Harriet Beecher Stowe vs. Alcuin

You know what’s great about today? (Well, besides the fact that it’s Monday and a lot of clergy — and half of the Supreme Executive Committee — have the day off). We begin an entire week of Saintly Sixteen match-ups! We kick things off with a 19th century laywoman taking on an 8th century deacon. Harriet Beecher Stowe and Alcuin vie for a spot in the Elate Eight.

If you missed the Archbishops’ preview of the week ahead, click here. And then subscribe to Lent Madness by entering your e-mail address (on the right side of the home page under the Voting 101 video) so you never miss anything pertaining to Lent Madness ever again. Why get caught at a loss for words around the water cooler when your co-workers ask how you voted  yesterday and you tell them you forgot? If your boss hears of your total disregard for Lent Madness you may even lose your job. So please. Subscribe to Lent Madness. The global economy is depending on you.

hbsHarriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life among the Lowly, got an early start in her literary career. When she was 13, she graduated from the local girls’ school in Litchfield, Connecticut. Her composition, entitled, “Can the immortality of the soul be proved by the light of nature?” was read aloud at the ceremony. Her father, Lyman Beecher, at the time the most famous preacher in the country, wanted to know who the smart aleck was, and was shocked to learn it was his daughter. Harriet was thrilled with herself.

Initially content to stay out of the argument over slavery in the mid-1800s, two events changed Harriet’s mind. The first was the death of her 18-month-old son, in the Cincinnati cholera epidemic of 1849. Cholera was new to the United States at the time, so there was no medical treatment. Afterwards, Harriet wrote that she didn’t think she could ever be reconciled to the child’s death, unless it allowed her to do some great good for others — but that the loss also helped her empathize with slave mothers who lost their children on the auction block.

When the Fugitive Slave Law was passed the next year, directly implicating even those in Northern states in the institution of slavery, Harriet knew she needed to do something. She said later: “I no more thought of style or literary excellence than the mother who rushes into the street and cries for help to save her children from a burning house, thinks of the teachings of the rhetorician or the elocutionist.”

She approached the editor of the anti-slavery paper, the National Era, proposing that she write three or four short sketches, which grew into a serialized form of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  

The intense popularity of the book enraged the slaveholding establishment, causing them to accuse Harriet of fabrication and lying through her teeth, but Harriet was prepared. She published A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in 1854, in which she directed her white audience to the numerous slave narratives that she had used in her research for her novel, essentially arguing that, if she had lied, it had been to tone down the horrible truth about slavery. It had the added benefit of bringing the first-person slave narratives of Solomon Northrup (of “12 Years a Slave” fame), Frederick Douglass, and many others, to a wider audience. 

“What makes saintliness in my view, as distinguished from ordinary goodness, is a certain quality of magnanimity and greatness of soul that brings life within the circle of the heroic,” she wrote. Very appropriate for such a feisty character.

Megan Castellan


This quirky 8th Century teacher, theologian, liturgist, and bad poet was responsible for the Christian-based European renaissance that went hand-in-hand with the reign of Charlemagne, a program that was especially focused on educating the clergy so they could educate the people. One of his most notable achievements was to convince Charlemagne that forcing people to accept baptism or be executed was not good Christian policy.

He was also the inventor of the Carolingian miniscule, a form of writing that allowed so many ancient texts to be quickly and clearly reproduced. He may even have been the inventor of the question mark, which, in addition to inspiring the 60’s band ? & The Mysterians to challenge us all to cry 96 tears, was prominently featured in his discourses and other teaching documents.

Here is such an example, a discourse between Pippin, Charlemagne’s son, and Alcuin:

P. What is life?
A. A delight to the blessed, a grief to the unhappy, an experience of waiting for death.
P. What is death?
A. An inevitable happening, an unpredictable journey, the tears of the living, the coming into force of a testament, the robber of human beings.
P. What is a human being?
A. A slave to death, a traveller passing through, a stranger in the place.
P. To what is a human being similar?
A. To a fruit tree.
P. What is his or her situation?
A. Like that of a candle in the wind. (translated by Gillian Spraggs)

Alcuin wrote many textbooks, including the Propositions for Sharpening Youth that included problems like this one:

A certain  man needed  to take  a wolf,  a she-goat, and a  load of cabbage across a  river. However, he could only find a boat which would carry two of these  [at a  time]. Thus, what rule did he employ so as to get all of them across unharmed? (Translated from the Latin by Peter J. Burkholder) (Post your answer in the comments!)

His Bible translation (an update of Jerome’s Vulgate combined with the Northumbrian Ceolfrith Bible) was produced in volumes that contained both illumination (sometimes with gold letters on purple vellum) and illustration and text arranged in cartoon-strip-like registers, thus bringing the Irish tradition of illuminated Gospels to the European continent.

Toward the end of his life, he wrote this about his career:

In the morning, at the height of my powers, I sowed the seed in Britain, now in the evening when my blood is growing cold I am still sowing in France, hoping both will grow, by the grace of God, giving some the honey of the holy scriptures, making others drunk on the old wine of ancient learning…

Penny Nash


Harriet Beecher Stowe vs. Alcuin

  • Harriet Beecher Stowe (53%, 2,535 Votes)
  • Alcuin (47%, 2,278 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,813

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160 Comments to "Harriet Beecher Stowe vs. Alcuin"

  1. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 31, 2014 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    When Charlemagne’s son asked Alcuin about life, his answer was beautiful in its simplicity. Definitely tipped the scale for me! I’m sticking with my original choice. Go Alcuin!!!

  2. Alison T.'s Gravatar Alison T.
    March 31, 2014 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    Not an easy choice today but I like the thought provoking questions of Alcuin. He also seemed a gentle soul.

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      March 31, 2014 - 8:24 am | Permalink

      Hi Alison, you know, Alcuin seemed that way to me also. Another good reason for sticking with my original choice!

      • Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
        March 31, 2014 - 10:22 am | Permalink

        Good morning, Maddy and Aly! I agree wholeheartedly with you Ladies and cast my vote for Alcuin. His thoughtful, gentle spirit speaks to me.

  3. Barbara Hanson's Gravatar Barbara Hanson
    March 31, 2014 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    The influence he had on Charlemagne, the expression “candle in the wnd”, and his use of the question mark have drawn me to vote for the quirky Alcuin.

    • linda's Gravatar linda
      March 31, 2014 - 12:29 pm | Permalink

      so the Elton John song Candle in the Wind was not of Elton’s ? wow- bummer.

  4. Kim Forbes's Gravatar Kim Forbes
    March 31, 2014 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    How could an inquisitive woman, with a love of punctuation, not vote for Alcuin?

    • Adam's Gravatar Adam
      March 31, 2014 - 10:39 am | Permalink

      I had planned on voting for Alcuin to begin with but when I saw that he possibly invented the question mark, that solidified my choice. I immediately thought of Victor Borge’s routine on phonetic punctuation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf_TDuhk3No

  5. Mary Nelle Osborne's Gravatar Mary Nelle Osborne
    March 31, 2014 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    The riddle is: take the wolf and cabbage, leave them and return for the goat.

    • Carol Townsend's Gravatar Carol Townsend
      March 31, 2014 - 8:49 am | Permalink

      Nah – Alcuin should just grab his cell phone and call for a bigger boat. Or walk across the bridge that’s just over there. Or (my favorite) give the cabbage to the goat (I hate cabbage), milk the goat to make cheese (yay feta!!) and let the wolf go free (why is he transporting a wolf long distances anyway? Leave the wolf in its natural habitat!)

    • Alan C's Gravatar Alan C
      March 31, 2014 - 9:06 am | Permalink

      That’s the answer I had in mind, the rule being I suppose that you shouldn’t leave unsupervised a creature and its food source if you don’t want said creature to eat said food. There may be a more elegant way to express that, but it eliminates leaving either wolf & goat or goat & cabbage while you go back to get the remaining cargo.

      I think I’m voting for Alcuin, even though I’ve never like story problems.

    • Anna's Gravatar Anna
      March 31, 2014 - 9:41 am | Permalink

      I believe the boat only holds two…the man, plus one.

      • Anna's Gravatar Anna
        March 31, 2014 - 9:45 am | Permalink

        I believe the boat only holds two…the man, plus one.

        • keith kunz's Gravatar keith kunz
          March 31, 2014 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

          it is a tough one , how do we know the wolf won’t eat the man?

      • Paula's Gravatar Paula
        March 31, 2014 - 11:36 am | Permalink

        Good for you, Anne.

    • Johannas Jordan's Gravatar Johannas Jordan
      March 31, 2014 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for that answer, even if it isn’t what he would have said. Do we know what he thought the answer was?

    • Sarah Q.'s Gravatar Sarah Q.
      March 31, 2014 - 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Actually since the boat can only take 2 (the man plus one other item), he would have to transport the goat first, leaving the wolf and cabbages. Then he would go back for the cabbages. After dropping off the cabbages, he would pick up the goat (he can’t leave it on the same side as the cabbages or it would eat them) and transports it back to the original side and leaves it there while he then ferries the wolf to the cabbage side. He leaves the wolf with the cabbages, goes back to the original side (with an empty boat) and ferries the goat. I hope the goat doesn’t get seasick because it ends up criscrossing the river 3 times. I guess it could also be solved by moving the cabbages 3 times, too. This is one of my favorite riddles ever since elementary school and for that reason, I’ll give Alcuin my vote.

      • Etta Eskridge's Gravatar Etta Eskridge
        March 31, 2014 - 7:08 pm | Permalink

        Great! this is why living in the middle is so difficult! Multiple unintended journeys.

    • Liz von Dohlen's Gravatar Liz von Dohlen
      March 31, 2014 - 8:04 pm | Permalink

      First he would take the goat over, then the wolf. Next he would bring back the goat, leave her, and take the cabbage over. Last, he would come back alone and take the goat over.
      This is a hard choice, but I’m going with Alcuin even though I know he won’t win. HBS did some wonderful and important things in her life, and I almost voted for her. Then I thought about the bigger picture of Alcuin’s encouragement of education, his invention of the Carolingian miniscule, and his surprisingly modern view of choice as to baptism/belief. Stowe had a great influence on society, but Alcuin had a greater influence on both society and the church.

    • Liz von Dohlen's Gravatar Liz von Dohlen
      March 31, 2014 - 8:06 pm | Permalink

      You can’t take two things. The boat only holds two items, and the man is one of the two. He has to take one thing at a time. The goat can’t stay with the wolf b/c she’d be eaten. The cabbage can’t stay with the goat b/c she’d eat it.

  6. Shelley Kesselman's Gravatar Shelley Kesselman
    March 31, 2014 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    Tough call, but I had to give the edge to Alcuin for his contention that forced baptism was inconsistent with Christian principles. If only subsequent generations had heeded his advice!

  7. Susan Fiore's Gravatar Susan Fiore
    March 31, 2014 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    I wanted to vote for Alcuin, but the thought of those slave women and their children and the role she played in ending slavery swayed me to vote for Harriet.

  8. Ann Shelly's Gravatar Ann Shelly
    March 31, 2014 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    Alcuin was, at the heart of it, a teacher as Christ was. He gets my vote by a hair.

  9. March 31, 2014 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    A novel solution to the wolf-goat-cabbage riddle is here: http://xkcd.com/1134/ . I hope this other sort of humour does not offend Lent Madness readers!

    As for how to vote I’m meditating on it. It does seem the moderns have an unfair advantage over the ancients, so I’m feeling biased…

    • Carol Townsend's Gravatar Carol Townsend
      March 31, 2014 - 8:51 am | Permalink

      Exactly! The goat makes sense. See my earlier comment/reply to Mary Nelle Osborne.

  10. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 31, 2014 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    I know I’m going off topic here, sorry, but this question is for Tim/Scott: can one get booted out of LM for being nasty, snarky or just plain hostile? No hurry to answer, I am blessed/cursed with a curious mind. Thanks!
    Peace out, Madeleine

    • Another Peg's Gravatar Another Peg
      March 31, 2014 - 9:44 am | Permalink

      Not presuming to speak for the SEC, but as a member of the Madness community, I would say that LM operates under the rule of “You Can’t Say You Can’t Play.” Commenters are assumed to be adults and are expected to interact freely but with respect for one another. The SEC shouldn’t have to waste its time in the painful task of editing out personal attacks. Yes, there is snark, and some passionate skirmishing about ideas and beliefs. But rarely is the give and take personal. When that happens, there is a collective cringe, and probably some praying. We’re all in the boat at once, and, unlike she-goats, wolves, and cabbages, we can figure out ways to arrive on the other shore without harm.

    • Bowman's Gravatar Bowman
      March 31, 2014 - 11:28 am | Permalink

      Thanks to Madeleine, for raising a reasonable question that has been lurking on the margin, and to Peg, for answering it.

      I’ve seen some posts that seemed too competitive for the context. A few happy culture warriors stick their tongues out at others from time to time. A very few have drawn the line between self-expression and blasphemy in ways that ‘strain the bonds of affection.’ If we parody a sporting event during Lent, some will lean to the ‘lenten’ and others to the ‘madness.’

      But every day another choice seems to tug different bits of self out of people, so the thing can be its own antidote. Nor have the worst comments come from daily posters. I assume that the site’s moderators are volunteering their time, but can check this on a normal smart phone at lunch.

      My guess is that utter banishment is very rarely useful here, but that simple deletion of discourteous posts would be for the good of the whole. And for all we know, that’s what they try to do.

      Speaking for myself, the ‘Lenten Madness’ parody strikes me as a gimmick that the site will gradually outgrow. Nobody can laugh at the same joke for 40 days each year. Since I ignore the pseudo-athletic banter, I do not mind it, but I suspect that it inspires the occasional braying imitator in the threads. As the manic banter of the SEC calms down, so too will the problem Madeleine mentions, such as that is.

  11. Alan Bobowski's Gravatar Alan Bobowski
    March 31, 2014 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Here’s my guess: take the wolf and cabbage first and then go back for the goat. I think the archbishops should give a mug to the first person who gives the right answer.

    • judy's Gravatar judy
      March 31, 2014 - 9:52 am | Permalink

      The wolf eats the goat. Cabbage and wolf (with goat hidden inside) load and cross.

      • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
        April 1, 2014 - 10:18 pm | Permalink

        Feed the cabbage to the goat, then the goat to the wolf, then take the wolf with a tummy full of cabbage-fed goat across. (I don’t like cabbage & I don’t like goats.)

  12. Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
    March 31, 2014 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Alcuin was a saint. Stowe was a very good person. There’s a difference.

    • Bob Corey's Gravatar Bob Corey
      March 31, 2014 - 8:53 am | Permalink


    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      March 31, 2014 - 9:12 am | Permalink

      please say more. where is the line of division?

  13. March 31, 2014 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Carolingian miniscule and helping start the Irish tradition of illuminated Gospels, educating the masses, seeming simplicity, gentleness, and a man of peace – Alcuin for the win today. At least, that’s my vote.

  14. Alan Bobowski's Gravatar Alan Bobowski
    March 31, 2014 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    Oh, I see that Mary Nelle was first. OK, the first two people giving the right answer should get a mug.

  15. Kay Richardson's Gravatar Kay Richardson
    March 31, 2014 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Definitely Alcuin. Whoever wrote this brief bio apparently did not like scholarly monks and/or mathematical word problems.

  16. Carol Townsend's Gravatar Carol Townsend
    March 31, 2014 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    I guess I’m chatty today…third comment in 10 minutes. Anyway….

    An editing mishap here folks. Miniscule is spelled minuscule. Even my poor, old computer caught the spelling error as I was typing this comment…and I’m sure that LM has supplied their Celebrity Bloggers with the most up-to-date systems for writing their entries.

    • Rev. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Rev. Lucy Porter
      March 31, 2014 - 10:56 am | Permalink

      In my online dictionary, it says that miniscule is an alternate spelling of minuscule. With the contemporary emphasis on “mini” referring to skirts, malls, homes, and all manner of things and creatures not-so-great and small, the former seems logically preferable to me, though the latter seems more traditional. (How’s that for a pedantic former editor turned clergy?)

    • Rev. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Rev. Lucy Porter
      March 31, 2014 - 11:10 am | Permalink

      Today we have emancipation vs. education, war vs. peace; my vote has to go to Alcuin for his influence on Charlemagne (no forced baptisms) and contributions to forming and re-forming the human knowledge base and framework for thinking ever since!

    • March 31, 2014 - 9:34 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Carol – you are of course right. My fault for not catching the misspelling. It is minuscule, which also means “not capital” letters.

  17. Gigi's Gravatar Gigi
    March 31, 2014 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    No comments for votes for Harriet? Curious. Alcuin got my vote.

  18. Bob Corey's Gravatar Bob Corey
    March 31, 2014 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    Room for two, including you
    The goat is ferried first
    Dead head back and ferry sack
    And swap at other shore
    Lone wolf rides, no woe betides
    As you dead head once more
    To grab the goat for final float
    The river crossed uncursed

    • Mollie Douglas Turner's Gravatar Mollie Douglas Turner
      March 31, 2014 - 11:20 am | Permalink

      “Oh, wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful, wonderful, and yet again wonderful, and after that, out of all hooping!” [–W. Shakespeare, As You Like It]

      I knew it had to be more complicated than just two trips, but I couldn’t get there. And in verse! Does Bob get the mug???

    • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
      March 31, 2014 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Nice! The solution definitely had to involve some going back and forth for at least one of the…not sure what to call them…entities? items? pieces of cargo? how to group wolf, goat, and cabbage into one noun?…things to be taken across. But the verse is an extra flourish!

    • John Miller's Gravatar John Miller
      March 31, 2014 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

      You took the goat twice lines 2 and 7

      • Bob Corey's Gravatar Bob Corey
        March 31, 2014 - 9:14 pm | Permalink

        Three times, actually — the sack is swapped for the goat in line 4. The goat waits at the original location as the lone wolf rides to join the sack (of cabbage).

        I’m glad to see Alcuin creep up in the vote, but it looks like cultural concerns trump ultimate concerns yet again. Fingers crossed for a late minute upset, that ought have been a cake walk.

    • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
      March 31, 2014 - 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Both were memorable and interesting. But I think Alcuin’s update of the Vulgate and incorporation of the Northumbrian Bible and his bringing the Irish illuminated tradition to Europe tips the scale in his favour. Few things are more important in advancing Christianity than bringing Scripture to those who could not previously read or follow it, and illustrations would have allowed many unlettered Christians to see and appreciate the teachings of Christ. Not that I think the common folk would have owned or handled a precious book, but many local priests ministering to the people were barely literate and seeing the illustrations would likely have helped them greatly in spreading the words.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      March 31, 2014 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

      This is a tame wolf? I surely would not want to be alone with a wild one….in the boat or not!

    • Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
      March 31, 2014 - 10:24 pm | Permalink

      So clever, LM poet laurette!

  19. March 31, 2014 - 9:07 am | Permalink

    Today’s choices exemplify the apples-oranges challenge to decision making for LM. Alcuin & Stowe did lasting good, they contributed to our heritage and we can stand in awe of both. But to judge one is more or less qualified for a golden halo? I don’t like it. That is Lent Madness in all it absurdity. Much less controversial to figure out the wolf-cabbage-goat problem.

  20. Carol Blaine's Gravatar Carol Blaine
    March 31, 2014 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    Alcuin wins in a walk … What better symbol for the mystery of God than a question mark?

    • March 31, 2014 - 9:37 am | Permalink


    • Carol Justice's Gravatar Carol Justice
      March 31, 2014 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Too late! Never thought of it like that. Oh well, it is just a game. Heh, heh, snort , chortle!1

  21. Heidi Shott's Gravatar Heidi Shott
    March 31, 2014 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    Like Grace Paley I’ve just discovered that I am capable of “enormous changes at the last minute.” All prepared to back another Maine-based laywoman to the Golden Halo – even through the SEC didn’t offer her to my care as a CB (so nicely done, Megan!) – I was completely turned around by the final quote by Alcuin in Penny’s excellent write-up.

    “…hoping both will grow, by the grace of God, giving some the honey of the holy scriptures, making others drunk on the old wine of ancient learning…” Lovely. I’m a sucker for the ancients who still speak to us in our time.

    So Alcuin it is! (Until tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday when Bach, Brooks, and Bedell hit the Saintly Sixteen.)

    • Debby's Gravatar Debby
      March 31, 2014 - 11:07 am | Permalink

      For some reason I’m indulging in comment reading more carefully today…and your familiar name and reflections support my change in intitial thinking. Infatuated with illuminations, and a happy educator of all things Christian and youth…. Alcuin for now!

  22. Evelyn's Gravatar Evelyn
    March 31, 2014 - 9:11 am | Permalink

    “I no more thought of style or literary excellence than the mother who rushes into the street and cries for help to save her children from a burning house, thinks of the teachings of the rhetorician or the elocutionist.”
    When one carries the message one can not determine what message is received or when it will be heard. That is for God to decide. AND she is from New England. Harriet has my vote.

    • Ellen Roemer's Gravatar Ellen Roemer
      March 31, 2014 - 10:21 am | Permalink

      How could I not vote for a feisty woman who promoted the welfare of others, wrote heedless of literary rules and understood the challenges of motherhood. I also have an Aunt Harriet, so I am prejudiced. lol

  23. rellingrw's Gravatar rellingrw
    March 31, 2014 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    I did not vote for Stowe in the first round because she was against Bishop Holly. However, I am voting for her now. I think she was led by the Holy Spirit not only to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but also to publish the key to it, which brought attention to the slave narratives which have become so important to our understanding. In other words, I see her not so much as an author, but as a crusader, although she is clearly both.
    If we are called to love our brothers and sisters, then combating slavery is the most important thing one can do, for many reasons. However, since slavery tried to dictate what the slaves’ religious life could be, it was a deliberate affront to God.

    • Lucretia Jevne's Gravatar Lucretia Jevne
      March 31, 2014 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Combating slavery is still necessary, as we learned during the last Super Bowl and in various other venues. As we vote for Harriet let us also remember our sisters and brothers today who need advocates and concrete help to overcome today’s less obvious form of slavery and slave trafficking!

      • Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
        March 31, 2014 - 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Here, here. I have a friend from our church who is actively involved in stopping human trafficking and she showed us highlights of a trip she took to India and what she shared was absolutely appalling!!!!

  24. Joy's Gravatar Joy
    March 31, 2014 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    HBS for me today. Stepped out of her comfort zone, dared to challenge the powers of her day, lived her convictions out loud, in her own words brought “life within the circle of the heroic.”

  25. Cindy's Gravatar Cindy
    March 31, 2014 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    I think I would eat the Cabage and take both Goat and Wolf. I vote for Alcuin.

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      March 31, 2014 - 9:23 am | Permalink

      Cabbage rolls. Yummy!

  26. Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
    March 31, 2014 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    Harriet Beecher Stowe gets my vote again. Nothing against Alcuin, but for me she epitomizes faith in action. Go Harriet!!

    • Charlie Houghton's Gravatar Charlie Houghton
      March 31, 2014 - 10:44 am | Permalink

      Beautifully and succinctly put. I, too, vote for this woman of action.

  27. Rodney's Gravatar Rodney
    March 31, 2014 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    As to “? and the Mysterians” – I am a child of the sixties and always thought their name was”Question mark and the mysterians” Who knew!!! 96 tears indeed!
    as to the goat, cabbage and wolf (or whatever!) obviously you can not leave the goat and the cabbage together – goat would eat cabbage Like wise, you cannot leave the goat and the wolf together – wolf would eat goat So… bring the goat over first – drop him off
    then bring cabbage over, pick up goat and go back – leave goat and bring wolf over and drop him off with cabbage – go back and bring goat over – now all are on the other shore with no one eating anyone (unless the transporter gets hungry and eats the goat and cabbage!!!

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      March 31, 2014 - 9:32 am | Permalink

      The cabbage would not stand a chance with me. I love cabbage!!!

    • Susan Fiore's Gravatar Susan Fiore
      March 31, 2014 - 10:02 am | Permalink

      Why not just take the wolf and cabbage over, leave them and go back for the goat?

      • Rodney's Gravatar Rodney
        March 31, 2014 - 10:15 am | Permalink

        you are exactly right, Susan!

        • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
          April 1, 2014 - 10:22 pm | Permalink

          There is only room for two things at a time in the boat . . . and one of those things must be the human operating the boat.

  28. Another Peg's Gravatar Another Peg
    March 31, 2014 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    Hooray for the book of Kells, and the question mark. I’m pretty sure Harriet would vote for Alcuin. They both illuminated the world. And here’s an alternate riddle solution: Put the cabbage in the boat and use it to lure the goat to swim across the river, which in turn lures the wolf to swim behind the goat. How you keep the lot of them unharmed on the other side is a riddle for another day.

  29. Rodney's Gravatar Rodney
    March 31, 2014 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    guess I goofed! thought transit could only be for one of the three! that’s what happens when you’re a child of the 60’s – muddled brain!!
    BTW I voted for Harriet – used to live in Watertown MA right next to her beautifull cemetary burial spot – talk about God present on earth – if you haven’t been, go!

    • Peggy's Gravatar Peggy
      March 31, 2014 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

      No, you’re right. The boat only holds two – the person & one item.

  30. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    March 31, 2014 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    I hate to vote down Harriet, but Alcuin wins for all the reasons stated in previous comments.

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      March 31, 2014 - 9:40 am | Permalink

      Too right, Mary! I have read Uncle Tom’s Cabin so it was a difficult choice, but in the end I have to go with gentle Alcuin. Who I doubt had a cell phone.

  31. Anne L's Gravatar Anne L
    March 31, 2014 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    Despite the riddle before sufficient coffee, I voted for Alcuin. Among the many reasons, because it appears Alcuin thought of the hook of one of my favorite songs several centuries before Bernie Taupin and Elton John.

  32. Anne Burton's Gravatar Anne Burton
    March 31, 2014 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    I have serious doubts that anyone can transport a wolf in a boat. But voted for Alcuin anyway.

  33. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 31, 2014 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Another Peg, I appreciate the clarification :-).

  34. Katrina Soto's Gravatar Katrina Soto
    March 31, 2014 - 9:58 am | Permalink

    Can’t vote for Alcuin because I don’t like math before breakfast.

  35. Robert Stiefel's Gravatar Robert Stiefel
    March 31, 2014 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    Alcuin of York “was responsible for the Christian-based European renaissance that went hand-in-hand with the reign of Charlemagne.” Alcuin is a lynch pin figure in the development of Western Civilization. Depending upon how one looks at it, one of his greatest or lesser achievements was the gathering of scattered and localized liturgical materials from as many sources as he could find and not only preserving them for our eventual use but organizing them into a coherent liturgy which underlies the Eucharistic liturgies of the Western Churches to the present day and also writing prayers (Collects) still in use in our current Books of Common Prayer. His reorganization of the School Charlemagne produced not only clergy to teach royal children but more importantly to teach laity and train skilled scholars who copied ancient manuscripts from the Greek and Roman eras that otherwise might well have been lost to history. He was a Deacon and remained so, seeking no advancement in the Church and providing one of the primary models for the revival of the Order of Deacons in today’s Church, melding administration, education, a keen sense of politics, and what we call social work in a ministry of service affecting people of all ranks and classes. For many of today’s Deacons, including my spouse, Alcuin is a Patron Saint. When Charlemagne’s empire fell apart after his death, the work of Alcuin survived, much of it preserved by the work of Benedictine scholars and teachers and artists. Without Alcuin of York’s many works of genius in so many areas of human endeavor, much of what we take to be the best of Western Civilization, might not have come about or survived until the next great period of renaissance centered about the year AD 1200. As someone wrote above with the agreement of at least one other, Harriet Beecher Stowe was a a very good person; Alcuin of York is a Saint. However, it may well be that the factor of name recognition will win the day for Harriet Beecher Stowe. Alcuin? Isn’t he one of the singing chipmunks? With gratitude for the work of HBS, my vote obviously has gone to the lesser known Deacon from York who was called to Charlemagne’s court and proved a pivotal influence in the preservation and development of Western Civilization.

    • Rodney's Gravatar Rodney
      March 31, 2014 - 10:20 am | Permalink

      thanks, Robert and to all who illuminated – now wish I had voted for the Deacon of York!

      • Paul Kelley's Gravatar Paul Kelley
        March 31, 2014 - 11:51 am | Permalink

        A follow up thanks to Robert and Rodney from another who did not know enough about Alcuin.

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      March 31, 2014 - 10:34 am | Permalink

      No, no, no!! Alvin was one of those irritating chipmunks. Not Alcuin.

  36. Mary Robert's Gravatar Mary Robert
    March 31, 2014 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    Love the ?, the illuminated gospels, baptism by choice and the riddle. If the answer is that only one ‘thing’ rides in the boat at a time with you, then I believe Rodney has the right answer. Y’all are cracking me up this morning! Nice way to start the day!

  37. Adelaide Kent's Gravatar Adelaide Kent
    March 31, 2014 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    It seems that the global Lent Madness public is gripped by a wave of modernity. I am unquestionably an old fogy and my vote goes to Alcuin!

  38. March 31, 2014 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    Alcuin is still “giving some the honey of the holy scriptures, making others drunk on the old wine of ancient learning…,” and he’s got my vote!

    Plus, go deacons!

  39. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 31, 2014 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    Interesting that the majority of the comments favor Alquin, but the actual vote appears to be favoring Stowe at the moment!

  40. Liz Sieck's Gravatar Liz Sieck
    March 31, 2014 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    I offer my solution to the crossing. The boat can only carry two items. Take the goat across first. Go back for the wolf. Take the wolf across. Put the wolf on shore. Put the goat back in the boat. Go back to the original shore. Leave the goat and take the cabbage. Take it across and leave it with the wolf. Go back and retrieve the goat and bring it back to the shore with the wolf and the cabbage.
    I apologize if this solution has already been offered. I did not have time to read through all of the comments. Props to my great-grandfather who ran a ferry acroos the Wansbeck River in Northumberland.

  41. Elaine Johnson's Gravatar Elaine Johnson
    March 31, 2014 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    Take the goat over,go back and get the cabbage.Bring the goat back.Take the wolf over and then go back for the goat.

    • linda's Gravatar linda
      March 31, 2014 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

      take the wolf, go back and get the goat AND the cabbage…hang on to the cabbage.

  42. jane's Gravatar jane
    March 31, 2014 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    I think Alcuin will win my vote. Although I admire Harriet and appreciate the tremendous impact her writing has had on our own culture and the interpretation of scripture, would she have had the words and education and the ? to help her if Alcuin had not come first?

  43. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 31, 2014 - 10:57 am | Permalink

    Hi Adelaide, I too am an old fogy and not ashamed of it.
    Go Alcuin!!

  44. Phil's Gravatar Phil
    March 31, 2014 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    To make the puzzle a real problem and not something with a trivial solution, the boat can take the man and one other item. I believe that is the way the original was written, although the write-up on Alcuin is misleading. The solution is take the she-goat over. Come back and get the wolf. Take the wolf over and bring back the she-goat. Take the cabbage over and leave it with the wolf. Go back and get the She-goat. That way neither the She-goat and cabbage nor the wolf and She-goat are left alone together!

    While I love puzzles like that (I learned that one and could solve it when I was a very little boy). I don”t know what that has to do with this contest. Math and logic are very important, but that does not relate to Alcuin’s saintliness, otherwise we would have to Decartes, Pythagoras, Pascal, and Euclid in these brackets!

    I found neither of these write-ups very helpful in distinguishing why these two are particularly saintly. I have studied the slavery issue and the abolitionist movement, having written on the Dred Scott decision (an article I couldn’t get published, not because it wasn’t worthy, but because editors were inundated with such articles on the 150th anniversary of the decision in 2007. Oh, well …..) It is not that Harriet Beecher Stowes book is not important, but I find it difficult to see that as saintly compared to many others. Harriet Tubman risked her very life for the underground railroad. Frederick Douglass was certainly more prolific and outspoken. Senator Brooks from Massachusetts was savagely beaten on the floor of the United States Senate for his views, and so on! I ended up voting for her, but I am just not sure of that vote at all. Alcuin seems just as likely a candidate to move on.

  45. Kevin Matthews's Gravatar Kevin Matthews
    March 31, 2014 - 11:17 am | Permalink

    First, ask yourself why you think you need to carry a wolf across the water. Then take the goat. By the time you get back, the wolf will have run off looking for food somewhere else. If you have so much cabbage that it would not fit in the boat with you and the goat, you probably don’t have anything to carry it in, so you may as well leave it; your goat will eat almost anything, so it won’t starve. Take the goat and leave the rest behind.

    Oh, and don’t forget to vote wither of these worthy candidates.

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      March 31, 2014 - 11:22 am | Permalink

      Interesting solution, but being the cabbage lover that I am, I would have,absconded with the cabbage and left everything else. Single minded, that’s me……

  46. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    March 31, 2014 - 11:21 am | Permalink

    I’ll go for a good writer over a bad poet any day. Seriously, I admire Stowe for her commitment to help others after she lost her child.

  47. Karis's Gravatar Karis
    March 31, 2014 - 11:24 am | Permalink

    I voted for HBS because I decided that sex would be my “tie breaker” given the over representation of men in the calendar of Saints and the reluctance formally to adopt Holy Women, Holy Men….

    • Joy's Gravatar Joy
      March 31, 2014 - 11:33 am | Permalink

      Good point!

  48. March 31, 2014 - 11:34 am | Permalink

    This was tough; they both spoke truth to power. In the end, I saw that Alcuin was slightly behind, and voted for him to keep the overall vote as close as possible for two impressive saints. And in honor of Scott Elliott and Dennis Lietz, St. Gregory’s deacons!

  49. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    March 31, 2014 - 11:45 am | Permalink

    Alcuin standing up to Charlemagne on the propriety of forced conversions won my support. God wants friends, not slaves. Plus, his dialogues are a paradigm of effective teaching!

  50. Becky S.'s Gravatar Becky S.
    March 31, 2014 - 11:48 am | Permalink

    This was a very hard choice. I love Harriet Beecher Stowe, who also advocated for the rights of married women under the law. But, today I am voting for the Saint I knew nothing about before Lent Madness. I hope that Alcuin’s advancement through the bracket will help to educate those of us who grew up in a tradition that did not include the Saints of the Church. Besides… I will be wondering all day about the description of death as “the coming into force of a testament”. Beautiful!

  51. martha's Gravatar martha
    March 31, 2014 - 11:53 am | Permalink

    The crossing is easy enough to solve, but the question is “what RULE did he employ?” Darned if I know the name of the “rule”.

  52. Jude's Gravatar Jude
    March 31, 2014 - 11:54 am | Permalink

    As a librarian, I have to vote for the man who invented Carolingian miniscule and the question mark, and was such a huge influence on Western civilization; as a student of philosophy and religion, I have to vote for the man who wrote such gorgeous discourses. But I’m torn, because Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin and was such a powerful voice against slavery, and she should have a librarian’s vote, too.

    I voted for Alcuin, but I wouldn’t be upset if Stowe took it.

    • linda's Gravatar linda
      March 31, 2014 - 12:49 pm | Permalink

      yay for you, Jude….linda

  53. Rev. Lorna W.'s Gravatar Rev. Lorna W.
    March 31, 2014 - 11:58 am | Permalink

    I think there are 2 possible answers to Alcuin’s riddle are these: Put the goat and wolf in the boat, then put the load of cabbage in the water (I think cabbage floats!) and take all 3 across that way; OR put the goat and the load of cabbage in the boat and have the wolf swim across.

  54. Colette Clark's Gravatar Colette Clark
    March 31, 2014 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Alcuin was so multi-dimensional and affected many peoples over a length of time. Stowe, though important, was about a single issue at her time. Alcuin for me.

  55. Sestho's Gravatar Sestho
    March 31, 2014 - 12:31 pm | Permalink

    ALCUIN! You need a late surge!!! LET’S GO EDUCATION!!!

  56. Cornelia's Gravatar Cornelia
    March 31, 2014 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Alcuin for me. In addition to all his other qualities, his fearless persuasion of a powerful Emperor “to convince Charlemagne that forcing people to accept baptism or be executed was not good Christian policy” is compelling, in my view. Alcuin today!

    • Jo Meachem's Gravatar Jo Meachem
      March 31, 2014 - 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Exactly the thing that convinced me to give him my vote! 😉

  57. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    March 31, 2014 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Wolf/Goat/Cabbage riddle:

    Goats can swim, apparently (I googled “Can goats swim?” and found this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhqfvckaD2A ).

    Tie the goat to the back of the boat, put the wolf in the boat, hold the cabbage in the boat. The goat can swim behind the boat. This would work for anyone who can row with one hand.

    As for what rule Alcuin follows, here are a few possibilities:
    Learn to row a boat with one hand.
    Goats can swim.
    Keep your friends close. your enemies closer, and your food closest.
    Three’s a crowd.
    Don’t rock the boat.

  58. Janelle Fallan's Gravatar Janelle Fallan
    March 31, 2014 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Miniscule may be considered acceptable (as is, apparently, the dreaded “alright” for “all right”). However, careful writers, as well as wikipedia, use minuscule.

  59. Mariana Bauman's Gravatar Mariana Bauman
    March 31, 2014 - 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Alcuin whose voice and actions still sound through the centuries. I agree that the bios didn’t really do justice to our day’s candidates . I also agree that without Alcuin there may not have been the literary works of HBS.

  60. March 31, 2014 - 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Harriet embodied Matthew 25 for me. My vote goes to her.

  61. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 31, 2014 - 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Seasick goat. Yipes. Not a pretty sight…..poor goat……

  62. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    March 31, 2014 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Stowe’s efforts to expose the horrific practices of slavery are strong arguments for her advancing, but Alcuin laid the groundwork for much of what became the enlightenment that eventually brought us to ending slavery (among many other things) as a practice in Western Civilization – so he gets my vote

  63. glenda's Gravatar glenda
    March 31, 2014 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I believe the “rule” followed by Alcuin was Tre’maux’s rule or T-trip. That is the question. The solution was not asked for.

  64. Karen N.'s Gravatar Karen N.
    March 31, 2014 - 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Harriet Beecher Stowe was the mother of seven children. That alone qualifies her for sainthood in my book. Plus, she wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” while still actively parenting most of those children — and without electricity or a computer. Her work galvanized the North against slavery, and helped bring it to an end in this country. She gets my vote.

  65. Bowman's Gravatar Bowman
    March 31, 2014 - 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Easily Alcuin, of course.

    But again I rise to protest that yet another modern American woman has been described in terms of her humanitarian usefulness rather than in terms of her possibly exemplary inner life as a Christian. We seem to have had no modern American woman in contention this year primarily for her spirituality (cf Phillips Brooks, Thomas Merton). This inequity is politically incorrect– which is fine– but surely also not in the spirit of Lenten Madness, which seems to respect gender parity for the excellent substantive reason that saints are exemplars, and we need exemplars of both sexes.

    Stowe– more even than Bedell, Cooper, and Emory– is likely to have been informed and interesting: she was the daughter of a seminary president with literary gifts of her own and… transited… from her early Congregationalism to the Episcopal Church. The well-done bio is not, alas, a hagio. It has convinced busy me to download her book and its key, but not to think that there is anything about her that is especially halo-worthy.


  66. James Oppenheimer's Gravatar James Oppenheimer
    March 31, 2014 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

    In their ways, both of these folks are quite remarkable people, and both deserve the halo.

    However, if I may borrow the clairvoyatron to channel The Spirit of March Madness:


    Ahh. It’s off now.

    Hard to decide, but I think I have to side with Harriet. A truly remarkable individual indeed.

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      March 31, 2014 - 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Worthless?!?! I think not.

  67. Mark Willems's Gravatar Mark Willems
    March 31, 2014 - 5:07 pm | Permalink

    First – I voted for Alcuin. His impact on Christendom was formative, and his humility was worth emulating. Plus, I’m a guy – so what do you expect? But when trolling the internet for information on HBS I came across this quote. It gives good advice for Christian living. It also speaks volumes as to HBS’s spiritual depth and commitment to her Savior.

    “How, then, shall a Christian bear fruit? By efforts and struggles to obtain that which is freely given; by meditations on watchfulness, on prayer, on action, on temptation, and on dangers? No, there must be a full concentration of the thoughts and affections on Christ; a complete surrender of the whole being to him; a constant looking to him for grace. Christians in whom these dispositions are once firmly fixed, go on calmly as the sleeping infant borne in the arms of its mother. Christ reminds them of every duty in its time and place—reproves them for every error—counsels them in every difficulty, excites them to every needful activity.”

    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Introduction to Christopher Dean’s “Religion as it Should Be, or, The Remarkable Experience and Triumphant Death of Ann Thane Peck”

  68. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 31, 2014 - 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Wavered briefly at the thought that Alcuin was responsible for Elton John’s candle in the wind but won back by question marks, education, ‘The honey of the holy scriptures’ and the’wine of ancient learning.’ Oh and the suggestion that he might not have been a great poet, no one can expect to excell at everything. Alcuin gets my vote.

  69. Nancy Hause's Gravatar Nancy Hause
    March 31, 2014 - 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I live in Kansas where the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four are far more sacred than anything that has appeared on this site so far. I can’t tell you what a relief the humor, the snark, etc. are. (Lose a game in that arena and the mourning goes on for weeks.) Someone said he/she thinks the game will wear itself out eventually–please, NO! We need it. (I voted for Harriet all the way, by the way. Feisty women unite.

  70. Emily Agnew's Gravatar Emily Agnew
    March 31, 2014 - 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m perplexed how it is that Alcuin is behind since he is getting most of the comments?!–

    • Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
      March 31, 2014 - 6:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that is puzzling isn’t it?

      • Carol Justice's Gravatar Carol Justice
        March 31, 2014 - 8:15 pm | Permalink

        Some of us are being sneaky! Lol

  71. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 31, 2014 - 6:21 pm | Permalink

    However, he’s not behind by much. And it ain’t quite over, he can still come from behind. Come on, Alcuin, GO! GO! GO!

  72. Bob Mayer's Gravatar Bob Mayer
    March 31, 2014 - 6:29 pm | Permalink

    No great surprise about the pairing of Harriet Beecher Stowe and whatshisname.

  73. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 31, 2014 - 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Hey Bob, whatshisname ? That’s A-l-c-u-i-n…. yoo as in hoo!

  74. Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
    March 31, 2014 - 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I am getting worried for Alcuin….

  75. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 31, 2014 - 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Bonnee, me too. But it ain’t over till the fat lady sings, and I ain’t sung quite yet!!

  76. Phil's Gravatar Phil
    March 31, 2014 - 7:12 pm | Permalink

    I still wish in a sense that I could have voted for both Harriet and Alcuin, I am glad there is less than 140 votes difference, because I am just not sure — even about my own vote. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book certainly stirred the pot, but even she had never written it, the Civil War would have still happened. Others likewise stirred the pot. The abolitionist movement actually goes way back. It was never very active in the early days, unfortunately, going back to the first slaves brought to this country in 1620. However, shortly after the Constitution was ratified, no less than Benjamin Franklin presented a petition from Pennsylvania to abolish slavery. It was tabled, and that started the whole bit of not talking about the “problem.” If anything that result allowed things to fester. I am not discounting the role Harriet’s book played, merely pointing out that the whole issue of slavery was like a boulder rolling downhill gathering snow and moss and everything else as it goes. No one event or work like Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the thing, it was a whole lot of things, and even if one was left out, the end result would have been the same! I wish there had been a little more on Harriet.

    On the other hand, there was not a whole lot on Alcuin that said I have to vote for this guy either. I am glad that he worked as a mathematician/logician trying to teach the youth how to think — the whole point of the puzzle even though to us it may seem silly (many of the ersatz solutions here are funny! Thanks for the laugh!). That is something that is truly missing in our educational system in my opinion. I was an associate editor for the law review when I was in law school and because of my MD and PhD, I have also been a referee editor for various medical and biomedical scientific journals as well. One would think that medical scientists and lawyers would be taught to think and write logically. Unfortunately, there is a lot left to be desired in that arena. One could make some snarky remarks about that, but I will refrain. I guess that gives Alcuin some credence in a way in this contest, as do his thoughts on forced baptism by law. But I am not sure it’s enough to distinguish Alcuin from a lot of others.

    So I was left with picking one of the two, without any rhyme or reason really! And for those who voted for Alcuin, I could just as easily voted for him, but didn’t for no good reason. ….. Sorry, if he loses! I could have voted for either one!

    • glenda's Gravatar glenda
      March 31, 2014 - 9:57 pm | Permalink

      So you should know the name of the RULE .right?

  77. linda d's Gravatar linda d
    March 31, 2014 - 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Today is difficult, because both candidates are remarkable persons of faith. My vote will be for Alcuin, as he seems to be the more original in thought and application; whereas HBS was espousing already popular, though extremely vital, causes.
    I could care more about goats and cabbages if there happened to be a famine on the other side of the river. The wolf at the door pun certainly not intended.

  78. linda d's Gravatar linda d
    March 31, 2014 - 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Today is difficult, because both candidates are remarkable persons of faith. My vote will be for Alcuin, as he seems to be the more original in thought and application; whereas HBS was espousing already popular, though extremely vital, causes.
    I could care more about goats and cabbages if there happened to be a famine on the other side of the river. The wolf at the door pun certainly not intended.

  79. Jo Meachem's Gravatar Jo Meachem
    March 31, 2014 - 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I found myself utterly unable not to vote for the man who could “…convince Charlemagne that forcing people to accept baptism or be executed was not good Christian policy.”

  80. Julie McCord's Gravatar Julie McCord
    March 31, 2014 - 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Alcuin, people. Harriet is a worthy contender, and doubtless I should empathize with her as a female writer, but precisely because I am a writer, I wonder what Uncle Tom’s Cabin would look like without question marks.

    And the whole not killing people for not converting. That is a spirit so desperately needed in our own time.

  81. March 31, 2014 - 8:42 pm | Permalink

    how could we, any of us live without the “?” question mark. Seems to me its the why most of us are Episcopalians and not Baptists….. its because we don’t check our brains in the Narthex and we believe in the question mark!

    Alcuin is the greater saint as much as we may love Harriet. She should not win this.

  82. judy's Gravatar judy
    March 31, 2014 - 8:45 pm | Permalink

    revision: Goat eats Cabbage. Wolf eats Goat with Cabbage inside. Man and Wolf with Goat and Cabbage inside cross over the river.

  83. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 31, 2014 - 8:55 pm | Permalink

    So….wolfgoatcabbage melange? Somewhat reminiscent of the ” Turducken ” thought to be so good at thanksgiving….

  84. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 31, 2014 - 9:02 pm | Permalink

    For those of you who are unfamiliar with a “turducken”, it is: a chicken stuffed into a duck, which is then stuffed into a turkey, with dressing stuffed between the birds. I dare you to eat one ha ha!

    • Bob Corey's Gravatar Bob Corey
      March 31, 2014 - 9:39 pm | Permalink

      There was an old woman who swallowed a fly…

      Could she have been HBS?

      Perhaps I’m influenced to be dismissive of her because my American Lit class made much of the late antebellum miscegenation porn.

  85. EEM's Gravatar EEM
    March 31, 2014 - 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Take the wolf and the cabbage and then return for the goat. In other words take the vegetables with the carnivore and return for the herbivore.

  86. Liz K's Gravatar Liz K
    March 31, 2014 - 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Thus, what rule did he employ so as to get all of them across unharmed?

    ‘So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness’

    • glenda's Gravatar glenda
      March 31, 2014 - 9:56 pm | Permalink

      I left a comment earlier today about the rule and it has been ignored. I’m surprised I am the only one to bring it up. Is this thing on ?

  87. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 31, 2014 - 9:22 pm | Permalink

    EEM, it makes sense. Lets hope though, that the wolf doesn’t suddenly decide to become a vegetarian ha ha! 🙂

  88. Drew's Gravatar Drew
    March 31, 2014 - 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Wow… My productivity at work sunk to an all-time low as I kept sneaking peeks at the commentary which is as enlightening and fun as the match-up. I am worse than my younger colleagues with Facebook, Twitter and the blog on three separate hidden devices. Alcuin for me.

  89. March 31, 2014 - 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Thanks everyone for your answers to Alcuin’s river-crossing problem! Here is his own answer (again from the original, translated by Peter Burkholder):

    “I would first take the she-goat and leave behind the
    wolf and the cabbage. When I had returned, I would ferry over the wolf.
    With the wolf unloaded, I would retrieve the she-goat and take it back
    across. Then, I would unload the she-goat and take the cabbage to the
    other side. I would next row back, and take the she-goat across. The
    crossing should go well by doing thus, and absent from the threat of

    Many of you posted the correct answer! Congrats! I hope the SEC will send you all prizes.

    • glenda's Gravatar glenda
      March 31, 2014 - 10:02 pm | Permalink

      The question was what rule did he use. I’m the only one to answer that question.

  90. Bonny's Gravatar Bonny
    March 31, 2014 - 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I would take the goat over to the other side, go back and get the wolf. I would take the wolf over to the other side, get out myself and make the wolf go back to pick up the cabbage. I think that makes the fewest trips. I have that much power over animals. And I voted for Alcuin.

  91. March 31, 2014 - 11:15 pm | Permalink

    This was another choice that was hard because it was an apples & oranges comparison: Alcuin worked ad intra, Harriet worked ad extra.
    For contributing to an end of forced conversions, and for gathering liturgical forms, my vote goes to Alcuin.

  92. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 31, 2014 - 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Come on late night and west coast voters, lets put Alcuin over the top! He can still catch up and surpass Harriet. We need at least one of the medieval monks to move forward and Alcuin is most compelling!

  93. Martha Frances's Gravatar Martha Frances
    March 31, 2014 - 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Harriet’s caring about the mamas & their slave children tips the scales for me. Who cares about the question mark? I would have saved a lot of red ink & ire on the part of students when I taught English had we not had so many dang rules!

  94. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    March 31, 2014 - 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Of course it’s Madness to choose between two saintly people! I guess one decides which attributes one prefers in a saint. Still the question remains: which saint is my saint today? Do you hear me sighing? Again, sighing. I vote for Alcuin for his modesty, erudition, faith and energy. This is not to say that Harriet didn’t possess similar attributes. In addition to the above, Alcuin was a librarian, and teacher of Charlemagne, his wife and his children, among others. Alcuin was an archivist and caligrapher. I hope many of you will agree with me and vote Alcuin today!

  95. Marie's Gravatar Marie
    April 1, 2014 - 7:10 am | Permalink

    I also am curious about the Rule, which was the question. One of the comments names a rule but does not define it. Glenda, could you please elaborate on the rule you proposed as the answer? Does Alcuin answer his own question by telling us what rule he used to arrive at his answer?

    • April 1, 2014 - 7:59 am | Permalink

      Alcuin was not using the word “rule” the way you and Glenda are describing it. He used the word “praeceptum” which can be translated in a number of ways. I would probably have used the word “formula” instead of “rule,” although I am hardly a Latin scholar, as in “plan or method of doing something.” Hope this helps. (Also, I posted above Alcuin’s answer.)

  96. Becky's Gravatar Becky
    April 2, 2014 - 1:25 am | Permalink

    I believe that I have a unique solution to the riddle: Put the cabbage in the boat. Sit in the boat holding the goat over the side. The goat will paddle frantically (propelling the boat– good thing, your hands are full of goat) to stay ahead of the wolf as it doggie-paddles, bringing up the rear. The rule is that Everyone Gets Very Wet and Bothered and You are Too Preoccupied to Devour the Cabbage Yourself.

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