Saturday Superlatives 5/18/2013 (and see you in Chesapeake, Virginia!)

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
Team Dan & Rachel go to the beach (OBX) 

Team Dan & Rachel go to the beach (OBX) 

Once again, I’m posting early because this evening and tomorrow morning I’ll be hanging out with the good folks of Centerville Baptist Church in Chesapeake, Virginia. On Saturday evening, at 6:30 p.m., I’ll be sharing about my year of biblical womanhood, and on Sunday morning, at 10:30 a.m., I’ll be speaking on “the wilderness” in the morning service. Both events are free and open to the public. Childcare is provided. Let me know if I will see you there! (More info here.)

Now on to Superlatives…

Around the Web…

Lindy West at Jezebel with “A Great Gatsby Book Report By a Kid Who Only Saw the Movie” 

“The Great Gatsby is a very important and famous book which tells its story through many pages, all of which I enjoyed reading very much. It was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who lived from 1896 to 1940 and truly wrote many books. Through its use of characters, garbage falling from the sky all the time, and black people constantly playing the trumpet on a fire escape, The Great Gatsby is truly a book by F. Scott Fitzgerald about how you shouldn't just buy a castle near your ex-girlfriend in the 1920s and then wait for her to fall back in love with you, because eventually you might get murdered by a poor person.”

Stephen Mattson at Sojourners with “Christians: It’s Not a SIN to Change Your Beliefs

“But theology — our study and beliefs about God — should be a natural process involving change instead of avoiding it. Our God is too big and too wonderful to completely understand by the time we graduate high school, or college, or get married, or have children, or retire. Our life experiences, relationships, education, exposure to different cultures and perspectives continually affect the way we look at God. Our faith is a journey, a Pilgrim’s Progress, and our theology will change. And while we may not agree with a person’s new theological belief, we need to stop seeing the inherent nature of change as something negative.”

The National Geographic Traveler Magazine photo contest entries and winners

Jen Hatmaker with “Examining Adoption Ethics: Part One” 

“There are very real orphans all over the earth, but most of us don’t pursue the kids there are; we pursue the kids we want, and these countries know the score. Older kids stay on waiting children lists, while the baby line is hundreds deep. It doesn’t take long for opportunists to figure this out… With much of the adoption pipeline supplied by corruption and confusion, we cannot possibly claim God’s sovereignty. We need to call it what it is: an injustice God would never endorse. It is time to stop participating in the type of adoption that encourages able-bodied parents to give up their children or get pregnant to supply a baby for a paycheck. We cannot be complicit in what amounts to trafficking.”

Laura Ziesel with “Was Jesus the Bible Incarnate?” 

“My observation is that people read John 1 this way: ‘In the beginning was the Bible, and the Bible was with God, and the Bible was God..... And the Bible became flesh and lived among us.’ And that, my friends, is not what John was saying.”

Most Surprising: 
Scot McKnight (citing Ken Stewart) with “Calvinism and Women

“…It is necessary for us now to recognize that portions of the Reformed world today fall well behind Calvin’s own demonstrated sixteenth-century readiness to capitalize on the then-expanding influence of women in kingdom work.” 

Most Eye-Opening (and Frustrating and Infuriating): 
NPR with “The Hidden Cost of the Drone Program” 

“Bryant's second shot is another he won't soon forget. On a routine mission, he was ordered to fire a missile at a house with three suspected militants inside. Moments before the missile hit, Bryant says he saw something run around the corner of the building. ‘It looked like a small person," he says. "[There] is no doubt in my mind that that was not an adult’  The missile hit, and afterward there was no sign of the person. It was the end of Bryant's shift, and as he walked out into the early morning sun in Nevada, he says he didn't feel distraught like he did after his first shot. He felt numb…”

Most Helpful: 
Kathy Escobar with “What Seems to Help in the Midst of Pain

“less words, more presence.  i have a theory that we often have an unconscious hope that if we could  say the right words in the exact right way, it would radically help another person. most people aren’t one sentence away from feeling better when they are in pain.  presence seems to matter more than words.  long-haul-ness goes the furthest for those in pain. many people are eager to help and support g at the beginning of pain eruptions, but over time many people drop off and quit wondering how we’re doing. safe people don’t do drive-by pain relief.  they are in it for the long haul, which i keep realizing is sometimes the hardest thing of all.”

Most Encouraging: 
Emily Freeman with “12 Things Your Daughter Needs You to Say” 

"2. Live with God rather than for God. It is common to tell young people to live their lives for God. And though I get the sentiment, I have seen how telling her to live for God can be confusing. The truth is the life she now lives, she lives by faith in Jesus. To tell her to live for God could lead her to try to perform for acceptance rather than living from the acceptance that is already hers in Christ. God isn’t sitting out in the audience of her life, waiting for her to get things in order. No, he’s standing with her on stage. Even better, he stands within her. Remind her of her kind, compassionate, powerful companion who goes with her wherever she goes."

Most Fun:

Most Powerful: 
Zack Hoag with “A False Gospel of Reconciliation” 

“And this false gospel of reconciliation doesn’t stop here. It is not only reserved for churches fraught with sex abuse scandals. It rears its ugly head in all kinds of conservative evangelical circles, taking the similar shape of pain-denying theologies that counsel victims to get over it and get back together with those who harmed them. The gospel is about reconciliation, right? So if your spouse hits you, forgive them and reconcile. And if your kids are starving because of a father’s gambling, get some counseling from an elder and make it work, honey. And if some friends cheated you in business, or a church member is spreading vicious lies about you, or a family member won’t stop manipulating you into situations of terrible emotional pain, hey, it’s better than you deserve because you’re a hellbound sinner too, so just reconcile with them because that’s what grace means (i.e., subjecting yourself to present pains presumably less than the eternal pain of conscious torment in hellfire). This is all BS. And it’s BS because it twists the truth of the ministry of reconciliation into something that perpetuates the abuse of power instead of subversively stopping it.”

Most Relatable (nominated by Kelly Youngblood): 
Caris Adel with “Paralyzed by the Slash” 

“ I’m not called to complacency or ignorance, but I’m also not called to perfection.”

Most Heartbreaking (and Hopeful)
Registered Runaway with “Psalm 55: Betrayed” 

“Instead he starts off the service with a word on the same-sex marriage bill that passed the house last week. And I drop my head because it sounds like an incoming train and I feel like I’m stuck to the tracks. From my chest to my throat to my eyes, I am busted up. I am entering into an anxiety attack and I know it. I know what’s coming. I hear him start with the disclaimer- that I matter to God… but then it is like I don’t matter to God. Like I hate truth. Like I don’t belong here. I’m alarmed when the crowd claps at the punchline and suddenly this megachurch compresses to a closet. I look over at my mom. She is fidgeting. Her head is tilted forward and her eyes are brimming with tears. I lean over and whisper, “I have to go.” I slip down the row and blow past the greeter. I throw open the doors until I am almost outside where there is Air. And it’s then that I hear my sister chasing me. She’s throwing her arms around me, holding me up because I can’t hold myself anymore. I’m still short of breath. I still feel that knife twisting in my gut. And then I see my mom marching out behind us..."

Best Imagery: 
Christena Cleveland with “Searching for Pentecost” 

“…In order to fully embrace the kingdom of God we must turn our backs on Babel and turn toward the Spirit of Pentecost. Only then will we truly live out our calling as the people of God. Paul, Peter, Luke, John, James and the writer of Hebrews repeatedly and emphatically make the same point: the unified church is the vehicle through which the kingdom of God is powerfully communicated to the world. A church that is still operating under the curse of Babel is a disempowered church.”

Best Insight: 
Sarah Bessey with “In which they are overlooked in a sea of hipsters” 

"A few months ago, I requested stories or anecdotes about how it feels to be a woman in the church. I was more than a little overwhelmed by the responses, both the sheer number and the content, but I did my best to respond to each one. Women filled my inbox with stories – beautiful and horrible, hurtful and empowering – about their experiences within the institutions of Christianity. After all my research, I thought I knew what to expect. And sure enough, there were the stories about women feeling marginalized because they are not married or do not/ cannot have children; stories about women who had men turn their backs when they stood up to preach their first sermon; stories about women who stayed in abusive marriages because of their church teachings; a lot of affirming women who found their voice  and healing within church. But one theme emerged that I hadn’t looked for, over and over: Women, in the middle of their lives, who felt invisible and ignored by the church, the same way they feel invisible or ignored in our culture.”

Best Freedom Song (nominated by Jamie Bagley): 
Likoko Eunice at She Loves with “I Want to Be Free” 

“I want to be free. Free to be a child and not sell my body to fend for my siblings. Free to dream and have options, options that allow my dreams to be realized. Free to raise my children in normalcy and stability. Free to have a decent, legal, stable and honorable occupation. Free to tell my family what I do for a living—and not have my life shrouded in secrecy and lies. I want to be free."

Best Sermon: 
Jonathan Martin with “Obscurity” 

Best Analysis: 
Kristen Howerton with “Six Reasons The #FitchTheHomeless Campaign in Problematic” 

“It’s using the homeless a props and inviting others to do the same. This campaign is not social protest. This is a gimmick – an exploitive gimmick – that preys on the homeless as props. It’s cruel and dehumanizing.”

In My Headphones... 

Matrimony: “The Storm & The Eye” 

On the Blog…

Most Popular Post:
Is God’s Presence Limited to Scripture?

Most Popular Comment: 
In response to “Is God’s Presence Limited to Scripture?” Allan wrote: 

“At what point does the Bible become an idol and actually replace the Jesus we worship? This is my biggest frustration with the reformed movement. So many times in discussions people have said, "well I don’t know what you believe but I believe the Bible," as if that is the end of the discussion and the doubts and as if I don't believe the Bible. Reformed Evangelicals seem so scared that someone, somewhere is experiencing our infinite God differently than themselves and they can't seem to think that our God is bigger than our doctrines.”


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

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