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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How to Push Back Against Demonization and Warmongering

How to Push Back Against Demonization and Warmongering

As I pointed out last week, 2020’s been really religio-politically intense so far. What with war being threatened between the US and Iran and Australia burning, it feels like the world is bating its breath to see what’s going to happen. Meanwhile, rhetoric from the current US administration is turning real humans into seeming cartoons, continuing to demonize and dehumanize the Other—especially the progressive/liberal other and the Middle Eastern other (not to mention other brown-skinned immigrant others). It’s important to…

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Avoiding Emotional Fallacies in Resolutions: Toward a(nother) Year of Assertiveness

Avoiding Emotional Fallacies in Resolutions: Toward a(nother) Year of Assertiveness

I don’t know about you, but I had been flagging a bit in my resolve in the end of the last year. It’s hard work, this relay marathon of speaking up and working against the toxic crap (and there’s soooo much of it!). It’s easy to be weary going forward. In this week’s post, I’ll discuss many of the emotional fallacies that often prevent us from forming and keeping resolutions toward acting toward the common good–as well as their antidotes….

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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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Surviving the Holidays in this Religio-Political Landscape

Surviving the Holidays in this Religio-Political Landscape

So…yeah. Here in the US, we’re heading into the holiday season just now in the middle of another fraught election season. That means the words “politics and holidays” are floating around in many anxiety dreams for those dealing with questions of how to deal with the major political divides in the context of holiday gatherings. Well, if this is you or if you know someone with this dilemma, here’s the article for you. The Options for Handling Gatherings with Religio-Political…

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Why None of Us Can Be “Perfectly Woke” or Safe

Why None of Us Can Be “Perfectly Woke” or Safe

Well, friends, we’re here. Friday was the 3rd anniversary of the 2016 election. And everywhere I look I see the signs that we’re all pretty tired. And as I said a couple of weeks ago, one of the phenomena that pops up when we’re all as exhausted as we are (for good reason) is the “eating one’s own” phenomenon, especially within what’s often referred to as “call out culture.” Often this phenomena comes out in expectations of perfection that each…

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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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When Good People Get Tired: Persistence in Speaking Up

When Good People Get Tired: Persistence in Speaking Up

Listen, all of us in the US have been going through a religio-political apocalypse for the last few years—it’s been almost three years for many of us white people in the US (muuuuch longer for POC and other people in marginalized communities). In this article, I’m going to talk (as someone who studies stress, trauma, and conflict communication) about why it’s so reasonable that we’re so tired, explain some communicative signs and dangers that can occur when we’re all tired,…

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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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Greta Thunberg and the Problems with (Self-)Censorship

Greta Thunberg and the Problems with (Self-)Censorship

This inspiring image is circulating of Greta Thunberg sitting alone outside the Swedish Parliament a year ago with a sign. This is being circulated alongside yesterday’s climate rallies, where millions around the world, led by young people, led by Greta Thunberg, rallied for climate change in an effort to try to get change on one of the biggest problems our planet faces. We Can’t All Become Greta Thunberg—But We’ll Never Know If We Don’t Try Too often we internalize this…

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Unwrapping a Healthy Spirituality of Competition; Or, Why I’m Not Working to Persuade Conservatives

Unwrapping a Healthy Spirituality of Competition; Or, Why I’m Not Working to Persuade Conservatives

I’ve been hearing it a lot lately, these cautions from the “reasonable people.” “Well, if you want the conservatives to actually hear you, you should tone down the language there.” “Well, that comparison doesn’t apply to ALL the conservatives. Shouldn’t you be more inclusive?” In this article, I plan to follow up on my previous article about “Jesus and the Limits of Listening” as well as other blog posts I’ll link throughout by discussing why I don’t think It’s always…

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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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