Sunday Superlatives 1/19/13

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Around the Blogosphere…

Best Viral Video:
Jason Brown Free Skate 2014 US Figure Skating Competition

Best Photo...Like, Ever: 
Courtney Perry with “Phyllis Tickle and Nadia Bolz-Weber switch bodies”

Best Quote: 
Cheryl Strayed via Explore

“The most important thing for aspiring writers is for them to give themselves permission to be brave on the page, to write in the presence of fear, to go to those places that you think you can’t write – really that’s exactly what you need to write.”

Best Review:
Amy Lepine Peterson with “Beware the Frozen Heart”

“Like Elsa, I spent many years more interested in self-control than in passion — or, to borrow some church words, more interested in self-righteousness than in love.  Tragically, neither the church nor culture helped me out much: both emphasized goodness over grace for girls.”

Best Point: 
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 Response: 
Sarah Bessey with “In which I disagree with Candace Bure about ‘biblical marriage’” 

“We think that we only have two options when it comes to our marriages: 1) Women submit to men, like in ancient secular patriarchal culture or, 2) Nobody submits to anyone and we’re out for Number One, like in our modern individualist secular culture. But instead here is the third way: Submit to one another, mutually, as in the Kingdom of God. This is a Kingdom of Love. Anyone who wants to be first must be last, and the greatest is the servant of all, said our Jesus (Mark 10:44). In the upside down Kingdom ushered in by Jesus, the least is the most honoured and the one who gives everything gains it all. The marriage relationship isn’t exempt from the words of Jesus – and the teachings of the Church – about how we are to interact with one another and love one another.” 

Best Reporting:
Ruth Graham at the Boston Globe with “Can the evangelical church embrace gay couples?”

“But in the past several years, a new current has arisen in conservative evangelical thought: A small but significant number of theologians, psychologists, and other conservative Christians are beginning to develop moral arguments that it’s possible to affirm same-sex relationships not in spite of orthodox theology, but within it. In books, academic journals, magazines, blog posts, speeches, conferences, and campus clubs, they are steadily building a case that there is a place in the traditional evangelical church for sexually active gay people in committed, monogamous relationships. They argue that the Bible, read properly, doesn’t condemn such relationships at all—and neither should committed Christians.”

Best Advice:
Bruce Reyes-Chow with “10 Tips For Being a Good Ally”

“A good ally knows when and where their voice needs to be heard — or not heard. There will always be times when an ally must speak to his/her own family or community; but we must be careful that the ally voice does not become the default voice for the struggle when the realities of any struggle are best shared by those who experience the struggle in the first place. Allies must both speak for those who cannot speak for themselves while simultaneously working to create space where those voices can be heard in person.”

Lois Tverberg with “Mr. Spock’s God: The Mistake of Western Theology”

“The more you see God’s heart, the more you see the character of Christ from the very first pages of Genesis. Our dual images of God in the Testaments start to merge together when we see that the suffering of Christ began in his Father’s heart at the dawn of creation, when we see God our Father bearing the cross for our sins. It’s only when we focus the two images into one that we gain spiritual “depth perception” and begin to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of God.” 

John Blase with “Talk But Sound”

“The trick is to talk about the spiritual/ without sounding so divine.” 

Most Encouraging: 
Bill and Melinda Gates at the Wall Street Journal with “Three Myths on the World’s Poor”

“One common complaint about foreign aid is that some of it gets wasted on corruption—and of course, some of it does. But the horror stories you hear—where aid just helps a dictator build new palaces—mostly come from a time when aid was designed to win allies for the Cold War rather than to improve people's lives. The problem today is much smaller. Small-scale corruption, like a government official who puts in for phony travel expenses, is an inefficiency that amounts to a tax on aid. We should try to reduce it, but we can't eliminate it, any more than we can eliminate waste from every government program—or from every business, for that matter. Suppose small-scale corruption amounts to a 2% tax on the cost of saving a life. We should try to cut that. But if we can't, should we stop trying to save those lives?”

Most Thought-Provoking (nominated by Jonathan Storment
Richard Beck at Joshua Graves’ blog with “Waking Up to Death, Part 3”

“Jesus asks us to become a “nobody” in the eyes of the world. In our own eyes. But because of our death-infected neurosis–the shamed-based fear of being ordinary–we can’t accept Jesus’s offer. We don’t want to take up the cross. It’s too embarrassing. We don’t want to be a servant. No one will applaud or like us on Facebook.  And so we set out to gain the world but end up losing our soul.”

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

“Doctrine should not be built on a hapax legomenon (a word that occurs only once in an author’s writings or a text). When a word is only used once it is difficult, if not impossible, to infer the writer’s meaning, since there are no other examples of word usage to compare.”

Most Challenging: 
Osheta Moore with “Oh Honey! Come here, I think your privilege is showing”

“Because you are white you need to reject the allure of avoiding the topic altogether to write about sexy husbands, deep calls from Jesus, oppressed women in third world countries, patriarchy in the western church, or tasty recipes.  I don’t have that luxury.  I engage with the world and my words as a black woman.  I live with the reality that if you and I knew each other during the Jim Crow era, my son could be tortured and murdered for telling your daughter she’s beautiful.  If you ignore this, then I’m sorry….but Honey, I think your privilege is showing.”


Most Powerful: 
Krista Dalton with “The Privilege of a Subway Swipe” 

“That moment I came face to face with my own privilege. On the one hand, as a young white girl, I’ve never had to worry that I wouldn’t be helped by a stranger at the subway. But at that moment, I realized I had never even been aware of the disparity studded in a subway swipe.”

Most Practical: 
Olga Khazan at The Atlantic with “The Easiest Possible Way to Increase Female Speakers at Conferences”

Most Honest (nominated by April Fiet
Nate Pyle with “The Disgrace of Infertility” 

“Around church, having kids is talked about as if it is like scheduling a tune-up for your car. “Isn’t it time the two of you start having kids?” is one of the most painful questions a couple dealing with infertility can hear. Because that’s exactly how they feel! It is time for them to start having kids. They’ve been hoping and praying and wanting and waiting for a long time for God to respond to their request. So yes, it is time, but no, kids don’t show up on a timetable. “

Now on the shelves…

Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed by Austin Fischer

Here’s my blurb: “With this book, Austin Fischer brings fresh insights to a very old conversation with a perspective that is at times piercing, at times deeply personal, and always thoughtful and rooted in scripture. He invites readers to wrestle along with him with some tough questions--questions that, no matter where your theological journey takes you, are worth asking with this kind of humility and care.” - Rachel Held Evans, author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood and Evolving in Monkey Town


On the blog…

Most Popular Post:
Unstoppable Grace: Thoughts on the Gay Christian Network Conference

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

“As a straight, white, southern, 57 year old, male, Baptist pastor who grew up believing the issue of homosexuality was a clear cut, right and wrong issue I find myself now questioning these long held beliefs. I am just becoming aware of your writing through one of my sons and it is through his sharing this post that I read this article. It is extremely thought provoking. I find myself wishing more of my brothers and sisters could be open minded and respectful of others, even though they might not agree with their perspectives. I wish there were more venues where honest dialogue could occur to enhance understanding even if we still disagree with one another. After all, Jesus did not say that it was by winning others over to our viewpoint that would show we are His disciples but by our love for one another. Thank you, Rachel, for giving me more information to continue my search for the heart of God on this issue.”


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

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