Thursday, March 23, 2023

Lent Madness: Daniels vs Bakhtia

As we inch closer to the end of Lent, the stakes in our Lent Madness matchups get higher and the decisions get harder.


I missed writing on yesterday’s match of Blandina vs Brendan of Clonfert, and sad as I am to see an Irish saint of legend go down to defeat, I wasn’t surprised that he lost to Blandina.   I just finished listening to an interview with Tom Holland, the historian who wrote a cracking book on the history of Christianity called Dominion (you should read this book this summer).  I put the link to the interview below.

Holland cited Blandina as one of the most influential saints and models of holiness in the Christian faith.  One point he made is that while Blandina’s noble Christian mistress also perished in the persecution, history doesn’t remember her name, whereas we know the name of her slave, Blandina.  That says something about the appeal of Christianity to slaves, a class that through all of the ancient world, were considered more as livestock than as humans.


Holland’s second point, and this applies to Jonathan Daniels as well, is that suffering and pain in Christianity become meaningful, and even noble, when it suffering is considered an imitation of Christ.  While we all hear sermons about the call to take up our cross and follow Jesus, only martyrs actually do it.  So any Lent Madness matchup, however silly and educational they maybe, that features an actual martyr, triggers our most profound emotions as Christians.


Jonathan Daniels may not have started his Christian life choosing to seek a martyr’s crown, but he willingly put himself in a place and position where he received that honour.    The Civil Rights era was a time when some American white churches, particularly Anglicans (Episcopalians),  chose to stand beside their African American brothers and sisters.   Some, like Daniels, could have made a token gesture of youthful solidarity and then spent the rest of their clerical careers in some privileged church.  Daniels saw Christ in Selma and chose to follow his saviour and his cross to go back there.


With all reverence to Bakhtia, I think the martyr will win today’s match.

Blessed be their memories.  Vote here.




51: Tom Holland on the Christian History of Pain

The PloughCast


How did the crucifixion of Jesus change how humanity thinks about suffering? Peter Mommsen speaks with the well-known historian about the way that Christianity challenged and transformed classical ideas about suffering and the good life. They discuss the contrast between the story of Laoco├Ân and of the crucifixion of Saint Peter, as portrayed in two contrasting artworks in the Vatican. Then they discuss the nature of crucifixion, how pain was seen by the Romans, and the utterly subversive way in which Christianity transformed the understanding of suffering in the West. They talk about why it took so long for it to become common to portray Jesus suffering on the cross in Christian art, and how late medieval understandings of the self and the body contributed to this, and explore the ways that contemporary political movements incorporate Christian ideas outside of the context of Christianity. Finally, they look at the lives of several exemplary Christians, whose lives of redemptive suffering in imitation of Christ make no sense except under the paradigm of the Christian transformation of the meaning of suffering. 

Listen on Apple Podcasts:

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Lent Madness: Hooker vs Bach

Welcome, Halo Hopers, and welcome to Tuesday’s Matchup, after we say a brief prayer for poor Edmund the Martyr King, who will henceforth remember as Totally Dead and Buried St. Edmund, as he was utterly trounced by Bertha’s fans.  The Queen of Kent, or Big Bertha as I hear they’re calling her, goes on to face either Chief Seattle or John Donne.  


When I was once visiting a long term care home, I met a lady who had been a professional musician, piano and organ, and I asked her who she loved to play the most.   “Bach, Bach, Bach, Bach”, she said, as a radiant smile spread across her face.   I am sure angels in heaven never looked so beatific.


So, with all that good feeling for Bach, let me just put in a brief word for Richard Hooker and Team Anglican.   It so happens that on this date in 1556, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake by the authorities of Mary Tudor, during her brief attempt to return England to Roman Catholicism.   


Fast forward thirty years after the death of the founder of Anglicanism, and as we read today on, a bedraggled Richard Hooker arrives in London as the rector of Temple Church.  There, in a church that was a hotbed of Protestant and Puritan enthusiasm, Hooker preaches that the souls of those who died under Roman Catholicism before the Reformation are saved by the grace of God.


Seems an odd thing to think about now, but in an England where memories of “Bloody Mary” and poor martyred Cranmer were still fresh and where Protestant Elizabeth Tudor had enemies all over the place, it was a gutsy and gracious thing for a mild and scholarly man like Hooker to preach.  It’s one of the reasons why I love this unassuming hero of Anglicanism.


So, I am sure that Bach will crush Hooker, but today I’m flying the flag for my man Richard.   Vote as your conscience and musical tastes dictate.  Vote here:



Blessed be their memories,





Remembering An Anglican Martyr, Thomas Cranmer


Today in the life of the church we remember and give thanks for Thomas Cranmer, died this day, 21 March, 1556

Thomas Cranmer was a Cambridge scholar who became arch- bishop of Canterbury in 1533 and guided the Church of England through its first two decades of independence from the Papacy.
When he assumed his office he was already committed to protestant views, but political conditions forced him to keep
hissympathies a secret. For over a decade he studied the issues which divided not only protestants from Catholics, but also the protestant movement itself.
His studies bore fruit when the political situation allowed him to begin serious reformation of the liturgy. He had a large hand in drafting The Book of Common Prayer, which was authorized in 1549. Three years later he oversaw a second edition of this Book, which he revised in such a way as to make its protestant doctrine unmistakable.
Soon afterwards he and his Prayer Book were overtaken by events when Queen Mary I came to the throne and restored England to communion with the Pope. Cranmer was imprisoned and endured a long, humiliating trial for heresy, at the end of which he recanted his protestant opinions in hopes of clemency.
The Queen refused to hear his pleas, and he was burned at the stake on this day in the year 1556. As the flames licked around him, he thrust out his right hand — the hand which had signed his earlier recantations — so that it might be the first to be burned; and that was the posture in which the onlookers last saw him, as the fire engulfed his body.
O God,
you endued your servant Thomas Cranmer
with zeal for the purity of your Church
and gave him singular ability
in reforming the common prayer of your people. Grant us such courage in our witness to your grace that in our families, communities, and nation
we may become the leaven of your justice and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(From For All The Saints, Anglican Church of Canada Publication)

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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