Browsed by
Category: Definitions

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…

Read More Read More

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….

Read More Read More

#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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

How to Be a Moderate Ally in the US Today

How to Be a Moderate Ally in the US Today

As I’ve explained before, I grew up in a denomination which many describe as falling *just* on the Evangelical side of what’s known as the Evangelical-Mainline divide among more conservative and more progressive churches in the US. That means I know many people in the US today who claim to be religio-politically moderate. Most of these are polling in the “independent” category on political surveys–but some are more independent than others. I’ll be frank—I believe the country has swung so…

Read More Read More

“Go Back Where You Came From,” White Evangelicals, and Territoriality: An Analysis

“Go Back Where You Came From,” White Evangelicals, and Territoriality: An Analysis

This week the current head of the US administration told four congresswomen who were women of color, three of which were born in the US, to “go back where they came from” (if you want to find out more about that, Google will get you to lots of articles–or hold on, and I’ll be linking a few throughout this article). This article is an analysis of this statement using tools from the communication field, including the way the phrase is…

Read More Read More

When “Christian Nice” Gets Mean about Emotions

When “Christian Nice” Gets Mean about Emotions

If you haven’t been keeping up with my schedule, by the time you read this, I’ll be largely done with speaking about “Stress, Trauma, and Conflict Communication” at the Wild Goose Festival, which is a progressive Christian social justice-themed festival in the Bible Belt in the Southern US. As I’ve described before, I grew up in my own mini-Bible belts in the Midwest. But the Southern US Bible Belt is its own special cultural flavor of Bible Belt. This piece…

Read More Read More

White Evangelicalism Eloped with Unhealthy Nationalism: An Analysis and Call to Action

White Evangelicalism Eloped with Unhealthy Nationalism: An Analysis and Call to Action

QUICK NOTE BEFORE I EVEN START: In this article, as with this previous one and this previous one, I refer to “White Evangelicals” as a cultural and religio-political group. I refer to their presumed race mostly to separate this group from POC Evangelicals, most of which hold VERY different beliefs on the ways religion ties to questions of social justice and what we should be doing in the political realm. When you read the rest of this post and respond…

Read More Read More

The Risks and Rewards of Assertive Spirituality (A Year of #AssertiveSpirituality Part 2)

The Risks and Rewards of Assertive Spirituality (A Year of #AssertiveSpirituality Part 2)

Just over a year ago, I started this Assertive Spirituality project—and with it, to my knowledge, coined the term “Assertive Spirituality.” My first post on this blog started out with a friend’s question about whether Assertive Spirituality was “a good thwack over the head.” I responded by including a definition of assertiveness from the textbook I teach out of in my Small Group Communication university classes. I might possibly have failed to adequately point out the connection between assertiveness and…

Read More Read More

Abortion Rhetoric, “Baby Killers,” and the Horns Effect (A Year of #AssertiveSpirituality Part 1)

Abortion Rhetoric, “Baby Killers,” and the Horns Effect (A Year of #AssertiveSpirituality Part 1)

In this article I plan to start my “Year of #AssertiveSpirituality” series by discussing a few of the reasons it’s so hard to have a reasonable problem-solving discussion about how to reduce and care for women with unwanted pregnancies in this country. Often, this issue gets classed as a battle between those who insist on making abortion illegal and those who advocate for other solutions. In this article I plan to unpack how that works from a communication perspective, as…

Read More Read More

Uncovering White Evangelical-Centrism: Feeling Betrayed Part 2

Uncovering White Evangelical-Centrism: Feeling Betrayed Part 2

In the last article I posted here, I talked about the way the 2016 US election left me feeling betrayed by many of those in my moderate Christian denomination in the Midwest. Getting a divorce at the same time as that election (which I talked about in one of the first articles I posted in this space) just made the event more apocalyptic for me—in the sense where experiencing both events at once made clear a whole bunch of religio-political…

Read More Read More

“Leftists” and Socialists, Oh My! The Politics of “Devil Terms”

“Leftists” and Socialists, Oh My! The Politics of “Devil Terms”

In the US State of the Union speech, the current head of the administration used the word “socialism” in an incredibly loaded way that was designed to evoke and invoke fear responses. This article reflects on this kind of usage of “devil terms” like “leftist” and “socialism” from a communication perspective, helping us to look at these words as justly as possible. The Wizard of Oz and Fear of Predators I grew up in the era when The Wizard of…

Read More Read More