Sunday Superlatives 5/4/14

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
'Spring Flowers' photo (c) 2006, Abaconda Management Group - license:

With my speaking schedule slowing down and my next book almost finished, I’ll finally be back to regular blogging over the next few weeks, and I can’t wait.  After some reflection and re-prioritizing, I feel like I have a better sense of what I’m called and gifted to do online and with this community. Thank you so much for giving me the space to breathe and think a little more deeply about that. I’m so grateful. 


Around the Web…

The Honest Toddler with “Open Letter to the Child I Hit at the Park” 

“And then I saw you. Blue and white pinstripe overalls. Like a convict. Your ensemble was fittingly poetic. Foreshadowing, brought to you by Carters. You sat, legs splayed in the sandbox holding my shovel.” 

Heather Kopp with “The Promise of Shared Brokenness” 

“The particular brand of love and loyalty that seemed to flow so easily here [in recovery meetings] wasn’t like anything I’d ever experienced, inside or outside of church. But how could this be? How could a bunch of addicts and alcoholics manage to succeed at creating the kind of intimate fellowship so many of my Christian groups had tried to achieve and failed? Many months would pass before I understood that people bond more deeply over shared brokenness than they do over shared beliefs.”

Emily Maynard with “God Has  a Body” 

“God has a body, they said. God walked on the earth and blew dust out of his nose and laughed with his friends. God took on human flesh so we, human flesh, could be with God. God had to become a body, they said. And I believed it. I saw the pictures, growing up; I saw the pictures of God on flannel graphs and coloring pages and in the Jesus storybooks and on TV. I liked God. God had a body, but it wasn’t a body like mine. It wasn’t a body with breasts that grew, with hips that expanded, with a uterus that bled regularly, with cramps that made him throw up every month. It wasn’t a body that was warned against, and called a stumbling block.” 

This new song/video from Jasmine Thompson 

Best Analysis:
Jared Keller at Pacific Standard with “No, the Internet is Not Killing Religion in America” 

“The Internet is just another tool, not some aggregated monster-like state that graced the front of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, crushing churches across the English countryside. It doesn’t make you do anything: It amplifies your best and worst traits, all of which are shaped by your childhood, your socioeconomic status, and your education level, among other things.”

Best List: 
Heart & Minds with “9 Books on Sustainable Living, Good Eating, Local Churches, and Living Gently on the Land” 

Best Story: 
Cheryl M. Lawrence with “A Good Death

“We asked ourselves: What would it mean for a church to lose its life for the sake of the gospel? What would it mean for a whole church to take up a cross and follow our crucified Savior?” 

Best Sermon:
David Henson with “The Hope in Our Wounds” 

“Ours is a faith that embraces wounds. It’s not that it celebrates pain or relishes in it. Nor does our faith ask us to seek out pain or suffering, as if our redemption is tied up with how miserable we can be for Christ. But our faith refuses to gloss over our woundedness with hollow positive thinking. It refuses to ignore that basic tenet of human life. We will hurt.” 

Best Response: 
Lisa Sharon Harper with “Donald Sterling: Façade, Fiction, and Forgiveness” 

“The fictitious narrative is this: People of color are either beasts or burden, only able to survive because of the benevolent charity of the whites who feed them, house them, and give them "things to do." These are the facts, hidden by the façade and the fiction: For every one Magic Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, or Eva Longoria, there are millions of blacks, Latinos, and others who have been barred from adequate housing, equal education, and affordable health care. They have suffered the effects of legislation that lowered the bar of criminality and targeted them to fill privatized prisons. Sterling's alleged comments are only a drop in the bucket. They only revealed the heresy, the connection between the façade, the fiction, and the facts.” 

Best Infographic: 

Nielsen TOPTEN with “Just How Long is a TV Marathon?”

Best Dialog: 
Justin Lee and Ron Belgau at Seattle Pacific University with “Two Views on Christian Sexual Morality” 

Best Conversation-Starter: 
Sharon Hodde Miller with “My Kid is Not My Calling”

“So, let's stop throwing around "calling" when we really mean "life stage" or "career." It's not that calling cannot align with these things, but if we carelessly slap "calling" on any and every circumstance, we risk overlooking the unique purposes written into our beings. Christians' use of the word "calling" might be arbitrary, but God's call is anything but. Not all of us are called to motherhood, but all of us are called to something.”

Best Reflection: 
Brené Brown and Work of the People with “Jesus Wept”

“I thought faith would say, I’ll take away the pain and discomfort, but what it ended up saying was, I’ll sit with you in it.” 

Most Heartbreaking: 
“After Two Weeks, 234 Abducted Nigerian Schoolgirls Are Still Missing”

Most Pastoral: 
Josh Graves at Jesus Creed with “The Place in the Soul for Doubt”

“My point is to simply say that when you, the preacher or bishop or small group leader, find yourself in that moment in which someone bares their doubtful soul, recognize the sacredness of what’s happening in your very midst. You’ve been invited into one of the most important parts of a person’s soul. A place in the soul that is deeper than education, family bonds, 401k trends, and exclusive summer travel plans. You are wading  in the deepest mystery of what gifts a person to choose or not choose the path of faith.” 

Most Helpful: 
Gail Wallace at The Junia Project with “1 Timothy 2:12: Ten Talking Points”

“If we really want people to reconsider their position on this ‘proof text bomb’ let’s figure out how to have this discussion in a more meaningful way.” 

Most Powerful: 
Austin Channing Brown with “The Impossible” 

“I believe in the death of injustice, in the life of hope, grace, mercy, and love. I believe in the impossible. I believe there can be healing where there is violence. I believe reconciliation is possible- hearts can be moved, minds can be changed, politics broken. I believe that justice can roll down like a river and we can all taste its sweetness. I believe in the impossible. I believe we can treat people- all people- with dignity; we can recognize their humanity; recognize the divine within. I believe we can do more. Create more jobs. Build more homes. Turn food deserts into promiseland harvests. Subvert racial and gender hierarchies. Consider others more important than ourselves. Slay preferences that lead to exclusion. Set captives free. Welcome the stranger. I believe in impossible things. I believe in death because I believe in life. I believe in the death of -isms. I believe in the life of love. I believe humanity can change because I believe in the impossible.” 

Most Encouraging: 
Ann Voskamp with “Why Your Soul Needs You To Make Time to be Creative: 7 Keys” 

“Creativity, it’s good theology; it’s what God did in the beginning.”

Most Thoughtful: 
James Hoskins at Christ and Pop Culture with “God is Not Dead and the Angry Professor: That Was Not My Experience” 

“…Not once did my philosophy professors attack my faith or treat me unfairly. In fact, I found all of them to be extremely kind, patient, and generous. Several of them, including the Nietzsche expert, wrote me glowing letters of recommendation for grad school that, I’m certain, included compliments I didn’t fully deserve. I felt respected, even mentored, by them. And all of this despite the fact that they passionately disagreed with my beliefs. That’s not to say they never challenged my faith. They did. But it was for a really good reason: it was their job.”

Most Relatable: 
Benjamin Moberg with “Hymnals and the Way of Faith”

“…Maybe it’s not about fitting back into something. Maybe it’s about being aware of the new shape of my faith. I’ve grown and changed and it’s different now, maybe better. In this season, I can’t hear the electric zest of an era that is still too raw, that left me high and dry and bitter and cold. Maybe I can only be with the old songs. The simple ones. I can lean into the sturdiness of lyrics long-lived.”

Most Enlightening: 
Ebony Adedayo with  “Break Every Chain: The Music I Hear on the Radio”

“…The message that they keep sending is that the Christian experience doesn’t belong to someone who looks like me. It reinforces the sad reality that black artists, preachers, teachers, pastors, etc, will hardly ever be able to use their voice in the ‘mainstream’ Christian arena in the U.S. without being silenced, marginalized or exploited.” 

On my nightstand…

Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler 

Sermon on the Mount (Story of God Commentary) by Scot McKnight and Tremper Longman III

So, what caught your eye online this week? What’s happening on your blog? 
Read any good books lately? 

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