Stave Off LMW With Sunday Entertainments

Saturday morning, the world -- or at least the American East Coast -- awoke to the news that Nicholas Ridley had been re-martyred by John of the Cross (79% - 21%). We'd say he "went up in flames" but that might be cringe-worthy as Ridley was, in fact, burned at the stake.

Now begins the long wait for tomorrow's battle between Phillips Brooks and Simeon. While some of the Lent Madness faithful will presumably engage in all-night vigils, we simply encourage you to set your alarm and plan to alert the neighbors as we begin another action-packed week of Lent Madness. It's only a few more hours away, so you don't actually have that much LMW to worry about. Stay strong.

In media coverage, NBC viewers across the nation got their dose of Madness as this clip ran on televisions everywhere.  Meanwhile, Tim gave an interview to Boston Public Radio (forward to 52:35) in which, in an unprecedented move, he went on record saying decent things about Scott (twice!). Time will tell if Scott returns the favor.

Of course, the Archbishops are back with more Color Commentary From Beyond the Grave (tm) as they preview the week ahead and answer viewer mail. Watch LentMadnessTV for more videos from the Archbishops and the Supreme Executive Committee.

This week, we thought we'd introduce you to the perfect confirmation and adult eduction program for fans of Lent Madness. Here's an email Q&A with Laura Darling, Celebrity Blogger and the managing director of Confirm not Conform. Enjoy! Think of this as the entertaining ads in our contest, like in the Superbowl, but with information instead of zillion-dollar marketing glitz.

Give us the tweet: what's awesome about Confirm not Conform?

You started with a tough one! I’m having trouble keeping it tweet-short. I turned this over to our Facebook friends and got a couple of answers: The Rev. Ann Tillman suggested, “Freedom of choice, and fun and creative lessons, among other things.” Denise Oldham, parent of two sons who went through the program, wrote, “Choice, choice, choice. It's all in the hands of the teens, not their parents!!”

So, yes, choice is important because if Confirmation is going to mean something to the Confirmands, they can’t just be going through the motions. They have to actively choose to be confirmed. The goal of Confirm not Conform isn’t getting youth confirmed per se; it’s the much more important goal of helping youth (and adults!) to develop and express authentic faith, whether that means getting confirmed or deciding they are not yet ready to. Both are faithful choices. Hence, Confirm not Conform.

I’d say Confirm not Conform is awesome because “CnC gives youth & adults tools to articulate their faith, because they have something important to share with the church & the world.” There. That’s 134 characters.

Why would a lover of Lent Madness also love CnC?

CnC logoCnC has a faithful irreverence that I think would appeal to the Lent Madness lover. It is not afraid to explore the quirks of our faith, and it doesn’t have a sickly sweet flavor. This isn’t “Captain Billy’s School of Christian Goodness,” as our Executive Director likes to say. When we were trying to come up with a slogan for Confirm not Conform, one thing we came up with was, “It’s not pukey.” We decided to go with “An authentic faith is a strong faith” instead.

CnC also gets people invested and involved, much as Lent Madness does. It’s active, not passive. Even when we’re talking about church history, which so often seems dry, we happily wade into the skullduggery, having people play out (and relish) the political machinations that we might otherwise want to gloss over in order to save our reputation.

Seriously, Lent Madness is magical because it combines fun and formation to teach unsuspecting voters about the lives of the saints. We've heard CnC is a bit...eccentric for a confirmation program. What's its magic?


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BREAKING NEWS: The SEC Denies Involvement In Scandal

Breaking news alertThe Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness categorically denies any involvement with bribery for places in the bracket of saints. Despite all accusations to the contrary, Louis of France earned his way into the 2014 bracket, and the SEC did not accept payment for favorable placement.

This so-called "Payment for Placement" scheme has rocked the foundation of  the world's most popular online Lenten devotion.

Some accusers have pointed to the St. Louis Gateway Arch as possible evidence of corruption. As everyone knows, the SEC consists of Fr. Tim Schenck and Fr. Scott Gunn, infamously known to be archnemeses. Can the SEC help it if there's a major American city named after one of the contestants? So what if we arch-rivals happen to like the Arch?

st johns clydesdale

This photo, sent by an anonymous source, was taken at St. John's, Hingham. So what if a clydesdale was there?

The Rev. Tim Schenck indignantly proclaimed, "Hey, Louis was a failed crusader, just like these bogus accusations are a failed crusade to tarnish the SEC." He continued, "Just because I like beer doesn't mean I have accepted a large gift from Anheuser-Busch in the form of small, unmarked kegs."

Known as a non-beer-drinker, the Rev. Scott Gunn stated, "For the record, Anheuser-Busch has nothing on me. And just because I love licorice does not mean I'm in [St. Louis candy maker] Switzer's pocket, even though they make the best licorice in America."

The SEC chooses the bracket at its annual spring boondoggle retreat. While nominations are accepted, bribes are discouraged. "Everyone gets into the bracket on her or his own merit, not because of sponsorships," said Gunn. Schenck added, "And there's no way we're going to accept free cardigans or sneakers to put Fred Rogers in." Gunn, seeking the last word on this subject, blurted out, "We see eye to eye on this one. No one gets into the bracket unless some church has put them on a calendar of commemorations, and even then a few individuals are going to have to be content in the Land of Make Believe rather than the Lent Madness bracket. That goes doubly for King Friday."

King Louis of France, or St. Louis, as he's known, is obviously the patron of the eponymous city. The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, seeking to distance himself from this episode said, "Like Sergeant Schultz, I know nothing!" Kinman added, "Those clowns [the SEC] run this thing on their own and are apparently accountable to no one. The Cathedral is too busy doing important stuff like betting for charity to be involved in their little scheme."

The SEC concluded its statement with this advice: "If you want to follow the money on brackets, why aren't you looking at Warren Buffet's billion-dollar bracket bet? And if you ask him about that, find out if he wants to invest in Lent Madness."

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As Seen on TV. Again!
The Saintly Scorecard getting some live TV love from NECN reporter Josh Brogadir

The Saintly Scorecard getting some live TV love from NECN reporter Josh Brogadir

The Lent Madness quest for world domination ran through the northeast yesterday as NECN (New England Cable News) did a terrific story about our little online devotion. We encourage you to watch the video and share it with all your friends, relatives, and lukewarm acquaintances. In fact, why not go on and send it to all your long-lost kin?

While the interview took place at Tim's church, St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts, Scott's happy because his smiling face was shown on camera for a few seconds. This means the next time he shows up at a Dunkin' Donuts in Southie and orders a "lodge regulah," he's sure to be recognized.

Why do we care about getting media attention for Lent Madness? In all seriousness, it's a way to share our love of God with those beyond the walls of our churches and show the world that we take our faith, but not ourselves, seriously. In a word, it all points to Jesus.

So make some popcorn, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show! Well, enjoy the show after the obligatory ad.

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Monday Madness -- March 17, 2014

The Supreme Executive Committee brings you another episode of Monday Madness, with one intrepid member of the SEC reporting from NYC on St. Patrick's Day. Apparently, New York doesn't realize that Patrick was walloped by Constance in the first round of Lent Madness 2011.

Tim and Scott talk about the patron saint of Ireland but also have plenty of time to answer "What does the Fox say?" but not "Who let the dogs out?" Perhaps you'll find the answer in Tim's most recent book though. They also talk about the resident foodie of Lent Madness, who blogs at Saints and Recipes.

If you want something to do next weekend while you're fighting Lent Madness Withdrawal (LMW), try watching back episodes of Monday Madness or the Archbishops' color commentary. If audio is your bag rather than video, check out Padre's Pods, an excellent podcast by Fr. Sean Maloney. In the most recent episode, he interviewed half of the SEC.

Most important, keep enjoying Lent Madness and invite others to the party. Happy Lent!

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What Does the Fox Say? Lent Madness is Awesome

We can now add "as seen on TV" to the list of accolades for Lent Madness, thanks to a brief report on Fox News. Various versions of the news clip have been aired on dozens of stations across the nation to the consternation of viewers everywhere. The clip quotes SEC member Tim Schenck and Lent Madness devotee Wendy Claire Barrie from New York, NY. SEC member Scott Gunn was quoted saying, "They left me out. Fox News is dead to me! Oh, wait, they already were. Well, now they're really cooked!"

Of course, that's not the only video game in town. Our own network, LentMadnessTV, has an update for the week from the archbishops. Tune in to get the latest commentary from everyone's favorite (deceased) color commentators, Archbishops Thomas Cranmer and John Chrysostom.

If you're bored today trying to survive Lent Madness Withdrawal until the voting resumes Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. EDT, why not shop in the Lentorium? Or stock up on books from our Celebrity Bloggers. See you Monday!

So what does the Fox say? It's not just "fair and balanced" politics any more. They've finally moved into substantive reporting. Let's see the likes of PBS and CNN keep up with that. We dare you to send a TV truck to interview the entire SEC.

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Surviving L.M.W.

Yesterday saw J. S. Bach easily blasting Alfred the Great with both organ music and votes (65% to 35%). In a statement for the media, Johann said in a thick German accent, "I'll be face Anna Cooper in the next round."

Since we had the only Saturday contest of Lent Madness 2014 last weekend, this is the first full weekend without any voting. Many veterans of the saintly smackdown describe these long periods between votes as difficult, indeed. Thousands of fans suffer Lent Madness Withdrawal or LMW. We've offered tips before (here and here). This year, we want to encourage you to "live into" LMW. Embrace it. Face those demons. Here are five ways to survive LMW by embracing it.

LMW factory
If you can think of a machine that might stave off LMW, you can contract with an actual LMW factory in India to manufacture this device. Give the SEC a big enough cut, and we might sell it in the Lentorium.

LMW license plate
Move to a new state or country and buy a car. Repeat until you get a license plate staring with LMW. If you get this particular number and drive a white VW Beetle, you can also show that you're a fan of the Beatles, who will doubtless be added to the Episcopal Church's calendar of saints one day.

LMW invest
If you can invent a medication to treat LMW, you'll become rich. Or find another way to become an LMW profiteer.

Find a way to harness the nervous energy of thousands of people pacing back and forth as they wait for Monday morning's voting to open. If you can pull that off, you'll have something better than green energy: purple energy. It's a win-win.If all else fails, throw a party.

Hey, the good news is that voting will return on Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. We might even add some bonus content on Sunday morning to help you through the weekend. That's how much the SEC cares about your well being. You're welcome.

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Your Vote Counts

In this morning's email from Lent Madness global headquarters, there was a broken link to the voting page. While voter turnout has been decent, the Supreme Executive Committee is concerned that some fans might not find their way over to the polling place. So here is the correct link: Please share it widely on social media, bulletin boards, windshield flyers, bumper stickers, and billboards.

Morris the CatAs an homage to Facebook's popular Throwback Thursday, we thought we would provide some retro images to encourage you to vote. If you're of a certain age, the name "Maurice" conjures images of a television star from days of yore: Morris the Cat. Sure, it's spelled differently, but they sound the same.

old whaleAnd of course, David of Wales is easy. We've provided a handy antique picture of whales. Hey, it was either going to be this or Welch's grape juice in reference to the Welsh. We made the right choice, I think you'll agree.

If you are worried about remembering to vote, you can sign up for daily emails. Just put your email address in the little box over there on the right side of our website and hit the subscribe button. In the event there's a problem with either our email or your overly aggressive spam filter, make sure you have a backup plan. Here are several ways to remember to vote each day:

  • Buy a purple alarm clock and set it for 8:00 a.m. Eastern time.
  • Like us on Facebook and see the daily posts, as well as regular updates.
  • Follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-second news.
  • Tell your priest or minister to call you each morning. She or he has nothing better to do than activate the parish calling tree to get out the Lent Madness vote. Tell them we said so.
  • If your town has tornado or civil defense sirens, call the mayor and ask that they sound every day of Lent to call people to vote.

Will F. D. Maurice get a cheshire grin as David goes extinct like a whale? Or will David gobble up F. D. Maurice only to vomit him out on the shores of defeat? Your vote will decide the outcome. Vote now (but only once per person!).

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Thanks a million!

Thanks a MillionEarlier today, we received our 1,000,000th page view on this site. For a Fortune 500 company, that might not be remarkable, but we think it's noteworthy on a site devoted to Lent. While the Supreme Executive Committee is not shy about trumpeting our supremacy, even we could not have done all this alone. Of course, our Celebrity Bloggers deserve the credit for writing compelling, entertaining, and even inspiring bios. We also give thanks for the Global Lent Madness Viewing Public. You keep us going whenever we get discouraged, whether it's Tim's Luddite inability to run a website or Scott's procrastination at doing his part of the epic SEC book proposal that will change the face of Lent.

One million page views means that many of you find something worthwhile here. We've heard that some of you enjoy Lent Madness because of the glimpses of God's glory we see in the lives of saints. Many others take great delight in the vibrant conversations throughout Lent. We sometimes have well over 200 comments each day of Lent, and we're well over 10,000 total comments. Community doesn't end here though. We've surpassed 8,000 likes on Facebook and over 2,000 likes on Twitter. Opening day yesterday set a traffic record with over 30,000 page views.

Our point in sharing all this is that perhaps there is a lesson here for the church. With a very modest budget (just ask our volunteer Celebrity Bloggers) and a simple concept, Lent Madness has attracted a wide audience. Perhaps there is a message that we would do well to think about joyful ways to proclaim the Good News. Perhaps we should find other ways to do Christian education outside classrooms. Perhaps we should use Lent as a time to invite others to join us on a journey as we all seek to follow Jesus.

Keep up the madness. We look forward to sharing some more numbers when we post our 2,000,000th page view. It might be sooner than you think!

Happy Lent!

Tim+         Scott+
The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness

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Welcome, dear feast of Lent

keep-calm-and-live-lent-2Every year on Ash Wednesday, it is the custom of Lent Madness to take a brief hiatus from our yearlong sojourn of silliness. We like to take this occasion to remind ourselves, and you, dear reader, of what we think this is all about.

The title of this blog post is taken from the opening line of George Herbert's exquisite poem, "Lent." In the poem, Herbert writes movingly about the invitation of Lent to embark on a holy journey to grow closer to God.

It's true, we cannot reach Christ’s fortieth day;
Yet to go part of that religious way,
Is better than to rest:
We cannot reach our Savior’s purity;
Yet are bid, Be holy ev’n as he.
In both let’s do our best.

This season of Lent is about the journey. We won't get it all right, but in trying, we will gain something for ourselves. Lent Madness is surely not the best Lenten discipline for everyone. As Tim reminds us regularly, Lent Madness is optional. Some will find here their very first encounter with the practice of a Lenten disciple, while others will discover that levity and saints do not sit well with their idea of Lent.

Above all, we must remember that this season is about recommitting to following Jesus, to follow him with lives of worship, prayer, study, and service to others. Lent invites us to set aside unimportant things and to focus on what matters most. We think that the ridiculous veneer of Lent Madness covers something much deeper and holier. Scott often reminds us that the Book of Common Prayer describes Lent as a season to "prepare with joy for the Paschal feast." And that's what we're doing. We are preparing with joy for the Easter feast, and for our eternal feast with all the saints.

So, dear friends, we invite you to the observance of a holy Lent. Partake in Lent Madness. Try some other disciplines. Spend this season in the company of fellow pilgrims as we grow ever closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And know that you will be in our prayers on this day and throughout these next forty days and forty nights.

Tim+           Scott+
The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness

Note: George Herbert was the first-ever Golden Halo winner (see this post from Tim's blog). Over on Scott's blog, named for another Herbert poem, he's got George Herbert's "Lent" with original spelling (read it here).

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New to Lent Madness?

Hello-Im-New-LOGOAre you new to Lent Madness this year? If so, we welcome you with arms open wide in sackcloth and ashes. We're delighted you're along for the ride, hope you learn a lot about some pretty amazing folks, and have some fun along the way.

A couple of points to remember. First, Lent Madness is purely optional. If you disagree with the results or loathe the entire concept of saintly competition, do yourself a favor and find another Lenten devotion. We particularly like the daily videos by the monks at the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, Massachusetts, created for Lent 2014 called Love Life. There are many ways to mark this holy season that don't involve Lent Madness. In other words, if you don't bring a sense of humor to your faith life, this little online devotion may not be for you.

Second, you'll quickly notice something amazing taking place on your computer screen before your very eyes. Lent Madness transforms itself into a true community of faith during Lent. We don't always agree and everyone comes to Lent Madness from different places theologically, liturgically, and geographically. We see this diversity as a great gift to be celebrated. How does this community form? Through the comment section of each battle, on Facebook, and on Twitter. People share how a particular saint has touched them or what they've learned or why they're voting for a particular saint. We're always amazed at how gracious people are in their comments -- this is very unusual for an online community of course. We insist that people follow the norms of civilized online behavior. We have the power to block those who engage in hurtful behavior, and we're not afraid to use it!

Please vote only once. If there are multiple voters in your household you may use other devices to vote more than once. That's fine. But we have had voter fraud issues in the past and we've dealt with them swiftly and fairly. Yes, Big Brother is watching. Play fair!

To make sure you never miss a vote, go to the home page and enter your e-mail address where it says "subscribe" (top right under the countdown clock). The daily match-up will magically appear in your inbox at about 8:00 am Eastern time on the weekdays of Lent. Once the match-up starts, you'll have about 24 hours to vote.

We hereby dub you a Lent Madness Evangelist! We need your help in spreading the Lent Madness love and drawing more people into learning about the saints. Talk about it around the water cooler, send people links, chat it up on social media.

Last year the mysterious Maple Anglican created a Lent Madness 101 how-to-vote video. If you have any questions at all on how this works, this brief video should clear things up

Welcome to Lent Madness! Thanks for being along for the ride.

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