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Category: Stress and Trauma

When Therapy Becomes a Devil Term, Especially in Church

When Therapy Becomes a Devil Term, Especially in Church

So I know so many people who grew up Evangelical who grew up with the overt message that therapy is terrible. I grew up with a more covert stigma about it in my right-leaning moderate neck of the woods, but it was effective all the same with me for a long time. As I’ll explain a bit later, I even see symptoms of this lingering in some progressive Christian spaces. In this piece I’ll unwrap some of this and how…

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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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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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Taking Stock of Our Collective Stress and Moving Toward a Healthier World

Taking Stock of Our Collective Stress and Moving Toward a Healthier World

I was teaching some of my classes about stress and effects this week, as I do every semester in all my classes, and I got around to looking up the American Psychological Association’s latest numbers for stress in the American public. And whew, it really hit me how much our collective stress levels have gone up in the last 20 years since just before 9/11. In this article I plan to unwrap some of the identified reasons our stress has…

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Simone Biles: Speaking Truth to the GOP’s Unhealthy Positive Projections

Simone Biles: Speaking Truth to the GOP’s Unhealthy Positive Projections

NOTE: This piece was originally published during the Summer 2021 Olympics, when Simone Biles withdrew after getting the “twisties.” Its principles continue to apply, but it might be helpful to look back at her statements then here. At the time, she received all sorts of abuse from the GOP, which, as noted below, were just starting the January 6 hearings. This past week Simone Biles withdrew from competition for the all-around gymnastics finals after faltering in the preliminary rounds of…

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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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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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When the “Good Guy with a Gun” Myth Becomes a God Term

When the “Good Guy with a Gun” Myth Becomes a God Term

Okay, so this week I had an opportunity to have a variety of—ahem—new visitors to the Assertive Spirituality Facebook page to comment on a particular meme in which a person expressed concerns about a random person open-carrying a gun in a restaurant. What was really striking to me is that almost all of these dissenting visitors to that particular meme on the AS FB page, most of whom seemed to identify with NRA types of rhetoric, seemed so attached to…

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How (and Why) to Support Assertive Voices when the Trolls Attack

How (and Why) to Support Assertive Voices when the Trolls Attack

As I’ve been discussing in recent pieces (see here and here), white conservative Christianity has been aggressively cultivating white (supremacist) male aggression as a god term in recent decades. Historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s important book Jesus and John Wayne provides a thorough, evidence-based assertively unflinching account of how this has happened, speaking truth to power. And so it should not be a surprise that her book has come under fire by high profile conservative Evangelical voices in recent weeks,…

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Grieving a Year of Pandemic Trauma and Golden Calves

Grieving a Year of Pandemic Trauma and Golden Calves

Y’all, two days from now it will have been a year since I first published my first blog post in this space about the rhetoric of coronavirus. And I HATE HATE HATE how right I was in that post. I hate how much literal damage and death and disability the rhetoric from the previous president and other leaders in his party filtering down into their followers has caused in the US in the past year. This week culminated the past…

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Ashes to Ashes and Rush to Dust?

Ashes to Ashes and Rush to Dust?

As those of you who’ve been following this space for awhile may remember, I first wrote extensively about my experience with Rush Limbaugh here when he was disturbingly given the Medal of Honor at last year’s State of the Union. Ever since the death of this poisonous man on this past Wednesday—Ash Wednesday—I’ve been trying to figure out how to extend that discussion here. In this article, I plan to talk about some of the ways I’m mourning the continuing…

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