Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There's Hope

"There's hope; It doesn't cost a thing to smile; you don't have to pay to laugh. You better thank God for that." I thought of this song by Indie Arie when I looked on the new website from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The website is dedicated specifically to finding hope. Viewers of the website Finding Hope will feel an emotional connection through talks, videos, and personal stories, while also receiving counsel from the general authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Being a member of this church I may have a greater familiarity with the subject matter on the site, but while looking at all the links I have also found how inclusive it is. Even though the audience may be a large number of people this website uses personal experiences through writing and video to create an intimate surrounding with viewers. Anyone can gain a greater desire to have hope after looking at this website. This hopeful counsel will brighten the lives of viewers, regardless of nationality, age, or religion.

On the front page of the website a video clip begins with soothing music that brings relaxation. President Uchtdorf, who is in the first presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, begins speaking on the power that comes from a hope in the Savior Jesus Christ. Towards the end of the short clip he says, “For the love of the Son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow, and gladdens every heart." Just by entering the site viewers can both see and hear the theme of this website. This statement also personifies hope. This tool helps the viewer better understand what hope can do. Using these powerful and active words helps the reader understand the power of hope greater. By personifying hope, the emotional desire to achieve hope is strengthened. Beneath the video are four other video titles which include personal stories and counsel from other general authorities in reference to hope. Now the viewer can receive more instruction through seeing and listening.

Allowing the viewer to then pick and choose uses nonlinearity, enabling the viewer to make his or her own beginning, middle, and end in regards to analyzing the website. Emotionally, this tool places confidence in the viewer allowing him or her to pick and choose where to go next. This took also creates interaction between the viewer and the author. While one viewer may want to focus more on the definition of hope, another may want to just read the personal experiences. By giving them the option to choose, viewers will not lose interest by going in the order the author chooses. More than video options, there are rhetorical questions, stories, and other links to click on throughout the entire web page.

The rhetorical questions include: What is hope? How can hope help me? What do I need to do to have hope? The questions begin with a general fact question, but then become more personal and finally involve action with the last question. Even though these questions may be simple they are effective in drawing a larger audience. While most religious viewers may understand the need to have hope in Jesus Christ, others may not. Including these questions at the top of the front page will help viewers from any background get a basic foundation to then build on through the rest of the website. With that foundation viewers can continue on to find how other viewers, just like themselves, overcame difficult circumstances through hope. There are several personal experiences on the bottom half of the page and each of these individuals were faced with a choice to have hope, regardless of the difficult situation they were facing.

Lee shares the experience of losing his wife to Leukemia and having to raise his four young children. His second wife is now battling breast cancer, but he ends by saying, “My wife and I find hope each day by living the teachings of Jesus Christ: loving and serving one another, praying for strength to pass through this challenge well together, and for Father in Heaven’s will to be done.” Instead of being angry and depressed, Lee and his wife are able to find joy by having hope in their savior.

Including personal stories like this one allows viewers to not feel alone. They can receive comfort knowing others, just like them, overcame death, divorce, depression, and other difficult circumstances to find hope. Viewers can receive comfort knowing if others can overcome, so can they. Even though they are probably alone looking at the website, there is this immediate community where many can share their experiences. There is also a link to send in your own story. If the viewer would like to, he or she can write an experience and email it. Writing is also healing and can help the viewer abandon despair and find hope. For me personally it is writing that helps me view things in a different light and I am able to understand the bigger picture. Writing is a way to find hope and this website makes it easily accessible to do this. In addition to viewers’ experiences there are also stories shared in talks by the general authorities of the church.

My favorite story on the website comes from a talk given by President Uchtdorf in a General Conference for the church. He relates a story about his mother when he was just a young child. The story is a remarkable one of a mother loosing her children on the train while refugees during WWII. The tone President Uchtdorf tells the story in shows his admiration, love, and respect for his mother. He conveys the message that turns fear into faith - and hope. He emphasizes that his mother didn't just stand there when the train was gone; she moved. She acted. Hope is a characteristic involving action. The beginning of the story is displayed on the main page, with a link to the rest of it. This technique also adds to the tone - creating suspense. Allowing the reader to have control in clicking to read the rest of the story creates involvement between viewer and author.

Beside this story is
a picture of the Savior healing the blind man at Bethsaida. This painting alludes to a bible story where the Savior heals someone physically. By adding the words "Finding Hope" over the top, the viewer connects with the characters in the story depicted by the painting. This painting is also symbolic in that we all can be healed like this man. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can emotionally be healed, by having hope and faith in the Savior. Not only is hope desired and necessary, but hope in Jesus Christ can make us whole.

This website gives many options to the viewer and draws upon emotion to accomplish the intended desire, which is to give individuals hope. I found myself wanting to focus more on my Savior after looking at this website, and also getting outside myself to help others have hope. The website encouraged me to act and I have recognized ways I can strengthen those around me, which has in turn increased my own hope and made me more cheerful and positive. The tools this website uses makes a great connection between the authors and viewers. Using both sight and hearing in different ways deepens pathos. This emotional connection invokes a feeling of worth in the viewer and a desire to find hope.

1 comment:

Emily said...

For my English class we wrote a rhetorical analysis on a selected website. As part of the assignment we needed to post our final draft...so I decided to post it here on my blog. It's pretty long, but perhaps you'll enjoy it.