Unsaintly Vibes

Shockingly, not everyone loves Lent Madness as much as we do. As the global media frenzy took hold this week, we've noticed a few online comments that have been less than flattering. It would be easy to get indignant, defensive, etc: "But we have God on our side! And saints! And a whole army of Lent Madness fans!"

But the fact is, we just like these quotes too much to let them go unnoticed, even as today's battle between Joan of Arc and Mary Magdalene opens the Round of the Saintly 16. Thus we offer you a few examples for your reading pleasure.

After reading Sara Pagones' witty commentary in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Maria wrote:

"I'm sitting here with mouth a-gape. It feels like this exercise mocks all that's holy. Is it just me? I would think there would be other "fun" ways to introduce the participants to the lives of the saints without offending the sensabilities (sic) of other Christians."

If we were literally able to "mock all that's holy," I'd say that's a pretty impressive accomplishment, wouldn't you? I mean, there's an awful lot of holy stuff out there. And, as one subsequent commenter put it, "Oh, Maria...Seriously? This is a great way to get people more involved with their faith. Come on, girl--lighten up! PS: Yes, it's just you."

Robin Jarrell posted the following on our Facebook fan page:

"I find this whole endeavor very troubling. Look at the wording: "pits" and "smackdown" recalls the roman gladiatorial games where some of our dearest saints were martyred. Wasn't it the Roman Empire that killed Jesus as non-violent threat to Caesar? I guess this type of genuflecting to the American Empire is what happens when we leave the leadership of the church the hands of a couple of boys."

Our initial reaction to this one was "she called us leaders of the church!" Then we replied: "Actually, the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the USA belongs to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies. They are not boys. On the other hand, Lent Madness is meant to be fun. If it is not fun for you, we're sorry. Really. Others are enjoying the festivities while they learn about God's work in the lives of women and men through history." Plus, it's no longer called "genuflecting." It's Tebowing.

This from "markstra" on the Religious News Service website:

"There is NO scriptural support for Lent nor churches creating “saints” either. Every Believer in Jesus since 30 AD has been a saint and all Believers who follow Jesus’ teachings in modern times are saints."

Well, besides Jesus wandering in the wilderness for 40 days. Sounds like someone needs to take their three-legged stool (Scripture, Tradition, Reason) in for repair.

Ultimately, we realize that Lent Madness is not for everyone. Some might even resent the Colbert-esque pomposity of the Supreme Executive Committee. The good news is that while Lent is not optional for Christians, Lent Madness is. Sure it's their loss and, as we like to say, "There's nothing worse than a humorless Christian." Or, as Tim was quoted eloquently stating in the Toledo Blade, "If God doesn't have a sense of humor, I'm hosed."

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A Statement on Virginia by the Supreme Executive Committee

Angry Mob

A misinformed angry mob tried to confront the Supreme Executive Committee


Erroneous Lent Madness Readers Corrected

March 13, 2012

In our recent post on Lent Madness, the Supreme Executive Committee asserted that Virginia is named for the Virgin Mary. Some people claimed that this is false, and that Virginia is allegedly named for Elizabeth I of England, the "Virgin Queen." The SEC knows that, in fact, the Commonwealth of Virginia was named by recusants and that, ipso facto, the referent is to none other than the Ever-blessed Virgin Mary.

Remember, if you disagree with us, you are also disagreeing with the Our Lord's Mother, who is still mighty and important, even though she didn't make this year's bracket.


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"March" Madness? We're Suing

Evidently there's a college basketball tournament starting this week with the word "Madness" in the title. Who knew? Please don't worry, though. The Lent Madness Legal Team will be filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against the NCAA right after we finish copyrighting the term "Lent" and patenting the color purple.

Just out of curiosity, we examined the newly-released March Madness bracket. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, we were pleased to see that some saints have infiltrated the bracket. Seriously. So who knows? They may even have to change the pedestrian-sounding "National Championship" to the Golden Halo?

Here's what we discovered in our detailed analysis of the bracket.

Schools named for the Virgin Mary:

St. Mary's - 7 seed

Virginia - 10 seed

West Virginia - 10 seed

Notre Dame - 7 seed


Schools named for various saints:

San Diego State - 6 seed

Saint Louis - 9 seed

St. Bonaventure - 14 seed

Loyola - 15 seed

Davidson - 13 seed

Xavier - 10 seed

Schools named for religious institutions or communities:

Temple - 5 seed

Iona - 14 seed

Granted most of these saintly-named or themed teams don't have a prayer. But here's hoping a saint wins this other tournament taking place this month. Perhaps it will even spring-board the winner into next year's real tournament: Lent Madness.

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Yes, Virginia, there is a St. Nicholas

Here at Lent Madness, we take seriously our commitment to answer the bags and bags of viewer mail that we receive each day. Following St. Nicholas’ defeat at the hands of Evelyn Underhill on Friday, one letter in particular caught our eye and we thought we’d share it with you.

Dear Lent Madness Supreme Executive Committee,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Saint Nicholas. Papa says, “If you see it on www.lentmadness.org, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Saint Nicholas?

Virginia O’Sanctity

Well, we couldn't leave precious Virginia wondering about the existence of Saint Nicholas so we sent her this letter in reply:

Dear Virginia,

Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a pre-Lent Madness age. Like a saint named Thomas who once doubted Jesus’ resurrection (and then lost to Enmegahbowh), they do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be a great intellectual’s like St. Jerome (who was responsible for translating Scripture into Latin in the edition known as the Vulgate and will soon be facing off against Philander Chase in the Round of the Saintly Sixteen) or a child’s, are little.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Saint Nicholas. Even though he somehow lost to Evelyn Underhill in the first round of Lent Madness, he exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Saint Nicholas! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias or Lent Madness.

Not believe in Saint Nicholas! You might as well not believe in Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Thomas Cranmer or the Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness. Nobody sees Saint Nicholas, but that is no sign that there is no Saint Nicholas. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor adults can see. Did you ever see Scott and Tim filming “Monday Madness?” Of course not, but that’s no proof that they only exist inside your computer.

No Saint Nicholas! Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of children who participate in Lent Madness. Even if he likely would have lost to St. Margaret of Scotland in the next round.

Sincerely yours,

The Supreme Executive Committee

PS. Good luck with your weekend case of LMW (Lent Madness Withdrawal) and know that voting resumes tomorrow at 8:00 am with Rose of Lima battling Brigid of Kildare.

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Monday Madness -- On Epic Battles and PBS Sensations

This week Tim and Scott review the action-packed battles of the week, look at how the Saintly 16 is shaping up, and talk about the new sensation sweeping PBS.

Enjoy more videos on the Lent Madness video channel.

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Sing a New Song?

Here at Lent Madness we've been putting out the call for a theme song. Why? Because every hot product / business / organization / character/TV show has one -- like McDonalds ("I'm lovin' it") or Cheers ("Where everybody knows your name") or Brylcream ("A little dab'll do ya").

We thought about following the trend of today's advertisers and using an already-recorded song like U2's "The Saints are Coming" but decided not to risk getting sued by Bono. Plus he's probably sick of Episcopalians using his music anyway. Watch Tim on a 2006 segment of ABCs Nightline about the "U2charist." Then watch him getting mocked for it on Comedy Central's The Daily Show.

So we're looking for original lyrics/tunes and a few of you have submitted them. Or if not original tunes, at least ones where the copyright is in the public domain.

Here's one from Lent Madness early adopter, haiku-meister, and  Diocese of Southeast Florida Communications Director Mary Cox. Obviously it's sung to the tune of "For All the Saints."

For all the saints, who in Lent Madness clash,
were we to wager, we’d need lots of cash,
so here we’re merely cyber-talking trash.
Alleluia, etc….

The Golden Halo glimmers in the sun,
awaiting that most holy saint who’s won—
who says that Lent should not be any fun!
Alleluia, etc….


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Protecting the Halo!

What's an election without a bit of controversy? The Supreme Executive Committee of the Province of Lent Madness (aka Tim and Scott) has discovered that a few among us have been abusing the system by casting more than a handful of votes. Okay, it was Scott. He of the "I-used-to-work-for-IBM-before-I-became-a-priest" pedigree. Plus, he's naturally distrustful of humanity.

Rest assured this has not affected the final outcome of any of the match-ups. But it has caused us to consider a loose policy on the issue. Basically, in order to protect the integrity of Lent Madness we're asking you to vote once. If you can't restrain your passion and have access to an extra computer or mobile device, we can overlook your enthusiasm. But, unless you're Bill Gates (saint or devil depending on your perspective), you likely don't have 17 computers.

I'll take some responsibility for this phenomenon because at one point I wrote a throw away line (I'm full of these) on our Facebook page that "All's fair in love and Lent Madness." Of course I also wrote on the "About Lent Madness" page: "We hope you’ll participate fully this Lent and vote with reckless abandon! (Once — this isn’t Chicago)." To which Diocese of Chicago priest and blogger Cynthia Hallas responded "Actually, Tim, for some of us this is Chicago." Fair enough.

So what happens if you abuse the system? Several people have had their access to the Lent Madness site revoked. This is obviously not what we want to do. Since this is a season of forgiveness, we have heard the e-mail pleas of those repenting of their actions and promising amendment of life and have reinstated them.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, referring to the NFL logo, speaks often about "protecting the shield." We are here to "Protect the Halo." Plus we're against concussions.

We hope you're enjoying Lent Madness thus far and we absolutely encourage partisanship. Rather than multiple votes, however, we encourage outlandish campaigning and even mud slinging ("All's fair," remember). And perhaps next year we'll include St. (Hanging) Chad of Lichfield.



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Stick(er) it to Me

Some people (Penny Nash among them) have asked me whether they get a sticker for voting in Lent Madness. Evidently this is customary at some polling places around the country. Unfortunately here at Lent Madness we don't have fancy stickers, just mugs and books.

However if you really want a sticker with a cross on it, I do have a suggestion: go give blood. Your sticker will inevitably bear a red cross but that's rather holy looking, I'd say. Plus, percentage-wise, give blood and you'll have an excellent chance to score some Cheez-Its.

Speaking of giving blood, Florence Nightingale actually made it into last year's Lent Madness and defeated St. David before succumbing to Clare of Assisi in a very close Saintly Sixteen battle. If any of you saintologists are into Lent Madness nostalgia, you can read about it here.

But seriously, we're delighted that so many of you have been voting -- we're averaging about 2,000 votes per contest so far -- and commenting. Keep it up! The comments alone are worth reading through. We love hearing why people are motivated to pull the lever (proverbially) for a particular candidate or what other tidbits they may know about the saints involved. Plus, we encourage trash talking.

Keep up the voting and thanks for helping make the first few days of Lent Madness so much fun!

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Invitation to a Holy Lent Madness

At Ash Wednesday liturgies throughout the world, Christians will be invited by their parish clergy into the observance of a holy Lent. Here at Lent Madness we pray that everyone will have their souls enlivened during this transformative season of the Church year. Of course, we believe that your soul will be all the more enlivened by your participation in Lent Madness.

Therefore we have written an invitation to be read at all "Ash Thursday" liturgies to make sure everyone engaging in Lent Madness does so with the appropriate attitude of the heart. Although approval of this invitation by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music is pending, it has been fully authorized for trial use by the Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness (ie. Scott and Tim). Nonetheless, please don't share this with their respective bishops as they will deny any knowledge of said invitation.

Invitation to the Observance of a Holy Lent Madness

Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence, fasting, and Lent Madness. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism and taught to vote for their favorite saints by logging onto www.lentmadness.org. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins in refusing to engage in Lent Madness, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church – but only after proving their worth by purchasing a Lent Madness mug. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith by participating in Lent Madness.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, the Supreme Executive Committee, and our “celebrity bloggers,” to the observance of a holy Lent Madness, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, voting in a timely fashion, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Lent Madness. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord and our computer, only one of which is our maker and redeemer.

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2012 Calendar Released

Lent Madness kicks off this Thursday with a battle between Joan of Arc and Lancelot Andrewes. This match-up and the rest of the Lent Madness 2012 schedule has just been released. It will all culminate with the championship round on "Spy Wednesday," April 4th, and the awarding of the Golden Halo. Click 2012 Lent Madness Calendar to view a printable calendar.

So, if you're looking to campaign for a particular saintly contender, you'll know exactly when to put on the full court press. Or initiate the smear campaign.


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