Florence Li Tim-Oi vs. Oscar Romero

Well, we hope you enjoyed your first foray into the round of Saintly Kitsch. If you didn't, that's a shame since we're all kitsch, all the time here at Lent Madness for the rest of the week.

Yesterday Frances Perkins continued her Cinderella-like run through the bracket defeating Jonathan Daniels in heavy voting to earn a spot in the Faithful Four where she'll face either Hilda of Whitby or Harriet Tubman.

Today it's another trailblazing woman facing off against another modern martyr. Florence Li Tim-Oi made it to the Elate Eight by stomping on Chad of Lichfield in the most lopsided match-up of Lent Madness 2013 and then sailing past Gregory the Great. Oscar Romero emerged victorious in his two previous battles soundly defeating Elizabeth Ann Seton and trouncing Lucy.

Along the way we heard from at least a few Kitsch Kranks -- if we don't, we start to get worried. Among the comments were

"The kitsch thing is distracting...you're trying too hard to be funny."

To which we respond: Kitsch, like Lent Madness, is serious business. Also, we're never funny. We leave that to circus clowns and cats making funny faces on Facebook.

Yesterday's match-up also had someone "quit" Lent Madness for the first time:

"I give up. Obviously PC has governed both the brackets and the voting. When Christ's own apostles are beaten out by simply good people, the humor and fun goes out of the game. I'm glad, however, Jesus was not one of the 'contestants.' He would have lost to a feminist, ecologist, or chicken-raiser. It was fun for a while, but I quit."

First of all, both members of the Supreme Executive Committee use Macs so the statement "Obviously PC has governed both the brackets and the voting" is impossible. Secondly, there are two untouchable in Lent Madness -- you will never see Jesus or Mary in a bracket. Finally, we prefer our saints to be hell-raisers (like  John Donne) not chicken-raisers (like whatever you're referring to).

Finally, check out Maple Anglican's Lent Madness video of the day as the Archbishops preview today's match-up and answer viewer mail.

Li TimFlorence Li Tim-Oi

This much beloved daughter of Lent Madness was baptized as a student and took the name Florence, in honor of Florence Nightingale. She was the first woman ordained to the Anglican priesthood on January 25, 1944. This is her beautiful icon.

The Celebrity Bloggers prayerfully celebrate and thank Florence for her witness and courage as she paved the way for women’s ordination by her faithful ministry and witness. However, Florence has no saintly kitsch. None. Nada. And believe me, if the Celebrity Bloggers and the Supreme Executive CFlo italyommittee couldn’t find kitsch, it simply does not exist.

So, bewailing the lack of anything resembling kitsch or even things oddly funny (we found a calendar, but it was just, well, a calendar), the snark triumvirate of Fr. Tim, Megan, and Laurie combined their respective superpowers and give you the best we have: Famous Flos.

flo kyFlorence, Italy. The birthplace of the Renaissance, the home to the Medici family (which weren’t all that honorable like our Florence, but they did support many starving artists), and the place where the monk who lambasted immorality and greed (especially in the church) Savonarola was killed and Machiavelli, the political thinker, wrote The Prince.

Florence, KentuckyIt has this awesome water tower.

Florence Jean Castleberry is noted for her servant ministry. Born in Cowtown, Texas, to Edsel and flo melsVelma, she dropped out of school at 16 and subsequently married three times before finding her true calling as a waitress at Mel’s Diner. She became a confident and spiritual director of many patrons and fellow waitresses alike, most notably Alice. Flo (as she was known) eventually returned to Cowtown and bought a roadside juke joint, naming it Flo’s Yellow Rose. Her main liturgical response to many men and women is, “Kiss my grits.” Flo’s alter-ego, Polly Holliday, is an active member of the Episcopal Church.

flo hendFlorence Henderson is best known for her role as Mrs. Brady. She was married before and had three daughters, but her former husband was apparently abducted by aliens, as he was never mentioned in the series. Mrs. Brady married Mr. Brady and this group would somehow form a family. That's the way we all became the Brady Bunch. The Brady Bunch, The Brady Bunch. That’s the way we became the Brady Bunch.

You’re singing the theme song now, aren’t you? It will be in your head all day long. You’re welcome.

Florence Nightingale  Also a saint, this Florence was born in the afore-mentioned Florence, Italy in the early 19th flo totecentury. She became a nurse and volunteered to serve as a nurse during the Crimean War. Her strict approach to cleanliness and sanitation drastically reduced the death toll in field hospitals, and her leadership and innovation elevated nursing into a profession.  Nursing Florence, we might add, has kitsch, like this Andy Warhol-esque tote bag, because…why not?

Yes, yes, we KNOW about Florence + the Machine, about the Jefferson’s maid Florence, and a few others, but we do have day jobs. Sort of.

 -- Laurie Brock


romerograffitiOscar Romero

The RELICS: There are first-order relics. When Romero was killed, he was celebrating mass at the cancer hospice where he lived. His vestments have been preserved, and can be viewed in San Salvador, (or online, at the Romero Trust, here). His body, on the other hand….

So we know Romero was killed by a death squad member. But we don't know who. And lo these thirty years later, we still don't really know for sure. (Though, there 201132412947956427_20be many theories). After his death, his funeral was held on Palm Sunday, March 30 (appropriate.) It was a huge event, with thousands flocking to the cathedral, and TV crews broadcasting it around the world. During the service, the army threw smoke grenades into the crowd, then opened fire on the mourners. Over 40 people were killed by the end. The service was never finished, and Romero ended up hastily buried under the cathedral. When Rome recognized that there was a case for canonization, Romero was re-buried in a nicer (read: an actual) grave. As the government feared, this site has become a place of pilgrimage for many, including Pope John Paul II, and President Obama.

Less Upsetting Kitsch:

The MOVIE: Romero, with Raul Julia, made in 1989. Gomez Adams, as you have long wished to see him!  (The whole thing can be viewed in really bad quality on YouTube. Or, if you wish, it is also available on Amazon, as are all things, save salvation). It is very heartfelt, and quite moving.

Fortuitously, the casting of Raul Julia means that the saint Romero is name-checked in Mystery Science Theatre 3000: Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, a movie oscar_romero_bumper_sticker-p128267899489347304en7pq_216ALSO starring Raul Julia. Yes, even Tom Servo and Crow know and appreciate the good archbishop.

The MUSICAL! And not just any musical: a children's musical. Here, at long last, is an activity for that bored Sunday School class! Awesomely, when you buy the rights, the music or the backing track, the proceeds all go to development projects in El Salvador.

5576166155_e0216eb5f3_zThere are SONGS! Namely, the Martyrs' Project has a rather good song, with lyrics entirely taken from the Archbishop's sermons and prayers. The video is here (scroll to the bottom), and is also comprised of footage of that time of war.

There are STATUES. Like at the National Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.  While the Roman Catholics may be late to the game in even officially proclaiming Romero a martyr, we Episcopalians have no such compunction. Martyrs are martyrs, y'all.

And, of course, there are T-SHIRTS, BUMPER STICKERS, MURALS....oscar_romero_t_shirts-r78e14ded87c640688bed1ec25fb7f208_804gs_512

In all seriousness, Romero's face has become as recognizable in Latin America as Washington's or Lincoln's is to us here in the United States. He truly does live on in the Salvadoran people.

-- Megan Castellan


Florence Li Tim-Oi vs. Oscar Romero

  • Oscar Romero (63%, 2,134 Votes)
  • Florence Li Tim-Oi (37%, 1,256 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,389

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119 comments on “Florence Li Tim-Oi vs. Oscar Romero”

  1. Voted for Oscar Romero although it was a very tough choice. I do admire the heroic efforts to find kitsch for Florence though, but suspect that as I am not from the US your efforts (tote bag apart) are largely lost on me. And happily I don't have the theme tune to the Brady Bunch in my head...

      1. Thank you for the info on Florence's dahlia! Of course, I want to buy one for my garden!

      2. Molly R., my writing was not clear. This coming Sunday, 24 March is the anniversary. He was no buried on Palm Sunday, though.

  2. I had meant to vote for Florence Li Tim-Oi, but today find I must vote for Oscar Romero, a bishop who did not fail his people nor leave them on their own, but spoke their names and blessed their struggle.

  3. The tomb of San Romero de las Américas that Lent Madness readers see in today's posting is the THIRD one for the poor man who has been dead not quite 33 years (this Sunday, Palm Sunday, will be the actual anniversary). The first tomb, in the crypt of Catedral Metropolitana in San Salvador, El Salvador, was extremely simple, intended to diminish Romero's importance. Then, Romero's body was translated to another place in the cathedral crypt, a side alcove. This second tomb truly became the people's tomb: every time I would visit it for my prayers, I would see lots of people praying there, their hands or sometimes faces on top of the large rectangular tile-covered tomb. People would place flowers and palms on top. On the adjacent wall were the words from the Gospel of John, '... unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit' (Jn 12.24). In 2005, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary, the powers that be decided that the second tomb was too 'popular' (i.e., of the people), so they hired an Italian sculptor who designed and executed the current tomb. Romero's remains were moved, then, a third time, and the 'new' tomb was dedicated on 24 March 2005. The authorities roped it off, hoping that the people would not venerate Romero as much, but the people have ignored the ropes and continue to place flowers on the tomb. The tip of Romero's mitre has gotten burnished from people touching it. I much prefer the second tomb but it doesn't really matter because Romero's spirit is not in the crypt, it is in the streets with the people. So... there is your trivia (about what I consider a kitschy tomb) for the morning. Oh, and during the 1990s, you could not find tshirts, posters, postcards or anything related to Romero. Now his image is becoming domesticated by all the kitsch.

    1. Lee,
      Never fear, no matter how much they try to domesticate Romero, they will never succeed. As he said, "Let my blood be a seed of freedom" and "if they kill me, I will rise again in the people of El Salvador". Pax.

    2. I was all set to vote for Flo ("Kiss my grits" was a very important part of my childhood) but I was stopped by a significant fact from Lee: " the poor man who has been dead not quite 33 years (this Sunday, Palm Sunday, will be the actual anniversary)." Wait, he was buried on Palm Sunday, and this Palm Sunday will be the 33rd anniversary of his death? Folks, I don't believe in coincidence, and the variety of dates that Palm Sunday can fall on makes me believe this is Oscar's time. I love Florence's witness, and with sincere apologies to Flo/Polly I believe I am meant to lift up our brother Oscar closer to the light of the Golden Halo.

  4. I would just like to say, one of the reasons I truly enjoy Lent Madness (besides learning about all these amazing people which is my #1 reason) - is that the writing is so refreshing. Regardless of what anyone says, I believe all the bloggers and the SEC are extremely talented writers who provide intelligent, researched and well thought out commentary. It is amusing and yet informative. And always in a respectful way. Thank you for that....I wish there was more of that out there in the WWW. 🙂 Happy Spring!

    1. You know you are correct -- the writing is good, they are talented writers who were providing informative information up until this Kitsch stuff. This is just silliness. I have no problem with that, but if this is truly to be a tool to educate people, the sarcasm and the "cuteness" gets a bit hard to take. I have stopped making the copies for the notebook I have by my poster in the gathering space. It is not informative, it is demeaning. I also tend to agree that political correctness does seem to win out. Mostly contemporary people, all good, but our history has meaning as well.

    2. Guys. Lighten up. Do you think the saints themselves had no humor? Laughter is a gift from God too.

  5. Very tough choice. Thank you Lee for the very interesting additional info on the Archbishop's tomb. I must ponder further (yes to the tune of the Brady Bunch you devils!)

  6. Although I am sure that Oscar will get the nod, as a nurse, I had to vote for Florence in solidarity with Florence Nightingale. Paving the way for future women priests isn't a shabby accomplishment either, despite the lack of kitsch. Maybe the lack of kitsch will create a backlash of votes from kitsch-haters.

  7. Hmmmmmm. I have been serious long enough. Seriously. So today, my reason for choosing Florence Li Tim-Oi is this: my grandmother grew up in Florence, SC and moved to Hartsville, SC as a bride. When the Great Depression hit, she and my grandfather and four children left their large town home, moved out to their farm where they all worked hard every day, and with their savings, she bought two hotels in Myrtle Beach and named them The Hartsvilla and the Florentine. That was way back when M.B. was a sleepy little town with hotels open only in the summertime. I was named for her and spent my childhood summers at The Florentine. So Florence gets my vote in serious admiration for two holy and very hard-working women: my grandmother and The Reverend Florence Li Tim-Oi, priest of the Church.

  8. "To each of us Christ is saying: If you want your life and your mission to be fruitful like mine, do as I. Be converted into a seed that lets itself be buried. Let yourself be killed. Do not be afraid. Those who shun suffering will remain alone. No one is more alone than the selfish. But if you give your life out of love for others, as I give mine for all, you will reap a great harvest. You will have the deepest satisfactions. Do not fear death or threats; the Lord goes with you." April 1, 1979 go with Oscar!

      1. I agree with you Sr Mary Winifred. I think the big Lobster folks in conjunction with the folks at Department of Labor will make Hawaii's efforts for their Emma last year pale in conparison. When FP's name is up there are a whole lot more people out there suddenly voting.

  9. This is so hard! Both of these persons of faith are important, highly important to me. How can I choose? And yet I must. I said before that I would never vote against Abp. Romero, and so it is again today. But I am filled with regret voting against Li Tim-Oi!

  10. I voted for Oscar, not for his death, but for his life. To me, there is a difference in being murdered unexpectedly by evil (Daniels, MLK Jr.) and in being killed for refusing to renounce one's faith, knowing full well and expecting that the wages of faith is death ("Dusty" Miller, Wang Zhiming). Romero’s life is not qualitatively "better than” Flo’s, he just gets my vote today. (Flo got it before). bendiciónes

    1. Don't you think the other two were aware of their danger? Though I also went with Romero.

  11. Harder and harder to choose. Today it comes down to voting for someone who was born a saint and someone whose heart and mind changed in the course of his life. I will vote for Romero, but perhaps I'm really voting for all those who have been and will be willing to be changed by God's grace.

  12. My bracket had Romero. Then, I wavered for Florence (in honor of my nephew moving to Canada and a brave lady), but in the end, the bloody vestments did it. Romero has my vote. Disturbing as the pictures were, they make his sacrifice and the sacrifice of other martyrs (like Jonathan Daniels) more real - touching the heart rather than just the head as if only some historical topic of conversation. Nicely done article, Megan Castellan. Also, thanks to Lee (above) for the additional information. You can find some treasures amidst these comments.

  13. Hardest matchup of the whole season for me. Both are significant inspirations to me in my priesthood. Both bore amazing beyond-human witness clearly sustained by the Holy Spirit. But I have a more personal connection to Romero, having been in El Salvador for the commemorations of the 30th anniversary of his martyrdom and having seen the various relics, sites, etc.--all the spring before my ordinations. Also: what slfiore above says about the transformation in Romero's life from backer of the status quo and friend of the oligarchs to radical witness to the Gospel and martyr and how much hope that gives that others may also be changed, perhaps even me.

  14. I'm sitting in the airport awaiting my flight from Pennsylvania to the Caribbean, leaving the 20 degree weather behind. And yet it is bittersweet. I fear that I may venture out of Internet range and thus suffer from LMW. Perhaps next year the SEC will make absentee voting possible, but until then, I must take courage from the saints to get through this terrible ordeal. Happy Lent, and God bless you all.

    1. Having just returned from a warm respite, I understand your angst. Was lucky enought to connect, read, ponder and vote each day- keeping my Lent holy. The idea of absentee ballot did cross my mind before the saving wi-fi connection clicked on. Take courage in Jamaica-all shall be well.

    2. Never fear, I've been voting from Chiang Mai, Thailand. There must be a kicky long-distance award, na.

  15. I missed voting yesterday because I was planning on voting shortly before 8 a.m., because I was having a hard time deciding, but forgot Lent Madness uses EDT instead of CDT. Anyhoo, now I'm stuck again. I've known all about Florence longer than I've known about Oscar. I would love to see her with the Golden Halo, but Oscar is deserving too. And I've voted for both in previous rounds.

    Coincidentially, I'm going to hear a contemporary of the Archbishop speak in chapel on campus today. (The Rev. Rogelio Ponseele who you can read about at http://www.mennoworld.org/blog/2012/12/28/challenge-manger-bethlehem/?page=2 ). So I plan to vote after lunch.

    Oh and y'all forgot about Florence, Oregon, the home of sea lions and costal sand dues.

    And I didn't know Mrs. Brady's alter-ego was an Episcopalian, but I've shared a communion rail with housekeeper Alice's alter-ego.

  16. Despite the lack of kitsch (like I said at the beginning...the Lentorium could make a mint producing it's own kitsch - besides the LM mug), I still am backing Flo. Not that I'd really cry if Romero won, as he is also very deserving. Besides, you have to admire Flo's CB+ for trying while under a clear disadvantage.

    When you find out about the chicken-raising thing, will you let us know? I don't want to vote for no stinkin' chicken-raiser! I mean really, one can only go so far...

    1. Florence, Florence she's the one! 😉 However, Oscar did great things, but Oi, I'll go for the numero uno woman priest! BTW, I'm sorry about "The Quitter." Sorry they are going to miss out on a challenging race with the best of the BEST clever kitsch raisers! That was the greatest picture of Jesus enjoying the humor too... What's after Lent Madness? I'm already hooked, so another follower of Forward Movement is born!

    2. I'd like to vote for Romero but the punishment for supporting a man in my rainforest-dwelling feminist coven is to be pecked to death by a PC gender-balanced (roosters AND hens) flock of chickens, so I don't know...

      [I'm afraid I don't understand the whole 'chicken-raising' thing either, but if it puts me in the company of feminists and ecologists, hey, why not? Also, didn't the apostles kinda start out as 'simply good people' when they were invited to follow, and isn't that part of their charm... and our hope?]

      1. JenniferThomasina, the first part of your comment--very witty! The second part--very true.

  17. You're not trying to be funny. The site is brilliant, funny, witty, educational. Love it! Agree about the PC comment. My husband is countering that by only voting for old, dead, white guys! Jonathan Daniels got robbed!!

  18. Like so many others on this board, I found today's match-up the most difficult yet. I have so enjoyed getting to know Rev. Flo, and will continue to use her as a "she-ro" in the women's spirituality seminar I teach. Nonetheless, today I must vote for my inspiration, Saint Romero of the Americas. He has been my exemplar for years of a true witness for the faith, so I could not forsake him today.

  19. Chicken-raisers? CHICKEN-RAISERS?!? Well, THIS chicken-raising ecological permaculturist feminist farmer-pastor is voting, so if that upsets some folks, well, y'all will just have to deal.
    Today, with the deepest of respect to Florence Li Tim-Oi, I cast my vote for Oscar Romero. His life was a profound witness and his actions and beliefs have been a guide and inspiration for mine. The deciding factor had nothing to do with kitsch--it was yesterday's article by George Monbiot (do a web-search on his name and "Cardinal Sins" to find the article). In honor of Romero and all the other liberation theologians that Popes Benedict and Francis have tried to silence, I vote for Saint Oscar today. La Lucha Continua!!!

    1. Thank you so much for the reference. IT IS WORTH READING THIS EVERYBODY!
      Lent Madness commenters have been my Lenten study. thanks Y'all.

  20. This gets harder and harder. I remember reading once that Romero was murdered right after reading the announcements to the parish, a seemingly innocuous exercise we all did thousands of times almost without thinking. But he included something (my memory fails me here) the authorities found unacceptable, so bang! you're dead! Our calling as clergy gets us into lots of tight places, but we know that it will, don't we? Rarely do we suffer literal martyrdom, though. I think I have to go with Romero, however reluctantly. No offense to either him or Flo.

  21. Happy to vote for Oscar Romero today; I love that wall mural, and now I'm thinking "That's the face of the church I love to see." Religious, compassionate.

    Thinking of becoming Catholic later....

  22. And just a reminder that Ann B. Davis who played Alice the maid on the Brady Bunch is also a very faithful Episcopalian!

    1. I know. I once shared an altar rail with her at communion. And I was very well behaved that day resisted any temptation to say, "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha." 😉

  23. I loved the icon of Florence, her sweet countenance and smile belying a strong spirit, hardened by her strength of will in the face of opposition. AND, she's a priest, an Anglican priest, the first woman priest who wouldn't quit trying (as opposed to the "other" church which has no women priests at all). I vote for Florence, a lovely lady herself.

  24. Florence doesn't have a musical, exactly, but the "The Light in the Piazza" is set in Florence and even includes a much beloved daughter. Here's the opening number as performed at the Tony Awards: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ikqeG4ab3Q. Florence Li Tim-Oi is a beautiful, deeply inspirational woman--her secret priesthood, her endless faith, her unwavering courage. I am so glad to have met her. I thought she'd be my pick today. But Oscar Romero's life and words are powerful. I agree with Sheldon--neither is "better." And like slfiore, I'm moved to vote for Romero for the way he embraced the grace of profound change.

  25. Actually, I collect saintly kitsch - 3rd class relics which (as everyone knows) are something that has touched a 1st or 2nd class relic. Going to Hawaii for spring break next week - hope to touch a copy of her portrait to her tomb.