Joseph of Arimathea vs. Anna Cooper

Today’s match-up is why Lent Madness can sometimes resemble the theater of the absurd. The Scriptural figure Joseph of Armimathea, who asked Pilate for Jesus’ body in order to give him a proper burial, takes on Anna Cooper, African-American feminist, writer, and academic. The good news? Lent Madness returns after taking a sabbath on the First Sunday in Lent.

Over the weekend, as Tim was singing The Great Litany in procession, Scott shared some additional Lenten devotional resources offered by Forward Movement (shockingly, Lent Madness isn’t everyone’s sole Lenten discipline). The mysterious Maple Anglican also released his Week One Update video which recapped the first three match-ups and previewed this week’s battles.

And now? More Madness!

Joseph-of-Arimathe_1599392aJoseph of Arimathea

The patron saint of funeral directors, morticians, and undertakers, Joseph of Arimathea has a curious reputation. He appears in all four gospels, doing essentially the same thing: going to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body in order to provide for his burial. Presented as a person of high status by each evangelist, his portrait shifts slightly in each version. He’s a kind of Rorschach test for a character we tend to think of as “not Jesus’ type:” a wealthy, well-connected religious leader.

In Matthew, he’s noted as a rich man and a disciple of Jesus. In Mark, he’s “a respected member of the council” who “went boldly to Pilate.” In Luke, he is “a good and righteous man,” a member of the council who had not agreed with the plan to kill Jesus. And in John, he’s a secret disciple for “fear of the Jews.” It’s like the synoptic gospels are saying, “Yeah, he’s on the council that killed Jesus, but he’s really a good guy, you know?” John can’t seem to get over his distaste.

John cannot deny, however, that after Jesus was abandoned at his crucifixion, Joseph showed up and went in person to the very man who executed Jesus and asked for the body. Handling the corpse would render Joseph ritually unclean for the Passover (Numbers 19:11-13).

Instead, Joseph fulfilled another law. Deuteronomy 21:22-24 says, “When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse.”

Joseph is an interesting (and typically Jesus-like) case study about keeping the Law: is it more important to be clean and to take part in religious rituals or to show love and compassion to the least among us? Joseph’s choice shows he understood the essential truth of Jesus’ teaching.

After the burial, Joseph disappears from scripture. According to one legend, he brought the Holy Grail to England. In fact, Elizabeth I made use of Joseph’s supposed trip to support Anglicanism. After all, the Roman bishops “testifieth Joseph of Arimathea to be the first preacher of the word of God within our realms.” Therefore, the Roman Church couldn’t have been the first and only established church in England, could it?

Collect for Joseph of Arimathea
Merciful God, whose servant Joseph of Arimathaea with reverence and godly fear prepared the body of our Lord and Savior for burial, and laid it in his own tomb: Grant to us, your faithful people, grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 — Laura Darling

cooper_annaAnna Julia Haywood Cooper 

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was one of the first feminists of the twentieth century and a tireless advocate for “neglected people,” in particular, African American women. Born in 1858 as the daughter of an enslaved African woman and a white man, likely her master, Anna transcended the limitations of slavery and the post-Civil War’s Reconstruction. She attended St. Augustine’s Normal & Technical Institute—now St. Augustine’s College—in Raleigh, North Carolina. She later studied at Oberlin College and graduated in 1884 with a bachelor’s degree and in 1887 with a master’s in mathematics. While at St. Augustine’s, Anna met and married her husband George Cooper, who was preparing for the priesthood. Although he died two years after they married, Cooper pressed forward with her education and career because of her desire to foster the full inclusion of black women in civic life.

Anna’s passionate belief in the power of education to transform lives led her to serve as a teacher and principal at M Street High School, the only all-black school in Washington, D.C. When her superintendent told Cooper that she should focus on teaching trades to her students instead of science, math, and literature, Cooper unabashedly defied his orders and continued with her original plans. As a result of her firm resolve, M Street’s graduates attended some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities during a time when such opportunities were limited for women and people of color.

Cooper wrote A Voice from the South, in which she argued that black women had a unique voice about the experience of oppression and criticized educational, social, and civic advancements that only favored black men. At the heart of Cooper’s work was a firm belief in the potential of every human being. Never one to slow down, in 1915, Cooper adopted five children left orphaned, and in 1925, at the age of sixty-five she earned her doctorate in history from the University of Paris. Cooper died in 1964; she was 105 years old.

In 2009, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp in her honor. Pages 26-27 of all United States passports quote Anna Julia Haywood Cooper’s passionate beliefs about equality and freedom for all: “The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party, or a class—it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.” Thus it is possible to meditate on Lent Madness while waiting in slow-moving immigration lines when you return to the United States from vacationing elsewhere.

Collect for Anna Julia Haywood Cooper
Almighty God, you inspired your servant Anna Julia Haywood Cooper with the love of learning and the skill of teaching: Enlighten us more and more through the discipline of learning, and deepen our commitment to the education of all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Maria Kane


Joseph of Arimathea vs. Anna Cooper

  • Anna Cooper (60%, 3,983 Votes)
  • Joseph of Arimathea (40%, 2,702 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,685

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206 Comments to "Joseph of Arimathea vs. Anna Cooper"

  1. Ellen Lincourt's Gravatar Ellen Lincourt
    March 10, 2014 - 8:13 am | Permalink

    Why do you make this so hard? Two wonderful choices. But for me it came down to doing the last loving gesture for another human that is done by those who bury the dead. The hardest job in the military is Graves Registrar. My respect for the men and women who prepare the remains and belongings of those who have died is enormous. And of course, I cannot forget the gift of Joseph of Arimathea to Jesus’s family and friends. So, yeah, even though I love Anna Julia Haywood Cooper’s story, I have to go with Joseph.

    • March 10, 2014 - 10:46 am | Permalink

      Dear Ellen Lincourt,
      I agree with you completely. It was too hard, and I went with Joseph also, for the same reasons, thinking about his gift. Also a fan of his hagiography, and the Thorn Tree from his staff that is supposed to be at Glastonbury. Thanks, Anne

    • March 10, 2014 - 11:11 am | Permalink

      Agree 100%. Anna’s story is inspiring, modern, and right up the alley and in the wheelhouse of what our church does very well. But, Joseph of Arimathea, wow. That last loving gesture you mention essentially meant he couldn’t participate in his faith’s and culture’s most important holiday. Imagine what it would mean to essentially sit out Christmas or Easter – the pressures of family and friends; the pressure of society – and so I am thankful for both Joseph and Anna, but Joseph gets my vote.

      • Megan Elizabeth's Gravatar Megan Elizabeth
        March 10, 2014 - 11:17 am | Permalink

        Ryan, you expressed my thoughts exactly.

    • J's Gravatar J
      March 10, 2014 - 12:51 pm | Permalink

      In grade school at the convent, my piano teacher’s job for the order (my school was on the motherhouse campus) was to dress the sisters for burial. She was also the school choir director. She was a little, funny, (“oh, you silly goose!”) sweet lady. She also taught me to crochet!

      I agree it is a sacred task. But for the same reason that I so admire all the nuns who taught me and inspired me, who ran a worldwide organization of schools, colleges, hospitals and missions, and who were my feminist inspiration, I voted for Anna.

      • J's Gravatar J
        March 10, 2014 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

        And, p.s. Anyone who adopts children at the age of 55 is a true saint!

  2. Kathy Heikkinen's Gravatar Kathy Heikkinen
    March 10, 2014 - 8:23 am | Permalink

    A woman of my heart! God bless Anna Cooper!!

  3. PhilEsq's Gravatar PhilEsq
    March 10, 2014 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    This was a tough choice — Famous name vs. source of the best quote on the passport pages. Lest he be forgotten in the hurly-burly of Lent Madness, I think Joseph deserves to stay uppermost in our memories.

    • Phil Harrington's Gravatar Phil Harrington
      March 10, 2014 - 9:19 am | Permalink

      Cranmer makes it tougher! No wonder he sides with Anna in his pick. Guilt, I say. What was he doing modelling as Joseph for the official painting?!? Is this yet another LM scandal?

  4. Peg's Gravatar Peg
    March 10, 2014 - 8:25 am | Permalink

    Coming from a family of six rambunctious younguns, I’m especially impressed that Anna adopted five at the age of 55. Joseph sets a great example of loving bravery, but Anna’s care for the livng, love of learning, and courageous devotion gets my vote today.

  5. Joy Segal's Gravatar Joy Segal
    March 10, 2014 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    Anna – just have to say WOW! What an amazing woman. Love J of A but really was so moved by Anna’s life and work and heart and soul that there was no question for me today.

  6. Rev. Cynthia D. Pape's Gravatar Rev. Cynthia D. Pape
    March 10, 2014 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    I love the line up today. I love it everyday. I have such a soft spot for Joe and am excited to learn about Anna Cooper. Keep up the good work, Lent Madness Team! Now, onto the heavy responsibility of voting…

  7. Chris humphrey's Gravatar Chris humphrey
    March 10, 2014 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    Tough choice today. Joseph has always been high in my list of saints, but Anna is an amazing woman.

  8. Mary Lou Creamer's Gravatar Mary Lou Creamer
    March 10, 2014 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    This is just too tough for a Monday morning! Joseph has always had my utmost respect for his boldness in going to Pilate, and for his gentleness in the love he showed in caring for Jesus. However, learning about Anna Cooper was a bonus! What a remarkable woman she was! Ok, I guess I have to make a choice now and cast my vote….

  9. aleathia (dolores)nicholson's Gravatar aleathia (dolores)nicholson
    March 10, 2014 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    Maria Kane….have you wrought a miracle? I was prepared to vote for the underdog today but Dr. Cooper is ahead! You have done it lady! I am impressed with your bio as she was a legend in her own time and a stellar St. Aug. graduate, alma mater of my mother. Although I know it was a typo, your bio with your bucket list mentioned your “closet” friends and I still want to know who they are as they might be more interesting than your closest friends, obviously the intended group???Yes? No? Mayhaps?

    • Maria's Gravatar Maria
      March 10, 2014 - 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! Alas, it’s no miracle. I, too, was impressed with Dr. Cooper; she got her PhD when she was 65! So much for retirement. I also noticed that I had written “closet” instead of “closest.” While closet friends has an aura of scandal and intrigue, I meant closest friends.

  10. Harriet Mill's Gravatar Harriet Mill
    March 10, 2014 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    My pass port stops at page 24. To whom do I complain?

    • Kathleen Sheehy's Gravatar Kathleen Sheehy
      March 10, 2014 - 4:14 pm | Permalink

      So does mine! It also expires in 2015. Maybe the newer ones quote Dr. C.

      • Johannas Jordan's Gravatar Johannas Jordan
        March 10, 2014 - 5:29 pm | Permalink

        I just checked mine. It stops at page 24, expires in 2014, and has not one quote anywhere. It is all business, do’s, don’t’s, and places to be stamped.
        I’d rather have inspiring quotes, especially ones like Dr. Cooper’s.

        • Denise's Gravatar Denise
          March 10, 2014 - 7:10 pm | Permalink

          Mine has 28 pages, expires in 2017, and does include the quote from Anna! What a treasure to find that! I voted for Anna, though I have much admiration for Joseph.

          • Louise's Gravatar Louise
            March 10, 2014 - 7:17 pm | Permalink

            Yes, time to update those passports….Anna Cooper’s quote is there! Now, just wish the voting was that easy to confirm!!

  11. Alexandra's Gravatar Alexandra
    March 10, 2014 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    Learning about Anna Julia Haywood Cooper is great and she was a wonderful person and deserving to be on this, however Joseph has always had my respect and love for choosing compassion and love over remaining ritually clean in a society which holds ritual as vastly important.
    Compassion and love will always win in my book. Joseph has my vote.

  12. Madeleine Baier's Gravatar Madeleine Baier
    March 10, 2014 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Joseph all the way!

  13. Marilyn Leach's Gravatar Marilyn Leach
    March 10, 2014 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    I had to go get my US passport to see the quote of Dr. Cooper. My passport only has 24 pages and no quote that I could find! Have passports changed? Tough choice today indeed.

  14. Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
    March 10, 2014 - 9:02 am | Permalink

    I am delighted to meet Dr. Cooper, and have profound respect for her erudition, courage and perseverance – as well as for her long life!

    But there is nary a word in her write-up about the Gospel, or her faith. I don’t doubt that she was nurtured by the Church and Christ throughout her journey, but without something more explicit about that dimension of her life I can’t vote for her over Joseph of Arimethea, whose direct courage in a time of extreme crisis has always won my heart.

    Plus I just got to add “Arimethea” to my dictionary. Joseph!

    • Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
      March 10, 2014 - 9:03 am | Permalink

      Ach! ArimAthea!!! Feh….always happens, grumble mutter…..

    • Adam's Gravatar Adam
      March 10, 2014 - 10:13 am | Permalink

      I have to agree. Although her courage and accomplishments are laudable. The lack of information tying her to the church or the Gospel move me towards Joseph. Of course I tend toward the more traditional saints anyway. I do love her quote used on the passports though. If we had a Great Americans Madness, she would get my vote for that.

    • Jamie Glock's Gravatar Jamie Glock
      March 10, 2014 - 1:42 pm | Permalink

      In 1868, when Cooper was ten years old, she received a scholarship and began her education at the newly opened Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute in Raleigh, founded by the local Episcopal Diocese for the purpose of training teachers to educate former slaves and their families

      Her faith ? From an early age she was exposed to the Episcopal faith and traditions. That casts more light on the topic and intensifies my pondering.

      • Jamie Glock's Gravatar Jamie Glock
        March 10, 2014 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

        Additional info –
        Also in 2009, a tuition-free private middle school was opened and named in her honor, Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School on historic Church Hill in Richmond, Virginia.

        She must have had great faith to be recognized this way. Now I know how I will vote.

        • March 10, 2014 - 4:53 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for all this extra research, Jamie. Did not realize she was so closely affiliated with the Episcopal Church.

        • rellingrw's Gravatar rellingrw
          March 10, 2014 - 6:45 pm | Permalink

          Yes, and our new assistant rector teaches at the Anna Julia Cooper school here in Richmond.

    • Susan Brown Snook's Gravatar Susan Brown Snook
      March 10, 2014 - 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. Lent Madness falls into the Holy Women Holy Men trap! What is a saint in the Episcopal Church? Apparently anyone with laudable accomplishments! HWHM doesn’t have anything in its biography about Cooper’s faith either, or how it informed and empowered the great things she did. The church’s theology of sainthood is more or less nonexistent. I admire Cooper a great deal, but I don’t have any information to tell me why we are calling her a saint. She may have been deeply faithful, prayerful, and worshipful, and those qualities may have been what gave her the power to do the things she did, but evidently that’s not important for us to know.

    • Jean Scott's Gravatar Jean Scott
      March 10, 2014 - 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for saying so well exactly what I believe about this pairing. What Joseph did was an example of courageous action performed out of strong faith. He has my vote today — as a Lutheran I can do no other !

  15. March 10, 2014 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    I have voted for Anna because Joseph is well-known. Anna is a Saint for modern times — a la Frances Perkins — and I believe her story and life need to be better known. Not to mention that I believe her life should inform ours.

  16. Virginia Graves's Gravatar Virginia Graves
    March 10, 2014 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    I agree with Mark. I was delighted to learn of Anna but still voting for Joseph. Was the mention of the passport a ruse to see how many of us would check?

    • linda's Gravatar linda
      March 10, 2014 - 11:33 am | Permalink

      perhaps it was a ruse Virginia Graves. i checked and page 24 says AMENDMENTS AND ENDORSEMENTS in 3 languages. i looked at all the pages and there is no quote to be found. hmmm. page 24 is the last page before the back cover!

      • John Miller's Gravatar John Miller
        March 10, 2014 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

        You have an older passport. Those issues sense 2010 (when Sec. Clinton doubled the price) now have inspiring quotes on each page.

        • J's Gravatar J
          March 10, 2014 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

          Aha! First politics injected into this exercise! Do you suppose Secretary Clinton was compelled by the true costs of post-9/11 investigations and processing of passport applications and state department budget constraints, to increase the cost?

        • linda's Gravatar linda
          March 10, 2014 - 4:40 pm | Permalink

          no thanks to Hillary…i got mine renewed in 2005. so it’s older. now in 2015 i need a new one which will cost me the price of a trip to paris!

        • Deborah DeManno's Gravatar Deborah DeManno
          March 10, 2014 - 10:21 pm | Permalink

          I renewed my passport in July 2008 and it has all of the new pages, quotes, chip imbedded – all post 9/11 improvements and, along with the increased cost, brought to you be the GW Bush administration. So don’t blame Sec. Clinton.

  17. Spencer M.'s Gravatar Spencer M.
    March 10, 2014 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    Joesph of Arimathea, since he is the patron of my profession, has to get this one. I am all for equality for women in all orders of ministry, and I know that Anna Cooper is a most worthy victor if she prevails. May be best saint win!!!

  18. rellingrw's Gravatar rellingrw
    March 10, 2014 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    One of Lent Madness’ most valuable qualities it educating us about all the saints who have come before us and never received the recognition which their works should have given them. Joseph’s job was important and noble. Joseph has also received eons of recognition for his one, solitary action.
    Anna Julia Cooper worked tirelessly for her entire life to help those who were ignored and despised. We are told to help widows and orphanas and AJC surely did that time after time after time.
    My own personal motivation for voting for AJC results from her literary witness as well. So many of my students fo color at community college think that the Black heritage is one of slang and bling. AJC is one of the many embodiments that testify to the eloquence and nobility of the Black heritage in this country. AJC, you are my hero.

    • Rock Higgins's Gravatar Rock Higgins
      March 10, 2014 - 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Very well said

    • Karen Tucker's Gravatar Karen Tucker
      March 10, 2014 - 8:31 pm | Permalink

      Well I was completely confused about which way to vote. All the aguements seem valuable and informative but I must say that rellingrw’s post has convinced me that Anna Cooper is the one to vote for today. Thank you!

  19. KEW's Gravatar KEW
    March 10, 2014 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    Another conundrum! At first it was easy — as a historian of the American South and a feminist, I knew Anna Cooper was my woman, without question. But then the description of Joseph of Arimathea got me thinking: that Jesus superseded the law of purity with the law of love and compassion is at the heart of my faith. …I’m going to have to ponder this for a while. (This is so much uplifting and so much FUN!)

    • Jamie Glock's Gravatar Jamie Glock
      March 10, 2014 - 1:31 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you on the pondering. As a school librarian I served a wonderful group of HS girls from the urban parts of NJ. They and their families sacrificed so these gals could attend private school in order to have a chance at a safe and quality education – no easy task in the Newark NJ area. So my first choice was Anna Cooper. On the other hand the supporting points for Joseph have me reconsidering my initial reaction. — Will vote later today.

  20. Sandrita's Gravatar Sandrita
    March 10, 2014 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    Darn, you make this tough! What a woman! What a man!

  21. Mary Lysbeth Andrews's Gravatar Mary Lysbeth Andrews
    March 10, 2014 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    My DEAR Friend Doris Rosa, just turned 90 years old , and she has spent her life walking in the foot steps of Anna. Doris is a life long Episcopalian a native of Philadelphia, a civilian employee of the Navy during World War II, a NYC public school teacher for many years, I vote for Anna in Doris’s Honor.

  22. Mary Ann's Gravatar Mary Ann
    March 10, 2014 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    This was a tough one, but I had to go for Joseph of Arimathea. He had to decide between what was was more important, the law of purity or the compassion that Jesus taught. He was a brave man to go with the compassion.
    This is not to say Anna Cooper is anything less. She did amazing things for this country, especially for an African American women in the late 19th, and the 20th century. In my eyes Joseph only won by 1%. This was a hard one.

  23. Martha's Gravatar Martha
    March 10, 2014 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    Of course, I loved Anna. What a woman! A great model for anyone.

    But I voted for Joseph. First, he took the body when all the other disciples fled. Had he not done that, the body would have simply stayed on the cross. Then he laid the body in a “new” tomb and sealed it with a rock. A small detail but important. Had he re-used a tomb, as was the custom, there might have been bones there and the tomb would not have been “empty” on Easter. An important contribution. But mostly, I love his faithfulness…his willingness to put himself in danger to do appropriate care for Jesus.

    • Megan Elizabeth's Gravatar Megan Elizabeth
      March 10, 2014 - 11:42 am | Permalink

      Agree with you Martha. I love Lent madness! I’ve truly never reflected on the bravery of this man, who gets a few sentences in the Bible, yet came to Pilate and cared for the body of our (in a few days from then) risen Christ and savior. It was not the disciples that took the body of our Lord for burial. It was not the disciples that first saw our risen Lord (sorry, gotta throw some props to the ladies that first saw and believed) My vote goes to the folks getting things done in the immediate aftermath – when the outcome was still uncertain.

    • Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
      March 11, 2014 - 8:24 am | Permalink

      That is a really interesting point about the possibility of bones in the tomb. Thanks!

  24. Jen E. Ochsner's Gravatar Jen E. Ochsner
    March 10, 2014 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    All the choices have been hard ones……..with friends in the funeral business who do for families and our family what Joseph did for Jesus and his ; and my brothers and I are teachers who enjoyed inspiring young folks………..but again I seem to side with the underdog here, Joseph……….he stepped up and fulfilled what he was destined to do.

  25. Mike Essig's Gravatar Mike Essig
    March 10, 2014 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    I went with Joseph, because without him what would have come of the passion of our Lord? That said, I was touched by Anna’s story, and would be very happy if she won as well. I wonder if Joseph would do better if we were closer to holy week.

  26. Erin Redden's Gravatar Erin Redden
    March 10, 2014 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    A teacher with passionate beliefs about equality and freedom for all! What an inspiration for us all to look up to and model living our lives after. However, Joseph reminds me of Jesus washing his disciples feet, a ritualistic cleansing after a horrible, torturous death…arghhh! This one has me torn as Day 1 did…..

  27. Rock Higgins's Gravatar Rock Higgins
    March 10, 2014 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    As the chaplain at Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School, I must emphasize how this godly woman’s legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of my students every day. Celebrated her day of prayer on Feb 28!

    • KEW's Gravatar KEW
      March 10, 2014 - 10:07 am | Permalink

      Wonderful! Thanks for sharing that detail.

  28. Johnna's Gravatar Johnna
    March 10, 2014 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    My vote is for Anna!

  29. Cori Olson's Gravatar Cori Olson
    March 10, 2014 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    My vote went to Anna, to this day my diocese supports St. Augustine College. May we all work to help lift those up whom others would limit!

  30. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    March 10, 2014 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    Joseph of Arimathea appears to be a one-hit wonder. Sure, that one hit was an important act of compassion and perhaps remorse, but what else did he do? It also perhaps was not as difficult for him to do, as a man of stature in his society. Anna Cooper, on the other hand, had to fight for most things, and continued to do so most of her life. The choice is clear to me.

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 10, 2014 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

      What else did he do? There are extra-scriptural accounts of missionary work he did in far-flung places, and probably after burying Jesus he’d burned his political and professional bridges. He was a follower of and believer in Jesus by all accounts, and he acted on that faith–something that WAS difficult to do (not to mention extremely brave), considering Jesus had just been executed as an enemy of the state. Anna Cooper is more modern and therefore we have more witnesses and accounts to her life–we know more about the things she did. But, for me, this is not a contest about who did the most stuff. 🙂

  31. Mariclaire's Gravatar Mariclaire
    March 10, 2014 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    Anna Julia Cooper seems to have been an amazing woman and a visionary-an inspiration on many fronts. There is, however, no mention of any religious devotion. I consider her a fine example of humanity, but see no evidence of her saintliness

  32. Rev. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Rev. Lucy Porter
    March 10, 2014 - 9:51 am | Permalink

    What a choice! I’m going with Joseph, but I’m so glad to know about Anna!

  33. Nancy Ashley's Gravatar Nancy Ashley
    March 10, 2014 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    She’s on pages 24-25 in my passport – yes, of course I went and checked!

    • linda's Gravatar linda
      March 10, 2014 - 11:34 am | Permalink

      not on mine. mine expires in jan of 2015….

    • Becky's Gravatar Becky
      March 10, 2014 - 12:15 pm | Permalink

      She’s on page 26 and 27 of mine.

  34. Fiona Haworth's Gravatar Fiona Haworth
    March 10, 2014 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    I voted for Anna. Joseph was undoubtedly brave and hugely significant, but I suspect that then as now wealth and privilege provide some protection for those going against societal norms. Anna overcame huge disadvantage and worked tirelessly in the service of others. I am very thankful for the opportunity to learn about an amazing woman. “The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party, or a class—it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”

  35. Rosemary Beales's Gravatar Rosemary Beales
    March 10, 2014 - 9:58 am | Permalink

    My heart is drawn to Joseph for his compassion and example to all who minister in times of death. But Anna, as a force in my native Washington, D.C., and a model for those of us in educational ministries AND hoping to keep giving till 105(!), gets my vote today.

  36. March 10, 2014 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    Having served in hospice care, I was going to vote for J of A, but I changed my mind when rereading the bios. I thought Anna Julia Haywood Cooper’s story deserved some attention. Yet, I would like to hear about how here faith and sense of vocation intertwined. Yes, she was married to a priest and worked at religious institutions. “Her life was distinguished by her vocation as an educator and a political, social and community activist,” says the Episcopal Archives. Still, I would love to learn more about her faith. I find lots of writings about her good works online, but what motivated her? How did she understand her work? After all, it isn’t our works that make us saints. I would want to learn more if I were to vote for her again. Of course, if she does win, she’ll be up against Bach, a good Lutheran. He will get my vote, so perhaps this is a moot point as far as Lent Madness goes. For my own education, can anyone point me to anything sharing about her faith life – available on or off line? It doesn’t sound like “A Voice from the South” does that from what I found.

    • March 10, 2014 - 10:03 am | Permalink

      I’m assuming Bach will move forward! (Go, Lutherans!)

      • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
        March 10, 2014 - 10:27 am | Permalink

        One does not have to be Lutheran to love Bach. This life-long Episcopalian is already humming and listening to his work.

  37. Cynthia Castaneda's Gravatar Cynthia Castaneda
    March 10, 2014 - 10:04 am | Permalink

    This was a tough one, but I went with Anna. Go Anna!!!!

  38. Marjory Lange's Gravatar Marjory Lange
    March 10, 2014 - 10:05 am | Permalink

    Very hard choice, but in the context of Lent and the 2-millennia tradition of scripture, I thought it important to re-contextualize Joseph; what he did was all the things above, but he also tends to be ‘whitewashed’ rather than seen in his full, fully human complexity as a man who suffered conflicts between ‘right’ and ‘expedient.’ He’s a good reminder for all of us on those occasions when…

  39. Carolyn Sharp's Gravatar Carolyn Sharp
    March 10, 2014 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    Yes, a hard choice. My head argued for Cooper – what an extraordinary moral example, well worth considering and imitating. My heart was soft for Joseph. It has of late discovered the “lesser characters” of the Gospels and fallen unabashedly in love. Rightly or wrongly, it suspects that the early followers of the resurrected ones remembered by name those who gave their all to Christ and the Church. And so it is that I voted for Joseph, but am glad to have learned more about Anna. Thank you, Laura, for the tidbit about Joseph coming to England – I am sure that someday I will sneak it into a sermon.

  40. The Rev. Dirk C. Reinken's Gravatar The Rev. Dirk C. Reinken
    March 10, 2014 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    Sometimes I wonder if these match ups are the work of the evil one to sow division and discord! I’m finding I have to make my choices based not only whom I admire, but on those in whose lives I can see a bit of my story and who challenge me as well. I think Episcopalians of many stripes embody the compassion of Joseph very well, and has for centuries when it comes to burial, but I think Anna Cooper continues to call to us to be our better selves in the realities of today’s world.

  41. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 10, 2014 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    This was a no-brainer for me. Hands down, Anna! What a wonderful life, story, witness and role model. Had not heard of her, but her story blessed me today and touched my social work heart.

  42. KEW's Gravatar KEW
    March 10, 2014 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    The full text of Cooper’s Voice from the South is available online at Those who wonder about her Christian vocation/contribution etc might want to take a deeper look, but here are a few samples of her thought & faith:

    “We look forward with hope and trust that the same God whose guiding hand led our fathers through and out of the gall and bitterness of oppression, will still lead and direct their children, to the honor of His name, and for their ultimate salvation.”

    “We need men and women who do not exhaust their genius splitting hairs on aristocratic distinctions and thanking God they are not as others; but earnest, unselfish souls, who can go into the highways and byways, lifting up and leading, advising and encouraging with the truly catholic benevolence of the Gospel of Christ.

    “As Church workers we must confess our path of duty is less obvious; or rather our ability to adapt our machinery to our conception of the peculiar exigencies of this work as taught by experience and our own consciousness of the needs of the Negro, is as yet not demonstrable. Flexibility and aggressiveness are not such strong characteristics of the Church to-day as in the Dark Ages.

    “As a Mission field for the Church the Southern Negro is in some aspects most promising; in others, perplexing. Aliens neither in language and customs, nor in associations and sympathies, naturally of deeply rooted religious instincts and taking most readily and kindly to the worship and teachings of the Church, surely the task of proselytizing the American Negro is infinitely less formidable than that which confronted the Church in the Barbarians of Europe.”

    “‘Except ye become as little children’ is not a pious precept, but an inexorable law of the universe. God’s kingdoms are all sealed to the seedy, moss-grown mind of self-satisfied maturity. Only the little child in spirit, the simple, receptive, educable mind can enter.”

    “The desire for quick returns and large profits tempts capital ofttimes into unsanitary, well nigh inhuman investments,–tenement tinder boxes, stifling, stunting, sickening alleys and pestiferous slums; regular rents, no waiting, large percentages,–rich coffers coined out of the life-blood of human bodies and souls. Men and women herded together like cattle, breathing in malaria and typhus from an atmosphere seething with moral as well as physical impurity, revelling in vice as their native habitat and then, to drown the whisperings of their higher consciousness and effectually to hush the yearnings and accusations within, flying to narcotics and opiates– rum, tobacco, opium, binding hand and foot, body and soul, till the proper image of God is transformed into a fit associate for demons,– a besotted, enervated, idiotic wreck, or else a monster of wickedness terrible and destructive.”

    • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
      March 10, 2014 - 10:59 am | Permalink

      Thanks for this – her thoughts in her own words. If she advances we’ll get to hear more but in case she doesn’t…

    • March 10, 2014 - 11:15 am | Permalink

      KEW — thank you so much for expanding on Anna. It makes the vote tougher, but that I grumpily admit is how it should be. And “seedy, moss-grown mind of self-satisfied maturity” is going to stick with me for a long time, whoever ‘wins’ today’s contest!

    • March 10, 2014 - 11:42 am | Permalink

      Thanks. I figured it was out there, and I appreciate the shortcut for my search.

    • Irene Cowley's Gravatar Irene Cowley
      March 10, 2014 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

      WOW! “We need men and women who do not exhaust their genius splitting hairs on aristocratic distinctions and thanking God they are not as others; but earnest, unselfish souls, who can go into the highways and byways, lifting up and leading, advising and encouraging with the truly catholic benevolence of the Gospel of Christ.” That’s a great code for Vestries!!
      Thanks for finding this. I think perhaps I need to discover more about this lady!

    • Jamie Glock's Gravatar Jamie Glock
      March 10, 2014 - 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for finding this… Lent Madness pushes us forward to find more when thoughtful questions are raised. I dug deeper but didn’t find these answers.

      I love to see how each person on our list “lived their mission”.

    • Beth Ann Maier's Gravatar Beth Ann Maier
      March 10, 2014 - 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Double Wow! “…the desire for quick returns and large profits…” and “…and then, to drown the whisperings of their higher consciousness and effectually to hush the yearnings and accusations within, flying to narcotics and opiates…” We haven’t made that much progress in the last 100+ years.
      Has anyone noticed that AJHC is the only female voice quoted in the passport?

      • March 10, 2014 - 5:59 pm | Permalink

        Yes; that’s why I meant to look her up, but never got around to it. And now Lent Madness has enlightened me!

      • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
        March 10, 2014 - 6:35 pm | Permalink

        I hadn’t noticed! Took care of 2 minorities at one fell swoop. How very clever. Hmph!

    • Adrian Cook's Gravatar Adrian Cook
      March 10, 2014 - 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for this . I love “God’s kingdoms are all sealed to the seedy, moss-grown mind of self-satisfied maturity”

    • rellingrw's Gravatar rellingrw
      March 10, 2014 - 6:49 pm | Permalink

      thank you

    • Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
      March 11, 2014 - 8:28 am | Permalink

      I am now repenting of my seedy, moss-grown mind. Good Lord, deliver us!

  43. Margaret Bivins's Gravatar Margaret Bivins
    March 10, 2014 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    Joseph is an important figure in Christianity, but all we know of him is one act (though a very significant one). I voted for Anna because she dedicated her whole life to helping people. Yes, her bio does not mention faith much, but you see faith by the way someone leads their life. I think 105 years of helping her fellow man counts more than one courageous, though spiritually important, action.

    • Laura's Gravatar Laura
      March 10, 2014 - 10:37 am | Permalink

      Agreed. She showed her faith over and over again against many odds. Anna gets my vote!

  44. Lindy's Gravatar Lindy
    March 10, 2014 - 10:17 am | Permalink

    An easy choice for me. We only know of one thing that Joseph may have gotten right. But Anna has a documented lifetime of achievement. Anna, hands down.

  45. Cush's Gravatar Cush
    March 10, 2014 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    Thanks Kew for the additional information on Anna Cooper (my vote). This has been a pairing that stretched my thinking, especially after many years of anti-racism training, etc., I was really not particularly familiar with Cooper — a real learning experience!

  46. Lois's Gravatar Lois
    March 10, 2014 - 10:27 am | Permalink

    Brutal! One of the toughest match-ups I can remember in several years of LM. I think J of A and Anna both deserve to advance. Perhaps there’ll be a tie? I wonder if that would that be a first for LM?

  47. J.B.'s Gravatar J.B.
    March 10, 2014 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    I am very concerned about a trend here. A contemporary (relatively speaking) who reflects contemporary values and that we can all relate to is AGAIN paired with an ancient of the Church. Is this the pattern for the rest of Lent Madness? Can’t we have at least just a little more of apples to apples and oranges to oranges (e.g. Gregory the Great and Joseph of Arimathea) until we get deeper into the elimination rounds? I know I am not expressing myself well, much less clearly articulating the pattern that I’m afraid seems to be emerging, but my heart really is troubled…

    • Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
      March 10, 2014 - 11:20 am | Permalink

      J.B., I understand and sympathize. I have a tough enough time choosing between apples and apples, and the time warp between various “competitors” makes LM especially challenging. When the choice becomes especially tough, I think about what C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity ((New York: Touchstone, 1996, pp 190-191): “How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.” (

    • pj's Gravatar pj
      March 10, 2014 - 11:26 am | Permalink

      I consider it akin to predicting the #8 vs. #9 matchups in that other Madness bracket…

    • Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
      March 11, 2014 - 8:30 am | Permalink

      All hail our SEC overlords!

      • March 11, 2014 - 9:20 am | Permalink

        Shhhhh!!! They just want your page views, not your feedback!

  48. March 10, 2014 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    Anna for sure. A real saint. Joseph may or may not have even existed.

    • March 10, 2014 - 11:15 am | Permalink

      All 4 Gospels attest to him, Ann. Pretty clear he was a real guy.

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 10, 2014 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Joseph’s acts are documented in scripture; so are Jesus’. That can’t be the proof of non-existence or lack of spiritual value!

  49. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    March 10, 2014 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    Agree with the “hard choice” comments. Had never realized that Joseph’s kindness would make him ritually unclean and possibly reveal his support for one considered a criminal. Voted for him while admiring Anna.
    My passport doesn’t have Ms. Cooper’s quote, but it’s about to expire. A friend’s newer one has the quotation, though, which we discovered while waiting in line to go through the Mexico/US border checkpoint.

  50. Kay's Gravatar Kay
    March 10, 2014 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    I vote for Anna! Her life shows faithfulness to justice and love;reminds me of Micah 6:8″ what does the Lord require of you but to do justice,to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

  51. Gwin Hanahan's Gravatar Gwin Hanahan
    March 10, 2014 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    Thanks be to God for those who risk their lives in the face of evil and for those who lift the Body of Christ…both for Joseph who lifted the dead body of our Lord… and for Anna who lifted the living Body of Christ, i.e., the people of God. Both set an example; Anna’s is one we can actually follow.

    • Megan Elizabeth's Gravatar Megan Elizabeth
      March 10, 2014 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

      I respectfully see it differently – I think both saints offer examples we can follow. How many times has your heart been led to do the right thing in spite of societies dictates? And, let’s make everyone uncomfortable here – how many times have you not done so? Joseph cut himself off from a religious holy day as an “important” man, shall we say. I find it is MUCH harder for those in places of power to give up or possibly lose that power and authority (deserved or not) to do a humble thing like taking the body of a man who had just been hung as a criminal by his own people. A powerful man risking his place in society for his beliefs is a powerful witness. Yes, I am amazed at the accomplishments and life of Anna and her example. I admire both of the human beings and their bravery and witness. Just because J of A is from long ago does not make his contribution any less valuable. I don’t feel like I’m expressing myself very well…and think I will blame in on the springing forward 🙂 J of A, all the way!

      • Gwin Hanahan's Gravatar Gwin Hanahan
        March 10, 2014 - 4:36 pm | Permalink

        Megan Elizabeth, good comments, most appreciated. I was unclear. Maybe still am…it’s that time change thing. What I had hoped to say was that historically, literally Joseph lifted the actual dead body of Jesus, (an unrepeatable act), whereas Anna figuratively lifted (and will lift) many generations of the people of God, i.e., the Body of Christ. Further she encouraged others to be “earnest, unselfish souls, who can go into the highways and byways, lifting up and leading, advising and encouraging with the truly catholic benevolence of the Gospel of Christ.” (quoted from KEW, Cooper’s Voice from the South, above.)

    • March 10, 2014 - 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Beautifully put, Gwin.

  52. Katherine's Gravatar Katherine
    March 10, 2014 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    Just to stir the pot a bit…where was
    Joseph during the trial…when being brave enough to speak up could have made a difference? AND since it was only used for three days…it was just a loan, right? LOL
    Went with Anna because of a lot of the reasons already mentioned. Sorry, Joe.

    • JAMG's Gravatar JAMG
      March 10, 2014 - 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Katherine, sorry but it can’t work that way. Jesus HAD to die for our sins. Joseph of Aramithea could not have helped him.

  53. BAR's Gravatar BAR
    March 10, 2014 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    Hi guys

    My email does not include a “voting” mechanism. Is it just because you hate me or is it because you want to check whether I have the internet knowledge to click on the correct link? 🙁 I can fool you: I know about the link and get to vote regardless!! 🙂

  54. Kirstin's Gravatar Kirstin
    March 10, 2014 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    And the voting gets tougher!

  55. Bonnie Chartier's Gravatar Bonnie Chartier
    March 10, 2014 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    Anna was a pioneer in fighting for equality in education for women and for equality for opportunities offered to people of all races. But this is Lent Madness and I see Joseph as someone who did more for people of faith — God put him in a place to take care of His son – and Joseph did just that, and by his actions, we have Jesus’ rising — our Easter celebration. I’m for Joseph on this one

  56. Grace's Gravatar Grace
    March 10, 2014 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    This was tough. My inclination was to vote for Anna Cooper, however since a friend discovered on that she is a direct descendant of Joseph of Arimathea, I gave him the nod today.

  57. Phil's Gravatar Phil
    March 10, 2014 - 10:55 am | Permalink

    Vert hard decision. But Joseph was the person who brought Christianity to England and establish a tradition outside of the Roman Church in the British Isles.

  58. Loretta Russell Hoffmann's Gravatar Loretta Russell Hoffmann
    March 10, 2014 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    I voted for Joseph of Arimathea and since Mary Ann and Martha expressed it so well, will not say anymore. I am looking at an icon of Christ’s Descent from the Cross. Jesus is in the arms of Mary with the arm of Joseph assisting, women to the left and right, probably Mary or Martha and Mary Magdalene; Apostle John kissing the hand of Jesus and Nicodemus at His feet. It is a poignant scene and Joseph’s role was significant.

  59. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    March 10, 2014 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    All honor to Joseph of Arimathea, whom I have loved, revered, and admired since I heard about him at the beginning of my life as an Episcopalian. Nevertheless, he has been loved, honored, revered, and admired for centuries, and I think it’s time that Anna Cooper became know and regarded similarly as well. I particularly like that she stuck to the basics, teaching math and literature instead of adopting a vo-tech curriculum. I also like that she opposed changes that benefitted only African American men but not women. She also adopted five children who otherwise might not have had a home. Therefore, she gets my vote. Again, a tough choice, but they’re the best in this kind of competition.

  60. Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
    March 10, 2014 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    Hmmm. Not much competition here. Much as I enjoy the “brought Christianity to Britain” mythology.

  61. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    March 10, 2014 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    correction: “known” instead of “know” in the 4th line. I know, proofread, proofread, proofread.

  62. Joan's Gravatar Joan
    March 10, 2014 - 11:09 am | Permalink

    I voted for Joseph. He was a wealthy prominent man but risked his life for Christ. I agree with some of the others. Did Anna risk her life? She made hard choices, but don’t we all.

  63. March 10, 2014 - 11:10 am | Permalink

    ARGH! There hasn’t been an easy choice yet. You evil brilliant SEC. It will be such a relief to vote for my hero and amazing person Alfred the Great, but you *would* put him up against Bach, so he hasn’t a chance. In the meanwhile, back to wrestling between Joseph and Anna — with huge kudos to today’s bloggers, who (a) informed me who the heck that quote from my passport came from, (b) deepened my understanding of Joseph of A. Maybe chocolate will help me resolve the struggle. Yet again.

  64. Melissa's Gravatar Melissa
    March 10, 2014 - 11:23 am | Permalink

    Love them both, but I’m going with Joseph–my father was a mortician and county coroner. Never knew Joseph was his patron!

  65. March 10, 2014 - 11:26 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Lent Madness! I’m busting my own bracket today and voting for Anna Cooper.

    Having just watched Cosmos, I am struck by this line in the collect for Anna Cooper: “Enlighten us more and more through the discipline of learning, and deepen our commitment to the education of all your children, through Jesus Christ our Lord …”

    Neil DeGrasse Tyson may not stand directly in Anna’s educational line, but the quest for knowledge he articulates so passionately (and she pursued so steadily) is the same journey I’m on.

    Knowing more about the universe (or multiverse) and its “worlds without end,” as Tyson says, evokes wonder in me and makes me look afresh at this one world we know and share with each other. People like Anna Cooper demonstrate the kind of concern we all ought to have for our fellow human beings, “through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

  66. Daniel's Gravatar Daniel
    March 10, 2014 - 11:27 am | Permalink

    I don’t see this a a particularly hard choice at all. We only have a few verses in the Gospels to tell us about Joseph, while Anna Cooper has left an abundant and easily accessible and relevant legacy for us to learn from. Also, while it’s cool that a rich man like Joseph used what privilege he had to care for Jesus’s body after his death, a woman like Anna who rose up out of poverty and slavery by her own courage and intelligence is an even more remarkable role model.

  67. Jim Jaworski's Gravatar Jim Jaworski
    March 10, 2014 - 11:31 am | Permalink

    U make all the gospels you advance

  68. JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
    March 10, 2014 - 11:36 am | Permalink

    Respect to both. Joseph performed a duty of caring for the dead, a noble act because the recipient can never thank you for it (well, not usually). But in all the stories with Joseph of Arimathea there are other faithful people around who stayed during Jesus’ crucifixion and (depending on gospeller) also came to tend his dead body — the women who “followed and provided for him”. So today, for the forgotten or discounted who are out there still doing the work, I’m voting Anna. As one who understands the importance of thankless tasks, I hope Joseph doesn’t mind.

  69. Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
    March 10, 2014 - 11:44 am | Permalink

    What do we want from our winning saint? I contend that this is the life we want to emulate as closely as possible. As such, I think we should be careful not to be too dazzled by the temporal and physical proximity of Joseph of Arimathea to Christ. Joseph of Arimathea legitimized Jesus’s standing among the Jews; perhaps Joseph risked censure or even his life. He spent a lot of money to buy the grave. So we know he did One Good Thing. We might also note that there he was on the council and he did not argue against the crucifixion–he let it happen and then bought the grave. (At least as best we know.) Because he got included in the Gospels, he gets a lot of attention. Not very fair to anyone who comes a couple of millenia later–there is no P.R. like that of four gospel writers. What do I find to emulate in this man? If I’m well-to-do, I should spend my money to honor another? Sure. But that seems a little empty compared to Anna Cooper’s daily commitment to living the Gospel. I go for the saint whose considered actions directly affected hundreds upon hundreds of people, rather than the Name saint.

    • Marjorie Menaul's Gravatar Marjorie Menaul
      March 10, 2014 - 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for saying that. Both saints’ stories are powerful, but I especially value Lent Madness for giving us powerful stories about folks who aren’t (a) male, (b) wealthy, (c) clergy or royalty. There are great people who fall into those categories, but our calendar has so many of them! It’s wonderful to expand my personal list of saints. . . . as Anna will from now on.

    • Adrian Cook's Gravatar Adrian Cook
      March 10, 2014 - 6:39 pm | Permalink

      I think you are right – you have convinced me – I was rather taken by the selfless and dutiful image of J of A – although i rather discount all that stuff about him planting his thorn staff at Glastonbury. But in fact you are right about Anna.

  70. March 10, 2014 - 11:54 am | Permalink

    Joseph is a quintessential example of Christian character despite the human condition of spiritual imperfection. Beautiful.

    Anna’s story is dynamic in the multiple challenges to which she dedicated her entire life.

    Example of principle v. Life-long commitment to purpose: Must vote Anna today.

  71. March 10, 2014 - 11:58 am | Permalink

    Hard choice, but I went with Anna Julia Cooper. I have to admit I checked my passport…yup, there’s her quote spanning pages 26-27. For those of you whose passports only go to page 24….just renewed mine this year…maybe that’s the difference?

  72. Bruce's Gravatar Bruce
    March 10, 2014 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Was Alice born a slave as the daughter of a slave? Impressive life of achievement totally worthy of our commemoration!

    • KEW's Gravatar KEW
      March 10, 2014 - 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Yes, as the child of an enslaved woman and in a state with no provisions for gradual emancipation, Anna was born a slave. That’s how the law of hereditary slavery worked at this point in the U.S. — and through most of history of slavery in the English-speaking Americas. (Colonial Maryland briefly tried paternal heredity but changed gears rapidly.)

  73. Carolyn Sharp's Gravatar Carolyn Sharp
    March 10, 2014 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    What is there to emulate about Joseph of Arimathea? So much : his longing for the Kingdom of God – which Anna undoubtedly shared; his willingness to face his fear in a time of trial – which Anna Cooper undoubtedly shared when she refused the colour line in learning; his compassion in burying a dead criminal – the same compassion that animated Anna when she took five orphans into her household; the willingness to risk his life before a tryant – a reality that any uppity woman of colour could understand in a society where lynchings were common; – a willingness to leave behind the security of expected behaviour and risk stigmatization in the name of faith – Anna Cooper undoubtedly knew what it was to be looked down upon and called names by the most surprising people. Does it matter that Joseph was wealthy? Only because he found his way through the eye of the needle. As part of the global elite who eats more than a meal a day (even in Lent!), we are in need of such a saint.

    • Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
      March 10, 2014 - 10:26 pm | Permalink

      Very thoughtful comment, Carolyn!

  74. Billie's Gravatar Billie
    March 10, 2014 - 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Such a tough choice. Went with Joseph because of his faithfulness to Jesus’s teachings. Such a bold act of kindness, compassion and love in the face of his peers and position in Jewish life.

  75. Mike Hadaway's Gravatar Mike Hadaway
    March 10, 2014 - 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Strange match-up. Voted for Cooper, but it was close

  76. Karen's Gravatar Karen
    March 10, 2014 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Love Anna’s story! She deserves high honor. But I really had to vote for Joseph of Arimathea. When push came to shove, he risked his life and comfortable position to care for the Messiah who surely didn’t live up to popular expectations.

  77. March 10, 2014 - 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I admire deeply Anna’s work and example of a steady, committed faith, but Joseph leaves such a lasting image that informs our faith in the book we all share for such daily courage as Anna had. The image: that of a human being who dared to insist that one treated as a criminal be buried with respect, even after society has so horribly failed him. I can’t shake it. Joseph got my vote today.

  78. Margaret Moran's Gravatar Margaret Moran
    March 10, 2014 - 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Joseph was essential to the belief in Jesus Christ’s holiness. Whether real or a myth, he put himself bravely into acting outside of his comfort zone, taking a body and giving a tomb, so that by his status the resurrection is accepted and believed. I do believe that’s Christianity.

  79. March 10, 2014 - 12:47 pm | Permalink

    As a teacher who’s taught forbidden subjects behind closed doors (sex ed to 6th graders in a Roman Catholic school), I’m behind Anna all the way!

  80. Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
    March 10, 2014 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Another tough choice, but even though Joseph of Arimathea understood what Jesus wants us all to understand, I stand with Anna as a role model who never gave up pursuing her dream and helping so many others along the way!!

  81. Lindsay Graves's Gravatar Lindsay Graves
    March 10, 2014 - 12:57 pm | Permalink

    As a retired teacher with close ties to Oberlin College, you can guess who received my vote.

  82. Regina's Gravatar Regina
    March 10, 2014 - 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I was already to vote for Joseph but when I read their profiles I had to go with Anna. I love her life.

  83. Michele Leblanc's Gravatar Michele Leblanc
    March 10, 2014 - 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Well said Dirk Reinken! Sums up my vote rather nicely!

  84. MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
    March 10, 2014 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Agree with Carolyn Sharp–these are two wonderful, wonderful people whose devotion and acts were one. I am in awe of Anna, truly in awe, of her long life of incredible bravery, chutzpah, and compassion. But I vote in the end for Joseph–and for much the same reason as I voted for Christina on Day 1. I’m troubled by the tendency to dismiss those whose lives are less documented and, by some type of logic, therefore less “real” or valuable. The only “proof” we have of Joseph is a small pericope in each gospel (still, to be in all four gospels is saying something!)–plus a long-lived strand of extra-biblical missionary work to England. Had Joseph lived in America in the 1800s, I daresay we’d have more accounts of his life. I love that Matthew says Joseph put Jesus in “his own new tomb,” and that John places that tomb in Joseph’s garden. Joseph is the basis for Blake’s poem “And did those feet”, which became our beloved Anglican hymn “Jerusalem” (as has been noted above–I just had to mention it, ’cause it’s part of my end-decision on this). His association with Glastonbury is another tug at my heart. So a vote for the little-known, truth-in-myth, gentle, garden-loving Joseph is mine.

  85. MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
    March 10, 2014 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    /Users/stevenfhauser/Pictures/iPhoto Library.photolibrary/Masters/2014/03/10/20140310-122930/joseph-of-arimathea-among-the-rocks-of-albion.jpg

    Blake’s “Joseph of Arimathea Among the Rocks of Albion” (“Albion” being an ancient name of England”)

  86. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    March 10, 2014 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Joseph et al. would only have been ritually unclean for the Passover Sabbath if they did not have time to bathe at home before sunset Friday. Ritual uncleanliness was a common thing, people bathed & became ritually clean again.

    I voted for Anna. I doubt she’ll survive Bach though.

  87. Alec Clement's Gravatar Alec Clement
    March 10, 2014 - 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Why can’t we just give them all halos

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      March 10, 2014 - 2:15 pm | Permalink

      If you submit this as a question for the Archbishops, I’m reasonably certain they would tell you that the Saints in Heaven already have better halos than this one and are mostly bemused by Lent Madness.

  88. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    March 10, 2014 - 1:54 pm | Permalink

    the voting seems to be weighted against the ancestral members of the church because of a relative lack of data – I had to go with Joseph of Arimathea, because his actions were not inclusionary or part of a movement to improve the status in a society – but one of the first acts in what w0uld become a schism that would tear at the heart of the Christian/Jewish experience until now, as well a personal act probably had him cast out from the synagogue. It was not just an act of courage and commitment, but a recognition of the law as crumbling in the face of the new covenant through Christ. Joseph gets my vote.

  89. aleathia (dolores)nicholson's Gravatar aleathia (dolores)nicholson
    March 10, 2014 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

    For more on Anna Julia Cooper: NOTABLE BLACK AMERICAN WOMEN. Editor, Jessie Carney Smith. Gale Research Inc. Detroit.1992. Biographical Writer: David W.H.Pellow-Fisk University, Nashville TN (pp. 218-224).

  90. March 10, 2014 - 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I would appreciate the help of some Biblical scholars in my interpretation of the Biblical quotes cited in Joseph of Arimathea’s bio. First, let me confess that I adore his chapel in the National Cathedral in DC, at the very bottom of the great bell tower, as befits a tomb. Under the weight of all that stone, between those massive columns, is the best place to spend Holy Saturday in my opinion. But I wonder if Joseph was in fact the emissary of the High Council to remove Jesus’s body from the cross and bury it, as Deut. commands. Not as an act of kindness, but as a sign that the body is “under God’s curse.” Roman law would have demanded that the body rot in the open. Why Joseph is scripturally important is because he is a high-ranking Jewish official who verifies that Jesus was actually dead and actually buried–thus making the physical resurrection more likely to be believed. He is essential to the resurrection and therefore essential to the Gospels. Any thoughts about this, scholars? I love the story of Anna, but also agree we are comparing apples to oranges. I will wait to vote until I hear more about Joseph. Also, regarding Joseph being unclean, would that come from touching the dead? (Can’t be washed away, I don’t think.) But wouldn’t he have just hired someone to handle the body for him?

    • March 10, 2014 - 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Since I had no takers, did my own research to discover that touching the dead CAN be washed away if done on third and seventh days after death. But NEVER if third day is not done. So if I am correct, then Joseph could have participated in Passover, if he made sure to wash his hands on Easter! Love that.

  91. Claudia the sometimes devout's Gravatar Claudia the sometimes devout
    March 10, 2014 - 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Okay, now I get why this is a Lenten discipline. These choices are soul-wrenching, in a Sophie’s Choice kind of way. I don’t want to leave any of these good folks behind, especially since they are clearly better people than me. It almost doesn’t feel right to vote, may God forgive me.

    • Maria's Gravatar Maria
      March 10, 2014 - 4:35 pm | Permalink

      Oh, but, your vote does matter! If anything, the stories of these saints remind us that despite our weaknesses and faults, we can still be beacons of great light and love.

      • Karen Tucker's Gravatar Karen Tucker
        March 10, 2014 - 9:19 pm | Permalink

        Well put Maria! Well put.

  92. Diane Cook's Gravatar Diane Cook
    March 10, 2014 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been waiting for this match up since the brackets were announced. I was prepared to vote for blessed Anna because she is amazing and most people have never heard about her. The sudden passing of mr father-in-law ten days ago, and the wonderfully compassionate funeral directors we dealt with made me realize the sacrifice that Joseph made in not only giving his sacred space for the body of our Lord. and his witness in taking himself out of the community of faith for Passover. There is no looser today. My vote is for Joseph.

    • Maria Kane's Gravatar Maria Kane
      March 10, 2014 - 4:37 pm | Permalink

      So very wise and true: no loser at all. May peace and comfort steady and your family in the days ahead.

  93. Pamm's Gravatar Pamm
    March 10, 2014 - 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I came to the vote in a little anguish. How could they put anyone up against J of A? My heart was immediately torn because of course? I would have to vote for J of A, for all the reasons written above and I would add, not just any new tomb, HIS. With his great wealth, surely he could have purchased another.

    But the point of Lent Madness is to learn and study, so I opened said heart and read J of A’s bio, immediately affirming my admiration for him as I did.

    And then I read AC’s. Said heart began to swell in admiration. And then in inspiration. Imagine, how many did she serve, save and inspire who were the least of His? Wearing two strikes (Black and female) she forged on and on, accomplishing great things for many.

    I love you Joseph, we are all forever indebted to you, but oh Ms. Anna, I must vote for you. Mission accomplished Lent Madness, I learned much today, about two Saints AND myself.

  94. Ellen's Gravatar Ellen
    March 10, 2014 - 3:58 pm | Permalink

    “A State Department official who declined to be named said that the decisions on which quotes to put in the passport were made by the bureau of consular affairs leadership in 2005 after an internal working group narrowed the field. The criteria for choosing quotes included that they come from notable historical figures (all are deceased) and that they reflect motifs depicted on the pages of the passport. (Thomas Jefferson among cactuses?) Most important, the official said in an e-mail, is that the quotes had to be available in the public domain. No risk of copyright challenges allowed.” (from Tough choice but I’m voting for Joe Of A for my Uncle P who has long been a member of a group named for him.

  95. March 10, 2014 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Wow, really tough…I was very drawn to Anna for what she accomplished for so many and herself. I should have voted before reading any comments…but I was swayed by the very first comment saying that J of A performed that final ritual for Jesus even though he wasn’t the kind of person on Jesus’ radar. He was a man of wealth and privilege and he wanted to do the right thing AND he could.

  96. March 10, 2014 - 4:01 pm | Permalink

    This tells us a lot of truly laudable things about Julia Cooper’s life– everything except the place of God in it. So far as I can tell from the description, God is not present at all. For a saint, shouldn’t that matter?

  97. Jane Hawthorne's Gravatar Jane Hawthorne
    March 10, 2014 - 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Loved hearing about Anna, but I was wonder if she professed the Christian faith. It was not mentioned in the bio.

    • Maria's Gravatar Maria
      March 10, 2014 - 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Good point, and a grave omission!
      Anna Julia Cooper did indeed profess her faith as a Christian and it colored many of her beliefs about feminism and uplifting marginalized communities. She often critiqued intellectual and social pursuits that were not driven by one’s Christian faith.

    • Gwin Hanahan's Gravatar Gwin Hanahan
      March 10, 2014 - 5:09 pm | Permalink

      So glad KEW added to the bio information. From KEW’s comment above, here are quotations from Anna, “We look forward with hope and trust that the same God whose guiding hand led our fathers through and out of the gall and bitterness of oppression, will still lead and direct their children, to the honor of His name, and for their ultimate salvation.”
      “We need men and women who do not exhaust their genius splitting hairs on aristocratic distinctions and thanking God they are not as others; but earnest, unselfish souls, who can go into the highways and byways, lifting up and leading, advising and encouraging with the truly catholic benevolence of the Gospel of Christ.”

      Thank you, KEW.

  98. Becki Dean's Gravatar Becki Dean
    March 10, 2014 - 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Boy, this is tough. Julia Cooper’s life was amazing but today I did two memorial services for two beautiful women; both of whom were faithful servants of God. And so today my vote goes to Joseph who prepared our Lord for his burial.

  99. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    March 10, 2014 - 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I have grandchildren who have profited from her example. I have to vote for Anna. Joseph was a good guy and I am glad he did for Jesus what was right but today is Anna’s day.

  100. David Dreisbach's Gravatar David Dreisbach
    March 10, 2014 - 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Joseph prepared the table for the Resurrection. That seems pretty hard to trump.

  101. Julie McCord's Gravatar Julie McCord
    March 10, 2014 - 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m very happy to learn about Anna, but in the end, I must vote for the planter of the Thorn of Glastonbury.

  102. Holy Fool's Gravatar Holy Fool
    March 10, 2014 - 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Joseph, all the way.

  103. Nenya's Gravatar Nenya
    March 10, 2014 - 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Anna all the way, though if he were up against someone less inspiring I’d be tempted towards Joseph. 105 years of service to those left behind by the mainstream–even before the quotes about her faith came out in comments, that seemed a Christlike witness to me.

  104. Mary Wueste's Gravatar Mary Wueste
    March 10, 2014 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m disturbed by the number of comments that were critical of Anna on the basis of not knowing enough about her motivation–was it “Christian” or not? She did with her life what Jesus told all his followers to do. Seems like a slam dunk to me. “Not everyone who saith to me “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he (sic) who doeth the will of my Father in Heaven.” Anna certainly did!

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 10, 2014 - 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Good one, Mary! I voted for Joseph, but I too was bothered by those comments. You summed it up very well!

    • March 10, 2014 - 7:27 pm | Permalink


      • Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
        March 10, 2014 - 7:32 pm | Permalink

        I have just spent the past hour reading all the comments and even though I voted earlier, I must say again that this was a difficult decision. Regarding all the comments on the question of Anna’s faith, I think that just because it was not mentioned, she did what she knew was right and in that way she definitely followed what Jesus would have told her to do.

  105. dr.primrose's Gravatar dr.primrose
    March 10, 2014 - 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Really hard choice. I’m going with Joseph but I really appreciate LM letting us know about Anna Julia Haywood Cooper. Amazing person who should be much better known than she is.

  106. Lauren Stanley's Gravatar Lauren Stanley
    March 10, 2014 - 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Joseph was a very brave man, that is true. As to his being ritually unclean? That probably was only a passing thought to him, since he could have bathed if there was time, and if not, he would have missed but one or two nights of the Passover. Remember, he was a Very Important Person – I’m sure one of the Pharisees would have help him with the ritual cleansing. Anna, on the other hand, went through life being considered by many as unclean and impure merely because of the color of her skin. Yet she not only persevered, she triumphed over all the distrust and hatred and discrimination because she kept her eyes on the prize and never lost faith (and yes, I knew of her Episcopal connections before I voted). So my vote was easy to cast: go with the one Who had staying power, because in my line of ministry, I need all the staying power I can get.

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 10, 2014 - 7:21 pm | Permalink

      What is your line of ministry? Why do you need staying power?

  107. Chris's Gravatar Chris
    March 10, 2014 - 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Hard choice. I am a great fan of Joseph, and have been since I first read about him as a teenager (too many years ago to count), but after reading about Anna, I had to vote for her. My being a retired teacher may have had something to do with the decision.

  108. Brendan O.'s Gravatar Brendan O.
    March 10, 2014 - 7:17 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard for me to cast a vote against Anna Cooper given both her extraordinary example and our hometown connection – my school bus took me past St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh for the 4 years of high school. But Joseph of Armimathea’s service is one of the most touching moments in the Gospels for me, and the Joseph of Arimathea Chapel at the National Cathedral is one of my favorite architectural spaces anywhere, so he gets my vote.

  109. Catherine's Gravatar Catherine
    March 10, 2014 - 8:40 pm | Permalink

    As a late in life Foster/adoptive mother I am a little baised perhaps, but for me it came down to the LIFELONG hard and defiant choices Anna was called to make..and then did so in service of Good, justice and saving at least 5 young lives.

  110. Ann Cooper's Gravatar Ann Cooper
    March 10, 2014 - 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Both worthy, but not voting for my namesake? Impossible!

  111. Georgianna's Gravatar Georgianna
    March 10, 2014 - 9:02 pm | Permalink

    While I love Anna’s story, one of courage and tenacity, I still felt like Joseph of Arimathea was my choice. I have always admired his willing to sacrifice his place to help our Lord. I voted for Joseph!

  112. Susan Russell's Gravatar Susan Russell
    March 10, 2014 - 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Joseph was totally a mensch, but Anna Rocks!

  113. . Steve Sedgwick's Gravatar . Steve Sedgwick
    March 10, 2014 - 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Joseph’s deed was besutiful and compassionate (and probably courageous as well) but here in Oberlin we’re voting for Anna Julia Haywood Cooper. What a remarkable woman and, by the way, just the sort of moral, social, and spiritual leader that Oberlin College was founded to empower.

  114. March 10, 2014 - 10:30 pm | Permalink

    I really feel like voting for Anna: what an amazing, inspiring woman! So much to admire, such perseverance in the face of so much difficulty.
    But as I was reading the comments, it occurred to me that Joseph was a kind of mediator, crossing back and forth between the high-status religious officials and the low-status Jesus followers. That’s a theme I’ve been studying and writing about as a way of being a peacemaker.
    So I think I need to cast my vote for Joseph, who moved down the status ladder to follow Jesus.

  115. David's Gravatar David
    March 10, 2014 - 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Joseph seems to me to be saintly, Anna seems like she did good works.

  116. Irene Cowley's Gravatar Irene Cowley
    March 10, 2014 - 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Again, for me this is a Lenten discipline. I guess that means, here in the Pacific (Daylight!) Time Zone, I don’t really care who wins, but I need to take all day to ponder and pray about my decision. And I have, in the end, gone with Joseph. Not so much because of his claiming and caring for the body of Christ and not for the traditions that link him to the British Isles (although I find that fascinating, but because I think his story speaks to those of us who loudly protest the selfishness and greed of the ‘1%’, without thinking of the individuals who make up that group. Joseph reminds me that there may be saints in the 1% – the individual sometimes must make very difficult decisions to follow ones conscience.
    I feel very close to Anna’s story, living in a multicultural community and working in education. But there are a lot of voices to tell that story and sometimes when we hear a different story, it pays to listen.

    • Jamie Glock's Gravatar Jamie Glock
      March 10, 2014 - 11:22 pm | Permalink

      I voted for Anna after some research and reading many of the posts – but thanks for your observation about Joseph and the 1% – what an insightful perspective. I love LM for the way that it helps us to see people from so many different experiences and points of view.

    • MaurineRuby's Gravatar MaurineRuby
      March 11, 2014 - 10:03 am | Permalink

      Wow, Irene, that it so powerful! Thank you for that perspective.

  117. Jane Cox's Gravatar Jane Cox
    March 11, 2014 - 12:37 am | Permalink

    It’s almost midnight and I’m still not wild about Joseph or Anna. He was was a bit of a wimp but he did something great and redeemed himself. But what else did he do? Anna was driven and not only that, driven for 102 years, Guess I’ll go with Anna.

  118. Tom Stickland's Gravatar Tom Stickland
    March 11, 2014 - 12:47 am | Permalink

    To me.this has been the toughest chioce thus far!
    So many principles that might be applied, to me they seemed to match each other> Finally, on the principle of “clearest impact on my life”. I voted for Joseph.

  119. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    March 11, 2014 - 12:54 am | Permalink

    It seems the theme of today is “independent thought and action”. Remember when Joseph of Aramathea went secretly to visit Jesus ? Joseph needed to know what Jesus really taught without the distraction of haughty, questioners on the sandedrin. You probably remember their conversation about ‘you must be born again’; including Joseph’s initial perplextion. Sometime later, it is Joseph of Aramathea who takes care of the body of Jesus, even supplying a tomb for it.
    Centuries later, the young widow of a priest, quietly defies her administrator and promotes a highly academic curriculum for her minority classroom. Anna Cooper encouraged her students to exceed expectations of the school board—and the students did.
    I voted for Joseph, the one with the steeper learning curve. I admire the quiet persistence shown by Anna & by Joseph, in her & his own time.

  120. N's Gravatar N
    March 11, 2014 - 6:46 am | Permalink

    Although I knew he would probably lose I went with Joseph of Arimathea.

  121. March 11, 2014 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    I have nothing against Joseph, but without the feminist impact on the church, we might not have the opportunities we have to tell a great many people about Joseph.

  122. Christine's Gravatar Christine
    March 11, 2014 - 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Joseph of Aramathea is the most pertinent of these 2 Saints for Lent.

Comments are closed.