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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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“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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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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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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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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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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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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The Relational Consequences of Sacred Talk

The Relational Consequences of Sacred Talk

I’ve been getting my mind in gear to teach my general education communication classes that start in just over a week. And so when I read a recent Christianity Today review that’s in my wheelhouse—I’m a communication scholar, after all, and it’s a review by a communication scholar (Tim Muehlhoff) of a recent book about sacred language by Jonathan Merritt—my mind turned to an important distinction that pops up in Chapter 1 of the interpersonal communication textbook I teach. Content…

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Toward Healthier Communication Climates; Or, Why We Need to Speak Up

Toward Healthier Communication Climates; Or, Why We Need to Speak Up

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in a culture of what I called Christian (Midwest Middle Class White People) Nice, which had some great things about it, but also some toxic side effects. Most notably, I left my childhood with a strong aversion to calling out negative behaviors. I was a little better at speaking up against unhealthy narratives, but still felt awkward and inept at doing so. In this article I’m going to introduce two communication theory concepts…

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Outrage Fatigue and the Sources of Political Conflict; Or, Why We’re All So Freaking Tired

Outrage Fatigue and the Sources of Political Conflict; Or, Why We’re All So Freaking Tired

As I write this article, I’m tired. (Some call this condition outrage fatigue or compassion fatigue.) I’m tired because it’s been a long week. It’s been a long year. It’s been an extremely long (American) presidency. (Oh, and I know this is a long article. Stick with me—I think you’ll find it worth it, and encouraging, to stay to the end.) It’s felt long, and we’re all tired, because that’s what happens when abusers abuse. It’s what happens with domestic abusers. With…

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