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Tag: devil terms

When Ordinary People Turn into Uncivil Bullies

When Ordinary People Turn into Uncivil Bullies

We’re all vulnerable to unhealthy stress responses. All of us. In this article I’m going to share an experience of seeing an unhealthy dynamic happen in an in-person discussion of public policy  in a class I was teaching, and what was needed to get things back on track. In the process I’ll describe how I knew things were really off track as well. In my small group communication and leadership class (which I’ve taught in several schools), I’ve sometimes taught…

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Open Letter to Climate Change Naysayers at Assertive Spirituality

Open Letter to Climate Change Naysayers at Assertive Spirituality

Editor’s Note: This week’s blog post is a guest piece from someone who was following last week’s piece and had both experience and expertise in science and sustainable agriculture to respond to the climate change naysayers responding to the article, yet wished to remain anonymous. I offer it here in a very lightly edited version as an excellent example of #AssertiveSpirituality. Go team! May we all continue to do what we can where we are with what we’ve got to…

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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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Abortion Rhetoric, “Baby Killers,” and the Horns Effect (A Year of #AssertiveSpirituality Part 1)

Abortion Rhetoric, “Baby Killers,” and the Horns Effect (A Year of #AssertiveSpirituality Part 1)

In this article I plan to start my “Year of #AssertiveSpirituality” series by discussing a few of the reasons it’s so hard to have a reasonable problem-solving discussion about how to reduce and care for women with unwanted pregnancies in this country. Often, this issue gets classed as a battle between those who insist on making abortion illegal and those who advocate for other solutions. In this article I plan to unpack how that works from a communication perspective, as…

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Giving Up Self-Abnegation for Good (Devil Terms part 6)

Giving Up Self-Abnegation for Good (Devil Terms part 6)

This article is the latest in a series of articles on the weird things that happen when we make things into “god terms” or “devil terms” (the earlier pieces can be found in part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5). In this article I talk about the weirdly unhealthy things that can happen when self is seen as a devil term and self-abnegation as a “god term.” I’m also going to talk about my journey to…

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“Ashes to Ashes” and Death as a Devil Term (Devil Terms Part 4)

“Ashes to Ashes” and Death as a Devil Term (Devil Terms Part 4)

As I started writing this, it was Ash Wednesday, the day when many Christians and Christian churches soberly gather to remember their mortality. As I finish it a couple of weeks later, it’s still very much Lent—and feeling more intensely that way after last Friday’s mosque shooting in New Zealand, perpetrated by a white supremacist. In light of all this, I felt it was high time to continue this series reflecting on god and devil terms by talking about healthy…

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Lead Us Not Into “Family Values” as a “God Term”: Devil Terms Part 3

Lead Us Not Into “Family Values” as a “God Term”: Devil Terms Part 3

In the last couple of articles (see here and here) I’ve been analyzing what rhetorical scholars call “devil terms,” and doing so using political versions of the phenomenon. This week I’m going to wrap in “god terms” as well. I’ll specifically look at what happens when a particular set of beliefs around “family values” is viewed as a “god term,” especially how that affects some churches’ stances toward LGBTQ+ inclusion. Mini-spoiler: that move pushes lots of other people into being…

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The Fear of Tyranny that Could Unite Us: The Politics of Devil Terms Part 2

The Fear of Tyranny that Could Unite Us: The Politics of Devil Terms Part 2

As a communication scholar, I found the social media reaction to last week’s article about socialism as a devil term fascinating (if also disturbing). This week’s article will dive into some—er, differences of opinion I hold with many of the commenters. But it will also get into some unexpected common ground I found in the comments section among those who support the current US administration and those who dissent from its rhetoric and policies: a fear of tyranny. NOTE: This…

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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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