Sunday Superlatives 3/29/15

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free


White House Science Fair Day 

Trevor McMaken at Church of the Resurrection with “Holy Week Myers-Briggs”

“INFJ: St Catherine (of Siena) - You absolutely love contemplating unity with Christ and the beauty of the Eucharist during Maundy Thursday. You especially love contemplating this while hiding in the bathroom during the foot-washing portion."

Heather Plett with “What It Means to ‘Hold Space’ For People”

"What does it mean to hold space for someone else? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgment and control."

Conservative Christians speak for gay rights law

“‘My education taught me to have compassion for gay people,’ said John Cremeans, a pastor who attended Bible school in Springfield. ‘But they were living outside Scripture, and not living a godly life. I believed there was a sin that could be corrected through prayer — until the day my son told me he was gay...’”

Best Interview: 
Dave Eggers interviews Sufjan Stevens 

Best Insights: 
Elizabeth Esther at Her.Meneutics with “I’m Kimmy Schmidt, Minus the ‘Unbreakable’”

“For those of us who left isolationist, abusive, or restrictive religious environments, ‘making it’ in the outside world is often much harder than we expected. There is so much to learn and so much to unlearn. It’s disconcerting to realize that even though we’ve left the cult, the cult hasn’t left us. And many of us need therapy, support groups, and an ongoing commitment to “deprogram” harmful patterns of thinking. Even with a super-positive attitude like Kimmy’s, adjusting to mainstream America was bewildering.”

Best Response: 
Eliel Cruz with “How the church perpetuates the ‘gay lifestyle” 

“...Just as any other group of people have diverse interests and lead all sorts of lives – so do LGBT people.”

Best Conversation: 
The authors of Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith led an informative and challenging “teach in” on Twitter Wednesday night focusing on sins committed against women and girls and featuring a range of guests, including myself, Mimi Haddad, Deborah Brunt, Úna F. Lucey-Lee, Gail Song Bantum, and many others.  You can see the highlights here. 

Best Example: 
Micha Boyett with “Choosing Love & Humility Over Rightness” 

“Our doctrine doesn’t make us a church. What makes us a church is how we love the pregnant lady who needs to stay on the couch. What makes us a church is how we mop each other’s floors and take each other’s kids to the park. What makes us a church is how we learn to see one another as God’s beloveds, and speak kindness to one another even when our passion is loud and fiery. What makes us a church is how we choose love and humility over rightness.”

Most Awe-Inspiring: 
Kelley Nikondeha with “For God So Loved” 

“But something else struck me that afternoon. God has long loved the Cosmos. God doesn’t only love the part of creation that emerged in the final hours of a cosmic year. God loves it all and has been delighted by it all since January 1st some 13.8 billion years ago. God has lived in deep and lasting fidelity with creation for billions of years, this is a relationship with tender tenure and devoted durability across epochs of time and unfathomable kinds of increase.”

Most Eye-Opening:
Brittney Cooper with “We treat racism like it’s going extinct. It’s not.”

“The shock and surprise from white Americans about these continued incidents baffle me. These clear racist and racially-tinged occurrences happen with a kind of quotidian regularity. The question is why we think the problem of racism is an evolutionary problem rather than an ideological one. We treat racism as though it is the contained characteristic of a specific species of human beings known as racists, that lived in a prior era of American history, but have now nearly become extinct. We keep missing that racism is ideological and institutional, rather than merely individual. Or we treat racism like an outmoded technology, hoping that it will go the way of the rotary phone, the cassette tape and the VCR.”

Most Encouraging:
Latino evangelicals call for end to death penalty

“As Christ followers, we are called to work toward justice for all. And as Latinos, we know too well that justice is not always even-handed.”

Most Thought-Provoking: 
Judith Shulevitz at The New York Times with “In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas”

“The confusion is telling, though. It shows that while keeping college-level discussions “safe” may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled. What will they do when they hear opinions they’ve learned to shrink from? If they want to change the world, how will they learn to persuade people to join them?”

Most Honest (nominated by Janette Platter)
Jo McElroy Senecal at the New York Times with “Bearing Witness” 

“Whether a newborn, a toddler or teenager, a middle-aged or thoroughly wrinkled soul, when they are too sick to get out of bed and their breath is ragged and their hands are starting to curl into their palms, they are the sacred vulnerable and it is up to the ones standing to take good care. If you have a habit of being surprised by life’s mysteries, if you’re drawn to the myriad layers of human experience, if you feel compelled, called, and really, really want to be there as someone is dying, go all in. Because you will carry with you the imprint of those final weeks or days or moments, someone else’s breaths, and you’ll remember the gifts, eventually.”

On My Nightstand…

Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God: I am EATING UP this translation by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy, which includes an informative introduction and a series of delightful notes written by the translators to correspond with each poem. The poems themselves are of course transcendent, and revisiting them at this time in my life has rekindled my love for Rilke’s work and invited me to see it with new eyes. The narrator’s relationship with God in these poems is tender, complicated, dark, and disarmingly sincere. I would go so far as to say it is relatable— in deeply profound and moving way. Highly recommended for fellow “searchers” during this holy season. 

Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God by Lauren Winner: I will read everything Lauren Winner writes forever and always, but her latest (which officially releases this week) has been a special treat.

Exploring some of the lesser-known metaphors and imagery employed by biblical authors to describe God, Winner lyrically invites the reader to imagine God as clothing, laughter, flame, food, wine, and a laboring woman.

As someone whose Dictionary of Biblical Imagery makes for regular causal reading, I am loving every word. (If you read Searching for Sunday you will see Lauren and I share a fascination with some of the same colorful passages of Scripture.) This book proves that biblical scholars/theologians shouldn’t be the only ones elucidating the sacred text. We literary types have some notes too! 

Searching for Sunday News…

I am tickled pink that Searching for Sunday received a coveted starred review in Publisher’s Weekly: 

“Dividing the book into sections named after sacraments, Evans begins by contemplating, in lyrical prose, the theological significance of each sacrament's key ingredient (water, bread, ash, etc.). A powerful storyteller, Evans captures transformative moments, such as leaving a church full "of kind, generous people"; investing wholeheartedly in a new church that "collapsed slowly, one week at a time"; and witnessing healing at the Gay Christian Network's conference, feeling "simultaneously furious at Christianity's enormous capacity to wound and awed by its miraculous capacity to heal." Honest and moving, this memoir is both theologically astute and beautifully written.” 

The book does not officially release until April 14, but a few advance review copies (ARCs) have made it into readers’ hands, and you can follow their responses on social media using #SearchingForSunday: 

Here are a few quotes and images for sharing: 

You can also find several interviews about the book at Religion News Service, Englewood Review of Books, and Religion Dispatches

Finally, check out the three video excerpts created by Dan Evans (of “Dan is Awesome” fame) and Jason Erickson: “Table,” “Scars,” and “Sacraments.”) 

Pre-order Searching for Sunday here. Next week we’ll be announcing some cool giveaways for those who order (and have ordered) early! 


So, what caught your eye online this week? What happened on your blog? 

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