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Arguing Catholic: 4 Rules

03/29/2009 Comment

How the other side argues. (wiki)

“It’s no longer sufficient merely to be right in the face of opposition. We must now be right and persuasive.

“When the dignity of life and the sanctity of marriage are at stake, we can’t be content defending the Truth in a one-sided culture war. We have to win.”

So says an article at Inside Catholic which I have reason to appreciate.

In it, I give four rules for Catholics to be persuasive:

“Rule Number 1: It’s not just about your argument. It’s about you and your argument.”

“Accurately assess your opponent’s position, and he’ll be more likely to listen to yours. And apart from gaining his good will, getting his argument right is necessary from a practical point of view. How, after all, can you move your opponent away from his position if you’re addressing a position he doesn’t actually hold?”

“Rule Number 2: Speak their language.”

“We can (and often do) demand that they submit to our superior moral language—but we won’t (and don’t) get very far. If we want to persuade them, we need to speak in a language they already understand. That would be their language ...”

“Rule Number 3: It’s about who, not what.”

“Whoever makes the best case about real people wins. Whether he should or not.”

“Rule Number 4: Build a Positive Case.”

“We never gain when we merely oppose. We only gain when we build a positive case for what we have to offer. It has always been this way ...”

There’s more to it than that ... Read the whole thing.

Filed under weekend commentary

About Guest Blogger/Tom Hoopes

Tom  Hoopes
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Tom Hoopes is Vice President of College Relations and writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He has written for the Register for more than 20 years and was its executive editor for 10. His writing has appeared in First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. He has served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for 5 years. They have nine children.