Achieving Peace in a Time of Existential War: On Ethos, Logos, Pathos, and RHEMA

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

Two people are arguing – conceptual illustration drawn freehand

Ever find yourself entering a political conversation these days with plenty of empirical evidence and yet it is as if whomever you may be speaking with of an opposing view, instead of having a rational conversation, holds their hands over their ears and shuts their eyes, as it were,  refusing any of your information?

Or their response seems to be a series of protest-poster memes, some perhaps not even related to the topic at hand?

I know.

This can be completely flummoxing, jaw-dropping, conversation killing–and frustrating.

Where the heck did THAT come from? You might think.

Particularly when, on other issues and maybe just minutes before, you and your friend, family member, loved one, or even group operated in a perfectly normal, reasonable manner.

And maybe even they are surprised at their sudden vehemence.

If so, there may well be more than meets the eye–mind, emotion and psyche–at work here, which is to my topic today.

I believe there is a way to not only rise above this kind of struggle but also to restore reason and hope in your mind and heart as well–which can be beneficial to all, if perhaps it takes a while.

See what you think, and be encouraged as we move on in this particularly challenging political season that may well extend beyond election day, as has been threatened.

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos

There are three “appeals” used in crafting effective arguments and analyses, as noted below, and politicians are well-versed in all:

Ethos, Logos, Pathos are modes of persuasion used to convince others of your position, argument or vision. Ethos means character and it is an appeal to moral principles. Logos means reason and it is an appeal to logic. Pathos means experience or sadness and it is an appeal to emotion. (source)

A balance of the three is top-shelf persuasion, particularly in politics where rules, regs, and policies are involved, and the health and well-being of lives are often at stake.

However, where it concerns hot-button topics, pathos is most potent.

This election season in particular, have you noticed how many arguments are crafted primarily around emotions, especially when it comes to trying to manipulate listeners?

Every issue, it seems, involves hair on fire, as they say.

Emotions are in high gear, and dire consequences are predicted–on the half hour with alarm bells sounding–if this or that solution is not immediately agreed on, or at least if this or that candidate is not elected.

But this kind of thing is always present in campaigns, right? Why so different this time?

Here are a few reasons:

  • violence, looting, arson, and other crimes are now permitted to “make a point” in political “protests” in certain cities while on-the-scene “reporters,” standing in front of burning businesses, insist these are “mostly peaceful protests”;
  • the criminal brand of protests, aka riots, that include not only all of the above but also threats of physical harm keep people fearful and on-guard, thus often in fight or flight mode which is a hindrance to working out the needed logos and ethos essential to counter the push-pull of powerful emotions in order to actually solve problems;
  • many journalists are now activists;
  • “sources” that are “anonymous” are often automatically accepted as credible;
  • the world has become accustomed to getting their “news” in seven-second sound bytes whizzing by at the speed of a finger-swipe (and few take any time to reason things out, it seems);
  • social media companies censor at will (and this is where millions get their “news” these days); and to make matters not only worse but also dangerous,
  • there is not merely a dislike of the other candidate, but visceral hatred, fostered and festering into rage* particularly in the cities now permitting criminal riots.

So it is  different this time.

Many on both sides use the term “existential” more so now than I can remember in decades of election seasons.

However, none of this is likely news, but does set the stage for what I want to discuss: the hopeful and encouraging part, the part that is above and beyond the streets and screeds, the political machinations and manipulations.

The part that is the genesis of both reason and ethics that save minds, emotions, psyches and arguably, in the long run, civilizations.

The part that involves existential issues that touch the spirit, reaching beneath, above, and in between the lines and the lies of the political game to ground us in truth that does not change with the ideological winds, truth that roots us in lasting wisdom and, with awareness and dedication, can move us forward as far as we choose to go in peace-promoting directions.

The term for this element of analysis is rhema and is found in the Christian lexicon.


The term rhema…

…is essentially synonymous with logos. In other words, the specific guidance we receive from the Holy Spirit at any given time can only be discerned by the general principles laid down in the Bible. Where the Bible is silent on specifics—such as where a young person should go to college—then the Christian applies biblical principles (good stewardship of God-given resources, protecting one’s heart and mind from godless influences, etc.) to the situation and thereby arrives at a decision.

The test of the authenticity of a rhema from God is how it compares to the whole of Scripture. Orthodoxy says that God will not speak a word that contradicts His written Word, the Scriptures, so there is a built-in safeguard to prevent misinterpretation. The obvious danger is that one who is not familiar with the logos can misinterpret or misunderstand what he or she perceives to be a rhema. (source)

And from the recorded words of Jesus, we get this additional check to see which way the wind of this or that politician or ideology is really blowing:

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (Matthew 7:16)

In other words, from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians (5:22-23) on the “fruit” that is of God,

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control…

Not confusion, frustration, rage, hatred, chaos, and threats to peace and safety.

Not to mention lawlessness.

For the struggling mortal, believer or not, producing such good fruit may come with challenges and difficulties of its own, but my encouragement is that as we choose to grow in the wisdom and admonition of God through His Word, His Spirit, and His Son, Jesus Christ, we will be much better able to subdue not only external but also internal struggles that will allow our spirits to rise to the occasion, above the fray on the streets and in the heart.

Of such is wisdom nurtured and by such are real and lasting solutions found.

And by our change of mind and heart, who knows, maybe others are influenced to choose a better direction as well.

Not to mention moving a lot closer to the peace Jesus promised in the opening verse.

At any rate, it beats the heck out of what’s happening on the streets, these days, that’s for sure.

Carry on.


*For more discussions on the state of political rage these days, see here.

Image of arguing people from public domain.

Image of hair on fire from source.

Image of figs from public domain.

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Thoughts from Then for Today Before Veteran’s Day, 11/11/20, and Election Day 11/3 (Redux, Memorial Day, 2019)

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

I recently had occasion to revisit the history of the destroyer escort my father served on in the U.S. Navy during the last two years of World War ll in the Pacific Theater (the reference specs are included in the post from May 27, 2019, below, including a few updates).

And I found something new. Continue reading

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A Little Fall Respite

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

If, these days, you sometimes feel like the world is teetering on a tightrope (know what I mean?) a little respite is always a good thing if even just a short walk outdoors or perhaps a meander down memory lane. (It’s especially nice when the two coincide.)

Here’s where I was yesterday.


Autumn Eves  

An acrid burst

kicks up some dust

from a pile of calico leaves

as a late, sharp shaft

of ochre sun


a bed of these.


And I am barely six


in another

pungent scene

crunching leaves

beneath my feet

while shadows

dance in trees.


But ‘fore the dark

tucks in the days

and owls

“Who-Who” (are these?)

a chilly gust

hints winter’s night

draws close 

from north and east.


Enjoy a little respite yourself, today. You never know what it might bring to mind–eyes, ears, nose–and imagination.


Image of fall leaves along fence from

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“Live Not By Lies, A Manual for Christian Dissidents” (Book Review)–on “Soft Totalitarianism,” Testimonies and Words to the Wise from Then for Today

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

There always is this fallacious belief: “It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.” Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.–Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


I am reading Rod Dreher’s new book, Live Not By Lies, A Manual for Christian Dissidents (Random House, 2020) in which Dreher discusses what he calls “soft totalitarianism,” comparing the rise of this modern brand of authoritarianism that has been snaking up through  the institutions and culture here in the United States* (before, if not stopped, the inevitable guns come out) with the “hard totalitarianism” of Germany and Soviet Russia in the last century. It is both a timely and necessary read.

What strikes me as a student and observer of both the history of the old-school regimes and the modern iteration as described by Dreher is the power of words that bookend them all, i.e., they all begin with propaganda and end with obituaries–both literal and figurative for both dissidents and nations. Continue reading

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It Ain’t Your Grandmother’s Leftist Protests, and Is Biden a Modern-Day Paul von Hindenburg (?) Guest Video by Jacob Prasch

Knowledge is power.

See what you think. And do your own research.

The salient points concerning the modern and very different left with strong parallels to historic totalitarian regimes begin at about the 51 minute mark. Prior to that there is additional spiritual application–and encouragement.-PBN

Refuse violence.

Resist propaganda.




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Proverbs Chapter 3 for A World On Fire (Step Back; Take a Minute)

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the scroll until the end of time. Many will go back and forth and search anxiously [through the scroll], and knowledge [of the purpose of God as revealed by His prophets] will [greatly] increase.” (Daniel 12:4, Amplified Bible)

A World On Fire

This seems to be an unprecedented time of disclosures both big and small, secular and prophetic.

If anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear is bored,  he or she is likely off in some somnambulant nether-world either by choice, chemicals, or by inability to, well, see and hear.

But this is understandably so Continue reading

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A “Colour Revolution” in the USA? See What You Think…

Knowledge is power.

Refuse violence.

Resist propaganda.




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Ultimate. Stealth. Weapon. Part 2: For the Rioters and Ragers with Love (Guest Feature)


Access series.

Posted in encouragement in hard times, GUEST and EMBEDDED FEATURES, most recent posts, salvation by grace, spiritual survival, spiritual transformation, Ultimate. Stealth. Weapon. | Leave a comment

On Who Really Rules the World and “The Foolishness of God”–(the Ultimate. Stealth. Weapon)

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25, NIV, emphasis added)

As put in the lyrics of the ’80s tune by Tears for Fears, “everybody wants to rule the world”.

In every era, on every continent, and for every driving ambition, it’s only a matter of ideology and method that determines who conquers the throne, so to speak, and sometimes competing groups clash.

Seattle, August 2020

Here in the U.S. this recent summer, for example, peaceful protesters-for-the-cause by day were swarmed by criminal rioters-for-the-burn by night (snagging a little loot on the side), protest-crashers who left a conflagration of hate and destruction behind, spending their youth, vigor, and intelligence on what history will reveal as yet another self-immolating ideology that uses mayhem and murder to amass power. Continue reading

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On “Hydra-fare” versus “God-fare” and “October Surprises”

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

As a metaphorist, that is, one who perceives the spiritual in the natural, who is inclined to regard what we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch as symbolic of the spiritual world, I’ve been observing how the myriad ways the real enemy of humankind ever morphs to new manifestations of attempted power (when once the truth emerges) in order to accomplish its ultimate goal: global dominance and the destruction of all that is good, true, noble, and holy. 

As a career literature instructor, I would cite mythology as one such (figurative) representation of reality with spiritual relevance.

See what you think… 

The Hydra Continue reading

Posted in 2020, Bible/literary themes, elements, Commentaries, encouragement in hard times, end times spiritual survival, GUEST and EMBEDDED FEATURES, most recent posts, spiritual survival, survival tools | Tagged , | 2 Comments