And now, as if the Anglican Communion wasn’t fractured enough, and less than one week after the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, this rivalry in religion has hit the big time. Tim is partnering with Forward Movement Publications and its Executive Director, the Rev. Scott Gunn, to take Lent Madness to the masses (of people). Frs. Gunn and Schenck have given the competition its own website, invited celebrity bloggers to weigh in, and are featuring a weekly video “Monday Madness”.
It’s an impressive list of contestants this year, including several Archbishops of Canterbury. Augustine of Hippo, evidently having listened closely to Jesus, goes up against his mother, Monnica (nice touch, guys). Will Paul of Tarsus, not running aimlessly, defeat Theodore of Tarsus in the first round and, being all things to all people go all the way? How far will Philander Chase the Golden Halo? Will Brigid lose out to Rose of Lima? And what about Rose of Sharon?
Seriously, Lent Madness is an impressive piece of work. It’s fun, it’s clever, and it really does fulfill its mission to educate about that vast “cloud of witnesses” in a way that’s entertaining and engaging. It’s also a much healthier mix of religion and sports than the Sunday morning youth athletics vs. church attendance that most of us face in our parishes. Who says a Lenten discipline can’t be enjoyable? Some, I suppose, but I’m not one of them. So, “I heartily endorse this game” and urge you to give it a try. Two years ago I followed the saintly Mr. Herbert all the way to victory, and it was tremendously rewarding.
The contest begins on Thursday, February 23 with daily match-ups until the winner is, um, elected. “Forward Day by Day” suddenly has a whole new meaning.
P.S. On the Lent Madness website we’ve been warned to vote only once per match-up because “this isn’t Chicago”. Actually, Tim, for some of us it is.