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 love Paul dearly (I think he had way more respect for women than his time and culture would have allowed for), but Emma gets my vote in this match-up. To have suffered so much and to have shown such grace is a true mark of sainthood. She deserves the Golden Halo.

  2. While I have only recently joined this camp (after actually taking the time to study a little about the amazing Paul and learning that Paul's more grevious criticisms/restrictions about women were likely written by someone else), I agree that Paul was not a misogynist; and while I recognize that some of his "writing" deficits are likely attributable to his scribes (and, Lord knows, my high school English teacher would have flunked him if HE had WRITTEN some of that stuff in HER class), I am going as I so often do with the underdog, Emma. With a nod to the person who commented about "sentimental favorites," she lived into the gospel in an exemplary and an inspiring way. (Please don't show this to my high school English teacher; upon a re-reading, it almost looks Paulne, and Ms. Averitt MAY find a way to retroactively flunk ME!)

  3. Paul, no question. Emma seems lovely, but there are few individuals who have had as extraordinary an influence on the course of Christian history as Paul has.

  4. Paul.

    Galatians 3:28.

    "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

  5. I greatly enjoy reading Paul's letters (and their reference to church issues that are far too prevalent even today). One musn't forget that he wrote for specific churches at a specific point in time to address specific issues. Just because others have used Paul's letters to justify misogyny doesn't mean that he was misogynistic himself.

    That being said, while tomorrow I might be inclined to vote for Paul, today Emma's ability to remain faithful even in the face of loss stands out. Plus I feel a need to champion the "lesser known" saint here.

  6. I have read these words from Romans 8 at so many funerals:

    "If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? …It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

    I cannot read them without tears.

    As much as I admire Emma, in this go-round it has to be Paul.

  7. Wow! I was all set to go Emma, but reading some of the quotes from Paul made me waver. Nonetheless, Paul's style of writing has caused me too much anguish and confusion in the pews over which "he" refers to which "him" and are he and him part of "they" and "them" and somehow related to "she" and "her" and at the end of it all does it really all translate to "us" and "we" or is the final meaning actually "those" or can it be boiled down to some phrase of words one syllable or less whose meaning is more clearly defined as "what?" Emma rules!

  8. A friend recommended I read Sarah Ruden's "Paul Among the People". I haven't yet, as I am swamped with other Lenten reading, but I was told this book has a realistic picture of the culture in which Paul was writing. For example, the decree for women to wear head coverings, was typically a privilege for the upper-class. Slaves were not allowed to cover up. When Paul said that all women should cover their heads, he was saying that in Christ, we are all the same class. I have lately come to appreciate all that Paul did, and even though he has a bad rap, I will vote for him. Without Paul, we might not have had a church at all.

  9. Love the name Emma, but love the writer Paul even more. His quirks and biases and blessed humanity are part of what makes him so infuriating - and engaging.

  10. In all my years of reading Paul aloud in church I never really appreciated his writing until recently. I used to complain to my Dad that St Paul had way too much ink! For all his ramblings, Paul had one message. He was indeed a product of his time and culture, but aren't we all? Paul has undoubtably changed thousands of lives and reached as many hearts by his words and unshakable faith. He has champions in his court.
    Emma, on the other hand, was a woman of two cultures. She saw a need to save her people, both their health and their souls, despite her personal loss and pain. Although I a "commoner" and not a Queen, I can relate to Emma. I am a Respiratory Therapist and spent my life helping the sick and dying. I am also now a widow and broadening my scope in my early retirement to helping Family Promise's work with the homeless. Emma wins my heart, because in a small way I understand her journey.

  11. Anyone who can continue to live and enlarge her life after the deaths of a child and husband has my attention.

  12. My favorite Paul story is from when he was in Athens (I think) and saw all the statues to various gods including one "to an unknown god". He used that to tell the people about this "unknown god". The church has long used local culture, brought Christ's message to it, and incorporated local customs into the Christian story. That makes us become part of the story. Thus we have the beautiful Huron Carol - the nativity story in Huron terms (Hymn # 114 T'was in the moon of wintertime ... This is how we have pagan Christmas and Easter customs in our current celebrations. These customs do not detract from our celebrations; they add richness and beauty to them. I love Emma, but voted for Paul. He started the spread of the Gospel to many places and paved the way for so many others.

  13. Wow! it is amazing how close the voting is! Paul spread the message of Jesus and Emma lived it. Once again the Lord uses people, warts and all, in a diversity of time and places to spread His message and do a good work on earth. The great events that cover the face of the earth, or the small acts ones like caring for a dying individual or helping one person in need. Which glows brighter before God? It's a messy and complicated business, this Christian life.

  14. Paul is getting a bad rap. For his time, his attitudes toward women and slavery were much more loving and inclusive than the prevailing thought. Makes as much sense to criticize his writing style as to quibble about "email style." He was putting out fires and dealing with crises all over the middle east--and often from jail.

      1. Thanks for the link, with graphics no less!
        BTW: I read all the comments, sometimes before, sometimes after I've voted. The comments are either the appetizer or the dessert to this daily meal.

  15. This for me is the quintessential March madness of a lower seed coming up against an upper seed, with all that goes with it. As I write this Emma trails, though I suspect the Hawaiians for Emma are just beginning to vote... I'm casting my vote with them for this reason. It's easy to be a winner, when you are male and have done great things as Paul has done. It's a harder thing to rise to these ranks when you have a foot in many worlds and choose not to be one thing or the other. Emma appeared to embrace all parts of herself and her heritage, even as she embraced the pain of her own life and that of her people. And she appears to have done it with grace and skill. I think of the words to Queen Esther, "who knows but what you were born for such a time as this," and think that here is a woman born in a challenging time with challenges before her that could easily lead to despair, anger, resentment, folly, but to which she responds with care, connection and foresight and she appears to have become beloved in the doing...

  16. i'm not allowed to read Saint Paul at Saint Paul's - i think i have to take a correspondence course or something - but i wouldn't have any problem with his use of the language. he writes as if he is speaking, and what do you know, when one reads on Sunday morning, one is speaking.

    i voted for Paul in the previous round, but Emma's story won me over today.

  17. While my second year of EfM a number of years ago increased my understanding of Paul, he still has a lot to answer for. Emma gets my vote today.

  18. Paul's words liberated women like Emma to do the ministry she did! So hard to choose, but I'm voting for the marginalized and heroic underdog, Emma!

  19. Heidi Shott's write-up gives a wonderful picture of Queen Emma. I AM impressed by her eclecticism and her devotion to her people's welfare. If Hawaii rallies to carry her through to next round, I will be pleased to be living in a world where gratitude, compassionate leadership, and mutual care and affection can carry the day.

    I too take serious issue with the statement about Paul's attitude to women in the write-up, as outlined by Dan and others above. In addition to evidence from carefully reading what Paul himself actually wrote, there is credible scholarship that redeems Paul from the charge of misogyny - I wish more of it had been brought to bear by his advocate here (Chris, Dude -- it's Saintly Sixteen! Is this a time to be handing ammo to your opponents? By no means!!).

    Because of Romans 8:38-39 (amen, dr. primrose!) -- and because I too used to persecute Paul for the sins of his later interpreters and so have a lot to make up for -- voting for Paul today.

  20. Emma ahead is a nice demonstration of everything that's wrong with a) America and b) The Episcopal Church

    1. I thought it was Paul who said, "Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things." My bad; it must have been Emma of Hawaii.

      1. Oh, I'm enjoying the competition for the most part. I just saw waaaaaaaay too much slander of Paul in the last round.

  21. I should perhaps add that ignoring your Bishop is a time-honoured Anglican tradition. Those Hawaiians ought to be right in behind Paul!

    1. Speak for yourself -- we may not always agree with our bishops, but I don't think we ignore them!!

    2. Bitter words, Christopher!
      Would it make you feel any better to know that it's not just Americans and Episcopalians voting? (probably not)
      Would it help to be reminded that we follow One who said something about the last being first and the first being last...? (that One's worth listening to!)

    3. In paintings he is often depicted as having fallen off a horse, most notably in the striking work by Caravaggio. But I don't believe there is any biblical truth to that; it just seems to be a way to let people know that the figure is Paul.

  22. I can't fathom voting for anyone else in a match against Paul! Some of my favorite verses come from his letters; I even have "faith hope love" tattooed on me, I love Corinthians so much. I think the fact that he gave us most of the New Testament is a testament to the reason he should go all the way to the Golden Halo. I suppose most people root for the underdog, but I am not most people!
    Paul all the way!

  23. At Evensong last night, in the Cathedral of Saint Andrew - Honolulu, founded by our Saints, Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV, I was privileged to read Romans 12, a great and moving example of Paul's writing but also one that embodies the spirit of our dear Queen Emma. Like Paul, Emma continues to change lives. I vote for Emma.

  24. Paul's an encourager of mine to be more, and provided my explanation for the 26 years that I stepped away from organized religion, and that I am in discernment now for orders. Romans 8:28 was in fancy German script on my wall (from my Christian grandmother) during those years of my blindness. And we all have thorns...

  25. Can't believe St. Paul is losing to Emma! When you examine what each has done to further Christianity, I just think Emma is outclassed. I respect her contributions to the church in her native islands, and love the beauty they represent to all of us, but without Paul, Christianity to day might not have existed outside the Jewish tradition. Go Paul.

  26. It would seem that the good people from the Diocese of Hawaii have once again organized themselves and their votes will move Emma forward. This seems to be causing concern among some folks who apparently do not understand that this is Lent Madness. Reason and serious thought and study will not always prevail in this game.

    In the last two weeks how many persons have commented that they voted for the "underdog" as if that quality makes one more saintly? How many people voted for a particular saint because they shared a common name or a common date for a significant life event, as if either of these factors makes one more saintly. How many folks voted for Margaret of Scotland because they had a Scottish heritage and were under the mistaken impression that she also had one? The list of things that people cited as reasons for a particular vote that showed little or no theological reasoning or rationale could go on and on. However remember this is Lent Madness and personally I intend to keep playing, having fun and not attaching a lot of serious import to the outcomes.

    Kudos to the Bishop of the Diocese of Hawaii who seems to have been able to organize his people. I always thought that organizing Episcopalians was a bit like herding cats, Theoretically possible while practically impossible, but apparently it has happened in Hawaii. The SEC might have just found their first candidate for next year's event.

    1. Perchance you are taking this a bit too seriously? No one thinks anything happens to the heavenly status of anyone based on whether or not they win the Golden Halo.

      Does it make any difference which college team wins the NCAA or NIT tournament? The sun still rises in the east. Water still flows downhill. And, a bunch of people have fun.

      1. Jim & Bob, Lent Madness is Serious Fun! It's serious business studying the lives of the saints. Their contributions during life then and for us now are not without controversy. (Yes, we can all say, Yea, huh! or Duh!)

        It's fun because we have to think about Christian topics, "issues", history and the meaning of Jesus Christ's sacrifice.

        So, LM is not a trivial pursuit for us in the present. Meanwhile, each saint in Heaven still wears a Golden Halo.

  27. Cat, is that the tattoo we get of we vote for every match up? Hey, SEC, I am working hard for my tattoo and I want to see it, now!
    I have been following this match up religiously (pun thoroughly intended) and knew that when the Hawaians woke up things would change in a great big hurry. Although I voted for Paul, it's great to see a whole diocese get behind the loal girl.