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Category: Assertive Spiritualities

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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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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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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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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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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