Sunday Superlatives 3/16/14 & See you in Harrisonburg, VA

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Around the Blogosphere...

Most Mesmerizing:
This, done with music, clay, and a potter’s wheel

Most Relatable: 
The Oatmeal with “The Weather Right Now”

Best Insight:
Heather Caliri at She Loves with “Brief Moments When I Did Not Hate the Bible”

“Over and over, I denigrated, discounted and explained away the ways that I did enjoy Scripture. I kept ignoring the approaches I liked in favor of the ones I thought ‘counted.’ That’s when I realized what my real attitude towards the Bible was: If I enjoyed it, if it was easy, or fun, or made my heart sing, it didn’t really count. And its corollary: I believed God wanted the Bible to be unpleasant.”

Best Story: 
Katherine Willis Pershey at Deeper Story with “Footsteps in the Student Center”

“All the pepperoni pizza and praise choruses in the world couldn’t have given me what that low-budget Bible study did.”

Best Feature:  
Jessica Testa at Buzzfeed with “Two years after Kony 2012, has Invisible Children grown up?”

“By mid-2012, Invisible Children had nearly $26.5 million in revenue and $17 million in net assets. By mid-2013, the organization had $4.9 million in revenue (their lowest since 2005) and less than $6.6 million in assets. Sixty-five employees in the San Diego office became 29. Two floors of a building became one. About 130 staffers in Africa — 95% of them from the region — became 108. And yet, KONY 2012 was objectively the organization’s most successful campaign ever, both in its mission — making Kony famous, even if on the other end of punch lines — and in policy.” 

Best Question: 
Kathryn Knight at Mail Online with “Why do babies laugh?”

Best Perspective: 
Sarah Bessey with “In which I don’t mind if my tinies see me on the computer”

“…We have decided it is GOOD for the tinies to see me loving my job, loving my work, being good at something, and actually doing it. To let them see me being faithful to my calling, let them see their dad empowering me to do it with his enthusiastic blessing, let them see it as part of our family’s gift to the world. This is what we do in this family: we support each other in our work and in our callings and even in the things we just plain love to do."

Best Conversation-Starter:
John Shore with “To secretly gay affirming pastors of conservative churches”

“All you have to do is ask your congregation if they’d like to have a conversation about homosexuality and the Bible. If none of them do—if they refuse to even talk about it—then shrug, say ‘Oh. Well, never mind,’ and then quietly start searching for another church….But I’ll bet that doesn’t happen. I’ll bet that people will want to engage in that conversation. As long as you’re not pushing them one way or another, they’ll feel safe.”

Best Sermon (shared by Marlena Graves):
Henri Nouwen with “The Life of the Beloved” (from 2011)

Best Tribute: 
Shauna Niequist with “She’s not a magachurch. She’s my sister.” 

“You learn all sorts of things growing up the way I did. And one of them is this: the labels never suffice. The articles and blogs and books and outside opinions never will capture the real thing. They’ll reduce it to policy, numbers, data. They fail to capture what a church actually is: real live actual humans, showing up day after day, year after year, building something durable and lovely over time, together, with prayer and forgiveness and love.”

Best Response: 
Brandon Wallace at The Gay Christian with "Fred Phelps: Let's picket his funeral...with love"

Most Practical:
Brandon Gaide at The Presbyterian Outlook with “The future of the church: Reflections on the hopes of young Presbyterian leaders”

“As a way of thinking about creating change, an image was offered in which the church institution was described as a slab of concrete.  Bringing a sledgehammer to a slab of concrete certainly breaks up the slab, but does not win many friends.  However, few complain if a tree grows beneath the slab and eventually pushes through.  Both produce the same result but use very different means.  Efforts to reform the church should come from effective, fruitful ministry rather than aggressive insistence.  Changing established institutions needs at least the appearance of growing organically.  This is a critiquing-by-creating approach.”

Most Powerful: 
Hope E. Ferguson at Her.Meneutics with “Our Brother’s Keepers: A Brokenhearted Black Woman Speaks Out”

“Every black mother lives in fear of deadly trouble befalling her young sons, whether she lives in the New York City governor's mansion or the Brooklyn projects. The other day on Facebook, I saw my brother-in-law counsel his 24-year-old son, who had overheard a white man reviling blacks and Mexicans in a bar, to ignore such talk for his own safety. My sister had the requisite talk with her three young sons about being polite and respectful to police officers when they are pulled over for traffic stops.”

Most Thoughtful:
Richard Beck with “Kenosis as Pouring Out and Vomiting”

“The point here is that the cross is great when preached at the abusers. If you're an abuser you need to go to the cross to stand with your victims. That is the prophetic power of the cross in a violent world full of oppression. But what is the message of the cross for the one being abused? Carry your cross of abuse? Passively and quietly endure your abuse to be like Jesus?” 

Most Eye-Opening:
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra at Christianity Today with “When Sexual Abuse Comes to Light”

“India Baker, who endured emotional and physical abuse at Ivory Coast Academy in the 1990s, said, ‘They told us, 'Don't tell your parents anything bad, because if you do, you're keeping them from doing what they're supposed to do on the mission field. You're keeping them from doing God's work.' I wanted to be the good Christian girl. I wanted God to love me.’"

Most Fun: 
American Jesus Madness 2014!!!

In book news…

My friend Elizabeth Esther’s book, Girl at the End of the World, releases this week. Fair warning: this book will totally suck you in. Such a quick, yet powerful, read. Here’s what I say on the back cover:

“What a story! Girl at the End of the World is witty, insightful, courageous, and compelling, the sort of book you plan to read in a week but finish in a day. Elizabeth Esther is a master storyteller who describes her journey out of fundamentalism with a powerful mix of tenderness and guts. With this debut, Esther sets herself apart as a remarkable writer and remarkable woman. This book is a gift, and I cannot commend it enough.” - Rachel Held Evans, author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood and Evolving in Monkey Town 

Peter Enns gives us a preview of his upcoming book, The Bible Tells Me So: 

“So here’s my not so radical thought: What if the Bible is just fine the way it is? What if it doesn’t need to be protected from itself? What if it doesn’t need to be bathed and perfumed before going out in public? And what if God is actually fine with the Bible just as it is? Not the well-behaved version we create, but the messy, troubling, weird, and ancient Bible that we actually have. Maybe this Bible has something to show us about our own sacred journey of faith, and that God wants us to wander off the beach blanket to discover what that is. A well-behaved Bible isn’t a sure foundation of faith, but a barrier to true faith and deep trust in God. The Bible, just as it is, isn’t a problem to be solved. It’s an invitation to a deeper faith and actually models that faith for us.”

On my last trip, I finished reading Khaled Hosseini’s latest book, And The Mountains Echoed, and I think it’s his best yet. So, so, soooooo good. I highly recommend it. 

And I’m currently reading Death Before the Fall by Ronald E. Osborn and it’s fascinating. 

On the blog…

Most Popular Post:
Patriarchy and Abusive Churches

Most Popular Comment:
In response to the post above, Ann wrote: 

“As a practical matter the first and only valid step when an allegation of any type of abuse has been made is to contact the police. I am a licensed social worker who has consulted on a number of these cases in churches. Without exception, the all-male boards always take some type of "elder meeting" deacon meeting" "pastor meeting" "counseling meeting" as their first step, which is where everything goes awry and decisions to conceal alleged crimes are made. (I am using the word alleged as a legal term, not to devalue the stories of survivors) You don't need any type of meeting when an allegation is made. Would you call an "elder meeting" if a building was on fire or someone witnessed a murder? No, you'd dial 911, which is exactly what these men fail to do and why they can be prosecuted in many states as mandated reporters."

Such an important point on an important issue. 


This Week’s Travels…

This week I’m headed to Harrisonburg, Virginia where I’ll be speaking at Eastern Mennonite University. You can catch me on Wednesday,  March 19 during a 10 a.m. university chapel service and also at 8 p.m. in Lehman Auditorium. Both events are free and open to the public. Learn more here. 


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

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