March Gladness 2017: The Christian Culture Tournament (Final Four)

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UPDATED BRACKET (click to biggify)

Update: Final four voting is closed–head on over to the Championship round to continue voting!

Guys, it’s been a chaotic, emotionally-charged tournament.  Feelings have been hurt.  Relationships have been tested.  We began with 64 teams; now we are down to four.  I, too, have felt the sting of disappointment: My prediction of a Song of Solomon versus Larry the Cucumber championship has been dead for several rounds now.  I do not understand the twists and turns of March Gladness; I only know that we must see this thing through until the end.

But first, a moment for all the teams eliminated so far:

Wait, that’s the wrong video.  Let’s try this again:

That’s not the right video either.  Hang on…

YES.  Thank you, eliminated March Gladness teams.  I am so glad you gave.

Let’s get it on.  Here’s what’s already happened:

Round one
Round one podcast breakdown
Round two
Round three
Round three podcast breakdown
Round four

…and here’s the semifinals:

Semifinal #1

Flannelgraph 164 ( 65.6 % )
Psalty 86 ( 34.4 % )


Will Flannelgraph deploy the Benedict Option?  Will Psalty insist that the matchup take place inside The Shack?  Is Heaven For Real?

So many questions.

Another question: Is Angels in the Outfield the worst faith-based movie of all time?  First of all, the angels were carrying/pushing dudes all over the field and apparently everyone in the stadium was like yep, okay.  Also, one of the angels made the baseball hit a guy in the nuts, and how can that even be okay.  That’s a line you don’t cross.  You wing a Rawlings at my spiritual gifts and I’m gonna go Full Jacob, bubba.  Thirdly, what was that crap line about how angels couldn’t help the team win the championship because it was against the rules?  Why not?  What rules?  That’s not biblical; you’re just a lazy angel.

Semifinal #2

Whit 198 ( 56.9 % )
DC Talk 150 ( 43.1 % )

We all saw this matchup coming.  The forces of 90s church nostalgia converge, pitting the face of Adventures in Odyssey against the faces of youth group angst.

When you grow up in evangelical Christianity, there is a sort of dread that soaks into you as you watch your parents fight the culture.  They aren’t your battles, not yet, but knowing that they will be your battles is unsettling.

Enter Whit.  He was the quirky, soothing voice of our evangelical childhood.  He was familiar; he was the grandfather we didn’t have.  He was James Dobson by proxy, reassuring us that manhood was still a good and noble thing, even as the smoke from the culture wars darkened the horizon.  Whit was virtue, an Atticus Finch-like projection of who we wanted to become.

And then there was DC Talk.  If you were a Christian adolescent in the 90s, it is difficult to quantify how important DC Talk was.  We had spent our lives listening to uncool people tell us that the Gospel required us to be Strange.  Our parents told us to be Strange.  Sweaty fat men in suits stood at the pulpit and told us to be Strange.  Overcaffeinated man-child youth rally speakers told us to be Strange.  It all rang hollow, in that these people were weird to begin with.  It’s not like they were sacrificing popularity to follow Christ.

But then came the coolest guys in Christian music, and instead of shading towards the mainstream, instead of inching toward Culture or The World, they literally named their masterpiece album Jesus Freak.  It was defiant, angry, and explicitly Christian.  For a lot of church kids, it was the middle finger we didn’t know how to make.  It was validation of what we both feared and hoped for–that we were different, that we did not belong in this world, and that we never would.  And because DC Talk looked and sounded cool while they said it…well, that somehow made all the difference in the world.

So now we have to pick between the two, between Whit and DC Talk, and it won’t be easy, but this is what you guys get for voting out Carman.

Semifinal voting ends Monday night