and the Theology Geek
have questioned whether there has been a decline in confessional Lutheran blogging. If you haven't already, visit those sites and offer your input.
In the comments at Aardvark Alley, one of the most-read bloggers in the Lutheran community has this to say about the Lutheran Carnival:
As for the "Carnival" ... I really don't know what the point of it is since anyone with a feed reader can easily keep up with every Lutheran blog site out there, quickly and conveniently. So, I wouldn't stress over that one too much either.
I'm going to agree with Pastor McCain on this point. Having a Bloglines roll of 150+ Lutheran blogs alone, it is easier and faster than for someone to wait two weeks, collect submissions, and reformat them into a post.
The Carnival can do and sometimes does do more than that, and I think we need to focus and improve on these differences for the Carnival to continue. If I may be so bold, it might be interesting to see if the Carnival's strengths can be utilized so as to make it attractive to people like Rev. McCain to host. If you shoot for the stars and miss, you may still land on top of the world. :)
So, what can the Carnival do that Bloglines/Feedster/Google Reader cannot?
The Carnival highlights the host. While hosting a carnival one can develop a theme, write a blurb about a famous church father, provide commentary on submissions, recommend other posts by the same author, and/or provide a topic to write on.
He or she also reads the posts to verify that any theology falls within the Confessions. For a layman, that last duty is probably the hardest, and the host may learn something new if a submission doesn't quite look right. I've rejected posts before on a theological basis. Forty-one posts into the carnival, that isn't much of a problem any more.
For most people, hosting the Carnival results in a traffic spike, bringing more people to the blog. My spike was about 35 unique visitors over the daily average. Readers discover the new host blog and add it to their blog rolls (unless they use the BBOV, and then Pastor 'Vark adds it for them). :)
Along the same lines, hosting the Carnival results in more people reading the host's posts and getting to know the host better. This may be a positive thing when people read one's comments on other blogs and make snap judgments about the person. Readers get to increase their sample size of the host's writing. This is a benefit that even the most seasoned bloggers can realize.
Most blogs I know don't have an elder at the door asking if you're a particular denominational stripe. I suspect NR has a lower Lutheran-to-others ratio than whatever average exists for Lutheran blogs. Mine is not a theology-only blog. Non-Lutherans who read our blogs may click on some of the links and find the theology that drives us.
Thus far the reasons I've given are admittedly self-centered. The Carnival is not only for the host but for those who submit posts.
One knows two things right off the bat about people who submit posts to the Lutheran Carnival:
- If they read the rules, they say they subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions, and
- They think their topic is worth discussing.
If what the person has to say is beneficial, they should be promoted. Pastor McCain is right that RSS readers make it easy to identify new posts, but they also make it easier to ignore posts. "Catching up" is almost too easy. An interesting post can be missed, either because the blogger shows only excerpts in his RSS feed, or the shear volume of information is simply not to be processed by the human brain. :) These guys need feedback, and being the recent host I am probably chief sinner in not going to the submitters' sites and leaving complements. I did spend some time reflecting on Long Eye Moose's post and giving constructive criticism. Sometimes people blog because a) they write better than they speak, or b) they are in a situation where they think the world is screwed up and they need confirmation, or c) I'm just projecting onto all of you, or d) all of the above.
The host has the opportunity to make the submitters better, or the host has a chance to learn from the submitters.
So if you don't want to host a Carnival for yourself, host it for the other people in the Lutheran blogosphere. The more people confess the truth, the better. The more people we teach and gently correct when a particular doctrine seems astray, the better.