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Category: Solidarity

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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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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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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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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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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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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Book Review: Resist and Persist by Erin Wathen

Book Review: Resist and Persist by Erin Wathen

NOTE: In the spirit of last week’s post about recognizing the reasons for and coping with Outrage Fatigue, my posts over at the Assertive Spirituality Facebook page this week have been encouraging self-care even while we persist in resisting. In that same spirit, this week’s post upcycles a book review I wrote that originally appeared at the lovely Englewood Review of Books. Part of what this allows me to do is to put the final touches on the long-promised “Assertive…

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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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On Celebrating Assertiveness Wins in the Face of Evil

On Celebrating Assertiveness Wins in the Face of Evil

I won’t lie, friends: it’s been a tough week to be grading final exams. Don’t get me wrong: I dearly love seeing the wins during these interpersonal and small group communication and leadership take-home finals. There’s usually nothing as cool as hearing about the ways the concepts my students are learning about conflict styles and stress and shame and civility are already impacting lives. There’s usually nothing so fabulous as hearing the super-smart and shy students talk about how much…

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On the Emotional Labor of Assertiveness (in Grading)

On the Emotional Labor of Assertiveness (in Grading)

Greetings! I still have 14 final papers to grade before tomorrow for my interpersonal communication class, but since it’s #TeacherAppreciationWeek, I wanted to take a short break to talk about the emotional labor involved in assertive grading. Especially for us recovering avoider-accommodators, but also I think for recovering aggressors as well, it’s not easy to tell students their work doesn’t meet the standards I’ve laid out. It’s just not. I say this having taken many steps over the years to…

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