Whose Madness Is It, Anyway?

Papal MadnessThe Supreme Executive Committee has been made aware of something called "Papal Madness," an effort to suggest an alternative for electing the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. In this so-called Papal Madness scheme, or should we say, schemes, brackets would be used to choose the Vicar of Christ.

You can see the problem. The Papal Madness people have stolen our idea. There is only one Madness right now, and it is Lent Madness. We expect a profuse apology any moment now. If only they had asked, we could have helped them. After all, doesn't it make sense that the Supreme Executive Committee would be involved in the selection of the Supreme Pontiff?

We also note that Benedict has decided to retire on February 28, the day that Benedict of Nursia enters the playing field of Lent Madness. Is the Holy Father setting aside the papal crown in order to lobby for the Golden Halo for his namesake? Or is the Pope planning to devote his time to campaigning for Gregory the Great, the only pope in the bracket this year? Only time will tell.

Purple SmokeFor now, it is enough for us to cry foul at another entity trying to ride our coattails. Lent Madness was created before the papal pretenders got into the bracket business. Until they repent, we declare a bracket anathema upon them. And we are considering unleashing the Lent Madness Legal Team upon their heads.

We have to draw the line. Otherwise, what's next? Announcing the election of a new pope with purple smoke?

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Purple Buzz on the Interwebs

Around the globe, excitement is building as we approach the tip-off of Lent Madness 2013. We expect most sermons tomorrow will be about Lent Madness, so we're providing some fodder for you last-minute sermon writers. However, we do not encourage a reading from USA Today in lieu of the Gospel, as tempting as that might be. Here are some buzzing bits from around the interwebs.

USA TodayOn Thursday, hotel guests around the world had their breakfasts interrupted with a photo of the Supreme Executive Committee on the pages of USA Today, along with a pretty great article. Tip of the hat to Jim Naughton from the Episcopal Café for mentioning the story to the right people at the right time. We expect that, due to incredible Lent Madness fandom, everyone at the Episcopal Café is now sipping their coffee from Lent Madness mugs. They are a café, right?

In a more sober and inspiring vein, someone struggling mightily with disease has been looking to Lent Madness to provide her some joy in the weeks ahead. Out of respect for her privacy, we won't link to her journal, but we ask your prayers for her and for all those seeking hope. May Lent bring renewal to us all, and may Lent Madness bring joy.

We're glad to see some dioceses on the Lent Madness bandwagon. The dioceses of Newark, Arizona, Lexington, Washington, and Texas are on board. Perhaps we're most impressed by the Diocese of Hawai'i, which has Lent Madness front and center. Last year they got behind local hero Queen Emma, and she went all the way to the championship. This year, it looks like they're rallying behind Damien of Molokai, who has a firm connection to Hawai'i.

Last year, we thought it was cool when we appeared on the pages of the Washington Post, but we're more excited this year to appear on the pages of St. Paul's K Street monthly newsletter. Yep, you heard it right. Being Anglo-Catholic, how long can it be before they have Solemn Evensong and Benediction of the Golden Halo, or the until the choir leads the congregation in chanting of the Litany of Saints (In The Bracket)?

Minnesota is a big Lent Madness stronghold. We've heard from St. Clement's and St. Paul's on-the-Hill, both in St. Paul. Purple fever is strong there. You can see a photo from St. Paul's on-the-Hill on our Facebook page. Of course, it's not just Episcopalians who get Lent Madness, as evidenced by a certain Methodist congregation in the distant realms of Idaho. In the heartland, you'll find plenty of Lent Madness fans at St. Thomas, Overland Park, KS. Back east, you'll be able to have a big debate over the merits of various saints at coffee hour if you show up at Cunningham Chapel in Virginia.

Laurie BrockOur own Celebrity Blogger is rocking both Lent Madness and clerical fashion, as evidenced by a photo and story on Kentucky.com. Laurie Brock is doing Lent Madness in style here on www.lentmadness.org, and also in her parish, St. Michael the Archangel, Lexington, KY.

We've been mentioned on a bunch of blogs, including RevRuth's Rantings, Building Faith, Fr. Jonathan's Blog, and Word and Table. In case you were wondering if we are really important, we've been labeled as an official Vital Practice. There are lots of others, so if we missed you, please leave a comment to alert our readers. We'll do another round of shout-outs in a bit.

Oh, and in crossover appeal, we're apparently popular with Detroit Tigers fans.

Last, but not least, we've received what we consider to be a celebrity endorsement. Barbara Crafton has gone on record about Lent Madness, saying, and we quote, "You guys are wacko."

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Press Release: Lent Madness 2013 is Nigh!

news flashHere’s the annual "Lent Madness is nigh!" press release. Free free to give it to the news editor of your local paper or any network news anchors who might happen to attend your parish. Free mugs to anyone who gets national or global news coverage for Lent Madness. If you secure a national prime-time television special about Lent Madness, you can win an all expenses paid trip to Forward Movement's global headquarters in Cincinnati, OH.


For Immediate Release
Date: January 25, 2012
Contact: The Rev. Tim Schenck or the Rev. Scott Gunn

Lent Madness 2013 Announced
The fourth annual “saintly smackdown” begins February 14

What do you get when you combine a love of sports with a love of saints? Lent Madness, of course. A year after this unique online devotion went viral—with mentions in Sports Illustrated, the Washington Post, and many other media outlets, Lent Madness is back.

Based loosely on the wildly popular NCAA basketball tournament, Lent Madness pits 32 saints against one another in public voting as they compete for the coveted Golden Halo. But it is more than that: Lent Madness is really an online devotional tool designed to help people learn about saints. The competition begins on Thursday, February 14 and takes place at www.lentmadness.org.

The creator of Lent Madness, the Rev. Tim Schenck, says “Lent Madness is about getting people to connect with and be inspired by some amazing people who have come before us in the faith. Some are already household names and others are virtually unknown, but we can all learn something from the unique ways they followed God. Plus, there’s no rule that says Lenten disciplines have to be dreary.”

The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for twenty-four hours, and people vote for their favorite saint. Sixteen saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the Golden Halo. The 2012 Lent Madness champion was Mary Magdalene.

Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of Schenck, an Episcopal priest and rector of St. John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the church’s calendar of saints, Schenck came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born on his blog “Clergy Family Confidential.”

Starting in 2012, Schenck partnered with Forward Movement, a publisher and church vitality catalyst in the Episcopal Church. The Rev. Scott Gunn, blogger and executive director of Forward Movement, said, “Here is a chance to show that being a Christian, even during Lent, does not require us to give up our sense of humor. Too often, Christians seem dour and even uninspired.” Gunn added, “Last year we reached over 50,000 people with Lent Madness, and we hope to spread reckless joy and contagious discipleship with even more people this Lent.”

This year eight “celebrity bloggers” have been tapped to write for the project including the Rev. Laurie Brock of Lexington, KY; the Rev. Penny Nash of Williamsburg, VA; the Rev. Megan Castellan of Flagstaff, AZ; Canon Heidi Shott of Newcastle, ME; the Rev. David Sibley of Brooklyn, NY; the Rev. Laura Toepfer of San Francisco, CA; the Rev. Neil Alan Willard of Edina, MN; and the Rev. Chris Yaw of Southfield, MI. Information about each of the celebrity bloggers is available on the Lent Madness website.

This year’s heavyweights include John the Baptist, Martin Luther King, Hilda of Whitby, Luke, Dorothy Day, Benedict of Nursia, Martin Luther, and Harriet Tubman.

Christians around the world mark the season of Lent from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The 40-day period is a traditional time of penitence, self-denial, fasting, and preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection at Easter. It is modeled on the 40-day period of Jesus’ fasting and temptation in the wilderness, recorded in scripture in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Visit www.lentmadness.org to view the full bracket of saints, learn about the contributors, and, starting on February 14, to vote.

Forward Movement has worked since 1935 to bring vitality and spiritual health to the church. Based in Cincinnati, OH, Forward Movement is widely known for its daily devotional Forward Day by Day. Lent Madness is one of many ways that Forward Movement hopes to encourage people to live faithfully throughout their lives. Forward Movement is a ministry of The Episcopal Church.


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A Solemn Proclamation from the Supreme Executive Committee

A Solemn Proclamation from the Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness

Be it known to all unto whom these present letters may come, that the Episcopal Church is preparing to gather in its General Convention, said Convention to be held in the city and diocese of Indianapolis in the Hoosier state; and

Whereas, It would be madness if no one lent the Convention a bit of holy humor and saintly piety; and

Whereas, The Supreme Executive Committee has taken unto itself to improve and saintify the General Convention; now therefore be it

Resolved, That Friday, July 6, 2012 is hereby declared as Lent Madness Day; and be it further

Resolved, That Mary Magdalene, or a life-size cardboard image thereof, shall be present for those who wish to have their photographs taken or portraits painted with the winner of the Golden Halo in Lent Madness 2012; and be it further

Resolved, That the bracket for Lent Madness 2013 shall be revealed to all persons throughout the world on Lent Madness Day; and be it further

Resolved, That the first play-in match shall be held on this day, allowing General Convention guests, bishops, and deputies the opportunity to cast the most important vote of the entire Convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the entire Supreme Executive Committee shall be present at the Forward Movement booth of the exhibit hall to offer autographs of the aforementioned Supreme Executive Committee.

Given under our hand, seal, and smirk on this day, the twenty-second day of June in the two thousand and twelfth year of our Lord's grace, being the Feast of St. Alban, who has never done well in Lent Madness.

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Why Lent Madness is Better than General Convention

Some people think General Convention is the most important thing going on in the Episcopal Church. The Supreme Executive Committee disagrees, and we have ten reasons to prove that Lent Madness is better than General Convention.

1. Far from being limited to the shangri-la that is Indianapolis, Lent Madness is a global phenomenon.

2. Elections are truly democratic rather than foregone conclusions.

3. Having a Supreme Executive Committee eliminates mind-numbing non-supreme, non-executive committee work.

Voting at General Convention -- snore.

4. Instead of boring names like Katharine and Bonnie, we have names like Enmegahbowh and Philander.

5. Lent Madness mugs rock.

6. House of Bishops? House of Deputies? We have the House of Tim and Scott (not that they would ever consent to live under the same roof).

7. We have a MUCH better logo (halo trumps mitre every time).

8. Who needs an exhibit hall, when you can go to the Lent Madness Store? (with great merchandise on the way for Lent Madness 2013).

Voting at Lent Madness -- score!

9. Instead of 250 resolutions, we resolve things the old-fashioned way: 32 saints walk in. Only one walks out with the Golden Halo.

10. Ever hear an Easter sermon about a piece of legislation? Of course not. But I'll bet a few of you heard sermons about the winner of the Golden Halo 2012.

We have some ideas for how to make General Convention better and our ideas have nothing to do with restructuring or elections or numbered committees. Stay tuned for BREAKING NEWS on St. Alban's Day for our plans to make this the best General Convention in the history of bicameral synodical assemblies.

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