Sunday Superlatives 5/5/13 (plus, I’ll see you in Nashville on Mother’s Day!)

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free


Best Book Club: 
It’s such a rare pleasure to spend time chatting, eating, drinking, and laughing with readers who are working through one of my books together. But I did just that in Seattle last week with Olivia Lenz, Lynn Russell, DeHeavalyn D. Pullium, Stephanie Rubesh, Hannah McMillen, Kali Wagner, Liza González, Sarah Kyle, Danni Reaves and Samantha Fisher—Seattle Pacific University grads who are working through A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Let me tell you, these are some TRUE women of valor. Learned so much from them! (Also stayed up WAY too late and ate WAY too much food.) I hope they make good on their plans to start a blog together, because it will be awesome. (Olivia is, for real, a rocket scientist ballerina.) 

seattle book club.jpg

Best Husband in the Whole World: 
Dan Evans, who surprised me by taking care of two weeks worth of meals through Person Chef To Go! We’ve never done this before, and just got our first meal today, so we’ll let you know how we like it. 

Coming Up: 
I’m headed to Nashville! First, I’ll be a guest on Nashville's Super Talk 99.7 WTN, Open Table LIVE, Sunday morning (May 12) from 7-9am. The show is hosted by my friends Matthew Paul Turner and Pastor Stan Mitchell. Should be fun!  Next, I’ll be giving the Mother’s Day sermon at Grace Pointe Church in Franklin (522 Franklin Road, Franklin, TN 37069.) Services are at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Feel free to stop by and say hello! 

Speaking of Mother's Day, A Year of Biblical Womanhood is 40 percent off at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble this week. (Hint, Hint.

Around the Web…

Best Video: 
Baby Duck Can’t Stay Awake” 

Best Headline: 
Donald Trump’s Hair Discovered Crawling in Amazon

Best List: 
Beth Woolsey (and her readers) with “20 Things Every Parent Should Hear” 

“Look for joy. You’ll find it in the middle of the busy. Or under the ridiculous. Or hanging from the overwhelmed in its underpants. Joy’s like that. It’s in the middle of everything. It’s completely unpredictable. And it will surprise you when you’re not expecting it. Like vomit and diarrhea, except good.”

Best Reflection:
Jonathan Martin with “Feeling at Home in My Smallness” 

“But because I am so prone to buy into my own little act, I need the gift of mountains and sea to protest my disproportionate sense of scale, to make me feel smaller and less necessary.  Like Job, I need to be reminded of mountain goats and sea monsters to help me get my place in the cosmos. There is so much weight assigned to us to be special, to be unique, to distinguish ourselves.  There is a great deal of pressure to be “great.”  But what if, today, I want to enjoy my status as my Father’s awkward, backward son, absurdly treasured and irrationally loved?”

Best Analysis: 
Daniel Kirk with “Does Paul’s Christ Require a Historical Adam?” 

“…What is a ‘given’ for Paul is the saving event of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The other things he says, especially about sin, the Law, and eschatology, are reinterpretations that grow from the fundamental reality of the Christ event. Recognizing this relieves the pressure that sometimes builds up around a historical Adam. Contrary to the fears expressed by Douglas Farrow, we can now recognize that Adam is not the foundation on which the system of Christian faith and life is built, such that removing him means that the whole edifice comes crashing down. Instead, the Adam of the past is one spire in a large edifice whose foundation is Christ. The gospel need not be compromised if we find ourselves having to part ways with Paul’s assumption that there is a historical Adam, because we share Paul’s fundamental conviction that the crucified Messiah is the resurrected Lord over all.” 

Best Sentence: 
Emily Maynard (at Kelley Nikondeha’s place) with “Only a wildly free God could be that funny.

Best Paragraph: 
Aaron J. Smith in “When I say I’m a feminist” - 

“When I say I am a feminist, I am saying I want to listen. The women in my life have their own conflicts, their own struggles, their own victories, and their own defeats. The narrative of their life as a human belongs to them. I want to hear their stories, their wisdom, their fear, their pain. It is not my story to steal and turn into something else. If I believe women can and should speak up on any and every topic they choose, then I must listen when they speak.”

Best Response: 
Justin Lee responds to a question about those hyper-sexual gay pride parades

“But it’s important to recognize that when you turn on the news and see a guy in a thong simulating sex acts in a pride parade, he’s not representing the entire gay community. In fact, he’s in the minority. I know lots of gay people, and as far as I’m aware, I don’t know anyone who has ever danced in a thong in a Pride parade.”

Tim Kreider with “The Power of ‘I Don’t Know’” 

“My least favorite parts of my own writing, the ones that make me cringe to reread, are the parts where I catch myself trying to smush the unwieldy mess of real life into some neatly-shaped conclusion, the sort of thesis statement you were obliged to tack on to essays in high school or the Joycean epiphanies that are de rigueur in apprentice fiction — whenever, in other words, I try to sound like I know what I’m talking about. Real life, in my experience, is not rife with epiphanies, let alone lessons; what little we learn tends to come exactly too late, gets contradicted by the next blunder, or is immediately forgotten and has to be learned all over again. More and more, the only things that seem to me worth writing about are the ones I don’t understand.” 

Poor Carpenter Builds An Incredible Treehouse In The Wilds Of Canada

Truest (nominated by Hannah): 
Kimberly Pendleton Bolles with “A Book of Uncommon Prayer: On Losing” 

“She looked at them and said, 'The God I believe in knows what it feels like to lose a child.’"

Most Thought-Provoking: 
T.F. Charlton at Religion Dispatches with “Why Jason Collins’ Faith is Ignored…and Tebow’s Isn’t” 

“This is the world as many on the religious right see it: not one in which Tebow is famous precisely because he’s a mediocre white quarterback who is vocal about his faith, nor one in which Collins and other black athletes who are also “avowed Christians” routinely get passed over by the media and the public—and certainly not one in which gay, lesbian, and bisexual people face systemic discrimination. Instead, they live in a world where Tebow, who according to Barna has a 73% favorability rating with the American public when it comes to his discussion of religion, is being vaguely persecuted for being a straight, white, Christian conservative man.” 

Most Relatable: 
More Beans with “17 Problems You Haven’t Had Since the 90s” 

“What if her mom  or dad answers first?” 

Most Surprising: 
Paul Miller at The Verge with “I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet” 

“What I do know is that I can't blame the internet, or any circumstance, for my problems. I have many of the same priorities I had before I left the internet: family, friends, work, learning. And I have no guarantee I'll stick with them when I get back on the internet — I probably won't, to be honest. But at least I'll know that it's not the internet's fault. I'll know who's responsible, and who can fix it.”

Most Exciting: 
One Voice for Change: a movement seeking gender equality in Churches of Christ 

Most Encouraging: 
Helen Lee with “Yet Another Reason to Love Trader Joe’s” 

“As much as I love my local Trader Joe’s, and as much as I appreciate that they clearly value their crew members, a part of me wishes I could see Christian organizations making the news for their extraordinary people practices and for being the trendsetters in this area. As Cavanaugh asks, shouldn’t Christian companies set the example as places where employees are treated well? I believe so, absolutely.”

Most Likely To Make You Proud to Be a Feminist: 
Jackson Katz with "Violence & Silence"

Most Likely To Be Shared With a Teacher of Valor: 
Jen Hatmaker with “Dear Teachers Everywhere…

“Teachers, when you instruct our kids that struggle, I know you have, yet again, patiently pulled up a seat next to their desks, 24 other kids still in the room, and kindly helped them toward mastery. I know you modify, adapt, adjust for their success, which takes so much time and energy. Children with emotional or physical challenges, kids with language barriers and personal turmoil, those who struggle to learn and retain, test and succeed, they require so much of you in the midst of your regular responsibilities, and your patient attentiveness cannot possibly be overcelebrated. As a mom whose children blossomed under the weight of your investment, I could throw myself at your feet and weep with gratitude.” 

Most Likely To Be Such a Teacher of Valor: 
Abby Norman with “On the Eve of Testing” 

“The test is not going to tell you about my English as a second language kids. It won’t tell you how their first year in ninth grade was also the first year in the general population of the school. It won’t tell you about the way they work twice as hard as everyone else, complain less, and watch out for each other. It won’t tell you about the poetry they can write if you just give them permission to use five words in their original language. It is beautiful. And the test is not going to tell you about my favorite triumph this year. It won’t tell you about my student on the autistic spectrum who says hi to me in the hallway. It won’t tell you about the way he works in groups voluntarily. It won’t tell you about his peers who accept him for who he is and how he won their hearts by fixing their cell phones. It won’t tell you about the peace of mind his mother now has, because of the work he and his teachers have put in this year. It won’t tell you anything about him or the mountains he has climbed. The test will only tell you that he is proficient in English. There is so much more I need you to know about him and how hard he tries.”

Best Insights:
Peter Enns with “Reading the Old Testament: You Gotta Have Attitude” 

“…The gospel forms our basic ‘attitude’ toward the Old Testament–a ‘hermeneutical posture,’ which is that point of view from which we read and by which the Old Testament can be accessed.”

Best Reminder: 
Amy at The Messy Middle with “A Non-Mom Speaks About Mother’s Day” 

“Fast forward several years to Mother’s Day.  A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again.”

Best Point: 
Nate Pyle with “Why Mark Driscoll’s Theology of SUVs matters” 

“To say that when Jesus returns he is simply going to burn it all up (meaning earth and all that is in it) is to disregard a theology of resurrection, restoration, and shalom. At running the risk of sounding combative, Driscoll’s tweet is more infused with Platonic philosophy than Biblical theology.”

Best Conversation-Starter:
Abigail Rine at The Atlantic with "The Pros and Cons of Abandoning the Word 'Feminist"

"Every semester, young women come into my office in tears. Much as I did, they are first becoming conscious of how terribly the world views and treats women. In this vital, fragile stage of life when they are just beginning to craft a self and envision a future, these students are simultaneously bombarded with damaging cultural myths about gender. They feel silenced, unheard, diminished.In moments like these, feminism feels like a gift than I can offer, a word that represents the antidote to what wounds them…"

Best Writing:
Hilary at The Wild Love with "If we were having coffee

"I spent high school and college being enough which wasn’t enough which was never good or beautiful or sexy or gracious or holy or poised or funny… enough. I did the ache in my closet among my mismatched shoes. I did the late nights skipping dinner, the later night disappointments. I did the look of dismay at myself over a less than perfect grade or comment or conversation. And I say, enough of that. If we were having coffee, you and I, I’d want to tell you that. I want to shore it up in us. I want to wedge it so firmly our ribcages that we walk around singing a freedom-song so loud we can’t catch our breath. Free of the worry that comes with enough. Free of the fear. So gloriously free."

Most Informative:
Scot McKnight with "The Pharisees

"It’s time to revisit the Pharisees, in part because their story needs to be told so we don’t forget and in part because some like to use the “Pharisee” in ways that concern me. It is a standard procedure to say “Pharisee” and mean “legalist, bigot, hypocrite, or picayune meddler into other people’s religious business.” Look at any dictionary. But this is in and of itself a caricature and stereotype, for no one (I hope) would think that all Pharisees have always been religious bigots. Paul, after all, remained a Pharisee (Acts 23:6). Such language spells danger down the road in ways that might surprise us. Even more, we have tended to download anger or extreme disagreement with others onto this term “Pharisee.” So, when I call someone a Pharisee I do not mean anything nice or even charitable. Which, in and of itself is dangerous because no group (well, there are exceptions) is always wrong and always bad."

Most Thoughtful: 
Kristin Lucas with “Transformation, Prophets, and Brueggemann” 

“It’s a hard and vulnerable thing, to suddenly see your sin. To be aware of the places in you that are prideful and hateful and bitter and angry. And to know that they are that way because you fundamentally don’t trust God as much as you trust yourself. But in the midst of sure death, the prophets start prophesying. And their message is not one of punishment and condemnation, but one of hope. It was true for Israel, and it is true for me.” 

On the blog….

Most Popular Post:
Why Progressive Christians Should Care About Abortion

Most Popular Comment: 
In response to the above post, Jason wrote: 

Rachel, an excellent and well thought out post on a difficult issue. I myself have a checkered past with abortion, and I cannot imagine what it would be like as a woman... I just have no frame of reference. 
Experiences come to mind, and what could only be the terror of each woman behind them, each person involved, each life that touched another. In college, I had a girlfriend who had an abortion when she got pregnant by another man while dating me. We broke up because of that... and that was tough, and personal. I'm still conflicted 18+ years later about that situation and my heart still breaks for her and her baby. But after college, abortion became a different issue for me... I was a paramedic in a busy urban 911 system. And I ran 911 call after 911 call. I saw poverty. I saw hopelessness. I saw despair. I dealt with it daily. I twice responded to abortion clinics for failed abortion attempts that endangered the life of the mother. One woman went from my ambulance straight into surgery. I responded hundreds of times to women who were 1 day to 2-weeks post-procedure, for everything from depression and suicide attempts to post-abortion side effects and signs/symptoms.
Twenty years as a Paramedic has taught me that all life is precious, complicated, and worth it. I am pro-choice because I've read the US constitution. I'm pro life because I have delivered babies, held parents in my arms after their stillborn babies have been born, and helped women who have had abortions. I learned quickly that to judge another is to do them the greatest disservice... because you don't have to live with the consequences of their actions.
Love and Crave Justice... Give Endless Grace... Pour out Mercy.... Love Jesus... and Love Others....Thank you for your heartbreaking post that resulted in my trip down memory lane..


So, what caught your eye online this week? What’s happening on your blog? And will I see you in Nashville next week? 

End of article logo.

Shareable Permalink

© 2013 All rights reserved.
Copying and republishing this article on other Web sites without written permission is prohibited.
Read more in the category: Sunday Superlatives