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March 2013

Comment Magazine - Persuasion


Editorial: The Lost Art of Persuasion

By James K.A. Smith

We believe in persuasion as a mode of convicted charity—willing to meet one's interlocutors where they are, while unapologetically hoping to change their mind.


Persuading in a Divided Age: The Christian's Privilege

By Anne Snyder

This is the bedrock of our persuasion business: an approach based in discovering the reality of real people's lives. Perhaps more than anyone, Christians should be all over this.


Pilgrimage and Paradigm Shifts

By Jim Belcher

In "Great Tradition" Christianity, we find friends in the faith who we thought were opponents.


Why Christian Schooling Matters

By D. Bruce Lockerbie

The founding headmaster of the Stony Brook School synthesized the church fathers into five words: All truth is God's truth.


Persuasion in Education

By Ashley Berner

Persuasion is a sensibility and a capacity that a good education cultivates in students.


Can Forgiveness Mute Justice?

By Jonathan Chaplin

How, wonders Nicholas Wolterstorff, have vengeance and "the reciprocity code" survived the crystal clear teaching of Jesus?


"Perfume from a Dress": How Poetry Persuades

By Aaron Belz

Great poetry moves us because we remember it.


Social Media and its Hidden Persuaders

By David Lyon

Facebook and its peers don't just mediate our social lives, they help to constitute them.


The (Not So Hidden) Persuaders

By Chidi Achara

As I creatively market a brand through storytelling, I believe that truth wins and beauty uplifts the human spirit.


Earning Your Voice

By Nicholas Wolterstorff with James K.A. Smith

"I was a participant in a shared human enterprise, rather than a combatant against the enterprise. That was crucial."


An Undersung Art

By Marilyn McEntyre

We need wordsmiths willing to speak with care and courage into a public forum where language is so often hijacked, held hostage, abused.


Slow Organizing for Kingdom Come

By Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma

Community development means learning how to listen, persuade, negotiate, compromise, and reconcile.


Trade and Mutual Aid

By Jordan Ballor

There is no system that is incorruptible, but at its best, free trade orients us toward the good of others.


The Pros of Christian Organizations

By Calvin Seerveld

Christian organizing isn't about frenetic imperialism to "win the world for Christ." It's a passion to bring Christ's easy yoke to all facets of society, freeing us from captivities.


Protest and Persuasion: Productive or Pointless?

By Janet Epp Buckingham

A public protest can be an effective means of enacting positive change, but only if it is done right.


The Devil's Advocate: Perfection Waits for Another World

By Ray Pennings

Political obedience in our broken societies is not painted in black and white.


In Defense of Litigation

By Natalie Race Whitaker

Dignity, reason, order, freedom, security . . . litigation gives voice to society's values—and its weaknesses.


Reading Others, Reading Ourselves

By Allison Backous

We read memoirs so we can view both self and others with a more tender and convicting eye.

This Issue

In a fragmented world, what we get is not persuasion, but posturing, pronouncements, and political ultimatums. In other words, we get just the sort of public discourse we deserve: emotive appeals that shame our opponents, coupled with sabre-rattling denouncements that rally our troops. What's important is that we preach loud enough to be sure everyone in our choir hears us.

Well, we're not willing to play by these rules. So this issue of Comment is devoted to recovering a lost art, revaluing persuasion as a discipline for the common good. We believe in persuasion because we believe in the common good. Indeed, the work of persuasion is bound up with the very mission of Cardus, which is devoted to encouraging the renewal of North America's social architecture. We know this doesn't happen by merely issuing pronouncements. If Christians are going to actually propose policy and change the public conversation, we need to undertake the hard work of changing people's minds. No amount of grandstanding or public shouting is going to transform our shared, public institutions.

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