I started blogging when I wrote small posts for World Magazine’s blog back when blogs were new. Then I had a blog of my own under World’s auspices, and then, after World changed the way it was doing its website, I signed up with a hosting company and started my independent site. Thanks to you loyal readers, the blog has grown and grown until we typically get over 2,000 visits a day and some 90,000 page views per month. Recently, I was approached by the mega-religion site Patheos and invited to let them host this Cranach blog.
If I did, they would pay me for each page view. No longer would running this blog cost me; rather, it would actually bring in some income. Not enough for me to quit my day job, but enough to be felt in our monthly budget in these hard times. (Patheos, with all of its blogs and resources, gets over a million page views a day, which enables them to attract big advertisers and thus to pay their writers.) Not only that, this blog would be on a server with vast capacity and round-the-clock tech support at my beck and call. No more crashes! No more quirky dropping of comments!
And yet, I hesitated. Patheos is a multi-faith site. I’d be on their “evangelical channel.” (That’s all right, since we Lutherans are the first evangelicals. In fact, just as Calvinists are more properly termed “Reformed,” Lutherans were always more properly termed “evangelical.” Then other groups claimed the title. But it’s a good word, referring to the centrality of the evangel, the Gospel.) There is also a Catholic channel and a “progressive Christian” channel. But there are also channels for Mormons and Buddhists and Muslims and just about every other world religion. Even atheists have a channel (which is a neat trick, making atheists admit that atheism is a religion). But I was assured that Patheos is NOT “inter-faith.” That is, it does not pretend that all religions are the same and equally valid, squishing them all together into some syncretistic new religion that would be unrecognizable to any actual religion. Patheos instead thinks of itself as a religious marketplace, an arena for different beliefs to battle it out, as well as a place for people to learn about the different traditions. Surely, I reasoned, confessional Lutheranism needs to be in this mix. I know about altar and pulpit fellowship, but I don’t think there are rules about blog fellowship. The internet, by its nature, jumbles everyone together, and it won’t really be any different if my blog happens to be on the Patheos server. (Here is more about Patheos and still more.)
I also worried about some of you loyal readers thinking I’ve sold out to the big corporation, which will take over what was once a down-to-earth small business, whereupon it would change the original recipe and make the gravy taste like wallpaper paste. (I think what happened to Colonel Sanders.) But the corporation is not taking over anything. It’s still my blog. I will still post whatever I want to. The hosts exercise no control. Nothing is really going to change in the way I run things.
So after some prayer and agonizing, I agreed to move the blog to Patheos.
There will be some cosmetic changes. Patheos will re-work and update my site and its design, something that’s been needed for awhile anyway. The familiar Cranach banner will remain, though probably tweaked. The winged dragon, crowned, bearing a ring (Cranach’s seal) will be there as our logo. (Which some of you, I know, find too scary and would just as soon it fly away. But I’m trying to hold onto tradition right now.) The biggest change will be a Patheos banner at the very top. Also ads, but instead of the pathetic and sometimes embarrassing Google adsense ads for Mormon matchmaking services and the like, there will be advertisements for real products, like cars and hotels. Also, the comments will be nested; that is, when you reply to someone else’s comments and then someone replies to what you say, the comments will be indented and placed next to each other accordingly. This will allow digressions and rabbit trails to wander off as people have interest in discussing them, but those who don’t can concentrate on the main thread. Most blogs have that feature today, and I think this will serve well our particular kinds of discussions.
We will all probably notice the visual changes and complain about them for a few days, but then we’ll stop noticing them. Your bookmarks should still work. When you click on the old web address, you’ll be automatically re-directed to the new one. Your RSS feeds should still work, but if they don’t, they can be easily set up again by clicking a button on the site. Same with Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.
I don’t know exactly when the change will happen. Probably next week some time. But when you see the new look, you’ll know what has happened.
We’ve got a quite extraordinary little community of discourse here. I don’t want to lose that. I do want to share it with other people and draw more people in. I’ll depend on you to make Patheos drifters feel welcome. Are you all right with this?