Evolving Religious Rhetorics: An Ecological Perspective of Christian Zionism April O'Brien - Clemson University - @ aprilobrien412

In their article on rhetorical ecologies and public rhetoric, Nathaniel Rivers and Ryan Weber refer to the “mundane documents” that “cultivate public deliberation, prepare groups for public rhetorical action, and sustain the momentum of advocacy movements” (187-88).

This presentation will examine:

  • The ecological work of public rhetoric, which traces the creation and circulation of texts among different audiences. These movements become effects when we observe changes in public policies, public opinion, or when ideas, images, or texts alter throughout time.
  • The intersection of public and religious rhetorics via an analysis of PC-Biz
  • How "mundane texts shape institutions and mold behavior" (Rivers and Weber)

Theoretical framework

  • Mundane documents: Rivers and Weber, Stuart Blythe
  • Rhetorical ecologies: Jenny Edbauer (Rice), Sid Dobrin, Laurie Gries

Christian Zionism's Public Rhetoric

  • 1897 - Theodor Herzl
  • 1967 - American Christian Churches begin to adopt because of their eschatological belief in a Second Coming, fear of God's "blessing" being removed
  • Christians United for Israel (CUFI) - 20.6 million followers on Twitter
As Jenny Edbauer explains, “The rhetorical situation is part of what we might call, borrowing from Phelps, an ongoing social flux. Situation bleeds into the concentration of public interaction. Public interactions bleed into wider social processes. The elements of rhetorical situation simply bleed” (8-9).

MUndane documents


[The Presbyterian Church should] acknowledge that RE/MAX, LLC is an American company . . . that has real estate franchises involved in the sale and rental of Jewish-only housing in Israeli settlement colonies in the occupied West Bank of Palestine . . . that RE/MAX is profiting from franchise that support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories . . . [and] that RE/MAX is participating in housing discrimination because non-Jews are restricted from purchasing housing in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. (“Middle East Issues”)

The language relies heavily on pathos, especially considering the choice of words and phrases like “settlement colonies,” “West Bank of Palestine,” “occupation,” and “housing discrimination.”

Items four, five, and six are visibly amended on PC-Biz and demonstrate a noticeably gentler tone.

One possible reason for this change can be linked to the ecological work of public rhetoric and the influence of other mundane documents.

As Rivers and Weber argue, by examining documents like The Book of Resolutions or PC-Biz, we can study the “ripples [that] come from changes generated by mundane texts” (195).

these movements within public rhetoric demonstrate a network of ideas.

Works Cited

Bawarshi, Anis. “Taking Up Multiple Discursive Resources in U.S. College Composition.” Cross-Language Relations in Composition, edited by Bruce Horner, Southern Illinois Press, 2010, pp. 196-203.

Burnett, Carole Monica, editor. Zionism Through Christian Lenses: Ecumenical Perspectives on the Promised Land. Pickwick Publications, 2013.

“Christians United for Israel.” Christians United for Israel, http://www.cufi.org/site/PageServer. Accessed 14 Apr. 2016.

Clark, Victoria. Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism. Yale University Press, 2007.

Edbauer, Jenny. “Unframing Models of Public Distribution: From Rhetorical Situation to Rhetorical Ecologies.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 35, no.4, 2005, pp. 5-24, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02773940509391320. Accessed 20 Nov. 2016.

Gries, Laurie. Still Life with Rhetoric. Utah State UP, 2015.

Maltz, Judy. “RE/MAX Israel Pledges ‘Business as Usual’ Despite Plan to Pull Out of West Bank.” Haaretz, http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.730385. Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.

Markoe, Lauren. “Presbyterians Narrowly Vote to Divest from 3 Companies Involved in Israel/Palestinian Conflict.” RNS, religionnews.com/2014/06/20/presbyteriansdivestment/. Accessed 15 Jan. 2017.

“Middle East Issues.” PC-Biz, https://www.pc-biz.org/?id=3179&promoID=126#/committee/567/business. Accessed 18 Feb. 2017.

“Netanyahu: Settlements are an Issues but Not the Main Issue.” The Jerusalem Post, http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Benjamin-Netanyahu/Netanyahu-Settlements-are-an-issue-but-not-the-main-issue-481858. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

Rivers, Nathaniel and Ryan Weber. “Ecological, Pedagogical, Public Rhetoric.” CCC, vol. 63, no. 2, 2011, pp.187-218.

Silver, Charlotte. “Presbyterian Church Rejects Effort to Ostracize BDS.” The Electronic Intifada, https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/presbyterian-church-rejects-effort-ostracize-bds. Accessed 15 Jan. 2017.

Telhami, Shibley. “American Attitudes on the Israel-Palestine Conflict.” Brookings, https://www.brookings.edu/research/american-attitudes-on-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict/. Accessed 2 Feb. 2017.

Warner, Susan. “Methodists Restarting BDS War Against Israel.” https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7563/methodist-church-bds-israel. Accessed 12 Mar. 2017.

“Welcome to PC-Biz.” PC-Biz, https://www.pc-biz.org/#/. Accessed 15 Jan. 2017.

“What We Do.” CUFI on Campus, https://www.cufioncampus.org/about. Accessed 14 Apr. 2016.

Created By
April OBrien


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