Sunday Superlatives 3/3/13


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Whew! I’ve got a BUNCH of Superlatives today thanks to your fantastic nominations. So let’s get right to it…

Around the Blogosphere…

Most Informative:
How to Become Pope

Most Powerful (nominated by Darin Campbell):
 Jonathan Storment with “Everyday Idolatry: My God

In other words, the scandal is not that Jesus is like God. The scandal is that God is like Jesus."

Most Helpful:
Margaret Feinberg with “Why Doesn’t It Rhyme? 7 Tips and Tricks to Reading Hebrew Poetry and Wisdom Literature” 

“Wisdom literature and poetry ground us in the truth that our struggles are struggles that humanity has wrestled with throughout history. Thousands of years ago, the Israelites wrestled with fear, doubt, insecurities, suffering, and sin—much like us, today.”

Most Challenging:
Peter Enns with “Why I Don’t Believe in God Anymore

The older I get, making sure all my “beliefs” of God are lined up as they should be loses more and more of its luster. I see the Bible focusing a lot more on something far more demanding: trust. Try it. Which is harder to say? I believe in God or I trust God?”

Most Practical:
Courtney Rowland with “The Great Fair Trade Chocolate Chip Experiment

“The good news is, there are plenty of companies out there who are committed to fair trade practices in chocolate production. The bad news is, there aren’t a lot of them that offer fair trade chocolate chips. After quite a bit of research, I narrowed down the field to two primary brands of fair trade chocolate chips: Camino and SunSpire.”

Most Insightful:
Brandon Ambrosino with “No Beauty without Ash: The Paradox of True Christian Art (or, getting ready for Easter)

“Whenever we downplay the horror of the crucifixion for the more pleasing story of the Resurrection, we fall into the trap of sentimentalism.”

Most Eye-Opening:
NPR with “Legal Scholar: Jim Crow Still Exists in America

“Today there are more African-Americans under correctional control — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. There are millions of African-Americans now cycling in and out of prisons and jails or under correctional control. In major American cities today, more than half of working-age African-American men are either under correctional control or branded felons and are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their lives."

Most Thought-Provoking:
Richard Beck with “Good Enough” 

To be shamed, then, for being normal, average, good enough or a failure is to be shamed by a fear-based illusion. Basically, you are being shamed for being what you are--a human being. That's that tragedy of modern life: You are not allowed to be a human being. You have to be better, something more. A god. Otherwise you're a failure.”

Most Likely to Make the Eyes Water (nominated by Tara J. Haussler):
Baddest Mother Ever with “A Tuesday Kind of Miracle

“The path of grief is not a straight line.  You don’t start off in the deepest slough then climb up each step to get back to peaceful.  Grief moves forward, but in a looping line.  You’re going along, making progress then you hit a loop and your stomach lurches and everything is flipped upside down and you land right back where you were a few weeks or months ago.  Eventually, the loops get smaller and spread farther apart, but they’re still there to…well, to throw you for a loop.”

Most Likely to Make the Tears Fall (nominated by KJ Stanton)
Dave Barnhart with “How Being a Pastor Changed My Thinking on Homosexuality

“I also know that plenty of folks have turned their backs permanently on the church, on religion, on Jesus, because they have struggled with heavy yokes and been locked out of the kingdom of God. I’ve had the privilege of helping a few hear the good news in the Good News, and seen them stand up straighter when the yoke is lifted off their shoulders. The church is still a place where prisoners are released and slaves are set free.”

Most Likely To Say It Perfectly (As Always):
Kristen Rosser with “But That’s What the Bible Says

“And this is the sad thing.  That we'd rather live with cognitive dissonance, believing that women are somehow equal but yet somehow lesser-- or that they are to be restricted for no reason, but that God is still just-- than to believe it's possible we're misreading our Bibles. We'd rather restrict women and have the Bible be "clear" than admit that we just might be wrong.  Certainty is more important than female humanity.” 

Wisest (nominated by Connie Esther): 
Emily Maynard with “I Stopped Guarding My Heart Ten Years Ago

“If you really want to be in healthy relationships, stop “guarding” your heart and start using it. Walk through the mistakes you will inevitably make and learn from them. Find a community of people who are practicing vulnerability. Fill your heart full of the love that makes it come alive, full of grace, full of determination to walk with pain rather than around it, and you will be much better off than any heart that has been merely “guarded.” If you want to learn vulnerability, allow God to really truly love you, exactly where you are, with a love that disintegrates shame. My capacity to love has grown exponentially since I stopped guarding my heart.”

[See also Aprille at Kindred Grace with “Hearts Are Not Construction Paper” for another excellent perspective on this notion of "guarding your heart" by shutting down emotions.] 

Funniest (nominated by Brian LePort):
Matt Mikalatos with “How Sesame Street is Undermining Biblical Values

“Strachan explains that this is the undermining of Protestant values, because boys shouldn't be taught to play with dolls, and that after this confusing message from Gordon, Baby Bear needs the Gospel. While I sympathize with Strachan's concern that boys might grow up to be nurturing fathers, both he and Sesame Street are missing the point. The fact is, Baby Bear should not be playing with baby dolls. He is a bear. And socializing him with humans (let alone human babies) can only bring grief. I know, you might think I'm overreacting, but the Bible is very clear on the role of bears in human relationships. They are meant to be voracious killing machines. I mean, the ONE COMMAND God gives specifically to bears is to "Arise and devour much flesh." This attempt to anthropomorphize and humanize bears strikes at the heart of everything the gospel teaches about bears.”

Best Cartoon:
XKCD with “How It Works

http://xkcd.com/385/

http://xkcd.com/385/

Best List:
Mental Floss with “7 Book Dedications that Basically Say ‘Screw You’”

“e.e. cummings wrote a book of poems that was turned down by 14 publishers. He finally published it under the title "No Thanks." The dedication was a list of all the publishers who had rejected it, arranged in the shape of a funeral urn.” 

Best Response (nominated by Dianna Anderson):
Mia McKenzie with “The Thing About Being a Little Black Girl in the World: For  Quvenzhané Wallis"

“The thing about being a little black girl in the world who is already, at nine years old, confident enough to demand that lazy, disrespectful reporters call you by your name, is that most people will not understand the amount of comfort in one's own skin it takes to do that, will not be able to grasp the sheer fierceness of it, the boldness, the certainty, the love for yourself, and will not be blown away at seeing you do it, though they should be.”

Best Confession (nominated by Stephanie Spencer)
Sarah Markley with “When A Post-Crisis Marriage is Full of Imperfections

“So when you read my bios, when you pop over from twitter and read a post I write and somehow find my one hundred or four hundred word about-me that talks about my redeemed marriage, please know that it’s not perfect. It’s far from that. In fact, it’s a struggle each day to love well and like wading through mud to suppress our own selfish inclinations. Each step toward Jesus and toward grace is harder than the last and we fall in to bed at the end of each day with a sigh, that yes-we-made-it-through-another-day-barely-intact.”

A Few Highlights From #FemFest 2013…

Feminisms Fest Badge.png

My contribution is an oldie: “Confessions of an Accidental Feminist

“ I am an accidental feminist, for my liberation did not come from  Simone de Beauvoir or Betty Friedan, but from Mary and Martha, Junia and Priscilla, Phoebe and Tabitha. It came from the marvelous and radical recognition that if the gospel is good news for them, then maybe it is good news for me too... “

Emily Joy Allison with “Feminism and Me: When I Cannot Cook But Am Still A Person”

To me, feminism was a soothing balm to a heart that had been battered and rejected by Christian culture for simply not looking like what they thought it should. Where the prevailing culture said you are wrong, you are dangerous, you are unsubmissive, you are undesirable, you are not enoughyou are too much, feminism said you are a person. At bottom, feminism is, as the old saying goes, the radical notion that women are people.”

Antonia Terrazas with “Feminism & Me, Whether I Knew It Or Not

“And then there were the prophets and the preachers: high-heeled at the pulpit, with manicured hands to lay. They were beautiful, smart, strong, and spoke with authority. Because the Spirit moves where the Spirit moves.  I was taught a fiercely loyal Ruth and a wise Deborah; through the bravery of Esther a nation saved, through the bravery of Mary, a world saved, a multitude reborn. Because the Spirit moves where the Spirit moves.”

Shaney Irene with “Why Feminism Matters”

“Because the truth is that feminism is having conversations that the church is not. The church is not yet a safe place for victims of abuse. The church is still blaming women for causing men to stumble, thinking that “What were you wearing?” is a perfectly okay question to ask a victim of rape, and refusing to believe women when they come forward about being sexually assaulted by Christian men. The church is not yet asking questions about privilege, and seems to think oppression is something that happens outside its walls. The church needs the framework that feminism is providing.”

Amy Lepine Peterson with "For My Son

“I'm a feminist because I want my son to see all people as valuable human beings, created in God's image. I want him to reject culturally constructed ideas about what it means to be "masculine" or "feminine" and to embrace biblical truth about what it means to be human, male and female, created in the image of a loving God. So I'll teach him to love, respect, nurture, and protect; to dance, weep, subvert, and sing.  I'll teach him how to turn swords into plowshares, and I'll warn him that power and domination are not the ultimate ends of manhood.  I'll tell him that the Bible does have a few things to say about what it means to be a man; and that it has a lot more to say about what it means to be loved, transformed, and made holy. I'll tell him the Kingdom is coming, and that it's here.”

Suzannah Paul with “All Oppression Shall Cease: A Feminist Theology of Power

This is where my faith intersects my feminism: worldly political and religious power crucified Christ, and when he rose from the dead, Jesus made a spectacle of their oppressive power, greed, fear, and blood thirst. The equality we seek is found not on the altar of empire but the upside-down Kingdom of Christ.” 

Carrie McKean with “Neither male nor female

“Undoubtedly this world needs to know the Father’s Heart.  But in a culture where His people are often seen as harsh and cold, judgmental and stoic, and in a generation where that mirrors the way many fathers treated their children, is it any wonder that we have such misconceptions about what His heart may look like?  I think it is time that we know the Father’s Mama-Heart, too.  And as I look around at a new generation of women – confident in the gifts God has given them, and bearing light and love in their homes, communities, and worlds, I’m beginning to see new currents of compassion, grace, mercy and  gentleness come alive.  It’s always been a part of His heart, but when mama-hearted-women step into their calling, I believe it unveils the Father in new and vibrant ways. “

Liz Myrick with “Yes, I Am

“I've been told I'm smart for a girl, funny for a girl, good at math for a girl, handy for a girl, easy to talk to for a girl.  Until people started lining up to tell me all the things I was good at doing, you know, for a girl, I didn't realize people thought that those were things girls weren't good at doing in the first place.”

Conner Park with “Unshackling Imagination

“Because I grew up sharing a room with Ramona Quimby, I want to see all children affirmed in their capacity to understand and imagine the world as creatively as they can. Because I sat impatiently through schoolwork with Anne, I want to build a world where no one is mocked for their differences and I crave a life built on intimate, bosom friendships. Because I wept with Lucy and Susan over the altar of Aslan’s death, I can now raise a loud Eshet Chayil!, praising the womanly valor of St. Mary of Magdala, Apostle to the Apostles, and all the women who daily proclaim the Resurrection’s power into my life. And because I loved and learned with Meg Murry to imagine a deeper and more beautiful world, today I am proud to say that I am a feminist, participating in a conversation that at its best, exists to unchain the imagination, to envision and build a world set free from imprisoning ideologies, a world where all are equal, even if not alike."

Deborah West with “Jesus is my favorite feminist

“He chose her. He commissioned her. He gave her the privilege of delivering the very first Resurrection sermon. To a room full of men.”

Preston Yancey with “When it matters because of two gardens

“And I think of them, sometimes, of that second Man and that other woman, in that garden west of Golgotha, and I think of her as she was sent forth, running east, and I think of the tangled mess of grace tripping and dancing round her in her wake, her feet bringing the news of healed cosmos, healed creation, and He has done this, first, and we shall follow, and so comes the Light. So blossoms the garden of us all.”

Luke Harms with “The Rehumanization of a Soldier and the Reconstruction of a Man

“For me, everything was at stake. My entire identity was invested in this caricature of masculinity that had been cultivated in me my entire life, and refined to perfection in the crucible of Army culture. Certainly, there were a number of factors that contributed to the disintegration of that identity, but feminism played a crucial role in giving me the words to articulate much of what I knew all along was so very wrong with this culture I was immersed in, and in turn, probably saved my marriage, and ultimately brought me back and far deeper into my faith than I had ever been before. It's funny, I've always seen the Holy Spirit as the mother in the little nuclear family of Trinitarian theology, so there's a kind of synchronicity in the fact that feminism was that thing that She used to woo me back.”

Link Up Day 1

Link Up Day 2

Link Up Day 3

On the Blog…

Most Popular Post:
"How [Not To] Respond to Abuse Allegations: Christians and Sovereign Grace Ministries"

Most Popular Comments:
In response to “Is abolition 'biblical'?” LizBR wrote: 

This kind of thing is why I tell my students (all freshmen at a Christian college), "Always be skeptical when someone starts a sentence with, 'the Bible clearly says.'" If someone says those words, your first response should be to question their position intensely. They might be right, or they might be wrong, but you definitely need to investigate whatever it is they think the Bible so clearly states.

and

in response to “Introduction to Wesley Hill’s ‘Washed and Waiting,’” Cobalt wrote:

“Wesley is a very brave guy. By telling his story, he runs the risk of condemnation from some Christians who choose not to show Christ's love to LGBT persons. And he runs the risk of condemnation from some LGBT persons and supporters who choose to rebuff him because he isn't supporting their position on homosexuality. That has to be an incredibly tough, lonely place to be in. I respect his bravery.”

Longest Sunday Superlatives Ever of All Time:
Rachel Held Evans with "Sunday Superlatives 3/3/13"

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So, what caught your eye online this week? What’s happening on your blog?

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