Sunday Superlatives 2/16/14

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free


I don’t know if you heard, but it snowed in the Southern states this week

Dan and I celebrated by building a snowman who promptly melted within five hours. His name was Wendell. Rule #1 of Southern snowfall: never name your snowman; you can’t get too attached. 

In Memoriam: 



Around the Blogosphere…

Best Insight: 
Marlena Graves at Her.Meneutics with “The Poor Shall Inherit the Boards”

“As far as I know, being wealthy and influential isn't a requirement for church leadership, though. When we select nominal Christians as board members because of their clout over faithful disciples of Jesus we boldly declare our love of money and power. This habit also betrays our prejudice against the poor. We assume, being poor, they do not have wisdom or anything worthwhile to offer us.”

Best Teaching:
Steve Chalke with “Restoring Confidence in the Bible”

“We recognise that by its very nature – dialogue rather than monologue – the Bible calls humanity to humble and honest discussion and debate in community. We regard the example of open conversation and dialogue it embodies to be central to any authentic  approach to contemporary biblical literacy.”

Best Bridge-Building (nominated by Janette Platter):
Ellen Seidman with “The paradox of disability inspiration…” 

“I hope the adults with disabilities out there who rightly rail against inspiration porn can cut parents of kids with special needs a little slack. I don't mean to objectify you when I gaze admiringly as you browse in the bookstore (although rest assured, I wouldn't come up to you and gush), or when I tweet to an adult blogger with CP that I find her inspiring. I don't see your life as an "exception"—actually, I want my boy to someday have your life, the kind where he does everyday things like grocery shopping. If I consider the ordinary extraordinary, it's only because I am looking at you and envisioning my son.”

Best Sermon: 
Nadia Bolz-Weber with “Sermon on that special class of salty, light-bearing people to whom Jesus preaches” 

“These people, the wretched ones left behind in the last verses of chapter 4, they follow Jesus, in a way that the least, the last, the lost and the lonely have followed him ever since, and to them he gives a blessing.  The poor, those who mourn and are meek. Jesus gives them a blessing. You are blessed. He says, And then right after that, he says that they are salt and light.”

[I also heard "The Gates Are Never Shut..." by Jonathan Martin at Renovatus Church was really good. Haven't found the time to listen yet, but I'm looking forward to it.]

Best Reminder:
Christena Cleveland with “Love is Cross Cultural”

“The evidence suggests that Christians closely associate love with similarity, rather than dissimilarity.  In a platonic sense, we tend to go to church with people who are like us.  As University of Chicago researcher Samuel Perry notes, “Segregated churches breed segregated lives.” When our churches are segregated, our friend groups tend to be segregated. How can we love cross-culturally if we rarely cross cultures in a meaningful way?  In a romantic sense, Protestant church goers are about half as likely to have dated interracially than non-church goers.” 

Best Idea (nominated by Carlee Lane) 
Micha Boyett with “An invitation to curiosity”

“But inside each little body is an emerging soul, with plans and dreams that I cannot yet comprehend. Am I listening for that soul? Am I watching to see their real selves appear? Am I honoring who God is making them to be?”

Best News:

“Evidence of the Changing Evangelical Tide”

“Grace Community Church, an evangelical church of 6,000 worshipers just north of Indianapolis, reversed their position and came out in favor of women’s leadership at all levels this weekend in their public worship services.”


Check out the sermon from Tim Ayers

“Our task as a church is to heal the broken places that resulted from the fall and show the world God’s intentions. One of these broken places is the equity and dignity between men and women.”

Best Advice:
April Fiet with “Growing Into Authority”

“As a people-pleasing person, it was so difficult for me to tell others I was a pastor knowing that my femaleness would immediately cause them to reject me. It was terrifying to me to watch others label me as soon as they met me. ‘If she’s a female pastor, what other liberal agenda is she going to foist on us?’”

[Y’all should probably go ahead and subscribe to April’s blog. I also love “10 Reasons Rural Ministry Is Great”

Best Writing:
Kristin Lucas with “When Valentines and The Nightly News Collide”

“Molly watched the whole thing rather intently. Her pencil dropped out of her hand and she stared at these tragic images coming across our screen. I was holding the remote, pointing the whole time at the television. There was a battle raging within me about whether or not I should change the channel; whether I should turn on Wheel of Fortune and keep her from seeing these hard, raw, terrible things happening to other kids her age on the other side of the world. I didn’t.” 

Best Satire:
The Onion with "Local Church Full of Brainwashed Idiots Feed Town's Poor Every Week"

Best Valentine: 
Osheta Moore with “Everybody Gets an ‘Eshet Chayil!’”


Bravest (nominated by Nish Weiseth): 
Seth Haines with “Naked Confession: I have a problem with Lady Liquor

“In any event, I don’t suppose I’m special among you. I reckon there are more than a handful here that sing the hymns of the risen Christ on Sunday morning and drink, or eat, or spend, or puke, or sex, or systematically theologize their way into the icy numb during the rest of the week. It’s such a convenient escape from dealing with the underlying pain, such an awful comfort. Isn’t it?” 

Lois Tverberg with “Speaking, Painting, and Bible Translation

“Each language has a palette with a finite amount of colors, which have evolved from the cultural memories and common experience of its users. When you try to “paint” a scene in a different language, the same words can have different shades of meaning, so the result is never exactly the same.”

Most Honest: 
Benjamin Moberg with “A Closet Comes Undone

“I remember in my own closet days when some classmate would come out and the kids in youth group descended like a pack of hyenas. Gossiped and gossiped like charismatics talking in tongues. Faces became contorted amongst the guys, who would then fake throw up, and the girls would get sad, say it was such a shame this person was disappearing into the darkness. And then, inevitably, someone would say,do you think there’s anyone else? And my face would flush, throat would dry up, and an acute realization would hit me that one day, they’d all be talking about me.”

Most Encouraging: 
Hugh Hollowell at Love Wins with “Love as a force for good”

“I told him we had this crazy idea that if you treat people like people, then they act like people. And that we had learned that what people who are experiencing homelessness really need is a place to belong, not a place to tell them what to do. So we have worked to create that place.”

Most Informative (nominated by Brandon J. Brown)
Jimmy Doyle with “Binding and Loosing in the Church”

Most Thoughtful: 
Preston Yancey with “When I Have a [Talking About] Drinking Problem”

“A close friend of mine who is in recovery calls me last week. He says that the hardest thing about Christians and drinking is that we seem so excited to talk about it all the time. He says we want everyone to know about it, to hear how beyond the oppressive rules of our youth we are now. I don't say anything, because I am implicated in this. My silence is my condemnation, and I know it.”

Most Inspiring: 
Sara Miles with “Faith in the Streets”

“In the haphazard sprawl of a city, only the astronomically rich and walled-off can pretend that our human ideas of order -- like the geometric grid of roads laid over the Great Plains, or the forced cleanliness of suburban shopping centers -- are stable. The sheer unpredictability of city encounters makes it impossible to presume, as many churches do, that God's grace must be sequential -- measured out at regular intervals in baptism, confirmation, communion, marriage, burial -- and will happen to everyone at the prescribed time, in the same way.”

Most Important: 
Mary DeMuth with “21 Things That Shouldn’t Be Said to Sexual Abuse Victims”

Most Relatable: 
Emily Maynard with “Four Reasons I’m Glad I Left Church”

“So, if you want to stay in church this Sunday, I'll see you there. But if you need to go, go in peace.”

Most Powerful:
Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic with “On the Killing of Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn"

“I insist that the irrelevance of black life has been drilled into this country since its infancy, and shall not be extricated through the latest innovations in Negro Finishing School. I insist that racism is our heritage, that Thomas Jefferson's genius is no more important than his plundering of the body of Sally Hemmings, that George Washington's abdication is no more significant than his wild pursuit of Oney Judge, that the G.I Bill's accolades are somehow inseparable from its racist heritage. I will not respect the lie. I insist that racism must be properly understood as an Intelligence, as a sentience, as a default setting to which, likely until the end of our days, we unerringly return.” 


Best Perspective:
Ben Howard with “A Different Olympics” 

“While you’ve been treated to Scott Hamilton and Mary Carrillo and Bob Costas’s losing fight with pink-eye, I’ve been listening to a series of announcers with vaguely-European accents give a dry account of how each competitor is doing on the World Cup scene this season. While you’re watching the runs of the top Americans and a handful of medal contenders, I’m watching all 40 luge contestants even though only five have a chance of winning. And while you’re learning the heart-warming tale of how a mother helped her daughter to Olympic glory, I’m watching silently as a Zamboni smooths out the speed skating rink while ambient LMFAO plays through the stadium speakers.  You have the drama. I have the raw totality.”

Best Insight:
Krista Dalton with “Religious Law and When Life is in Danger”

“This concept goes back to the fundamental understanding of Lev 18:5 “You shall keep my statutes and my ordinances; by doing so one will live: I am the Lord.” The assertion that the law brings life governs the entire religious framework of the rabbinic community. Yes, there are precise religious practices spanning many volumes in Judaism and in the statements of faith and conduct in Christianity, but at their fundamental core is the instance by God that they should bring life.”

Best Response: 
Naomi Hanvey with “Complementarianism On Ice: A Dancer’s Response…

“In partnering, you pair up the people who are a good match for each other in terms of relative height and weight, movement quality, and technical ability.  You give them movements that cater to the strengths of each while at the same time working on their weaknesses, hoping to build them into new strengths.  Through an endless cycle of trial and error, success and failure, people who are different from one another come together and learn to trust each other and work toward a common goal.  In a sense, they become one.  They equally share the work, the pain, the responsibility, the triumph, and the reward.  Marriage is the same way, at least in my experience.  It’s not about having a leader and a follower, an initiator and a receiver; it’s about mutual strength, trust, and dedication, and as Christians, mutual submission to the real Leader.”


For the Bible Nerds:
Denis Lamoureux on biblical genealogies – Part 1 and Part 2

For the Nerds: 
Top 10 XKCD Cartoons on Science and Religion 

For the Feminists: 
Getty Images, Sheryl Sanberg team up to make stock photos of women more empowering

For the Calvinist:
Puritan Valentines Day Cards 

For the Music Lovers:
“SALT honors the 75th Anniversary of Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’”

For the Weary: 
Sarah Bessey on learning the unforced rhythms of grace


On the Blog…

Most Popular Post:
If Men Got the Titus 2 Treatment

This Week’s Travels…

Monday, February 17, 2014 
Wright Lecture Series at Morningside College
Sioux City, IA
Evening Lecture 7:00pm
More info

Friday, February 21, 2014 - Saturday, February 22, 2014
Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center
Lake Junaluska, NC
Signature Series 10:00am to 3:00pm
More info 


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

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