Sunday Superlatives 9/9/2012

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Best Husband/Tech Support in the Whole World:
Dan Evans, who, as you may have noticed, redesigned the site and moved it to Squarespace this week. He’s been working on this thing for months now, painstakingly transferring every post from the archives (nearly 1,000 of them!) to the new platform. (For the design curious, the new site look is a customized version of the “Amélie” template by Krystyn Heide.) We’re going for a cleaner and leaner look that really features the writing on the blog, and that shouldn’t crash every time we get a big surge in traffic. I am so grateful to have Dan as a teammate and work, but mostly in life.  Let us know what you think! 

Coolest Find:
Scholars may have second photo of poet Emily Dickinson” 

Funniest Photo:
You are not a real hipster until you take your typewriter to the park

Best Story:
Elizabeth Esther with “Losing my sh*t at Disneyland

“I’ve been avoiding looking at her because the first time I looked at her she tried to draw me into her little meltdown and all I wanted was to just ride the ride. I didn’t want to get involved. But I can’t help it, I glance over at her and that’s when I see the huge, ugly scar that emerges from under her armpit and slices up to her back. She has another long scar on her shoulder–like she’s survived a war or maybe multiple surgeries. And I feel really lame. Because I had judged her.”

Most Instructive:
Kara Powell at Her.Meneutics with “Steve Jobs, Back to School, and Why Doubt Belongs in Your Youth Group Curriculum”

“As we at the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) learned from studying 500 youth-group graduates during their first three years in college, Jobs’s story is far from unique. In our Sticky Faith research, geared to help young people develop a Christian faith that lasts, a common narrative emerged: When young people asked tough questions about God at church, often during elementary or middle school, they were told by well-meaning church leaders and teachers, ‘We don’t ask those sorts of questions about God here.’ While they rarely storm out of the church like Jobs did, they end up believing that the church is not big enough to handle their tough questions, and thus neither is God."

Most Intriguing: 
Dan Haseltine (of Jars of Clay) with “An Unfinished Record; An Uncharted Path

“I fear these recordings may get dismissed because Jars of Clay has a fairly entrenched brand conception. People outside of the general church community may not seek this record out.  And since the themes of the record are very far from evangelical Christianity, the church community will most likely not embrace this record.  Which, on one hand, is a relief.  I am pretty weary from years of pretending to be more of something than I am.  I am tired of carrying evangelical expectations on my shoulders.  I have never been so sure of my faith that I was able to find a true home in the church communities where we played most of our shows.  Our particular style of writing and the perspective that we have written from has not been an easy fit into an artistic community that has such a massive agenda and only a single idea of how that agenda gets accomplished.  I don’t fit there.  I may have at one point.  I did grow up as a youth group kid wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Jesus on it.  I did drive a car with a “Christian” bumper sticker on it.  And at one point, I was sure of who God was, and how God operated.  But I am not that way now.  And so it is impossible to write from that old version of myself. I am in the middle space."

Most Powerful:
Jonathan Martin with “More than a symbol: Why we moved to weekly communion at Renovatus

“Like the teacher in Ecclesiastes, the limbs of false assumptions about myself and the world are being broken branch by branch. The message seems much bigger, but I feel much smaller. The goodness of God is more pronounced, but so is my inadequacy. I find myself with fear and trembling wanting only to point people to the table Christ has spread for the broken. I find myself with my own trembling hands only wanting to come to the table with them. Preachers will always agree theoretically with John the Baptist that “we must decrease so He might increase,” so long as nobody cuts into our stage time. But not me…at least not any more....I proclaim mysteries I understand less and less clearly the further I go, not more. And because I cannot explain, I can only extend the invitation that has been extended to me over and over, at my best and at my worse: “Taste and see, that the Lord is good.” Every mystery about life and God that I believe in is wrapped up in that meal; everything I would ever want anyone to receive is bound up in that table.”

Most Eye-Opening:
Sarah Stillman at The New Yorker with “The Throwaways” 

“Every day, offenders are sent out to perform high-risk police operations with few legal protections. Some are juveniles, occasionally as young as fourteen or fifteen. Some operate through the haze of addiction; others, like Hoffman, are enrolled in state-mandated treatment programs that prohibit their association with illegal drugs of any kind. Many have been given false assurances by the police, used without regard for their safety, and treated as disposable pawns of the criminal-justice system...”

Best pep-talk:
Tina Francis at SheLoves with “A Manifesto for Wimps, Dreamers, What-if Junkies and Procrastinators

“My first (easy) option is to bumper car my way through life. To stay in the amusement parks with child-proof zones in my relationships and my career. You know, one minute I’m zooming along making perfect figure eights. The next minute, I’m getting rear-ended by a toothless 8 year old. Sure: feeling safe and risk-free is comforting most of the time. But life gets so mind-numbingly predictable I get by on cruise control. My second (much harder) hairier option is to “Go Pro.” To really step into my calling as a creator of art, a seeker of justice and a storyteller. To experience and express the fragility and beauty of the human condition in an authentic way, I know it would take a lethal trifecta of strategy, sacrifice and support. Need all three to outwit good ol’ Man-boobs. And I don’t have them. So I stand on the fence with the rest of the Wimps, Dreamers, What-if Junkies and Procrastinators, killing time on: Facebook, Pinterest and TED. I sit on the sidelines and watch other people 'Go Pro.'"

Best Line: 
Laura Tremaine (Hollywood Housewife) with “Don’t tell me how to use Facebook

"My facebook page is not a democracy."

Best Reflection: 
Dan White, Jr. with “Missional Marinating” 

“I’ll tell you up front, my old-high-capacity-leader-self resists this marinating process.  My old self can’t rest, it can’t sleep.  It needs quick returns, escalating numbers, regional buzz and high excitement.  All of those pieces previously helped me not feel like a failure.  But here in the laboratory of a Missional-Community, slow is our friend.  Seeking slowness is essential in the stew of discipleship.  Cultivating a culture saturated in the embodied life of Jesus requires purposeful patience.  A new character needs to be developed while leading in this type of atmosphere.  Slow is not something to bear with, it’s something to embrace.  No longer am I trying to launch an organization that sparkles before its consumers.  The call is to shape a way of life; to create a conducive setting for transformation.  In this stew we need unhurried time and grace-filled space for:long conversations, unearthing conflicts, detox from consumerism, facing missional fears, relearning how to listen, frustrated prayers and moving beyond suspicion to trust.” 

Best Pinterest Board Ever:
30 Rock Fan Art” 

Fortunate to Be Alive: Girl, 7, contracts bubonic plague...

Cake Wrecks with “How it might have happened...

Chuck DeGroat with “What the Church Needs is Men Without Fear

“Intimacy.  The word in the Latin – without fear, an invitation into the innermost space.  Jesus does what God had been doing over and again – relentlessly pursuing, and breaking even his own rules in the process.  The vulnerable God who, in Luke 15, is portrayed with feminine qualities, angers those obsessed with roles and authority – the Pharisees.  How this is missed today puzzles me, but even more – grieves me.  While some Christian men seem obsessed with several debatable Pauline texts, they miss the core – Christ himself – the intimate God, the vulnerable God, the God who moves toward rather than pulling away.  This makes our silly debates about feminization and roles quite small.  With perspective, we’d keep the main thing the main thing – vulnerably living in and participating in the life of Christ in this world.”

Loveliest (nominated by Preston Yancey):
Hannah Brencher with “First, be a follower

“And I’m learning all the curves & craters & sacred spots of this life that God was paved for me. The sky as she preps like a night maid for the thunder, fluffing pillows of hushed greys with sheets of violent yellow. A heat storm & a new notebook. Bare feet. Wine & Oreos. Christmas lights glowing in the center of September. All the parts of life & living–my first thought no longer to smash them all into a status update for others to virtually digest. My first thought is to savor. Save the moment for me. Given. To me. By one who loves me & is too jealous to share my attention.”

Most Likely to Make You Stand Up and Cheer: 
Eugene Cho with “The amazing speeches of women in the conventions makes the silence of women in the Church that much more deafening” 

“Not having the voices of women in the Church is not just sad for women but truthfully, it’s sad and a deep loss for the Church. We’re missing out on the stories, convictions, and challenges from the Ann Romneys, Condi Rices, and Michelle Obamas within our churches.”

Most Likely to Make You Barge Into a Dressing Room:
Lauren Alexander at (in)Courage with “An Open Letter to the Girl in the Dressing Room

“Precious girl, I don’t know if you meant to weep that loudly or not.  I’m not sure if those were quiet sobs that had reached the point of no return, or if this was actually your way of pulling back the curtain on your pain for all to see – what the mirror has done, the lies it has told you, the way it has limited and so poorly defined you."

Most Likely to Make You Crave a Bacon-Turkey-Bravo Sandwich (and feel good about it):NPR with “Panera sandwich chain explores pay-what-you-want concept

Most Likely to Explain Why People Like Me Get a Little Crazy Come September (Roll Tide!): Brett Michael Dykes at The New York Times with “Passion Plays: College Football Rules the Land in the South

“Over the course of the weekend I spent in Tuscaloosa, I can’t recall entering a single place of business that did not feature some sort of homage to Alabama football. Even a wine store I visited featured — in a display in its front window — a nearly life-size cutout of Saban pointing and yelling with the words Roll Tide emblazoned on it... The number of times I heard “Roll Tide” over the course of a weekend in Tuscaloosa far outweighed the number of times I heard “Geaux Tigers” during my weekend in Baton Rouge. All of this led to my main conclusion after spending time in each place on a nongame weekend: Alabama fans are, well, just crazier about their football team than L.S.U. fans are.”

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

*note: if you're having trouble leaving a comment, it should be sorted out soon.

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