Saturday Superlatives 5/11/13

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
'Wild flowers' photo (c) 2008, diskychick - license:

I’ll be busy tomorrow hanging out with the folks at GracePointe Church in Nashville, so superlatives are early this week. 

Around the Web…

16 Reasons You Should Never Reenact Pinterest Photos
[#16 nearly made me spit out my coffee yesterday morning]

Jen Hatmaker at Deeper Story with “Wherever It Rises

"May I, too, celebrate the gospel wherever it rises. None of us will get all this right; better to herald the common places and extend the benefit of the doubt. God’s fingerprint is everywhere; none of us own the rights to His endorsement. If a believer on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum says something good and true, may I say without hesitation, “Amen.” I’m often afraid to identify with certain people lest I be labeled with their brand, but that is foolishness. The gospel is always beautiful, and I am not in singular possession of its power. That is so arrogant. May I bend my knee to Jesus wherever and in whomever He reigns."

Best Writing: 
John Blase at Deeper Story with “Therefore

“Now you may have buttered Mufasa’s circle of life and swallowed it whole, but from the porch I’m sitting on death is against the grain. I don’t like it. Clods are washed away from the main and we’re left here diminished. Triste. Sad. It is now acceptable in the Church to say I’m a believer but I doubt. I’m thankful for this, although it does reveal a bit of historical amnesia. But I’m still grateful for the reality. Maybe one of these days in the Church it’ll be acceptable to say I’m a believer but I’m sad. I’m not talking Eeyore-sad, where I’m nothing but a barely moving mass of mope, but more Don Quixote-sad, still itchin’ to fight windmills but faced with a woeful countenance. I find this to be dangerously close to Jesus-sad, snorting like a horse (wept) at the absence of his friend Lazarus. There, that’s what I’m talking about: Man of Sorrows-sad.” 

Best Series:
Christena Cleveland with “Listening Well As a Person of Privilege” 

“If privileged people want to avoid a mismatch between their good intentions to their behaviors, they must identify both their specific intentions and the specific behaviors that correspond with those intentions. A general attitude in favor of reconciliation won’t necessarily lead to behaviors that reflect that attitude. More specific attitudes like “It’s important to empower the women of color at my church” are needed.  And the specific attitudes need to be matched with specific behaviors like developing leadership/mentoring programs that successfully target women of color and addressing cultural biases that discredit diverse leadership styles. In order to accomplish this task, both the privileged and oppressed people must work together to spell out the specific intentions and behaviors that are needed.”

Best Photoblog:
A Week’s Worth of Groceries Around the World

Best Analysis: 
Richard Beck with “Elizabeth Smart and the Psychology of the Christian Purity Culture” 

“Now what is peculiar about all this is that we use the purity metaphor in an uneven manner. Most sins don't get the purity metaphor. True, generally understood sin is understood to be a purity violation. But particular sins aren't typically viewed as a purity issue. Most sins are framed, metaphorically, as mistakes or errors, as performance failures. Another common metaphor here is sin as a form of stumbling or falling. What is important to note about these metaphors--performance failures and stumbling--is that these metaphors aren't catastrophic in nature. That is, they can be easily rehabilitated. If you make a mistake you try again. If you stumble and fall you get back up. Inherent in the logic of the metaphor is an obvious route to rehabilitation. But not so with the purity metaphor. When the sin is framed as a purity violation the damage that is done is total and unable to be rehabilitated. A purity violation creates a state of irreversible ruin.”

Related: Kristen Howerton with “Shame Based Sex Education: We Can Do Better

“No woman, ever, is a chewed up piece of gum. No woman is a cup of spit. No woman is a used car or a dirty rag or a used-up piece of duct tape or a plucked rose or a licked cupcake. No matter what she’s done. Didn’t Jesus come to tell us that?”

Most Insightful: 
Ed Cyzewski with “The Heretical Meditating Father” 

“It is a frightening thing indeed to gamble your authority, theology, and control by encountering a living God who doesn’t have to play by our rules. That encounter with God is where mysticism leads, and it’s rarely a tidy destination.”

Most Powerful: 
Hyperbole and a Half with “Depression Part Two” 

Best Response
Rich Cizik at Faith Forward with “‘Burn it all down’ isn’t Christian: A Response to Mark Driscoll

“It reminds me of the story often told about Martin Luther: When asked, “If Jesus were to return today, what would you do differently?” the finest theologian of his day and founder of the Protestant Reformation responded, “I’d finish planting this tree.” In other words, he regarded the care of creation and effort to continue striving to bring the world closer to the Kingdom to be our biblical duty and best way to prepare for Christ’s return.”

Best Conversation-Starter: 
Sarah Arthur at Her.Meneutics with “Are Women Really Saved Through Childbearing?

“During a panel discussion at my Christian college years ago, one scholar explained that bearing children is God's plan for womanhood, referencing 1 Timothy 2:15—"Women will be saved through childbearing." A graduate student stood up and addressed him tearfully, "I have just learned that I can never have children. Where is there room in your gospel for me?" The panelist paused for a long time. Then he said, in a broken voice, "I don't have a theology for that." There was no resolution, just pain.” 

Also, Ellen Painter Dollar responded to that abortion post from last week with some thoughtful remarks and resources in “Progressive Christians Do Care About Abortion: A Response to Rachel Held Evans

“We need to look more closely at how we frame adoption as one alternative to abortion, being honest about how adoption carries its own challenging complexities, nuances, heartbreak, and hope. We must consider the significant physical and psychological toll that carrying an unwanted pregnancy can take on some women, and that having an abortion can take on others. We must be ruthlessly honest about how our cultural legacies around race, poverty, rape, and disenfranchisement contribute to abortion decisions and policies. We mustrefuse to sit by silently when self-righteous Christians write off women who have unplanned pregnancies as unworthy of our care, as stupid or promiscuous or getting what they deserve or just not our problem. We need to remind our fellow Christians that abortion is far from the only reproductive issueraising serious ethical and theological questions, expanding our discourse to include technologies such as IVF, prenatal testing, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) that have vastly increased the number and types of available reproductive choices.”

On the Blog…

Most Popular Post:

“And it’s easy, when I’m in a season of building, to look down my nose at my brothers and sisters who are in a season of tearing down.  And it’s easy, when I’m in a season of throwing away, to look down my nose at my brothers and sisters who are in a season of keeping. “

Also, in case you missed it, we built a well!

Most Popular Comment: 
In Response to “Elizabeth Smart, Human Trafficking, and Purity Culture,” Laurie wrote: 

"I don't think the answer is to encourage teenagers to wait with the promise of, "It will be so beautiful when it's within marriage." And so far, that approach isn't working anyway.
In my own journey, I went from one of those evangelical Christian virgins until my wedding day, to going through a hard divorce, to questioning my spirituality (still on that journey) and redefining how I thought about sex.
The way Christians emphasize sex adds to the thrill factor. They make it dangerous, but thrilling after marriage. I believe that therein lies the problem. The emphasis placed is on the thrill, NOT on the relationship.
Sex is an outgrowth of a relationship. In order to teach the sacredness of sex, first, I think, we need to teach the sacredness of relationship. Even relationship to one's self. Sex isn't so much about the thrill as it is about the connection. And once young people can understand connection, I think the understanding of sex within that connection will follow. This may be a blasphemous thought to many of you here, but I wonder if encouraging the practice of masturbation would help with this. If sex is about connection, then can't masturbation be used as connecting to yourself (and NOT so much as a way to get a 'high' or to do something forbidden)? I would argue that it would help young people learn that idea, if practice was ENCOURAGED with focus NOT on the thrill but on self-connection and self presence? (Which, by the way, isn't easy) I also believe that self connection and being present to yourself doesn't necessarily start with masturbation and definitely doesn't end there. It needs to be a whole life practice; that of learning to relate to yourself. If someone can be connected to themselves, I think it exponentially increases the ability to connect to others."

On my nightstand…

The Story of Christianity, Vol 1: The Early Church to the Reformation 

I’m loving this. Prepare for an onslaught of useless historical facts in my blog posts... 


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

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