Persuasion Without Words

Kevin Gregorek from Catholic Culture e-mailed me and invited me to take a look at Jeff Mirus’s piece “Friendly Persuasion.” My readers know I’m no particular fan of apologetics as such. But I was intrigued by the threefold aspect of logos (content) ethos (credibility) and pathos (persuasion).

Dr Mirus gets into a good discussion of pathos and its pitfalls. I have one thing to add to his admiration of Jesus and Jesus’s ability to inspire faith and trust from his lived witness of service and devotion to the Father.

The Church teaches–as Jesus did–that simply living the Christian life is a substantial witness to the faith. It is the hallmark of the Christian faith, the biblical witness of “See how they love …”

In a book, an article, or a blog, a person can practice apologetics with good content, a credible reputation, and with charm and persuasion. What is missing is the lived witness, and not just the virtue of it. To be convincing believers, non-believers and doubters need to see Catholics warts and all (because we all know we all have them). We don’t sink ourselves (necessarily) by making mistakes, but in how we recover from them, and give, over a lengthy period of time, an example that shines in spite of our errors.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to Persuasion Without Words

  1. Kevin in Texas says:

    Hi Todd,

    Lest anyone think I’m misrepresenting, I’m the one who sent you the article from Catholic Culture’s web site, but no, I’m not affiliated with them. I just happen to read their editorials quite often, and I found this one particularly germane to many of our discussions on this site over the past week or so. I know that I tend to get stuck on logos and ethos myself, ignoring the importance of pathos. It’s something I hope to improve on by continuing to engage with you and many of your readers here on this blog, Todd, as we appear to come from different liturgical (and political) ends of the spectrum.

    Editing note: looks like you missed a word at the end of the sentence “It is the hallmark of the…” I’m guessing you meant to write something like the Christian apostolate or the Christian faith?

  2. Fran says:

    Kevin, I do give you major props for staying in the conversation and for doing so with what appears to be a great spirit.

    In fact I just wrote a comment about judgment and engagement on another blog and I fully expect to get my rear end kicked. God how I hate to sound so cynical!

    And I will admit that I thought of you as I wrote that comment. It is only through ongoing engagement that we might be transformed.

    And what else is living the Gospel but to transform and to be transformed? Emphasis on both ends please.

    One of the reasons I love Catholic Sensibility is because it is a place for both things to me. I am grateful for all that is put forth in this place.

    BTW, it might be time for you to get a blog!

    Let me go read that article now.

    Blessings of Holy Week to one and all.

  3. Kevin in Texas says:

    Thank you, Fran, and also to Todd and others who continue the conversation in an open-minded and charitable spirit. I learn much from you all, and I hope to contribute something to the “debate”, as well.

    God help me if I started a blog! Would be an excuse to spend even more time on the Web and less on my work! But I appreciate sites like this one and Inside Catholic because there is an open exchange of ideas that, for the most part, remains charitable.

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