Commenters: We salute you

20000_7e0bDuring today's battle between Jackson Kemper and Margery Kempe someone posted the 20,000th comment on the Lent Madness website. This milestone has put the SEC into a reflective mood and thus we offer the following thoughts:

1. 20,000 comments -- about saints?! It's pretty amazing that so many people have engaged their faith since we started this dedicated Lent Madness website in 2012. Sure, the advent of the internet led to an explosion of people sharing opinions in public forums and we're used to people opining about sports teams and politics. But the fact that so much thought has gone into commenting about people who have followed Jesus is still stunning.

2. Most online forums are hardly...gracious places. With rare exception, those who comment on the saintly smackdown are respectful and kind. People often share their impressions and personal experiences in touching ways. Humor and good cheer abound even amid differences of opinion. This is hardly common when it comes to open online forums -- the phrase "internet troll" is well deserved. Yet Lent Madness seems to bring out the best in people.

3. Lent Madness is a learning opportunity. Most people understand that the whole notion of saints "competing" against one another is absurd and that the real point is to learn about some amazing people. Of course brief write-ups are just scratching the saintly surface and we love it when commenters share resources with one another in order to go deeper.

4. It's self-policing. In the first year or two Scott or Tim would regularly have to jump into the commenting fray to answer questions or redirect the tone. This rarely happens now because others are quick to step in and we're grateful.

5. For the most part. Occasionally people should pause before hitting "submit" and think about whether the comment is hurtful in any way. Yes, advocate for your saint but please don't trash the other one. I mean, cultural context and all, there's good reason why all of these folks are in the bracket. If a certain saint "does nothing" for you that doesn't mean she or he hasn't inspired the person in the next cubicle.

6. Comments build community. It is through our interaction with one another -- the playful, the maddening, the informative, the prayerful -- that community is built. Yes, you are part of the Lent Madness community and it is a very real, not merely virtual, community.

7. We love lurkers. The term "lurker" isn't an insult. It refers to those who fully engage by reading and voting but never comment. Actually only a very small percentage of those who read blogs actually leave comments. This doesn't mean they don't care or aren't passionate about the topics at hand -- they're just not the commenting type. If you are a lurker, that's fine!

8. The dilemma for voters. "Should I read the comments before I vote or not?" Some participants check in comment-box_mediumthroughout the day to read and reflect and only then cast their vote. Others intentionally ignore the comments in order to remain bias-free. Whatever your method, you're right!

9. If you've never commented, jump in! Everyone's first comment gets moderated -- just to make sure you're not a troll or spam -- so if it doesn't appear immediately, you'll know why. Whether profound or trivial or somewhere in between, your comments do enrich all of us. If you've been hesitant to share your thoughts publicly, go ahead and jump in! The commenting water's fine.

Whether you've left one comment or 50 over the past few years, we're grateful for your engagement and trust that the process of reading others' has been food for your Lenten journey. Onward to the next 20,000...


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41 comments on “Commenters: We salute you”

  1. Congrats on the high multitude of omments!
    I have been spreading the Lent Madness website to friends in hope that they can enjoy the journey to the golden halo as much as I. Great job to everyone involved in the workings of this sister. Peace! Love! Hope! Gratitude!

    1. Best is write your comment in Word or its equivalent and then paste it in the comment. This does two functions: 1) Spell check & 2) A moment of repose/reflection & proofreading.

  2. I've been sharing the "Lent Madness" with my co-workers. They didn't want to get in on the action, but have had fun so far learning more about the saints!
    Congratulations on 20,000 comments, onward to the next 20,000.

  3. "Comments build community"--true, true! Since being introduced to Lent Madness in 2012, I've subscribed to four blogs--including those of the illustrious SEC--and even become Facebook friends with one of the celebrity bloggers.
    All this and some really interesting saints as well! Thanks, Tim and Scott!

  4. Thanks to everyone! I have learned something or thought about something a little differently almost every day during the madness. I look forward to it every year now.

  5. Guess I am part commenter/part lurker. I so enjoy reading everyone's ideas, messages, added get the idea! Last year my brother and sister-in-law who attend St. James in Goshen NY told me about Lent Madness.........I thank them both for letting me know this wonderful Lenten "devotional" exists! Thanks a bunch to Tim and Scott for their devotion to this wonderful Lent Madness!

  6. Thank you for the analysis of LM blog participants! It's encouraging so many people are reading, thinking and "talking" about the saints. Perhaps some of us are thinking: how does that saint relate to my life? or I could Never Do That even to serve Christ! or Could I?

    It seems the community disbands at the conclusion of the Madness.
    Thank God for Easter! Howsomever, I sort of miss the on-line community, after the Madness.

    1. Ginny, I agree but a term "Easter Madness" is too much a reminder of the "March Hare". I guess we should quietly return to Forward Movement and contemplate lessons learned.

  7. Being a long-term, faithful "lurker", thank you for the love! I love the humor and wit, the education and the 'awesomeness' of the saints. I vote and then read the comments and I always take away something from the battle of the day. Thank you for what y'all do. Now...back to my lurking.....

  8. As a confirmed 'lurker', I feel a need to express appreciation to all who enliven my experience with their comments. Oh, my have I ruined my status? More in depth study is now a necessity.

  9. I voted yesterday for Elizabeth and it was my first loss, but I stand by my vote. When I was pregnant with my daughter and the Gospel was read of Mary and Elizabeth my child kicked me during the reading. I will never forget that.

  10. Am a lurker but so enjoy all of the comments. I had to speak up for Margery Kempe because I - too have the gift of tears!

    1. As a male creation of God, I too have cried at various moving moments and learned to not be ashamed. Margery's story helps.

  11. I was pretty quiet last year. Not so this year, so far, and I can't imagine that will change except to get more so. It's such fun, learning and listening and growing.
    Late breaking news!! I just got a Saintly Scorecard 2014 from Amazon and a about to order a Saintly Scorecard 2015 also from Amazon — used but what the hey — can't get 'em from SEC.

  12. This is my first year to participate in Lent Madness. It's also the first year in a lot of years - for reasons not necessary to go into - that I've even observed Lent. This is a wonderful way to re-enter the discipline - informative, fun, and with a spiritual component as well. Thanks for all the effort that goes into making it happen. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!

  13. Yes..... knowing that the comments field is rarely hurtful is a wondrous thing ......go Lent rock

  14. I just wish I had an archnemesis to swap comments with like the SEC has each other in the off-season. It'd make it even more fun!

  15. Congrats to the SEC for providing fodder for 20,000 comments! I was a Lurker last year, but have dipped my toes in a few times thus far this season. It is indeed a welcoming community.
    Best wishes for the next 20K!

  16. Having spent most of my adult life in the area that owes a great deal to Jackson Kemper, I had no choice but to vote for him!

  17. Congratulations on 20,000 comments and on spreading saintly information and humor! I have shared Lent Madness with all my Clergy friends from various denominations and we meet every week for lunch and compare our choices and the winners. It adds to our conversation, humor and relationship. Onward to the next 20,000 comments.

  18. Sandra...sadly you are no longer a lurker. You have become a commenter! Congratulations

  19. i would like to suggest that the 20,000th commenter get a 2015 LM mug and maybe even throw in a T-shirt. no, i'm pretty sure i am not the 20, 000th one! i love LM. i got my church to play last year and we are doing it again this year with no push from me.

  20. I have loved being a "lurker" but have now felt the need to be a commentator. Whoops!
    Well done SEC, This is a fantastic way to work through Lent.
    Thank you

  21. Congrats to all on such a great community of very smart people grappling with the things of God. Thank you SEC for such an interesting exercise. Can't imagine Lent without LentMadness.

  22. I only joined Lent Madness last year and was so looking forward to it this year. Its nice to have a Lenten activity that doesnt drag us through the vale of tears (no disrespect to Marjery Kempe), but instead provides a fun and educational way to both fellowship with fellow LMers and learn about those who laid a foundation of faith for us. Bravo to Lent Madness and for all who participate by comment or lurking!