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Author: DS Leiter

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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The Complexities of Ostracism

The Complexities of Ostracism

As I post this we’re just entering Advent on the Christian liturgical calendar—and that means we’re entering a new year as well as a season when many are being asked to listen to voices “crying out in the wilderness.” The problem, of course, is that toxic societal patterns and trauma alike often push people to the wilderness and then tell us that their voices ought not to be heard. Whether or not you follow Christianity or practice Advent, hopefully this…

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On the Complexities of Counting the Costs

On the Complexities of Counting the Costs

Okay, so as anyone who’s, well, read the name of this site knows, I’m all about people speaking up as assertively as possible, including about spirituality and politics. But I wanted to spend a little time before the holidays talking about counting the costs of speaking up to family, particularly over the holidays. (I hope this advice will also be helpful throughout the year.) I felt driven to write this article after I heard lots of strong voices at the…

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The Complexities of Love and Limits

The Complexities of Love and Limits

So yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot about the questions of shame and ego, individualism vs. collectivism, love and hate, sensitivity and insensitivity, strength and limits. (You know, small insubstantial issues :)). These issues impact every sphere of life at every level—and they lie at the heart of so much humanity, including questions of spirituality. In this week’s article I tackle a few aspects of these problems by talking about the challenges, dissonances, and paradoxes of emotional labor, task labor,…

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The Complexities of “White Fragility”

The Complexities of “White Fragility”

Hello! I think I’ve recovered enough from the powerful and vulnerable and imperfectly perfect experience that was the first Evolving Faith conference to write this now. (If you’re new to this page, you might not know that I was there as a sponsor, which was in itself a totally vulnerable leap of faith for this little fledgling Assertive Spirituality project that’s currently just me, and a labor of love to offer the expertise I have to those who are willing…

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Breaking the Cycle of Weakness-Shaming: Political Disgusts (Part 4)

Breaking the Cycle of Weakness-Shaming: Political Disgusts (Part 4)

This article is the latest in my series on political disgusts (see part 1, part 2, and part 3 here). I don’t tell a lot of my story this time. But you’ll see that it is connected—I grew up among those who had a deep disgust for Nazis (which meant we always laughed when Harrison Ford would say things in the Indiana Jones movies like “Nazis. I hate these guys”). In this article I’ll talk about how, after much reflection,…

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Logic, the Bible, and Political Disgusts of the “Unmasculine” (Part 3)

Logic, the Bible, and Political Disgusts of the “Unmasculine” (Part 3)

I’ll be honest: this week I was pretty overwhelmed with the world. And so this week’s article is one I’d drafted awhile ago, but adapted to fit into the sequencing of the series I’d been doing on political disgusts (see part 1 and part 2 through these links if you’re behind). Specifically, I’ll be looking at how the logical concept of hasty generalizations can help us sort out what religious moral preoccupations might be coming from the Bible as a whole…

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