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Category: Definitions

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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In Pursuit of True Civility; or, On Standing Up for the Common Good

In Pursuit of True Civility; or, On Standing Up for the Common Good

There’s been a lot of flap about civility in the news lately, and I’ve seen it mirrored on my news feeds posted by friends, family, and acquaintances. “If we’re to ask for civility for the little guy, then we also need to give it to government employees,” they say. Or “You may not respect the man, but at least respect the office.” As someone who’s been teaching about civility for years, and who’s also been away on a trip until…

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Christian Folk, Let’s Stand Up Against Abuse!

Christian Folk, Let’s Stand Up Against Abuse!

We’ve spent a few weeks discussing the toxic patterns that can be enabled by conflict-avoiding “Christian nice” spiritualities and the ways they can make us sick. It’s high time we discuss what healthier spiritual responses to conflict look like. In this post, I’ll outline what I see as an excellent constructive way to approach conflict in abuse situations by jumping off an excellent reflection by Abbot Tryphon, the leader of the All-Merciful Saviour Monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church on…

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How “Christian Nice” Can Literally Make Us Sick

How “Christian Nice” Can Literally Make Us Sick

Now that we’ve dived into a few nuances of the toxic sides of “Christian nice” (see the bottom of this page for the earlier posts), it’s time for us to discuss why the gangrene metaphor I used in that post isn’t so metaphorical. Which is all to say that it’s time to discuss how suppressing our stress and emotions and disagreements literally makes us sick. My Experience and Some Disclaimers Before I dive into the details, let me say I’ve…

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