Sunday Superlatives 2/10/13


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
Richard Twiss

Richard Twiss

Prayer of the Day: “O God, who before the passion of your only­ begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” (Book of Common Prayer)

Today we also remember in prayer the friends and family of Richard Twiss, who passed into the eternal kingdom of the Creator this week after a massive heart attack. I do hope you will take the time to read this collection of tributes over at Red Letter Christians. As Jarrod McKenna put it, “Uncle Richard called us to the Creator’s great powwow, around the throne of the nonviolent Lamb, in whose reign every nation and tribe and people and language are present, protected and celebrated.” He will be profoundly missed.

Around the blogosphere….

Best Video:
A Pep Talk From Kid President

Best Sermon:
Jonathan Martin with “The Woman at the Well

Best Reflection:
Richard Beck with “This Ritual of Hallowing

“Imagine someone comes to you and shares a great burden. They share loss, failure, despair, fear, brokenness, or sickness. Their own or that of someone they love. What do you say upon listening? Thanks for sharing? Good luck with all that? I'm so sorry? Something has happened, something was shared, that needs to be set apart from every other mundane and silly thing that has happened during the day. The moment needs to behallowed--set apart, consecrated, made holy. And so you pray. Prayer is a hallowing… Do I believe God is out there answering all these petitions and requests? Again, I don't know. But I know that prayer--this ritual of hallowing--is the only proper response."

Best Story:
Jeff Chu with “Damsel, Arise: A Westboro Scion Leaves Her Church

“I don’t feel confident at all in my beliefs about God. That’s definitely scary. But I don’t believe anymore that God hates almost all of mankind. I don’t think that, if you do everything else in your life right and you happen to be gay, you’re automatically going to hell. I don’t believe anymore that WBC has a monopoly on truth.”

Best Insights:
Derek Leman with “How Torah Undermines the Very Slavery It Permits

“If you’d like to see a Christian theologian tackling the idea of understanding the Bible as more than what is written, of taking a relational approach to the Bible and reading it with tradition, instead of insisting on an unchanging, literal text, take a look at Scot McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet. If you’d like to see a Jewish concept of Torah as adapting and changing over time, being read in community and through tradition, and not as an unchanging, literal text, then simply start reading Jewish literature. Because Judaism is very straightforward about Torah including tradition and being a conversation that evolves over time toward God’s ideal ways in the world to come.”

Best Analysis:
Jenny Rae Armstrong with “John Piper, Women in Combat, and How Gender Roles Fall Short of the Glory of Humankind

“When we force people into gender-based boxes, insist that individuals conform to our concept of what men and women are supposed to be, we lose the wonder, the mystery, and the full-orbed expression of God’s image uniquely revealed in each human being. God created us male and female, yes, but He didn’t just create us male and female; he created us Jenny and Aaron, and Jason and Sarah, and John and Noel. All of us reflect God’s image in different ways. And it is very good. Here’s what it comes down to for me. My gender is not something I perform; it is something I am. Womanhood is not something I do; it is something I live. Femininity does not define me; as a woman created in the image of God, I define it, in community with my sisters.”

Best Contribution to the Purity Culture Conversation:
Leigh Kramer with “The Morning After

“I am a woman. Not being a wife or mother does not make me less of a woman. My sexuality is not defined by those roles. Nor am I defined by my virginity or my past. I am a unique blend of beauty, character, and imperfection. I am enough. I have tasted my power, I have chosen chastity, I have learned what lies behind these desires. There's nothing passive now in this decision to wait. But this is just me. This is the path best suited for me. I did not always choose it. I understand why many go another way…There is no condemnation here. Simply a plea. Stand beside me, encourage me. Challenge me but don't judge me. Even if you didn't make the same choice, even if you think you'd never make the same decision.  No matter what I have or haven't done, I am worthy of love. And so are you.”

Most Challenging:
Micha Boyett with “Real Failure, Or Why All of It Matters

What makes something valuable? What makes anything in this tender and cracked world more important than anything else? I am called to a spiritual work that runs deep and fine. Your calling may be wide. You may dig the wells that save the lives of thousands. Or you may lift the small plastic cup to the one mouth in your care. You may be doing the great work I dreamed of once, the brave work in the most broken places. But, you may also be living the most ordinary kind of life: one of laundry and dishes and children who scream at your attempts to raise them well. All of us are knit into the fabric of Christ; all of us are living in holy time.”

Most Refreshing:
Addie Zierman with “Come Weary

Come straight from your bed with your morning breath and your sweatpants. Come with your crazy-hair and your unwashed face and last night’s dishes still sitting out on the counter. Come as soon as the alarm goes off, or after three or four smacks at the Snooze button.”

Most Provocative:
Andrew Sullivan with “Christianism and Violence

This man is now a symbol for “pro-family” and “pro-gun” Republicanism. And yet he had no property to defend, no wife to protect, no children to keep safe, no house to live in. He never carried a weapon and rebuked his friends when they used one against a mob armed with clubs and swords about to arrest and torture him to death. He was homeless, completely dependent on the good will, shelter and food of others. He was, as today’s Republicans would say, a “taker”. But of course, it is in giving that you receive in Christianity. Jesus inverted the entire maker-taker paradigm. So no, congressman Ryan, you cannot be a disciple of Ayn Rand and Jesus of Nazareth. In any way whatsoever.”

Most Encouraging (nominated by Micah Odor):
Anil Dash with “The World is Getting Better

“But let's, for once, look at the actual data around developing world problems. Not our condescending, world-away displays of emotion, or our slacktivist tendencies to see a retweet as meaningful action, but the actual numbers and metrics about how progress is happening for the world's poorest people. Though metrics and measurements are always fraught and flawed, Gates' single biggest emphasis was the idea that measurable progress and metrics are necessary for any meaningful improvements to happen in the lives of the world's poor. So how are we doing?”

Most Profound:
Elizabeth Esther with “Five Year Old Theology

“I know God loves everybody and that is most importantest thing of all the things I know.”

Most Thought-Provoking:
Morgan Guyton with “Is Jesus Saving the World From Us?”

The fear of the Lord is described all over the Bible as a positive thing. Proverbs 9:10 says the fear of the Lord leads to wisdom. Psalm 19:9 says the fear of the Lord is pure and endures forever. Acts 9:31 says that the new church grew because of their fear of the Lord and confidence in the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 11:3 says that the messiah will delight in the fear of the Lord. Many evangelicals seem to think that the Bible’s praise for the fear of the Lord means that it’s good to be afraid of God. But being afraid of God is paradoxically the opposite of the fear of the Lord that gives you purity, confidence, and wisdom. When you’re afraid of God, you hide in the bushes like Adam and Eve when God comes walking. You become like the third servant in the parable of the talents who said to his master, “I knew that you were a harsh man… so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours” (Matthew 25:24-25)…. The fear that predominates so much of the evangelical church is actually the fear that 1 John 4:18 is talking about in the negative: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.” I would call this fear dread, because is a fear that hides from God. The good fear of the Lord doesn’t hide from God; it rather describes the inherent, inescapable speechlessness we experience when we come in contact with God’s infinite. This good fear is best described as wonder.”

Most Eye-Opening:
A Country Divided: Stunning Photographs Capture Lives of Ordinary Americans During Segregation…

Most Powerful:
Idelette McVicker with “My freedom is bound to yours

“The girls didn’t need us for their liberation. But we were all becoming a little more liberated together.”

Most Likely To Take You Back:
Buzzfeed with “29 albums that are now 20 years old

Most Likely to Make You Cheer:
Preston Yancey with “When we need women behind the pulpits

Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can hear the words of God in a new voice. Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can hear what it’s like for Mama Mary to watch her Son bleed. Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can hear He is risen! in the tone it was first shouted. Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can see that the kingdom of God is bigger than my expectations. Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can see that the Church is opposed to the systemic sexism of Satan’s world. Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can see that breasts and long legs and high heels do not scare God. Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can know that through Christ He has done, is doing, and will do something new. Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can know that this long line of Faith handed-down came from Mothers and Fathers. Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can know that Aslan is on the move and He’s setting captives free and He’s singing with a
roar…”

Best Reminder:
Michael Kimpan at Red Letter Christians with “Don’t Tell Anyone – Jesus’ warning Against Always Expressing Right Belief

“Our addiction to an answer culture dictates declarations of ‘Truth’ so individuals know what we believe - and we quickly become defined not by what we are for, but what we are against. We tragically live not as who we are, but become obsessed with correcting who we are not for fear of being misunderstood. Jesus didn’t seem to care. It’s not that he was unaware of who He was – nor did He shame Peter for his Spirit-guided insight into declaring his affirmation of Christ’s claims of divinity. Yet it would seem it mattered less to Jesus what people believed about Him than it did that they follow Him and experience His way of life.”

Most Relatable:
Shauna Niequist with “Anti-Frantic”

“I’m adopting a ruthless anti-frantic policy. I’m done with frantic. The new baseline for me: will saying yes to this require me to live in a frantic way? I’m saying no more often than I’m saying yes. I’m asking hard questions about why I’ve kept myself so busy all these years. The space and silence I’m creating is sometimes beautiful and sometimes terrifying. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a cartoon airplane when the engine gets cut and the plane hovers for a few long seconds before starting to fall. But then sometimes I feel so strongly like for the first time in a long time, I’m listening to the right voices. I’m remaking my way of living from the inside out.”

On the Blog…

Most Popular Post:
The Absurd Legalism of Gender Roles

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

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