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Category: Applied Theology

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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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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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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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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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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When Christian Nice Demonizes Self Care

When Christian Nice Demonizes Self Care

So this past week I saw a post by a male Christian that suggested in the new year we “serve others rather than ourselves,” and I wanted to analyze today all the many problems with that much-too-prevalent statement today as a one-size-fits-all rule. And especially put it into the broader contexts of societal hierarchies that help demonize self care for many populations in unhealthy ways. In short, this blog post will unwrap how this kind of theological false dichotomy, when…

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Hoping for the Best: Reaching Toward Healthy Non-Toxic Positivity as We Move Forward

Hoping for the Best: Reaching Toward Healthy Non-Toxic Positivity as We Move Forward

Okay, so as I’m writing this, we’re all facing down the end of that strangest of years, 2020—and looking ahead into 2021. As we do so, I’ve been reflecting a lot about the topic of healthy non-toxic positivity in these sorts of dark times. This blog post will be about just that—looking at the distinction between toxic and non-toxic forms of positivity and why it’s important to keep hoping for and working toward a better world. A Reminder Of Where…

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Thou Shalt Not Steal and the Rhetoric of Vote-Counting: An Open Letter

Thou Shalt Not Steal and the Rhetoric of Vote-Counting: An Open Letter

I grew up in a church where most Sundays they read the Ten Commandments and such. I knew them, and still know them, incredibly well. And my family’s been in this country, at least in one branch of the family tree, long enough for me to have relatives that went to war to fight for their rights regarding this no taxation without representation business–in other words, the right to have one’s vote count. The question of vote-counting has mattered since…

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