Emma of Hawaii vs. Paul of Tarsus

In the final battle of the Round of the Saintly Sixteen, Emma of Hawaii takes on Paul of Tarsus. The winner heads to the Elate Eight to square off against Thomas Cranmer. Two primary questions will be decided in the next 24 hours: 1) Will the Bishop of Hawaii once again be able to get out the vote for Queen Emma like a pointy-hatted precinct captain? 2) Will Romans 8 swing the tide toward Paul despite all those run-on sentences that are the bane of lectors throughout all of Christendom?

This past weekend we saw how have the legions (and by that word we mean lots of people not the uber-demon in Mark 5:9) of Lent Madness fans coped with another bout of LMW (Lent Madness Withdrawal): they read about Lent Madness in Sports Illustrated and watched fans on video answer the question "What do you love about Lent Madness?" The Supreme Executive Committee does what it can to ease your pain.

Following the climactic match-up of this round (made up of saintly Quirks & Quotes), only eight saints will remain standing. We'll kick things off on Tuesday morning with Mary Magdalene taking on Evelyn Underhill. Then we'll proceed with Dietrich Bonhoeffer vs. Jerome followed by Margaret of Scotland vs. Enmegahbowh and Thomas Cranmer vs. the winner of today's match-up. The "madness" never ends! Well at least for a bit longer. Check out the updated bracket and prepare yourselves mentally and physically for the crescendo of the saintly smackdown.

When Emma of Hawaii was born in Honolulu in 1836, the young chiefess was offered for adoption to her mother's sister, Grace Kamaikui Rooke, and her husband, an English court physician. This followed the Hawaiian custom of hanai, whereby a child would be given to grandparents to raise or to a couple who, like the Rookes, were unable to have children. In old Hawaii there was no such thing as an unwanted child. Children were told they were “bowls of light put here to shine great spirit greatness." In the Rooke household, Emma was taught to be very British while her hanai mother, Grace, raised her to be Hawaiian as well.

Shortly after her marriage to Alexander Liholiho, King Kamehameha IV, in 1856, the new queen became involved in life of the kingdom. Her deepest concern was saving the Hawaiian people from extinction. In fewer than 80 years, the Hawaiian population plummeted from 350,000 to 70,000 due to disease introduced by Europeans. The threat of extinction was a very real. In his first speech as monarch, Kamehameha proposed the building of a hospital and the young couple quickly worked to solicit funds to establish one. To honor her dedication to the effort, the hospital, named Queen’s Hospital, opened in 1859. It is said that Emma visited patients at the hospital every day that she was in Honolulu, a practice that gained her the great love of her people.

In addition to their concern for the physical well-being of the Hawaiian people, Queen Emma and the king took steps to ensure their spiritual well-being, with the first services in the new Anglican church formed by the Church of England at their behest held on October 12, 1862. The king and queen were baptized on October 21 and confirmed in November. They felt the Anglican church was “eminently suited to the character and temperament of his people,” according to the website of St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

However, the couple’s happiness at the establishment of the Church of Hawaii was clearly diminished by the tragic death of their four-year old son just six weeks prior the Pro-Cathedral’s consecration. More tragedy followed when King Kamehameha died 15 months later at age 29.

According to the website of St. Andrew’s Cathedral:

“To ease her pain, Emma dedicated herself to many worthy causes, among which was organizing a hospital auxiliary of women to help with the ill. She also helped found two schools, St. Andrews Priory in Honolulu and St. Cross on Maui. Her work included the development of St. Andrews Cathedral. She journeyed to England where she and her friend, Queen Victoria, raised $30,000 for the construction of the cathedral. The first phase of the cathedral was completed in time for Christmas, 1886, due in great part to the support for the Queen’s vision of the Cathedral as a memorial to her husband. Queen Emma did not live to worship in the Cathedral.  She had died the previous year on St. Mark’s Day 1885.”

Queen Emma’s biographer, George S. Kanahele, has this to say:

"She was different from any of her contemporaries. Emma is Emma is Emma. There’s no one like her. A devout Christian who chose to be baptized in the Anglican church in adulthood, and a typically Victorian woman who wore widow’s weeds, gardened, drank tea, patronized charities and gave dinner parties, she yet remained quintessentially Hawaiian. She wrote exquisite chants of lament in Hawaiian, craved Hawaiian food when she was away from it, loved to fish, hike, ride and camp out (activities she kept up to the end of her life) and, throughout her life, took very seriously her role as a protector of the people’s welfare. In a way, she was a harbinger of things to come in terms of Hawaii’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society. You have to be impressed with her eclecticism — spiritually, emotionally and physically. She was kind of our first renaissance queen.”

-- Heidi Shott

 Known more for his missionary travels and fierce dedication to the mission of Christ, it may come as a surprise that Paul of Tarsus (5-67) is arguably the best-selling author of all time.  Sure Plato, Shakespeare, and even J.K. Rowling have their fans, but this devout Jew, thrown from his horse then given a vision of Jesus so real that he dedicated his life to talking about it, did so with such appeal that even today, the Bible remains the world’s best selling book.

Paul is responsible for about two-thirds of the New Testament. His greatest hits are more memorable than Agatha Christie’s and more numerous than The Rolling Stones’. They include the Book of Romans, especially chapter 8, “[nothing]… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind…” and Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (Col. 3).

Paul’s quirks are generally known and roundly contested. They include his partiality to the single life and his ‘thorn in the flesh’ (an eye infection or a burdensome companion). Paul condoned slavery, treated women as second-class citizens, and was prone to rather heated arguments. Yet his compulsion to document his Christian journey and theological convictions would overshadow his most distracting paroxysm.

While much of his writing was done in less than perfect conditions (jail), under less than perfect deadline pressure (death), and with less than perfect remuneration (persecution), his deep-seated conviction, that life in Christ was an all or nothing affair, pierced every text: “For me living is Christ and dying is gain.” (Phil 1).

Paul’s motivation was passion. His reward was martyrdom. His legacy, to every writer everywhere, is to write with conviction. Paul empowers authors to believe that their greatest work is to channel that which is deep within them, to affect a world far beyond them, through a presence mostly unknown to them. Here’s to a guy who did all sorts of amazing stuff, still found time to write about it, and never made a nickel.

-- Chris Yaw



Emma of Hawaii vs. Paul of Tarsus

  • Emma of Hawaii (56%, 1,148 Votes)
  • Paul of Tarsus (44%, 888 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,035

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101 comments on “Emma of Hawaii vs. Paul of Tarsus”

  1. I really take exception to the statement that Paul treated women as second-class citizens. I will not deny that there are passages in the authentic Pauline corpus that certainly do not make him a proto-feminist. At the same time, Roman culture was deeply patriarchal and Paul was conditioned in that context. Yet, yet, we see throughout his ministry that he identified many women as his partners in ministry -- Lydia, Priscilla, Junia and so many others. The culture he was in treated women like second-class citizens. Paul, like many of us, struggled between being implicit in the worst aspects of his culture and by the grace of God had moments where he could transcend that.

  2. I love Paul's writing. I respect him and love him as a brother in Christ (well, maybe great uncle). He is a hero, and makes Christ's work come alive for me. However, he is way too cranky (justifiably, but still). Emma's gentle, strong spirit and life of dedication get my vote today (and without lobbying by the Bishop of Hawaii, too).

  3. Oy -- Well, much as I find Emma's witness compelling, I'm going with the putative author of my life verse -- Galatians 2:19b-20 -- and this one, too -- "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection..." (Philippians 3:10-11). Thank you. Paul, for giving me the words for my heart's desire and my life's Source.

  4. My vote is for Emma of Hawaii. I particularly like the way in which she encorporates the Truth of Christ into both her indigenous culture and the Victorian culture imposed on her people. She lived out Christ's command to "Feed my Sheep" in ways which were a benefit for both cultures. Paul is a great guy, but I should have loved to know Emma!

  5. I think Queen Emma lived out the life of Christian community that Paul so strongly advocated. I'll vote for her, and I suspect Paul would, too!

  6. I may be living back on the east coast, but my heart still resides in Hawaii. Queen Emma deserves our vote. Paul lives on in his writings. I proclaim Emma's selfless devotion as servant to her people.

  7. I heartily recommend (although I'm casting my vote for Emma) a read of Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan's "The First Paul," for a good look at the writings of Paul that are conclusively Pauline, and not written in his name later. I found it a helpful vision of Paul that is neither patriarchal nor comfortable with Roman culture of the time.

  8. Well, I must start over as everything I previously wrote got lost in the netherworld of overwriting...I am wont to do that. On Emma ! Break the tie, all ye of Hawaiian birth and your kith and kin. Whip them in line, O ye mighty Bishop of that diocese ! I cannot bear to see Paul ascend to the Final Four in spite of his having contributed more to the Bible than any other writer. Just can't overcome my aversion to his misogynism and part in the onholy act of violence against Stephen...and the thorn in his flesh? An eye infection? HA !!! On Emma !!!!! Don't forget the invitation to come to Nashville and help me educate all these folk as to my maniacal love of LENT MADNESS...they think I made it up ! Oh, all of them of little faith !

  9. That last photo of Emma with the darling little hat, was so endearing. We need that photo to be posted again! Emma gave her life for the Hawai'ians to see the light of Christ. Emma, Emma, Emma deserves the Golden Halo.

  10. A hard choice today but after reading that Paul treated women as second class citizens, that made the choice much easier..EMMA, EMMA, EMMA.

  11. Paul has gotten a lot of bad press because of what others seem to have written in his name. He was not the misogynist of popular myth. That said, I'm voting for Emma. I just like Emma.

  12. Thank you, Dan, for pointing out Paul's respect for and partnership with many women. Really, this should not even be a contrst except for people's seeming fascination with underdogs and surprise upsets.

    We smply cannot overstate Paul's contribution to Christianity. He made us what we are today. Thank you for all you did, Emma, but Paul of Tarsus must win this bracket today.

  13. Whoopsie day! I forgot to send the SEC a new photo of Emma. Have two awesome choices on my laptop and will send when I'm not sitting in the optometrist's. Progressive lens rock!

    1. Indeed, without them, you might not know which lovely photo of Emma to send us fans! As an artist and writer, I've got to say, I would vote for progressive lenses in a heartbeat--I never leave home (or my bedroom) without them!

  14. Emma is awesome so has my vote despite my daughter Katie Rose's grudge against for her knocking out Rose of Lima (we did grievously with our patrons this year as she lost out first round with both Catherine and Rose, and her brother lost out with Nicholas!) Echoing what a few others have said about Paul--he was far from perfect in his approach to women, or slaves, but the worst statements attributed to him about women in the NT were later ones written by others in his name. And his support of women as well as that in even those later pastoral epistles has been hidden by mistranslation and bad theology and preaching which hid his endorsement of Junia as an apostle, Phoebe as a deacon, Prisca/Priscilla as the generally first named leader in a team ministry marriage, and women deacons misnamed as deacons' wives in 1 (or was it 2) Timothy?

  15. Paul! Paul! Paul! (just as an echo to earlier voters' shout-outs for Emma) Why? "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect." Never mind all the other good stuff he wrote, the life he led, the example he set, the passion, the daring, etc., etc.

  16. Even though I love Paul for who he was, today I am voting for Emma of Hawaii because of her compassionate heart. I am a heart person and new at this game.

  17. It's all about Paul. His impact is most profound judging by the bible and the lives he changed during his time.

    -Peter from St. Paul, Minnesota... not St. Emma

  18. Emma! Emma! Emma! If Paul wins, I'm putting Emma on the church's bracket at the winner. I simply will not give this one to Paul. NO way. No how.

  19. Part of what helped Emma become Emma was Paul's writing. It's another tough choice today, but with a curtsey to the lovely and admirable Emma, I stand with team Paul.

  20. A little off-topic, but while I have heard numerous sermons about Paul being knocked of his horse, I have yet to find a translation that mentions anything about riding on any animal; simply that he was knocked to the ground. Have I missed one? I don't consider him a misogynist, either.

  21. What is a chiefess? Sounds like a Paulism describing Emma. Although his writings are profound for the witness of Christ in his life, I can't forgive Paul for all of those run-on sentences. Also, Emma's day is my birthday, so I am still going with Emma.

  22. How can one ignore either, they are as different as apple and orange but I will stick withe guy from Tarsus

  23. Thank you, Heidi, for teaching me so much about Emma. But the Scriptures must trump all.
    Thus I promised before my ordinations. If Paul loses, I will understand why the Virginia delegates at Convention prevented the addition of any black letter days to the 1928 Prayer Book.

  24. What's not to love about Emma. But if the arc of history does indeed bend toward justice, Paul really did do the major bending. People after him tried to undo him, rewrite him, reify his context. But Galatians 3:28 cannot be unwritten. It is the interpretive key to the rest. That, Romans 8, Romans 12... the list will get too long...

  25. As a former lector who was forced repeatedly to tackle Paul's horrendous Romans passage in which he managed to use the word 'circumcision' about 156 times, I confess to a long-simmering loathing of Paul and his legalese. Give me ANYONE else, thank you!