Sunday Superlatives 7/20/2014

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Around the Web…

Most Likely to Kick Ass:
Kacy Catanzaro--the first woman in America Ninja Warrior history to qualify for Mt. Midoriyama

Most Practical (and Sacramental): 
Cody C. Delistraty at The Atlantic with “The Importance of Eating Together” 

“The dinner table can act as a unifier, a place of community. Sharing a meal is an excuse to catch up and talk, one of the few times where people are happy to put aside their work and take time out of their day. After all, it is rare that we Americans grant ourselves pleasure over productivity… In many countries, mealtime is treated as sacred. In France, for instance, while it is acceptable to eat by oneself, one should never rush a meal. A frenzied salad muncher on the métro invites dirty glares, and employees are given at least an hour for lunch. In many Mexican cities, townspeople will eat together with friends and family in central areas like parks or town squares. In Cambodia, villagers spread out colorful mats and bring food to share with loved ones like a potluck.”

Most Thoughtful: 
Drew Hart with “’Around the Way’ Ethics: Have you felt the clash of dominant cultural sensibilities?” 

“Whether living water for the woman at the well, a word of liberation to an oppressed people, or utilizing shepherd language to communities that understood about grazing sheep, Jesus’ engagement was ‘fluent’ and adaptable because of his willingness to occupy marginal spaces and their modes of being.”

Most Powerful: 
Christena Cleveland with “Rethinking Communion” 

“If communion is supposed to represent the cross-cultural solidarity of the cross, then why do we practice it within the not-so-cross-cultural safety of our homogenous church groups? If the cross was costly and self-sacrificial, then why do we commemorate it in such a painless and convenient way?”

Most Helpful:
Marg Mowczko with  “Egalitarian Books and Resources on Marriage” 

Most Profound (nominated by Joanna Dobson):
Richard Beck with “Hebel, Grace and the Art of Andy Goldsworthy – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3” 

“When I encountered Goldsworthy's work my first thought was this: That is what the Christan life should be like. This artform is the perfect metaphor for how we should move and act in the world. Here's what I mean. Today each of us will wander out into the world. And around us we'll find all sorts people and all sorts of situations. It's a fractal, messy, and chaotic world out there. And it's not all bad. There are beautiful things, like flowers, out there. But there is also sadness and brokenness, conflict and deadness. And what we'll try to do today (or what we should be doing today) is very similar to what Goldsworthy does. We will try, given what we find out there, to bring grace and beauty into the world.”

Most Heartbreaking: 
James Guay at TIME with “My Hellish Youth in Gay Conversation Therapy and How I Got Out” 

“I was 9 years old when I recognized my attractions for the same gender. Praying to God every night and pleading with Him to take my feelings away didn’t work. Practically living, eating and breathing the Bible didn’t work. I tried repressing and denying who I was—but nothing changed inside of me. I was taught by my pastors, parents and peers to hate myself—and that worked.”

Most Colorful: 
Chris Heller at The Atlantic with “A colorful time lapse of the world’s largest balloon festival”

Most Eye-Opening:
Sonia Nazario with “The Children of the Drug Wars: A Refugee Crisis, Not an Immigration Crisis” 

“The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently interviewed 404 children who had arrived in the United States from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico; 58 percent said their primary reason for leaving was violence. (A similar survey in 2006, of Central American children coming into Mexico, found that only 13 percent were fleeing violence.) They aren’t just going to the United States: Less conflicted countries in Central America had a 712 percent increase in asylum claims between 2008 and 2013. ‘If a house is burning, people will jump out the window,’ says Michelle Brané, director of the migrant rights and justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

Most Intriguing (nominated by Chris Baca): 
Brian Zahnd with “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Eucharist”

“Instead of a battlefield where the four horsemen of the Apocalypse ride in vicious repetition, Jesus calls the world to a table where he offers humanity his flesh and blood.”

Joy Bennett with “Independence: The False Gospel Destroying American Christianity”

“The false gospel of independence teaches that needing or requesting help is either a symptom of some other sin or a sinful attitude in and of itself.”

Pets Interrupting Yoga

Best Lecture: 
Rev. Sunitha Mortha with “Culture and Accompaniment” at the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod Assembly (this is really, really good)

Best Perspective: 
April Fiet with “The Reality of Rural Poverty”

“…Though urban ministry and rural ministry have a lot in common, rural ministry faces poverty challenges that are nearly insurmountable. Because there are no large employers in our community, and because most jobs are a sizable distance away, someone looking for a job not only needs the skills for the job, but also reliable transportation that can handle driving an hour each way to work every day. People with children also need access to affordable and reliable childcare options. And with no community agencies to help with these things, people who are struggling have nearly no options...”

Best Idea: 
Conor Friedersdorf with “The Case for Subversive Monuments in Washington, D.C.” 

Best Series (nominated by Matt Saler): 
Rob Bell with “What Is the Bible?” 

Best Reflection: 
Shawn Smucker with “Johnny Cash Singing at St. James Episcopal” 

“I realize that accepting one another as we are is one of the most profound things we can do as humans and as Christians. I know how it made me feel when Father David didn’t shame me in any way for not controlling my children during communion, when I wasn’t made to feel like an outsider at his church. I, an Evangelical, was accepted and loved there. That means a lot.”

Best Question: 
Fred Clark with “Whatever happened to the clobber texts for slavery?” 

“A century and a half later, it might seem like Barnes’ argument was vindicated. Apart from the lunatic fringes, you won’t find any credible American theologian, pastor or biblical scholar who would say that the Bible ought to be cited in defense of slavery. Seek out the most belligerent “defenders of the authority of scripture” and “inerrancy” and you won’t find any dispute over this. Everyone agrees that citing the Bible to defend slavery would be wrong. Everyone agrees that slavery itself was wrong. And everyone agrees that the Bible-quoting defenders of slavery back in Barnes’ day must have been wrong. Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and all those other still-influential “eloquent Divines” must have been, somehow, wrong. But that doesn’t mean that everyone agrees how they were wrong, or why they were wrong. That’s not something we like to talk about.”

Best Sentence: 
Jonathan Merritt in “What the Pope’s popularity says about American culture” with— 

“Most people dislike Christian jerks because they are jerks, not because they are Christian.” 



It was such a delight to participate in the TOKENS show, hosted by Lee Camp, which came right here to my hometown of Dayton, Tennessee and the famous Rhea County Courthouse this week.

The evening was filled with fantastic music, comedy, and interviews, and I had the chance to meet several of you before and after the show.

Best of all, Dan and I enjoyed some amazing hang-out time with Richard Beck and his wife Jana. (Richard is in fact wearing a t-shirt in this picture. It’s just flesh-toned…at least that’s what we’re telling everyone.)

On the Blog…

Most Popular Post Last Week (because I forgot): 
“Five Ways Progressive Mainline Churches Can Welcome Disenfranchised Evangelicals” 

Most Popular Post This Week: 
“Why I Use Birth Control: 11 Women Speak Up” 

Most Popular Comment (with 230 “likes”!): 
In response to “Why I Use Birth Control…” The Pink Superhero wrote:  

"These are great stories, though I would have loved to see a few more featured in the line of 'I use birth control because I want to, I can, and it's none of your business.' Women don't need to 'earn'  the right to use birth control through medical complications.

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

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