Dietrich Bonhoeffer wins 2016 Golden Halo!

Congratulations to 2016 Golden Halo Winner Dietrich Bonhoeffer!

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The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness has unearthed a heretofore undiscovered Bonhoeffer text on the viscitudes of cheap and costly grace in the context of Lent Madness. We share it with you, without comment, as we believe the text speaks for itself.

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of Lent Madness. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like wares from the Lentorium. The Saintly Scorecard, the bracket posters, the write-ups of fabulous Celebrity Bloggers are thrown away at cut prices — like Frances Perkins mugs at 50% off. Oh wait…

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching on topics other than saints, writing our own name in the bracket, voting without reading the comments, not seeing the humor in Lent Madness…Cheap grace is grace without Wi-Fi, grace without the Golden Halo, grace without an updated bracket.

Costly grace is the saintly kitsch hidden in the field; for the sake of it, a person will gladly go and sell all that he or she has. It is the Lent Madness bracket of great price for which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of the Supreme Executive Committee, for whose sake a voter will pluck out the internet connection which causes the participant to stumble.

Costly grace is represented as Lent Madness’ inexhaustible treasury, from which the Supreme Executive Committee showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits (except on votes).

PS. Stay tuned for information released later today about Lent Madness 2016 swag. Mugs? Pint glasses? A Silver Halo for Julian of Norwich? All will soon be revealed.

For the Golden Halo: Julian of Norwich vs. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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We embarked upon this Lent Madness journey over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday.” With your help we have narrowed the field of 32 saints down to just two: Julian of Norwich and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (who edged Sojourner Truth yesterday 52% to 48%). Who will win the coveted Golden Halo of Lent Madness 2016? Only 24 hours and your voting participation will reveal this holy mystery.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, we’ve met some truly remarkable saintly folks along the way. Perhaps you learned about some saints 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 a few things, were inspired by saintly witnesses, and had a lot fun along the way.

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What is Spy Wednesday?

The entire world quivers in anticipation of tomorrow’s Golden Halo battle between Julian of Norwich and either Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Sojourner Truth. As you may know, the Supreme Executive Committee has referred to this final round as taking place on “Spy Wednesday.”

spywednesdaypaintingSeveral 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.

Spy 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 Betrayal of JudasHoly 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 moment. 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.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer vs. Sojourner Truth

Our Lenten journey is rapidly drawing to a close, friends. Yesterday in a hotly contested matchup between Constance and Julian of Norwich, Julian prevailed 55% to 45%. She will meet the winner of today’s Faithful Four battle between Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Sojourner Truth for the Golden Halo.

To make it to the Faithful Four, Bonhoeffer defeated Athanasius, Barnabas, and Columba while Truth made it past Soren Kierkegaard, Frances Joseph-Guudet, and Absalom Jones.

In the last in-season episode of Monday Madness, Tim and Scott discuss the millions of blank mugs sitting in a warehouse just waiting to be graced with the image of the 2016 Golden Halo Winner. Among other things.

After today, the scene will be set for the Championship Round on the Wednesday of Holy Week, aka “Spy Wednesday.” In the meantime, go vote!

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Monday Madness — Holy Week Edition

It’s Holy Week, and that means it’s time for the last in-season episode of Monday Madness for the 2016 Lent Madness competition. Tim and Scott talk about the exciting battles to come in the Faithful Four and Championship. In light of a cheating scandal earlier today, they also remind viewers that it’s one vote per person. The way to win Lent Madness is to get others to vote, not to vote lots of times yourself! Cheating gets you cast into the outer darkness.

As you’re voting for the Golden Halo winner, you’re also deciding who goes on this year’s Lent Madness commemorative mug. You can pre-order the 2016 Golden Halo winner mug right now! You’d better do it, because if the mug factory gets backed up, pre-orders get priority! While you’re online, make sure you check out the full gallery of mugs for sale in the Lentorium.

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Constance vs. Julian of Norwich

112671-glowing-purple-neon-icon-alphanumeric-m04-clearWelcome to the Faithful Four. After weeks of learning and deliberating and voting and eschewing chocolate, we have whittled the field of 32 saintly souls down to four spiritual heroes: Constance, Julian of Norwich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Sojourner Truth. All are worthy of the coveted Golden Halo, yet only one will end up with his or her mug on a mug.

Today Constance (Anna Courie) takes on Julian of Norwich (Amber Belldene); tomorrow Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Beth Lewis) battles Sojourner Truth (Megan Castellan). And on Spy Wednesday the championship round will take place with the Golden Halo announced at 8:00 am EST on Maundy Thursday.

In this round, we let our four remaining Celebrity Bloggers loose as they answer the question “Why should Saint XX win the Golden Halo?” In other words, they’ve been charged with letting us know why their particular saint is so awesome. We have also invited them to share their two favorite images of their saints.

To make it to the Faithful Four, Constance dispatched Dominic, Helena, and Vida Dutton Scudder with relative ease. Julian snuck past William Wilberforce, before defeating Roch and Albert Schweitzer.

Maybe one of these remaining four will end up on a future Pocket Lent card. What’s that? Well the SEC released two new ones yesterday for your cutting and pasting pleasure.

Let the voting (once) begin!

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FREE Bonus: Two More Pocket Lent Cards

Luke cardWe know you love Lent Madness, and we hope you know the Supreme Executive Committee loves you. In fact, the Tim and Scott love you so much that — even though it’s Holy Week and they’re quite busy — they’re giving you two extra bonus FREE Pocket Lent cards.

Luke card backNow, you might be asking, “What’s a Pocket Lent card?” If that was you asking that question, we know you aren’t one of the over 10,000 lucky owners of the 2016 Saintly Scorecard, the essential printed guide to Lent Madness. For those who own the book (now worth a fortune on eBay, since it sold out), you’ll know that Pocket Lent cards are saintly trading cards much like baseball cards only better, holier, funnier, and collectable-ier. The Saintly Scorecard came with six cards featuring the likes of George Herbert, Brigid of Kildare, Mary Magdalene, and more.

See below for your two bonus cards. Just print them out on a color printer and you’ll be all set. Or use a black & white printer and then go crazy with tiny coloring markers. Laminate your new cards for extra credit. If you stick something fragrant on the cards for a while, you can even pretend your printout is scratch-n-sniff!

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Columba vs. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What a week! With one more battle to go, we will have set the stage for the Faithful Four as the march to the Golden Halo continues. Today, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Columba vie for the final spot as they seek to join Constance, Sojourner Truth, and Julian of Norwich.

To make it to this point, Bonhoeffer defeated Athanasius and Barnabas while Columba got past Kateri Tekakwitha and Meister Eckhart.

Yesterday Julian of Norwich skated past Albert Schweitzer 68% to 32. And in 24 hours, we bid adieu to saintly kitsch. We only encountered a few Kitsch Kranks this year and for that, we’re grateful.

The Faithful Four will take place on Monday and Tuesday with the vote for the Golden Halo happening on Spy Wednesday. Onward, Lenten Soldiers!

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Albert Schweitzer vs. Julian of Norwich

Where else can you find the winner of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize locked in battle with a 14th century mystic? We’re guessing nowhere. Like, literally nowhere ever. In the history of ever. But here at Lent Madness, today finds Albert Schweitzer pitted against Julian of Norwich with a trip to the Faithful Four hanging in the balance.

Albert made it this far by defeating Lawrence and Methodius while Julian bested William Wilberforce and Roch. Again, if you’re looking for information from the previous rounds, click the Bracket tab and scroll down.

Yesterday Sojourner Truth advanced to the Faithful Four by getting past Absalom Jones 64% to 34%. She’ll face the winner of Columba vs. Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

But the big news involved the Lent Madness 2016 feel good story of the year as Oliver won the Mug Shot contest. You can read all about it here and check out Tim and Scott’s favorite images of the many that were submitted.

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Mug Shot Winner Announced!

Ever since we announced our Mug Shot contest, we have been inundated with photos of Lent Madness fans and their mugs. While we Lent Madness mugsusually put things to a vote around here, the Supreme Executive Committee is pulling rank and simply pronouncing a winner. Supremity does have its privileges after all.

But before we announce the winner — who will receive the famous cardboard cutout of 2015 Golden Halo winner, Francis of Assisi (as seen on Monday Madness) — we thought we’d share some of our favorite Mug Shots. These are just a few of the many we received! Check out more by searching for “#LentMadness #MugShot” on Facebook or Twitter. We also received quite a few by email. We really enjoyed seeing how creative the Lent Madness Global Viewing Public can be.

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. You may not have won the grand prize but you are, as we understand it, still a winner in God’s sight.

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