Sunday Superlatives 2/2/14

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Best Video:

Tripp & Tyler with “A Conference Call in Real Life” 

Best Photo Series:
National Flags Made From Each Country’s Traditional Foods 

Best Sports Piece: 
Carrie Brownstein with “Do They Know It’s Super Bowl Sunday in Portland?"

“….A co-worker won’t watch the game because she doesn’t own a TV. The fact that she doesn’t own a TV (Guys, she doesn’t own a TV) is one of the first things you learned about her. You once asked, ‘But you know what a TV is, right?’” 

[Portlandia fans will be happy to know that the women of Women & Women First will be live tweeting the Super Bowl.]

Best Question: 
Sarah Bessey with “Should an egalitarian attend a complementarian church?” 

Best Sermons: 
Greg Boyd and Woodland Hills Church with “Who’s The Boss?”
Ed Gungor at Renovatus Church “Storms and Butterflies” 
Jill Howard with "Holy Water"

Best Reporting: 
Rebecca Burns at Politico with “The Day We Lost Atlanta” 

“What happened in Atlanta this week is not a matter of Southerners blindsided by unpredictable weather. More than any event I’ve witnessed in two decades of living in and writing about this city, this snowstorm underscores the horrible history of suburban sprawl in the United States and the bad political decisions that drive it. It tells us something not just about what’s wrong with one city in America today but what can happen when disaster strikes many places across the country. As with famines in foreign lands, it’s important to understand: It’s not an act of nature or God—this fiasco is manmade from start to finish. But to truly get what’s wrong with Atlanta today, you have to look at these four factors, decades in the making.”

Best Reflection: 
Amber Haines with “Through the Narrow Gate” 

“What I’m writing here today, friends, is to suggest that maybe we do agree after all. Maybe there’s more unity than we would like to think, no matter how meanly we like to treat one another. The narrow way isn’t straight, referring to sexual preference. It isn’t male. It isn’t egalitarian. It isn’t American. The way isn’t narrow because only people who attend this church or that can go through. The way isn’t narrow because people who don’t drink caffeine or alcohol can enter. Will I not enter because I have cut my hair? Will all the good men with ponytails be cast out? Couldn’t Jesus have had a ponytail? The way is narrow, because the way is Christ, and the way is for all who follow Him in Spirit and Truth. Jesus is the Way, the truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him, and not Him plus anything else. We wouldn’t want this any other way. Take a look at Him. He is light and life.  Take a long look and hear what He says. The narrow path is where we eat of Him; He is our very water, our shepherd, the branch. Jesus woos us into completeness in Himself. If we believe that we are being saved into the church, then we are off base, trying to walk in the wrong doorway. We are complete in Him, and when we are in Him, we are the church and we are One.”

Best Writing:
John Blase with “Final Request” 

“Dear future funeral director,
When I die please do not place
my hands one over the other…”

Richard Beck with “Social Media as Sacrament" 
[The comment section is also definitely worth a read]

“So I'm wondering, as I'm learning with issues like poverty, if we might learn to Tweet and blog sacramentally. The goal isn't to argue, debate, call out or "win." Because that game, as best I can tell, isn't winable. Minds don't change on social media. I've never seen it. The goal is to use social media sacramentally. To be a sign, a sign of life and grace.” 

Halee Gray Scott at Christianity Today with “How I Beat Back Darkness After Rape” 

“We sometimes think that the choice of life and death is at the beginning of our walk with God, but this isn't so. The task of the Christian life is to keep choosing life, over and over. There were times when the way of the grave seemed preferable to the harsh light of truth, times when the darkness, like a tempest, threatened to engulf me. But I wanted to live, so I kept choosing life, sometimes daily. Again, in Ezekiel 16, God said, ‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, 'Live!'" So I did.’” 

Nadia Bolz-Weber with “Meaningless Church Jargon”

“IDEA: Let’s just tell the truth.  Doing otherwise hurts other people and makes us look like assholes. Related IDEA: Let’s have churches where it’s ok to say you don’t want to do something and where it is ok to just have an idea be your idea and not something co-signed on by the Almighty.”

Most Insightful: 
Christena Cleveland with “’They’ Are All the Same” 

“We categorize people so quickly and effortlessly that it seems like second nature. When it comes to conserving time and energy, categorizing is very helpful. It helps us quickly and effortlessly organize our social worlds. However, categorizing people can lead to some pretty serious consequences, one of which is what social psychologists call the outgroup homogeneity effect. We tend to view other cultural groups as homogenous. They are all the same. On the other hand, we tend to view our cultural group as heterogenous. We are all unique. Without even knowing it, the outgroup homogeneity effect can influence our perceptions of diverse people and prevent us from leaving our homogenous cliques. This happens all the time in church settings.” 

Most Provocative: 
Zack Hunt with “If You’re Defending Absolute Truth, You’re Defending the Wrong Thing”

“The gospel isn’t about absolute truth. It’s about absolute love.” 

Most Fascinating: 
Sonia Smith at Texas Monthly with “Sinners in the Hands: When is a Church a Cult?” 

“A couple of months later, on July 2, Catherine gave all her belongings to Goodwill and disappeared without a word. Her parents had no clue where she had gone. On July 7, their phone rang, just after eleven-thirty at night. “I’m in Wells, Texas, with a group of people who are taking good care of me,” Catherine said. ‘But I can’t listen to you anymore, I can only listen to my elders. I have to keep my hands over my ears. You’re going to see a lot of bad stuff on the Internet about them, but none of it is true.’"

Most Empowering:
 Dawn Cherie Araujo with “The Big Chop: A Theology of Natural Hair” 

“Paulletha Bruce, pastor of Freedom Baptist Church of Greenville in Greenville, S.C., big chopped five years ago when her hair became resistant to relaxers. Although her decision was based solely on personal preference, she said it makes sense that when a woman learns to embrace her natural hair texture, she also learns to embrace herself as a creation in the image of God. “The more you meet God, the more you meet yourself,” she said by phone,  ‘And I think that the deeper your relationship with God, the more you begin to discover the love for yourself that’s always been there but has been tainted by the cares of this world.’” 

Most Prophetic: 
Walter Brueggemann with “An Alternative Way” (Work of the People) 

Most Compelling: 
RJS at Jesus Creed with “That Women Question”

From N.T. Wright (in an interview with Justin Brierley): “Why is it in certain bits of our culture that people take that little verse from1 Timothy 2 so seriously and they ignore large chunks of what is going on in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? And this is really very serious as a critique of bits of our contemporary  Christian culture. Why are we so fixated and nervous about this? When I talk about this issue I always start with John 20. This is not an accident that when Jesus is raised from the dead the first person who is commissioned to tell other people that he’s alive, that he’s the Lord, that he’s ascending to the Father, is Mary Magdalene. That, you know, John does nothing by accident. Jesus did nothing by accident for goodness sake. That’s the beginning of the announcement of the Christian gospel and it is given to Mary Magdalene. From that point, this is part of new creation. Everything’s different now guys. And what Paul is doing is navigating within a very interesting bit of pagan culture how that works and doesn’t work. “I don’t mean that the women should take over, and I don’t mean that the women should boss everyone else around. They must be given leisure to study, its not an either or, we’ve got to do this together.”

Most Likely To Make You Cheer: 
Glennon Melton with “Share this with all the schools, please” 

“You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying” 

Most Likely To Change Your First Impression:
Richard Sherman with “10 Things I Learned After America Learned About Me”

Most Relatable:
Nate Pyle with “When Having an Opinion is a Weary Endeavor” 

“Rather than sharing thoughts, people are silenced by the fear of being shunned. Rather than dialoguing with those who think differently, we lob verbal bombs across party lines. We entrench ourselves in ideology and tribes and hyperbole to find protection from the dysfunction of society. But our regression behind these false barriers are only furthering the inability of individuals and society to dialogue towards real solutions.” 

Most Vulnerable: 
Elizabeth Esther at Deeper Story with “How I Left Church and Found God in Rehab”

“This is what I know: I can’t save the world from fundamentalism, but I can save myself. There are things I cannot change, but I ask God for the courage to help me change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Most Honest: 
Lisa McKay with “A Note from the Messy Middle”

“We’re thrashing around in the middle of this story right now. Even though it only started just over three weeks ago, I can hardly remember that part anymore. The ending is still a long way off. And in the messy, map-less middle of this ugly story, all I’m pretty much capable of right now is an unfiltered brain dump.”

Most Practical: 
Chad Folwer at Life Hacker with “Why Empathy is Your Most Important Skill and How to Practice It”

“Try practicing (internally) taking the opposing view point. Don't go with your default reaction immediately. Start on the other side and work your way back.” 

Best Use of a Joe Biden GIF
Ev’ry Day I’m Pastorin’ with “The Associate Pastor…”

Best Point: 
Peter Enns with “Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham: Giving Credibility to Nonsense…” 

“If Nye wants to debate, he’s got a week to study theology and hermeneutics so he can address Ham’s unexamined and faulty premises that allow him to handle science as he does.”

This week's travels....

This week I'm headed to Austin, Texas to speak at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary MidWinter Lecture Series. I'll be sharing about my "Year of Biblical Womanhood" on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. and about cultivating spaces of wilderness on Wednesday at 10 a.m. 

Then I'm off to Greenville College in Greenville, IL, where I'll be sharing about my faith and doubt in convocation on Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. and about my "Year of Biblical Womanhood" at Friday chapel at 9:30 a.m. 

Maybe I'll see you there! 


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

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