Sunday Superlatives 3/2/14

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Best Speech: 
Lupita Nyong’o on beauty at the Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon 

Best Reporting: 
Eric Marrapodi at CNN with “Stepping-stones to safety: A family flees Syria's war - and finds refuge in Italy's islands”

“Just down the road from the café, on one side of the street, docks are lined with boats waiting to take tourists snorkeling and fishing. On the other side, a boat cemetery is filled with junked vessels that brought refugees and migrants to the island over the past few years.  The names of the dilapidated boats are hand-lettered on the sides in Arabic.”

Best Photo Series: 
The Atlantic with “The Murmurations of Starlings” 

Best List: 
Amy Rayson with “Ten Things Your Pastor Wishes You Knew About Her” 

“She has argued, wrestled, cried, lamented, and railed against her call. She has been to Tarshish many times on her way to Nineveh. She does not exist to make a point, to make waves, or to make you mad. She is (and should be) obedient to her God, not to her critics.”

Best Headline:
The Onion with “American Airlines to Phase Out Complimentary Cabin Pressurization”

Best Series: 
Richard Beck with “The Theology of Johnny Cash”

“…What I think most interesting about the song ‘The Man Comes Around’ is how, as I mentioned above, it is so steeped in the biblical imagination. And the biblical imagination, I'd argue, is always going to explode the boxes of conservative and liberal theology. The biblical imagination, like the God it is trying to describe, is like that whirlwind in a thorn tree. The biblical imagination cannot be codified or systematized. The biblical imagination is going to be wild and untamed. And because the theology of Johnny Cash was so shaped by the Scriptures, due to Cash's daily and lifelong reading of the bible, I think it's fitting to note here at the end that Johnny Cash's theology, being a biblical theology, will also be difficult to pin down and put into a box.”

and Leigh Kramer with “The Enneagram and Blogging”

“Besides building a platform or working toward publication, Threes feel their blogs are a great way to publicize themselves and their endeavors. The flipside of their goal-orientedness is Threes can struggle with their blog's purpose. If they're not working toward something, do they still post? What are they trying to achieve by blogging? Some Threes expressed feeling it wasn't enough to just publish a post for the sake of publishing something or even posting for themselves. They want their work to affect others, to reach an audience, to matter.”

[I’m sharing this quote because I’m a 3!]

Best Perspective: 
“The Other Side of the Donald Miller Post: Church PTSD” 

“Honestly, I have something akin to a PTSD…when it comes to church.  When I hear people talking in Christian catch phrases I want to run away.  This is the language of the culture of people who persecuted and bullied my family and me.  If you speak their language, you must be one of them, too.  So I stay away.”

Best Idea: 
Osheta Moore with “Standing Our Ground…In Prayer” 

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood but powers and principalities in heavenly places.  We wield not guns in shaky, terrified hands but the doubled-edged Sword the Spirit. We’re going stand our ground…in prayer.”

Best Writing:
Christie Purifoy with “How Desire Led You Home”

“You were a child, and they wanted only the best for you. So they told you your heart was deceitful. They told you that every desire was only a misplaced desire for Him. They spoke the (partial) truth in love, and you took their words to heart. Those words kept you safe. They kept you on a narrow way, and you will always be grateful for that. But Jesus never promised safety; He promised abundance. The abundant life is a wide-awake life, and it is anything but safe.”

Best Response: 
Brian McLaren with “Q & R: You, Rob Bell, Don Miller, and Christianity Today”

“Several years ago, a respected older Evangelical theologian confided to me that if he had it to do over again, he wouldn't have let the fear of critique by Evangelical gatekeepers have such control over him. He encouraged me to follow my conscience and not trim my sails for fear of being singled out. I have tried to follow that advice, and am glad I did.” 

Morgan Guyton with “When Bible Study Becomes Your Personal Bug Collection”

“I think the greatest crisis in evangelical Biblical interpretation today is not that evangelicals have stopped respecting the Bible’s authority; it’s that evangelicals have turned the Bible into a set of “truths” to be stabbed with a needle and put into a display case like dead bees and dragonflies and beetles.” 

David Attenborough Narrates Curling

Nish Weiseth with “A Thank You Note to Mumford & Sons” 

“Your music brings more joy to Rowan than anything we've managed to do in our four years as his parents. When he listens to your music, it's as if all of his struggles, anxieties and obstacles are pushed out of the way and he can just be the happy little boy that we so deeply desire him to be. I firmly believe that Rowan is his true, happiest self when he is listening to you play, and I'll forever be grateful to you for that.  Thank you for being faithful to your craft. Thank you for your commitment to your passion and talent for music. It's not just entertainment, or fun to listen to. It's healing and powerful, and it's worked a small miracle for my boy.” 

Kristen Rosser with “The ‘Feminization’ of the Church”

“The church is not a product like a soda or a moisturizer, that you can market to men by claiming that it's not for women.  Nor is it helpful to bifurcate church experience so that the women get all the comfort and love while men get all the challenging calls to discipleship.  Men and women are real people, not stereotypes. Men often need comfort and love, and women have no less need for challenge.  Jesus wasn't speaking only to men when He said ‘Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me (Luke 9:23)."  Nor was He talking only to women when He said, "Come to Me. . . and you find rest for your souls; for My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:30).’


Perry Noble with “Should Christians take medication for mental illness?”

“It was quite humbling for me to begin to do something I once considered to be a sign of weakness. However, as a Christian and as a pastor I can honestly say that making the decision to swallow my pride and accept the common grace God has provided through medicine has made me a better husband, father and friend.” 

Bryan College takes stand on creation that has professors worried for their jobs


Most Powerful:
Christena Cleveland at Missio Alliance with “Everything I know about racism I learned in the church”

“As a millenial, I’ve lived most of my years in our so-called “post-racial” American church.  Yet my earliest and most painful experiences of racism have all occurred in the church – at the hands of sincere Christians.  And unfortunately, my stories are consistent with the stories of many other people my age and younger. The ongoing racism in the church exposes an explosive hypocrisy. If we do not consistently and courageously confront it, the church will continue to instruct people that being different is a curse, demonstrate to them that God doesn’t love them, eviscerate their identities and compel them to seek refuge from the church outside the church. Those of us who are aware of individual and structural racism in the church must continue to point it out, facilitate discussions, speak the truth in love, challenge our pastors and leaders, pray for healing and work for justice.”


Most Convicting: 
D.L. Mayfield at Deeper Story with “Lord, Lord” 

“Live as if you were God, as if you knew what lay around the next bend, the next corner of your life, as if you had control of any little thing that happens on this planet. Lean into your justifiable hate, against those oppressors and tyrants and abusers; hate them into the ground from whence they came, hate them as long and as hard as it takes, crushing their bones into powder in your mind. Hate them as if this will change anything, as if you could wring the very sorrow out of your soul, as if this will set the world right again.”

Most Eye-Opening:
Micah Murray with “On Growing Up in Bill Gothard’s Homeschool Cult” 

“When I tell my story, people say ''You should hate God by now. It’s a miracle you’re a Christian at all. 'They’re right. It’s a miracle.” 

Most Informative: 
Jessica Parks with “Frauen Fridays: Mercy Amba Oduyoye” 

“Since the Bible depicts other peoples’ cultures, and we know from African culture that not everything in culture is liberating, we come to the Bible with the same cautious approach we have to culture… Any interpretation of the Bible is unacceptable if it does harm to women, the vulnerable and the voiceless.” - Oduyoye in Introducing African Women’s Theology 

[Love this idea for a series]


Most Thoughtful: 
Peter Enns with “Creationists Talking About Creation…(Or, on Theological Mass Re-Education)”

“So, it struck me early on that for the conversation truly to go forward, what is needed is nothing short of a “theological mass re-education”–and in some cases I would even say “de-programming”–not to take the Bible away from anyone, but to give it back without the tons of freight that literalism shackles to it.”

Most Valorous: 
Minerva G. Carcaño with “A Letter to the Active and Retired United Methodist Bishops of Africa” 

Best Reminder:
Benjamin Moberg with “Two Ways to Maybe Not Write About Gay People”

“I cannot count the number of times I have been likened to Jesus drunk friends, or the adulteress woman, or the tax collectors. I am the pre- “go and sin no more” gospel character- the shabby fellow who’s luck is about to turn when I meet the Light of the World…But wait a sec… I am a Christian. There are thousands, maybe millions, of others out there like me.”


Best Questions: 
Sara Barton at Jesus Creed with “Christian Identity and the Church as Family”

“So, if people are leaving the church, perhaps we need to avoid defensiveness and ask some hard questions about family.  Sometimes individuals leave families of origin because of abuse, because of dysfunction that threatens to overtake the entire family system.  Could it be that many of our friends and neighbors are leaving church because of dysfunction that needs deep introspection?  We can easily cite stories of people for whom the church is functioning.  We should celebrate those stories.  But, the church is not functioning for others, to such an extent that they are leaving.  Instead of being defensive, maybe what we should do for a while is merely listen.What would it look like for the church at large to stop and listen to the all Donald Millers we know?”

 Best Sermon Series:
Jonathan Martin at Renovatus Church with "The Peaceable Kingdom"


On the Blog…

Most Popular Post:
Walking the Second Mile: Jesus, Discrimination, and ‘Religious Freedom’

Most Popular Comment (Maybe Ever!): 
In response to “Walking the Second Mile,” Jesus Benyosef wrote: 

“There was once a gay man who went looking for a place to eat in Arizona. Several restaurant owners refused to serve him on account of their sincerely-held religious beliefs. Then an atheist noticed that he was hungry and invited him to his home to have dinner with his family. Which of these was a neighbor to the gay man?


I shared one of my biggest struggles—my compulsive need for approval and awards—over at Glennon Melton’s place last week as part of her Sacred/Scared series. Be sure to check out the other installments, which include stories from Sarah Bessey & Shauna Niequist, Tara Livesay & Jamie Ivey, Nate Pyle & Jamie Wright, Jen Hatmaker & Kristen Howerton

Book News…

So here’s some exciting news: Zondervan has decided to re-release Evolving in Monkey Town this spring with a new title, fresh cover, and a few updates. 

The book is called Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions, and I’m really excited about this release. (I realize some of you are very attached to the first title. It's okay! I promise!) Right now, you can pre-order the e-version for Kindle and Nook for just $3.99. The official release date is April 8, 2014. 

Now, this is an updated version of “Monkey Town,” not the new book…which I’m still slaving away on in hopes of finishing before summer.

The new book will be memoir about church, arranged around seven sacraments, with the working title “Sunday Morning.” I'm pretty pumped about it. 


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

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