Churchy Exceptionalism Part 2: Or, Hearing the Critiques from Spiritual Trauma

Churchy Exceptionalism Part 2: Or, Hearing the Critiques from Spiritual Trauma

So this week I posted a meme on the AS Facebook page, in concert with last week’s article introducing the concept of churchy exceptionalism, stating the ways some people find the term “blessed” distasteful as used in some contexts. In light of last week’s article, I found the virulence of some of the defensive responses extremely ironic and illustrative. Someone even suggested that the the project was “deny[ing] God” by posting the meme. <insert horrified face emoji here> So yeah,…

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Churchy Exceptionalism Part 1; Or, When Church Becomes a God Term

Churchy Exceptionalism Part 1; Or, When Church Becomes a God Term

This blog post extends my previous series on “god terms” (things to be defended at all costs) and “devil terms” (things to be fought at all costs)—a series which started here. In this piece I plan to extend this analysis by directly looking at subtle ways in which church too often becomes a “god term” to be defended at all costs, even by more spiritually healthy Christians, and how that can lead to the problems of what I’m about to…

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The Problem with the GOP’s “Viewpoint Neutrality” Doctrine in K-12

The Problem with the GOP’s “Viewpoint Neutrality” Doctrine in K-12

The GOP’s been pushing “viewpoint neutrality” A LOT lately in education, including both K-12 education and higher ed, if you hadn’t noticed. This is the language that shows up in a lot of the bills that are demonizing the place of “critical race theory” in classrooms, often where it’s not being taught in the first place. These bills often are requiring “equal time” to all viewpoints on history, especially racial history, even if some are false and downright damaging. Not…

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When Pride Becomes a Devil Term: And How We Can Respond

When Pride Becomes a Devil Term: And How We Can Respond

As I’m writing this, it’s the 6th anniversary of marriage equality in the US, and the day of the first Pride Parade in a small city in the Midwest where I’ve resided. Because of these things, I find it fitting to confess that I, like the Supreme Court and that small city, was very late to the party of celebrating Pride Month and Pride Parades. And even, perhaps most sadly, to celebrating my friends’ and LGBTQ+ neighbors rights to celebrate…

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When the GOP Tries to Legislate Racial Cordial Hypocrisy

When the GOP Tries to Legislate Racial Cordial Hypocrisy

As I write this, it’s the first Juneteenth that’s a national holiday. It literally became one two days ago. This declaration has been met with unease by many Black voices I’ve been hearing. In this article I plan to unwrap why this is by bringing my usual communication studies lens to the subject, with a dash of Jesus thrown in. In short, declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday is a good step forward in a lot of ways. But especially the…

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Reaching Toward Post-traumatic Growth in Late-Stage Pandemic

Reaching Toward Post-traumatic Growth in Late-Stage Pandemic

Editor’s Note: This week I’m happy to welcome back a returning guest blogger to this site. Rhonda Miska is a pastoral minister in the Catholic church as well as a spiritual director. Rhonda has written one previous piece at AS, about Christian resistance–you can find it here. Today she writes about how we can reach into the uncertainty of late-stage pandemic in ways that can help us and others move toward healthy post-traumatic growth and thereby create as healthy a…

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When the “Good Guy with a Gun” Myth Becomes a God Term

When the “Good Guy with a Gun” Myth Becomes a God Term

Okay, so this week I had an opportunity to have a variety of—ahem—new visitors to the Assertive Spirituality Facebook page to comment on a particular meme in which a person expressed concerns about a random person open-carrying a gun in a restaurant. What was really striking to me is that almost all of these dissenting visitors to that particular meme on the AS FB page, most of whom seemed to identify with NRA types of rhetoric, seemed so attached to…

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Not My Mark Driscoll? The Threat of Dismissing Extreme Christianity

Not My Mark Driscoll? The Threat of Dismissing Extreme Christianity

Mark Driscoll, the toxic masculinist megachurch pastor who was defrocked a couple of years ago, yet has formed a new megachurch in Arizona, is in the news again this week. This time it’s for reports of increasingly cult-like behavior in his church, including excommunicating and surveilling a family whose brown-skinned son kissed Driscoll’s 15 year old daughter (more details can be found here about the incidents). When I heard about this incident, my first impulse, I’ll confess, was to dismiss…

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How (and Why) to Support Assertive Voices when the Trolls Attack

How (and Why) to Support Assertive Voices when the Trolls Attack

As I’ve been discussing in recent pieces (see here and here), white conservative Christianity has been aggressively cultivating white (supremacist) male aggression as a god term in recent decades. Historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s important book Jesus and John Wayne provides a thorough, evidence-based assertively unflinching account of how this has happened, speaking truth to power. And so it should not be a surprise that her book has come under fire by high profile conservative Evangelical voices in recent weeks,…

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When White Male Aggression Becomes a God Term

When White Male Aggression Becomes a God Term

I had already noted a few weeks back, in my analysis of the excellent and important book Jesus and John Wayne, that I wanted to write an entire piece on white Evangelical rhetoric around “God-given testosterone” causing aggression and domination as natural side effects of “men being men.”  Well, after this week’s violent set of shootings at massage parlors in Georgia by an ardent white male member of a Southern Baptist church, I thought it was time to look more…

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Working Together Toward COVID-19 Vaccination Goals

Working Together Toward COVID-19 Vaccination Goals

I know we’ve been saying this for quite some time now, but this past week’s been quite the week. Thursday March 11 was the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a year later we’re in the throes of the both frustrating and optimistic process of COVID-19 vaccination. Others have written helpfully on many aspects of this situation; in this piece I hope to talk about how all the competing types of rhetoric at play, especially scarcity rhetoric, affects the human…

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Grieving a Year of Pandemic Trauma and Golden Calves

Grieving a Year of Pandemic Trauma and Golden Calves

Y’all, two days from now it will have been a year since I first published my first blog post in this space about the rhetoric of coronavirus. And I HATE HATE HATE how right I was in that post. I hate how much literal damage and death and disability the rhetoric from the previous president and other leaders in his party filtering down into their followers has caused in the US in the past year. This week culminated the past…

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Ashes to Ashes and Rush to Dust?

Ashes to Ashes and Rush to Dust?

As those of you who’ve been following this space for awhile may remember, I first wrote extensively about my experience with Rush Limbaugh here when he was disturbingly given the Medal of Honor at last year’s State of the Union. Ever since the death of this poisonous man on this past Wednesday—Ash Wednesday—I’ve been trying to figure out how to extend that discussion here. In this article, I plan to talk about some of the ways I’m mourning the continuing…

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Evangelicalism, Militant (White) Masculinity, and the “Threat” of Assertive Spirituality

Evangelicalism, Militant (White) Masculinity, and the “Threat” of Assertive Spirituality

I just finished reading the book Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez a couple of days ago, and I’ll be honest, it’s so impactful I’m going to be processing it for quite some time. In this article, I’ll talk about how this general audience history book makes the strongest case I’ve seen yet for the need for many people to embody the ideas behind this Assertive Spirituality project, in discussing the disturbing long-term impact of the ideas…

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What’s in a #BernieMeme? (And What Is Not)

What’s in a #BernieMeme? (And What Is Not)

This, the 51st month of 2016, as one meme puts it, has been full of ALL THE FEELS for me and so many others in the US and around the world. I mean, let’s be clear: in the course of two weeks we progressed from armed insurrectionists white supremacists praying in the Capitol while causing violence and trauma to the blessedly peaceful inauguration day. It’s been A LOT to process. So it’s excellent that we’ve had memes of Bernie Sanders…

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