Sunday Superlatives 5/25/2014

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
'Spring' photo (c) 2014, Moyan Brenn - license:

Note: Sorry I haven’t been taking nominations recently. You always have so many good ones, it takes forever to read through them! I’ll get back to that once I finish writing this book and have a bit more reading time. 


Best Magazine Cover (maybe ever):
Billy Corgan poses for Paws Chicago  

Best Title (followed by some great insights) 
Caryn Rivadeneira with “TULIP-Fueled Ecstasies and other Reformed Defenses of Mysticism” 

“So when Challies claims we cannot experience or know God outside of Scripture and expresses hostility toward not only St. Teresa but all mystics and mysticism, and when he does this in the name of Reformed theology, I gotta pipe up. I have to because I am Reformed–as dyed in the wool as I am washed in the Blood–and I am a mystic. Or, at least, mystically inclined.” 

Best Perspective: 
Lesley Miller with “The Last Day I Walked Away”

“When I think back to that muggy May day in China, and a mama trying so desperately to provide for her child, I no longer experience waves of regret. Instead, I remember that day as the last time I kept walking.”

Best Conversation-Starter
Our friend Danielle Mayfield with the Christianity Today COVER STORY, “Why I gave up alcohol” 

“With every picture, tweet, and event that centers on alcohol, I wonder: Isn't anyone friends with alcoholics?”

Best Analysis:
Scott Lencke with “Fear-Driven Biblical Interpretation” 

“This approach – the italicized question/statement above – is a fallacious argument properly known as the slippery slope. If you believe A, then you’ll believe B. Or, more practically in this regard, if you believe A, then you’ll believe H (something way down the line that is essential to the Christian faith, like Christ’s resurrection). The problem is that slippery slopes can’t be proven. They can be undergirded anecdotally, encompassing stories of folk who have denied the literal resurrection of Jesus (moving from point A to, say, point H). But then you’ve got plenty of theologians, pastors and Christians-in-general that are willing to consider a non-literal, historical journalistic reporting for the early chapters of Genesis or Jonah or the exodus or Job and still truly believe that Jesus, the Son of God, was raised from the dead by the power of God.” 

Best Interview: 
By Their Strange Fruit interviews IVP’s Al Hsu on Christian Publishing and People of Color 

“…That necessarily drives publishers toward who’s got platform, which authors bring a constituency, whether it’s a megachurch or a denominational, or an organizational buy-in of some sort or another. And that can be a challenge for ethnic minority authors that may not have those networks or resources to bring to the table.”

Kathy Khang at Her.Meneutics with “We Are Not Generic” 

“The Nepali woman grieving the loss of someone close to her is a universal story of loss, but her image is not generic. She is created in God's image (Gen. 1:27), and she is known uniquely. The girl staring right at the camera with a single tear flowing out of her left eye was meant to communicate hope to an audience accustomed mostly to stories of loss and hopelessness in Africa, but her image is not generic. It cannot stand in proxy of just any other girl, especially those who were kidnapped and are missing. The girl and the more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls are also created in God's image, and God knows them not as a generic African girl but by name.”

A stranger picks up the tab….

Nate Pyle with “Into the Wilderness”

“If I am being honest, nothing has shaken my faith – not in Jesus, the cross, or the resurrection, but in my chosen theological system – like this experience. I am still reeling from it. Still trying to figure out how God’s goodness and sovereignty works out in situations where we are so clearly pressed under the weight of a world not as it should be. I spoke my peace in the wilderness, and then stood listening to the silence. No, in that moment it didn’t all begin to make sense. No, I do not know why God did not guide that child into the womb. God did not speak in a way that made me understand the purpose behind our experience. There is no bow tied on the end of this story to make it pretty.”

Most Eye-Opening 
(This is a long but worthwhile read. If you can get your hands on a hard copy, it will be even better)
Ta-Nehisi Coates with “The Case for Reparations”

“Ross had tried to get a legitimate mortgage in another neighborhood, but was told by a loan officer that there was no financing available. The truth was that there was no financing for people like Clyde Ross. From the 1930s through the 1960s, black people across the country were largely cut out of the legitimate home-mortgage market through means both legal and extralegal. Chicago whites employed every measure, from ‘restrictive covenants’ to bombings, to keep their neighborhoods segregated.”

See also: 
Ta-Nehisi Coates with “The Case for Reparations: An Intellectual Autopsy” and NPR with “How to Tell if Someone’s Actually Read the Ta-Nehisi Coates Essay” 

Most Beautiful:
Glennon Melton with “Dolphins Are Church”

“After the dolphins swam out of our sight- Tish squinted up at me and said, ‘Mom,  God is FLIRTING with us today!’ Oh, yes. YES. Please hold onto that truth, baby. Please, please continue to feel yourself so madly and deeply loved by the God of the Universe that you experience everything beautiful and wonderful as a personal gift from The One determined to win you.” 

Most Heartbreaking (and yet also relatable)  
Samantha Eyler with “Why I Had to Lose My Religion Before I Could Support Gender Equality” 

“So moderate people of faith, those of you who can endure the cognitive dissonance of espousing progressive politics while gleaning support in religious traditions that are thousands of years old -- I ask you to please speak up. There are many of us who need to hear your voices much more loudly.” 

Another de-conversion story (language warning) hit on similar themes: Jessica Misener with “Why I Miss Being a Born-Again Christian” 

Most Practical: 
Boz Tchividjian with “7 ways to welcome abuse survivors in our churches”

“We serve survivors best when we are their biggest advocates. Those who have been abused should find their greatest and most vocal supporters inside the church. Shaming, silencing, and judging have no home in a community that loves and advocates on behalf of abuse victims. Unfortunately, there are still many within the walls of the church that don’t see it that way. That is where we step in and speak up. We speak up for these amazing survivors, constantly encouraging them with our words and actions to hold their heads up high and walk away from shame and silence. We speak up because it is these unsung heroes who so often teach us, inspire us, and reflect Jesus. We speak up because Jesus speaks up for all of us. We speak up because it is our privilege.” 

Most Profound: 
Michael Wiltshire with “Christus Paradox: The Idolatry of Language & the Balance of Metaphors”

“According to the ancient Israelites, God is not limited to any metaphor, but incorporates each of them. One might say God is neither this nor that metaphor, but is episodically each metaphor while transcending them all. Therefore, while it is certainly not idolatrous to say that God is King, to say that he is King only (or King primarily) gets one into trouble. Walter Brueggemann brilliantly compacts the complexity of this idea into a dense but enlightening few sentences in his book Old Testament Theology: ‘The rich field of metaphors utilized [in the Old Testament] must be taken altogether without being homogenized. The consequence is a self-correcting and deconstructive dynamism that precludes the fixity of a stable image or the finality of any formulation.’”

Most Likely to Say Everything You’re Thinking: 
Peter Enns with “Tullian Tchividjian, The Gospel Coalition, and a (rather obvious) theology problem” 

“’Theology is not to blame here.’ Yes it is Tullian. Yes it most definitely is. On two related levels. First, the resurgence of Reformed theology in American evangelicalism and fundamentalism–commonly referred to as the Neo-Reformed movement–is a belligerent movement. This is why it exists–to correct others, not to turn the spotlight inward. There are exceptions within, of course, and I am by no means suggesting everyone who sees him or herself as part of this movement exhibits this tendency. But the “system” is set up to fight. It’s what they do. So don’t be shocked, Tullian, if it happens to you. Yesterday’s heroes can quickly become tomorrow’s vanquished foes. When “contending for the gospel” is your center of gravity, there’s always a foe. There has to be.”

Most Thought-Provoking (as always): 
Richard Beck with “Wearing a Crucifix” and “Search Term Friday: The Prayer of Jabez Made Me Cry” 

“I believe God is found among the victims of the world. God is hanging on crosses all over the world.  And so I wear a crucifix to remind me, to help me see.” 

Most Informative: 
Maria Konnikova at the New Yorker with “I Don’t Want to be Right”

“Normally, self-affirmation is reserved for instances in which identity is threatened in direct ways: race, gender, age, weight, and the like. Here, Nyhan decided to apply it in an unrelated context: Could recalling a time when you felt good about yourself make you more broad-minded about highly politicized issues, like the Iraq surge or global warming? As it turns out, it would. On all issues, attitudes became more accurate with self-affirmation, and remained just as inaccurate without. That effect held even when no additional information was presented—that is, when people were simply asked the same questions twice, before and after the self-affirmation.” 

On my nightstand…

Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure by J.R. Briggs

This is a really important, honest, and eye-opening book, set to release in July. A must-read for anyone in ministry, but also an important perspective for laypeople to encounter. Will be writing more about this in the future. 

On the Blog…

Most Popular Post:
“What is Heresy? An Interview with Justin Holcomb”

Most Popular Comment: 
In response to “Facebook sabotage?” 

“For some guys, getting "shut down by the MAN / WOMAN / GUBMINT is kind of a wet dream. It's like the preachers who insist that the police are going to "come for them any day now for preaching the truth about homosexuals." They would actually die happy they got arrested behind the pulpit on a Sunday morning and dragged out the door like martyrs. It would confirm their deeply held belief that they are hardcore heroes of their own epic story. That being said, I hope it was coding and not a reader who flagged it." 


Don’t forget…

Find me on Facebook and Twitter. And check out my books: Faith Unraveled and A Year of Biblical Womanhood. 


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

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