Sunday Superlatives 9/28/2014

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Around the Blogosphere…

Most Awe-Inspiring: 
The American Museum of Natural History with “The Known Universe” 

Most Powerful:
Austin Channing with “Justice, Then Reconciliation”

“Reconciliation requires more than a rainbow of skin-tones at the 11:00 o'clock service. Diversity without justice is assimilation. And assimilation makes clear whose culture is the favored one, the good one, the right one, the holy one. If your culture is the standard for rightness, you have found the Imago Dei in others to be insufficient. It is the definition of racism- the assumed superiority of your race, your culture, your way of being. We can discuss who is assimilating into what, how and why, but a pound of diversity without an ounce of justice, is not reconciliation.” 

[If Austin’s blog is not in your reader, you’re missing out. This lady’s been on a roll.]

Most Beautiful: 
Brain Pickings with “Mary Oliver Reads ‘Wild Geese’” 

Most Thoughtful: 
Richard Beck with “Barbara, Stanley and Andrea: Thoughts on Love, Training and Social Psychology at ACU's Summit”

“All told, then, this is how I made sense of the first two days of Summit. Barbara gave me that big-hearted loving vision of Jesus. And Stanley reminded me that this vision is prone to superficiality and sentimentality. Which is extraordinarily dangerous given the social psychological dynamics at work in how we instinctively dehumanize each other. Love is no easy thing in light of the psychological obstacles at work in every human heart. Every human heart. Love takes discipline, training and community.”

Most Heartbreaking: 
Candice Czubernat with “The Church Is Responsible for This” 

“I hold the church personally responsible for any LGBTQ person who walks away from God and Christianity. Every week, I get emails from individuals all across the country who are full of desire to be a part of a church. They want to go on the church-wide mission trip, join the choir, serve in the youth group and attend a small group. These are people who long to serve God, connect with other Christians and be a part of a wider community. Sounds pretty good, right? Here’s the heartbreaking part: they write me because the church won’t let them do those things and they don’t know what to do.”

Most Encouraging:
PBS features Rev. Amy Butler of Riverside Church in Manhattan 

Most Superlative of All Superlatives:
Mr. Bean Digitally Painted Into Historical Portraits 

Glennon Melton with “This is What Brave Means”

“We have to teach our children (and ourselves) that caution is often a sign of courage. That often NO is as brave an answer as YES. Because the little girl who says no in the face of pressure to pierce her ears or jump off a cliff might become a bigger girl who says no in the face of pressure to bong a beer or bully a peer.  Whether her answer is YES OR NO- give me a little girl who goes against the grain, who pleases her own internal voice before pleasing others. Give me that girl so I can call her BRAVE loudly and proudly in front of the whole world. Give me a girl who has the wisdom to listen to her OWN voice and the courage to SPEAK IT OUT LOUD. Even if it disappoints others. Especially then.”

Ellen crashes Matthew McConaughey's Lincoln Commercial

Best Interview: 
Micky Jones interviews Walter Brueggemann at Theology of Ferguson

“The Gospel is a very dangerous idea. We have to see how much of that dangerous idea we can perform in our own lives. There is nothing innocuous or safe about the Gospel. Jesus did not get crucified because he was a nice man.”

Best Feature 
Elizabeth Weil at The New York Times with “The Woman Who Walked 10,000 Miles in Three Years”

“To prepare for the expedition, Marquis spent two years walking or snowshoeing 20 miles a day, wearing 75 pounds. On the trip itself, she carried, among other things, five pairs of underwear, a large pocketknife, wide-spectrum antibiotics, tea-tree oil for massaging her feet, a solar-powered charger, a beacon, a BlackBerry, a satellite phone, Crocs, a compass, a tiny emergency stash of amphetamines (‘that’s the backup backup backup of the backup; in case you lose a foot and you need to get out and not feel a thing’) and pink merino-wool pajamas (‘you put them on and you feel good, you feel gorgeous’).”

Best Point (and Best Use of Cats-With-Bibles Pictures): 
Rob Grayson at iMonk with “The Bible Clearly Says” 

“When we read any text, be it a novel, a newspaper, a blog post or the Bible, there’s a very small amount of information that is known and understood with absolute certainty. On the other hand, there’s a very large amount of information that is open to interpretation. It follows that our understanding of a text is based largely on our personal interpretation of that text.” 

Best Perspective: 
Micha Boyett at Deeper Story with “How Benedictine Spirituality Changed the Way I Mother”

“What has Benedictine spirituality done for my mothering life? It released me from the burden of striving. Somehow in the process of praying with monks, and reciting the Psalms in the morning, and learning to believe that God loved me and my unimpressive, everyday life, I recognized that following Jesus is not about spinning my wheels in place. It’s about living this moment, and all the moments of my life, with love.”

Best Response (nominated by Interfaith Ramadan)
Hind Makki with "7 Questions to Ask Before Asking if Muslims Condemn Terrorism"

Many Muslim leaders, activists, public intellectuals and lay people have condemned ISIS or expressed disgust, fear and dismay over them, since they first arose in Syria, killing and attacking the Muslims with whom they disagree. We’ve continued to express our horror at their actions as they unleashed their terror in Syria, then in Iraq, and now as they try to make inroads in Lebanon. Just because you found out about them only after they started to attack Iraqi Christians this summer, doesn’t mean we weren’t horrified and speaking out about the situation when they first became prominent in Syria years ago. 

Best Analysis:
Zack Hunt with “Let’s Talk Publicly About Matthew 18”

“I know it may sound strange to hear, but Jesus was a critic. That’s what prophets do. They speak out against injustice and sin. I think our problem today, along with a profound uncomfortableness with confrontation, is that we conflate cynicism with criticism. They are not the same. Cynicism stems from a place of bitterness and contempt for others. It has little if any interest in things becoming better. Criticism, at least the sort of prophetic criticisms Jesus made, is born from a desire to see things change and a hope that the world and the people in it can be better.”

On Social Media…

On Facebook, we discussed my struggles with pacifism and why we invite a variety of perspectives here on the blog

Hello, World!


On Tuesday I had the pleasure of taking a film production crew from the Trinity Institute of Trinity Wall Street in New York around my hometown of Dayton, TN to introduce them to people in this community who are doing amazing work among the economically disadvantaged. I learned so much from this experience, and am humbled and challenged by how little I knew about the unique challenges facing families just down the road from me. It’s funny how introducing new people to a familiar place, familiar people, and a familiar organization can suddenly help you see it all from a brand new angle.  A big thanks to the folks of WeCare, Dayton, TN for working so tirelessly on behalf of our neighbors and for taking the time to talk. And check out the Trinity Institute 2015 Conference, Creating Common Good, where the film will be shown. 

On the blog…

Most Popular Post:
“Changing the Culture that Enabled Mark Driscoll: 6 Ways Forward”

Most Popular Comment: 
Karen’s, after “God and the Gay Christian Discussion, Week 2,” which you can read as a “featured comment” at the top of the thread here. 


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

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