Sunday Superlatives 6/16/13

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
Rachel, Dad, Amanda & the single fish we caught that day

Rachel, Dad, Amanda & the single fish we caught that day

Happy Father’s Day! So grateful today for a father whose love for me I’ve never once doubted and whose wise, gentle, and playful spirit makes him the best mentor and friend a girl could ever ask for. Wising all the fathers out there a fun, relaxing day.

Now on to Superlatives!

Around the Blogosphere…

Most Encouraging (nominated by Regina Wade): 
Bruce Wydick at  Christianity Today with “Want to Change the World? Sponsor a Child” 

“'This is … amazing,' was all I could mumble. We tried slicing the data different ways, but each showed significant educational improvements. You could beat this data senseless, and it was incapable of showing anything other than extremely large and statistically significant impacts on educational outcomes for sponsored children."

Most Mesmerizing: 
Wind Map

Most Thought-Provoking: 
John Blase at Deeper Story with “Watching our Language” 

“Speaker after speaker after session after session hammered away at the word disciple. But if memory serves up something even half-correct, I never ever heard the word friend….”

Most Important: 
7 Reasons Why You Might Want to Go For Another Cup of Coffee” 

Most Insightful:
Jonathan Merritt with “What Southern Baptists Must Do to Slow Their Decline”

“If the Southern Baptist Convention wants to regain the credibility, interest, and relevance it has lost, the denomination must learn to put first things first. Namely, sharing the gospel through missions and showing the gospel through acts of service, compassion, and justice.”

Most Informative: 
Melinda Wenner Moyer with “Tantrums: Why Toddlers Freak Out About Everything

“It’s no coincidence that kids start having tantrums around the time that parents start enforcing rules. When you say no, sweetie, you can’t have that butcher knife, your 20-month-old has no idea that you are depriving her of this awesomely shiny contraption for her own safety. “Since it’s the parent, whom they rely on for everything, who is taking it away, it’s perceived as a withdrawal of love, essentially,” says Alicia Lieberman, a professor of Infant Mental Health at the University of California-San Francisco and author of "The Emotional Life of the Toddler." “They don’t know your reasoning. They just know that something they were getting great pleasure from, all of a sudden, you are taking away.” The pain that this causes, Lieberman says, is similar to what we might feel if our spouse betrays or cheats on us.”

Jamie Wright with “Sex Part 2: Why Wait?

“We've made virginity the goal, when it is purity that we should be aiming for; They're not the same thing. Sexual purity is a life long spiritual practice that doesn't begin or end with a single sex act, just as it doesn't begin or end on a wedding night. So when we are asked, "Why wait?", we should have an answer that empowers and prepares people to choose wisely for a lifetime. We should be teaching people something they can carry with them beyond their first roll in the hay.” 

Colin Fisher with “These sunglasses really fill the void where my personality should be” 

“I’ve tried out a lot of props over the years to fill in for my lack of personality. I had a hacky sack for a while in college, but the guys in the quad I played with forgot it was mine and kept it. Then I wore Hawaiian shirts all the time, but people expect you to be really outgoing when you do that. I also caught a lot of colds. I carried a guitar around, but people kept asking me to play something and of course I didn’t know how to play it, and I’d never heard of the songs they asked for…”

“27 Stunning Works of Art You Won’t Believe Are Photographs

"Classical Sculptures Dressed as Hipsters Look Contemporary and Totally Badass” 

Best Advice: 
Susan Cottrell with “To the Parents of Gay Children

“This is not an offense against you. This is not something your child did to you. They did not “choose gayness” to rebel against you, get back at you or make your life miserable. In fact, it really has nothing do with you. You did not cause this; it’s not a failure on your part. As a younger Christian, taught that homosexuality is a sin, I believed that trauma somewhere in someone’s past caused homosexuality, even if they didn’t remember it. To my surprise, God completely shifted my understanding and revealed to me the many people who had a great childhood and are still gay. He also reminded me of the many straight people who had traumatic childhoods, yet remained straight. Your expectations may lay shattered at your feet. But those are your expectations for your child. Quite simply, they may not God’s expectations. Ask God to replace your vision for your child with His.”

Best Perspective:
Brian Zahnd with “The X-Files is Better Than Scooby-Doo

“The Spirit of God is an artisan, not an industrialist.”

Best Analysis: 
James McGrath with “Do you need a PhD to Understand the Bible?” 

“This illustrates the irony of the situation. Ham has access to that statement in the psalm in his own language, and thus can quote it, because of the work of scholars. Yet he quotes it in order to denigrate scholarship!”

Best Coincidence (Or was it predestined? Depends on which Baptist you ask…): 
Wade Burleson with “Be Careful of the Hashtag SBCers

“Barry McCarty, the chief parliamentarian for the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted this morning that many pastors are tweeting about the Southern Baptist Convention using  #SBC2013 instead of the "official" Southern Baptist Convention hashtag of #SBC13. What's the big deal? Well, it seems #SBC2013 is the "official" hashtag for the annual Sports Bra Challenge (SBC) in New York, whose theme is ‘Reveal Yourself.’ I really think God must have a sense of humor….” 

Best Reminder: 
Blake Hart with “Hurting on Father’s Day

“In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, there was a flurry of blog posts about respecting mothers for whom reproduction was difficult, who had lost children, or whose lives just didn’t lead down the motherly path. People were writing, posting, and re-posting on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, and there was a network of people that understood and supported struggling moms. In turn, this week has been complete radio silence. Aside from a few expected posts about how great dad’s are, or what to get dad for his special day, I’ve seen no one talking about those dads for whom this day is less than happy. It’s as if struggling with loss of children or infertility is a uniquely feminine quality. Like moms are moms at conception, whereas dads become dads somewhere between the birthing room and the car ride home.”

Best Response:
Danielle at From Two to One with a four part series on breadwinning wives

“A husband is not less of a man if his wife earns more than he does, just as a wife is not more of a woman if her husband earns more than she does. Kassian’s view turns marriage into a power struggle between men and women, which is deemed God-honoring only when the husband wins.”

Best Reflection: 
Peter Enns with “Tradition is not an anchor to weigh you down, but a sail to move you forward” 

“Expecting the Bible to maintain the type of precisionistic, propositional, consistency–that all of Scripture speaks with one voice as required in some conservative Protestant views of Scripture (i.e., inerrancy, etc.)–fails to embrace Scripture’s own necessary dynamic quality, a quality the New Testament authors were so diligent in expressing. A very new thing happened in the Gospel that previous iterations of God’s word were not able to grasp–namely a messiah who was executed by the Romans rather than defeating them and then raised from the dead. The tradition had to be transformed to account for this.”

Best Biblical Commentary: 
Kristen Rosser on the Samaritan at the Well

“But Jesus does more than just speak to this woman and increase her dignity by asking her help.  He deliberately moves the conversation from the every-day (give me some water) to the spiritual: (the gift I bring is living water).  He converses with her on the same level as he has just a few verses before conversed with Nicodemus-- as an equal.  There is no real difference in his eyes between a scholarly, male Jewish religious leader and an outcast, lowly foreign woman.  When she fails to grasp his first teaching, he asks her to bring her husband-- but the lack of appearance of a husband does not cause him to shut the conversation down.  Jesus allows her to ask him the kind of question a woman in her position would want to ask a prophet."

Best Storytelling:
Aleah Marsden with “Strangers on a Plane”

“We land and I wish my new friend good luck as he sprints to make his connection.  In the airport, in a moment of spiritual clarity, I look up and am startled to realize I am surrounded by the embodiment of thousands of divergent stories milling around me.  I feel overwhelmed, insignificant, powerless to engage the silent status quo, and a deep yearning to speak hope and love to the lonely. With emotion too deep to entirely express, or process, I send up my prayer in an exasperated sigh. And I am reminded, “Ask one person one question.”

Best Tweets: 

Most Thoughtful: 
Marc Cortez with “Three Mistakes We Make When Talking About the Sovereignty of God

“We don’t praise God for evil, we praise God in the midst of evil. Those are critically different responses. And we must avoid the former lest, in our hurry to comfort, we minimize evil and suggest that God is somehow culpable in the very sin he works so actively against.”

Most Heartbreaking:
Sarah Bessey with “In which God has asked too much of us

“What is there to say? What can we do but huddle into rows of chairs, and clutch our hearts, and sob into our shredded balled-up tissues? What can we do but stand around and drink juice, red-eyed and hiccuping? We’ll sign up for a few meals when what we really want to do is lay out on the floor, beside you, and cry until we’re empty because what else? There aren’t old stories to tell, no laughter breaking through the sorrow. This is lamentation. I am fumbling for hope. Is there really comfort in the idea of a baby in the arms of Jesus when all we want is for that baby to be in the arms of his broken mama?”

Most Fascinating: 
RJS at Jesus Creed with “The Garden in Ancient Context

“The garden adjoins God’s residence in the same way that a garden of a palace adjoins the palace. Eden is the source of the waters and the residence of God. The text describes a situation that was well known in the ancient world: a sacred spot featuring a spring with an adjoining well-watered park, stocked with specimens of trees and animals.”

Most Inspiring: 
Kathy Calvin with “Want to Change the World? Let Girls Lead

“The simple truth is that girls around the world know better than anyone what they need to lead safe, healthy, happy, and productive lives. The job for the rest of us is to listen to them and to create a world where every girl has the chance to realize her promise. Why is this task so important? Because a healthy, educated, empowered adolescent girl has the unique potential to break the cycle of poverty.”

Most Challenging: 
Christena Cleveland with “Why Reconciliation Needs Justice

“In pursuit of “reconciliation,” many churches and Christian organizations actively recruit diverse people (and even publicize statistics that suggest that they’re making good headway in this area), but they often do so in ways that bypass justice. On the surface (e.g., in the glossy brochure) everything looks cheery and bright –unrealistically bright, Christena the Social Critic says. People of all backgrounds are smiling and communing together, and all seems to be at peace. “Mission accomplished,” majority-culture people proclaim. But the structural inequalities that caused the division in the first place remain unnoticed and untouched. As a result, people of color often report that their experience at Christian organizations is marked by feelings of disempowerment, loneliness, marginalization, exclusion and misunderstanding — what Miroslav Volf callspsychological homelessness.* They feel out of place, on the edge of the circle, silenced, and disconnected from the life-giving heartbeat of the community.”

Most (Delightfully) Irreverent (nominated by Connie Esther)
Stephanie Drury with “62 Things to Say to Make Your Husband Feel Great” – Part 1 & Part 2  (language warning)

“The way you score weed is such a good complement to me. God knew what I needed when he gave me you.” 

Most Likely to Be a Woman of Valor: 
Ninau Ephraim

Most Likely to Squeeze Christian Feminism Perfectly Into a Beautiful Bloggy Nutshell 
Sarah Bessey at She Loves with “Reclaiming Feminist” 

"I’m a Jesus feminist. I’m a feminist precisely because of my love for Jesus, because following Jesus turned me into a feminist. And if you believe that women are people too, then technically, well, I hate to break it to you, but you are a feminist. After all, at the core, feminism simply means that we champion the dignity, rights, responsibilities, and glories of women as equal in importance to those of men, and we refuse discrimination against women."

On my nightstand….

For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann 

For Life of the World web.jpg

Remember Who You Are by Will Willimon 


On the blog…

Most Popular Post: 
Love Opens the Door: A Plea to American Churches Regarding Gay Scouts” 

Most Popular Comments: 

In response to “Love Opens the Door,” JClyde wrote: 

“I would like to say something from a gay male perspective. Young gay boys need positive male role models (either straight or gay). Scouts was never about exploring sex, it was about becoming a "good person" and discovering yourself and not to exacerbate gender stereotypes and gender norms because those are BS but lets be honest, sometimes gay boys just want to do "normal boy stuff" too . Too often boys who are gay or are perceived to be gay are abandoned by male role models or peers who view them as "weak" or "disgusting". I was lucky to have positive male role models in my life but so many do not. So much talk about the "degenerate gay lifestyle" and nothing about giving kids positive and healthy activities to allow them to grow into healthy fully formed adults. If you want to push us to the fringes of society then you lose the right to complain about us when we become radicalized, shirtless and sex addicted. You want us to stop dancing half naked in the streets during pride...then how about offering us an marching in a scouting uniform. I cant think of anything that would make a gay kid more proud than to belong to an organization that taught him how to be a better man.”

In response to “Ask N.T. Wright….Response,” Brad Anderson wrote: 

“I appreciate the fact that throughout these responses, Wright pushes back against any sort of faction-making, line-drawing, or other attempts to essentially force scripture to obey our notions of what is theologically proper."

In response to R.A. Sovilla’s guest post, “In Sickness and in Health: Coping with Endometriosis in Marriage and in the Church,” Emilie wrote: 

“Wow, I'm laying on my couch, waiting for the pain to go down enough to head out, mourning over our adoption case worker leaving and having to tell a new one about my endo AND waiting for my doctor to call so we can discuss a horrible set of options, and THIS pops up on my phone. Not from my endo blogs, but on Rachel's. It made me cry and feel so grateful to be reminded that I'm not alone. Someone else understands pain, loneliness, guilt, and infertility. Someone else has had surgeries that don't work how they "should." Someone else cares enough to invite guest bloggers on board to tell a painful story. Thanks to everyone for making my morning a little less painful.”


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


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