Sunday Superlatives 11/3/2013

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free


There were no superlatives last week because Dan was busy securing his superlative as BEST HUSBAND OF ALL TIME by surprising me and my parents with last-minute tickets to the Alabama vs. Tennessee game in Tuscaloosa in honor of our anniversary. 

It's been a while since I've been to a game, and I confess that the vast sea of people, the music and singing and food,  the giant elephant statue making it's way down the boulevard in the back of a pickup truck, and general religious fervor of the whole enterprise reminded me a bit of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in India, which honors the Elephant deity. A good time was had by all...except perhaps the sprinkle of Tennessee fans there. 

The light is God's presence...typically visible at Bryant-Denny Stadium

The light is God's presence...typically visible at Bryant-Denny Stadium

Pretty great seats, huh? 

Pretty great seats, huh? 

This is what a Bama fan wears to a game. 

This is what a Bama fan wears to a game. 

This is what a crazy person wears to a game. (Yes, that's a snuggie, and yes, Dan's tall enough to wear it like a smock) 

This is what a crazy person wears to a game. (Yes, that's a snuggie, and yes, Dan's tall enough to wear it like a smock) 

This week’s travels…

I’ll be in Asheville, North Carolina on Tuesday, November 5, speaking at Mars Hill College at 11 a.m. (for chapel) and at First Baptist Church of Asheville at 7 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public, and the evening event includes childcare. The morning lecture: “Thick Skin, Tender Heart: How to Handle Criticism.” The evening lecture: “My Year of Biblical Womanhood.” Let me know if I’ll se you there!

Around the Blogosphere…

Best Half-Time Show:
Ohio State University Band Michael Jackson Tribute 

Best Reporting:
John D. Sutter at CNN with “The Most Unequal Place in America”

“The rich largely live north of the lake and the poor on the south. They go to different churches and attend different schools. They have different friends and work different jobs. Many of the richer people in town own land and run farms that produce corn, cotton and soybeans. Poorer people used to work on those farms, but they've largely been replaced by the Transformer-size machines you see driving along the road during harvest.”

Best Writing: 
Micha Boyett with “Body of Christ, Cup of Salvation”

“I had this physical need to live the metaphor each Sunday. I wanted to experience the burn of the wine in my throat. I couldn’t help putting my lips to the chalice where all those lips had gone before me. I wanted connection to our community, germs and all. I wanted a physical faith.”

Best Response:
Shane Claiborne responds to Mark Driscoll

“Fight-club theology is nothing new, but it is always sad, and it is a betrayal of the cross.”

Best Question: 
Forrest Wickman at The Slate with “When did two-strapping get cooler than one-strapping?” 

“If your back hurts, after all, it’s no longer effortless to one-strap. And it you’re no longer effortless, you’re no longer cool.”

Best Profiles: 
Yonat Shimron with “Ellen Davis Unearths an Agrarian View of the Bible”  and Robert Long with “Christian, Not Conservative: Why Marilynne Robinson’s literary—and liberal—Calvinism appeals” 

Best List: 
Serious Eats with “21 Ways to Upgrade Your Grilled Cheese” 

Best Imagery: 
Josephine Robertson on salvation 

“Salvation doesn't let us into heaven, it pulls back the curtains that have hidden heaven among us all this time.”

Best Halloween Costume:
My friend Bob Zurinsky from Seattle dressed as the botched Ecce Homo painting

halloween costume.jpg

Maria Popova at Brain Pickings with “7 Lessons From 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living”

“Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.Cultivate that capacity for “negative capability.” We live in a culture where one of the greatest social disgraces is not having an opinion, so we often form our “opinions” based on superficial impressions or the borrowed ideas of others, without investing the time and thought that cultivating true conviction necessitates. We then go around asserting these donned opinions and clinging to them as anchors to our own reality. It’s enormously disorienting to simply say, “I don’t know.” But it’s infinitely more rewarding to understand than to be right — even if that means changing your mind about a topic, an ideology, or, above all, yourself.”

Bravest (nominated by Esther Emery): 
Osheta Moore with “A Scary Invitation”

“And I cried like a baby and then Jesus whispered, ‘Now invite your friends over to watch it.’” 

Sam Apple at Slate with “God’s Workshop”

“A few thoughts to consider as you work on your revisions: It’s great that you took Professor Weinberg’s advice about using specific details to heart. And you have some terrific descriptions in these pages, especially when you’re going over the instructions for building the Tabernacle—I didn’t even know you could make curtains out of goat hair! Still, at times I can’t help but wonder if all of the specificity becomes too much of a good thing. For example, you start Leviticus with seven consecutive chapters on how to sacrifice unblemished animals in your holy name, whereas I think one chapter might very well do the trick.”

Kristen Rosser with “Saved by Being Right” 

“Dogmatism in Christianity, I think, comes primarily from fear.  If we believe we are saved by faith, and we define faith primarily in terms of having the right set of beliefs, then anything that challenges those beliefs must be resisted as evil.  Our thinking becomes defensive rather than inquiring, didactic rather than exploratory, closed rather than open.  We see our role as the instructors and correctors of others, rather than as listeners and learners.“

Most Encouraging: 
Mark Love with “Why I don’t leave, even though…”

“I am for full gender equality in congregational practice. Period. Everything. Preach. Teach. Eldering. I sojourn within a tradition where this is far, far from the normative practice. I have friends in other traditions or churches with fully inclusive practices and they wonder how I can stay. And often I do as well. Because this issue is not just about one practice over another, e.g. acapella vs. instrumental worship. This is about human identity and dignity and about the image of God in the world. This is an issue of justice and mercy. It’s big stuff for me. And I certainly understand others who leave, especially women with ministry gifts. In fact, I think some who leave serve the interests of change within the tradition they are leaving. Change will require that some leave and that some stay….But I stay.” 

Most Honest: 
Stina KC with “I’m a Downward Mobility Dropout” 

“I have felt guilty for leaving, for not fighting my landlord like the “midwives of justice” that my church sings about. I know it isn’t God’s will for my daughter to breathe in lead dust. I also know it isn’t God’s will for any child to breathe in lead dust, to live in poverty, to attend crappy schools… Still, I return every Sunday to my old neighborhood for church. I smile at the corner stores and familiar graffiti murals from my car window. I keep showing up, singing the hymns, making small talk over coffee cake. I keep leaning into the body of Christ, this holy community of which I am one imperfect part. And I pray small short prayers, asking God for more faith, another opportunity. Asking God for courage and obedience and grace.”

Most Fascinating: 
Your Ancestors Didn’t Sleep Like You

Most Eye-Opening:
Black Man, White City 

"I change my disposition; I change the tone in my voice, the way that I’m standing, everything."

Most Beautiful: 
John Blase with “The Bravest Thing”

Most Powerful:
Pete Enns with “When God is Unfaithful” 

“Churches should be the most honest place in town, not the happiest place in town.”

Most Likely To Evoke a Face-Palm:
“The Nines” Conference: 112 Speakers. 4 of them women

Most Likely To Make You Feel Better:
Idelette McVicker with “Dear Patriarchy” 

“I see girls running, free and loved. I see women, their full size. Not shrinking, not over-compensating. Not hiding Not cowering. Not covering. I see women taking our place where we belong. Owning our power. Not power at the cost of another. Not your kind of power. Not your kind that takes, starves, cuts, diminishes, demeans, hates, wars, orders, chokes, enslaves. I see a power that brings, enlarges, serves, sees and loves. And the way I see it: Your days are counted. Just you wait, Patriarchy. Just you wait. Revolutions start in the margins."

Most Likely to Be A Little Too Familiar: 
The 12 Types of Procrastinators 

In Book News… 

Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half released her book this week and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. 


Our friend Addie Zierman’s book, When We Were on Fire, was named one of the year’s best religion books by Publishers Weekly.


Don't forget. Sarah Bessey’s AMAZING book, Jesus Feminist, releases on Tuesday! Let's be sure to support this woman of valor and her brave book. 


And if I'm not mistaken, this may be the last day you can get A Year of Biblical Womanhood for just $2.99 on Kindle. The sale was supposed to last through October, so if you're looking for a deal, pick it up while you still can.  

On the Blog... 

Most Popular Post:
 13 Things I Learned About Church History From ‘The Story of Christianity, Vol. 2’ by Justo L. Gonzalez 

Most Popular Comment:
The comments after "My Scary Airplane Story" were amazing and freaky and funny and oddly encouraging. Jake Meador's story was the most popular, but a little long to include here, so be sure to check it out after yesterday's post. 


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


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