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Rachel Held Evans’ Sunday Superlatives 4/1/2012

Most Informative: 
Relevant Magazine with “Rob Bell’s Lasik Surgery to Cost Christian Hipsters Millions

“News that Rob Bell has decided to forgo his trademark thick-rimmed glasses in favor of Lasik eye surgery has many Christian hipsters reeling, with experts suggesting that the post-geeky-hip trend could collectively cost the culture millions.

‘Lasik costs, like, $2500,’ complained 21-year-old Chase Wright, a worship leader at Elevate Church in Kalamazoo Michigan, who prefers to be identified as a God-encounter-facilitator. ‘I think I’m going to opt for contacts instead, at least until I can raise some funds on Kickstarter.’”

Most Passionate: 
Mark Driscoll with “The Threat of Pastel Easter Ties

“It has come to my attention that the effeminization our sissified culture has resulted in a disturbing trend: ‘men’ wearing pastel ties on Easter Sunday. From pink to lavender to robin-egg blue, these ties come in an array of Satanic colors, and it is the duty of God’s men to keep them out of our churches, lest these ties turn us all gay. This is why any man who walks through the doors of Mars Hill wearing a pastel tie on Easter morning will be subject to church discipline.” 

Most Surprising: 
Ann Voskamp with “This Sucks: A Rant Against Nature

“Today was a really crappy day. The crickets chirped all night so I woke up exhausted. Then I burned the French Toast at breakfast. My dog left a bunch of muddy tracks all over the house, which really ticked me off. And of course it rained on our picnic. Nothing redemptive about today at all. Nature sucks.” 

Most Concerning: 
Christianity Today with “Blogger’s Rant Mistaken by Area Armenians as Racist Threat” 

“A Christian blogger’s rant against the soteriology of Jacobus Arminius entitled ‘Let’s Rid the World of Armenians’ has been mistaken by area Armenians as a racist threat.  But the twenty-two year-old blogger and father of three insists that the misunderstanding is a result of a simple typo.

‘I was complaining about the popularity of Arminian theology,’ said the blogger, who asked to remain anonymous, ‘and my stupid auto-correct in Microsoft Word changed Arminian to Armenian. I should have double-checked before publishing the post, but unfortunately my concern over the dangers of Open Theology overshadowed my concern for spelling and grammar, and now I’m paying the price. I want to make it clear that I hate Arminians not Armenians.” 

Most Impressive: 
Sarah Bessey with “In Which I Try to Write Something That Will Not End Up in Rachel’s Sunday Superlatives” 

[link not found]

Most Encouraging: 
Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist with “Thank You! Your hateful comment finally convinced me to be a Christian” 

“Were it not for Repent-And-Be-Saved’s impassioned comment calling me a useless drain on society and damning me to hell for eternity, I might never have found Jesus. Thank you for your persistence!” 

Most Humble: 
John Piper with “Jersey Shore: A Disaster I Cannot Explain” 

“The Asian tsunami of 2004, the Haitian earthquake, the tornado that struck Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis during ELCA meetings on homosexuality—these were clearly acts of judgment from God upon sinful people. But the scourge of Jersey Shore being renewed for yet another season is something that simply cannot be explained.  The truth is, I don’t know why God would allow this to happen. It is beyond my understanding.” 

Most Unusual: 
Publisher’s Weekly with “Christian Bookstores to No Longer Carry Bible” 

“In a surprising announcement, Christian bookstores across the country have banned the Bible from their shelves, citing questionable content, including violence, sexuality,  profanity, and possible liberalism. Retailers say that this is not the sort of content their customers have come to expect from a Christian establishment, so the Bibles will be phased out over the next few months. In the meantime, all remaining Bibles on shelves will be given ‘Read With Discernment’ stickers to warn potential buyers of questionable material.” 

Most Exciting: 
Entertainment Weekly with “Donald Miller and Tim Burton to turn ‘Searching For God Knows What’ into zombie horror flick

“Capitalizing on the recent zombie apocalypse craze and the popularity of the ‘Blue Like Jazz’ movie, Donald Miller and Tim Burton will team up to turn Miller’s spiritual memoir ‘Searching For God Knows What’ into a zombie horror flick, this time with a ‘clear gospel message’ to satisfy Christian magazine reviewers. Look for Johnny Depp to star as Don, and Helena Bonham Carter to star as Penny. Many in Hollywood say they see the spiritual-memoir-turned-movie as the next hot genre, suggesting there are ongoing talks about turning Lauren Winner’s ‘Girl Meets God’ into a romantic comedy, Ian Cron’s ‘Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me’ into an action flick, Anne Lamott’s ‘Traveling Mercies’ into an indie road trip film, Kathleen Norris’ ‘The Cloister Walk’ into something really creepy involving monks.” 

Most Stunning: 
Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman, with “It’s true. I have a clone.” 

“Because no one woman is capable of running a ranch, homeschooling her children, hosting a cooking show, writing four books, mastering photography, and keeping a blog, I confess I have a clone. I made her from scratch in my kitchen about a year ago. Here’s the recipe…” 

Most Annoying: 
Rachel Held Evans with “Let’s talk about my vagina some more…” 

“In an effort to further strain every relationship I have in the Christian publishing industry, I’m thinking of re-titling my book ‘A Year of Biblical Vaginas,’ just to see what happens.” 

http://rachelheldevans.com/sunday-superlatives-4-1-2012

Filed under Rachel Held Evans evangelicals evangelical culture Christians April 1

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Each year at Oregon State University, I teach an introductory-level course on the Bible. From teaching the course for almost twenty years, I know that roughly 20 percent of the students will be very conservative in their attitude toward the Bible, either from their upbringing or because they are recent converts to conservative forms of college Christianity.


A few years ago, a very bright Muslim engineering student took the course. A senior, he did so because he needed another humanities course for graduation and the course fit his schedule. One day, after witnessing the first few weeks of my interaction with the more conservative students, he said to me, “I think I understand what’s going on here. You’re saying the Bible is like a lens through which we see God, and they’re saying that it’s important to believe in the lens.” And I said, “Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.”


Obviously, I very much liked his lens analogy: the Bible is a lens, and as a lens, it is not the object of belief but a means whereby we see.

Marcus Borg, “A Vision of the Christian Life” in The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (jointly written with N. T. Wright)

Filed under Borg Christians Bible interpretation

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In recent elections one would have thought that homosexuality and abortion were the new litmus tests of Christianity. Where did this come from? They never were the criteria of proper membership for the first 2000 years, but reflect very recent culture wars instead! And largely from people who think of themselves as “traditionalists”! The fundamentals were already resolved in the early Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed. Note that none of the core beliefs are about morality at all. The Creeds are more mystical, cosmological, and about aligning our lives inside of a huge sacred story. When you lose the mystical level, you always become moralistic as a cheap substitute. Jesus is clearly much more concerned about issues of pride, injustice, hypocrisy, blindness, and what I have often called “The Three Ps,” or power, prestige, and possessions, which are probably 95% of his written teaching. We conveniently ignore this 95% to concentrate on a morality that usually has to do with human embodiment. That’s where people get righteous, judgmental, and upset, for some reason. The body seems to be where we carry our sense of shame and inferiority, and early-stage religion has never gotten much beyond these “pelvic” issues.
Richard Rohr (via azspot)

(via invisibleforeigner)

Filed under Christians Christianity belief creed mysticism morality Jesus

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In their frantic effort to escape the fleshly vices and so to be “holy,” many fell unwittingly into the far more crippling sins of the spirit, such as pride, rejection, and lovelessness. This, I continue to feel, has been the greatest tragedy of Protestant life.
Langdon Gilkey, Shantung Compound

Filed under Christians Christianity Protestantism virtue holiness Gilkey

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Biblicism often paints smart, committed youth into a corner that is for real reasons impossible to occupy for many of those who actually confront its problems. When some of those youth give up on biblicism and simply walk away across the wet paint, it is flawed biblicism that is partly responsible for those losses of faith.

Christian Smith, The Bible Made Impossible

Been there, done that.

(via invisibleforeigner)

Filed under Bible Christians faith interpretation

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The very same Bible - which biblicists insist is perspicuous and harmonious - gives rise to divergent understandings among intelligent, sincere, committed readers about what it says about most topics of interest. Knowledge of ‘biblical” teachings, in short, is characterized by pervasive interpretive pluralism.

What that means in consequence is this: in a crucial sense it simply does not matter whether the Bible is everything that biblicists claim theoretically concerning its authority, infallibility, inner consistency, perspicuity, and so on, since in actual functioning the Bible produces a pluralism of interpretations.

Christian Smith, The Bible Made Impossible (via invisibleforeigner)

Filed under Bible interpretation Christians understanding

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In the American evangelical community, no shame or scandal or disapproval comes from bearing false witness against one’s neighbor — provided one targets the right neighbors. Such outright lies do not create controversy, but a refusal to lie is seen as making waves. Refusing to bear false witness against certain neighbors can put your job in jeopardy. How did evangelicalism reach this point? How did it come to be that bearing false witness against certain of our neighbors isn’t just tolerated, but required? The answer, I think, is that for all the talk of Jesus’ “sacrificial atonement,” evangelicals do not rely on Christ for their justification or vindication. They seek that justification elsewhere — from the sacrifice of scapegoats. Foremost among those scapegoats are GLBT people and women who have abortions. The vilification of these scapegoats is of paramount importance in evangelicalism. It is more important than any belief in vindication through Christ. And this new core doctrine reshapes evangelical ethics to such an extent that bearing false witness against those scapegoats is mandatory.

from the Slacktivist

I should probably point out again that Fred Clark (the author) is an evangelical Christian, one who recognizes the destructive tendencies within the movement—tendencies that are decidedly non-Christian and non-evangelical.

Filed under slacktivist Fred Clark evangelicals Christians ethics politics

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Jesus - the Jesus we might discover if we really looked! - is larger, more disturbing, more urgent than we - than the church! - had ever imagined. We have successfully managed to hide behind other questions (admittedly important ones) and to avoid the huge, world-shaking challenge of Jesus’ central claim and achievement. It is we, the churches, who have been the real reductionists. We have reduced the kingdom of God to private piety, the victory of the cross to comfort for the conscience, and Easter itself to a happy escapist ending after a sad, dark tale. Piety, conscience, and ultimate happiness are important, but not nearly as important as Jesus himself.
N.T. Wright, Simply Jesus (via invisibleforeigner)

(Source: invisibleforeigner)

Filed under Christians church Jesus N. T. Wright

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Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.
Augustine, from On the Literal Meaning of Genesis (via stine-key)

(Source: stereoma, via badwolfcomplex)

Filed under Augustine Christians science witness

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I quickly found that the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don’t swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered.
Francis Chan (via baristasarah)

(Source: willsterling, via badwolfcomplex)

Filed under Christians life

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“In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision,” Augustine wrote, “we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.”

As it turns out, God is not threatened by science or honest inquiry. If all truth is God’s truth, then we shouldn’t be afraid of what this world has to teach us. God is big enough and deep enough and eternal enough to handle our toughest questions and our most baffling discoveries.

Rachel Held Evans, in Relevant Magazine

Filed under Christians Christianity science faith Augustine Rachel Held Evans Bible