General Introduction
– Sweaty technology
– In which we creep up on fifty
– Name-dropping with Nathan Gilmour
– Giving the listeners what they want

How English Departments Used to Work
– The rise and fall of rhetoric
– Charles Eliot changes everything
– Authors and periods and other literary matters
– The populist origins of Freshman Comp
– The pyramid scheme in English graduate programs
– Bad edit alert

Are Things Changing for Rhetoric?
– Weaver’s attack on the scientific man
– Self-expression and utter subjectivity
– The return of Gorgias
– The undervalued and purposeless rhetoric department

Language Is Sermonic
– The supreme confidence of the postwar generation
– The human being as composite
– Facts and opinions
– The movement of language
– Students’ disbelief in rhetoric

Classical Topics
– Abraham Lincoln defines humanity
– Definitions and essential reality
– Unwitting Weaverians
– Cause, effect, and circumstance
– Playing with logical fallacies
– Weaver’s mystical analogies

Arguments from Authority
– Grubbs vs. Weaver
– Why do students resist professional authority?
– And yes, we know we act like polymaths, too
– Wikipedia and authority
– Foucault hits pop culture
– A gratuitous shot at Brian McLaren
– Mainline bureaucracy

Taking It to Class
– Break down the silo
– Essays are persuasive
– And question your other classes
– Refining fallacies through topics
– Excellence in rhetoric



Cicero. The Nature of the Gods. Trans. Horace C.P. MacGregor. New York: Penguin, 1972.

Dante. Paradise. Trans. Dorothy Sayers. New York: Penguin, 1962.

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage, 1995.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. “On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense.” On Truth and Untruth: Selected Writings. New York: Harper, 2010.

O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” The Complete Stories. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971.

Thomas Aquinas. A Shorter Summa. Ed. Peter Kreeft. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1993.

2 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #45: Language Is Sermonic”
  1. Thanks so much for a great look at the rhetorical tradition in your podcast. I have only recently rediscovered the show and as a Community College English Instructor (proudly focusing largely on Freshman Composition and other underclassman courses) it is great to hear a pitch for the worth of our work framed in theological terms.

    Keep up the great work.

  2. Thanks for listening, Brandon.

    I really do think that we English-types do ourselves a great disservice imagining composition as something from which the “successful” professors escape. I’ve become nothing short of a cheerleader for Weaver ever since I discovered him.

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