I’ve decided to participate in the American Jesus Madness bracket this year! Here is my bracket, which I downloaded from the American Jesus site and filled out using PicMonkey.com.

American-Jesus-Madness-Bracket20146--liz boltz ranfeld

I don’t do sports, and the closest I’ve ever come to filling out any sort of bracket was in the the eighth grade, when my history teacher had us all do brackets for March Madness. I don’t know why. I won because I randomized my answers and put down UCLA.

I also voted in the Pie vs. Cake bracket on Jezebel several years ago.

So, taking that into consideration, I don’t understand how to figure odds or anything like that. I don’t know the bracket lingo. I do, however, know my way around Christian pop culture, which is all that I really need to know to fill this thing out.

Zack from The American Jesus suggested his readers do their own analysis of the brackets, so here is an explanation of my choices for the bracket.

Thoughts on the Jesuses

Diogo Morgado, or as I accidentally called him on my bracket because my screen was zoomed out too far, Diego Mordalo, is a good initial choice for sexiest Jesus. That’s what we’re voting on, right? But Willem Defoe easily beats out Robert Powell for best Jesus, and he then beats Morgado because Willem Defoe beats everyone in almost everything, including the other categories on this list.

You know what this list is missing, though? The reasonably attractive Canadian Jesus who was in Jesus of Montreal.

Side note: I only voted for Jim Caviezel over Jeremy Sisto because I want to be able to say, “See?! I don’t hate The Passion of the Christ that much! I voted for Jim Caviezel in a contest!” Except really I did hate that movie. Because it’s a terrible movie.

Thoughts on the Pop Culture Stuff

Christians’ love of Duck Dynasty represents everything that is ugly about the world. The amount of disdain I feel for people who idolize Duck Dynasty for its moral uprightness is tantamount to the amount of admiration and love I have for rich men who can grow awesome beards. Therefore, I cast my vote several times for Duck Dynasty.

And then I believe that Willem Defoe must do what Willem Defoe does best: melt people’s minds with his awesomeness. The only thing the Duck Dynasty guys do better than Willem Defoe is grow beards, and he’s still able to give them a run for their money. I bet he doesn’t even need a freakin’ duck call. He can just walk into a lake and be like, “Get over here, ducks!” and the ducks would be like, “What’s up, Willem?” And then he would catch and release them–because he’s a decent human being. Who, as far as I know, doesn’t think gay people are just the first step in wanting to have sex with said ducks.

Willem Defoe's Best Beard

Willem Defoe’s Best Beard

Willem Defoe's Not Best Beard

Willem Defoe’s Not Best Beard

In regards to Mark Driscoll vs. Integrity: I refuse to acknowledge Mark Driscoll, because he is a horrible misogynist who I try not to think about. When I read about Mark Driscoll, I always try to forget right away what I just read. So, I choose to pretend he’s not even in this bracket, because maybe I can will him into cultural irrelevance somehow.

Rachel Held Evans is great, but this is Christian culture, and women can’t win in Christian culture.

Thoughts on the Right Side of the Page (See, I told you I have no idea how to talk about brackets)

Nicolas Cage is kinda like Willem Defoe in the fact that he is absurdly awesome, but he doesn’t take the career risks that Willem Defoe takes. That’s why he beats out Mark Sandlin and Third Eagle of the Apocalypse (which I will now be incorporating into my Apocalypse Syllabus for future comp classes, by the way).

All I’m going to say about Kirk Cameron is sit down, Kirk Cameron.

Christian “Persecution” and Gay Wedding Cake are basically two sides of the same coin, but I’ve written about Christian Persecution and I’ve never been blessed enough to eat a gay wedding cake, and therefore I picked Persecution.

Fortunately, Pope Francis comes to sweep away both Christian persecution and Nicolas Cage, and Coloring Book Furtick is no match for our new pope. And by “our,” I don’t actually mean to include myself, since I’m not a Catholic. I have been to Mother Teresa’s tomb, though, which means I basically get to skip catechism if I want to convert. I think.

The Final Pairing

Pope Francis vs. Willem Defoe. As I put on my Facebook page this morning, I never imagined a situation in which I would have to pair those two against each other. Who wins? And why?

Okay, Willem Defoe is great, but he’s also a little…outdated. Which is more noteworthy this year: Willem Defoe making yet another gross Lars von Trier movie about sex, or the Pope being so progressive that people actually believe it when satirical websites publish fake quotes in which he renounces the idea of hell? Or that the pope has come out as gay?

Pope Francis is the person I think should and will be the winner of the American Jesus Madness Bracket.

And that is good news to me.