Sunday Superlatives 7/29/2012

Around the blogosphere...

Most Inspiring: 
Charity Water with “Rachel’s Gift. One Year Later

Most Informative: 
Chris Lisee at the Huffington Post with “Religion At 2012 Olympics: From Ancient Greece To London” 

“The London Olympics will try to accommodate religious athletes with 193 chaplains, a prayer room in every venue and a multifaith center in the Olympic Village.” 

Best Conversation-Starter: 
Jeff Clarke with “Evangelicalism: A Boundless-Centered Theology” 

“The center of evangelicalism is determined by us – those who call this place home. There will be some degree of theological variety because of our varied emphases, but it is possible to gather around those things we hold in common and are deemed to be of greatest significance. On those areas where we differ, we continue to discuss them in a spirit of charity and grace, realizing that we are all en route and equally need increasing clarity for the journey ahead.”

Best Synchroblog:
Sarah Bessey’s “What’s saving your life right now?” synchroblog
[Seriously, all of these contributions are worth a read...such a brilliant prompt]]

Best Reminder:
Jonathan Martin with “Gender, race, and Pentecost: the world has moved on

“I am a Pentecostal by heritage and tradition, but culturally I am one of the bourgeois pastors whose day might seem to be coming, but in many ways has already passed.  The whole white male, coffee-drinking, apple product-using, Coldplay-listening type.  It is a very small world that we live in that feels deceitfully large.  We have blogs, we write books, we talk about the most recent issue of Christianity Today.  So it is easy to think we are the center of the universe. We did not notice that the world has already moved on.  We didn’t notice that the wind of the Spirit left us, and that there is a new world coming in Latin America and Africa and Asia that rendered us inconsequential.  We enjoyed our time in the mainstream well enough to forget that the move of God always comes from the margins...

...The average Christian in the world right now is an African or Latin American female in her early 20’s.  She doesn’t read our blogs and she doesn’t read Christianity Today.  She doesn’t know or care who I am and she never will.  The names Piper, Driscoll, Chan, Bell, Stanley, Warren—mean nothing to her.  Like most Pentecostal women coming into the kingdom around the world, words like ‘complementarian’ and ‘egalitarian’ are not in her vocabulary, nor Calvinism and Arminianism... She takes the authority of the Bible very seriously.  But more importantly, she believes in the power of the Bible in ways that are incomprehensible even for our most rabid ‘conservatives.’  The western filter and language that frames these issues will not be determinative for her, unlucky as she is not to read our blogs.  She may well in end up leading a church one day where she preaches Jesus like a woman on fire and lays hands on the sick and watches God heal them, though this will surprise those Reformed colleagues who are sure all female church leaders have been trained by godless-Unitarian-lesbian-leftist-radical feminist-seminarians (she didn’t have access to seminary at all–unfortunately she has read the Acts of the Apostles).  Who knew? The world has moved on, God has moved on, and we didn’t even notice.”

Bravest: 
Amber Haines with “Why It’s Okay to Not Be Enough

“My temptation is to say that if I nurse him more or read the Bible more or pray harder, I’ll be enough. Our temptation is always to say that our works are sufficient. But for me, let me tell you now, my marriage isn’t sufficient and nor is my house. My kids, my friends, and my insurance plans aren’t enough...”

Sweetest (nominated by Kari Baumann): 
Daniel at Shaken Parent Syndrome with "Wash Feet"

“Bath night isn’t until Tuesday, so Monday night we elected that instead of giving her a bath we would just wash her feet.  At first, I tried wiping them down with diaper wipes.  This had no effect.  Remember this the next time someone complains about stinky feet: foot funk has more staying power than feces.  So when it became clear that sanitary wipes could not defeat the feet, I went and got a washcloth and rubbed in some of her bath gel.  As we got her dressed for bed, I massaged her feet with the warm washcloth, rubbing the suds into her heels and between her toes.  Then we carried her into the bathroom and rinsed them in the sink, again massaging them and rubbing the soap away.  Then I patted them dry with a hand towel, daubing away the moisture, squeezing the towel around her soles and toes.  This process had a calming effect on her, and she watched me with quiet interest as I wrapped each foot in the washcloth.  'Wash feet,' she said softly...My spouse, who was holding her while I performed this footwashing (any cosmetic or dressing procedure requires at least three, usually four, hands these days) noticed out loud what a sweet and gentle daddy I was being to wash the stink off her feet for her.  It’s true, I can be a pretty sweet daddy at times.  But what I was thinking of as I washed my little girl’s feet I was the story in the Gospel of John where Jesus washed his disciples’ feet..."  

Wisest: 
Christina Gibson with “Packing Bags on Holy Ground

“And if I’ve learned anything the past few years it’s this: there is no way we can fully prepare ourselves for pain.  You can brace for impact, but you can’t stop it from hurting.  Preparing for pain is a waste of time.  We’re far better off embracing difficulty instead of padding against it through cynicism, escapism or control. For the first year after Ellia’s diagnosis, I refused to embrace the pain.  I wanted to escape.  I wanted to avoid fear and anxiety, even if it meant rejecting the journey. And in refusing to embrace the difficulty it became clear that I was forfeiting the potential to meet with God.”

Most Thoughtful (nominated by Travis Greene
Beth Norcross with “Eye on the Sparrow

“Howard Thurman could not have foreseen the extent to which humans have used their power to unravel the original harmony of creation, most notably by significantly altering the climate of the planet. However, his most famous book—Jesus and the Disinherited, published in 1949—offers poignant insights as Christianity attempts to come to grips with the impacts of climate change on the earth’s most vulnerable. In this work, Thurman made the compelling case that, despite Christianity’s historical use by dominant powers to affirm their dominance, “the basic fact is that Christianity as it was born in the mind of this Jewish teacher and thinker appears as a technique of survival for the oppressed.” Jesus stands, side by side, with those who have “their backs against the wall.”

Most Encouraging: 
Karen Walrond with “45 Things I Know at 45

In the spirit of the Olympics... 

Best Responses to the Chick-fil-A Flap:

Gold—
Jen Hatmaker with “In the Basement

“If you are weary of the storm, come on downstairs. We’re going to get on with the business of loving people and battling real injustices and caring for the poor and loving Jesus. We’re going to go ahead and offer mercy to one another, even if it is viewed as ‘soft’ or ‘cowardly’ or ‘dangerous’... We’re going to trust that Jesus is actually at work in this world like He said, and when he promised that “His kindness leads us to repentance,” we’re just going to believe Him. Sure, the storm will rage on up there. But you can find refuge just down the stairs. We have a whole thing going on underground. Gay friends and family, you are welcome down here. Marginalized women, come on down. Isolated and confused by organized religion, afraid your questions aren’t welcomed? Join us. Activists and bleeding hearts, you are our heartbeat. Plain, old, ordinary sinners saved by grace, you belong here. Misfits, ragamuffins, and rebels, bring the party. Reformed legalists, you are my people. Pastors contending for God’s glory and people, help lead us. Dissenters, dreamers, visionaries, we need you...”

[Pretty much sums up how a lot of us feel about this.]

Silver
Alise Wright with “Chick-fil-A and Hate Speech

“We can acknowledge that there is a difference between hurtful words and hateful ones. We should acknowledge that. But, what also gets lost in this is the actual hate speech that is going on, not with Dan Cathy, but with Chick-fil-A.... This is why I, and many others, choose not to patronize Chick-fil-A. Not because we disagree with the owner’s views on marriage equality. Not because we believe that denying marriage rights means that you hate those to whom you are denying those rights. Not because we believe that Dan Cathy’s statements constitute hate speech.But because Chick-fil-A has funded a hate group.”

[By far the most reasonable, charitable, and informative post I read from those avoiding Chick-fil-A] 

Bronze
Caryn Rivadeneira with “Remember Chick-fil-A Next Time You See Any Bullying

“...The second time I ate Chick-fil-A this week, I knew I was making a huge statement: that I support free speech and the right for anyone to say or not say anything without fear of government reprisal or of attacks for the sake of ‘honesty.’”

[I'm not convinced that one side or the other has the edge on 'bullying,' but I certainly share Caryn's serious concerns over governments threatening to withold building permits from Chick-fil-A, (the same strategy was used here in East Tennessee to try and prevent local Muslims from building a mosque), and her critique of the unfortunate public "outing" this controversy inspired.]

UPDATE: Justin Lee weighed in today with another good post:

Best Women-in-the-Olympics Posts:

Gold-
MSNBC with “For the first time, women from every nation ready to rock Olymics

“For the first time in Olympic history, all 205 countries participating will send at least one female competitor. Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are sending women for the first time, while the United States will have more women (269) than men (261) for the first time in history. That’s a far cry from 1900, when women first competed in the Olympics in Paris and comprised all of 22 athletes out of the 997 overall competitors.”

Silver- 
Asma Alsharif at Reuters with “Saudi women's Olympic march draws praise, blame

“Conservative Muslim clerics in Saudi Arabia oppose women's sport, arguing that it is immodest and goes against their nature. That view was reflected in Twitter postings including one under a hashtag that would translate as ‘Olympic_Whores’...”

[These women are so brave]]

Bronze- 
Chloe at Feministing with “Faster, higher, and stronger – but no less sexist” 

“Sure, we could talk about her London medal chances, or about how much she’s matured since she was thrust into the limelight when most girls her age were busy picking their favourite Backstreet Boy. We could talk about how hard the life of an Olympic swimmer is, and what an enormous level of commitment it takes to qualify for the Olympics a record four times. Instead, we’re talking about her weight, thanks to Melbourne’s Herald Sun, which decided to publish “then and now” photos suggesting that Jones has gained weight.” 

And I was thrilled to see one of my heroes, Leymah Gbowee, chosen as a flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies!  

On the blog...

Most Popular Posts:
How to watch an entire season of ‘The Bachelorette’ and still be too good for it

and 

“Church Stories:  Embracing Faith as an Aspie (by Erin Thomas)

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