The SEC Answers Critics

criticsUnfathomable though it may be, not everyone loves Lent Madness. At meetings of the Supreme Executive Committee, we often shake our heads in disbelief that there are a few people who find Lent Madness less than magnificent. As a gesture of good will, Tim and Scott have decided to answer the Top Ten Criticisms of Lent Madness. Think of these as at-the-ready talking points if you encounter a Lent Madness hater over chicken casserole at your ubiquitous Wednesday Evening Lenten program. You’re welcome.

Top Ten Criticisms of Lent Madness

10. The SEC is rigging the results
Believe us when we say this: we have been as surprised and even outraged as you at some of the results. No one can predict what will happen in Lent Madness, with emphasis on the madness. If the SEC were rigging the results, Scott would not be in the bottom half of the Forward Movement office bracket pool. Now, granted, Scott once ran a full-fledged smear campaign to get George Herbert crowned with the Golden Halo (here, here, here, and here). But now that the SEC is formed, both Tim and Scott remain scrupulously neutral, working hard to ensure a free and fair contest every time.

unfair9. The match-ups are unfair
The point of Lent Madness is fun, and it would be less fun if every contest featured a reformer against a reformer or an apostle versus an apostle. In its current form, we have to grapple with the outlandish notion of picking a modern witness for social justice or a biblical hero, for example. If that seems ridiculous to you, then we’d like to remind you that the entire concept of Lent Madness is that we’re voting on a Golden Halo for people who are already in God’s company. Lent Madness is not for the faint of heart, so if you can’t decide between theologians of the fourth-century and preachers of the modern era, step aside.

8. Lent should be about self-flagellation not self-congratulation
Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard this plenty: “Every time I tune into Monday Madness, Tim and Scott are touting their latest media triumph. They’ve even been known to send Lent Madness mugs to church celebrities in exchange for ‘mug shots.’” Here’s the thing. Lent Madness was in USA Today this year. Last year it was the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated. While Tim and Scott have their picture in the paper, it’s really not about them. It’s about getting a new image of our church into the press. The SEC believes that it’s better to have Lent Madness in the news than, say, lawsuits or church closings. Oh, and we don’t much care for self-flagellation. We understand Lent to be a time for fresh conversion — to renewing our commitment to following Jesus. You can do this whilst turning that frown upside-down.

7. This is a distraction from “real” Lent
See above. We would encourage you to pursue other Lenten disciplines. However, we think “real” Lent is about finding our way back to God. If this silly contest teaches us something about holy men and women, and if we are inspired to follow Jesus because of their example, then we’d consider the mission of Lent Madness accomplished. Also, “real” Lent just doesn’t work for some people.

No Facebook6. Too much of it
What? You’re tired of seeing Lent Madness in your Facebook feed? Cry us a river. We can’t help it that this is a success. We suggest you give up Facebook for Lent. Or start “Season after Pentecost Madness.”

5. Your grammar stinks
Who are you to oppress us with your language rules? OK, so we make some mistakes now and then. You are entitled to a full refund of your Lent Madness entry fee. Oh, wait, it’s free. One more thing, while we’re on the subject: a few of you have harshed on Maple Anglican’s awesome videos. Just remember he’s Canadian, and your US imperialism doesn’t govern his use of the English language. Incidentally, if you are going to write to us to complain about our grammar, make sure yours is flawless. One commenter pointed out three mistakes in a video. In the “And also with you” department, we pointed out three mistakes in that complaint. See, we’re all human. Deal.

4. How can you have fun with ____ (insert martyr here)
We got a few complaints about this, most especially about Jonathan Myrick Daniels. To be clear, and in all seriousness, we would never make fun of a martyr. By including martyrs in Lent Madness, we’re able to help them do their jobs afresh. That is, they are able to witness to new generations. We can assure you that plenty of Lent Madness fans had never heard of Jonathan Daniels until now. By including him in our ridiculous game, his brave witness for the gospel of justice is known in our time. By the way, you’d be complaining that we left out all the martyrs if we didn’t include them.

3. You used that awful “Keep Calm and Carry On” meme
This is one of our favorites. A commenter was very upset that we used a take-off on the famous British “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters in one of our blog entries. This commenter threatened to boycott Lent Madness because we are basically akin to Nazi sympathizers or something. At the very least, the SEC were called ignorant American-centric buffoons. Look. A few minutes on the Googles, and it turns out that this poster has been proudly displayed at Number 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. If it’s good enough for the Prime Minister and the Queen, it’s good enough for the SEC.

2. The color for Lent is violet not purple
Yeah, that might be true in your Almy catalog, the people who brought you the imagined need for blue vestments in Advent. We prefer to consult the Bible rather than the Almy catalog when we are seeking truth. It turns out that Jesus wore purple, and we figure that’s a good enough endorsement for this color in Lent Madness.

Funny Offensive1. People shouldn’t laugh during Lent. Ever.
Awesome. You can give up laughter as part of your Lenten discipline. We laugh at this idea. The SEC thinks that Jesus had quite a sense of humor. In fact, the SEC finds humor throughout the Bible and in much of life, for that matter. So while we are focused on getting closer to God this Lent, we’re going to laugh a bit. We invite you to join us.

There you go. If there’s something rubbing you the wrong way about Lent Madness, the SEC, Forward Movement’s offerings, or the way Tim runs his parish, please leave a comment. We’ll get right back to you.

119 Comments to "The SEC Answers Critics"

  1. Jan Robitscher's Gravatar Jan Robitscher
    February 28, 2013 - 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Well, St. Benedict did have a thing or two to say about laughter ( or the benefits of not being given to laughter) but that was then and this is now. So I say, Keep Calm and Carry On with Lent Madness!

  2. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    February 28, 2013 - 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Keep on keeping on! I don’t always get the jokes, but I love the idea of joking — especially holy joking. And every now and then, I DO get the joke and get to laugh, another good thing.

  3. George Werner's Gravatar George Werner
    February 28, 2013 - 5:49 pm | Permalink

    SEC is amazing… you even please the people on the quest to be unhappy!

  4. Diana Holbert's Gravatar Diana Holbert
    February 28, 2013 - 5:50 pm | Permalink

    I really only have one question. Well, two. What do your congregations think about this, and how do you have time to do this? I’m recently retired, and I just barely have enough time to read what you write. My hat is off to you for your energy and your call to work fresh, not stale, in all things Church.

    • Mariclaire's Gravatar Mariclaire
      February 28, 2013 - 6:34 pm | Permalink

      I can answer that as one of Fr. Tim’s congregants- we love it! It’s refreshing to have a funny rector (our curate is funny too) who thinks of creative devotions. I have not noticed him slacking off on parish duties to co-run Lent Madness!

    • Laurie's Gravatar Laurie
      March 1, 2013 - 8:39 am | Permalink

      As a Celebrity Blogger, my congregation and diocese seems to be having a great time (we are in Kentucky, so I didn’t have the learning curve of “What is March Madness?”). How do I have time? Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

  5. Peg's Gravatar Peg
    February 28, 2013 - 5:50 pm | Permalink

    [singing like a nun in a Sidney Poitier movie] A-a-a-men, a-a-a-men, a-a-men, amen, amen!

    • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
      February 28, 2013 - 9:46 pm | Permalink

      Amen! I love that movie!
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057251/

      • Robert's Gravatar Robert
        March 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Permalink

        Amen!

      • Peg's Gravatar Peg
        March 1, 2013 - 8:38 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Jennifer!

      • Toni Ponzo's Gravatar Toni Ponzo
        March 1, 2013 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

        thank you Jennifer, I love that movie! We sing that “Amen” at my church every Sunday.

      • Mollie Douglas Turner's Gravatar Mollie Douglas Turner
        March 1, 2013 - 11:49 pm | Permalink

        Years and years since I saw that movie…but the joy never fails. Thanks, Jennifer!

  6. February 28, 2013 - 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Have you contacted NBC about showing a “Sweet Sistine” chart on prime time last night without so much as a mention of where it all began? Plagiarism by the Romans should be dealt with harshly. Summon your hordes of lawyers to issue “Cease and Desist” orders. That or have them send proffers of large sums of money to buy your peace. Hold out for a really big buyout.

  7. Sarah R.'s Gravatar Sarah R.
    February 28, 2013 - 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Awesome!! I welcome this Lent Madness apologia with open arms…I’m just sorry that one was apparently needed. BTW- I think Tim and Scott should lobby for Lent Madness Apologetics to be an elective offered at seminaries across the country.

  8. Deb Daly's Gravatar Deb Daly
    February 28, 2013 - 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE Lent Madness. It’s fun, it helps me focus on the sacrifices others have made in their spiritual journey, I’ve learned about all kinds of saints and holy people I had never heard of (and it has me googling things like crazy, as my interest is picqued) and quite honestly, if people don’t like Lent Madness, unlike the page and get over it! I think its great. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    • Stephen's Gravatar Stephen
      March 1, 2013 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Same here! Not only do I learn about people I’ve never heard of, I also am forced to consider why a specific initial pairing was made. It’s a double-whammy of learning. I echo your shout… THANK YOU!!!

    • Susan Youmans's Gravatar Susan Youmans
      March 2, 2013 - 1:33 am | Permalink

      Amen and Amen. I love Lent Madness, discovered last year just after I had breast cancer surgery. Your Saint vs Saint was fun, entertaining and educational and helped me realize why our church has those Saint Days. I’m just humbled by their sacrifices for their beliefs. Wonder if I could ever do the same? I Love Lent Madness and hope you will stop addressing the naysayers……let them UNLIKE! I LIKE.

  9. Judy Austin's Gravatar Judy Austin
    February 28, 2013 - 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Some may see this as frivolous or non-Lenten. But the comments each day demonstrate that in reading the profiles and making our choices we are meditating on what really matters as we–and those on whom we vote–live out our Christian faith. And if that is not appropriate as a Lenten exercise, I don’t know what is.

    • Diane's Gravatar Diane
      February 28, 2013 - 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Amen! The biographies and the thoughtful (& sometimes punful) comments are a real education. Even if they make voting that much harder!

  10. Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson's Gravatar Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson
    February 28, 2013 - 5:58 pm | Permalink

    If this circulates amongst parishioners at CCC where I serve and then is reported to the Dean and Bishop, I will be defrocked by midnight. As I am not considered to be of entirely sound mind, I can probably pull it off. These criticisms are sickening to say the least and mean. I love LENT MADNESS, especially the “madness”, a concept still not understood by some commenters. To them, SEC, I have two rejoinders for you to use: SUCK DIRT ! and BITE ME! You’re welcome.

  11. Katie's Gravatar Katie
    February 28, 2013 - 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Please ignore anyone who is telling you what you’re doing is anything less than awesome. This is my first year following Lent Madness and so far I have found it to be educational and fun. It also has encouraged me to think more about “Religion” during my everyday life through Lent (and not just on Sunday). So thank you!

  12. Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
    February 28, 2013 - 6:00 pm | Permalink

    What great responses to the criticisms! It is good to remember not to take ourselves too seriously. This is a great event and I love it. Keep Calm and Carry On! (One of my favorite posters.)

  13. Ricki Grantmyre's Gravatar Ricki Grantmyre
    February 28, 2013 - 6:02 pm | Permalink

    I am so enjoying my first time with Lent Madness. I love the humor AND I am learning so much!! The interplay between the astute and lovable SEC only adds to the ambience! Keep up the good work!! Makes me proud to be an Episcopalian.

  14. kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
    February 28, 2013 - 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant!! To those sourpusses who dare to criticize, I say: some of us — and I won’t mention names here — might even be going through chemotherapy this Lent. Izzat SERIOUS enough for ya? And those of us who are, are exceptionally grateful for the merriment and edification that Lent Madness provides. Keep up the levity!

    • Anon for This's Gravatar Anon for This
      February 28, 2013 - 8:24 pm | Permalink

      This. Some of us may have moved with our spouses to a new country where we don’t know the language, triggering another major depressive episode for each spouse in a long string of mental illnesses. We can hardly get out of bed in the morning for all the unholy self-flagellating we are already doing.

      Some of us are holding on to Lent Madness as the only connection we have to the church when the nearest Anglican church is in a different country. For some of us, Lent Madness might be the only time all day we smile. So maybe our Lenten discipline is letting Lent Madness help us hate ourselves less and just rest more.

      Not that, you know, I know anyone like that or anything.

      • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
        March 1, 2013 - 9:43 pm | Permalink

        Oh yeah, Anon. I hear you. (Prayers for you as well, seriously.) But keep smiling at LM.

    • Mary Kaye's Gravatar Mary Kaye
      March 1, 2013 - 1:50 am | Permalink

      Kesmarn,
      Praying for you – and Paul Kanikula – and anyone else going thru chemo this Lent. God’s healing & joy to you! Mary Kaye

      • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
        March 1, 2013 - 9:45 pm | Permalink

        Many,many thank yous, Mary Kaye. And of course, I make a habit of praying for people who pray for me. And even for those who don’t! Joy back atcha.

    • Susan Youmans's Gravatar Susan Youmans
      March 2, 2013 - 1:35 am | Permalink

      AMEN. I was last year when i discovered this wonderful site, which helped me…….a former Baptist turned Episcopalian 30 yrs. ago. Peace be with You.

  15. Susan Chacon's Gravatar Susan Chacon
    February 28, 2013 - 6:03 pm | Permalink

    My blog-reader tells me this post has been up less than 10 minutes. There are 6 – no 8 – no 12 comments. Glad I’m not the only one obsessively reading every word that comes forth from the SEC’s keyboards.

    • Susan Chacon's Gravatar Susan Chacon
      February 28, 2013 - 6:04 pm | Permalink

      no – 15

      • Grace Zeigler's Gravatar Grace Zeigler
        February 28, 2013 - 6:19 pm | Permalink

        No- 20

  16. February 28, 2013 - 6:04 pm | Permalink

    You’re partly right in that the results aren’t rigged by YOU guys. But there have been occasions, you have to admit, when people have managed to use multiple PCs to cast large blocs of votes and … skew the outcome. It’s not quite cyber-crime but it isn’t very nice. Or Christian (IMHO).

  17. February 28, 2013 - 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Lent Madness is AWESOME!
    Thanks for all your mistakes.
    I look forward to each machup and I have learned more about these Saints of old because of your program.
    see “it’s fun to be an Episcopalian”!
    thanks again
    Terry

  18. Katrina Soto's Gravatar Katrina Soto
    February 28, 2013 - 6:11 pm | Permalink

    I am glad to have been introduced to Lent Madness. Reading up on the saints (or is that Saints?) has been a wonderfully educational part of my Lenten self-discipline. I mostly “take-on” during Lent, and one thing I take on, aside from more time in prayer, is religiously based educational reading and classes. So, thank you for helping me fulfill this discipline, and in a “fun” way, to boot. (or do we put away “fun” when we put away the A*****ias?)

  19. If Not Philander, Then Benedict's Gravatar If Not Philander, Then Benedict
    February 28, 2013 - 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Wait a minute! Something is not quite right here. I quote:

    A few days ago, I wrote about my friend Fr. Tim Schenck’s

    Friend? Tim & Scott are friends?

    • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
      February 28, 2013 - 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Of course. Just as in a British court of law the counsel for the prosecution and the counsel for the defense refer to each other as “my learned friend”. And in the U.S. Senate the convention is to refer to one’s colleague as “the gentleman [lady] from _______” even when it is obvious that the speaker believes that the colleague is out of his/her gourd.

  20. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    February 28, 2013 - 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I am SO glad you folks are bringing hilarity (as in “Phos Hilaron”) to Lent.

  21. February 28, 2013 - 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE you guys!

  22. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    February 28, 2013 - 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I love Lent Madness. I lov e the education coupled with irreverent and absurd humor that propels me to learn things that I would not seek out or be exposed to. I appreciate the candorin your responses, reminding us that sometimes we all take ourselves (and this game) too seriously, and the reminder that I have a CHOICE continue to view the brackets and comments or opt out. Thank you for your fun, uplifting and effective evangelism. Shake off the dust, keep proclaiming the good works of all contenders, and carry on!

  23. Barbara Mays-Stock's Gravatar Barbara Mays-Stock
    February 28, 2013 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Listen, if everyone took themselves a little bit less seriously and tried a little bit harder to figure out what is really going on here (finding new and great ways to look at people who have taken the call to be Christian leaders in the world seriously) they wouldn’t have time to criticize. They would be too busy trying to emulate truly good behavior. And by the way, one of my favorite take-offs of our British friends and more akin to my culture is this: “I am Italian. I cannot keep calm!” So, keep getting us excited about the saints of God and keep those posts coming!!

  24. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    February 28, 2013 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Way to bury your critics, SEC. Hats off! Or should that be “hat’s off”?

    PS I retract all my snarky comments about seeding. xx

  25. Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
    February 28, 2013 - 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Now that baseball has fourteen-tier playoffs (that is correct, yes?), maybe the SEC could devise a Michelmas Madness to supplant or enhance the present foolery.

  26. Gillian B's Gravatar Gillian B
    February 28, 2013 - 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Wow, it’s amazing that people find so many things to complain about!! (Or about which to complain–grammar police). I love Lent Madness, enjoy the humor and the information and am enjoying my 2012 and 2013 Lent Madness mugs. Thank you!

  27. Cathy Z's Gravatar Cathy Z
    February 28, 2013 - 6:25 pm | Permalink

    As a fallen-away churchgoer now exploring the Episcopal church, I was delighted to stumble across Lent Madness (God’s hand at work?). I love learning about saints, martyrs and other people important to Christianity. I was delighted to see the names of such writers as Donne and T. S. Eliot included. Thank you for your tireless and creative efforts!

  28. Gary L Lake Dillensnyder's Gravatar Gary L Lake Dillensnyder
    February 28, 2013 - 6:29 pm | Permalink

    if it weren’t for Lent Madness i would not have anything to do on the internet…i know, that is pathetic ;-)

  29. February 28, 2013 - 6:29 pm | Permalink

    It’s always seems to me that piety would be different if only the Bible had included one small sentence: Jesus laughed.

  30. Debbie Griswold's Gravatar Debbie Griswold
    February 28, 2013 - 6:30 pm | Permalink

    The SEC and Lent Madness rocks! Ignore these stuffshirts.

  31. William Loring's Gravatar William Loring
    February 28, 2013 - 6:42 pm | Permalink

    OK, no problem from me about all the silly complaints, but please: Purple/violet are essentially the same color — at least as illustrated on this website — (a blue-red mix tending towards blue (as opposed to the more reddish magenta which could also be covered by the Greek term). Only four of your 11 Bible quotes deal with what Jesus wore and all refer to the purple robe that was forced on him during the trial — not what he ever chose to wear. Most of the other references you found to purple suggest that it was a festal color, hardly suitable for Lent. The proper Anglican color for Lent is white or unblueached cloth, decorated with symbols of the passion and trimmed in (usually dull) red, though purple, red, and blue were also used, most commonly on Sundays to separate them from the weekdays. [Please see archive.org/stream/anintroductionto00hopeuoft#page/52/mode/2up ]
    When I am forced to use purple/violet I inwardly shudder, but then comfort myself with the thought that it is NOT absolutely incorrect.

    • Andrea Harles's Gravatar Andrea Harles
      March 1, 2013 - 9:50 am | Permalink

      It’s because of the sea urchin, this purple, violet, blue continuum. That and tradition. So many of our practices being based upon what has been done for a long time (long time, often being defined as “since I’ve been here”). Back to the sea urchins. They were a common source of the dye for purple. In warmer waters it was the warmer, more red purple. In cooler it tended towards the bluer purples. It is the source of Sarum blue for Lent (and/or Advent) which is closer to the color crayon blue color and not at all like “Mary” blue. Those urchins were totally shivering in those northern seas.

      • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
        March 1, 2013 - 10:32 am | Permalink

        Cool!

  32. Stephen Petrie's Gravatar Stephen Petrie
    February 28, 2013 - 6:42 pm | Permalink

    What’s this? The peasants are revolting? You go get ‘em Supreme Executive Committee.

    Umm, and while your at all this revolt crushing stuff could you please deliver that new car you promised for being your 1000th follower on Twitter? I’ve been standing out on the street corner for days looking wistfully at the horizon for you guys to show up. All I’ve gotten is a couple of lewd offers and hassled by the cops…

  33. Nancy Pickens's Gravatar Nancy Pickens
    February 28, 2013 - 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I swore off Facebook, Twitter, and other social media long before Epiphany ended , but can’t wait for the daily Lent Madness updates in my email inbox. In my opinion, taking on a new spiritual discipline during Lent is far preferable to temporarily giving up chocolate, TV, or even wine. While participating in LM I’ve learned a lot and have enjoyed all the bios, especially those about saints whom I had previously known very little. Thanks, to you, Tim and Scott, and to all you profile contributors for your humor and your insights. You show us that saints are real people and that Lent doesn’t have be a season of gloom and doom. Special thanks for including two of our own from St. Michael’s, Lex., KY, in your LMW video!

  34. Cat Munz's Gravatar Cat Munz
    February 28, 2013 - 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Hey SEC,

    Thanks for thinking outside the box. It has been a terrific way to educate ourselves on the amazing things our ancestors did from their hearts and souls.

  35. Hope and Skye's Gravatar Hope and Skye
    February 28, 2013 - 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Dear Father Tim and Father Scott, We are really sorry that some people are picking on you because you came up with an unusual game. At our school that is called bullying and it is frowned upon. We hope everyone (even the people who are giving you a hard time) has a better day tomorrow. Love, Skye and Hope

    • Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson's Gravatar Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson
      February 28, 2013 - 7:18 pm | Permalink

      You two are truly the bee’s knees!!! I hope the old cranks have a better day tomorrow also. I truly believe you two have a good day every day because you are so thoughtful.

  36. Sandie's Gravatar Sandie
    February 28, 2013 - 6:57 pm | Permalink

    This is my first Lent Madness and I would not still be here were it not for the humor and tongue-in-cheek atmosphere. I have learned a lot I didn’t know about saints and martyrs (and for a lapsed Roman Catholic, that’s saying something). Moreover, the lightness of spirit has led me to contemplate the idea of once again giving the Episcopalian church in my community a try…

  37. February 28, 2013 - 6:59 pm | Permalink

    ditto…all of the above!

  38. Anne Rein's Gravatar Anne Rein
    February 28, 2013 - 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Deb Daly and Judy Austin both touched on what I cherish most about Lent Madness. I love the daily readings and collects. Sometimes I read the bios without a preconceived favorite. Other days–like yesterday–I know how I’ll vote and that no argument will likely sway me–Harriet Tubman has been a hero for me for a long time. But I always finish the readings with an appreciation of what it means to be a saint of God and with the recognition that there can be no degrees of worthiness–neither among the saints nor among us earthly mortals who try to discern how God is speaking to us in our daily lives. The experience of reading the comments after the reading is an experience on communion with fellow Christians on our common journey. Invariably there are goofy comments, and John Donne–who punned so well in “Hymn to God the Father” will be celebrated with puns ad infinitum. But just as reliably there are also comments of readers who sincerely reflect on what is stirred up for them (us) in the lives of the saints. If I knew how to pull it off technically, I would love to start Trinity Madness for the season of ordinary time after Pentecost.

  39. Gwin Hanahan's Gravatar Gwin Hanahan
    February 28, 2013 - 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, SEC, for your kind invitation to laugh! And to learn while doing it. I accept both with pleasure because “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (KJV, Prov.17:22). Thanks, Tim and Scott for building a community of merry hearts. But, oh dear, there are those readers who see the L.M. Comments column as an opportunity break others’ bad habits rather than an opportunity to…laugh and learn together. I wonder if that good word “harrumph” (v.tr.) might be revived to touch on the critics, whose exasperation with L.M.’s merriment has reached its limit? Can “harrumph” work here? For example, “I am simply trying to educate those poor slobs who obviously attended a seminary quite inferior to our own,” sniffed Grumpy, harrumphing his disgust . “Quite so” agreed his irritated companion. “We must maintain constant vigilance over minutia, lest in their Madness the SEC gives the great unwashed the impression that they too are welcome at the (round) table,” he added, harrumphing his annoyance.

  40. February 28, 2013 - 7:27 pm | Permalink

    I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that people would have complaints about playing a game in Lent that is both fun and educational. You’d think this was church or something. Meanwhile, I’ll be sure to schedule an appointment with a priest for individual confession to repent of that God-given gift of laughter. But only after I cast my vote in today’s saintly smackdown between Benedict and Anne. I am loving the madness of Lent Madness. Thanks!

  41. Walda Summers's Gravatar Walda Summers
    February 28, 2013 - 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Love everything about Lentmadness. For the first time l’m engaged in the season and look forward to every post that comes along.

  42. Margaret's Gravatar Margaret
    February 28, 2013 - 7:45 pm | Permalink

    A holy & hearty “Yay!”

  43. Mary-Eileen's Gravatar Mary-Eileen
    February 28, 2013 - 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Lent Madness is perfect the way it is! Don’t change a thing. I love that some of the matchups are so impossible and challenging. It makes me really think about my own core values every day, and that seems like a pretty good Lenten discipline to me. Fie on the bullies and complainers. Too bad they didn’t decide to give up inflicting their concept of perfection on everyone else for Lent. Keep Witty and Carry On!

  44. Laurie Atwater's Gravatar Laurie Atwater
    February 28, 2013 - 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Will use these as talking points should I encounter any fussbudgets. I may post a copy of this above the bracket on the bulletin board at church.

  45. Judy's Gravatar Judy
    February 28, 2013 - 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t heard much mention of how much conversation with friends, co-workers and aquaintances happens each day sharing facts about Lent Madness. I’ve been at church related meetings where this has come up and those who are participating can share the fun and education gleaned from our daily bracket competitions and invite others to join in the fun. I’ve been out to dinner with friends and this has come up too….what a way to welcome others to the Christian
    church! Thank You!

  46. Nancy Evans's Gravatar Nancy Evans
    February 28, 2013 - 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Wow! I could not. Agree more with all these comments. This my first LM too and I could not be more enthrall! This is a place you can be “real” and you are not degraded. (Hence the statement about women not being priests) I applaud the control.

    As was said to all the complainers, DEAL!!!!!!

  47. Marilyn S's Gravatar Marilyn S
    February 28, 2013 - 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I just discovered Lent Madness this year and have enjoyed every day, especially the added bonus commentaries. Some match ups have nearly made my brain explode, but that is great. Spending a whole day thinking about which saint is holier is a day spent thinking about holiness. Happy Lent!

  48. Linda Leong's Gravatar Linda Leong
    February 28, 2013 - 8:01 pm | Permalink

    I love love love Lent Madness. I don’t want the madness to end. Can you please please please do a Pentecost Madness? Or summer vacation madness? Or back-to-school madness?

  49. Russ's Gravatar Russ
    February 28, 2013 - 8:18 pm | Permalink

    My first LM. Hope to see many more. My bracket picks have been 50/50, guess I need to polish MY specks, sharpen my picking dart, and slow the spinning wheel. Oh wait, that’s how the brackets are put together(?).

    Comment 8 seemed a little OD. Should we be on guard for Eclesiatic Puritans?

    Thanks be to the SEC!

  50. Mary Lou's Gravatar Mary Lou
    February 28, 2013 - 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Keep Calm and Carry On with LENT MADNESS!! I love Lent Madness! I have learned about so many folks I would have likely never heard of, and I thank you for that! Can’t wait for the next round!

  51. Doris Westfall's Gravatar Doris Westfall
    February 28, 2013 - 8:35 pm | Permalink

    The two of you have God-given gifts that you have used to glorify God and promote the Kingdom. i think Jesus is laughing and saying to himself, “Damn these guys are good!” I think you should be interviewed by Stephen Colbert…now that would be a great match up!

    • Constance Santana's Gravatar Constance Santana
      March 1, 2013 - 12:33 am | Permalink

      Oh yes! Stephen Colbert indeed! We would really enjoy that. I’m sure there are people here who haven’t had the opportunity to get to know our dear Stephen Colbert. That would be an enjoyable interview for certes!

  52. Relling Westfall's Gravatar Relling Westfall
    February 28, 2013 - 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I have recruited a couple of people to Lent Madness already this year, and am still talking to a few whom I think may truly enjoy it. I have been following Lent Madness for a couple of years, but had not been as involved before as I am this year. I do want to tell you that I have not seen such a great cross section of religious and Episcopalians anywhere. You have done a fabulous job, and will get your own golden halos in time! Thank you for the great job you do. This is the best Lent Madness yet!

  53. February 28, 2013 - 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Thinking I should work on the top ten reasons to play Lent Madness each year…the least of which should be: to lighten up in the midst of a tough world and look w/ amazement and wonder at the saints who have come before us.
    And yes, I agree that Jesus must have had a wicked sense of humor…perhaps he got that from his Father? Keep up the good and faithful work, SEC, Bloggers, Maple Anglican and those communicating from the dead via the “Leviatron 2000″ (or whatever that is called). The Church needs a breath of fresh air…even in Lent!

  54. Edna's Gravatar Edna
    February 28, 2013 - 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Thank you SEC for this Lenten discipline when I am learning more about all the saints (old and new) because it’s just so much FUN. If only all learning could be this much fun–academic achievement rates would sky rocket.

  55. February 28, 2013 - 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Mi esposo, the sports’ enthusiast has this recommendation: Divisional Play-offs. For instance, the Lay Bracket and the Clerical Bracket, or the Martyr Bracket and some Other Bracket, or the Missionary Bracket and the Stay-at-Home Bracket. Wait, how about a round robin? You have to have two defeats in order to be eliminated. There’s an app for that, I’m sure. Anyway, keep it up. I have great fun myself coming up with the intro blurbs when I “share” the multiple daily postings, which only then heightens my withdrawal when the weekend comes and there’s nothing to post. Thank GOD there was at least the post this weekend about what to do with LMW! Well, it’s night. What’s done is done. Have a peaceful night and a quiet rest.

  56. Ann's Gravatar Ann
    February 28, 2013 - 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Oh, did I forget to tell you I love you both? Well, I do!

  57. Alison's Gravatar Alison
    February 28, 2013 - 9:32 pm | Permalink

    I love Lent Madness! Thanks so much for doing it! I bet many of us will keep our Lenten discipline all the way through Easter for the first time ever thanks to your hard work? Keep it up!!

  58. For Sure's Gravatar For Sure
    February 28, 2013 - 9:36 pm | Permalink

    As a first yr. LM participant and a Roman Catholic, I want to thank my wonderful Episcopalian friend for introducing me to this game! I can’t tell you how much I look forward to this every day and how much I have learned. I have spread the “Good News” to my priest, Bible study group , and many friends. I want to award my own Golden Halo to my friend!

    • Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
      March 1, 2013 - 6:04 pm | Permalink

      As the Episcopalian friend to which I think For Sure is referring, stay clear of me if the Golden Halo comes my way. Because lightning is surely on its way! We are thoroughly enjoying this. I am trying to keep up with For Sure, but not even close. Thank you, SEC.

  59. Rev. Greg Brown's Gravatar Rev. Greg Brown
    February 28, 2013 - 9:58 pm | Permalink

    If some don’t like this site, they can pack up their losing ballots and go home. As I am sure you hoped it would be, this has been my favorite devotional this lent, as I look for the holiness in them to inspire me…which it has. Thank you for sharing your time and talents in this way: It is making a difference in my congregation. Grace and Peace.

  60. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    February 28, 2013 - 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Amen gentlemen. Keep calm and stay purple. Your wry wit and creativity are deeply appreciated. More please, so our 21st century identity will be here for our children and grandchildren. Can’t wait for bishop madness!

  61. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    February 28, 2013 - 10:38 pm | Permalink

    I recently read that, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the people say “Alleluia” more often as Lent moves toward Easter. Fasting and returning to God are thought to be joyous activities. I like this much better than the “gloom and doom” style of observing Lent.

  62. Judy's Gravatar Judy
    February 28, 2013 - 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I love LM. I agree with all the wonderful comments. This is my first year and I have learned so many amazing things. I have introduced LM to my coworkers and friends and it is a topic at our dinner table when I pass on the things I learned to my children. It has been a wonderful experience! Thank you all!!

  63. MammaK1947's Gravatar MammaK1947
    February 28, 2013 - 10:53 pm | Permalink

    As an Episcolutheran also known as a Lutherpalian I am constantly trying to explain Lent to my husband, the former Baptist, who says he went to church so often as a child he need never go again. To put some levity into Lent doesn’t make it any more Lent, just as forgetting not to say “Alleluia: wouldn’t make it any more Not Lent. So continue the madness. I gave giving up for Lent a long time ago. And think this is a great way to learn something about the Saints before me AND remember it IS Lent.

    • MammaK1947's Gravatar MammaK1947
      February 28, 2013 - 10:55 pm | Permalink

      It should be any Less Lent. Oh well. It is late.

    • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
      March 1, 2013 - 9:54 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been referred to as a Cathodist myself. I do believe God recognizes us hybrids, don’t you? I have been trying to give up Catholic guilt for lent, but I can’t find anyone who’ll take it.

  64. Bonnie's Gravatar Bonnie
    February 28, 2013 - 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for helping me get closer to God during Lent. Wish I could attend Fr. Tim’s church one day. Blessings to you both. Come visit SC anytime. We would love to see y’all.

  65. Alison Clarke DeSouza, MD's Gravatar Alison Clarke DeSouza, MD
    February 28, 2013 - 11:14 pm | Permalink

    This is my first time participating in Lent Madness. I am a member of St Mary Magdalene in Coral Springs, Fl who gave us the information. This has been very educational for me. For those who criticize the choices and methods, that is reserved for the theologians. But for some of us who wish to ad our spiritual growth and meditation during the lenten season, this has been a fun and informative twist to our Lenten journey. I love it. Alison Clarke DeSouza, MD

  66. Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
    February 28, 2013 - 11:22 pm | Permalink

    This is my third lent madness and I love it. I find myself counting down the last days to Mardi Gras, not just for the pancakes. I’ve even suffered from LMW.
    I cannot agree more that God has a sense of humor. From Isaac, named “laughter” because his parents thought having a child was impossible, to Jesus making a pun by renaming Simon Peter, i.e. “Rocky,” there is humor sprinkled throughout the bible. How can our Creator give us a sense of humor without having one Herself?
    I also couldn’t agree more that Lent doesn’t need to be dour to be effective . The point if Lent, and, most likely, the point of LIFE, is to grow closer and closer to God. Why can’t letting go of the roadblocks to God’s love be filled with joy instead of, or at least in addition to, sorrow?
    While it is indeed ludicrous to pit saints against each other in a “saintly smackdown,” (that term always makes me laugh) the truth is that it’s a painless, dare I say “fun” in Lent, way to read about so many people and their lives of faith. All of them were real human beings with their flaws and gifts… Apostles, monks, slaves, poets, musicians, 1st to 20th century martyrs; men and women, rich and poor, young and old, from every corner if earth…ALL of them so profoundly moved by the love of Jesus that their lives were irrevocably changed. The very same Jesus inspired each and every one of them. Maybe they’re all in a giant coliseum in the sky cheering future saints along. Maybe, just maybe, they’re saving a few seats for some of us in that great arena. Maybe there’s room for all of us. Maybe Jesus has some inspiration for us, too.

  67. Susie's Gravatar Susie
    February 28, 2013 - 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Good Grief! I can’t believe the complainers–you wrote great Top 10 responses. Please ignore any future criticizers because this is great for making learning fun & also proving Episcopalians can be humorous!! It’s also voluntary–they don’t have to read it/be offended! As for errors, we’re all only humane :- ) & we’re lucky you’re making time ib your busy lives for this== Thank you!!

  68. Harry Allagree's Gravatar Harry Allagree
    February 28, 2013 - 11:41 pm | Permalink

    To quote one of my favorite saints, who is glaringly not in the running this Lent, St. Teresa of Avila: “God save us from sour-faced saints!”

  69. Cradle Episcopalian's Gravatar Cradle Episcopalian
    March 1, 2013 - 12:02 am | Permalink

    Jay Leno is an avid Lent Madness follower. Did you see his bracketology for the new Pope?! Guess Tim and Scott didn’t launch that new website soon enough. :(

  70. Janet Irvine's Gravatar Janet Irvine
    March 1, 2013 - 12:13 am | Permalink

    Can we really, really have a Time After Pentecost Madness??????

    • Laurie's Gravatar Laurie
      March 1, 2013 - 8:43 am | Permalink

      Tim, you do that. We are having Fifty Days of Fabulous for Easter. No voting (well, we might, who knows!). Stay tuned!

  71. JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
    March 1, 2013 - 1:03 am | Permalink

    Lawsuits and church closings do certainly seem to get the church in the news but apparently resigning from high office does it too, even better.
    (Don’t even THINK about it, SEC!!)

  72. Sally Duernberger's Gravatar Sally Duernberger
    March 1, 2013 - 1:06 am | Permalink

    This year is my 2nd. LentMadness encounter. Can’t say enough good about the program. There are soooo many Saints and Holy Folks that I’ve never heard of and am pleased to have learned about. Hats off to Scott and Tim and the Bloggers for all their hard work and dedication. Can’t wait to find out who will wear the Golden Crown this year.

  73. Josh's Gravatar Josh
    March 1, 2013 - 1:39 am | Permalink

    You guys are awesome! Lent madness is fun and educational (what a concept)! I’m learning about saints I’ve never even heard of (except Luke and Lucy the martyr) and I look forward to visiting the website every morning I wake up! Also, your 10 responses were healthy and funny! Keep up the good work :)

  74. Kesmarn's Gravatar Kesmarn
    March 1, 2013 - 3:21 am | Permalink

    I’m very grateful. Mary Kaye. I believe in the power of prayer. And in return I offer prayer for those who pray for me. Endless circle…

    • Judy's Gravatar Judy
      March 1, 2013 - 11:06 am | Permalink

      I love Lent Madness….no Duke or Kentucky to worry about.

      • Judy Austin's Gravatar Judy Austin
        March 1, 2013 - 2:44 pm | Permalink

        From another Judy (Duke ’61)–even LM doesn’t help after last night’s Duke debacle!

  75. Jo Meachem's Gravatar Jo Meachem
    March 1, 2013 - 4:58 am | Permalink

    Note to Alison Clarke Desouza MD: Give Mother Cynthia a big Yankee hug from Jo Meachem from Buffalo, NY!

  76. Skip's Gravatar Skip
    March 1, 2013 - 6:19 am | Permalink

    This is my first year with Lent Madness; I saw the article in USA Today. Unfortunately Lent used to be just a Sunday exercise. Now with Lent Madness I think of Lent, its meaning, throughout the week. The saints and the match-ups are very thought provoking and the tongue in cheek commentary is fun. I especially like reading the posts. I even enjoy Maple Anglican. Thank you SEC. If your objective was to bring more people to reflect on Lent, its meaning while having fun you have succeeded. I just wish you had ignored the ferrets with the battle of the Martin Luther’s in the first round. That was a tough one. I suspect the Saintly and Elate rounds will even be harder and more thought provoking.

  77. John's Gravatar John
    March 1, 2013 - 6:32 am | Permalink

    I see nothing wrong with a dose of good-humored churchiness during Lent. In fact, I’ve become so attuned to the spirit of Lent Madness that I read the names of the the national mag that picked up on Lent Madness last year as “Sports Illuminated.” And that raises visions of some anonymous monk at Lindisfarne or Iona watching Michael Phelps’s alignment on a golf course and figuring he could that weird curvature in the initial of some Gospel or other. And speaking of that, does the SEC have ways to include anonymous saints into the bracket? How about the Master of the Parament vs. the Upper Rhenish Master?

  78. Percy Grant's Gravatar Percy Grant
    March 1, 2013 - 6:49 am | Permalink

    This is the best educational program in the church! Like a spoonful of sugar

  79. Robert Kent's Gravatar Robert Kent
    March 1, 2013 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    Don’t the critics know the SEC is infallible?

  80. Lynne's Gravatar Lynne
    March 1, 2013 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    Diggin’ Lent Madness (!) and post it daily on our parish FaceBook page along with SSJE’s series on prayer. Thanks for helping us keep Lent in such a positive way.

  81. Michael Cudney's Gravatar Michael Cudney
    March 1, 2013 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    Ignore the critics. They’re just jealous cuz they didn’t think of Lent Madness first. Carry on, and keep calm. Or carry a keep and calm on. Whatever.
    As for Lent being a time of ‘giving up’ something, it really should be about taking something on. In my case I’ve found that LM is a great platform for learning more about our holy women and men. Using the tubular miracle of the internets to discover more about the saints in the brackets has been a wonderful experience.
    DON’T CHANGE A THING!

  82. Alan Medsker's Gravatar Alan Medsker
    March 1, 2013 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    Keep up the good and holy work, guys. As my friend Anna has pointed out to me, in the church if you’re not pissing someone off, you’re probably not doing your job.

  83. JAG's Gravatar JAG
    March 1, 2013 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    This is my first Lent Madness; it’s educational and funny, so I don’t get the criticism. Of course, my brackets went down the first round, but I don’t think it was rigged; some of you just didn’t know any better. Now, of course, when it comes to the NCAA, my team will win–Go Orange!

  84. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    March 1, 2013 - 11:58 am | Permalink

    Lent Madness critics need to come to a certain realization. Lent Madness has “saints” in the brackets who may not have even existed as persons. Lent Madness has “saints” who have lives that we know virtually nothing about so the blanks are filled in by wondrous and probably fanciful stories. People have voted for or against certain “saints” based largely on race, gender and even geography. In short Lent Madness is neither a theological exercise nor an exercise where carefully reasoned decisions are always being made.

    What Lent Madness has accomplished is making learning about our “saints” fun, instead of it being an exercise as interesting as watching paint dry. In our parish we complete brackets, turn them in with a donation and see who picks the most winners with the winner picking a charity for the money to go to. Guess what, Lent Madness is now actually provoking conversations at coffee hour about guess what, saints! We are learning while at the same time raising money for charity. I think that trumps any complaints about Lent Madness.

  85. Diane Lynch's Gravatar Diane Lynch
    March 1, 2013 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m your average Plain Jane Episcopalian. Lent Madness has inspired me and has helped me fall even more in love with our Church. I AM LEARNING! If this thing of yours is not spreading the Good News, then nothing is.

  86. Toni Ponzo's Gravatar Toni Ponzo
    March 1, 2013 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

    This is my second LM and I’m lovin’ it. Learning so much about our spiritual ancestors, many of whom I’d never even heard of before. Some of the match ups have been difficult, all have been thought provoking. My EFM group even did a TR on the match up between Nicholas Ferrar and Harriet Tubman. Keep up the good work SEC.

  87. Dorian McGlannan's Gravatar Dorian McGlannan
    March 1, 2013 - 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Oh, the silly people who take life too seriously. It is bad for your health! This is my first year with LM and it is delightful. Thanks for doing this.

  88. Beverly Hume's Gravatar Beverly Hume
    March 1, 2013 - 8:12 pm | Permalink

    This is my second year following LM. Easter through Ash Wednesday was a dry season of sorts, and I couldn’t wait for Lent to roll around again. Thanks to SEC for all the members do to help us appreciate our diverse heritage.

  89. March 2, 2013 - 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I have been posting a link to the daily Lent Madness match ups on my page. It is one of the most viewed regular postings I have. I commiserate with your annoyance with nay sayers. I’ve had a few such comments about my postings from Louie Crew’s 365+ Reasons for Becoming an Anglican/Episcopalian. They haven’t stopped me either!

  90. Phil Harrington's Gravatar Phil Harrington
    March 2, 2013 - 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Oh, good! Someone else who thinks that Blue for Advent is a horrible idea!

  91. PAMELA RW KANDT's Gravatar PAMELA RW KANDT
    March 4, 2013 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    ZING!!!

    Pray for the haters for they know not what they do.

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