Why you guys are THE BEST + Sunday Superlatives

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
Thanks ;)photo © 2008 Lauren Manning | more info (via: Wylio)

So my interview with Rob Bell was a big hit on Tuesday, and at the end of the day I was so pleased to see this tweet from our new English friend:

@Robbell Thank you, thank you, thank you everybody for your kind messages today. @Rachelheldevans sure has a massive, very friendly readership!

My heart swelled with gratitude and pride, knowing that in the midst of all the ugliness and judgment of Bell-Gate 2011, our little community found a way to collectively exude warmth, solidarity, and laughter through our online interactions.  This is a rare thing indeed, and something I never want to take for granted. 

You guys are so much more than “readers” to me.  You are conversation-partners and friends.  Thank you for helping to create an environment that feels safe…for me, for those working through tough questions of faith, and even for the “unreal” Rob Bell. I’m convinced we have the best, most welcoming community on the blogosphere...

…though I suppose I may be a little partial! 

Okay, so before I have to break out the tissue, let’s move on to Sunday Superlatives!


Best Lenten Series:
Jennifer Fulwiler with The Our Father, Word by Word
“Jesus’ disciples asked him how to pray, and he gave them a direct, specific answer… For each word I’ll do a post cracking it open, searching it for all the meaning we can gain from it.” 

Most Interesting Interview: 
Jason Boyett’s interview with Ryan Hadley, Conversions: Christian to Atheist
“Most of my life, while I was building up my supporting philosophical structure, I was very Christian. Dropping all these beliefs was like knocking out all the supports on the scaffolding I built my life on. As I worked through rebuilding, life got a lot easier and happier.” 

Most Honest:
Chad Holtz with What I Lost Losing Hell 
“I lost the ability to use fear as a tool to manipulate others to believe as I did. No longer could I get the satisfaction of seeing a crowded altar full of fearful, repentant sinners because I delivered a sermon that painted a picture of a very hot, miserable eternity if they died tonight without a belief in Jesus.”
Update: Chad reports here that in addition to losing those things he outlines in his post, he recently lost his job. Chad and I met at Big Tent Christianity in Raleigh last year and he couldn’t be a nicer guy.  Just goes to show that most pastors are not free to tell the truth after all.

Most Personal (and Beautiful!):
Emerging Mummy with In Which I Write a Letter to My Daughter for International Women’s Day
"I'll trace the line of time backwards for you until you see the women that came before you in a great cloud of witnesses for your life.”

Biggest “AMEN!”:
Donald Miller with Jesus Wants Us to Use Common Sense
“I find it suspect when a vision for power and glory for man is couched in a lot of religious talk.” 

Most Troubling:
Rep. Keith Ellison, the first elected Muslim member of Congress, chokes up at a congressional hearingThursday on the radicalization of Muslim Americans.

Best Question: 
Scot McKnight with Is Evangelicalism in a Major Shift?
“…Reports of younger evangelicals suggest that they have a distinctly different perspective than their elders on such issues as gay identity and marriage, the environment, and how to address poverty and other social justice issues.”
(I plan to address this question here on the blog this week. Jump over to my Facebook page to join a conversation about young evangelicals already in progress.)

On the Blog...

Most Popular Post:
By stats – An Interview with Rob Bell
BY FB shares, tweets, and comments  -  Surviving a Conversation with An Atheist by Alise Wright
Congrats, Alise, for having the most popular guest post in the blog’s history!

Most Popular Comment:
Congratulations are also in order for my friend Josh S., who last week had the MOST POPULAR COMMENT EVER with a whopping 146 likes!  In response to Thou Shalt Not Let Thyself Go? Josh wrote this:  

If a man truly loves his wife as he ought, she will be 'beautiful.' Full stop. End of story. 

My wife was beautiful when we started dating. Then, she lost some weight--and was still beautiful. Then, she took a stressful job and gained some of it back--and was still beautiful. Then, we got engaged, and she was beautiful on our wedding day. Then we started to cook for each other, and we both got a little fatter--and she was still beautiful. A few months ago, we found out she was pregnant. She started putting on some weight as her baby-bump grew, and her hips widened, and her 'butt got more dimply' (as she puts it). And she is still SO beautiful.  A few days ago, she was running late and didn't have time to dry her hair, or put on makeup, or pluck her eyebrows. And she was still beautiful. When she feels frumpy, and wears her 'fat pants' (again, her words) so she can feel comfortable around the house, she is still beautiful.  And once she has our baby, and still has extra baby fat, and still has a butt that's bigger than she'd probably care to admit, she will STILL be beautiful. And when our baby is young, and she is bleary-eyed from nights with no sleep, and doesn't have the time or energy to dress up or put on makeup or shave her legs or pluck her eyebrows or any of the other things she spends time on in the morning, she will still be beautiful. And as we age, and her boobs start to sag, and the stretch marks from multiple kids line her belly, and her skin wrinkles, and lines crease around her eyes and mouth, and her gray hairs start coming in faster than she can pull them out, and she starts to look...(dare I say it?)...old, she will still be beautiful.

She was, is, and always will be beautiful to me. And she will always be--in an objective sense--beautiful. This is because her life radiates beauty: through her hospitality to friends and strangers alike, through her joyful laugh, through her care of those in need, through her passion for education, through her love of framing things on film through the lens of a camera, through her ability to be patient with her doofus husband, through her genuine love for God, through her sacrificial generosity to those with less than we have, and even through her stubborn refusal to let me get away with any of my trademark snark. These things, along with more that I cannot begin to list, make her beautiful. And I see that beauty in her eyes, her face, her shape, and the way she carries herself. And I see it in her laugh lines, her crows feet, her gray hairs, her one dimple on one cheek, her moles she thinks are funny-looking--in every thing she thinks detracts from her beauty, I see nothing but beauty. 

I cannot help it. I love my wife. She is beautiful.

Any man who cannot see the beauty in his own wife either needs a new set of spectacles, or is no real man. Letting herself go? Hardly! It is the man who lets his love of the wife go, and in so doing, fails to see the beauty that is inevitably there. 

See why it earned 146 likes? 

As a thank-you for all that you’ve brought to the blog over the past few weeks, I’d like to invite you to use the comment section to link to something you care about—your own blog, an organization you support, an article that made you think, a photo that made you laugh.

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