The RCL Preacher

This week I on my way to class I encountered a source of rhetoric and civic from a rather well known but despised source on campus. I am talking about the famous Willard Preacher who spouts out his ideologies for all to hear in front of the the Willard building.


Having a class in Willard, I encounter the preacher often but until recently I haven’t began to think in depth about his messages. Like most people I talk to I find that his ideologies are somewhat ludicrous and occasionally offensive. However, underlying rhetoric and civic life can be found if examined deeply enough.


I would have to say that the preacher’s attempt at using rhetorical persuasion is not very efficient as he often comes off as somewhat crazy. He occasionally offends people during his messages by stereotyping college students which diminishes his persuasive impact. Although his rhetoric is lacking, it provides a means to examine what good rhetoric entails.


As students walk by as he proclaims his ideas, they view him as an example of how not to present a rhetorical argument. They get a sense of what is effective and what is not through negative examples. Some students who are daring enough can even attempt to test their rhetorical skills by having a conversation with the preacher. He functions as a practically unavoidable dose of rhetoric.


The Willard preacher also promotes civic engagement by giving students a means to bring up topics of conversation. It is sometimes awkward to begin talking about religious and societal views to other people. Beginning with a short conversation about the Willard preacher provides a segway into meaningful civic discussions with others.


Although the Willard preacher can sometimes be extreme in his attempts to engage in ideological discussions, he is a good means to analyze and promote rhetoric and civic life. So next time you pass the preacher giving his usual talk about pre-marital sex try not to ignore it but rather look at is as additional exposure to RCL outside of the classroom.


3 thoughts on “The RCL Preacher

  1. Sienna D Mcnett

    After passing by the Willard preacher on my way to class the past couple of weeks, I often find myself questioning his rhetorical success. His scolding and stereotyping of college students are often offensive as you mentioned in your post, and his tone and choice of words come off as lackluster and droning. However, your post did make me think more about how no matter his rhetorical success, the Willard preacher still is very much a walking example of rhetoric in our daily lives. Although many passersby may not change their viewpoints on subjects after hearing his rants, the Willard Preacher does at least make us ponder subjects that are often uncommonly discussed in our society. I definitely agree that he opens the door to discussion!

  2. kem5833

    While the Willard Preacher may not go about conveying his message in the most effective way, there are times when we can find moments of humor our of what he is saying. I would agree that his use of persuasion hurts his message. The way he presents his cause is not appealing, it is intimidating. I really appreciate how you tied the Willard Preacher into our civic and rhetoric life, he truly influences the Penn State community! Great post!

  3. ekh5175


    Great post this week! It is definitely interesting to highlight the things that we see on campus every day and how they can actually relate to our course material. While I haven’t spent much time outside of Willard actually listening to the preacher himself, the fact that he sparks a conversation among the Penn State Community is evident to me in the number of articles that are written about him and his preaching in student media outlets like The Daily Collegian and Onward State. Even the Penn State Snapchat Story features the Willard Preacher debating with students at least once each week!

    Although most student probably don’t agree with the Preacher’s radical message, you are spot-on with the fact that he is often impossible to avoid. When there’s a man six feet away from you yelling that you’re going to hell for having sex, you really have no choice but to hear him, even if you quickly duck into the building to get to your next class.

    I really like how this post is able to analyze the ongoing daily rhetoric of the Willard Preacher, rather than just analyzing the rhetoric of one text or one other civic artifact. It is neat that you used the Preacher as a counter-example of good rhetorical techniques! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts about paradigm shifts in your next post.

    –Elissa Hill

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