Man Behind the Madness

Meredith Gould is not your average author/blogger/Supreme Word Goddess of the Universe. In fact, there’s nothing remotely average about her. We met a few years ago at a book signing that was held for several authors at the (now defunct) bookstore/cafe at the Episcopal Church’s Headquarters in Manhattan. While the event itself was a flop — I think I sold two copies of What Size are God’s Shoes: Kids, Chaos and the Spiritual Life — Meredith and I clicked and have been fast friends ever since.

Among other things, Meredith is the Abbess of the Virtual Abbey, continues to crank out great books (her latest is Come to the Table: A Passover Seder for Parish Use), and blogs at More Meredith Gould. She couldn’t just accept Lent Madness for what it is and decided to conduct a virtual interview with me. Since I know you’re dying to get behind the scenes of Lent Madness 2011, here is her interview. Enjoy!

Lent Madness started last year (2010). What was your original impetus for creating this sporting romp during an otherwise somber season? In other  words: what were you thinking?
What was I thinking? “Please, God, don’t let this offend anyone, at least not too much.” Actually as a big sports buff I love the excitement of the NCAA’s March Madness — it’s the only thing that gets me through the sporting doldrums between the Super Bowl and Opening Day of baseball season. But then I thought, why should college basketball fans have all the fun while we’re sitting around giving up chocolate? And anyway, Lent gets a bad rap — why should it be all gloom and doom? After all, what could be more joyful than a season specifically set aside to get closer to God?

How do you decide which saints make it onto the roster? Do you use any special system to ensure diversity? Does height matter?
I’d love to tell you that it’s the Holy Spirit at work. And that might be part of it but I’m afraid it’s more Ouija Board than Holy Spirit. Last year, I simply took 32 saints at random from the Episcopal Church’s Calendar of Saints. That in itself is a pretty broad group of saints Biblical and modern, ecclesiastical and monastic.

The bracket is too short on women, of course, but judging from last year, a number of women were powerhouses! Julian of Norwich lost a squeaker to George Herbert in last year’s final to claim the first ever Golden Halo. This year, I chose an entirely new slate of saints so while there will undoubtedly be duplication in subsequent years. This year’s crop of holiness is all new to Lent Madness.

A little birdie, looking suspiciously like a diving dove, told us that you were cursing this project midway through Lent last year. Care to confess?
The only thing I was completely relieved about around the fourth week of Lent last year was not sticking to my original plan of matching the 64 teams in March Madness! That would’ve been a nightmare for a priest trying to get through Lent to Easter in one piece. I also plan to have this wrapped up well before Holy Week — I may be a glutton for punishment but I’m not into self-flagellation.

All kidding aside, what do you hope will happen for people who participate?
My real goal in hosting Lent Madness on my blog is to give people an opportunity to get to know some amazing people who have come before us in the faith. There’s no reason that a Lenten discipline should be dreary. And if this helps people connect with the risen Christ during this season of penitence and renewal, and have a bit of fun in the process, then it’s been worthwhile.


One Comment on “Man Behind the Madness”

  1. The Virtual Abbey says:

    Thanks for the kudos…and I’m still going to write in St. Teresa of Avila. Again.


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