Lent Madness Offers Lighthearted Approach to Saintly Education

Posted by Luke Blount on

The Episcopal News Service posted a story about Lent Madness. See below:


[Episcopal News Service] Anyone who considers Lent boring or deadly serious never met the Rev. Tim Schenck.


While other Episcopalians may be contemplating whether to give up chocolate or alcohol, or which spiritual discipline to take on for a solemn 40 days, Schenck is busy pondering whether Augustine or Lancelot Andrewes would match up better with Joan of Arc in a saintly sparring match.


In 2010, Schenck started Lent Madness, a saint-vs-saint online competition on his blog modeled after college basketball’s March Madness tournament. The idea caught on, and the madness has spread to include celebrity bloggers and, this year, its ownwebsite and Facebook fan page and a partnership with Forward Movement.


“I basically started it on a whim. I love sports, and I love Lent, so I thought: Why not combine these two?” said Schenck, rector of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Hingham, Massachusetts.


Why should basketball fans have all the fun “while we’re sitting around giving up chocolate?” he reasoned. “Lent is not all gloom and doom. What can be more joyful than a season specifically set apart to be closer to God?”


Teaming up with Forward Movement’s executive director, the Rev. Scott Gunn, Schenck has created a tournament-like single-elimination bracket of 32 diverse saints. Each day, the website will feature information about two saints in a matchup, and readers will vote for their favorite. Each round of voting will halve the competing saints, from 32 to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen, the Round of the Elate Eight, the Final Four and finally two vying for the coveted Golden Halo.


In the first round, voters receive straightforward biographical information about the saints to help them decide which to favor. At the next level, voters read “quotes and quirks” about the Saintly Sixteen. “And then we get into ‘saintly kitsch,’ which is one of my favorites,” Schenck said. “At this point, you figure that almost everybody that’s been participating has learned something about the saints and they’ve kind of figured out which ones they really identified with. Then we can have some real fun with it from there.”


Schenck’s favorite bit of kitsch? “Clare of Assisi is the patron saint of television because, when she was too ill to attend services, they appeared on the wall of her cell.”


Read the rest at Episcopal News Service


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