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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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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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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Conflict Advice, Spirituality, and the Need for Nuance

Conflict Advice, Spirituality, and the Need for Nuance

Okay, so on the heels of last week’s Online Listening Café about Listening Across Spiritualities Even When We Disagree, it seemed too, too perfect when I learned one of my favorite podcasts, The Bible for Normal People, took on the subject of “How to Talk to People You Disagree With” in the very same week. As a scholar of stress, trauma, and conflict communication, though, I’ll admit I was sad and disturbed after listening to the conflict advice given in…

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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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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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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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“Christian Nice,” Morality, and Political Disgust (Part 1)

“Christian Nice,” Morality, and Political Disgust (Part 1)

It’s been one of those weeks for me. The kind in which a confluence of a lot of conversations pops together with concepts you’ve been absorbing for a long time, and bam! One of those blinding insights. So blinding you can’t unsee it even when you close your eyes. It all started when someone I grew up with—someone who’s admitted to being bad at conflict—was assertively courageous enough to say to me last week that they liked my blog but…

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On Facing Difficult Conversations from a Trauma Background

On Facing Difficult Conversations from a Trauma Background

If you’ve been following the Assertive Spirituality Facebook feed closely, you know I had one of those difficult conversations this week. Without sharing personal details about the encounter, I asked for support there. Because no matter how skilled you are and knowledgeable you are about conflict, these things are hard. That is especially true when there is a trauma background involved in the conversation—and there was on both sides of this particular encounter. This week’s long-and-raw but hopefully worth it…

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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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