Rhetoric & Homiletics: “Jenga”

jenga 1

One of the most effective methods of clarifying and making a point “sticky” is by an analogy.  An analogical point or argument involves more than employing simple metaphor.

A metaphor simply injects a mental image into the point being made . . . .

  • “That decision will create a significant wake in its path, which will rock a good number of lives.”
  • “The Lord will come like a thief in the night.”
  • “Just make sure you understand, I’m all in when it comes standing up against abortion.

The metaphor is designed to call up a passing image.  However, when it comes to making an “analogical point” or argument, the imagery is drawn out to a greater-or-lesser degree.  As previously stated, Tony Evans is a master at doing this.  He takes several minutes to set up the analogy, calling into play the elements he is going to swing over and use to make his point.

Analogical arguments both clarify and drive the point being made.  One might say it is the clarity which actually drives the point.  As soon as the analogy is made and developed, the point being made is so clear that listener says — “Okay, I get that now!”

No surprise, that midst the SCOTUS hearing for Amy Coney Barrett, Senator Feinstein stated . . . . .

That’s quite a definitionI’m really impressed.” [1]

Amy Coney Barrett use a brief “Jenga” analogy to make the argument on “severability.”

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Wednesday likened a legal doctrine that opponents are arguing would allow the Affordable Care Act to be struck down to the classic game Jenga.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was questioning Barrett on the concept of “severability,” or whether a law can still stand if one part of it is ruled illegal.

“If you picture severability being like a Jenga game, it’s kind of like, if you pull one out, can you pull it out while it all stands? If you pull two out, will it all stand?” Barrett said. “Severability is designed to say, ‘Well, would Congress still want the statute to stand even with the provision gone?’”

#1) Develop It:  Let’s draw out the analogical illustration as Tony Evans has been known to do.

  You can include as much, as little, or other material as is useful.
√  Include the elements into part “A”, which you deliberately want to “swing-down” into the point(s) being made — part “B.”
√  Re-use the wording in part “A,” in part “B.”

Off The Cuff:
You might have played various “table games” and the like — whether it be the classic game of Candy Land, Monopoly, or .  Some of these table games rely on the chance throw of dice, the drawing of a card, or the flip of spinner.  Some require little-to-no thinking, others demand more reflection.

Janga, is one of those which requires an evaluation of what happens if or when.  It requires skill and a basic understanding of physics.  Luck comes into play as the game moves forward as to what choices one is now facing.

Jenga strategyThe Task:  There is a strategy!
• Will the wooden structure still remain upright if I remove this block?
• Will I make it more difficult for the other player if I remove this block and thereby introduce some increased level of instability?
• Size & Thickness Matters — Not all block are exactly the same!
• First consider removing the block in the middle of a row of three.
• Push them out, do not pull them.

The fact is, that playing Jenga is an exercise in injecting more and more instability into the structure.  The more blocks removed, the less stability.  The structure moves from a solid wooden structure, to one marked by missing supports.  What had supported the layer above, is now lessened and other blocks now must carry the weight and balance.

The aim is always to keep the structure standing.  It will be my turn to make a decision.  That decision might be very simple and it has little-to-no consequences, or the decision has some implications, but not seismic ramification, and as the game proceeds there will be forced to make a decision which has a consequential potential impact — because it is a game which is forcing me to make that action.  If I must make a decision, what can I do which has the least potential of destabilizing the whole.

Unless a novice lacks any skill or understanding of physics (“ages 6 and up”), the first several “moves” will not topple the structure.  Rather, it is as the game progresses that each move has the potential of bringing it all down to an end!

#2) In Reverse:  LEt’s reverse the analogical illustration.  You could easily use this same analogy in reverse . . . . .

  • jenga2When you make that decision, you will find out that the structure is still standing, but you have weakened it and if you continue to make those kind of decisions, sooner, but surely later it will lead to . . . .
  • That decision in your life was one of a number of others, but it was that very decision that finally caused it all to break apart.  It was that decision, but it was not only that decision . . . .
  • Sometimes you pull out such an important “block” — early on — that the structure can not stand.  It was a critical move, decision, action that caused the whole structure to collapse.
  • Don’t think that the previous decisions did not play into the collapse.  Just because it did not fall when you “pulled out that block” does not mean that it played no part in what ultimately happened.
  • It will not be the removal of this-or-that block which ultimately causes the structure to fall.  It was the removal of many block throughout the game which all contributed.

Run With It!

Jenga Video



1. https://nypost.com/2020/10/14/acb-compares-legal-doctrine-at-center-of-aca-argument-to-jenga/

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