The SEC Answers Critics

February 28, 2013
Scott Gunn

criticsUnfathomable though it may be, not everyone loves Lent Madness. At meetings of the Supreme Executive Committee, we often shake our heads in disbelief that there are a few people who find Lent Madness less than magnificent. As a gesture of good will, Tim and Scott have decided to answer the Top Ten Criticisms of Lent Madness. Think of these as at-the-ready talking points if you encounter a Lent Madness hater over chicken casserole at your ubiquitous Wednesday Evening Lenten program. You're welcome.

Top Ten Criticisms of Lent Madness

10. The SEC is rigging the results
Believe us when we say this: we have been as surprised and even outraged as you at some of the results. No one can predict what will happen in Lent Madness, with emphasis on the madness. If the SEC were rigging the results, Scott would not be in the bottom half of the Forward Movement office bracket pool. Now, granted, Scott once ran a full-fledged smear campaign to get George Herbert crowned with the Golden Halo (here, here, here, and here). But now that the SEC is formed, both Tim and Scott remain scrupulously neutral, working hard to ensure a free and fair contest every time.

unfair9. The match-ups are unfair
The point of Lent Madness is fun, and it would be less fun if every contest featured a reformer against a reformer or an apostle versus an apostle. In its current form, we have to grapple with the outlandish notion of picking a modern witness for social justice or a biblical hero, for example. If that seems ridiculous to you, then we'd like to remind you that the entire concept of Lent Madness is that we're voting on a Golden Halo for people who are already in God's company. Lent Madness is not for the faint of heart, so if you can't decide between theologians of the fourth-century and preachers of the modern era, step aside.

8. Lent should be about self-flagellation not self-congratulation
Yeah, yeah, we've heard this plenty: "Every time I tune into Monday Madness, Tim and Scott are touting their latest media triumph. They've even been known to send Lent Madness mugs to church celebrities in exchange for 'mug shots.'" Here's the thing. Lent Madness was in USA Today this year. Last year it was the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated. While Tim and Scott have their picture in the paper, it's really not about them. It's about getting a new image of our church into the press. The SEC believes that it's better to have Lent Madness in the news than, say, lawsuits or church closings. Oh, and we don't much care for self-flagellation. We understand Lent to be a time for fresh conversion -- to renewing our commitment to following Jesus. You can do this whilst turning that frown upside-down.

7. This is a distraction from "real" Lent
See above. We would encourage you to pursue other Lenten disciplines. However, we think "real" Lent is about finding our way back to God. If this silly contest teaches us something about holy men and women, and if we are inspired to follow Jesus because of their example, then we'd consider the mission of Lent Madness accomplished. Also, "real" Lent just doesn't work for some people.

No Facebook6. Too much of it
What? You're tired of seeing Lent Madness in your Facebook feed? Cry us a river. We can't help it that this is a success. We suggest you give up Facebook for Lent. Or start "Season after Pentecost Madness."

5. Your grammar stinks
Who are you to oppress us with your language rules? OK, so we make some mistakes now and then. You are entitled to a full refund of your Lent Madness entry fee. Oh, wait, it's free. One more thing, while we're on the subject: a few of you have harshed on Maple Anglican's awesome videos. Just remember he's Canadian, and your US imperialism doesn't govern his use of the English language. Incidentally, if you are going to write to us to complain about our grammar, make sure yours is flawless. One commenter pointed out three mistakes in a video. In the "And also with you" department, we pointed out three mistakes in that complaint. See, we're all human. Deal.

4. How can you have fun with ____ (insert martyr here)
We got a few complaints about this, most especially about Jonathan Myrick Daniels. To be clear, and in all seriousness, we would never make fun of a martyr. By including martyrs in Lent Madness, we're able to help them do their jobs afresh. That is, they are able to witness to new generations. We can assure you that plenty of Lent Madness fans had never heard of Jonathan Daniels until now. By including him in our ridiculous game, his brave witness for the gospel of justice is known in our time. By the way, you'd be complaining that we left out all the martyrs if we didn't include them.

3. You used that awful "Keep Calm and Carry On" meme
This is one of our favorites. A commenter was very upset that we used a take-off on the famous British "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters in one of our blog entries. This commenter threatened to boycott Lent Madness because we are basically akin to Nazi sympathizers or something. At the very least, the SEC were called ignorant American-centric buffoons. Look. A few minutes on the Googles, and it turns out that this poster has been proudly displayed at Number 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. If it's good enough for the Prime Minister and the Queen, it's good enough for the SEC.

2. The color for Lent is violet not purple
Yeah, that might be true in your Almy catalog, the people who brought you the imagined need for blue vestments in Advent. We prefer to consult the Bible rather than the Almy catalog when we are seeking truth. It turns out that Jesus wore purple, and we figure that's a good enough endorsement for this color in Lent Madness.

Funny Offensive1. People shouldn't laugh during Lent. Ever.
Awesome. You can give up laughter as part of your Lenten discipline. We laugh at this idea. The SEC thinks that Jesus had quite a sense of humor. In fact, the SEC finds humor throughout the Bible and in much of life, for that matter. So while we are focused on getting closer to God this Lent, we're going to laugh a bit. We invite you to join us.

There you go. If there's something rubbing you the wrong way about Lent Madness, the SEC, Forward Movement's offerings, or the way Tim runs his parish, please leave a comment. We'll get right back to you.


* indicates required

Recent Posts



119 comments on “The SEC Answers Critics”

  1. Well, St. Benedict did have a thing or two to say about laughter ( or the benefits of not being given to laughter) but that was then and this is now. So I say, Keep Calm and Carry On with Lent Madness!

  2. Keep on keeping on! I don't always get the jokes, but I love the idea of joking -- especially holy joking. And every now and then, I DO get the joke and get to laugh, another good thing.

  3. I really only have one question. Well, two. What do your congregations think about this, and how do you have time to do this? I'm recently retired, and I just barely have enough time to read what you write. My hat is off to you for your energy and your call to work fresh, not stale, in all things Church.

    1. I can answer that as one of Fr. Tim's congregants- we love it! It's refreshing to have a funny rector (our curate is funny too) who thinks of creative devotions. I have not noticed him slacking off on parish duties to co-run Lent Madness!

    2. As a Celebrity Blogger, my congregation and diocese seems to be having a great time (we are in Kentucky, so I didn't have the learning curve of "What is March Madness?"). How do I have time? Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

      1. thank you Jennifer, I love that movie! We sing that "Amen" at my church every Sunday.

      2. Years and years since I saw that movie...but the joy never fails. Thanks, Jennifer!

  4. Have you contacted NBC about showing a "Sweet Sistine" chart on prime time last night without so much as a mention of where it all began? Plagiarism by the Romans should be dealt with harshly. Summon your hordes of lawyers to issue "Cease and Desist" orders. That or have them send proffers of large sums of money to buy your peace. Hold out for a really big buyout.

  5. Awesome!! I welcome this Lent Madness apologia with open arms...I'm just sorry that one was apparently needed. BTW- I think Tim and Scott should lobby for Lent Madness Apologetics to be an elective offered at seminaries across the country.

  6. I LOVE Lent Madness. It's fun, it helps me focus on the sacrifices others have made in their spiritual journey, I've learned about all kinds of saints and holy people I had never heard of (and it has me googling things like crazy, as my interest is picqued) and quite honestly, if people don't like Lent Madness, unlike the page and get over it! I think its great. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    1. Same here! Not only do I learn about people I've never heard of, I also am forced to consider why a specific initial pairing was made. It's a double-whammy of learning. I echo your shout... THANK YOU!!!

    2. Amen and Amen. I love Lent Madness, discovered last year just after I had breast cancer surgery. Your Saint vs Saint was fun, entertaining and educational and helped me realize why our church has those Saint Days. I'm just humbled by their sacrifices for their beliefs. Wonder if I could ever do the same? I Love Lent Madness and hope you will stop addressing the naysayers......let them UNLIKE! I LIKE.

  7. Some may see this as frivolous or non-Lenten. But the comments each day demonstrate that in reading the profiles and making our choices we are meditating on what really matters as we--and those on whom we vote--live out our Christian faith. And if that is not appropriate as a Lenten exercise, I don't know what is.

    1. Amen! The biographies and the thoughtful (& sometimes punful) comments are a real education. Even if they make voting that much harder!

  8. If this circulates amongst parishioners at CCC where I serve and then is reported to the Dean and Bishop, I will be defrocked by midnight. As I am not considered to be of entirely sound mind, I can probably pull it off. These criticisms are sickening to say the least and mean. I love LENT MADNESS, especially the "madness", a concept still not understood by some commenters. To them, SEC, I have two rejoinders for you to use: SUCK DIRT ! and BITE ME! You're welcome.

  9. Please ignore anyone who is telling you what you're doing is anything less than awesome. This is my first year following Lent Madness and so far I have found it to be educational and fun. It also has encouraged me to think more about "Religion" during my everyday life through Lent (and not just on Sunday). So thank you!

  10. What great responses to the criticisms! It is good to remember not to take ourselves too seriously. This is a great event and I love it. Keep Calm and Carry On! (One of my favorite posters.)

  11. I am so enjoying my first time with Lent Madness. I love the humor AND I am learning so much!! The interplay between the astute and lovable SEC only adds to the ambience! Keep up the good work!! Makes me proud to be an Episcopalian.

  12. Brilliant!! To those sourpusses who dare to criticize, I say: some of us -- and I won't mention names here -- might even be going through chemotherapy this Lent. Izzat SERIOUS enough for ya? And those of us who are, are exceptionally grateful for the merriment and edification that Lent Madness provides. Keep up the levity!

    1. This. Some of us may have moved with our spouses to a new country where we don't know the language, triggering another major depressive episode for each spouse in a long string of mental illnesses. We can hardly get out of bed in the morning for all the unholy self-flagellating we are already doing.

      Some of us are holding on to Lent Madness as the only connection we have to the church when the nearest Anglican church is in a different country. For some of us, Lent Madness might be the only time all day we smile. So maybe our Lenten discipline is letting Lent Madness help us hate ourselves less and just rest more.

      Not that, you know, I know anyone like that or anything.

      1. Oh yeah, Anon. I hear you. (Prayers for you as well, seriously.) But keep smiling at LM.

    2. Kesmarn,
      Praying for you - and Paul Kanikula - and anyone else going thru chemo this Lent. God's healing & joy to you! Mary Kaye

      1. Many,many thank yous, Mary Kaye. And of course, I make a habit of praying for people who pray for me. And even for those who don't! Joy back atcha.

    3. AMEN. I was last year when i discovered this wonderful site, which helped me.......a former Baptist turned Episcopalian 30 yrs. ago. Peace be with You.

  13. My blog-reader tells me this post has been up less than 10 minutes. There are 6 - no 8 - no 12 comments. Glad I'm not the only one obsessively reading every word that comes forth from the SEC's keyboards.

  14. You're partly right in that the results aren't rigged by YOU guys. But there have been occasions, you have to admit, when people have managed to use multiple PCs to cast large blocs of votes and ... skew the outcome. It's not quite cyber-crime but it isn't very nice. Or Christian (IMHO).

  15. Lent Madness is AWESOME!
    Thanks for all your mistakes.
    I look forward to each machup and I have learned more about these Saints of old because of your program.
    see "it's fun to be an Episcopalian"!
    thanks again

  16. I am glad to have been introduced to Lent Madness. Reading up on the saints (or is that Saints?) has been a wonderfully educational part of my Lenten self-discipline. I mostly "take-on" during Lent, and one thing I take on, aside from more time in prayer, is religiously based educational reading and classes. So, thank you for helping me fulfill this discipline, and in a "fun" way, to boot. (or do we put away "fun" when we put away the A*****ias?)

  17. Wait a minute! Something is not quite right here. I quote:

    A few days ago, I wrote about my friend Fr. Tim Schenck’s

    Friend? Tim & Scott are friends?

    1. Of course. Just as in a British court of law the counsel for the prosecution and the counsel for the defense refer to each other as "my learned friend". And in the U.S. Senate the convention is to refer to one's colleague as "the gentleman [lady] from _______" even when it is obvious that the speaker believes that the colleague is out of his/her gourd.

  18. I love Lent Madness. I lov e the education coupled with irreverent and absurd humor that propels me to learn things that I would not seek out or be exposed to. I appreciate the candorin your responses, reminding us that sometimes we all take ourselves (and this game) too seriously, and the reminder that I have a CHOICE continue to view the brackets and comments or opt out. Thank you for your fun, uplifting and effective evangelism. Shake off the dust, keep proclaiming the good works of all contenders, and carry on!

  19. Listen, if everyone took themselves a little bit less seriously and tried a little bit harder to figure out what is really going on here (finding new and great ways to look at people who have taken the call to be Christian leaders in the world seriously) they wouldn't have time to criticize. They would be too busy trying to emulate truly good behavior. And by the way, one of my favorite take-offs of our British friends and more akin to my culture is this: "I am Italian. I cannot keep calm!" So, keep getting us excited about the saints of God and keep those posts coming!!

  20. Wow! Way to bury your critics, SEC. Hats off! Or should that be "hat's off"?

    PS I retract all my snarky comments about seeding. xx

  21. Now that baseball has fourteen-tier playoffs (that is correct, yes?), maybe the SEC could devise a Michelmas Madness to supplant or enhance the present foolery.

  22. Wow, it's amazing that people find so many things to complain about!! (Or about which to complain--grammar police). I love Lent Madness, enjoy the humor and the information and am enjoying my 2012 and 2013 Lent Madness mugs. Thank you!

  23. As a fallen-away churchgoer now exploring the Episcopal church, I was delighted to stumble across Lent Madness (God's hand at work?). I love learning about saints, martyrs and other people important to Christianity. I was delighted to see the names of such writers as Donne and T. S. Eliot included. Thank you for your tireless and creative efforts!

  24. if it weren't for Lent Madness i would not have anything to do on the internet...i know, that is pathetic 😉