You are on page 1of 12

Rhetorical Analysis

In his 2011 convocation speech, Biola University President Dr. Barry Corey discusses the
impact students can have on neighborhoods, local government, congregations, vocations,
culture and the world for Christ (Courage Begins). Also, in response to the statement he
makes that societys biggest issue is that Christians have a courage deficit, he presents a
definition of courage: Courage is the quality of mind and character that enables you to face
difficulty and opposition without fear... (Courage Begins). Combining these two themes,
Corey effectively exhorts his audience to display courage in order to impact the world for Christ.
He achieves this by using logos in his argument that courage is necessary for voicing important
Christian themes, by using pathos in his recounting of the courage of a leading biblical figure,
and by the ethos of his own stature as president and as one who embodies the faithful courage
that he commends.
Corey effectively exhorts his audience to show courage when seeking to impact the world
for Christ by logically pointing out that courage is necessary for voicing important Christian
themes. He states, Never has our world needed the impact and influence through courageous
voices of redemption, reason and hope more than it does today... (Courage Begins). Firstly,
one sees that Corey believes that impacting the world for Christ involves conveying a message of
redemption, reason, and hope. More importantly, he suggests that the only way to be successful
in spreading this message is to do it with a voice of courage. In this passage, he combines content
with quality grammatically when he says that the important themes of redemption, reason and
hope are to be borne by courageous voices. In other words, they go hand in hand, both being
necessary for achieving an impact for Christ. Put another way, without courage one couldnt
effectively convey these messages. A Christian cant impact the world for Christ even if he has

firm beliefs and deep convictions but lacks the courage to voice them. Corey continues to
suggest this union between content and quality when he insists further that courage means to
live in a way consistent with your beliefs, even in the face of others who do not (Courage
Begins). Here, courage is presented as a quality inseparable from the beliefs one holds and
so again is necessary for impacting the world for Christ. Even in the face of others Christians
need courageous voices to say what needs to be said. Ones impact on the world can only be
achieved when we have courage that is joined with our message and is shown by a life that is
consistent with our beliefs. With this line of reasoning, Corey effectively and logically exhorts
his audience to display courage in order to impact the world for Christ.
Corey further enhances his appeal for courage as the way to impact the world for Christ
through the pathos of the courage shown by one of the great leaders in the Bible: Hezekiah, King
of Judah. He recounts the tale of how Hezekiahs father, King Ahaz, neither lived nor led with
any sense of godliness (Courage Begins). But Hezekiah had the spiritual and leadership
fortitude to go against the cultural grain and godless family values that preceded him and in
the midst of opposition he stood for truth and was willing to shake free from his family
baggage and step up to lead with godly courage (Courage Begins). Notice here that Corey
first notes Hezekiahs qualities of spiritual and leadership fortitude (fortitude being a synonym
for courage), and then reminds us again at the end of this quote that he was stepping up with
godly courage (Courage Begins). It is clear, therefore, that Corey seeks to highlight courage
as one of Hezekiahs most outstanding qualities. Corey then recounts the conclusion of the kings
story: Chapter 31 of 2 Chronicles ends by saying Hezekiah did throughout Judah what was
good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. In everything that he undertook in the
service of Gods temple and in obedience to the law and the commandswhich is the Word of

Godhe sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. (vv. 20-21) (Courage Begins). One can
see why Corey uses this story for its emotional appeal. As is evident from the passage he quotes
along with other references from Hezekiahs life, Hezekiah was a ruler who made a difference.
He shook Judahs history by rejecting his fathers legacy and rededicating Judah to God in
submission and service. As Corey points out, if he hadnt had the courage to stand against the
cultural grain and stand for his contrary beliefs, Hezekiah never could have made such a big
impact (Courage Begins). In light of such a powerful example, it is not surprising that Corey
lets this second part of the story speak for itself. Having already established that the kings
courage was necessary to do these things, Corey needs only to make his audience aware of the
resulting impact. The direct quotation does the work itself, leading us to aspire to lead our lives
in a similar manner. His use of this story resonates so forcefully with the audience because it
appeals to the imagination. If such an influential and God-centered biblical figure accomplished
what he did through courage, then we feel inspired to imitate him by showing courage ourselves
in order to become, as Corey undoubtedly hopes, people of impact.
Lastly, Corey centers the ethos of his appeal for courage by speaking with authority on
behalf of the university as its president and by revealing himself to be one who embodies the
faithful courage that he commends. He says, What I am saying in these words of courage is
true for you, but these words are also true for this university. We will be a university of courage,
standing on what we believe even when opposition arises. May we at Biola University recall the
foundation we have that finds its focus on the eternal truths of Gods Word, on the sovereignty of
God and his redemptive love for his people. With this focus, together with our leading place as a
major Christian university, we can be a global gamechangerbut we must remain faithful and
humble, focused on our task and doing it as well as possible at every level. More and more, Biola

University needs to remain a place of courage (Corey Begins). The ethos of his speech lies in
the ethos of his vision and desire for courageous faithfulness to foundations, which he himself
embodies. Notice the way he pleads with the audience to follow him in his pursuit of this. He
uses phrases like together we can, and we must in a way that conveys a sense of urgency
to have people see things as he does. It is also the same ethos that he commends to his audience.
We note, for example, the verbs he uses that resonate with the virtue of faithfulness: standing
on, recall, remain, focused. Corey, who demonstrates the same resoluteness in his
dedication to the foundations he mentions, exudes authority in his call to others to follow this
example. Of course, ethos is most persuasive because of the person who delivered the speech.
In sum, not only does Coreys ethos lie in his presidency but also in the fact that he is a man
who personally expresses and characterizes faithfulness to the foundations that he thinks are
necessary for courage.
Throughout his speech, Corey employs a wide range of rhetorical techniques. These
techniques are, for the most part, encompassed by his three rhetorical appeals of logos, pathos,
and ethos. Through the use of these three strategic approaches to addressing his audience, Corey
achieves his goal of exhorting his audience to display courage in order to impact the world for
Christ. This is done by essentially reasoning that it is a logical necessity, inspirationally
demonstrating that is a worthy pursuit, and by speaking from a position of authority and
embodiment of his exhortations.

Writerly Analysis
For my Writerly analysis I chose to analyze an essay I wrote about the American folktale
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I did not pick this piece because I thought it was my best
work. I picked it because I thought it was a good representation of some of my greatest writing
strengths and weaknesses. With that in mind, I will use this essay as the basis for evaluating my
writing. In this paper, I will analyze the language I use, my writerly persona, and the aspects of
how I appealed to my audience.
In high school, I was taught that when writing papers it is always best to keep things
simple. If one wants to get his point across clearly and effectively, one should avoid writing in a
complicated style. My essay clearly displays this foundational principle. In everything I say
generally I try to keep my language simple and straightforward. One example of this is the topic
sentence of the second paragraph. It reads, Irving characterizes Ichabod as a classic American
Yankee by his physical description. This sentence is both concise and easily understood. The
point of the sentence is made without wording things in an overly complex manner.
Furthermore, my diction follows this pattern of simplicity. Though the vocabulary used is not
infantile, it is also neither too complex nor too mature for anyone with an average understanding
of the English language. It is also written completely in the third person. With the exception of a
few, no words contain more than three syllables. Furthermore, the sentence structures vary, but
the most complicated of them are merely spliced by commas. These sentences address a thought
in an indirect but effective way, such as the conclusion of paragraph two where I write:
Through this description of Ichabod's extremely awkward form, Irving establishes the
characteristics of a classic Yankee American. The order of the two halves of the sentence has
been reversed, thus adding a slight degree of complexity. Lastly, there is little to no use of

complex punctuation. At most, I make use of parentheses and quotation marks. Additionally, in
keeping with my high school training, my essays structure is set in the classic five paragraph
outline. So again, nothing fancy, just a basic setup with fairly basic language.
After reviewing my essay, it is obvious to me that theres some room for improvement.
One thing I could do would be to make my punctuation a little more creative. For example, I
could ask the reader leading questions and use question marks. I could also make a point come
off as more powerful and vigorous with the use of exclamation marks. This might work in my
second to last sentence where I write, revealing that he doesnt even have faith in what he
preaches. Ending this with an exclamation mark could result in a greater lasting effect. Both
techniques would help draw in the reader. Furthermore, I could use a more interesting structure
for my paragraphs. Im sure my audience (my 11th grade English teacher) is tired of the typical
and arguably boring five paragraph format I used. I dont have training in other formats so thats
an area I could definitely improve in. I still do believe that keeping things simple is a winning
strategy. But for the purposes of getting peoples attention, I think it would be better if I created
an essay that was more interesting to read.
I do believe a strong aspect of my paper was my word choice. When one uses clear and
not overly complicated language, the essay is definitely more engaging. In my own experience,
the more coherent a piece of writing is, the easier it is to become immersed in it. Especially in an
argumentative essay like the one I wrote, I believe clarity over complexity is the better strategy.
I execute this plan when I write, Irving writes this, commenting on the Yankee's weakness
against his own imagination. Here, my point is presented plainly and simply. After all, isnt
making ones opinion understood the key to presenting a successful argument? By using longer

more complex words sparingly I demonstrate an understanding of the significance of diction,

which is why I consider word choice to be one of my greatest writing strengths.
As I noted above, the primary audience for my essay was my 11th grade English teacher.
The assignment was to write an argumentative essay about how the author of The Legend of
Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving, defines the characteristics of a Yankee. I was meant to
figure out and argue for what characteristics Irving presented as stereotypical. In all honesty, it
was a very confusing assignment and Im still not sure I completely understand it. My teacher
never even discussed what a stereotypical Yankee was! I did understand, however, that the essay
was supposed to be presented as an argument. I therefore wrote in the third person (like I have
always been taught to do when writing an argument) and kept things clear and concise. As I said
before, I believe that clarity is a major factor in creating a winning argument.
I took on the persona of a confident and logical authority on Irvings story. Throughout
my essay I strove to assume this persona as such an authority, which is clearly distinguished
when I write, He does this by highlighting Yankee stereotypes in the characterization of
physical features, greed, imagination. Here I confidently state information as facts as if I
know for sure that I am accurate in my interpretation. This statement is in no way presented as an
My essay was definitely constructed in an appealing way for my primary audience. The
structures of each paragraph worked well for my argumentative format but they contained little
or no substance. Unfortunately, the overall quality of what I wrote was lacking and was therefore
ineffective. I cant pick out a single place where I elaborated on an idea. There is also practically
no analysis which, for an argumentative paper, is not acceptable. Furthermore, I never establish a
clear definition of what an American Yankee really is. The very basis of the paper is therefore

lacking. Additionally, the conclusion of the paper is unclear at best. This probably resulted from
starting off with a weak thematic foundation (i.e. the lack of a discussion about the portrait of a
Yankee). The essay is essentially a list of quotes from the story to support my thesis statement,
not much else.
The main reason I know the impact/effectiveness of the essay was weak is because it
received a final grade of 79. My English teacher was generally not an overly critical grader. So in
light of a C+, I think its safe to say my paper was poorly written. If I could rewrite it, I would
put more time into researching Yankees as the theme of the paper. In the introduction when I
write, the classic American Yankee, I really have no idea what that means. I would also
elaborate much more on the significance of the quotes I use. Again, the analytical aspect is
severely lacking. Elaboration and analytical depth are, therefore, the two most significant
elements of writing I need to work on. I will strive to improve in my weaknesses.

Public Argument Part II:

Speech (Presentation)
Many students at Biolas view the chapel attendance requirement as excessive and
unnecessary. I have discovered that the requirement is actually quite reasonable and fair. Also, I
have discovered that the 30 chapels per semester requirement offers an important, but less
obvious, benefit for students. I think most students wouldnt be so opposed to the requirement if
they understood these two points about its fairness and benefit.
Understandably, students who feel pressured by their classes and other activities dont
like having extra time commitments. So to demonstrate my first point about its fairness and
rationality, lets see what the requirement actually entails and how it compares to the way it used
to be. Every semester there are about 200 chapel opportunities. Every week there are at least 10
chapels that students can choose from to go to. The 30 per semester requirement means that a
student has to do an average of only two a week, and only physically attend half of them. The
other 15 can be done online on their own time. This means a student only has to physically
attend, on average, one chapel every week. This hardly seems excessive. Also, in Biolas old
system, students who failed to meet the attendance standards were punished by limiting their
course load to 12 units. They would then either have to make up the missed credits by paying
thousands of dollars to take summer classes, or, they would have to take many more credits the
next semesters. This would make it even harder to fit chapel into their schedules. These
penalties are much worse than the current $375 fine. From these observations I think it would be
fair to say that the current chapel requirement is reasonable, and not as bad as students may feel.
For my second point, I will discuss an important benefit that the requirement offers. This
benefit is the fusion of students Christian faith and their knowledge. As college students, we

often encounter and learn things that appear to be either unrelated to, or inconsistent with our
Christian beliefs. We have to struggle with what to believe. We have to figure out if our new
knowledge can be consistent with or even applicable to our faith. This is an important issue that
needs to be addressed. Faith and knowledge need to blend together in students minds so that
they dont feel inner conflict over new ideas and Christianity. They need to be able to continually
apply their faith to what they learn. Biola obviously recognizes this and is committed to
integrating the two. This is clearly seen, like when math professors discuss theology in class, or
when our academic advisors act as spiritual councilors. But this vital combination happens
primarily in chapel services. The worship in chapel unites the academic community with
spirituality. Also, many speakers come from different areas of expertise to speak about the
Christian faith. They develop a sense of faith that includes their varying fields of knowledge.
Theologian Nels Ferr makes this second point when he talks about what chapel should aim to
achieve. In his article, The Place of the Chapel in a Christian College, He states,
Chapel must fuse the meaning of knowledge and the purpose of life its function is as wide as
the whole field of knowledge and as deep as the significance of life the chapel should help
man to find a faith that is both authentic in the light of our best knowledge, and motivating in the
face of our most dire needs as human beings. He goes on to say, The Chapel can support the
freedom of inquiry in all fields and can help translate the various findings into some semblance
of wholeness, not only for thought but also for life. Ferrs explanation of the Chapel as the
center for this supportive relationship between faith and knowledge is clear. This combination
helps students to see how their faith and knowledge actually support and enrich each other. This
fusion creates an undivided mind, free to enjoy knowledge in light of their faith. Chapel, in
other words, provides the opportunity for knowledge to be understood in the context of Christian

worship and teaching. At the same time, our faith and knowledge are revealed to be more and
more consistent and coherent. They require each other, so its necessary that they are combined
like this for students.
Naturally, this benefit doesnt have its full effect if a student only attends chapel services
once in a while. Here, I think, is one of the most important defenses of the attendance
requirement. Because of the requirement, students have to attend chapel on a fairly consistent
basis. This results in not only the benefits of chapel, but the maximized benefits. More
specifically, faith is more strongly fused with knowledge when students are exposed to chapel on
a consistent basis. The more students go to chapel, the more they get to understand and develop
this fusion.
Ultimately, what is at stake here is the spiritual and mental growth of Biola students.
After close consideration: the reality of whats actually being required of students, and the less
obvious benefit of chapel as a consistent fuser of faith and knowledge, the rationale of the
requirement becomes clear. Because of this, I encourage you to change your attitude from Im
being forced to go to Im being given the opportunity to go, and the helpful incentive to do
so. You could think of this in the same way you might think about school. Hopefully, you view
college as an amazing educational opportunity, with grades and tuition giving you some helpful
incentive to make the most of it. In both cases, you are being given incentive to do something
you already want to do. Without the incentive, however, it unlikely those students will take full
advantage of the benefits that chapel or school offer. In short, the benefits of this fair and
reasonable requirement validates its existence. The Biola Chapel requirement is therefore
justified and even desirable. It is healthy and maximally constructive for students who follow it.

Personally, I was skeptical of the Chapel requirement at first. I didnt want my time with
God to be something I had to do. I didnt want to feel like I was going just because I didnt want
to lose money. But after the first couple weeks of attending, I was actually thankful that the
requirement. At first, it gave me a reason to go. Then I realized that the chapel services benefitted
me so much, that I didnt mind having an extra incentive. Some people may think this is strange,
but I now actually make sure to go to chapel on the days when I have the most work to do. I do
this not only because I want to make God first in my life, but also because it is on those days that
I need chapel the most. When I go, it helps me to see the reasons and purposes for all the hard
work I put into my classes. I am also able to combine what I have learned in class with my faith
and apply it to my life. I clearly see the deep connections between the academic world and the
Christian worldview. This encourages me and gives me perspective on whats ultimately
important in life. This helps me not to stress so much. This helps me to work harder.
I completed my 30 chapels before Thanksgiving break, but I continue to go. For me,
having that initial $375 incentive was a gift in disguise. For that, I am thankful. I hope that you
too will take advantage of the requirement. I hope that you will enjoy all the ways it can
consistently benefit your life. I hope you realize that the requirement is there to help you help
yourself. The chapel requirement here is not so much something you have to meet, but rather,
something you want to meet.