Congratulations to 2014 Golden Halo Winner — Charles Wesley!

Charles Wesley

The Lent Madness Supreme Executive Committee congratulates Charles Wesley on his victory in Lent Madness 2014 and authorizes the following text to be sung on Easter Day at liturgies throughout the world.

Charles Wesley is risen today, Alleluia!
his triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who the Golden Halo won, Alleluia!
‘gainst all saints, the battle done! Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Charles, with golden ring, Alleluia!
who endured his brother John, Alleluia!
all his hymns are sine qua non. Alleluia!

But the bracket he endured, Alleluia!
left his victory assured, Alleluia!
now above the rest he’s king, Alleluia!
where the saintly angels sing. Alleluia!

Sing we to the S-E-C, Alleluia!
praise their humor, praise their glee, Alleluia!
praise Lent Madness, all you lot: Alleluia!
Celeb Bloggers, Tim and Scott, Alleluia!

** Liturgical Note: As the wise and adept preacher will naturally mention Charles Wesley’s winning the Golden Halo on Easter Day, this hymn is most appropriately sung immediately following the sermon. The fourth verse, while optional, requires organ, trumpet, and timpani if it is to be used within the context of the liturgy.

In the final video of Lent Madness 2014 from the Archbishops, the Golden Halo winner is proclaimed and the kick-off date for Lent Madness 2015 is announced.

But wait, there’s more!

Charles Wesley mugCommemorate this great moment in church history by purchasing your very own Charles Wesley mug. It features Charles with the words “2014 Golden Halo Winner” and “Lent Madness.” This is the perfect gift for every Episcopalian and every Methodist. Or really anyone who likes good hymns. The Charles Wesley Golden Halo Winner Lent Madness 2014 mug is white ceramic, ready to hold 11 ounces of your favorite beverage. Pre-order yours now for just $11. Buy five or more for just $9 each. They’ll ship soon! Buy now!

Who will win the Golden Halo?Maybe you want to get a more general Lent Madness mug. How about a purple ceramic mug that says “Who will win the Golden Halo?” on one side with the Lent Madness logo on the other? Eleven ounces of tea or coffee will be more delicious, thanks to the wondrous powers of purple. This makes a great gift for anyone who loves warm beverages, the color purple, or mostly cylindrical objects. Pre-order for just $11. Buy five or more for just $9 each. They’ll ship soon! Buy now!

For the Golden Halo: Harriet Bedell vs. Charles Wesley

2013 Golden Halo winner Frances Perkins prepares to hand over her halo

2013 Golden Halo winner Frances Perkins prepares to hand over her halo

We embarked upon this Lent Madness journey over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday.” With your help we have whittled the field of 32 saints down to two: Harriet Bedell and Charles Wesley. Who will walk away with the coveted Golden Halo of Lent Madness 2014? Only 24 hours and your voting participation will reveal this holy mystery.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, we’ve met some truly remarkable holy people along the way. Perhaps you learned about some folks you’d never heard of or maybe you renewed acquaintances with saints who have long offered inspiration. Of course the entire notion of placing saints in a bracket is absurd — each “contestant” has already earned a crown of righteousness in addition to a “golden halo.” But at the heart of Lent Madness is the abiding conviction that encountering those who have come before us in the faith enriches and enlivens our own walk with the risen Christ.

In the process of this whimsical Lenten devotion we’ve all made some new online friends, encountered a community of believers who take their faith but not themselves too seriously, learned some things, were inspired by saintly witnesses, and had a lot fun along the way.

Of course we literally couldn’t have done this without our stellar Celebrity Bloggers to whom we offer sincere gratitude. Amber Belldene, Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, David Creech, Laura Darling, Robert Hendrickson, Maria Kane, Penny Nash, Heidi Shott, and David Sibley. Thanks to Bracket Czar Adam Thomas for his stellar behind-the-scenes work in keeping the bracket updated daily. And we can’t forget the ever mysterious Maple Anglican who brought us the inimitable shenanigans of Archbishops Thomas and John. You all rock!

Speaking of Maple Anglican, here’s the last Archbishop’s Update. But before you watch it (or after) be sure to check out some Golden Halo fashion tips from Lent Madness fan and Vogue model (seriously) Julia Frakes.

Finally, thanks to all of you who participated by voting, commenting, drinking coffee out of Lent Madness mugs, filling in brackets, talking about saints at coffee hour, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter, and allowing us to play a small role in your Lenten journey. We’ve loved having each one of you along for the “madness” and on behalf of the Supreme Executive Committee we wish you a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter.

Oh, wait, there’s one more thing before we set our face toward the Triduum. But first we should note that Heidi Shott has shepherded Harriet Bedell through the brackets while David Sibley has done the same for Charles Wesley. We’ve asked them for a single image and one quote. We’ve already heard a lot about them and from them — click the bracket tab and scroll down to view their previous match-ups if you want to refresh your memory. And the, it’s time.

The polls will be open for 24 hours and the winner will be announced at 8:00 am Eastern time on Maundy Thursday. Now go cast your vote — the 2014 Lent Madness Golden Halo hangs in the balance!

Harriet Bedell


“Measured in terms of the number of lives she has touched and brightened, the achievements of Deaconess Bedell assume monumental proportions….She probably fits into no simple category for missionaries that her church knows. She has always been a pioneer; and she has been at home in Collier County which proudly calls her its own. This humble woman of God and servant of all who come to her…gives one the impression she might go on forever, as indeed her spirit will.”

Charlton Tebeau, Collier County historian, in “Florida’s Last Frontier,” 1966.

Charles Wesley


Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.

Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;

Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,

Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.


NOTE: At 10:55 p.m. EDT, the Supreme Executive Committee banned three voters and removed 41 votes from Harriet Bedell, due to voting irregularity. Remember to VOTE ONCE ONLY.

The voters in question were in Buffalo, NY; Rochester, MN; and Gulfport, MS.

Harriet Bedell vs. Charles Wesley

  • Charles Wesley (51%, 3,607 Votes)
  • Harriet Bedell (49%, 3,407 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,014

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An Interview with Julia Frakes, Actual Celebrity Blogger

Julia Frakes. Photographed by Mark Iantosca for Teen Vogue.

Julia Frakes. Photographed by Mark Iantosca for Teen Vogue.

At Lent Madness HQ, as you know, we monitor the internet for Lent Madness action very carefully. Not long ago, we noticed that Julia Frakes — fashion writer, blogger, stylist and model — is a Lent Madness fan. You can read her stuff in lots of places, but her tumblr is a good spot with links to various magazine articles and more. She’s also active on Twitter as @bunnyBISOUS. Her bio can be found on her tumblr. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for the SEC.

marc-jacobs-rtw-fw2014-runway-43_010526315867SEC: So you’ve written about fashion quite a bit. In our Faithful Four lineup, who is the fashion standout? What gives this saint the edge?
JF: As the first European convert to Christianity, I suppose it goes without saying that Saint Lydia of Thyatira, the seller of purple, reigns alongside the ultimate trendsetters glorified on the Episcopal Church’s Holy Women, Holy Men ranks–and arguably in the whole of theological history to boot #nobigdeal. Lydia’s adept business acumen enabled her epoch-altering philanthropy, church establishment, and good works: an economic security owing in no small measure to her stunning purple dyes—the color of passion and splendor, of regal and papal vestments, precious stones, and ornate prose (case in point).

In fact, it’s not a far stretch to imagine Marc Jacobs’ most recent lilac-strewn collection–backlit by a hazy purple catwalk set and crowned by legendary colorist Guido Palau’s custom-dyed “dusty violet” angular wigs in the style of Ancient Greece–as a runway tribute to Saint Lydia of Thyatira. Talk about a #trendsetter.

SEC: I suppose it’s a challenge to find an ensemble to work with the Golden Halo. What tips would you give the saint who wins Lent Madness 2014?
RodarteJF: I reckon we all could learn a life lesson or two–above and beyond the earthly realms of ensemble/halo-coordination–from Lupita Nyong’o’s breakout night at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Not only did she earn the Oscar for her standout performance in 12 Years a Slave, but she won the red carpet arrayed in a robin’s egg blue Prada gown and a diamond Fred Leighton halo. Further how-to tidbits to prepare for a potential Golden Halo bequeathing ceremony can certainly be gleaned from the innovative designer-sisters behind Rodarte, who recently crowned a collection with intergalactic, star-strewn halos (see here, here, and here).


Photo: Filippo Fior/

Golden Halo contenders can twig a tip from a recent Balenciaga collection presented by designer Nicolas Ghesquière (now at the helm of Louis Vuitton), whose gilded halos were an out-of-this-world hybrid of alien and arboreal aesthetics. Whether emulating Lupita, Rodarte, or Balenciaga, all halo-bearers could benefit from contemplating the Heavens for divine (outfit) inspiration.

SEC: You’ve done some modeling too, and I gather that personality is as important as anything else on the runway or in front of the camera. If our saints decide to start modeling their Golden Halo, what should they keep in mind? Who do you think would be best at this?
JF: Well, hymnwriter Charles Wesley no doubt has “the rhythm,” so to speak (sing?), but if Phillips Brooks could extend the venerable passion and record-setting pace of his preaching–a quick, spirited velocity emulated by the most stirring of orators (including Martin Luther King, Jr.!)–to a modeling endeavor, then he would no doubt test the shutter speeds and inventiveness of even famed fashion photographers.

SEC: Most of your @bunnybisous Twitter followers aren’t church geeks, but you’ve had a few things to say about Lent Madness. How can we all learn to share the Good News on social media?
JF: Between university courses and work, it’s been an honor lend a hand with my hometown @GraceChurch1921’s social media efforts–although it can admittedly become a bit confusing at times, as I also tweet on behalf of a few other organizations and magazines (and yes, many mistweets and various techy lessons have been learnt the hard way). As Episcopalians, we are so blessed to be members of a church acclaimed for its welcoming hospitality–a real world, in-the-flesh culture (emblazoned on our “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” signs and manifest in our parishes’ all-embracing and nonjudgmental coffee culture)–that entreats all Episcopalians to attend to our intersectionality and celebrate our neighbors with open hearts. I feel like Saint Harriet Bedell is the personifies this tenet: Her empathy and identification with all those in her far-reaching ministry–from Alaska to Florida—where she was so deeply respected that The Cheyenne even adopted her into their tribe, giving her the name “Bird Woman.” I mean, talk about #trailcred. As betweeted by Dr. Meredith Gould’s groundbreaking and community-building #ChSocM initiative, every one of us is empowered to share the Good News in the so-called virtual sphere, with strikingly tangible and powerful effects.

I strive not to ignore the unique opportunities that “having a following” presents: if I can levy any limited clout, I must do so in considered advocacy for social justice. To effectively beget change by bridging liberal and radical feminist activist approaches and operating within and outside of institutional constructs strikes me as the most promising course of action: successfully integrating both legislative and social movement support—outside a given organization while ensuring ardent support from inside players—is crucial when, as in the effective justice movements for pay equity and affirmative action, either a threat is levied, resources are imperiled, or coercion is deployed. Within groups, engagement in social identity politics can mobilize stigmatized groups by providing the cathartic emotional work necessary to upturn shame, isolation, and fear into an outrage that provokes pride, mutual support, and urgency for action.

SEC: Any saints from current or previous years of Lent Madness that you really like?
JF: Oh yes! The divine wisdom of Saints Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Dame Julian of Norwich, Ignatius of Loyola, Augustine, Jeanne d’Arc, and C.S. Lewis all continue to play a pivotal role in my own spiritual journey. On that note, if I may be so bold, may I cast my 2015 bracket ballot? Is the Supreme Executive Committee accepting nominations? / Well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out and submit the Saints Søren Kierkegaard, Thomas Aquinas, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Thurgood Marshall, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Thomas à Kempis, Lord Shaftesbury, Ralph Adams Cram, and Albrecht Dürer for your most esteemed consideration of Lent Madness contendership.

SEC: Thanks for your time. Since you were kind enough to answer these questions, we’ll let you slide in these nominations early, despite the fact that everyone else has to wait until nominations are invited. Good luck with your studies!

Oh, and we can’t wait to hear your raves about the stylish fashions of the SEC’s black shirts with white collars.

What is Spy Wednesday?

As you know, the Supreme Executive Committee has declared that the final battle for the Golden Halo will take place tomorrow on Spy Wednesday. Several of you have asked us about this unusual name for the Wednesday in Holy Week. Ever willing to educate and inspire, we are only too happy to oblige.

spywednesdaypaintingSpy Wednesday gets its name because this is the day on which Judas betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin. Because Judas is thought to be sneaky, his actions conjured up the image of a spy. The synoptic gospels all include an account of the betrayal — Matthew 26:12-14, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.

This is how the Gospel of Luke recounts the events:

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:3-6)

The illustration above evocatively depicts this infamous scene. If you go to Holy Eucharist every day of Holy Week, the Gospel readings provide the narrative of Jesus’ final days, an ever-quickening story that spins out of control and finally brings us to Good Friday.

It is surely a strange juxtaposition to think about Spy Wednesday and Lent Madness in the same 01_01moment. But the whole point of Lent Madness is to engage us all in an exploration of the ways God’s grace has filled the lives of women and men through history and across all cultures. Sure, we’ve been silly and even competitive about our Lenten exercise. In the end though, we are learning to see in fresh ways how Jesus Christ matters to all humanity. That seems like a good and holy thing to do on Spy Wednesday.

Charles Wesley vs. Phillips Brooks

We’re getting closer, friends. In less than 24 hours we’ll know who will be competing against Harriet Bedell for the Golden Halo. Yes, you heard that correctly, Harriet Bedell! Did anyone who filled out a bracket have Harriet competing in the championship round? Anybody? Harriet capped off a stunning Cinderella-like romp through Lent Madness 2014 by defeating Lydia yesterday 54% to 46% and will vie for the Golden Halo on Spy Wednesday with either Charles Wesley or Phillips Brooks.

But first, Charles and Phillips stare one another down in this battle of wordsmiths. Hymn writer and preacher. Though, to be fair, Wesley preached a bunch of sermons and Brooks wrote some hymns. And many generations have been inspired by their passion and creativity.

To make it this far, Charles Wesley defeated John Wesley, Thomas Merton, and Anna Cooper while Phillips Brooks turned away Simeon, Catherine of Siena, and Julia Chester Emery.

Oh, and congratulations to the Lent Madness Faithful for helping us achieve our goal of 10,000 likes on Facebook! We had great faith in you and the milestone was tripped at 10:18 pm Eastern Standard Time by a Canadian (of all things) proving that Lent Madness is indeed a global phenomenon. Or at least that Maple Anglican is a lot more influential than we thought.

After watching Tim and Scott’s last Lenten edition of the award winning (well, not yet but we’re optimistic and/or deluded) Monday Madness, let’s see what the Archbishops have to say about today’s match-up:

Charles Wesley


Charles Wesley Writing, by Richard Douglass

The other day, I asked a friend what I should say in order to convince you, dear reader, to cast your vote for Charles Wesley in today’s Lent Madness match-up. I was given a definite and absolute answer: “it’s all about the hymns!”

In one sense, of course the case for Charles Wesley centers on his 6,000+ hymns. For me, those hymns have been present at some of the most dear and cherished moments of my life –- I’ve attended weddings and funerals and sung Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. I recall the Christmas Eve eucharists as child where I would be so excited to sing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Easter morning was never complete without Christ the Lord is Risen Today/Jesus Christ is Risen Today. 

His hymns punctuate the seasons of the church’s year (as with Come Thou Long Expected Jesus and Lo! He

Charles Wesley, from St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, San Francisco, CA

Charles Wesley, from St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, San Francisco, CA

Comes with Clouds Descending), and they provide language to express our desire to offer our highest praises to God (O For a Thousand Tongues To Sing!). At times, they simply stand in awe and amazement at God’s incredible love for us (And Can it Be That I Should Gain?).

But in a larger sense, I like Charles Wesley for way more than writing my favorite hymns. Because for Wesley, the hymns -– magnificent as they are –- were but other tools in his toolbox –- yet another way of striving to reach every last person with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Charles Wesley wanted every last person on earth to have that same feeling of confidence and assurance in Jesus Christ’s love for them, just as he had experienced his own “strange palpitation of the heart” and assurance that Jesus loved him on that Pentecost Day in 1738.

It’s no secret that this mission of Charles Wesley often led him right up to the edge of trouble. With his brother, Charles received disapproval from church authorities when, casting aside long-standing practice, he went out into the fields to preach the gospel to people who otherwise never would have had an opportunity to step into a church. And preach he did –- to thousands upon thousands.

unnamedAnd the hymns…Charles Wesley’s many hymns were to him yet another means by which the gospel could be heard, that Jesus Christ could be known, and Jesus’ love could be felt by everyone. The famous 19th century American preacher Henry Ward Beecher once confessed his understanding of the power of those hymns to stir the heart when he said: “I would rather have written that hymn of Wesley’s, Jesus, Lover of My Soul, than to have the fame of all the kings that ever sat on the earth.”

Charles Wesley was described by those who knew him as “a man made for friendship.” And for him, that’s what all those hymns, all those sermons, and all his work was all about: friendship with God and with neighbor.

That’s a commitment, and a ministry, that we can sing about today and every day, even as we, like Charles Wesley, cast our crowns before Jesus… lost in wonder, love, and praise.

David Sibley

 Phillips Brooks

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

In the later decades of the 19th Century Phillips Brooks, rector of Trinity Church, Boston, was a national celebrity. It was a time when, unlike today, being widely-known, much less widely-respected and beloved as Brooks was, was no small feat.

Once clocked by a reporter at preaching more than 200 words per minute, Phillips Brooks must have been a been a magnetic, not to say breathless, preacher. We can’t know. Thomas Edison’s phonograph was not widely in use by Brooks’s death in 1893, but Martin Luther King, Jr.’s son has claimed that the cadence of Brooks’s sermons influenced his father’s preaching style. If we have Brooks to thank, in small part, for “I Have a Dream,” then we owe a great debt.

Upon reading his sermons more than 100 years later, it’s remarkable how overcome I am by a potent jolt of inspiration. I want to be a better person. I want to serve God with my best self and my whole heart. Sign me up!

Listen to the man:

The danger facing all of us — let me say it again, for one feels it tremendously — is not that we shall

Hall of Fame of Great Americans, Bronx Community College

Hall of Fame of Great Americans, Bronx Community College

make an absolute failure of life, nor that we shall fall into outright viciousness, nor that we shall be terribly unhappy, nor that we shall feel that life has no meaning at all — not these things. The danger is that we may fail to perceive life’s greatest meaning, fall short of its highest good, miss its deepest and most abiding happiness, be unable to render the most needed service, be unconscious of life ablaze with the light of the Presence of God — and be content to have it so — that is the danger. That some day we may wake up and find that always we have been busy with the husks and trappings of life — and have really missed life itself. For life without God, to one who has known the richness and joy of life with Him, is unthinkable, impossible. That is what one prays one’s friends may be spared — satisfaction with a life that falls short of the best, that has in it no tingle and thrill which come from a friendship with the Father.

Brooks knew that it all comes down to love, as he shared so eloquently in a letter to young Helen Keller.

Trinity Church, Boston

Trinity Church, Boston

“There is one universal religion, Helen – the religion of Love. Love your Heavenly Father with your whole heart and soul, love every child of God as much as ever you can, and remember that the possibilities of good are greater than the possibilities of evil; and you have the key to Heaven.”

The words Brooks shares are not bound by time. “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Indeed, they are met in Christ every night of our lives. And his call to prayer to a God who knows no bounds sounds like it was written yesterday.

“Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger. Pray not for crutches but for wings.”

Heidi Shott


Charles Wesley vs. Phillips Brooks

  • Charles Wesley (64%, 3,177 Votes)
  • Phillips Brooks (36%, 1,790 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,965

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Monday Madness — April 14, 2014

It’s time for the last episode of Monday Madness for Lent Madness 2014. Gather the family, make some popcorn, and get ready for unparalleled video greatness.

In this week’s episode, you’ll see that Tim and Scott have given a shout out to 50 Days of Fabulous. They’ve also thanked the many people who make Lent Madness possible, especially our Celebrity Bloggers, Bracket Czar, Maple Anglican, and the staff of Forward Movement.

It’s been great so far, and it’s not over yet! Stay tuned for the heart-pounding thrills as Lent Madness 2014 comes to an action-packed conclusion. Keep voting until the Championship!

Lydia vs. Harriet Bedell

We started Lent Madness 2014 with 32 saints and now we’re down to four. The Faithful Four. Who will win the coveted Golden Halo? Only a few short days and your voting participation will give us the answer. But it’s come down to this: Lydia, Harriet Bedell, Charles Wesley, and Phillips Brooks.

Today we begin the first of two Faithful Four match-ups as Lydia takes on Harriet Bedell. In this round we ask our Celebrity Bloggers to briefly answer one question: “Why should Saint XX win the Golden Halo?” Speaking of which, how about a round of applause for our fabulous CB’s who toil away in the salt mines of Lent Madness without nearly enough recognition? They are truly the backbone of this operation and are worthy of our gratitude. Please do hound them for autographs when you spot them wearing sunglasses and baseball caps just trying to lead normal lives.

To make it to the Faithful Four, Lydia defeated Moses the Black, John of the Cross, and Basil the Great while Harriet turned back Joseph Schereschewsky, Thomas Gallaudet, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. (click on the names of defeated opponents to view previous match-ups and refresh your memory about these two saintly women).

And, in case you were wondering, we’re tantalizingly close to our goal of 10,000 Facebook likes. Over 9,920! Encourage that freshly minted teenager who just became eligible for an account to like us. Compel your grandfather for whom you just did spend the last five hours setting up his new computer and teaching him how to use Facebook to join the Lent Madness party. We can do this!

Finally, here’s the Archbishop’s Update highlighting today’s battle:


unnamedSt. Lydia, unlike other saints, stands in the shadows. No legends, no stories of miracles, no healings. She just shows up in Acts, does her thing, disappears again. Yet she has lasted. She is a saint of paradox, standing with feet in two worlds..

Her very name, in Acts, is a contradiction. She’s Lydia Thyatira, which indicates she is from Thyatira, a town known for its dyeworks, but she appears in Philippi of Macedonia. She must have moved her family from the small town to the more-bustling crossroads of Philippi at some point. She’s a transplant, at a time when people didn’t move from their hometowns. She’s from two places at once.

She’s a powerful business woman in her community and head of her own household. That’s rare in her time and place. While we have other examples of female heads-of-households during the Pax Romana, it wasn’t common, and Lydia running her own prosperous dye business would have raised a few eyebrows, and caused a few Roman patriarchs to despair for the soul of the Empire. A strong woman in a strongly patriarchal society, she would not have been the most popular person.


Paul and Lydia, Church in Philippi

When we meet her, she is praying with the Jewish community, but she hasn’t converted. And she’s not at the synagogue; she’s at the riverbank, with the other God-fearers. Even when it comes to matters of faith, she’s holding several things in tension.

And yet, when she meets Paul, she’s drawn to the Jesus that he preaches, to the Jesus that he describes. She is immediately baptized, along with her entire household. And her life is changed. From that moment on, the entirety of her wealth, her status and her resources are dedicated to starting and sheltering the Christian mission in Philippi.

It’s impossible to crawl in the mind of another person, so who knows what drew her that day by the river. But perhaps part of the attraction was her unique blend of paradoxes. Perhaps she recognized in Jesus a sort of kindred spirit, who held together in himself the ultimate tension of heaven and earth, God and humanity.

unnamedPerhaps she found in Paul a kindred spirit who recognized her full potential for, in the words of Paul himself, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, for all are one in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Whatever the case, since then, she has been an inspiration for countless others to find their own voice in ministry. The ministries, the churches dedicated to Lydia testify to her enduring legacy. Even though not much is known about her, and even though the political whims of the later church never allowed for the popular devotion accorded to other saints, Lydia’s unique brand of dedication, perseverance, and faith have inspired many in their faith.

So who better to wear the Golden Halo than Lydia? Let’s give it to the woman who emerged from the shadows to lead the early church, and poured all she had, paradoxes and all, into the Gospel.

Megan Castellan

Harriet Bedell

unnamedLast summer the assignment of saints descended from the Supreme Executive Committee. I scanned the list for mine, pausing at Harriet Bedell. I had no idea who she was. These many months later, I am glad for the privilege to learn her story and to share it with you, the citizens of Lent Madness Nation.

(Oh, wait. That’s Red Sox talk best saved for tomorrow’s write-up on Phillips Brooks.)

Bedell’s story is infused with the stuff we associate with saintliness: charity, sacrifice, poverty, tenaciousness, courage, humility. The beauty of her story is also measured by the frailty that seeps through her narrative. In her early thirties, when she first arrived at the Oklahoma mission, she blanched at learning to ride a horse. Rather than embarrassing herself by asking tribal members to teach her, she took a horse out on the range and taught herself to ride in private. We can only imagine the bumps, bruises, and wounded pride she sustained in the process.

Nothing is wasted in God’s economy. Bedell’s experiences in Oklahoma paved the way for her years in Alaska just as those years prepared her for her unnamedlong ministry among the Seminole in Florida. “Miss Harriet Bedell, of long experience in Indian work…for three years past has lived in…one of the most isolated spots in interior Alaska,” wrote Hudson Stuck, Archdeacon of the Yukon, in 1920. “Such a post requires a missionary entirely absorbed and happy in the work, and such a one is Miss Bedell.”

Her devotion to God and to the people she served may have been grounded in faith but its expression was always practical. The naturalist Thomas Barbour called her, “a hard-nosed realist.” And no account of Harriet Bedell would be complete without a listing of her no-nonsense “Rules of Life.”

  1. God is first.
  2. Don’t worry. Put all in the hands of God. Don’t think or talk about troubles.
  3. Don’t hurry.
  4. Don’t eat too much between meals.
  5. Don’t do two things at the same time.
  6. All life involves sacrifice.

unnamedThat sacrifice serves as a remarkable example. Bedell, who died in 1969, never saw a movie or owned a radio. She lived a life solely focused on her call from God. Marya Repko’s biography, Angel of the Everglades, records a letter from Bedell to Bishop John D. Wing of the Diocese of South Florida. She wrote, “Our days are very full and it is so impossible to work at letters. The care of the sick is an important part of our work. They send for us or bring their sick ones to the mission…In the glades visits we often find medicine-men caring for the sick. At first they were not friendly but going as we do with Indians they saw we wanted to help.”

Repko writes, “When an influenza epidemic broke out in 1937…she took the sufferers into her own home where she fed them soup and aspirin. Her efforts were appreciated by the Medicine Man who called her ‘sister.’ She was also known as “in-co-shopie,” the woman of God.”

Photos courtesy of Florida State Archives

Heidi Shott


Lydia vs. Harriet Bedell

  • Harriet Bedell (54%, 2,550 Votes)
  • Lydia (46%, 2,177 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,726

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Palm Sunday at Lent Madness

Here is today’s update from Archbishop John Chrysostom and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, in which they preview the Faithful Four.

There are two important things you should do:

Oh, and make sure you go to church all the right times this week. We’re all fun and games here at Lent Madness, but it would be pretty ridiculous if you played Lent Madness but skipped Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or the Great Vigil of Easter.

Tim Sees Dead People

Fr. Tim Schenck, member of the SEC and proud ferret owner, goes on camera to speak with everyone’s favorite deceased archbishops. Yes, it’s time for today’s update from Archbishop John Chrysostom and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, featuring an interview with Tim.

There’s a shout out for 50 Days of Fabulous, which is a great way to survive Lent Madness Withdrawal whilst celebrating Eastertide for its full fifty days.

Don’t forget to watch all the back episodes of Monday Madness and the Archbishops’ Update over at LentMadnessTV.

Last, but not least, invite all your friends to LIKE Lent Madness on Facebook. We are closing in on our goal of 10,000 likes!

Anna Cooper vs. Charles Wesley

After yesterday’s Harriet Havoc, it appears we have our first true Cinderella in Harriet Bedell since Emma of Hawaii made it to the championship round in 2012. She trounced Harriet Beecher Stowe 74% to 26% in the first blowout of the week after three days of tense back and forth battles.

Today we finalize the Faithful Four as Anna Cooper squares off against Charles Wesley. To make it to the Elate Eight, Anna defeated Joseph of Arimathaea and J.S. Bach while Charles beat out his brother John and Thomas Merton. The winner will cut down the proverbial nets and join Lydia, Phillips Brooks, and Harriet Bedell as the four remaining saints of Lent Madness 2014.

Here’s today’s Archbishops’ Update for your viewing pleasure:

Have a good Palm Sunday weekend, all, and remember there are only three days left of this year’s Madness. We’ll have Faithful Four contests on Monday and Tuesday and voting for the Golden Halo on Spy Wednesday with the winner announced at 8:00 am on Maundy Thursday. Onward!

4983189771_c4cd337a85_zAnna Cooper

If you haven’t yet planned your next vacation, why not consider a road trip to the Mid-Atlantic — that is, of course, if you can’t make it to the great nation of Texas? Along with enjoying delectable blue crabs, artificially sweetened ice tea, and excessive humidity, you can embark upon a spiritual pilgrimage in honor of Dr. Anna Julia Cooper’s commitment to human dignity, equality, and Christian discipleship.

Begin your trip in Raleigh, North Carolina, with a visit to St. Augustine’s Normal School & Collegiate Institute AJC_Banner2B-RGB(now St. Augustine’s College), where Anna Julia Cooper began attending school at the age of nine. While there, recall Anna Julia’s early foray into activism as she demanded entrance into the same courses as her male counterparts, including classes in theology and pastoral ministry.

Anna J. Cooper Home

Anna J. Cooper Home

After that, hop onto I-85 and make your way to Richmond, Virginia, where you’ll find the Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School in Richmond’s East End. Visit with the amazing students there, and perhaps you can join some of the teachers as they make regular visits to their students’ homes — not because they’re in trouble, but because their teachers are committed to maintaining an active role in their students lives. Be sure to purchase an AJCES t-shirt while you’re there, too.

After a day in Richmond (make you sure to visit their fantastic

M Street School

M Street School

Museum of Fine Arts), hop on I-95 to Washington, D.C. While most of the traffic will be headed to the National Mall, drive on over to the less-crowded, but culturally rich & vibrant LeDroit Park to visit the M Street School (now Dunbar  High School) where Anna Julia Cooper served as principal.

If you get a chance, take a moment to enjoy the majestic sounds of Dunbar’s marching band. Upon leaving Dunbar, pass through Anna J. Cooper Circle on your way to visit her beautiful home. Be sure to take some pictures to mail home to your family and friends. Naturally, you’ll want to use the commemorative stamps in honor of Dr. Cooper, which you can purchase after taking a tour of the United States Postal Museum a few blocks away.

If the heat should become unbearable as you travel, recall Anna Julia’s tireless activism in heels and corsets and be encouraged. Besides, I’m not so anna_j_cooper_tshirt-r1088beff11e643a1b8822955bfd51001_8nhmp_324sure that Mr. Wesley — classy and talented he may have been — was so impeccably and painfully dressed.

Educators, unite—
Writers, speak—
Clergy spouses (and widows), find a new companion—
Francophiles, raise a glass—
World travelers, behold your passport—
Overachievers, join your tribe—
Believers of equality, stamp out injustice—
Everyone, channel your inner “Anna Julia” and live the Gospel with boldness & hope (corset & heels, optional)

Vote Anna Julia Cooper, y’all!

Maria Kane

Charles Wesley 

unnamedYou may fear, dearest reader, that as the younger of the famous Wesley Brothers, Charles Wesley would be bereft on nice, shiny, new kitsch. After all, youngest siblings always seem to get only hand-me-downs: clothes a few years out of style, “lovingly” used toys, and the like. And a lack of kitsch for Charles Wesley would mean a weak showing in the Elate Eight, and next to no chance of advancing. It would almost be as if he failed to show up for this late round of Lent Madness.

So can it be that Charles Wesley should gain an interest in the Zazzle’s kitsch? Yes, dear reader, Yes! unnamedZazzle is here to remind us: There’s Methodist in My Madness!

But there are some in the kitsch-o-sphere that feel it is necessary to remind us that, even as a Methodist remains in our beloved Lent Madness, John and Charles Wesley were, indeed, Anglicans. Both died before Methodism split from the Church of England, and Charles, in particular, was very vocal against any potential split.

unnamedBut people of all kinds of denominations can unite behind Charles Wesley, and especially behind his over 6,000 hymns which continue to inspire the faithful. Inspire the faithful, so much, that he hangs out with his fellow hymn writers William Cowper, Fanny Crosby, John Newton, and Isaac Watts on an exquisite “Sing Hymns Loud!” tie that is said to inspire a thousand tongues to sing.

Indeed, ‘tis mercy all, immense and at a fee, all this kitsch didst find out me! Of course, Lent unnamedMadness isn’t all about kitsch. It’s about preparing for Easter, and for so many, Charles Wesley’s hymn “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” is among their favorites. The hymn is an adaptation of the earlier version from the 1708 Lyrica David original; The United Methodist Hymnal uses Wesley’s adaptation, but in the Episcopal Church’s Hymnal 1982, the original is blended with Wesley’s own verse in “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.” In one form or another, the hymn is beloved enough to deserve a place on your living room wall.

unnamedSpeaking of that favorite Wesley Tune, it looks like choir soloist John Daker from First United Methodist Church is getting ready to sing a song that’s very popular nowadays, with Charles Wesley being a contestant in Lent Madness. And then he’s gonna sing Amore too, okay?

On second thought, Charles Wesley’s bust is not amused… so help him recover from that incredibly unique rendition of one of his hymns by voting him into the Faithful Four. 

David Sibley


Anna Cooper vs. Charles Wesley

  • Charles Wesley (57%, 2,664 Votes)
  • Anna Cooper (43%, 2,033 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,695

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