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. LOLIN -That's "Laughing out loud in Lent" for those of who haven't figured out internet shorthand.

  2. Well, Tim, I do think you redeemed youself. Actually, it's healthy to have ll the discussion especially about such famous people.
    But a big thanks goes to you and the SEC for posting the picture of the laughing Jesus. It's always been a favorite.. In fact, I have one in the bedroom, and another in our guest bathroom. He's laughing as we turn off the lights..It's my guess he's also getting a big laugh from watching all of us and our Lent Madness!

  3. One of my first thoughts was, to paraphrase a smidgen, "...this kitsch could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." I'm not fond of kitsch (unless it's somebody else's kitsch in which case etiquette requires polite admiration) but I am a long-time believer in and supporter of that which I call "Holy Nonsense." Lent Madness is an outstanding example of this. Tim and Scott, you guys rock! When you expand the LM Store, perhaps you could add some kitschy Tim and Scott action figures.

    1. Ooooh, Evelyn that's a great idea - kitschy Tim and Scott action figures. Sorta like Nancy Pearl, only clergy rather than librarian.

    2. I suggest watching Jame Martin, Laughing with the Saints... it is on You Tube in 3 Parts. He explains why the gospels, based on their intended audiences, would de-emphasize Jesus's joy and laughter.

    3. Please! "Oh When the Saints Go Marching In" is NOT kitsch! It's practically a hymn. If you live in the right state you can hear it at funerals as often as "Amazing Grace," which reminds me that I should include it on the MUST PLAY music list for my memorial service!

    4. I gotta say....I've loved Lent Madness up to this week...and I'm not much on kitsch, so I was privately, silently a bit disappointed that there wasn't some other criteria for voting. In fact...I haven't voted this round because it seemed pointless since the matchups didn't seem close at all, and the kitsch was totally not a draw to a decision.
      But...I didn't complain about the I figured we're playing in YOUR yard...
      HOWEVER... I have to agree with Meg and Jennifer here that the SEC seems to be the cranks here...and more than a little...heavy handed in their defense of their decision. Hey, you live by the kitsch, you die by the kitsch! Perhaps the SEC has let their exalted positions go to their heads a bit...and need to re-read some of the bios of the saints we've been learning so much about, and practice a little humility. But we are EPISCOPALIANS, if we can't agree to disagree, live and let live....we've learned nothing from this otherwise wonderful exercise in fun and learning. Don't spoil it, boys!

  4. If you can't handle the kitsch get out of the kitschen, right?

    Yes, in the insane week before Holy Week, which is full of madness for most clergy and lay employees, I've sunk to the level of bad puns. In the scramble to put together all the support materials so that others might enjoy a Sacred and Spiritual Holy Week, I appreciate a heavy dose of silliness. Keep it up.

    And I don't know if Jesus laughed, giggled, chortled or snickered, but David did cartwheel in the streets for joy, right?

  5. This post was the final nail in the coffin: I am now conclusively in love with the Supreme Executive Committee and feel strongly that its oversight as a governing body should be extended to encompass a greater sphere than it does at present.

  6. Are these critics REALLY serious? Come on. Weren't we playing this for fun??????????? And, a funny thing happened: I also LEARNED a whole lot about these stalwarts of the faith.
    What organized religion sometimes lack are JOY and LAUGHTER. Some of these folks might try both. They might get a few more converts and followers to the faith.

  7. I appreciate your focus on all the saintly kitsch. It reminds me, to be careful to 1) not take the notion of sainthood too seriously - they were, after all, simply "elaborations of a tube" (to borrow a phrase from (St.) Leonard Cohen) just as I am, but beloved of God, just as I am; 2) the seemingly endless supply of tacky religious art also reminds me of how easily we dismiss and denigrate the very ones we would love and emulate. Holy kitsch = cautionary tale; or how the free market screws up a good thing (person). Thanks, gentlemen.

  8. Thanks to Lent Madness I am now able to identify two more of the saints on the kitsch wooden bracelet with pictures of saints that I purchase (I'm sure from a kid) in Lima, Peru. P.S. I don't hold up well against kids peddling items in other countries.

  9. Listen up, Schenck and Gunn and the guest writers (not in the sky) !!! I don't know why you are even bothering with these gloomy Gus and Gloomy Gusites in the first place. It takes major intelligence to even appreciate the finer points of kitsch ! Tell them this: "BITE ME !" Oh ! That's not a Christian attitude. is it? Well, don't turn the other cheek...they'll probably bite it, ala Mike Tyson and the missing earlobe. Father, forgive me, I just continue to sin and sin and sin...good lyrics, n'est ce pas?

  10. Also as a newbie this year, I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to educate us, entertain us and challenge us. Isn't that what our Christian journey is all about?

    My problem is...what will I do when Lent is over? No daily snappy reparte to look forward to? Now that is a somber point to contemplate.

  11. It is true, Holy Week is next week. And, I, for one have enjoyed the silliness. Y'alls first post called this Lent Madness. That is what it has been, and has lived up to it's promises.

  12. The twins are now asking me how we can get the "not so cowardly Jerome lion" for Father Goldacker's kitsch collection. I think that reveals their vote in today's match up!

    Here's my two cents about some of today's peevish dust up. While much of LM is tongue and cheek, I think many of us are discovering along the way that a good bit of this exercise is rather meaningful. In our household, Skye and Hope are making lots of connections about their faith. These saintly lessons in religious history and humor are important powerful tools as we pass the torch (sorry Cranmer) to the next generation(s).

    I'll get off my soapbox now.

  13. Thanks so much for this post! I really wanted to yell into cyberspace: "Lighten up, people!" It's Lent Madness! We're voting on a saint, for heaven's sake. I've had lots of fun learning about and even from the saintly contenders so far. It's not the dry, learned style we may be more familiar with, but it's fun and much more memorable. In addition, it''s not like Lent Madness created and marketed the saintly kitsch, they just put in our faces. It's already out there! Even the sacred cow of women's rights and issues can afford to be poked with the funny stick.

  14. I absolutely loved yesterday's post with all the kitsch, and look forward to the rest! You all have the best senses of humor and are so very creative in this endeavor. I've enjoyed Lent Madness so far and learned so much; and have added much reading to an already long must-read list. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us, and challenging us to consider the lives of those who inspire us. There, that's my gushing fan post.

  15. Sorry to just jump in here without reading all the above comments, but how many have cried during a hymn, or teared up during a burial office, or hit the emotional override by just walking into a beautiful holy space....I think all of us have...Now , especially coming into Holy Week, I'm a #1 cheerleader for this common playful experience. Big turn out in the Body of Christ, which we need. Think of it, +1900 of us with either a smile, or an hrumph, or an oh my! ....Kitsch alert, I had a piece of toast this morning with the face of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on it!...

    1. Bonhoeffer toast: Perfect! Of course God laughs. And of course emotion overcomes us as we approach the Holy. It's all of a piece. There is no love without loss and we can't really lose what we don't love. This Humanity stuff is complicated. Laughter is God's gift to help us cope with it all.

  16. Also, I do love the intersection between the sacred and profane that shows in all this kitsch!

  17. Please don't stop. I'm so enjoying every little thing about Lent Madness. It's madness not to liove the kitchey Elate Eight! As a former Southern Baptist, I say, don't be so uptight y'all cradle Episcopalians. TBTG for Lent Madness.

    1. It's ordinarily not we cradle Episcopalians who are uptight -- we've known from birth how to agree to disagree -- it's y'all who came in as adults who can't tolerate change or diversion or difference of opinion.

      1. Sister Mary Winifred, when addressing the non-cradle cranks, the plural of "y'all" is "all y'all."

  18. Bonhoeffer still has my vote. He was a serious man living in a serious time & place.

  19. I LOVE all the saintly kitch! Thank you. And yes, every day this week, I've gone back and reread the info and quotes for each saint.

  20. I LOVE the kitsch and I absolutely LOVE the picture of Jesus having a good laugh. Who gave us the gift of laughter and humor? And there is grace in that, you know!! The mugs and mousepads are great and I am sure that Deitrich, Mary, Margaret and the rest would have been the first in line to pick up a few trinkets!! This has been the best Lenten meditation going!! FYI, I am on Team Margaret!

  21. As the one pointed out with this: “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.”

    I have my own collection of kitsch - and can laugh at my self -- just right now with the attack on women in the news and government - kitsch that demeans women is a subject that cranks my crank.

    Attack your friends is not very funny IMO.

    A lot of the stuff is just sexist racist crap and it disappoints me that you can't see that.

  22. There is a more than century-old satirical parade in Guatemala City held on the Friday before Holy Week called the "Huelga de Dolores" (roughtly, "the strike of Sorrows," named after the traditional name of the Friday before Palm Sunday). This parade, organized by university students, was, for many years, one of the only public displays of protest permitted by the government. It often parodies the solemn religious processions that take place during Lent and Holy Week. It expresses sharp critiques of the government, the military, the Church, and other social institutions and goes waaaay beyond kitsch: it can be rough and crude, full of double entendres and straight-up sexual and scatological humor and commentary.

    So there is a precedent for marking the week before Holy Week with humor and irony!