The stripline is a technique from fishing that has been adapted to sales – making it doubly appropriate for evangelists.
When a strong fish has struck the lure, but the hook may or may not be quite fully set, the angler may let the prey run away with it, stripping the line off the reel. Then, when the line is zipping away at what he judges to be its maximum velocity, he abruptly stops it, setting the hook immovably and jerking the fish back in the direction of his captor. Unless the line breaks, the fate of the fish is then sealed.
The stripline is used by the salesman to bring a prospect who is focusing on the negative aspects of a proposal back to earth, by giving him a chance to recoil from a possible outcome more negative than he would like to think is likely. The prospect might for example be going on about how expensive the proposal is. The salesman would deploy the stripline by amplifying the complaint to its maximum, thus laying the black snake on the table and defanging it, all in one move, by saying, “Yeah; you probably can’t afford to do this.” The effect of this oral gesture is magnified by the beginnings of a move to disengage – to close the presentation, rise, and depart.
The natural reaction of the prospect is to disagree, saying something like, “Well, hold on now, I don’t know that I would go that far. Maybe the benefits of this plan make it worth the cost. Tell me more about the x.”
The stripline can be quite effective in political and theological discourse. Consider:
“Yeah, I suppose if we didn’t raise the minimum wage, lots of people would die.”
“True; women should probably insist that they pay for at least half of every date.”
“Jesus was obviously a lunatic.”
Now, if your interlocutor is herself a lunatic True Believer, she won’t disagree with any of these statements, *and you’ll know you never had a chance of a real discussion with her in the first place.* You can then cut your losses, and walk away. But if she is at all reasonable, she won’t be willing to go that far, and will begin making a case *against* the position you have just staked out with your stripline. The stripline may be understood as an evocation of your prospect’s unprincipled exceptions.
The trick then is to allow her to convince you.