25 September 2006

Progymnasmata: Chreia

This progymnasmata is a little harder to explain than that of the fable. There's a good description on BYU's rhetoric website which I discovered the other night. I'm going to need to go through that website. It looks really cool. Anyway, the chreia is basically an explication on a quote or action that demonstrates some principle--more direct in meaning than either a narrative or a fable. Anyway, here's mine, since I probably won't have any time to blog today.


C. S. Lewis is often cited as the non-Mormon most quoted during General Conference. His careful study and defense Christian beliefs make him an ideal source to appeal to for a clear and concise explication of many of the more subtle doctrines of the gospel. He is able to illuminate the principles behind principles which might otherwise seem irreducible. For example, on the subject of good and evil, C. S. Lewis once said, “Good is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness.” The purpose in doing good things is self-evident: people enjoy going good things because they are inherently rewarding. On the other hand, evil deeds are only a twisted method of trying to obtain a good reward. For example, a man may steal money in order to support his family or better afford other necessities. One who commits adultery is trying to find an alternate route to the love or pleasure once afforded him by other relations. Evil cannot function without a good impulse to pervert. Some deeply hardened souls may claim to do evil for its own sake, much as a righteous man does good deeds simply from his nature. But even in saying so, they admit the falseness of their position. To do evil for its own sake is to take pleasure in evil acts, but pleasure itself is a good and righteous motivation which the man has only perverted by connecting it to things from which he ought not to derive pleasure. Just as a boy attempting to avoid his school work tries to find a shorter route by copying off his neighbor, an evil man is attempting to shortcut to the rewards of goodness without putting in the effort necessary. In the war in heaven, was not Satan’s goal—the salvation of all men—a righteous end? Indeed, it is the same end sought by our Heavenly Father and many righteous prophets. The evil was not in Lucifer’s end, but in his method of achieving it. It is just as Alma tells his son in the Book of Mormon: those who do evil are seeking happiness (an obviously good thing) by doing that which is wicked and contrary to the nature of happiness. Thus we can fully see the illuminating simplicity of C. S. Lewis’ description of the nature of evil.


BTW, I skipped the second progymnasmata, narrative, because I just borrowed a narrative from one of my other blog posts. :D Yay for double counting!

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