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Author: DS Leiter

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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On Feeling All the Feels This Week

On Feeling All the Feels This Week

I’ve started this week’s article at least several hundred times, and discarded all the ideas until this one came out. The week’s events here in the US have been so overwhelming for everyone, especially all non-bullies (the specific instance right now is the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings, but it could be anything else, really, at a different time and place). Because of everything, there’s a lot of pressure inside me to say the right thing, feel the right thing,…

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Conflict Advice, Spirituality, and the Need for Nuance

Conflict Advice, Spirituality, and the Need for Nuance

Okay, so on the heels of last week’s Online Listening Café about Listening Across Spiritualities Even When We Disagree, it seemed too, too perfect when I learned one of my favorite podcasts, The Bible for Normal People, took on the subject of “How to Talk to People You Disagree With” in the very same week. As a scholar of stress, trauma, and conflict communication, though, I’ll admit I was sad and disturbed after listening to the conflict advice given in…

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Why Listening Across Spiritualities Is Hard (And So Is Assertive Spirituality!)

Why Listening Across Spiritualities Is Hard (And So Is Assertive Spirituality!)

Good morning! Often lately on this blog I’ve been digging deep into some sides of conflict issues I and others have been working out for ourselves. I’ll get back to the political moralities series next week. Today, because Thursday from 7-9 p.m. Central Time is the Assertive Spirituality (International Day of Listening) Online Listening Café about Listening Even When We Disagree Across Spiritualities, I’m going to use this space to outline some components of listening I often teach and illustrate…

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Racial Justice, MLK, and the Toxic Sides of “Christian Nice”

Racial Justice, MLK, and the Toxic Sides of “Christian Nice”

The whole time I’ve been developing this series on the toxic sides of “Christian (Midwest Middle Class White People) Nice,” I haven’t been able to give credit to all of my influences in looking at the topic other than a few key concepts from my area of communication studies (helpful as though those have been!). I’ve been wanting to give credit to Martin Luther King, Jr. for awhile and connect these concepts to racial justice, and I can only apologize for…

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Competing (Dis)Tastes: “Christian Nice,” Moralities, and Political Disgust, Part 2

Competing (Dis)Tastes: “Christian Nice,” Moralities, and Political Disgust, Part 2

Alright, I’m back (some may say by popular demand? Huh. Maybe, maybe not :)). In the first part of this series, I laid the groundwork for discussing the various, often conflicting “distastes” and “disgusts” with politics in my youth–“political moralities,” as it were. I did so by talking about the neurobiology of morality. I also talked about a few of the implications of this insight for understanding the political divisions between groups such as the “Religious Right” and “The Christian…

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