Sunday Superlatives 4/15/2012


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Can you believe we went two weeks without Sunday Superlatives? Glad to have them back. 

Around the Blogosphere...

Best Video (Possibly Ever):
Caine’s Arcade
(Thanks to Susan St.Laurent for the recommendation)

Best Story:
CNN with “Unlikely spiritual pilgrim walks 70 miles from frat house to shrine” 

“What have we to do in order to become saints? Nothing more than we do every day. Only do it for the love of God.”

Best Letter:
Sarah Bessey with “In which I write a letter to you, mama” 

“My joy in mothering these small souls was restored to me when I was released from the prison of comparison. That yearning to measure up, to be The Perfect Mother, masquerades as selflessness but really, it's approval addiction, it's people pleasing and you won't be the only victim of its poison and its bitter need for control.  

Darling, you are mothering for an audience of One, and that One, he delights in you. 

And joy will come to you when you simply let that woman be the mother that she is, perfect or otherwise, and give yourself grace to figure it out as you go. Let yourself be all of the mother that you are - when you yell or get frustrated, when you ask forgiveness, when you feel your heart straining against your rib cage, all because of how he looks asleep in your arms, all because of the sound of childish voices laughing outside, all because of the quiet nights in the monastery of the baby's room, just rocking in a time outside of time, it's all real and it's all you and it's all okay. There is grace for it all, it all makes you a mother."

Best Reminder:
Ray Hollenbach with “Jesus, Friend of Pharisees

“In modern society we love to point out that Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. He crossed social boundaries. He was the friend of sinners. Sometimes we fail to note there is another group with whom he regularly dined: pharisees. What if Jesus reclined with pharisees for the very same reason he ate with the outcasts? What if he had the same mission whether he ate with Zacchaeus the taxman or with Simon the Pharisee? What if he cared for both? Perhaps the Lord knew we were all sick, all in need of a doctor.”

Best Analysis:
Diana Butler Bass with “A Resurrected Christianity?

“The crisis is real. Like Andrew Sullivan, I feel its sad and frustrating urgency. But I also know the hope of possibility, for every crisis bears the promise of something new. Endings are also beginnings. Indeed, without death, resurrection is impossible. Imaginative, passionate, faith-filled people are enacting a new-old faith with Jesus and are working to change wearied churches. It is the season of resurrection, and resurrections always surprise.”

Most Informative:
Louis A. Ruprecht Jr. with “The Tale of the Confused Christian Calendars

Most Inspiring: 
Jen Hatmaker with “The Easter Conundrum: Part 1 & Part 2” 

“Not surprisingly, it was the last purse left. What self-respecting homeless woman picks a hot pink purse that would barely carry her bus pass? Glamour handbags are only for women who have eight others and a house in which to stash them. So I stood there with my one little purse, when it’s rightful owner, the one for whom I daresay that purse was stitched together, made a beeline for me.She had on her Easter finest, tights included, though it was ninety degrees. Flouncy dress with – what else? – hot pink flowers. Hair done in sections with matching beads, pink floppy hat on standby. Leather dress shoes polished to a sheen. Dainty ribbon necklace and rings on four fingers. She was six-years-old. Her name was NeNe.”

Most Constructive: 
Kathy Escobar with “Alongside” 

“'alongside’ teaches us courage.  i always say “courage is doing hard things scared.” alongside as equals requires courage.  when my husband and i moved from a complementarian-ish relationship to an egalitarian one, it freaked both of us out.  we were scared because we knew how to do the way we had been doing it.  when my friend karl called me to co-lead pastor with him instead of be an associate, it freaked me out.  i knew in my heart it was the right thing but i was terrified to not have the fallback of him being in charge of me somehow, the only model i knew as an evangelical woman.  the first time my friend shared with me the reality of his sexual addiction, it freaked me out, that level of sharing. but i knew that moment was a holy one. i needed to be brave, to stay in, to listen, to learn."

Most Enlightening: 
NPR with “When God Talks Back to the Evangelical Community

Most Relatable: 
Jennifer Fulwiler with “Five bags for Alicia

“Yes, my life is very busy, but if I spent even one-tenth the time I spend messing around on the internet in silent time with God, I could have a pretty solid prayer life. I know this. I’ve known it for a while. But I thought of it in a “ha-ha, I’m so bad about that!” kind of way. In my selfishness, I thought it was just between me and God.It took the situation with Alicia to wake me up to the fact that when we’re not closely listening for the voice of God, we don’t just miss out on the peace and joy we experience from a deeper relationship with the Lord; we don’t just miss an opportunity to give honor and glory to the One who most deserves it; we don’t just miss out on answered prayers God may have had in store for us — sometimes we miss the opportunity to answer someone else’s prayer."

Most Practical:
Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat with “My Blogging Advice

Most Likely to Turn You Into a Serious Ashley Judd Fan: 
The Daily Beast with “Ashley Judd Slaps Media in the Face for Speculation Over Her ‘Puffy’ Appearance

“That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.”

Most Likely to Make a Good Point About Tribalism: 
Fred Clark (Slactivist) with “What I mean by evangelical tribalism

Most Likely to Totally Prove Fred’s Point About Tribalism:
Ed Stetzer with “Our Leading Presidential Candidates: Self-Professed Christians Whom Many Christians Don’t Actually Believe Are Christians”

Most Likely to Relate to Recent Conversations: 
Amy Julia Becker with “Why I am Both Spiritual and Religious

“But I'm starting to realize that religion and spirituality are not opposed to each other. Rather, they are two poles on a continuum, and both reflect the human need to know God's presence and to experience the deep rest and purpose that comes from that knowledge. The busyness and distractions that infuse my days are symptoms of a larger problem, a problem that can't be solved simply by attending a church service or by drinking herbal tea. In order to learn how to be still and know rest for my soul in the midst of dirty diapers and deadlines and car maintenance and doctors' appointments and everything else, I need more than religion. And I need more than spirituality. I need them both.”

Funniest:
PR Daily with “13 Signs You Spend Too Much Time on Pinterest

“6. Two words: electronic hoarder”

Second-Funniest:
The Oatmeal with “How to Get More Likes on Facebook

Third-Funniest:
David Hayward (Naked Pastor) with “The Cloud of Unknowing

Strangest:
Newt Gingrich bit by penguin at the St. Louis Zoo

Wisest: 
Jamie Wright (The Very Worst Missionary) with “Healthy Short-Term Missions? Do It Like Jesus

“Where Jesus appointed, we take volunteers.Where Jesus sent pairs, we send herds.

Where Jesus admonished for danger and quiet humilityalong the road, we opt for vacation destinations and loud self-congratulations.

Where Jesus asks to be bringers of peace, we often bring chaos.

Where Jesus designed an opportunity for a disciple to lean into a new family, learn a new culture, and serve under the head of a household (who best knows his own need), we march in with a plan and the resources to git'er'done – completely missing out on the gift of being 'a worker worth his wages'.

Bravest: 
Meg Jenista (at Ed Cysewski’s blog) with “Sometimes I Think God Made Me Wrong” 

“Since then, seminary education, various internships and four years of ordained ministry have confirmed that I was made for this, that God is calling me to this. But I still find it difficult to feel the entirety of God’s delight because I know that this calling comes with the mixed reviews of God’s church. When the assumptions about my character come at me, as they do yet on occasion, I remember my own shame-filled truth: ‘Don’t be too good. Don’t be too confident. Don’t make the boys feel bad.’ I remember that resisting the church’s dominant narrative is still a hand-slappable offense. I remember how it felt to secretly suspect God made me wrong.”

[While you’re there, be sure to check out the entire Women in Ministry series at Ed’s blog  – it has been excellent. ]

Best Critique: 
Jonathan Martin with “Why I Gave Christianity Today’s Review of ‘Blue Like Jazz’ No Stars

“While the reviewer does not give the film a unilaterally negative review, they ultimately gave Blue Like Jazz 2 and 1/2 stars for, well, if you understand what you are reading–not being Reformed enough theologically...”

Best Reflection:
Richard Beck with “Living in Babylon: Reading Revelation in Prison

"'Come out of her, my people.' That's the heart of Revelation. That's why the book was written, to communicate that message. The book is about two rival cities, Babylon and the New Jerusalem. And the encouragement to the churches is to "come out" from Babylon to live under the Rule of the Lamb as citizens of the New Jerusalem. Despite appearances Babylon stands under God's judgment and those who are non-violently faithful to the Lamb will be vindicated in the end....As I see it, the main trouble with reading Revelation as people of wealth, status and privilege is that we don't have much of a problem with Babylon. We're doing quite well in Babylon, thank you very much. Consequently, the prophetic indictment and cry to "come out" leaves us cold. We wonder, why is the author of Revelation so desperately angry?”

Best Online Theological Conversation:

Daniel Burke at On Faith with “What Did Jesus do on Holy Saturday?

Chaplain Mike at iMonk with “He Descended Into Hell

Don M. Burrows with “Black Saturday: Satan, Hades, and Greco-Christian Syncretism

John Piper with “Did Jesus Spend Saturday in Hell?

Chaplain Mike at iMonk with “More Creed Tinkering

Best Point:
Dianna Anderson with “The Freedom to Choose

“We live in a culture that values neither the career women nor the stay at home moms. Because women live lives that are considered public property, to be legislated and debated and discussed, rather than merely lived, there’s not a woman in the United States who is not facing criticism for her choices.”

Best Opportunity to Support Your Favorite Women Bloggers:
Kent Shaffer at Church Relevance with “Where are the top Christian Women bloggers?

Leave a comment listing your favorite female Christian bloggers so that more deserving women are included on this list next year. (And thanks for helping me make the list this time! #20 ain’t bad!) 

On the blog...

Most Popular Post:
"Ask a Pentecostal...Response"

Most Popular Comment: 
In response to “Some thoughts on the Tennessee Monkey Bill,” Pastor Anne wrote: 

"I am a Lutheran pastor (ELCA) and I also have a Master's Degree in Molecular Biology which was my trade before I went to seminary.  What grabs me is that hardly anyone ever gives the proper definitions of "fact" and "truth."  When the 5- year- old asks you to tell her about what love is you can crack open an anatomy book and explain about the biochemical hormonal changes that happen in the brain when you fall in love (fact).  Or you can sit her down and tell her the "Never-Ending Story" about the prince who does not give up (not factual at all but truthful about love).  Scripture is about the truth but it is not necessarily factual whereas evolution is about the facts of creation.  Why is the litmus test of faith about factual rather than truthful things?  Can the writer of the first chapter of Genesis tell the truth about creation in his joy and exuberance (like writing the hymn "All creatures of our God and King") without having to pass a fact-check. For me, as an adherent to both evolution and my faith there are no contradictions or pitting one against the other according to this tenet:  All fact is truth but not all truth is fact.  And that seems to me very Godly because, in the words of my seminary professors, God won't allow himself to be proven because then He would not be God."

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

(By the way, if you like Sunday Superlatives, I share a lot of good stuff on Twitter that doesn’t make it to the final list, so follow me if you’re interested.)

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