Kitsch Cranks

laughing jesus

Proof that some people find Lent Madness to be amusing.

It has come to the attention of the Supreme Executive Committee that not everyone is enthralled with our display of saintly kitsch. In fact a small percentage of commenters have cast aspersions on the Round of the Elate Eight.

We have decided to share and, yes, rebut a few of these less-than-flattering comments.

"While I appreciate a little kitsch, I was hoping for more info and quotes. Disappointed today."

That's what the first two rounds of Lent Madness are for -- basic biographical information and quotes by or about said saint. We're disappointed you didn't pay closer attention to the brilliant offerings of our Celebrity Bloggers in the earlier rounds. Also, we wish to remind you that Google is your friend. It can be helpful in getting "info and quotes."

"I am just a bit uncomfortable about the kitschy thing, I love a good time, but...we could have done without the Barbie and puppet."

Well, as much as we strive to maintain your comfort and give you a good time, it's not a Barbie. It's a Mary Magdalene Wisdom Doll. We don't mind if you criticize us using the wrong doll name, but we don't think you want to get on Ken's bad side.

"As we approach Holy Week, and today’s match-up is a daunting one, your casual irreverence, with the kitsch, feels very ‘off’ to me."

Casual irreverence? Please. Our irreverence is unparalleled in the history of Lent. Or the history of madness. Don't sell us short.

"I find the kitschy collection somewhat disturbing. Your “mockery & irreverence” theme for Holy Week reminds me: not everyone was sorrowful at the Crucifixion.'"

Actually, according to the liturgical calendar that has existed for centuries, Holy Week is next week. Also, you may be surprised to learn that we Christians have a specific day for pondering the Crucifixion: Good Friday. We'll be done with our “mockery & irreverence” theme by then.

"I am disappointed that the women get this sort of treatment — remains to be seen if the “humor” carries through the rest of the finalists."

Why is humor in quotes?! That's offensive.

"I’m disappointed with this post. I could never be accused of being either faint of heart of humorless and I think most religious kitsch is worthy of at least a laugh and a half but I’m...hoping that this kind of humor is shared across gender lines."

Consider yourself accused.

Also, we are puzzled. If the first match-up of the Elate Eight had been two male saints, we'd be accused of sexism. Here we are in the midst of the Year of the Woman in Lent Madness 2012, and we can't seem to win. Stay tuned, and you'll see that we are equal opportunity kitsch-finders. Just look at today's battle between Jerome and Bonhoeffer. If you don't believe us, have a look at the archives of Lent Madness 2010 and Lent Madness 2011.

In the end, if you're not into the kitsch thing or find it offensive, do yourself a favor and go on a Lent Madness fast. We'll see you for the first two rounds in 2013.

Those of you who hate Lent Madness at this point might want to visit "Literally Unbelievable." You'll find like-minded friends for your crusade toward an anti-humor, anti-satire, anti-fun internet. Meanwhile, we'll carry on here. St. Paul said we should be fools for Christ. Jesus partied at Cana. We think a little foolish fun for the sake of the Gospel is just fine. Even in Lent.


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94 comments on “Kitsch Cranks”

  1. Well! Personally, I like be able to add to my kitsch collection and its nice to have someone else locate it for me.

  2. Excellent posts today with your responses. I have learned more about saints than I ever knew and love the kitsch. Perhaps those who have been so offended or disappointed should give up Lent Madness for Lent???
    Keep em coming

  3. I'm loving LM. It's so much better than giving up or being somber & sad. Keep it up---I'll be back tomorrow and next week and whenever. If you're back in WNC I'll invite you over for a beer or decent wine or something harder if I have it

  4. I'm with you guys. And I thought as long as you didn't use the 'A'/'H' word you were ok having a sense of humor in Lent. Good Friday excepted of course (but is Good Friday really part of Lent? Hmmm.... have to count).

  5. I actually enjoy the kitsch, particularly after watching your video. Nunzilla? Really? Besides I am a huge fan of the "Friends of Episcopal Priest Barbie" Facebook page. Check it out if you haven't already.

  6. Wow, if these folks are upset at Lent Madness irreverence, they need to visit the Ship of Fools website.

  7. Party on, Dudes and Dudettes! Some people need to get a life! Ok, now back into silence. Really, I am eager for Lent to be over; I am dying for a hamburger. Is there a Saint for that?

  8. LM has been quite a learning experience, first about some saints I'd never even heard of, as well as more about familiar ones. And I would bet that those unhappy persons didn't like the sweatshirts from several years ago which proclaimed that the wearer was 'one of those crazy Episcopalians'.

  9. Is that supposed to be a picture of a laughing Jesus? Surely, you know that no verse in the Bible says that Jesus ever laughed or even smiled. There are some folks who say that this lack of Biblical authority is conclusive proof that Jesus never laughed or smiled. And his mission was obviously much too serious for that sort of thing. So you're moving from being charged with mere irreverent sacrilege to being charged with gross Christological heresy!

      1. If you translated "edakrusen" that way in your seminary Greek class, I suspect your professor would have laughed -- out loud and all the way down the hall to show all his colleagues! But Jesus wouldn't have laughed. Oh no, Jesus would have wept. Indeed, like Peter, Jesus would have wept "bitterly."

        1. Just because there are no versus describing Jesus laughing or smiling does not mean he did not do either. There are no versus describing him relieving himself either, but the Gospels all point out that he was human and that he did eat and drink things.

          I doubt that Jesus was a very stern faced guy all the time. He turned water into wine and called the little children to him. And he condones laughter in the beatitudes (Luke 6:21).

          1. Oops! Sorry, I didn't mean to taken seriously on this point. I was just making a joke with Scott in response to the one he was making with me. (Look at John 11:35 to seek the basis of the jokes that Scott and I were making.)

            I take Hebrews 4:15 ("For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.") and the teaching of the Council of Chalcedon ("like us in all respects, apart from sin") very seriously. Including your example.

            I'm absolutely positive that Jesus laughed and smiled.

          2. People don't like to go here, but chances are high that an ephod was extremely phallic in nature; either a covering for male genitals -- said covering held up by a couple of straps and naught else -- or a stand-in for genitalia, depending on construction (fabric or metal). Ephods are described as carrying the two (round) stone lots and/or concealing -- either by standing in front of or being around, like a sheath -- a sword. What image does that evoke, hmm? A number of contemporaneous cultures had elaborately worked (often gold) ceremonial sheaths for the male member, sometimes the entire scrotal area, found in the graves of people presumed to be kings/priests. Verses 22 & 23, with David's remark he will be held in honour by female servants, and the curse on Michal for her sarcastic remark (and for daring to look out her window) being barrenness, are pretty suggestive of an overtly sexual aspect (aspect, not necessarily action) to the celebrations. But the people who can't handle a little good-humoured survey of kitsch would probably faint at these suggestions. Shortly before coming after me with pitchforks. 🙂

    1. Not to cast aspersions, but doesn't your Buddy Christ give EVERYTHING a "thumbs up"? Mine does. 😉

  10. I have been in an Episcopal church in Chanute, Kansas that actually has a picture of laughing Jesus on the wall, so yes it is true that Jesus laughed. Well at least maybe true in Chanute, Kansas.

    As for some who did not like the kitsch they should be thankful that you did not have a round featuring great "kitschy", is that really a word, songs.

    I'm not talking here the obvious like "When The Saints Come Marching In". I am talking about the heavy hitters like "Dropkick Me Jesus Through The Goalposts of Life" or "I Don't Care if it Rains or Freezes Long As I've Got My Plastic Jesus Sittin on the Dashboard of My Car".

    In terms of kitsch your efforts thusfar are well, almost in good taste. Looking forward to more tomorrow.

    1. We sing Drop Kick Me Jesus on superbowl Sunday - every year. In church. A previous rector even had a sermon for the drop kick. And yes, we are an Episcopal church.
      If Jesus was fully human, of course he laughed. I think God laughs too.

  11. Wow! The SEC are not at all shy about rebuking naysayers. Good. No point in being either Dupreme or Executive if you can't flex your muscles just a bit. Most diverting.

  12. I'll admit to being a little thrown off at first glance; i wasn't prepared for the kitsch. From an earlier post from a celebrity blogger i thought the rounds would get more factual and intense. Cut me some slack, it's my first year, and I'm cool with the kitsch. Ir's better than the mudslinging going on @YouTube.

  13. First, I have to say that I have loved every second of Lent Madness. I'm a newbie this year, and it's fantastic. Especially the kitsch. I love kitsch. Who wouldn't?
    But I need to ask you a question so that I don't have to go through all of the archives to find the answer. My son has little league practice shortly, and we have to do homework.
    I was trying to explain to my husband the joy that is the kitsch of the Elate Eight. He said, "I'm sorry. I have no idea what you're talking about." This happens a lot in our house.
    I can explain to him the joy of the kitsch. But he's a recovering Catholic, and he doesn't understand some of the choices for saints. Could you help me with that please? Like Bonhoeffer, Underhill, etc.?
    Thank you!

  14. First of all, I loved the kitsch, and I love Lent Madness as a whole, and if some people don't share our sense of humor, so be it...but, guys, you don't have to be so defensive. Your rebuttals come off fairly harsh, especially when you single out specific comments (and, thereby, commenters). Have a little humility.

    1. I'm with you Meg - thanks for articulating my discomfort. I was a bit taken aback by this post -- SEC is indeed sounding less "Supreme" and more "Sleepless" and kinda cranky and defensive. (Dudes! Let it ride! It's the interweb! If there isn't at least one accusation of sexism, or a Hitler reference, then your computer isn't even on!)

      Sigh. "Absolute power..." as they say. It's obviously gone to their heads. And now I recommend you and I stand back to back with our swords and shields at the ready...we may be in for another volley of SEC barbs...

      All in good fun until someone puts an eye out, as they also say. Let's all put down our plank tweezers and walk away...back to the brackets!

  15. Bravo!! And, yes, I am the one who made the negative remark about "Barbie" but it was the (Barbie 'looking') MM Wisdom Doll that helped me make my choice yesterday and the fact that I can't stand Barbie Dolls (sorry, Ken) does NOT mean that I don't appreciate all the the kitsch--life would be pretty darned boring if we couldn't laugh once in a while. Now if it had been Evelyn Underhill that was the model for the 'Wisdom' Doll--that's a doll I'd really like to see. Poor Evelyn would be rolling around in her grave over that!

  16. One could create a full time ministry securing any kind of religious, (Christian and otherwise) ,kitsch that anyone could possibly desire. I did a sermon one time and I had at least ten things that were directly about Jesus to show the congregation. I purchased them at my local religious emporium. I think the sermon had to do with anything that put Jesus on their radar was a good thing. When you take the key chain off of the hook every day you get a chance to remember Jesus. Worked for them, works for me. Just to see Mary Magdalene every day would remind me how special she was to Jesus.

  17. Oh, puleeze! Lent Madness has done more for me than all the giving up chocolate and Bible study I meant to get around to. I appreciate the witty writing and the kitsch makes me laugh. Remember, people, Sarah laughed. God has a sense of humor.

  18. C'mon M'ame. . .!!! (At least, you ladies who seemed to think the kitsch was, I think the buzz word this week was, misogynistic!) A Saint that turns inside out into a lion? It seems to me the kitsch has been very even handedly applied. And, until a few days ago, I had never seen "kitsch" defined! See, LM is educational at all kinds of levels. Scott, one thing I did NOT expect to see in LM was an allusion to James Dobson!!! It just shows that LM is like a box of chocolates, right Forest? You (SEC) are AWESOME! One more question: Where can I get one of those "crazy Episcopalians" sweatshirts?!

  19. When creating something humorous in nature, it helps to have broad shoulders and the ability to take comments from all sides without responding in a mean-spirited nature (i.e., the Literally Unbelievable quip).Laughter and disagreement in Lent can coexist. Maybe the bigger lesson is that Lenten practices may help all of us better tolerate writing, kitsch and critique that don't match our own views. Lining up sides or digging in our heels sort of takes the fun out of all of this. If the mark of the early Church was (something like) "Look how they love one another," then let's get back to celebrating the saints and stop slinging stuff in both directions. I read this for light hearted and kind fun and a degree of reflection. Please help it stay that way! Enough already.

  20. Nothing wrong with a little kitsch, but I draw the line at Jesus in bad dentures. First, no one, not even the Son of God, has teeth that white. They're too conspicuous. And even if they started out that white, after thirty years without benefit of water pics and garnet paste, they would not have been. Second, no one, not even the Son of God could have that wide a palatal arch. There's room in that mouth for twenty teeth top and bottom; the human set has a mere sixteen. Third, they're too straight. When I worked as a chairside assistant in a dental office, we tried to convince people that picket fence teeth do not look natural. They look like, well, cheap dentures. The Pre-Raphaelites were bad, but this is plumb awful.
    Fr. Tim, please say hello to Emily Hutchinson for me.

    1. Maybe this is after the Transfiguration, when everything became dazzling white!?