Sunday Superlatives 8/19/2012

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Around the Blogosphere...

Most Thought-Provoking:
Richard Beck with “Your God is Too Big” 

“I think too much focus on God's awesomeness leaves us ill-equipped to see God's smallness in the world. Perhaps we'd be better able to transition from worship to mission if we started focusing on God's smallness rather than on God's bigness. Isn't it one of the purposes of worship to help us see aright? To see God more clearly? If so, perhaps we need to start worshiping God's smallness. Our God has gotten too big."

Most Relatable: 
Wendy Molyneux at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency with “Hello stranger on the street, could you please tell me how to take care of my baby

“Oh, hello, person I have never met before! I am so glad you ran up to me on this street where I am walking with my baby. You did not scare me at all with your very loud voice and the way you grabbed my arm! In fact, I am super relieved because I have a series of questions about my baby that I hope you can answer, and I am going to ask them because I know you would never ever offer me unsolicited advice."

Most Ironic:
NPR with “Leader of Anti-Semitic Party in Hungary Discovers He’s Jewish

Most Vulnerable: 
Elora Ramirez at Deeper Story with “My Busted Anger

Most Convicting (nominate by Bob Keeley
Paul Vander Klay at Think Christian with “Two shootings, two responses: Which seems more Christian?

“An assignment: Compare and contrast the responsefrom the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group, to the attempted assault on their offices with the response of a Sikh temple to the killings that took place in their house of worship. The first has included a declaration from some Christians that the figurative culture war has gone literal. The Sikhs, meanwhile, have exhibited a turning of the cheek...There is a subtle but clear thread in the Bible of nonbelievers showing up the righteousness of God's people.”

Most Eye-Opening (nominated by Suzannah Paul): 
Marisa Carroll with “What the Affordable Care Act Means for Transgender People

“While many Americans find a trip to the doctor unpleasant, the National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that one in four trans people has been verbally harassed at a doctor’s office or hospital, and a small but striking 2 percent have been physically assaulted while attempting to receive medical care. 'Trans people have a lot at stake when they go to the doctor,' says Dru Levasseur, a transgender rights attorney at Lambda Legal, where a transphobic physician or staff person can make an already vulnerable experience unbearable. 'Many trans people we see end up waiting and going to the emergency room instead of going to a doctor’s office because they are so traumatized by providers who aren’t respectful.' Others will drive for hours on end to reach a clinic they can trust."

Most Practical:
Carl Richards at the New York Times with “You probably have too much stuff

“When we hold on to stuff we no longer want or use, it does indeed cost us something more, if only in the time spent organizing and contemplating them. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about getting rid of that tie (for instance), and every time I went to choose a shirt for the day, I would think about the few that no longer fit.”

Most Moving (nominated by Jen LeBow):
Emily Wierenga with  "In which I sing a lullaby with my dad" 

"I don't blame him anymore...Instead, we sing together."

Funniest (nominated by Sarah Askins): 
30 Abbey

Wisest (nominated by Not Joe
Rob Goodman with “The Bible is Not a Diet Plan

“Just as we can shop or eat ethically, we can read ethically. And selfish reading is training for selfish action, because it teaches us to use others as means to our own ends. For all his good works, Warren is also using his huge authority to promote a culture of selfishness—and he is in good company among America’s most popular religious leaders. I’ve focused on his abuse of Daniel not because it’s unique, but because it’s typical of a dominant strand of thought in American religious life.”

"Jodie Foster blasts Kristen Stewart—Robert Pattinson Break-Up Spectacle” - Huffington Post

“My mother had a saying that she doled out after every small injustice, every heartbreak, every moment of abject suffering. 'This too shall pass.' God, I hated that phrase. It always seemed so banal and out of touch, like she was telling me my pain was irrelevant. Now it just seems quaint, but oddly true … Eventually this all passes. The public horrors of today eventually blow away. And, yes, you are changed by the awful wake of reckoning they leave behind. You trust less. You calculate your steps. You survive. Hopefully in the process you don’t lose your ability to throw your arms in the air again and spin in wild abandon. That is the ultimate F.U. and—finally—the most beautiful survival tool of all. Don’t let them take that away from you.”

Best Analysis: 
Stephen Prothero at CNN with “Christianity and Ayn Rand’s Philosophy are Two Distinct Religions” 

“For years, Ryan and other conservative Republicans have been trying to have their Jesus Christ and their Ayn Rand,  too. But the two clash at least as much as an Obama/Ryan ticket.”

Best Metaphor: 
Jen LeBow with “Mercy is My New Little Black Dress

“Examples like those ladies are why I want mercy to be my new Little Black Dress.  I want to clothe myself in mercy so that it just blends in, no matter where I am."

Best Imagery (nominated by Amy Lepine Peterson): 
Hillary Sherratt with “When What is Lost is Found

“I’m trembling, trying to remember what I kept in here. Is this where I put the note from my best friend, the one she hid in between stones in a random archway in Arles, France, that I found a year later using only a piece of Moleskin notebook paper with scribbled directions? Is this where I kept the locket I lost in third grade, and found again when I left elementary school? Is this where I hid my fearless, brave self?”

Best Response: 
Russell Moore with “Pat Robertson vs. The Spirit of Adoption

“I say to my non-Christian friends and neighbors, if you want to see the gospel of Christ, the gospel that has energized this church for two thousand years, turn off the television. The grinning cartoon characters who claim to speak for Christ don’t speak for him. Find the followers who do what Jesus did. Find the people who risk their lives to carry a beaten stranger to safety. Find the houses opened to unwed mothers and their babies in crisis. Find the men who are man enough to be a father to troubled children of multiple ethnicity and backgrounds. And find a Sunday School class filled with children with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome. Find a place where no one considers them “weird” or “defective,” but where they joyfully sing, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.” That might not have the polish of television talk-show theme music, but that’s the sound of bloody cross gospel.”

Best Conversation-Starter: 
Barna Group with “Christian Women Today, Part 1 of 4: What Women Think of Faith, Leadership and Their Role in the Church

“Broadly speaking, the research depicts two types of experiences among Christian women. The first represents the majority of Christian women. Most express a great deal of satisfaction with the church they attend when it comes to leadership opportunities. Three quarters say they are making the most of their gifts and potential (73%) and a similar proportion feel they are doing meaningful ministry (72%). More than half say they have substantial influence in their church (59%) and a slight majority expect their influence to increase (55%).

Yet, the study also shows another experience for many other women. These women are frustrated by their lack of opportunities at church and feel misunderstood and undervalued by their church leaders. About three out of 10 churchgoing women (31%) say they are resigned to low expectations when it comes to church. One fifth feel under-utilized (20%). One sixth say their opportunities at church are limited by their gender (16%). Roughly one out of every eight women feel under-appreciated by their church (13%) and one out of nine believe they are taken for granted (11%). Although these represent small percentages, given that about 70 million Americans qualify as churched adult women, this amounts to millions of women in the U.S. today who feel discouraged by their experiences in churches.”

Best Dialog: 
David Kinnaman and Jim Henderson discuss the recent Barna research regarding women in the church

Best Collaboration:
Lisa-Jo Baker and Readers with “50 tips for new moms

“Celebrate the small victories. Have they been fed? Put to bed? Are they clothed at all? {Dirty, clean, matching…it doesn’t matter.} Are they chattering, smiling, maybe even singing? If the answer is yes to any of these, you’ve done something right.”

Best Story:
Kristin Lucas with “Our God-Wild Summer

“And now that he is gone, we miss him. It is so tempting for us--who fell in love with him--to question the experience. To ask God why he would bring such a precious one as Ilya here only to take him right back. It hurts. And it is so much harder knowing that he does not go back to a loving family like he deserves, but to a poor, state-run institution. His future is uncertain and he will face so many obstacles in the next few years that it is even hard to think about....But I have learned this, if nothing else. God knows him. God knows him deeply. God knew that he would be in a certain state on a certain highway on a certain day and time, and God arranged it so that his sisters would be there too. And if God knew that and looked after it, He knows all the other things there are to know also. What his future holds. What he needs. How to take care of him.”

Best Point: 
Morgan Guyton with “Tim Keller and the False Binary of Love and Holiness

“Casting God’s love and holiness as binary terms that are defined against each other does not do justice to how they are described Biblically. God’s holiness is so much more than just a hatred of sin, just like God’s love is so much more than an unconditional acceptance of sinners. God hates our sin because He loves us. Part of God’s holiness is His radical hospitality towards us regardless of our sinfulness. Jesus doesn’t protect us from God’s holiness on the cross; Jesus expresses God’s holiness on the cross. God is holy because He takes it upon Himself to provide the sacrifice that can restore us to holiness.”

Best for the Soul: 
Sarah Bessey at She Loves with “Start with Sabbath” 

“Start with Sabbath. With the practice of intentional rest, once a week, one day when you radically care for your soul by stepping back from the expectations–external and internal–a day to pull over to the side of the highway, and go for a walk in the meadow you’re always driving by. Start there. You are allowed to take a day off from it all, to rest and renew, to worship, to press pause.”

On the blog...

Most Popular Post:
"Church Stories: A Plea to Engage in Racial Reconciliation (by Grace Biskie)"

“Please consider this an invitation for you to love me, your neighbor. To disengage is to fail to love.”

Most Popular Comment:  
In response to “Celebrating our Somersaults,” Janet wrote:

“I think your quote: “Holy crap! Look at what this human being just did! She BROUGHT A FREAKING LIFE INTO THE WORLD...THROUGH HER VAGINA!” should become part of our liturgy when we do baby dedications.”

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

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