Anna vs. Eglantyne (with vote button!)

Yeah, yeah. So we're not perfect. The first email featuring Anna Alexander vs. Eglantyne Jebb didn't have a vote button. It's been updated but here's a link to the fixed post. Now stop complaining and go vote!

Anna Alexander vs. Eglantyne Jebb

Read More
A time to hate evil and love good

Ash cross

Dear friends in Christ,

One day each year, we take a pause from the usual madness to be serious about Lent. On Ash Wednesday, all distractions fade away, and we are reminded of a simple fact: we are all dying, and this precious life of ours is a gift to be savored.

If you said morning prayer according to the Book of Common Prayer today, you might have noticed a little tidbit in Amos. "Hate evil and love good." It's easy to say, but it's very hard to do. It's not all that difficult to hate evil in other people, but hating evil in ourselves is never easy. And that's the point of Lent. We confront our own failings, so that we might make room for God's grace to create new hearts in us.

The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us we are not alone in our struggle to hate evil and to love good.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

It's not that the saints are sitting in the Lent Dome and watching us all on the big screen. That's not what Hebrews is talking about when it says they are witnesses. Rather, we are surrounded by a cloud of martyrs, women and men who witness to us by their deaths. We are preceded in our earthly pilgrimage by those who struggled, like us, to hate evil and love good. And they loved good more than evil, Jesus more than life.

We hope you make it to church today to hear the solemn reminder that life is short. The time to repent is now. And then we hope you enjoy this whole season of Lent, an opportunity to return to God, to make our hearts new. Lent Madness may be mad, but it also draws us together in community as we learn from those who hated evil and loved good.

Tomorrow the madness begins. Today, we give thanks that we have a redeemer in Jesus Christ. Today, we give thanks for boundless grace to help us learn to hate evil and love good.

Tim+     Scott+

Photo: U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Jenny Hyden, 20th Fighter Wing public affairs officer, stands with a cross of ashes on her forehead on Ash Wednesday at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Feb. 18, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham/Released

Read More

While the Celebrity Bloggers got an entire WEEK (actually two, but who's counting?), the Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness gets but a day. And they have to begrudgingly share it. Nonetheless, this is the day that the SEC hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

What are the job requirements for serving in this capacity? This is shrouded in mystery. All we really know is that Tim and Scott are self-appointed and serve for life. And that they drink a lot of (black) coffee. This more-or-less benevolent dictatorship began in 2012 when Tim, who created Lent Madness two years earlier, partnered with Scott and the folks at Forward Movement. The rest is penitential history.

The SEC does take responsibility for ultimately choosing the 32 saints each year -- though in an uncharacteristic display of democracy they do open up the floor to nominations during Easter season. They also stand as final judge and jury on all decisions and rulings related to Lent Madness, including but-not-limited-to issues of voter fraud, Monday Madness, Celebrity Bloggers, humor, comment moderation, and eligibility of saints.

When not collaborating on Lent Madness, Tim and Scott spend time bickering in online public forums, as each considers the other his archnemesis.


Read More
Celebrity Blogger Week: David Sibley

The Rev. David Sibley

Celebrity Blogger Week concludes with wizened and wily Lent Madness veteran, David Sibley. David shepherded the beloved and prolific hymn writer Charles Wesley to the Golden Halo in 2014. Between that and his Chicago Cubs finally winning the World Series, we really don't see why David doesn't just retire from life, his goals achieved. Nonetheless, we're glad he plods along and tends to his Lent Madness obligations out of his great charity.

The Rev. David Sibley, Distinguished Celebrity Blogger is in the middle of his seventh year as a southern transplant into the northeast, where he now lives on Long Island and serves as Rector of Christ Church in Manhasset, New York. Raised right in the middle of South Carolina, David studied and did research as a chemist before being whisked away to seminary in New York City. When he’s not in church, David enjoys travel, hiking and camping, all things food and music related, and is a sports fanatic – with his teams of choice in baseball (Chicago Cubs), college football (South Carolina Gamecocks), and soccer (Liverpool FC) being minor obsessions. David occasionally holds forth on Twitter at @davidsibley.


Read More
Celebrity Blogger Week: David Hansen

The Rev. David Hansen

It's not true that David Hansen was named a Celebrity Blogger because we are enamored with the fact that his church's official name includes an exclamation point (Spirit of Joy! Lutheran Church). Nor is it true that we are considering changing the name of our little online devotion to Lent Madness! or even Lent! Madness. David was our very first Lutheran CB and we're delighted he's stuck with us. Tomorrow will mark the end of Celebrity Blogger Week as we are now less than a week away from Lent Madness! (see, another exclamation point).

The Rev. David Hansen, despite growing up as a pastor’s kid, turned out okay. An ELCA pastor, he serves at Spirit of Joy! Lutheran Church in The Woodlands, Texas (outside of Houston), where he lives with his wife Megan, their daughter, and their menagerie of pets. When not preaching and teaching for the Lutheran diaspora in Texas, David is helping to drag the church into the digital age – teaching congregations and leaders to make use of online tools for ministry (You can catch David this year leading an Intensive as a part of the ELCA YouthMinistry Network Extravaganza. He is a regular contributor and moderator in the Church Social Media (#chsocm) community, and wrote the forward to Celebrity Blogger alum Meredith Gould’s The Social Media Gospel. He is an occasional contributor to The Lutheran magazine and Living Lutheran, and blogs at Pastor David L. Hansen. David has recently begun work as the Director for LEAD — an organization committed to providing resources for leaders and ministries. Connect with him on Twitter @rev_david and Facebook.


Read More
Celebrity Blogger Week: Amber Belldene

The Rev. Amber Belldene

As a romance writer and Episcopal priest, we really should just have Amber Belldene write the definitive Ash Wednesday/Valentine's Day mash-up sermon and then preach it as our own next week. That would be plagiarism, however, and plagiarism is bad. So we won't. But who wouldn't want to be a vampire on the wall when Amber gets in the pulpit on February 14 this year? Okay, we've squeezed enough blood out of this topic. Go read about Amber. Better yet, go read her books.

In other news, Lent Madness 2018 has gone global with an article appearing in the Anglican Communion News Service.

The Rev. Amber Belldene is a romance writer and the alter ego of a book-loving Episcopal priest. As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons — an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days. Amber believes stories are the best way to examine life’s truths, and she is passionate about the relationship between sexuality and spirituality — namely, that God made people with a desire for love, and that desire is the heart of every romance novel. Her sexy Hot Under the Coller Series features Episcopal priest heroines finding love and learning to be inspiring church leaders. She loves cocktails, history, heirloom tomatoes and she lives with her husband and children in San Francisco. For more information about her books or to check out her blog go to www.amberbelldene.comFollow her on Twitter @AmberBelldene or Facebook.


Read More
Celebrity Blogger Week: Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller

When you're a well-known religion reporter you get nagged to write about Lent Madness on a yearly basis. It's just one of the hazards of the job. Emily McFarlan Miller is a first-time Celebrity Blogger and religion reporter who finally succumbed to the age-old maxim, "If you can't get them to stop nagging you, join them." We're delighted to have her on board.

In other news, you can catch Tim discussing all things Lent Madness on Matthew Brough's Spirituality for Ordinary People Podcast. Matthew is a Canadian Presbyterian pastor and podcaster which is a niche market we're going after HARD this Lent. Tim even deigns to mention Scott in the podcast, though it takes him 23 minutes and 10 seconds to do so.

Emily McFarlan Miller is inundated every Lent with messages from friends asking if she’s heard of this Lent Madness thing because they know how she feels about the saints. Emily is a national reporter for the Religion News Service, where she covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity. In 2017, she wrote an article about Lent Madness, and the rest is history. When she’s not writing for or about Lent Madness, she’s working toward a master’s in intercultural studies from the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies and Portland Seminary, volunteering for Hope for the First Nations and leading a women’s small group at Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago. In addition to the stories of the saints, she loves books, vinyl, reruns of The X-Files and working with her husband Joel on their fixer-upper. Find Emily on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as emmillerwrites.


Read More
Celebrity Blogger Week: Megan Castellan

The Rev. Megan Castellan

Another day, another Lent Madness veteran. Megan Castellan has been a Celebrity Blogger for a long time. So long that she helped Brigid of Kildare become the first ever Silver Halo Winner (the Supreme Executive Committee occasionally awards the second place finisher with official laurels -- based on their whim). But enough about the space and time continuum. Megan will be spending Lent in some sort of time machine/cosmic transporter as she moves between calls this Lent (read her bio below for the skinny).

The Rev. Megan Castellan, Distinguished Celebrity Blogger, is really living into the Lenten thing this year. She starts Lent as the Assistant Rector of St. Paul’s, Kansas City, MO and Diocesan Network Coordinator for Youth, and ends it as the Rector of  St. John’s, Ithaca, New York. Previously, she has lived and worked in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, and that period of time in the West Bank that the government can’t know about. Her ongoing adventures and strong opinions are chronicled in her blog Red Shoes, Funny Shirt  and on Twitter @revlucymeg. (From time to time, you can also catch her writing in various other places, like Episcopal Café, Fidelia’s Sisters, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, or The (late, lamented) Toast. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, playing with yarn, throwing jellybeans at politicians she disagrees with on TV, and cheering on KC-based sportsball teams.

1. If you could have dinner with any saint, who would it be and what would you serve? (and, duh, why?)
I get very intimidated by people I admire, so this is a hard one. Were I to have dinner with any saint, I would probably just stare quietly at my plate in abashed silence. That being said, I would love to have a long conversation with Sojourner Truth. She has one of the most fascinating life stories of all time, and saw so much happen. She won a case in federal court, became a renowned public speaker, fought off a murder charge (google it!), and she took on the forces of slavery, racism, and sexism. So much of what she said in her speeches rings true even today, so I’d love to get her take on current affairs.

2. What hymn would you pay money never to hear again? And which hymn are you convinced is on the play list in heaven?
The First Noel needs to be burned in effigy. I don’t care how classic and English it is; it sounds like a bunch of tipsy sailors recounting the Christmas narrative while lost on the ocean.

I will, however, put in a plug for the Calvin Hampton version of There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy, which fits the text much better than the overly-cheery march it usually goes with. And They Cast Their Nets in Galilee is also a favorite, though admittedly also pretty somber.

3. You're busy during Lent. Why do you make time for the Saintly Smackdown? What do you get out of it personally?
Researching the saints each year and telling their stories has become my own Lenten devotion. It never fails, but I discover a story or two that stay with me for the next year. The other gift of Lent Madness for me is watching how people react to the stories of the saints. It is truly unpredictable and chaotic, but I love each day as people share what they found inspirational about a given saint. It’s lovely to be in a space that remains joyous, compassionate, and witty.

Read More
Celebrity Blogger Week: Laurie Brock

The Rev. Laurie Brock

Laurie Brock, an Alabama football fan still basking in the warm glow of yet another National Championship, has been a Celebrity Blogger for so long that we've lost count of when she started. We do recall that she shepherded Francis of Assisi to the Golden Halo in 2015. More importantly, she is the owner of Nina, the Official Horse of Lent Madness. This proves two things: 1) Laurie is an accomplished horse rider and 2) we will give fancy titles to anything that neighs.

The Rev. Laurie Brock, Distinguished Celebrity Blogger, is a returning Celebrity Blogger because…well, let’s be honest, who WOULDN’T want this gig? She serves as the rector of St. Michael the Archangel Episcopal Church in Lexington, Kentucky. She blogs at, and her new book, Horses Speak of God, is available in April of this year. She is also the creative force behind Fifty Days of Fabulous from Forward Movement. She frequently shares her quirky, snarky views on faith, Alabama football,and popular culture on Twitter at @revlaurieinlex. When she’s not doing priest things, she is riding her horse Nina, the Official Horse of Lent Madness.


Read More
Celebrity Blogger Week: Carol Howard Merritt

The Rev. Carol Howard Merritt

Carol Howard Merritt is a first-time Celebrity Blogger AND our first ever Presbyterian contributor! Yes, it's a slippery slope and the next thing you know, John Calvin will end up in the bracket. But we're delighted Carol is aboard and we know you'll enjoy getting to know her. With over 10,000 followers on Twitter she also has the rest of us beat -- like pushing "actual" celebrity. Her official Lent Madness bio evokes the brevity of Hemingway so you may want to poke around her website a bit.

The Rev. Carol Howard Merritt (@CarolHoward) is a Presbyterian (USA) pastor and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with A Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church (HarperOne). She is a regular writer at the Christian Century where her blog is hosted. Visit: or find Carol on Twitter @CarolHoward.


Read More


* indicates required

Recent Posts