In February 2004, one day after the release of The Passion of the Christ, my girlfriend and I took our seats in the crowded theatre. I came into the night prepared to watch the death of Jesus Christ. However, I had no idea that I would actually be watching the death of Jesus Christ. For ten or more years prior to this night, I had always been told that Jesus had died on a cross for my sins. My parents, my Sunday school teachers, my friends’ parents, and my extended family had, at some time in my youth, told me the story of Jesus from the Gospels of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). From the moment I matured enough to understand these stories, I had believed Jesus “died and rose again” just for me. I took this belief and put it in my dresser drawer so that I could return to use it again in my adult life. As we all know, things do not happen the way we plan.
The lights in the theatre faded into a nervous darkness, and scripture, from the Bible that I knew so well, lit up the screen. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities . . . Isaiah 53:5.” This was no surprise to me. I had been taught this all my life. Jesus died for me. The movie progressed with Jesus being arrested and sentenced to death. Then, I was punched in the gut with a new perspective of this story. The Roman guards stripped Jesus of his clothes and whipped him several times in an extremely bloody and intense scene. This man’s flesh was ripped off his back and flung into the crowd. It was absolutely disgusting, but it was absolutely effective. Up until this point, Jesus had just been a dignified man who had saved me from my sins. Now he was a beaten and broken man who suffered the most excruciating pain to save me from my sins. I never had a visual image in my mind that showed me what Jesus had gone through for me until this movie. And even though it is just a movie, it painted a picture for me that changed my views about Jesus Christ. He wasn’t the guy in my dresser drawer anymore; he was my Savior.
This change of view spawned from the use of rhetoric. The pathetic appeals that the director, Mel Gibson, used were very effective. The images he created on the screen led many people to tears. Almost everyone turned their head away in as...
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...something that is wrong. This fear can be a good thing when it comes to talking with other people about their religions, but it can also be a bad thing because it’s harder to trust the most trustworthy people. Discovering rhetoric this semester has changed my view that I can believe the claims of those people I trust. Now I have to convince myself that these people I trust are not trying to lead me astray even if they are using a rhetorical appeal. Most of them probably don’t even know they are using rhetorical appeals. I am not yet sure if I like this revision of myself. It has definitely proved helpful when reading texts for other classes because it separates learning from believing. I can learn something and not necessarily believe it unless I think it’s the truth, as opposed to believing everything I learn like I have done in the past. However, this new understanding of rhetoric has caused me to question everyone. Eventually, something will come along and convince me that questioning everyone is a good thing or an evil thing. One of these opposing views will dominate the other one, but until then, I will have to wait for the appeals of rhetoric to lead me to what is “right.”
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