Final Four: Thomas Becket vs. Perpetua

The Lent Madness Final Four continues with Thomas Becket vs. Perpetua. You can still vote (if you haven’t already!) in the other Final Four matchup between C.S. Lewis and Clare. And thanks again to our four “celebrity” bloggers — The Rev. Neil Alan Willard, Dr. Meredith Gould, The Rev. Scott Gunn, and the Rev. Penny Nash.

Representing Thomas Becket is my online archnemesis the Rev. Scott Gunn. Scott is that other Episcopal blogger from Massachusetts — though he’s so far south it’s really Rhode Island. He blogs at Seven Whole Days and has been taking us through an examination of the 39 Articles this Lent.

Here are some reasons why you should vote for Thomas Becket:

  • He is an authentic Anglican saint, martyred as he was in Canterbury Cathedral.
  • Though we might today understand Thomas Becket to have been defending clerical immunity from prosecution, he was really defending the church as best he could. He was standing up for the underdogs. He was also working to undermine capital punishment.
  • T. S. Eliot wrote a brilliant play about Thomas Becket, “Murder in the Cathedral.”
  • Thomas Becket is the only saint to have been featured in a surreal comedic sketch on SCTV — a version of Eliot’s play staged by the Mercury III Players and NASA. It’s got to be seen to be believed.
  • Thomas is said to have been humble under his archbishop’s vestments, wearing a hair shirt. That makes him almost as cool as John the Baptist, but with a better diet.
  • Though he could have avoided his fate, Thomas stood strong for the faith and for the church, staring down the king’s assassins.
  • Four days before his death, Thomas preached a magnificent Christmas sermon, in which he said that he did not expect to preach again. He bound up all joy and all sorrow into God’s glory. He was preaching about his own martyrdom and the glory it would bring to God and to the church.
  • The cult of Thomas Becket helped to generate revenue to pay for improvements to Canterbury Cathedral — and still does today. The place is falling apart, so please support Thomas’s quest for the Golden Halo (and maybe help out Canterbury Cathedral a little).

He are some reasons not to vote for Perpetua:

  • She is sometimes known as “The Perp”. Is it a good idea to support someone with such a nickname in today’s era of Safe Church training? I thought not.
  • Perpetua wasn’t even baptized. You might as well vote for Gandhi (a nice guy, but not a Christian).
  • She thought that God’s vision involved dragons. Maybe Perpetua also thought Jesus rode a unicorn into Jerusalem.

Representing Perpetua is the Rev. Penny Nash. Penny blogs from Atlanta, Georgia at One Cannot Have Too Large a Party. Here’s her reasoning for pushing Perpetua:

So we’ve finally arrived, on this Road to the Golden Halo, at the Final Four, as we move through Holy Week, appropriately enough. Four worthy saints, to be sure, but which is the Saintliest? Why, Perpetua, of course. Need convincing? OK, let’s review.

In the preceding weeks, Perpetua defeated Charles Wesley, (writer of nice hymns but perhaps tainted by association with Methodists);  William Wilberforce, (an opponent of the slave trade with unattractive health problems), and Vincent (who’s he?).

Perpetua now stands against Clare (the patron saint of television), C. S. Lewis (apologetic and author of books claiming Jesus is a lion) and Thomas Becket (played by Richard Burton in a movie seen by everyone except Father Tim).

One of the earliest Christian martyrs, devout young Perpetua:

  • Left her own diary behind (written herself! in Latin! in 202, more than 1700 years before C.S. Lewis began apologizing in English!) before she was killed, along with several companions, for the Grand Poobah’s birthday entertainment at Roman games in Carthage; 
  • Was a new mother who nursed her child in prison until he was able to survive on his own, during which time she told her dad that he is not the boss of her;  
  • Prayed her brother, who had died at age 7 from a disfiguring disease, into wholeness – our first witness of the power of prayers of the living assisting the dead in their continuing journey to perfection.
  • Further, she had visions (way before you did, Clare) showing her brother’s transformation to wholeness as well as a vision of journeying into heaven which was a great, up high meadow or garden to which many thousands streamed and milled around (hmmm, this must be where C.S. Lewis got his idea for that scene in “The Last Battle”); 
  • Showed her impeccable fashion sense by adjusting her clothing and fixing her hair after being rammed by a wild heifer (we don’t look as if we are grieving when we meet death, she explained, a sentiment to which Peacebang will surely agree); 
  • Took matters into her own hands when her novice executioner botched his deathblow by guiding the knife to her throat (Becket rather missed this opportunity, didn’t he?); 
  • And is now a source of renewable thermoelectric energy for powering our favorite wireless devices by harvesting power from temperature differences: Perpetua Power. (Can Richard Burton OR Thomas Becket, do that?  I think not.) 

 So, vote for the Perp!  Amen.

Wow. Some convincing arguments. Time to vote!


20 Comments on “Final Four: Thomas Becket vs. Perpetua”

  1. Penny Nash says:

    Excuse me, Perpetua most certainly was baptized. She wrote about it in her diary here: See section 3.
    The Truth-O-Meter just went to Pants on Fire!

  2. Meredith Gould says:

    No contest: The Perp all the way!

  3. Gretchen R Chateau says:

    She was most certainly baptized with fire. Perpetua is owning this round.

  4. Bob Chapman says:

    Fr. Scott, you are right about unicorns and Palm Sunday. You forgot about Christmas.

    And, for Fr. Tim, here is what you need to see of the movie Becket. Watching the whoring scenes earlier might tempt you beyond what you are able. Not only that, you see how to vest like a bishop (Fr. Oscar Late must have been a consultant).

    By the Holy Blood shed at Canterbury, vote Becket.

  5. Perpetua says:

    Well, who did you expect me to vote for?

  6. Wow, the voting in this race has been neck and neck! It makes me think that Becket has a slight advantage since Perpetua had that unfortunate encounter with the executioner. Perhaps he’ll win by a head?

  7. Sudie B says:

    Penny, you’ve convinced me. The Perp is the girl for me…because she told her dad he was not the boss of her.

  8. Bob Chapman says:

    If you don’t see the connection between Becket and Bonhoeffer, may God have mercy on your soul.

    Vote Becket.

  9. Chip Chillington says:

    Go ahead and vote for a Montanist.

    Go ahead and vote for Perpetua.

  10. Penny Nash says:

    A Montanist? Um, no, that was Prisca/Priscilla. Not Perpetua. The Truth-o-Meter is back to Pants on Fire. Again.

  11. Chip Chillington says:

    Penny, you are sure that Diarmaid MacCulloch’s pants are on fire?

  12. Penny Nash says:

    I have great respect for Diarmaid MacCulloch; I am reading his latest book now and so I am aware that he (and some other scholars) considers Perpetua a Montanist because of her physical location, the time when she lived and died, and the connection that has been made (but never proven) with Tertullian, who became a Montanist in his later years. McCulloch states that Perpetua was a Montanist without footnote in Chapter 5. This does not make her a Montanist. All strong women who report visions are not Montanists. See, e.g., Julian and Theresa.

  13. Scott Gunn says:

    Penny, just because someone writes something in their diary doesn’t make it true. Perpetua seems pretty sketchy on the details of this baptism. Who was the officiant? Where was it? Were there any unicorns or dragons involved?

    I’m just not that impressed with someone who was fixated on her hairdo, rather than demonstrating humility by waring a hair shirt.

    Also, I think her brother was made whole in the world to come by Christ’s redemption, not through a few prayers. Taking credit for God’s work is also not that great.

    And if Perpetua gets credit for Perpetua Power, then Thomas gets credit for the most awesome train engine ever.

    Vote Thomas Becket!

  14. Scott Gunn says:

    Um, make that “wearing a hair shirt”. Mea culpa.

  15. Penny Nash says:

    Lovely music, Christopher!

    Otherwise, I am shocked, shocked! at the innuendo campaign against The Perp. This is the sort of thing that makes 8 lb 6 oz Baby Jesus cry.

  16. Scott Gunn says:

    “Otherwise, I am shocked, shocked! at the innuendo campaign against The Perp. This is the sort of thing that makes 8 lb 6 oz Baby Jesus cry.”

    Speaking of making babies cry, what kind of parenting is it to bring your infant child to a Roman prison? Maybe a nanny would have been a good idea? Poor child probably needed loads of therapy to recover from that — and the lies about unicorns and dragons.

    By the way, here’s a music video about Thomas Becket, humble defender of religion.

  17. Chris Arnold says:

    Which one had a play written about him by T. S. Eliot? That’s right. I’m going with Canterbury on this one, as all good Anglicans shouldmay, if they feel so inclined.

  18. Bob Chapman says:

    Chris, are you saying all may, none must, some should?

  19. I am going to vote for Perpetua, swayed by the persuasive reasoning of my favourite celebrity blogger, Penelope!

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