Phillips Brooks vs. Julia Chester Emery

The second match-up of the Elate Eight pits a renowned preacher and bishop against a tireless lay woman. Both were spiritual giants, although at six foot six and nearly 300 pounds, Brooks was also a physical giant.

To get to this point, Phillips Brooks defeated Simeon and Catherine of Siena while Julia Chester Emery was victorious over Charles Henry Brent and F.D. Maurice. Don't forget you can see all the previous match-ups to refresh your memory about the contestants by going to the bracket page and scrolling down.

Yesterday saw Lydia sneak past Basil the Great in another squeaker 51% to 49%. Yowza! Fortunately there was no great scandal with this battle as there was in the Charles Wesley/Thomas Merton match-up. To put everyone at ease, please know the Supreme Executive Committee keeps Jimmy Carter on retainer as an impartial election observer. Also, one member of the SEC used to work for IBM so BIG FATHER is always watching.

Maple Anglican has released his daily Archbishops' Update featuring everyone's favorite Lent Madness colour commentators. which you can watch here. And we're getting closer to our goal of 10,000 likes on Facebook before the Golden Halo as we're now pushing 9,740. Spread the word!

unnamedPhillips Brooks

Phillips Brooks’ Trinity Church was the first Episcopal Church I ever entered. It was 1980, and The Empire Strikes Back had been released that summer (retain this important detail). I was on a college orientation trip to Boston with 400 other freshman, and one stop was Copley Square. Trinity Church beckoned and, as I stepped inside, the spectacular sacred space of Brooks’ imagination stunned me. Christian and Missionary Alliance churches didn’t look anything like this.

But enough of this reverie! Let’s get to the saintly kitsch!


A cursory search for Phillips Brooks treasures on Zazzle turns up the usual pithy quote-bedecked beer stein and travel mug, both a whopping $29.95, and sporting a particularly Victorian-sounding epigram: “Jesus Christ, the condescension of divinity, and the exaltation of humanity.”

The young children in your life might like this O Little Town of Bethlehem stocking stuffer pop-up book on Amazon.A visit to the web store of the Phillips Brooks Elementary School in Menlo Park, California, turns up the requisite long-sleeved t-shirt for only$29.99.

unnamedBut where are the items of devotion for a man whom Peter Gomes described as the most famous American preacher since Cotton Mather? Where are the commemorative goods for the first American minister to be invited to preach at Westminster Abbey? The man who had 15,000 Bostonians turn up for his funeral.

Where, where you ask? The answer, in a word, is Ebay.

My first find is this rather spectacular lithograph with a quote from one of Brooks’ sermons can now be  yours for $89.99 OBO. “O, do not pray for easy lives! Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks!” it begins.

That first search led to dozens, nay, tens of dozens of vintage Brooks books and memorabilia. For just $3.00 youunnamed can own a lovely volume from 1908 titled, Jewels of Phillips Brooks. It contains color plates and pithy quotes from his sermons and is way better (and cheaper) than a coffee mug.

unnamedThere is even a Phillips Brooks precursor to Forward Day by Day published shortly before his death, a “yearbook” that offers “day by day guidance to live a meaningful life, for yourself and for others.”

One of the most remarkable finds is this 1953 wall calendar that commemorates Phillips Brooks. 1953! Such was the appeal of his preaching and wisdom and the longevity of his reputation that 60 years after his death people were still buying calendars upon which to note their dentist appointments. You can own this “used not abused” calendar for a mere $12.99 plus $3.00 for shipping.unnamed

unnamedBut now we must return to Copley Square in 1980. Somehow upon entering the church I missed the famous statue of Brooks by the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens that was installed in 1910. Saint-Gaudiens had intended to place a stylized angelic figure behind Brooks. But, alas, he died in 1907 before it was completed. However, a group of artists decided a depiction of Jesus would be better. Unfortunately they designed the creepiest Jesus ever cast in bronze, whom I would have immediately identified, having seen The Empire Strikes Back three times that summer, as Emperor Palpatine.

Here’s what I believe: The real and loving Jesus steered me clear of the creepy statue-Jesus and led me into unnamedTrinity Church, because having seen it first, I would have turned around and gone to get a coffee at the old Harvard Book Store Cafe on Newbury Street. Instead I entered and the beauty and peace of that sacred space lodged itself in my heart and opened a door for a new way of thinking about the mystery of God.

Thank you, Phillips Brooks. Without your life and witness and your perseverance in building that stunning church, I might have turned out to be a CMA missionary in some remote, buggy place with spotty Internet and poisonous snakes.

 -- Heidi Shott


Julia Chester Emery

unnamedAlthough her influence in the Episcopal church was far-reaching (remember how as national secretary of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Board of Missions for the Episcopal Church from 1876 to 1916 she visited EVERY DIOCESE and set up more than 5,600 chapters of what is now the Episcopal Church Women (ECW)? How she visited missions all over the Far East as well? And how she championed the canonical office of deaconess? And how she created the United Thank Offering (UTO)?), Julia Chester Emery’s actual likeness appears on … basically nothing. As Forward Movement notes: "She was a modest and self-effacing Victorian lady who was so careful to stay out of the limelight …"

unnamedStill, as such a major figure in the church and in the world through her encouragement and support of missionaries (we know that she was a major inspiration for all sorts of wonderful things. For instance, look at all these Julia dolls! Clearly she is the model for the cute baby, the adorable toddler wearing Crocs, AND the demure teen. Clearly she is the model for the “My Friend Julia” machine washable doll!


unnamedunnamed(OK, and this last doll is actually inspired by Christina the Astonishing, who, sadly, did not survive the first round even though lots of people wanted to see what sort of kitsch she inspired, so here you go.)unnamed

She also clearly inspired the trucking industry! How many people can say that?

unnamedAlso, check out this toast rack in the “Julia” pattern from Royal Winton china. Perfect for holding your Virgin Mary and/or Jesus toast. (There are salt and pepper shakers, teapots, and other lovelies in the Julia pattern, too.)

Naturally, Julia also inspired such important and useful items as key chains. See?unnamed

_DSC8634Now, all of these other Julia-inspired items are available for purchase, somewhere. (Well, maybe not the truck.) However, there’s another Julia item that is unique and priceless, and I own it. It’s almost like a relic. This is a raku pottery UTO box (circa 2000) made by my son when he was in elementary school.

So vote for Julia and send her to the round of the Faithful Four!

-- Penny Nash


Phillips Brooks vs Julia Chester Emery

  • Phillips Brooks (51%, 2,281 Votes)
  • Julia Chester Emery (49%, 2,203 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,483

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115 comments on “Phillips Brooks vs. Julia Chester Emery”

  1. O, do not pray for easy lives! Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks!”
    This inspired my vote today!

  2. Hi Penny,
    I am completely on the same page with you on the UTO box that you have. I have a terra cotta figurine that my daughter made and if Bill Gates his own self offered me his entire fortune for it, I would laugh my most scornful laugh in his face and point to the door. Remove your unsightly presence from my sight sir. Before I apply my foot to your unsightly buttocks.
    But I digress.
    Phillips Brooks gets my vote today!

  3. Our humble yet lovable, and surely esteemed guest commentators are working much to hard. Please consider a 15% increase in their renumeration.

  4. Although I voted for Julia in the last two rounds,. this time Phillips Brooks got my vote. One of the reasons is that there is a statue of him along with other saints in (on) the pulpit of my church., Cathedral Church of St Luke, Orlando, FL .

  5. This is my lesson for the day, I've know about the UTO boxes of course, but, never knew they were started by an Episcopal woman.......Sorry Phil, you did great work but Julia reigns!

  6. I was tempted to vote for Brooks for the most provincial of reasons; he is a fellow alum of the Boston Latin School. As a Unitarian Universalist and a latecomer to LM, I was unaware of Julia Chester Emery. Her story is so inspiring! Thank you to all the commentators for helping me to vote for her. Church Ladies Arise!

  7. The choice between Emery and Maurice was relatively easy (one of the few times I picked a winner), but the choice between Emery and Brooks is more difficult. However, I will stick with Emery, for the same trivial personal reason as before: the UTO mite box in-gathering at Washington Cathedral in the late 1940s was the epiphany which set my life's goal.

  8. Oh, another day in Lent Madness Paradise! Voting for Brooks. And I'm ordering my calendar, despite creepy Jesus......

  9. How ominous to see Brooks in the lead but I will not, I will not, I will not desert the most outstanding churchwoman of all time. Plus that, the head of the Diocese of TN Churchwomen is a good friend and the Head of our DOK is a good friend and it would be like deserting them both. In their honor, JCE gets my vote + the Julia kitsch really is the pits so she needs all the help she can get. Only Mario Bitali...Batali...whatever.. (sp) runs around on the CHEW in those gross Crocs. Has he prepared a snail dish lately, dear Madeleine?

  10. Julia was admirable, but I have to vote for Phillips Brooks--the preacher and hymn writer whose words still proclaim the Gospel and persuade hearts so clearly.

  11. I think that the content of today's biographical statements is tilted toward Brooks and will influence the voting. Think about it. You showed books, sculptures, and the most powerful man in the Star Wars universe as images for Brooks. And for Emery, you showed dolls (and one frighteningly unanatomically correct doll at that!) and an "I heart Julia" keychain! I smell patriarchy. And I voted to Emery just to balance the scales a little.

  12. Fickle filly that I am, I voted based on the writeup for today's round and not by the saint's deeds. I'm sure there's some theologian out there with a 'salvation by kitsch, not works' premise. So, I went with Brooks when I otherwise would have voted for Emery.

  13. Today I am voting for Julia, but not because of the little blue boxes - the time for mite boxes has come and gone - but rather because we are approaching Holy Week and her quite, strong work reminds me of the good work of the altar guild members, many, many communions, changing of hangings, and flower, candle [and smells and bells] arrangements all in one week [depending on how High Church yours happens to be]. Many things "just happen" because of the work of people who have no memorials or "kitsch". Here's a vote for Julia, buried in the church of St. James the Less, from an upstate New York parish member of another St. James church (Please note that Winchester county is NOT upstate to us). Julia probably did not have hundreds of people turn out for her funeral, but she represents the saint in all of us.

  14. For me, there are two kinds of saints. There are saints that are larger than life and inspire us with their words, their writings, and their music. Then there are the saints that inspire us by the way they lived their lives. Brooks is a larger than life saint and Julia a saint that inspires us by her action. I tend to vote for the ones that inspire us through their actions as they have not received enough recognition even though they have made as much of a contribution, just in a quieter way. I hope that we will recognize one of the quieter Saints with the Golden Halo this year and Julia is a great candidate!

  15. Blue boxes! Great graphic idea. Julia is not competing adequately with Phillips today on the graphics. I'm surprised the doll thing hit me so hard, because I'm usually pretty relaxed about things like that. I like what Patricia said, that sometimes there is not kitsch (or adequate kitsch) for people, especially women, but there are strong, strong people behind the symbols who change the world.

  16. I love PB because of :O Little town"; sang it in the grotto at Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and was moved to tears. But I also saw/witnessed what those little blue boxes do in Palestine. So it has to be JCE for me!

  17. I once attended a UTO Ingathering in the Diocese of Chicago's cathedral.

    The Bishop of Alaska was the preacher, and after he stomped across the marble floor in his boots (leaving the poor verger trailing behind him), he told us about the airplane that the UTO had bought for his diocese. He called it the "Blue Box" and it made possible his visits to the remote congregations of Alaska.

    The apostolic ministry, the preaching, teaching, and shepherding, could not happen without the tools made available by selfless giving,even if it is pennies in a mite box on my dresser.

    Julia Chester Emery for the win today! And thanks!

    1. I love the picture of UTO helping the Bishop of Alaska to minister to the remote congregations of the Diocese. Maybe there is still a place for mite boxes, or e-versions of them. This tie-in to Julia's legacy of UTO and ministry to, at that time, "remote regions" Japan, China, Hong Kong and the Philippines is wonderful. Please add your vote for Julia! I have already cast mine... [As one of those who helps keep our holy spaces "welcoming" by cleaning up, I'm less thrilled about the boots thing... ]

    2. So you saw Bishop Gordon, the flyer of the "Blue Box?" They called the plane the blue box but it actually is yellow. There is a replica of it in the museum in Fairbanks. One of the many benefits that may dioceses receive from the UTO

  18. At this point I start considering who I will be creating a crochet figure of for the hall of fame. Julia could use a little more kitsch so that's that.
    I did notice the name Phillips Brooks under the daily prayer on the back of my Forward Day by Day and thought, hey, I know that name!
    Thanks Lent Madness for bringing both of them to me.

  19. There are some saints who say and write wonderful things to inspire generations. They leave a living legacy. There are some saints who do amazing things. They leave an inspirationsl legacy. Today I vote for the doer who inspires me with her amazing life. Go Julia.

  20. Have to go with JCE... she has her own semi! Perhaps Alcuin can formulate some math word problems ala... how many full blue boxes can fit in a full semi, and after crossing five rivers at an average eco friendly speed of 55 mph..., how many people will her efforts help? 🙂

  21. I imagine that the two people in today's match knew each other... each inspiring the other. I have to vote for Phillips Brooks whose quotes and legacy at Virginia Seminary were foundational for me.

  22. This was a tough one, but since PB penned the prayer on the back cover of Forward Day by Day (which I pray every day), I feel we have a closer relationship.

  23. julia chester emery uto

    A Google search on that phrase and this blog post is on the first page of results. Perhaps that is kitsch for Julia Chester Emery?

    It's interesting to read the comments. I went with Phillips and his abundance of kitsch to give him my vote, but now informed by some other viewpoints, I would have been nail biting to make my decision. I have new sympathy for how Julia's lack of kitsch could support giving her a vote.

    Only one saint can have my vote to earn this year's golden halo. I do appreciate all the 32 wonderful people that started in this year's fun madness.

  24. Penny is my friend. I studied Greek at a CMA college (Toccoa Falls) before going to seminary at Emory (the TFC folks weren't too sure about me...). Penny tried oh, so hard to overcome not the dearth, but the non-existence of kitsch. But Heidi and the Reverend Mr. Brooks caught me with all that stuff. And I didn't even vote for him on the first round. Sorry, Penny!