sort of like where there’s smoke there must be fire. I want to be a better writer, though. So I’m leave the door open for critical feedback that a significant part of the problem lies in my rhetorical strategy. Thoughts or suggestions?