Sunday Superlatives 4/7/13 ...

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
'Spring?' photo (c) 2013, Ian Kirk - license:

Around the Blogosphere...

Informercial GIFs

Peter Enns with “Tim Keller on Homosexuality and Biblical Authority: Different Crisis, Same Problem

“Maybe the way in which evangelical read the Bible and conceive of its authority is the problem in the evangelical system that needs to be rethought, rather than being the non-negotiable hill to stand and die on for addressing every issue that comes down the road?”

Anne Lamott (of course!) at with “My Year on

“For my maiden voyage, I had coffee with an accomplished local man, who said his last girlfriend had been religious, a devout Jew, and this had driven him crazy. I said I was probably worse. We parted with a hug.”

Buzzfeed with “The 33 Most Beautiful Abandoned Places in the World” 

Dianna Anderson with "Other People's Reasons and Our Narratives: On the Appropriation of Suicides"

“Whose story is it to tell when a person commits suicide? What right do we have to ascribe a meaning to their personal tragedy?”

[I hope we keep DIanna's wise advice in mind this week as we mourn with the Warren family over the loss of their son.]

Most Enlightening:
Elizabeth Dias at TIME with “The Rise of Evangélicos

“The story of both churches repeats itself across America and is our cover story this week. Latino evangelicals are one of the fastest growing segments of America’s churchgoing millions. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, more than two-thirds of the 52-million-plus Latinos in the US are Catholic; by 2030, that percentage could be closer to half, and many are joining evangelical Protestant ranks. It is difficult to track the numbers of the groundswell of these new Protestants. They often meet in storefronts or living rooms, and language barriers complicate the census process."

Most Helpful (this is a FANTASTIC list):
Kristen Howerton with “What You Can Do

“I’ve written pretty passionately about the global orphan situation recently, and several commenters asked:“What can I do if I’m not in a position to adopt?” I’m so glad you asked.”

Related: (nominated by Tara J. Haussler)
Former Foster Kids Struggle with Homelessness

Most Inspiring (nominated by Kelley Nikondeha):
Brian Zahnd with “The World After Easter"

“In the world after Easter the Spirit of Truth says, Imagine a world beyond violence, beyond war, beyond greed, beyond poverty, beyond disease, beyond exploitation, beyond the tyranny of economic self-interest, beyond the wreckage of ruthless competition…and move in that direction. Because that is the future!”

Most Eye-Opening:
Tara Livesay on Short Term Missions to Haiti

“It is not at all unusual to hear visitors botch something up they are working on and say, “Oh well, it is good enough for Haiti.” I confess that it is those people who I want to follow home with a gallon of ugly colored oil paint and an old tattered brush and walk into their kitchen to show them what my “good enough” looks like at their house.”

Most Heartbreaking:
Registered Runaway with “I want to be a dad

“They say someone like me would be damaging to a child’s development. They say if I adopted a child, it would be trampling on their rights. They say no child wants anything but one father and one mother. No kid wants a dad like me. And that hurts. It cuts to the bone. It makes me want to run away from this faith as fast as I can.”

Most Relatable:
Lauren Dubinsky at the Huffington Post with “The Most Difficult But Greatest Lesson I’ve Learned in One Year of Marriage” 

“Nearly every failed expectation I've found in my marriage was created by the idea that my husband would be a very specific type of person because he was a man. And that I, the wife, would work through the problem in a very specific manner, as a woman. When we read books about marriage and relationships, particularly in the Christian circles, we tend to study the opposite gender, almost as if to discover and prepare for everything about a person before we even meet them. The God of the universe has not created more than 9 million species of animals, only to create two types of people.”

Most Thoughtful:
Kelley Nikondeha with “Prophetic Criticism”

“In a great act of mindfulness I want to pay attention to moments and movements of grief within me. I want to be alert to those times when I sense in my bones that things aren’t right. And from that place I’ll offer my critique. But let it be a criticism for the sake of a community, a criticism to be a catalyst for healing or change or toward freedom. I long for my criticism to be along the prophetic arc, not contending for relevance in matters that aren’t mine to shape. I hope my words, well stewarded, will matter. So I’m practicing restraint and discernment to allow my reservoir to gradually fill. I won’t weigh in thoughtlessly and find myself a clanging symbol; I’ll wait till the words reveal love”

Most Challening:
Sarah Bessey with “In which Jezebel gives way to Deborah”

“This is the thing I believe about the Kingdom of God: it’s for all of us. It’s for the powerful and weak, it’s for men and for women, it’s for the outliers and the insiders. It’s for all of us. And so there is no neat and safe and tidy box: instead there is the wild and untamed and glorious riches of Christ Jesus, there is Deborah and David, there is Junia and Paul, there is Martha and Lazarus, Esther and Sarah, and there is you and there is me. In Christ, oh, hallelujah, there is room for us all. Don’t let anyone scare you from the battle, Deborah. God has called you, Esther, for such a time as this.”

[You guys, I had the chance this week to take a sneak peek at Sarah’s upcoming book, Jesus Feminist, and...I didn’t think this’s more beautiful, challenging, and live-giving than I expected. You are are going to love it!]

Best Writing:
Jenna Kemp (at Jamie Wright’s place) with “The Middle

“Life is the middle. Life is the tension. Life is the cycle of slavery to freedom to Sinai to land to exile to return to Diaspora. We are never settled. If we are to meet God or to meet meaning or some semblance of truth in this life, it is in this unsettled existence of the middle. It is when we reflect upon our middle experiences that we can look back with wonder and say, “Who is like you, oh Adonai, among the Gods – you who are wholly inconceivable and you who are intimately present?”

Best Storytelling:
Brandon Ambrosini with “Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University

“I learned from my time at Liberty that this bigotry happens on both sides: not only were there some Christians who wanted to stone some gays, but there were even some gays who wanted to stone a few Christians.”

Best Analysis (nominated by Ashley Wilcox)
Rebecca Ankeny with “God's Will for Women: Deborah and Phebe (and Margaret Fell, Elizabeth Hooten, Mary Fisher, etc.)

“The point here is that God chose, God raised up, God gifted, and Deborah cooperated.  She was recognized by her people as possessing the Spirit and gifts of God that suited her for this authoritative role representing God to her people. Therefore, it seems wise to allow God the last word in the church as well.  Rather than take a socially normative statement as a commandment for us to follow, let us likewise recognize that God has chosen, raised up, and gifted women in our congregations to act on God’s behalf and to pray, prophesy, sing, and teach in obedience to God. This is still counter-cultural. Our culture is not friendly to the witness that Jesus is present through the resurrection to teach us in our own hearts and through each other, and we are responsible to obey, to be deacons in the household of God.”

Best Perspective:
Jennifer Lundberg with “Story Telling”

“I love stories. I will continue to write my stories. But I don't want to weaponize story telling.”

All the posts on storytelling this week reminded me of one of my favorite TED Talks of all time:
Chimamanda Adichie with "The Danger of a Single Story"

Best Reflection:
Addie Zierman at Deeper Story with “Unequally Yoked

“Stay here, in this place where nothing feels equal or easy. Stay here in this love, with your jagged faith. Stay when the chasm seems too big to cross and when you’re afraid you’ll never be on the same page again. Balance each other out, or rage together in the darkness. But stay if you can. You are equally loved, equally held, tied here together for reasons you won’t always remember.”

Best Illustration:
Ben Howard with “Rule Number 1: Your Faith Lies

"Sometimes the things we whole-heartedly believe turn out to be wrong and that’s an incredibly difficult thing to admit. When our faith leads us astray, when our faith lies to us about the reality that actually exist, we look everywhere else for answers. We blame our parents, the church we grew up in, we blame God for not being the God we originally believed in. It’s hard to bear the tension that comes with a faith that can only ever be incomplete and fallible."

Best Critique:
Kristen Rosser with “Why I am Not a Calvinist”

“I find that sometimes a focus on God's sovereignty to the point where it almost shuts out any other attributes, seems related to a certain hierarchical view of the world-- a view that focuses on who is in authority over who, more than on service and love.  We can come to think God is all about enforcing His own authority, and that proper submission to authority is what the Christian walk is all about-- rather than, "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." But I see God as One who would deliberately choose to be born in a manger, the Son of a lowly carpenter in backwoods Galilee. I see a Kingdom of mutual submission and service, of each of us having a mind like Christ's-- in lowliness of mind considering others better than ourselves, as per Phil. 2.  I see a God Who limits His own exercise of sovereignty, by His own free will-- in order to allow us ours.”

Best Meditation:
Preston Yancey with “When this was Holy Week, in retrospect” 

“I wish there was a gap year for faith. A year where you were allowed to do nothing but just explore what it is you believe. But I suppose that's the point. The cosmic point.”

Best Truth-Telling:
Brenna D’Ambrosio at Love is What You Do with “In the Middle

“I don’t know how to tie this up neatly with a pretty bow. When you talk about poverty, quick and easy solutions and answers are never an option. As I write this we are asking ourselves if we are going to stay, or if we are going to leave. I have a daughter who will benefit from a much smaller school with a much lower teacher to student ratio. I find myself pulled between wanting to give her everything she needs and staying in a neighborhood we have grown to call home. I have no answers. Here in the middle, all I have is love. Love for my daughter. Love for my community. Love will keep us seeking answers.”

Hero of the Week:
This guy, who just kept singing even after his Easter pageant literally went up in flames

On my nightstand...

The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers

In my headphones...

Palomino by Trampled by Turtles

Handclapping & Footstomping Playlist from Songza 

On the blog...

Most Popular Posts:
The Absurd Legalism of Gender Roles, Exhibit C: “As long as I can’t see her...

"What I learned turning my hate mail into origami

Most Popular Comment:
In response to that post, KittySnide wrote: 

"You know, the more I encounter this "absurd legalism", the more I wonder if Piperesque complementarianism is mostly about coddling extremely fragile men and treating them similarly to how we treat young boys ("Who's a big strong man? You are!"). It's like it's less about "men leading" and "women not leading" and more about women running backwards or pretending to trip so that men can feel like they are the fastest runners and always win the race! What a sad and silly way to understand life and relationships!”

Travel Plans...

Saturday, April 13 / Columbia, MO

What: SURGE 2013 (The Missouri Conference of the UMC)

About: “New York Times Bestselling author Rachel Held Evans reminds us, not all who wander are lost. Join pastors, college-age persons, and congregations as we continue to connect with young adults on a walkabout” 

Where: Missouri UMC; 204 S. 9th., Columbia, MO

When: 8:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. 

Cost: $12 (deadline to register April 1) 

Registration is open to anyone who wishes to attend! 

Learn More


So, what caught your eye online this week? What’s happening on your blog? (I got a lot of great nominations this week and just didn’t have room for them all, so be sure to leave  your links here.)

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