Sunday Superlatives: Best of 2014


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Around the Blogosphere…

Best Blogs of the Year: 
Christena Cleveland
Richard Beck
Drew Hart
Ben Moberg
The Junia Project 

Best Story: 
Naomi Shihab Nye with “Gate A-4”

Best Photo: 
Nadia Bolz-Weber and Phyllis Tickle Switch Bodies 

Best Idea: 
Laundry Love 

Best Satire:
Bunmi Laditan with “How to Breastfeed Appropriately” 

Best Poetry: 
John Blase with “Do One Thing,” “Just a Hunch,” and “Vespers” 

Best Insight:
Heather Kopp with “The Promise of Shared Brokenness”

“…People bond more deeply over shared brokenness than they do over shared beliefs.”

Best TED Talk:
Karima Bennoune with “The Side of Terrorism That Doesn’t Make Headlines” 
 

Best Tip:
Mike Skinner with “Read the Bible Like a Texan, Y’all” 

“In recent months I’ve repeatedly found myself giving the following advice: to read the Bible faithfully, read it like a Texan. Why, you ask, would anyone ever want to do that?  Because a deficiency in the English language, combined with an already-present tendency towards individualism, has created an unhealthy distortion of the Christian faith.  Luckily, Texans have already solved this problem with one of our favorite words: y’all.”

Best Series: 
Rob Bell with “What is the Bible?” and Pete Enns with “Aha Moments: Biblical Scholars Tell Their Stories” 

Best Challenge: 
Efrem Smith with “The Privileged and The Poor” 

“To dismantle poverty in this way, we not only need multi-ethnic congregations, we need multi-class congregations. Poor people ought to have a voice in the Church. They ought to have the opportunity to serve as elders, deacons, preachers, and board members alongside the Privileged. Putting all Privileged People in power and places of influence may be the American way, but it’s not the Kingdom of God way.”

Best Analysis: 
Sandra Glahnd with “Act Like Men: What Does Paul Mean?” and Kristen Rosser with “The ‘Feminization’ of the Church”

Best Response: 
Matthew David at Deeper Story with “What’s it like to be a gay Christian?” 

Best Engagement: 
James Hoskins at Christ and Pop Culture with “‘God’s Not Dead’ and the Angry Atheist Professor: That Was Not My Experience”

“I’m concerned that the movie God’s Not Dead perpetuates a false stereotype: that of the bully atheist philosophy professor who is out to destroy every Christian student’s faith. I’m sure there are some of those professors out there. But I doubt that they are a majority. Even if they were, though, I don’t think caricatures and stereotypes are helpful. When we uncritically accept a caricature of someone, we become less gracious people. Instead, we become more dismissive, presumptuous, and defensive. We also become more likely to misinterpret an honest challenge to our faith as an “attack,” and react in a way that is less than winsome.”

Funniest: 
The Honest Toddler with “Open Letter to the Child I Hit at The Park”

Wisest: 
Drew Hart with “Beyond a White Privilege Model”

“…A society dominated by white control can’t be fixed by white people taking control of the situation. The failure in the white privilege stewardship model, is that it inherently affirms and utilizes the very thing that it is called to resist and counter. If the answer to our racial problems is that white people must run things, call the shots, and be the saviors to the world, then we have missed the mark.”

Bravest: 
Southern Baptist mom defends her transgender child and pastor Danny Cortez explains why he changed his mind about homosexuality 

Truest: 
Micha Boyett at On Faith with “Ghostly Grief: On Miscarriage and Loss” 

Most Insightful: 
Jeremy Courtney with “Behind #WeAreN: If One Group is Marked, We’re All Marked” 

Most Honest:
Jamie Wright with “Not all pastors kids are Christians. Sorry.” 

Most Powerful: 
Shawn Smucker at Deeper Story with “Cough. Breathe. Cancer. Dance.”

“I watched her walk into the night, disappear into the darkness, and I thought, none are immortal. None of us will live here forever. We are, all of us, terminal.”

Most Helpful: 
Gail Wallace at The Junia Project with “Defusing the 1 Timothy 2:12 Bomb” 

Most Inspiring: 
Austin Channing Brown with “The Impossible”  

Most Likely To Make You See Things Differently: 
Darlena Cunha at The Washington Post with “This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps” 

Most Likely To Make You Cry a Little: 
Sarah Bessey and The Work of The People with "You Are Not Forgotten"

Best Viral Video: 
Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up

Best Interviews: 
Michelle Boorstein interviews Krista Tippett
Micky Jones interviews Walter Brueggemann 
Inheritance interviews Kathy Khang and Helen Lee

Best Perspective: 
Shauna Niequist with “She’s Not a Megachurch. She’s My Sister” 

“You learn all sorts of things growing up the way I did. And one of them is this: the labels never suffice. The articles and blogs and books and outside opinions never will capture the real thing. They’ll reduce it to policy, numbers, data. They fail to capture what a church actually is: real live actual humans, showing up day after day, year after year, building something durable and lovely over time, together, with prayer and forgiveness and love.”

Best Tear-Jerker: 
Nish Weiseth with “A Thank-You Note to Mumford and Sons” 

Best Point: 
Rachel Marie Stone with “The Birth Control Debate We Shouldn’t Be Having” 

 

On the Blog…

Most Popular Posts: 

Walking the Second Mile: Jesus, Discrimination, and Religious Freedom 

3 Things You Might Not Know About Proverbs 31

We Need Feminism

Privilege and the Pill

The Bible Was ‘Clear’…

Most Popular Guest Post: 
Samantha Field with "Leaving Home: Escaping the Stay-at-Home-Daughters Movement"

Most Popular Series: 
"God & The Gay Christian" Book Discussion 

Most Popular Interview: 
“Ask a (Celibate) Gay Christian…”

 

IRL…

Most Encouraging: 
Finding a church where we belong

Most Rewarding: 
Meeting so many readers and friends on the road 

Most Miraculous: 
Watching little Juliette survive and thrive against all odds 

Most Frustrating:
When, after 10,000 child sponsorships were dropped in protest, World Vision reversed its decision supporting LGBT employees. I was on the road speaking in North Carolina the day this happened and didn’t sleep a single minute that night. I’ve never felt so betrayed, disappointed and angry with my evangelical faith tradition. Still grieving over that one. 

Biggest Personal Accomplishment:
Not Throwing Up on the POTUS at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast—which was a close call given the fact that 24 hours earlier I had been totally immobilized by some of the worst food poisoning of my life, which caused me to miss my original flight into D.C. as I was too delirious and dehydrated to do anything but move from the bed to the toilet in my hotel room in Michigan. Thanks to a compassionate Delta agent, I was able to change the flight and get in just in time to look longingly at one of the most beautiful breakfast buffets I’ve ever seen in my life and shake the president’s hand (which is why I’m describing my illness as food poisoning and not a stomach virus…because I’d like to think my presence there did not compromise national security). 

POTUS.jpg

Second Biggest Personal Accomplishment: 
Fitting a Week’s Worth of Travel in a Single Carry-On Backpack

Third Biggest Personal Accomplishment: 
Finishing Book #3, Searching for Sunday, which released April 14, 2015. 

Best Discovery: 
The Cumberland Trail—which is gorgeous, minutes away from our home, and continues to be developed 

Biggest Blessing: 
Dan. Every year, it’s Dan. 

In Books…

Best in Fiction: 
Among novels that released in 2014, my favorite included All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and of course Lila by Marilynne Robinson (which I’ve only just started).  

In preparation for Lila, I’ve been re-reading Gilead and Home, which has been, by far, the most enjoyable reading experience of the year for me. Some other favorite reads for me in 2014 include The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (2012), And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (2013), and Where’d You Go Bernadette? By Maria Semple (2012). 

Best in Nonfiction: 
Among nonfiction reads that released in 2014, my favorite included The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns (read the review here), The Oldest Living Things in the World by Rachel Sussman, God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines, and Faith Shift by Kathy Escobar (read the review here). 

The most influential book for me this year was probably Alexander Schmemann’s For the Life of the World, which I read and mined and pondered several times over in researching and writing Searching for Sunday.  

And I finally got around to reading The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone, which was just as shattering and powerful and informative as I’d been told. Of all the nonfiction I read this year, I expect this one will impact future reading the most. 

Best in TV/Movies/Music/Podcasts…

In TV this year, Dan and I enjoyed True Detective, Orange is the New Black, Alpha House (whose second season was way better than the first), The Cosmos, and (pleased don’t judge) Game of Thrones. We still watch reruns of 30 Rock, Arrested Development, and Star Trek: Next Generation. In movies, my very favorite was Philomena, which actually released in 2013 (see review here). We also enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel and Interstellar. As far as music, I can’t stop listening to Gregory Alan Isakov and The Head and The Heart. Favorite podcasts include The Liturgists Podcast, This American Life, and of course, Serial. 

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So, what makes your "best of the year" list? 

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