Thursday, May 10, 2007

Gregory Nazianzus and rhetoric

Yes, yes, I know, another post about another saint, but they're interesting! That's why they are saints!

Ol' Greggo, there, had his feast day yesterday, a week after our buddy Athanasius, whom I wrote about in an earlier posting. Greg came from a similar world though a generation later, attending the Council of Constantinople in 381 as the star attraction, while Athanasius was at Nicaea in 325. Those darn Arians were pesky and persistent! Well, understandably, since their doctrine is a lot easier to grasp than this whole Trinitarian thing.

Greg's main claim to fame rests on his five sermons on the Trinity, delivered at the Council of Constantinople, but I was particularly touched by his retirement address at the same council, when he pretty much begged to be let off the hook of his position of Bishop so he could retire back to his country place.

In particular, I appreciated his comments on how to have a civil argument. He was, after all, a master of rhetoric (and I do wish we had more of those these days). He said: "For we are not undisciplined in our exercise of discipline, nor do we hurl insults, as many do, who assail not the argument but the speaker, and sometimes strive by their invective to hide the weakness of their reasoning...but we show that our warfare is in behalf of Christ by fighting as Christ, the peaceable and meek, Who has borne our infirmaties, fought." Wouldn't that be nice?

Speaking of rhetoric, there's a great entry on the Rhetorica blog about Don Imus and freedom of speech. ( April 26)

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