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Author: DS Leiter

Rachel Held Evans, In Memoriam: A Voice of #AssertiveSpirituality

Rachel Held Evans, In Memoriam: A Voice of #AssertiveSpirituality

This article was going to be an anniversary post, summing up my thoughts on how the definition of Assertive Spirituality has evolved in the year since I started this site, to my knowledge coining the term. But as soon as I heard the news this morning that progressive Christian author Rachel Held Evans had died at age 37 of complications from an allergic reaction to antibiotics, I knew the post I wrote today would have to shift. I’ll write the…

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Uncovering White Evangelical-Centrism: Feeling Betrayed Part 2

Uncovering White Evangelical-Centrism: Feeling Betrayed Part 2

In the last article I posted here, I talked about the way the 2016 US election left me feeling betrayed by many of those in my moderate Christian denomination in the Midwest. Getting a divorce at the same time as that election (which I talked about in one of the first articles I posted in this space) just made the event more apocalyptic for me—in the sense where experiencing both events at once made clear a whole bunch of religio-political…

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Feeling Betrayed by My White Evangelical Peops

Feeling Betrayed by My White Evangelical Peops

I finally realized Passion week is forcing me to come to confront the idea of Judas as betrayer. See, I realized that I understand the challenges between Jesus and Judas much better since November 8, 2016. I don’t pretend to be Jesus. But it certainly feels like way too many of my peops became Judas on November 8, 2016, when they voted for the current head of the US executive branch. I know I’m not alone in still struggling with…

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Giving Up Self-Abnegation for Good (Devil Terms part 6)

Giving Up Self-Abnegation for Good (Devil Terms part 6)

This article is the latest in a series of articles on the weird things that happen when we make things into “god terms” or “devil terms” (the earlier pieces can be found in part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5). In this article I talk about the weirdly unhealthy things that can happen when self is seen as a devil term and self-abnegation as a “god term.” I’m also going to talk about my journey to…

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“Get Behind Me, Satan!”: Jesus and the Limits of Listening (Devil Terms part 5)

“Get Behind Me, Satan!”: Jesus and the Limits of Listening (Devil Terms part 5)

In this–the latest in a series of posts on “god terms” and “devil terms” (see the previous installments of the series here, here, here, and here)–I talk about how Jesus did NOT treat “free speech,” neutrality, or “equal time to all perspectives” as “god terms” to be defended at all costs. In fact, according to the biblical narratives, he seems to have definitely taken the side of the poor, marginalized, and oppressed the large majority of the time. Also according…

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“Ashes to Ashes” and Death as a Devil Term (Devil Terms Part 4)

“Ashes to Ashes” and Death as a Devil Term (Devil Terms Part 4)

As I started writing this, it was Ash Wednesday, the day when many Christians and Christian churches soberly gather to remember their mortality. As I finish it a couple of weeks later, it’s still very much Lent—and feeling more intensely that way after last Friday’s mosque shooting in New Zealand, perpetrated by a white supremacist. In light of all this, I felt it was high time to continue this series reflecting on god and devil terms by talking about healthy…

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Lead Us Not Into “Family Values” as a “God Term”: Devil Terms Part 3

Lead Us Not Into “Family Values” as a “God Term”: Devil Terms Part 3

In the last couple of articles (see here and here) I’ve been analyzing what rhetorical scholars call “devil terms,” and doing so using political versions of the phenomenon. This week I’m going to wrap in “god terms” as well. I’ll specifically look at what happens when a particular set of beliefs around “family values” is viewed as a “god term,” especially how that affects some churches’ stances toward LGBTQ+ inclusion. Mini-spoiler: that move pushes lots of other people into being…

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The Fear of Tyranny that Could Unite Us: The Politics of Devil Terms Part 2

The Fear of Tyranny that Could Unite Us: The Politics of Devil Terms Part 2

As a communication scholar, I found the social media reaction to last week’s article about socialism as a devil term fascinating (if also disturbing). This week’s article will dive into some—er, differences of opinion I hold with many of the commenters. But it will also get into some unexpected common ground I found in the comments section among those who support the current US administration and those who dissent from its rhetoric and policies: a fear of tyranny. NOTE: This…

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“Leftists” and Socialists, Oh My! The Politics of “Devil Terms”

“Leftists” and Socialists, Oh My! The Politics of “Devil Terms”

In the US State of the Union speech, the current head of the administration used the word “socialism” in an incredibly loaded way that was designed to evoke and invoke fear responses. This article reflects on this kind of usage of “devil terms” like “leftist” and “socialism” from a communication perspective, helping us to look at these words as justly as possible. The Wizard of Oz and Fear of Predators I grew up in the era when The Wizard of…

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Colin Kaepernick and the Politics of Respect

Colin Kaepernick and the Politics of Respect

It was Super Bowl Sunday in the US this past Sunday (February 3, 2019). I posted a timely Black History Month-themed meme honoring Colin Kaepernick, the African-American football player whose kneeling during the national anthem to protest black deaths lost him his job. Thankfully, the game was really boring, because I spent a good chunk of that night and sporadically throughout the week continued to respond to the comments. That experience inspired me to focus this week’s article on the…

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Healthy Acts of Resistance: A Book Review

Healthy Acts of Resistance: A Book Review

A Review of  Sacred Signposts: Words, Water, and Other Acts of Resistance Benjamin Dueholm Paperback: Eerdmans, 2018. Reviewed by D.S. Leiter NOTE: This review was published first at Englewood Review of Books. Sacred Signposts is by a minister in the mainline Lutheran tradition. As such, the book is organized according to the “sacred possessions” of the church offered by reformer Martin Luther: words; water; a meal of bread and wine; confession and forgiveness; ministry; prayer, praise, and worship; and the cross…

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In Defense of Echo Chambers

In Defense of Echo Chambers

Okay, before you get your stress response hormones pumping too much, I’m not here to say that echo chambers are always a fabulous thing. As anyone who has followed this page ought to know by now, even if we do hang out in spaces where we find people who think like us, I think we definitely need to sally forth to interact with those who think differently. And when the beliefs are toxic, to resist such behaviors. In fact, I’m…

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The Seductive Absolutism of “Conversational Narcissism”

The Seductive Absolutism of “Conversational Narcissism”

A couple of months back a friend sent me an article about the dangers of practicing “conversational narcissism” around those who are grieving. She said “isn’t this such a great term? It explains so much about what feels wrong about talking about yourself around someone who’s grieving.” I was a bit more cautious, as usual. “Well—” See, I had seen a couple of articles with this term going around lately. And I was particularly nervous about this particular term, and…

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The Word Made Flesh: The Mysteries of Nonverbal Communication

The Word Made Flesh: The Mysteries of Nonverbal Communication

‘Tis still the season, at least for those celebrating the Christmas season from a religious angle, to think through the ways in which words are made flesh. In honor of that, but in a way that would still hopefully be helpful year-round and for a wider audience, I thought it was high time to talk about the place nonverbal communication occupies in the way we communicate. So yes, let’s dive into the mysteries of the place flesh, and tone, and…

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Stress and Conflict; Or, Why We All are So on Edge

Stress and Conflict; Or, Why We All are So on Edge

I’ve been seeing the symptoms of the stress of this particular political moment for a long time. Lately I’ve seen a lot of “friendly fire” recently breaking out in online groups trying to make the world a better place. In this article, I’ll discuss what living through this kind of stress has been feeling like for me lately in light of the research on stress, trauma and conflict communication. In the process, hopefully I’ll be able to articulate more of…

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