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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 31, 2013/ 20 Shevat, 5773

Of sermons and soda water

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | John Cardinal Newman once set down a list of seven rules for writing sermons. His rules apply not just to sermons but to rhetoric in general. Simple and direct as his rules were in the 19th century, naturally they have fallen into neglect in our era of flash and fizz.

American rhetoric circa 2013 has come to have all the eloquence and permanence of your average television commercial. Our politicians' speeches now have the staying power of fleeting images in the background. Then they are gone. Like last week's inaugural address.

Whatever the state of the Union, the state of American rhetoric is not only poor but poor in the worst, that is, showiest way. In place of eloquence, which is rare enough in any age, we get tendentious talking points. Maybe that's because the basis of any eloquence seems to have disappeared in our public rhetoric: thought.

Last week's Inaugural address, if anyone was listening then or bothers to remember it now, systematically ignored all of Newman's rules. It was as if our newly re-inaugurated president had gone down the cardinal's list and violated them one by one -- if he has ever heard of them. It was a safe assumption, judging by his speech, that his speechwriters hadn't. Maybe somebody should post a copy of Newman's Seven Commandments in their office:

1. A man should be in earnest, by which I mean he should write, not for the sake of writing, but to bring out his thoughts.

The only evidently earnest thing about this president's Second Inaugural, which will be remembered, if at all, as a parody of Lincoln's, was its earnest desire to please every special-interest group he had already pleased during his campaign -- from the gun-control lobby to the greener-than-thou crowd. And so many more. Their various grievances may or may not be justified, their profuse proposals sound or unsound, but that didn't seem to be the point of the president's speech. He seemed interested only in echoing his supporters' demands, and in so doing, bind them even closer to him. That is not leadership or thought; it is just low cunning. Political ambition so often is.

2. He should never aim to be eloquent.

To judge by his text, the president aimed for little else. Last week's inaugural address seemed but a collection of applause lines, which were duly applauded by his more-than-admiring followers. For it was their fondest desires he sought to condense into the series of slogans that constituted his speech.

We all love to see our own hobbyhorses ridden, our pet causes adopted and amplified, our self-interest and self-regard reflected in a speaker's words, and the unthinking will call this form of flattery eloquence. ("What a great speaker -- he agrees with me!")

3. He should keep his idea in view, and should write sentences over and over again till he has expressed his meaning accurately, forcibly and in few words.

What ideas did the president seek to express in last week's inaugural? They were only outlined rather than explored. Any details remained vague under all the rhetorical ruffles and flourishes, riffs and repetitions. Which is why the speech, which really wasn't very long as presidential speeches go, seemed endless.

4. He should aim at being understood by his hearers or readers.

Mr. Obama was understood, all right. His motives were transparent. But they weren't very elevating. Or edifying. The mark of true eloquence is its ability to capture what we all may know but have never heard articulated before -- simply, clearly, undeniably. For (classic) example:

"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new -- North as well as South." --A. Lincoln, speaking in Springfield, Illinois, June 16, 1858.

After his House Divided speech, history changed. Not because a speech had been delivered, but because a great truth had been uttered. What great truth did our president speak on the occasion of his second inauguration?

I can't think of one, either. Which may be why his speech changed nothing.

5. He should use words which are likely to be understood. Ornament and amplification will come spontaneously in due time, but he should never seek them.

Last week's re-inaugural address consisted of little but ornament and amplification. It was less sermon than soda water. No substance and all fizz.

6. He must creep before he can fly, by which I mean that humility, which is a great Christian virtue, has a place in literary composition.

Humility had no place in last week's inauguration, not with its succession of almost Roman hails to the chief, not with the principal speaker's comparisons of himself, stated and unstated, with Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.

Cardinal Newman's seventh and last injunction needs no amplification. And the country needs no better, or rather worse, example of how not to follow his rules for rhetoric than our president's inaugural address last week:

7. He who is ambitious will never write well; but he who tries to say simply what he feels and thinks, what religion demands, what faith teaches, what the Gospel promises, will be eloquent without intending it, and will write better English than if he made a study of English literature.

Enough said. Just as more than enough was said last week.

Paul Greenberg Archives

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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