Peter vs. Esther

Congratulations! You've stuck with Lent Madness as a Lenten devotion and the field has been whittled down from 32 saints to eight. After a long and winding road, we have made it to the Round of the Elate Eight. There is now light at the end of the Golden Halo and by the end of the week we’ll be down to the Faithful Four.

We begin this round with an epic battle of Biblical proportions as Peter faces Esther. To make it this far, Peter defeated Paul and John the Evangelist while Esther got past Lazarus of Bethany and Michael the Archangel. The remaining matchups in this round are Phocas the Gardener vs. Richard Hooker, Martin de Porres vs. Maria Skobtsova, and Anna Alexander vs. Eglantyne Jebb. One of these eight will win the 2018 Golden Halo.

The Elate Eight is also known as the Saintly Kitsch round. After basic biographies, quotes and quirks, what else could there be? There are always some folks who take offense to this approach — we call them Kitsch Kranks. Tim and Scott discussed this in yesterday's edition of Monday Madness. This is not to belittle or demean our saintly heroes but to have some fun and gaze in wide wonder at the breadth of devotional practice. So kindly relax and enjoy the spirit of the Madness as we push ever onward to our goal.


St. ItaIn his afterlife, St. Peter is perhaps best known for his important work guarding the gates of heaven. It’s a tough job, and who better than a repentant sinner to welcome the rest of us, in our varying degrees of holiness? Here he is looking down upon St. Ita (left) and (right) singing a duet with popstar Amy Winehouse, who died of a drug overdose in 2011.Amy winehouse and St. Peter




Jokes starring St. Peter often make fun of--or laud--certain professions. Here’s one knocking mine:

A minister dies and is waiting in line at the Pearly Gates. Ahead of him is a guy wearing a leather jacket, and jeans.
Saint Peter asks, "Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?"

The guy replies, "I’m Joe, taxi driver, New York City native."

St. Peter consults his list, smiles, and says to the taxi driver, "Take this silken robe and golden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
The taxi driver goes into Heaven, and it’s the minister’s turn.
He stands proudly and booms out, "I am Joseph Snow, pastor of Calvary Church.”

St Peter consults his list. "Take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
"Just a minute," says the minister. "That man was a taxi driver, and he gets a silken robe and golden staff? How can this be?!"

"Up here, we work by results," says Saint Peter. "While you preached, people slept; while he drove, people prayed."

As a minister myself, if I get in, I expect I’ll be wearing cotton in the kingdom.

Key with St. Peter imageIf you’re worried whether Peter will open the gates for you, try this work around: A key with the Rock of the Church’s saintly image on it. The pendant is sure to function just like a retina scan and send those gates swinging wide! (How much security can there really be up there, anyway?)Oil with St. Peter label

You could also try some ‘Success’ scented essential oils, named after Peter because people pray to him to remove obstacles. But buyer beware: Peter’s version of success involves getting crucified upside down, then fast-tracked to heaven.

Stationary You might also start pleading your case early with this personalized St. Peter stationary. Conversely, if you’re a prankster, you might order the paper printed with Peter’s address and send threatening letters to people who--in your humble opinion--need to shape up in order to pass through the Pearly Gates.


Of course, the veneration of Peter goes well beyond our self-serving concerns about who will be allowed into God’s Kingdom.  People admire him for his good works andPrayer Candle guidance of the early church.  Genuine fans of Peter can purchase saintly statues on Amazon, but again beware of Etsy, where a search for St. Peter might turn up this votive candle featuring the dubiously sainted Evan Peters, star of the show American Horror Story and available for purchase online.

T shirtThe most devout of Peter fans might choose to honor his inverted crucifixion by wearing an upside down cross or this feminine fitted tee that simply screams, “Yes, I have a trim waist and want to show of  my Michelle NecklaceObama arms, but I love me some St. Peter!”


Peter tshirtPersonally, I’ll be buying myself and the Rev. David Sibley matching Sts. Peter and Paul shirts to commemorate this year’s bracket. David, did you want to show off your guns, or shall I buy you the man tee?



-Amber Belldene


EstherThe hard part about being a super-secret, Sydney-Bristow-spy-saint is that the kitsch you have is so secret as to be hard to detect.

However, my Lenten compadres, this should not suggest to you that Queen Esther is without swag. By no means! Just that you need to know where and how to look.

For starters, cast thine eyes upon this figurine of Saint Esther. This is a prop from a play about a Hispanic family in New Mexico, that discovers they are descended from the conversos who fled Spain during the Inquisition. Seen one way, the image of Saint Esther. Flipped upside down, you can see the figures of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea through the parted waters at the hand of Moses—hidden in plain sight.

Esther, please recall, is all about the power of holding onto your God-given identity, even when everything in the world would have you abandon it. This is a powerful message, and speaks to us even today. Yea, and behold, even if humans were silent, the very vegetables would cry aloud this message, for Esther’s tale was retold by the redoubtable bards of Veggie Tales (please ignore the creepiness of their lack of arms or hands, and how they yet manage to manipulate objects.) If you have a spare 40 minutes in your life, it’s all on YouTube.

My personal favorite retelling of Esther’s story, however, is by BimBam, which will having you chanting “GO ESTHER! GO ESTHER!” If you want something more advanced, Joan Collins made a movie about Esther. Yes, THAT Joan Collins, darling. Come for the guys in hats playing bongos, stay for Haman on drugs!

Maybe that is not enough for you, however. Perhaps you need a tangible reminder to be your true, God-given self at all times. In which case, might I direct your gaze upon this selection of tiaras? Indeed, the internet is such a wonderful place that it has given to us a Tiara Town, where one can purchase not only a tiara to remind yourself to always be the self God wants you to be, but matching tiaras for all your pets.

Finally, we all know it takes courage, persistence, and stamina to resist unjust regimes. It is not easy, and it is not a quick fix. So, in all seriousness, I think Esther would be all about the Southern Poverty Law Center right now. With hate crimes seeing a meteoric rise across the country, their work in identifying and stopping hate groups in the United States is more needed than ever. After white supremacists murdered a woman in Charlottesville over the summer, they have redoubled their efforts, releasing this list of ten ways you, like Esther, can fight hatred where you are.

All of us have a role to play—whether we choose to wear a tiara or just to watch that insane Joan Collins movie on repeat. God calls on each one of us to make this a more just and loving world, as Esther tried to.

-Megan Castellan


Peter vs. Esther

  • Esther (51%, 3,495 Votes)
  • Peter (49%, 3,358 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,853

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234 comments on “Peter vs. Esther”

    1. Amen! Amen! Amen. This is as gripping as the Pennsylvania Congressional race last week! Except there will be no "losers" here!

    2. In the southern version of Peter at the pearly Gate, he says, "You boys hop in the back of the pickup and I'll take you up to the big house!" Going for Esther.

    3. I so love Peter and Ms. Belldene you did well! It’s nice to laugh during this time. And that was a HOOT! Ms. Castellan you ALWAYS win me over! Esther❤️

          1. Snark Snark. Voting for ESTHER is just fine, and I'll get into Heaven. Probably, you will too.

    1. Don't overlook the Veggie Tales for Esther. I'm voting for Peter, however, maybe to make up for going with Paul and John in previous rounds.

  1. "God calls on each one of us to make this a more just and loving world, as Esther tried to." Words for today!


  2. I voted for Esther because of Megan’s write up, even though I’m sure Peter will win this round.

  3. Nothing against Peter but I go for Esther's courage and faith as a woman who is honored in the Jewish faith tradition...and is one of the few women to get a book of the Bible named for her!!

  4. Peter is amazing. The only reason people wouldn’t vote for him is because he said he didn’t know Jesus. But of course that’s just part of being human, everyone makes mistakes.

    1. I'm with you, Hill, I've made plenty of them in my lifetime! Been voting for both Peter and Esther each round, so I'm still waffling, so I'll think on it some more before voting.

  5. I began by trying to decide who might prevail over Hooker. Chuckled my way through Peter's kitsch; was sure I would vote for him. The SPLC link reminded me what this is all about and I voted for Esther.

  6. Ooohh - close! Peter certainly wins on kitsch, but I think wins on genuine I-can-relate-to-that humanity too, and look where he ended up!

    By the way (pedant alert) Peter might be stationary at the Pearly Gates, but you'd want to write to him on stationery. At least, here in the UK that's how it goes, apologies if it's different in the U S of A .
    Have a blessed Lent, everyone.

    1. I have noticed several times this Lent Madness that the first draft tends to hit the streets without benefit of a copy editor. I suspect God feels the same way about these things as she does about ties in church...St Peter ain't checkin' spelling and attire at the PGs.

  7. Esther all the way. To me, heaven's gatekeeper is outweighed by this woman of courage, who stood up to evil, risking her own life to save others. Faith without works is a cotton robe.

    1. Peter brings hope to all because of his denials. But through all that, he was the first of the disciples to recognize Jesus as ‘the Christ, the son of the Living God’ and he was charged by Jesus to ‘tend My sheep, feed My sheep’ He made missteps all along the way, but if Jesus chose him to lead the other disciples in working to form the church, he has my vote.

    1. The BimBam episode is entertaining, especially the part about the cookies! I am still (and have been for years) partial to the Veggie Tales version of Esther’s story; and finally, the reversible figure of Esther/Hebrews at the Red Sea is totally cool.

      1. They have been fighting hatred for decades. They help majorly defund the Klan in the very early 1980s. If you think they are too political, you might want to reflect on why you feel that way.

        1. Our rector recently reminded us that Jesus IS political. It's politics that saves us humans from ourselves, and SPLC is a terrific guard dog. Their mission is "Fighting Hate, Teaching Tolerance, and Seeking Justice." That sounds pretty biblical to me.

          1. Amen, Miss Susan. Voted for Esther, noting that from here on to the Halo, every candidate is worthy and I voted for all of them in the first round.

  8. Peter welshed on Jesus, denying him three times, whereas Esther risked her own life for her people. To me, her behavior was Christ-like.

  9. Esther stood her ground in an era of madness, not only against a group of people but also of women.

    1. You are correct. He definitely has the cross showing in His halo (a honor no one else in iconography is given) and His name in Greek appears by His head (the name of the person shown always appears near them in Greek in correctly written iconography). Additionally Jesus isn't holding any keys. Maybe the SEC should make sure Amber Belidene sees an optometrist during Eastertide.

  10. Jesus's love for and faith in Peter, the repentant screw-up who says too much at all the inappropriate times, gives me hope.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Voted for Peter as well. His willingness to recognize mistakes and turn back to Jesus, a hero!

    2. Peter is my choice for second chances and my vote, but the Esther kitsch is awesome!

    1. I do not like Veggie Tales at all! My OT prof in seminary told us that is she ever heard us mention them to her she would lower our grade as they fail to tell the stories as written in the Bible. Ido indeed vote for Easter for her bravery and love for her people at the risk of her own life.

  11. Peter reminds me that I can fail to be the type of Christian that I should be, and still be beloved of God. He's failings give me hope that God has a higher purpose for me. Esther is cool, but Peter gives me hope.

  12. Peter is dear but, in this day and time, my heart is with those who stand up against the Hamon's of the world.

  13. I am perplexed and fatigued at this point, attributes & kitsch are not reasonating today to make a decision. I had to revert to Excel, Random number generator, saying if the mean and standard deviation of a column of 75 number was even, Ester wins, if odd, Peter.

    Calculation yielded: Mean=0.5139, Standard Deviation=0.2749 Peter takes it.

    Hoping for insiration tomorrow

  14. For one of the loveliest women I know and for my favorite aunt — sister of my grandmother — Go Esther! Storm those pearly gates!

  15. "I yam who I yam,", said the Lutheran valiantly attempting to learn a little more. Vote Esther!