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Category: Conflict Styles

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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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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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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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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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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“Not My Christianity”?: Moving Toward Healthier Responses to the Attempted Coup

“Not My Christianity”?: Moving Toward Healthier Responses to the Attempted Coup

This week has felt like quite the, well, year in the US, hasn’t it? Specifically, the last few days. In this blog post, I plan to respond to one strain of responses to the seditious coup attempt that led to the first breaching of the US Capitol building on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 since 1812: the “Not MY Christianity” rhetoric. See, I totally understand the impulse to fully disclaim the twisted toxic kind of spirituality on display during this insurrection….

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Mask-wearing as “Liberal?”: Christian Nice and Partisan Divides over Public Health

Mask-wearing as “Liberal?”: Christian Nice and Partisan Divides over Public Health

I remember those wide-eyed days of Early Pandemic, when people were assuming that the reality of the virus would overcome partisan divides and bring us all together. Even then, while I hoped it would be the case, as a communication and rhetorical scholar focusing on stress, trauma, and conflict communication, my instincts and training both told me it would likely not. I blogged about my concerns about partisanship and anti-expertise rhetoric here, even in the earliest days of COVID-19. In…

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Managing Our Anxieties of Influence in an Age of #COVID19

Managing Our Anxieties of Influence in an Age of #COVID19

This article is about my observations of the anxieties about being able to influence such a huge problem as a global pandemic like #COVID19. You know, that really overwhelming thing that the majority of reasonable people are looking to the best experts to help with right now, and following their advice. Which is why you’re super-anxious about your 79-year-old great aunt who thinks just running to Target for a few things rather than getting delivery is still a very normal…

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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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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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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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