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Category: Applied Theology

The Unhealthy Rhetoric of Spiritual Bypassing

The Unhealthy Rhetoric of Spiritual Bypassing

“Everything happens for a reason.” “She’s in a better place.” Some of us find these kinds of statements helpful, but others of us shudder when we hear them, especially when paired with other spiritual language. In this blog post I plan to unwrap some of the dynamics of why the thing termed spiritual bypassing can be toxic and harmful to a lot of people even when the same techniques and phrases help others. My Background and Standpoint As always, I’ll…

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On Sin-Leveling and Classified Documents

On Sin-Leveling and Classified Documents

Wow, we’ve been hearing a lot about classified documents in the US news lately. If you’re not paying attention to the rhetoric closely enough, it seems like it’s suddenly this huge problem that EVERYONE in government has. AND, significantly, like everyone ON ALL SIDES of US government is equally guilty of mishandling classified documents. In this piece I plan to unwrap why that simply isn’t so, and how this kind of largely right-wing rhetoric mirrors nature and the effects of…

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When Shame–Er, Purity Culture—Becomes a God Term

When Shame–Er, Purity Culture—Becomes a God Term

So this week I had the strange experience of re-reading the book Pure by Linda Kay Klein when an article came out suggesting that Evangelical missionary, martyr, and purity culture icon Jim Elliot seems to have longed for death at the end of his life because of struggle against something unspecified that he deemed a (sexual) sin. Considering Pure is an ethnographic study of the damage and trauma caused by the Evangelical purity culture movement that was in part pioneered…

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Unpacking “Christian Nation” as a Fascistic God Term

Unpacking “Christian Nation” as a Fascistic God Term

Okay, so the last couple of weeks’ blog posts about LGBTQ+ inclusivity and abortion bans as fascistic (see here and here respectively if you want to catch up). That coming in the midst of the crucially important January 6 hearings in Congress and the upcoming 4th of July holiday has been a thing.  Not to mention the recent Supreme Court decision allowing to door to open to the Religious Right’s Holy Grail of “(Christian nationalist) prayer in schools.” All of…

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When LGBTQ+ Identity Becomes a WEC Battleground

When LGBTQ+ Identity Becomes a WEC Battleground

So yeah, in recent months and years, it’s been increasingly clear that the litmus test for whether you were a “real” white Evangelical Christian has surrounded the question of where you stand on the Culture Wars, and has been stunningly similar to the question of what made a “true conservative” in the US. And let’s be clear—the issue this has consolidated around in recent years and decades, beyond the question of whether you support abortion being illegal, is the question…

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Book Banning and the Rhetoric of Bible Reading

Book Banning and the Rhetoric of Bible Reading

Okay, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the Bible this week: and specifically the idea of how conservative Christians tend to idealize reading the Bible and assume it will somehow keep you conservative (spoiler alert: that did not happen for me). This comes in the wake of two disparate bits of news: (1) according to the 2022 State of the Bible report from the American Bible Society, Bible reading took a huge dive from early 2021-2022; and (2) that…

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The Toxic Side of “All Lives Matter” Rhetoric

The Toxic Side of “All Lives Matter” Rhetoric

Okay, so we all KNOW a bunch of us get annoyed with the phrase “all lives matter”–for good reason– when it’s abused. A lot of us even know a lot of the reasons it bothers us. But com theory and related research can really help us see why it bothers us in a new light, and since that’s what I study and teach, I hope to explore what happens when seemingly good concepts like all lives matter “go bad,” and…

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Millstones and Such: The Gospel of Mark as Anti-Abuse

Millstones and Such: The Gospel of Mark as Anti-Abuse

Editor’s Note: This guest blog piece by Matthijs Kronemeijer was written before the recent horrific anti-trans legislation was passed in Texas. This legislation accuses healthy loving parents and caregivers of trans children of child abuse for affirming trans children’s identities and trying to protect them from the disturbingly high suicide rates among trans folx. I hate the fact that I even have to write a note about how much it is NOT ABUSE to affirm children who don’t fit pre-existing…

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Why Christian Nice Gets All Complicit with Bullies

Why Christian Nice Gets All Complicit with Bullies

So as I write this it’s Black History Month. Which has me thinking again about Christian White Person Nice and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s words in “Letter from Birmingham Jail” about how “white moderates” are almost a bigger threat to equity and justice than the extremists are. (I previously talked about this here and here.) In this week’s blog post I’d like to parse some more of this out in terms of communication and conflict theory. So I’ll…

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Beyond Thoughts and Prayers: A Spirituality of Equitable Tangible Support

Beyond Thoughts and Prayers: A Spirituality of Equitable Tangible Support

Okay, so probably many, if not most, of the people reading this blog KNOW they get super frustrated when they hear the words “thoughts and prayers.” If you are in this group, you may have even developed an allergy to the phrase. You probably even know that it bothers you because of a combo platter of hypocrisy and a lack of action. But you may not understand why you have such a visceral reaction to it, or why and how…

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Assertiveness in an Age of Herod(s)

Assertiveness in an Age of Herod(s)

So as I write this, it’s Advent, a time when traditionally people have focused on the time of waiting in the midst of deep and dark tension for good things to arrive. But speaking of darkness, bits of the Christmas story itself are remarkably dark and horrific, as the story of when Joseph and Mary have to flee the country because Herod saw a potential baby born to be the Messiah as a huge threat to his power. This week’s…

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“Don’t Tread on Me!”: A History of Unhealthy Rhetoric

“Don’t Tread on Me!”: A History of Unhealthy Rhetoric

So if you google the history of the “Don’t Tread on Me” symbol and flag (often called the Gadsden flag), as I did last week, you’ll find a wide range of storytelling styles about it—most of which are either right-wing or very right-leaning “moderate” in nature. Today I’m going to unwrap some of these narratives from a rhetorical perspective, take issue with some of these interpretations, and discuss why this flag has been a strongly questionable symbol of militant masculinity…

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Talking Healthy Disagreement with Jared Byas (on his podcast)

Talking Healthy Disagreement with Jared Byas (on his podcast)

Greetings, friends! Instead of one of my usual blog posts today, I’m excited to provide a link to a podcast conversation I had recently with Jared Byas on his new miniseries podcast, How to Disagree, where we talked about working toward creating healthy disagreement. I was deeply honored he invited me to talk about the stress, trauma, and conflict communication aspects of interpersonal situations involving deep disagreement. We got into the extra challenges that can come when some parties have…

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When Entitlement (Program)s Get Confused with “Pride”

When Entitlement (Program)s Get Confused with “Pride”

This week I saw an image from a dating profile whose owner identified as politically conservative as well as Christian. Here’s what it said: “…if you voted for Joe Biden do not hit me up..I don’t date liberals that feel they are entitled..I believe in hard work, self accountability, and God!!!!!” There’s a lot going on here, and there’s no way I will have time to unwrap all of it in this post, but I wanted to discuss how these…

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How Humanism (And Empathy) Became a Conservative Christian Devil Term

How Humanism (And Empathy) Became a Conservative Christian Devil Term

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we got to where conservative Christians are literally demonizing empathy. And this week I had a breakthrough: I think the rhetorical move that most undergirded the acceptance of this came from when conservative and conservative-leaning Christian leaders started casting humanism as a devil term. In this week’s post I plan to unwrap how this worked in my moderate pastor’s kid past, how it’s connected to my previous analysis of pride as a…

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