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Category: Religious Rhetoric

Not Wearing a Mask as “Faith”? A Theological Exploration of God’s will and Mask-Wearing

Not Wearing a Mask as “Faith”? A Theological Exploration of God’s will and Mask-Wearing

Guest post by Rachel Contos In the spirit of “Independence” Day in the US (in quotes because we know not everyone was free that day in 1776), I’d like to take some time to examine freedom from a theological perspective and how God’s will and our own free will fit together in order to address questions of unhealthy theology around mask-wearing. As many people finally begin to peek out from their quarantines for the first time and consider whether to…

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When Christian Nice Gets Mean in Minimizing Racism

When Christian Nice Gets Mean in Minimizing Racism

All week I’ve been mulling over how to approach writing about the important matters of racism that are prevalent matters of discussion in this particular stage of the religio-political apocalypse. And then a friend sent me an unhealthy meme about racial injustice that one of their friends had posted, and I knew it was time to talk about how exactly Christian Nice, toxic positivity, and the enactment and enablement of racism intersect to suppress and admonish those who stand up…

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Church Buildings as “Essential” and COVID-19: A Rhetorical Analysis

Church Buildings as “Essential” and COVID-19: A Rhetorical Analysis

Yesterday the current head of the executive branch of the US government made an announcement advocating for the immediate reopening of churches and other houses of worship as “essential” as quickly as this weekend. That announcement understandably set off a firestorm in the spiritually-focused groups I’m a part of. In this blog post, as a result, I will be looking at the concept of “houses of worship as essential” and the rhetoric around it. In doing so, I will also…

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COVID-19, Religious Organizations, and Spiritual Trauma: A Rhetorical Analysis

COVID-19, Religious Organizations, and Spiritual Trauma: A Rhetorical Analysis

It happened so quickly, didn’t it? On March 1 in my first article about COVID-19 on this site, I was apologizing for calling the current pandemic “only a cold,” and recommending preparations. About that time I was also recommending that my university students absolutely not shake hands with each other when they did their in-class interviews. Since then, we in the US have all been metaphorically hit by a freight train—okay, a virus—forcing us to rethink how we do connection…

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Doing Our Best to Maintain Our Pandemic Care Ecosystem

Doing Our Best to Maintain Our Pandemic Care Ecosystem

Well, what I feared when I was researching the piece I wrote here two weeks ago on responding healthily to the coronavirus has happened. It’s here. And not just one death, as it was then. More. We still don’t know even close to the scope of how many cases there are in the US, because of the lack of testing. But things—major things—have been closing. It’s exhaustingly stressful and overwhelming for many of us—those who are taking it seriously and…

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When Demonization Is Elevated and a Woman Tears It Up: The Religio-Political Rhetoric of the SOTU

When Demonization Is Elevated and a Woman Tears It Up: The Religio-Political Rhetoric of the SOTU

It was hard to choose what to write about this week. Since this project focuses on the contexts around the religio-political landscape and I’ve been talking about god terms (things we see as “all good” and defend at all costs) and devil terms (things we see as “all bad” and fight at all costs, I ultimately zeroed in on two highly symbolic gestures at the State of the Union. That’s right, we’ll be talking about and contrasting Rush Limbaugh (whose…

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MLK, “Nice,” the 81%, and the Silencing of Voices for Justice

MLK, “Nice,” the 81%, and the Silencing of Voices for Justice

On this weekend when we are meant to celebrate the contributions of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is startlingly easy to domesticate him. To cover over the more radical points he made. In this article I will quote some excerpts from “Letter from Birmingham Jail” I’ve quoted before, but apply them a little differently. This time I will highlight how these words speak to the ways the rhetoric of the 81% of white Evangelicals that may or…

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Feeling (Slightly Less) Betrayed by White Evangelicals: The Christianity Today Editorial

Feeling (Slightly Less) Betrayed by White Evangelicals: The Christianity Today Editorial

This week I’m going back to pick up the story of how Election 2016 in the US left me feeling betrayed by my white Evangelical folks (the previous parts of this series can be found here and here). This week I’m going to talk about how I saw religious rhetoric shift as a result of the religio-political apocalypse before I explain how this week’s events, especially Thursday’s bombshell Christianity Today post-impeachment-hearings editorial calling for the removal of the current head…

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#BelieveWomen, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Roots of (Deeply Socialized) Gaslighting

#BelieveWomen, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Roots of (Deeply Socialized) Gaslighting

As I write this, it is Advent. During this time, many Christians ponder the controversial #BelieveWomen story in which Mary told Joseph she was pregnant through surprising means—and he almost divorced her because of it, until he heard from an angel that her tale was true. It’s maybe not surprising that he didn’t believe her—after all, I know A LOT of people who still bristle at the idea that she was impregnated by God. Reflecting on this story (especially at…

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Climate Change Rhetoric, Hope, and the “Brainwashing of Children”

Climate Change Rhetoric, Hope, and the “Brainwashing of Children”

So a few weeks ago, when I posted the article about Greta Thunberg and the complexities of (self-)censorship, we got a whole bunch of trolls popping in on that article when I advertised it on Facebook. The next week I published a response from an AS follower to some of those trolls’ views. This week I’m finally getting around to analyzing some of the troll rhetoric myself. In this blog post I’ll look at the ways in which the themes…

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When “Christian Nice” Gets Mean about Holidays (The Roots of War on Christmas Rhetoric)

When “Christian Nice” Gets Mean about Holidays (The Roots of War on Christmas Rhetoric)

Well, Halloween is over and gone. And I don’t know about you, but winter moved into my area last week with a dump of to-me-unwelcome snow. So ‘tis the season for Christmas-celebrants to argue about whether it’s too early to set up the tree and/or pull out the Christmas music. And to act put upon about saying “Happy Holidays.” That’s right, friends, Halloween is over. And that means the War on Christmas season may have unfortunately already begun without our…

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In Praise of Empathetic Anger; Or, Toward Healthy Anger Understandings

In Praise of Empathetic Anger; Or, Toward Healthy Anger Understandings

Like many of you, I was raised to be terrified of conflict and the anger that came with it. As I’ve described before, I was taught the devil term to-be-fought-at-all-costs definition of anger, one that lumped the emotion in with the most extreme forms of those emotions and also with the negative outcomes of people acting out on their anger in what I’ve been previously calling a horns effect. In the present article, I plan to praise a very different…

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When “Christian Nice” Gets Mean about Forgiveness

When “Christian Nice” Gets Mean about Forgiveness

A couple of weeks ago I talked about how “Christian Nice” can get (unintentionally) mean about negative emotions. Last week I talked about “Nice” culture tends to enable covert abuse and authoritarian politics. This week I plan to continue those themes by talking about why the use of the word “forgiveness” within “Christian Nice” contexts can be potentially damaging when directed at those who are abused and/or oppressed. Some Important Definitions In doing so, I hope to continue our discussion…

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Why “Christian Nice” Enables Covert Abuse and Authoritarian Politics

Why “Christian Nice” Enables Covert Abuse and Authoritarian Politics

So if you follow this space, you know that I grew up in a “moderate” religio-political space that followed the rules of “Christian Nice.” Under the surface, that often meant that the kind of “peace” that was spiritually elevated as a “god term”—that is, as I’ve said before, something to be defended at all costs, and, in this context, actually also seen as more godly—was too often associated with the suppression of confrontation. This meant “conflict” and “confrontation” were treated…

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How to Be a Moderate Ally in the US Today

How to Be a Moderate Ally in the US Today

As I’ve explained before, I grew up in a denomination which many describe as falling *just* on the Evangelical side of what’s known as the Evangelical-Mainline divide among more conservative and more progressive churches in the US. That means I know many people in the US today who claim to be religio-politically moderate. Most of these are polling in the “independent” category on political surveys–but some are more independent than others. I’ll be frank—I believe the country has swung so…

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