Sunday Superlatives 9/21/14

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Around the Blogosphere…

Most Powerful: 
Zak Ebrahim at TED with “I am the son of a terrorist. Here’s how I chose peace.”

[See also NPR’s interview with Ebrahim about his book]

Most Profound: 
Cindy Brandt with “When Prayer Becomes Control”

“In Job, when God begins to respond out of the whirlwind, God shatters human explanations with stunning poetry. We are invited to meet God in a storm, a whirlwind beyond our control. We pray, not to explain, but to discover. We pray to find out how small we really are, to consider where we are in light of the vastness of the seas and the stars. We pray to bravely let all the overwhelming grief and emotion wash over us like waves threatening to pin us down, and we pray from that rock bottom. We pray with poetry and art. We imagine alternative situations not with dogmatic certainty, but with hopeful possibilities. We don’t pray against diseases, tragedies, and pain, we call forth new ways of living in spite of suffering. We pray not to explain the why, but to discover the how.”

Most Informative: 
Scot McKnight with “That Elect Lady”

“Not often observed in the conversation about women in ministry is 2 John, a letter addressed by John (according to traditional scholarship) to a woman who is the leader of a house church…”

Most Inspiring: 
John Blase with “Do One Thing” 

“Do one thing today
that smacks of love…”

Most Relatable: 
Carlos Bovall with “On Becoming 'a Mouthpiece of Satan'”

“So it misses the point to suggest that inerrantists are following Jesus while post-inerrantists follow the devil. We are all trying faithfully to follow Jesus—though we have serious disagreements about how best to do this.”

Most Thoughtful: 
Ragan Sutterfield with “A Lament for Martha: Passenger Pigeons and Psalm 78”

“Looking at Martha, the last of her kind, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of lament and rage, and yet I knew that I too was a part of the culture of craving that is the legacy of her demise and adding to the number of extinct species more rapidly than ever.  The only place I could find comfort was in returning to Psalm 78 and remembering my favorite line, verse 39 where God decides to be merciful to the wayward people: ‘For [God] remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes by and does not return.’”

Most Enlightening: 
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby opens up about doubt

Linda Hargrove with “Christian Race Fatigue” 

“When we Christians get tired of race talk, we go straight to the ‘cumbayah’ platitudes and nothing ‘God’ happens…”

Carol Howard Merritt at Christian Century  with “Lonely Pastors”

“I’m not saying that we can’t be friends with parishioners. I reject that notion. But we can’t always fall apart in front of them. We can’t complain to them that the Treasurer is acting like the church’s money is her money and is trying to block our cost of living increase. We can’t become emotionally dependent on them. So, we have to learn how to make friends outside of church, which is hard when church was always our social outlet.”

Best Response: 
Matt Morris at Deeper Story with “What’s it like to be a gay Christian?” 

“I was so caught off guard. I didn’t realize we were going to be having this talk. I thought we were talking about faith. About my faith. Not my “gay” faith, mind you. My faith-faith. The faith that was re-shaping the landscape of my life.”

Best Question: 
Katelyn Beaty at Christianity Today with “Study: Where Are the Women Leading Evangelical Organizations?”

“The reality is that the very low numbers of women leaders in these sectors—most dominated by women in their staff—suggests that institutional realities make leadership opportunities more available to men than they do to women. We want to help organizations encourage all people to use their gifts to build the kingdom. There are lots of organizations that want to see more women in leadership, and a primary goal of our work is to help them do that.”

Best Idea: 
“A Church Takes Adult Formation into the Community with Prayerbooks and Potables”

Best Analysis: 
Kristen Rosser with “Men Need Respect and Women Need Love – Really?” 

“Love and respect are not gender distinctions supporting male headship.  As used in Ephesians 5, they're not stand-alone concepts that can be lifted out of context and used to make blanket statements about men vs. women.”

Best List: 
Ben Irwin with “My New Reading List” 

Best Series: 
Christena Cleveland at 30 Seconds or Less with “In Remembrance of Me”  - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Best Critique: 
Emily C. Heath with “The ‘Next Big Thing’ for the Progressive Church: Putting the Horse Before the Cart” 

“I often worry that the progressive church has begun to define itself not by our affirmations, but by our repudiations. When compared with our more conservative brothers and sisters we are so quick to say “we aren’t like that”. We proclaim “not all Christians believe that way” with ease. But when it comes to talking about what we DO believe, we often find we lack the words.”

Best Interview: 
Carla Murphy at Colorlines interviews Tressie McMillan Cottom in “My Feminism Starts 300 Years Ago”

“So if I go and tell them something like, “You should Lean In” or, “I think Sheryl Sandberg reinvigorates the policy conversation around the work-life balance,” these women would laugh me out the room. What do you mean work-life balance?! It ain’t no work-life balance. It’s work. All of it is work! Their man is work. Their kids are work. Work is work. They’re not having it. But! Those are also the women whom I think are living feminism in ways that we don’t talk about.”

Best Reporting:
Craig Welch at The Seattle Times with “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Church”

Best Call-to-Action: 
Nicole Baker Fulgham with “Cradle-to-Prison vs. Kindergarten-to-Graduation”

“It’s tough to ignore the glaring racial disparities at the center of America’s prison industrial complex. As an African-American woman, Christian, and mother, it breaks my heart and, at times, even tests the limits of my faith. But I also believe in a faith that can move mountains. When it comes to our nation’s criminal justice system, we’ve got mountains to move.” 

Best Perspective: 
Lillie Lainoff at The Washington Post with “I’m a teenager with an illness, and it’s not glamorous at all” 

“Life does not start when you go to a hospital. If you’re lucky enough to have a non-terminal illness, life continues, in a warped version that includes more pain and obstacles than any young person should have to experience.”

Best Photo Series: 
Alice Proujansky with “What Giving Birth Looks Like Around the World”

On the blog…

Most Popular Post: 
“God and the Gay Christian Discussion, Week 1” 

Most Popular Comment: 
In response to “God and the Gay Christian Discussion, Week 1”, Ready-to-Halt wrote: 

“Re: ‘Elevating your experience above Scripture.’ Ironically, for me and most other LGB Christians I've met, the profound disconnect between our beliefs and our experience drove us to a much deeper and more heartfelt engagement with the Scriptures. That's why most of us can't help rolling our eyes and tuning out when someone trots out one of the "clobber verses"… because we certainly don't need to be reminded what they say. Like Matthew, we've spent uncounted hours agonizing and praying over and studying every single one of them: the exact wording, the translation issues, the cultural and historic context, how they relate to broader biblical principles, how commentators on various sides of the issue read them. Of course we haven't all come to the same conclusions: there are Sides A and B and the whole spectrum of nuances of belief spanning and surrounding them. But I don't think any of us have come to those conclusions casually, as the "easy way out," without profound struggle and soul-searching. It's much easier to read something at face value and assume you understand exactly what's being said when it doesn't apply to you on such a deeply personal level.”


Lately I’ve been appreciating just how much conversation springs up on the Facebook page. This week I asked for you input on how to handle certain types of speaking invitations and was blown away by your thoughtful, encouraging, and diverse responses. Thank you! (Join us if you haven’t already.) 

A Year of Biblical Womanhood ebooks remain just $3.99, which is a great deal. And Searching For Sunday (releases April 2015) is already available for preorder. 

I’ve done a few podcasts recently, including one with The Liturgists and one with Shaun Tabatt. So check those out. 


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

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