What is faithful Mo-blogging?

Over at Blogger of Jared, they are discussing what Mormon-Friendly Anti-Mormonism would look like (hat tip: Dave at DMI). This was inspired by an email received by Eric in which someone was arguing that the Bloggernacle was that. Eric specifically asked that the thread there not turn into general bashing of the Bloggernacle; after all, that’s what all their other threads consist of ;)

On being implicitly called insufficiently faithful by this anonymous emailer, I am mildly irritated. I consider myself faithful. I try my best to keep all the commandments. I believe that the Brethren are inspired. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and our only hope for Salvation. I feel like I have a completely average testimony of the Gospel. So being told that I am involved in a project that is designed to undermine faith (or even unintentionally undermines faith) is frustrating.

Perhaps the problem is that we Mo-bloggers have not done sufficient market research. What should faithful Mo-blogging look like? In times past, Meridian has been mentioned. Should faithful Mo-blogging look like that? Blogger of Jared was cited in this email as a faithful blog. Should we talk about the same things, but go out of our way to cite general authorities in every post or comment? Is it that we may all be wolves in sheep’s clothing? Should we begin every post with a note regarding our temple recommend status and our recent R-rated movie watching record?

I may sound sarcastic, but I am sincere. I want to know what you think faithful blogging about the church would look like. What do you think?

Comments

  1. I think part of the problem stems from those who might not be as intellectually savvy or historically informed. If they come across a blog or specific thread that deals with a niche they are unfamiliar with, they’re more liable to have a problem with it, since it’s new to them, and perhaps is being discussed in a forum that allows for faithful members and detractors alike to hash out the specifics, debate a doctrinal point, or vent frustration.

    I think that many would agree that the ‘nacle fills an intellectual void that some feel is created by watered down Sunday School lessons. We crave a discussion for deeper doctrine, more interesting perspectives, historical context, and the like. Often, our teachers can’t offer that, and so here we are.

    But for those who don’t operate on the same level as some of the big boys in the ‘nacle, I think that problems are created when they feel that their “liberal” approach to doctrine, or “ark-steadying” motives are not in harmony with proper LDS conduct.

    It’s definitely a new and scary environment for a member who is used to the milk of the gospel. Many of us enjoy the meat, which is what we find being discussed quite often on these blogs. But when somebody goes from the bottle to a big bit of a tenderloin, they often choke.

    What can we all do differently? I would suppose that it would be helpful to keep in mind our audience. Frankly, we don’t know who our audience is. For all we know, GBH is reading this thread. But I feel that being cognizant of any and all who might read our rantings would perhaps change the way we approach certain subjects, as well as how we all treat each other when commenting and discussing the topic.

    My 2¢.

  2. I think faithful Mo-blogging would look like the Bloggernacle. Do you want to know what I think self-righteous Mo-blogging would look like?

  3. I did not intend this to hurt anyone’s feelings. It was not my original observation. I am not even sure I agree with it. I thought that subtle anti-Mormonism might be an interesting discussion. I wanted the post to be more about subtle anti-Mormonism in general. I am not always as clear as I ought to be. Perhaps I should have left out that part of the email.

    For the most part, if you do not feel the shoe fits, then do not wear it. I admit that I get a little disgusted with the ‘nacle sometimes, but that disgust is mild. Overall I like it and would not continue if I did not.

    In general I feel that faithful blogging would usually leave little or no doubt about the standing of the author to the typical reader (if there is such a thing). Would a rank and file member who reads your stuff over time suspect that you are an active member who attends meetings, holds a calling, pays their tithing, sustains their leaders, reads their scriptures, prays, etc., etc.? If so you are probably doing blogging that would be considered faithful.

    If, on the other hand, the reader suspects that you are inactive, or ex’d, or disgruntled, and disagree with much of the teachings of the church, then your blogging is probably not faithful. I don’t think it is as complicated as many would make it seem.

    I do feel that the more controvertial we get, then the higher the responsibility to provide high quality documentation from top sources.

    Anyway, sorry if my post rubbed people the wrong way. I was just trying to start an interesting discussion.

  4. It’s a legitimate question (see title of post). To what degree are we encouraging each other to be faithful members of the Church? Should that be an aim of Mormon blogging? I am very grateful for the Mormon blogging community.

    Sometimes I do think we could do better. But I also am optimistic and I think we’re learning from the process of blogging about Mormonism.

  5. 1. The defnition of faithful, and even faith, seems to be more of an issue here then the actual content of the blogs.

    2.

    For all we know, GBH is reading this thread.

    When reading this, I thought, Would I post differently if I thought this were true? I mean, if he was lurking, not signing comments ‘the Prophet’ or ‘a random Gordon.’ I really don’t think I would. (Although I’d cut back on the salty language and the Cheech and Chong references.)

  6. Kristine says:

    I have been around the bloggernacle long enough to be heartily sick of this particular conversation.

    “Faithful” is in the eye of the beholder. Many readers probably conclude that I’m not faithful, because I don’t express myself in the way they’re used to hearing Mormon women talk in Sunday School. I’m not inclined to believe that uninformed drivel is faithful, no matter how well-intentioned or liberally salted with GA quotations, because I think God requires us to love and serve Him with our minds as well as our hearts.

    So, we can all agree that we’re not each other’s bishops and give each other the benefit of the doubt, or we can play to our own pride and self-righteousness by setting up our own blogs as examples of faithful blogging (whether by anonymous reader e-mails or references from newspapers and national publications, it is the same).

    There may be one true church, but there is not one true way to talk about it.

  7. Matt W. says:

    For all we know, GBH is reading this thread.

    We all know GBH’s boss is…

    Anyway, I think one thing I’ve been grateful to learn from the Bloggernacle is that being “faithful” to God doesn’t mean agreeing with Matt W. on every single little detail of reality. It may mean agreeing with my Wife on every single detail, however…

  8. An Observer says:

    I find the author’s response more interesting than the questions he raises.

    On being implicitly called insufficiently faithful by this anonymous emailer, I am mildly irritated.

    Although no mention of JDC or any of the sites where he personally blogs is ever mentioned in the Blogger of Jared post, JDC admits to feeling irritated by the mere possibility that his own “average” testimony might be called into question. His response is to show his competency in the Mormon language game by bearing his testimony using some familiar LDS idioms that mark him as a member of the community.

    I consider myself faithful. I try my best to keep all the commandments. I believe that the Brethren are inspired. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and our only hope for Salvation . . .

    He uses “believe” instead of the standard “know,” however, signalling not doubt, of course, but an awareness of the epistemological problems with using “know” in the typical way. He chooses a more accurate word choice (and in so doing unwittingly reveals his advanced education) that doesn’t raise a red flag in this setting the way it might for some who heard him say “believe” instead of “know.” Still, by spelling out his beliefs, particularly in the “Brethren,” he is clearly trying to clarify his allegiance. Why the need do so? Does he feel misunderstood and even accused on some level?

    He follows this testimony bearing with an expression of frustration.

    So being told that I am involved in a project that is designed to undermine faith (or even unintentionally undermines faith) is frustrating.

    If he finds it frustrating to have his faithfulness implicitly questioned because of unspecified blog posts which someone has suggested might unintentionlly undermine faith, imagine how much more difficult it might be to be explicitly and publicly named as an apostate for academic work that has never been engaged and may have been just as innocently published? Yet, I’ve seen the author make such accusations on this very site.

    I think the public policing of orthodoxy that the bloggernacle has introduced in recent years throws a wrench in established arguments about the importance of orthopraxis over orthodoxy for Latter-day Saints. No doubt drinking coffee marks you as an outsider in certain ways, but it has also long been the case that intellectual work on certain topics can jeopardize one’s perceived insider status and trustworthiness with remarkable speed. The bloggernacle throws light on this fact regularly. Wasn’t it Margaret Young that was questioned most recently? I mean, Margaret Young for crying out loud?

  9. Steve Evans says:

    Kristine, AMEN.

    The fact of the matter is: I know that I’m a faithful, believing member of the Church. If, as Eric says above, “the reader suspects that you are inactive..” etc., etc., that reader can take a long walk off a short pier. A reader’s interpretation of my words is not the standard by which my faithfulness is determined. I know what I am and I know where I stand with my faith. If I don’t live up to some random reader’s stringent criteria, to hell with them.

  10. Why in the world should anyone care what [other bloggers] think?*

    *edits provided by your friendly neighborhood admin

  11. A reader’s interpretation of my words is not the standard by which my faithfulness is determined.

    J. Reuben Clark once said “Never let your faith be difficult to detect.” We are told that “by your fruits ye shall know them”. Are not our words our fruits? Are we not to be judged (both by others and by the Lord) based on our words?

  12. Connor, when God wants to judge me, let Him do so however He, in his omniscience and mercy, decides what manner is best. If you want to judge me, stick it where the sun don’t shine.

  13. gorgonzola says:

    I for one know the bloggernacle is the true.

    PS-Margaret Young? Really?!! Who?, Why.

  14. Eric,
    I know that your post wasn’t directed toward the nacle at large and that the following jokes were cheap shots. I like you. I really, really like you. I don’t think that you meant ill. Your post just got me thinking about what faithful blogging (according to the anonymous emailer) would look like. I know that BCC has been identified in comments on your site before as a site that “could go either way” as it were. For that matter, I don’t know that BCC receives emails thanking it for representing faithful Mormons (although one of the blog heads could certainly correct me if this is a common occurance). As a result, while I know that you were not targeting me and while I don’t know that the emailer was either, it got me thinking regarding why blogging at BCC (or anywhere within the Bloggernacle) would be perceived as unfaithful.

    As an example, a while back I wrote a post in which I asked why people didn’t like The Mormons (the PBS documentary (actually, that post was also inspired by a BoJ post :) )). Most of the people who commented at BCC agreed with me that it was mostly positive. But in talking to my mother and siblings, they were all very negative on it, finding all sorts of negative editing and mild deception. I imagine that this was the case in many, if not most, non-bloggernacle households. My brother, for instance, only watched about a half hour of the show, because he kept getting so mad at the presentation. Those of you who encountered my brother when blogging will remember his mildly belligerent defense of the faith. He quit blogging very early in because he realized that so much of it made him angry. He felt that it was mostly a less-than-faithful endeavor and questioned the motives of everyone involved (except for me (as far as I know ;) )). I don’t know why he had this reaction, because he is normally a big-hearted nerd. But he did. I know that he would find the same things irritating or pandering at Meridian that I do, but I think he would be more comfortable there. If the measure of religion is how it treats its odd ducks (as Trevor Southey declares), how do we treat people like my brother?

    Observer,
    You can say Margaret Toscano’s name. You won’t get banned and I won’t get bad. You can even actually call me a hypocrite if you like. It’s really okay. When it comes down to it, the reason why I supported Margaret Young and disparaged Margaret Toscano has little or nothing to do with what they wrote. I, personally speaking, would be pleased if the women of the church were asked to use their priesthood (although I think that the idea of joint callings is a disaster waiting to happen; that said, I would have nothing against female bishops, etc.). For that matter, I am not entirely convinced that Margaret and I mean the same thing when we use the word “prophet.” But I read Margaret Y and ignore Margaret T because of the tone of the argument. Margaret Y suggests/Margaret T instructs (at least in my limited experience with both). If you are questioning to my ability to judge what I like or don’t like, that’s just silly. You can agree or disagree, but you can’t deny me my opinion. If you don’t like my take, please explain yours (if you are interested in dialogue) or not (if you are not). Thanks for participating in any case.

    Steve, Kristine, and Rusty,
    Sorry for bringing this up again. As long as my brother, whom I love, thinks that this is a very bad thing, I will likely keep thinking about it. I am interested in what people who disparage the blogs would like. It seems like most of the feedback we get is of the “just shut up” variety. If we could figure out how to change the root of that reaction, I think that the Bloggernacle would be a bigger, fuller, and more exciting place.

  15. Steve, If I mention Matthew 7:1 again, will you start swinging your man-purse — oops, satchel?

    To echo the apparent theme of the responses, I try my best to avoid leading others astray, but what someone else thinks of me is trivial in comparison to what I think of myself. If the Prophet or my Stake President or my Bishop were reading my comments, I wouldn’t change a word (although I might type more slowly and spell-check more often). Having said that, I have dear friends in the Church to whom I would never recommend this blog – and I would warn them away if they asked me.

  16. If you want to judge me, stick it where the sun don’t shine.

    This raises an interesting question. We are counseled in the scriptures to judge righteously.

    When is this appropriate? Are we to judge each other in an attempt to discern one’s faithfulness? Are we only to judge when in a position of authority? Are we never to judge?

    We all judge each other. We all have impressions of each other. In a virtual environment (the ‘nacle), all we have to go on is each others’ words.

  17. Connor,

    Based upon your “fruits”, what impressions do you think you are offering up to the typical bloggernacle reader about yourself? Seriously.

  18. C Jones says:

    #6 and #8,
    Why so defensive? Some of us have not been around so long as to be heartily sick of this or any other conversation. I hope that those of you who have been around longer will still be patient with newer participants even if this is such an old topic to you.

  19. Connor, the scriptures also counsel us to not pick at motes in other’s eyes. Righteous judging is not fault-finding. Not by a long shot.

  20. Ray, no satchel-swinging for Matt 7:1, esp. since the more self-righteous mormons among us will no doubt bring up the JST for that verse. When people do that I wish I carried around a 2×4 like Hacksaw Jim Duggan, instead of a stupid man-purse.

  21. Based upon your “fruits”, what impressions do you think you are offering up to the typical bloggernacle reader about yourself? Seriously.

    Ah, I was waiting for such a comment. :)

    We all have room for improvement, to be sure. Eric wasn’t pointing any fingers in his post, nor am I. The questions raised are more of a general nature, hopefully leading all of us to ponder how or what we can do better.

  22. Ha! And lo, comment 16 is posted.

  23. Righteous judging is not fault-finding.

    I agree.

    What, then, is righteous judging?

  24. And I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again — if people are going to use labels like “friendly antimormons” to describe others in the bloggernacle, or if we’re going to cast aspersions on others, then either point out something in particular that you feel is not in harmony with the Brethren, or SHUT UP. Throwing vague judgments of righteousness around under the guise of “general nature” is the acme of cowardice, masked as trying to be sensitive to the needs of others.

  25. Connor, that is a non-anwser. You seem to think that “righteous judging” means we take stock of others based upon what we have available to us, and that is righteous. I disagree with your reading, but regardless, based upon your reading, I want you to (consistent with your stated position) to render such a “righteous judgement” upon yourself based upon the “fruits” you present to us, the bloggernacle.

  26. Connor,
    Take a moment and think about this. Extreme Dorito has accused you of being too judgmental. EXTREME DORITO HAS ACCUSED YOU OF BEING TOO JUDGMENTAL. If that is not a call to action…

    People, this post is not about the nature of judging. This post is about discussing what “faithful” blogging is. Please keep it on topic.

  27. Matt W. says:

    Connor:

    here’s the first stepping stone.

  28. Connor,

    What, then, is righteous judging?

    See D&C 64, a thorough discussion of which can be found at:

    http://www.ldsgospeldoctrine.net/kn/dc/dc064.pdf

    HP,

    How can we have a discussion of what is and what isnt “faithful” if we cannot come to grips on what the means are of determining what “faithful” is?

  29. a random John says:

    Rusty,

    LOL!

    Connor,

    I think that the faith of most bloggernacle bloggers is easy enough to detect if you spend some time at the blogs. I really don’t think that every single post needs be overflowing with indicators of our faith. You have to look at the blogs in the context of other discussions of our faith. I think that many are attracted to the bloggernacle because it provides for a type of discussion that either is impossible or simple does not happen during the three hour block. So it isn’t going to resemble Sunday School (with the exception of perhaps Meridian) because we already have SS and we’re not looking for more SS but something that SS is lacking.

  30. Matt W. says:

    Sorry, HP, back on track.

    I think Faithful blogging isn’t about what is discussed but how it is discussed. I’ve actually thought about posting on this topic, but never get my post finished.

    Here are some suggestion I came up with that I was going to post but never did (because HP kept posting before me on similar themes)

    here are some “rules of engagement” I’ve come up with which help soften the tone of blogging.

    1. Disassociate yourself from your ideas. This is an important step. A lot of the time I see two perfectly reasonable and intelligent people discussing perfectly reasonable ideas, only to be disappointed when one person gets “offended” because the other person has “insulted their beliefs”. This is actually a major problem among missionaries, or at least was on my mission. Missionaries would avoid doing missionary work for fear of being rejected or attacked. People online don’t know you, so they can’t reject you. They do know your thoughts, and they may reject them, but if you have a thought you don’t want or can’t have attacked, don’t throw it around.

    2. No sneaky discounts. Discounting is when you disagree with someone and undermine everything they say. Common Discount techniques include almost any sentence which starts with “Yes, but..”, “maybe, but…”, “I agree, however…” etc. If you want to disagree with someone, just disagree. Instead of responding “Yes, but…” which destroys future potential for consensus. Try to find a way to say “Yes, and…”

    3. Speak without Authority. I know Jesus spoke with Authority. You aren’t Jesus. In a confrontational environment, it is better to use language like “I believe Jesus was the Christ.”, rather than just saying “Jesus was the Christ.” (you can of course go with the simpler form when a consensus has already been established)On the flip side of course, we need to recognize when another is using the language of humility and not respond with hostility. “Your beliefs suck.” Is not very effective dialogue. One more thing on this idea. Sometimes, this way of framing things “I believe…” can make it difficult to disassociate yourself from your ideas. If this appears to be a problem for you, but you still want to engage in the topic, I’d recommend tying to find an alternative way to touch upon the topic, perhaps quote someone else who has spoken on the topic.

    4. Be careful about making an appeal to authority. Try not to use appeals to authority as an end to discussion. It is okay to quote an authority, but don’t expect someone to back down from their opinion just because Bruce R. McConkie, the Apostle Paul, or Sterling McMurrin said something that contradicts them. If they are really passionate about the topic, chances are they’ve already read or heard the quote. If you do note an appeal to authority, try to give a little exegesis with the quote to say why you are giving it, why it’s important to you, and why we should care. Also, try to leave some room for us to not think you are a jerk.

    5. Remember that the other person has thoughts, feelings, and ideas which are just as real as your own, no matter how much you disagree with them. While you think you are being clever with your witty sarcasm, snarky remarks, and sour attitude, you may just be ruining someone else’s life.

    6. Don’t expect your “rules of engagement” to apply to anyone besides yourself. To quote Stan Lee “nuff said”

    What do you think?

  31. The central theme of this thread is how to “judge” one’s faithfulness as a blogger. Matthew 7:1 – since I won’t get hit by a flying satchel. Simply put, we shouldn’t – not even as I make jokes about acronyms for the terminally obnoxious. Even in those instances, we should see if there is a seed of truth that can enlighten our understanding. If so, we have grown; if not, we can discard the message without judging the messenger.

    “Judging righteously” is perhaps the most over-used, mis-applied concept in the history of mankind. I look at judging righteously as meaning making the exact same judgment that Jesus would make – based on both actions and the condition of a heart. All of us are required to judge actions, words and situations in a way that informs our own actions, words and responses, but not one of us should extend those types of judgments to the point of divisiveness, personal rejection, condemnation, or any other result that shuts the door on future fellowship – even with our enemies and those that spitefully use and persecute us.

    For example, I truly hate and loath what a friend of mine did to his daughters, but I am commanded not to pass judgment on him – unless I am in a calling where that is required. If I knew absolutely everything that had contributed to his actions, then perhaps I could judge righteously, but I don’t have that understanding and knowledge. Therefore, it is not my right to pass judgment on him, even as I must pass judgment on his actions.

    I don’t know enough about anyone who contributes to a blog to come CLOSE to a proper level of understanding in order to judge their faithfulness.

  32. #33: and also, while they’re at it. ;)

  33. ED,
    I was hoping that people would provide examples of faithful blogging, so that we could learn therefrom and figure what is meant. I happen to think that, as an example, every blog listed at MA (at least the ones I’ve read) contains faithful blogging (though not necessarily exclusively). In saying that, I am not slighting LDSelect, I am just less familiar with it. In any case, I think that giving examples of what people who are generally dissatisfied with the bloggernacle find to be faithful blogging would be more useful than a list of rules for judgment that no-one will use after (or during) this discussion.

    Matt W.,
    interesting list. I think that it would be helpful if we all adopted similar rules of conduct. At least, it would make me less irritated.

    Finally,
    Drop the righteous judgment threadjack. I will delete comments to enforce this. If you want a thread about what constitutes righteous judgment (which I DO think is a tired subject), please go start your own thread.

  34. ps. the disappearing comments are my doing. Both to prove that I will do it and because they were all entirely related to something I just fixed.

  35. HP, fair ehough, but you should have said that at the outset. A discussion of the definition is fair game unless you bar that at the outset. As for the judging “threadjack”, had you given me a few more comments, I would have made the case that judging others in the manner Connor suggested is “unfaithful”. A fair and balanced discussion of topics, even difficult, disturbing and troublesome ones, can be had without being judgemental, obnoxious, rude or unfaithful. People really can split hairs without picking at motes in each other’s eyes, and I am afraid the “faithful” argument really is more of the latter than the former.

  36. ED, smell what HP is cookin’. He even deleted me. ME!!

  37. Power to the HP. In your face!

  38. My advice: if you think someone is an anti-Mormon and it bothers you, stop reading.

  39. ED, I understand. I would apologize, but, even after starting many, many threads, I still have some dim hope that they will actually follow the point I tried to make. Ah heck, I apologize anyway.

    Steve,
    I said I was sorry about that. Now what’s this email about a meeting tonight at midnight? And what’s a Star Chamber anyway?

  40. My uncle’s friend’s brother told me that Meridian eats small children.
    That doesn’t seem very pro-Mormon.

    I mean, for what it’s worth.

  41. StillConfused says:

    I love the nacle. You guys keep it real in the hood. We need more of that in this world.

  42. So, let me ask it this way: are we talking about how to define faithful blogging or considerate blogging?

    Matt, most of your suggestions, if not all of them, address the latter – not specifically the former. If we are discussing faithful blogging, my only contribution is that anything that obviously denounces a core Gospel principle or questions the sincerity or honesty of Church leaders probably constitutes unfaithful blogging. If we are discussing considerate blogging, I like Matt’s list – even though I manage to break one now and then, both unintentionally and intentionally.

    I would add only one thing to the list: Before you respond, re-read the comment to which you are responding – and do so more slowly and carefully than the first time you read it, as well as your own response. Often, that will mitigate your initial reaction, especially if you force yourself to look for something with which you agree and/or try to think of an explanation that would make what they say valid – or at least less vile. In some cases, that will not produce anything; in most, it probably will. (It also will keep you from typing “her” when you know you should be typing “him”.)

  43. An Observer says:

    Ahhh JDC,

    I don’t think you’re a hypocrite down deep. You just sometimes play one on BCC. In truth, I was not trying to point out what might be considered your hypocrisy. I am hoping to see you grow in compassion, about which possibility I remain hopeful, but that would be a side benefit of your recent discomfort and not my primary aim in commenting at BCC.

    There’s no need to be patronizing. I didn’t mention Margaret Toscano’s name because she wasn’t the point. I have nothing at all invested in defending her work (which I think has some obvious problems) and have no reason whatsoever to personally defend her as she is a stranger to me. My interest is in the way the LDS community creates and enforces boundaries and the effects of those boundaries on individuals in that community. I find you an interesting case study in this regard, JDC and have for some time. In your recent comment you said that you disparage someone for work you haven’t read because of her “tone” which you find fault with because she “intructs” rather than “suggests.” That is a fascinating comment coming from an academic! Good academic work is not merely suggestive; it’s thesis-driven. Academics make and defend arguments. You know that. Margaret Young is a novelist and her work is not comparable in this regard. That her fiction suggests rather than instructs is evidence of its quality because that is one of things fiction can and should do, but the same isn’t necessarily true for scholarly articles.

    The obviously unanswerable question I have is this: if MT hadn’t been excommunicated would you read her work differently, or (since you don’t read her work), would you hear her tone in a different register? We can’t be sure, of course, about such counterfactuals, but people often impute and impose tone on written documents wrongly. Timbre is a hard thing to read and authorial intent is sometimes more difficult to decipher than we might think. (As a biblical scholar you know this too).

    That said, even if we grant that MT’s tone is problematic (for whatever reason) you might consider how your tone might change over time if you were consistently put on the defensive about your work and then finally formally disciplined and defined as being outside the community for your scholarly pursuits. (this is where the compassion comes in . . . a compassion I hope would be shown across the board including towards those in the bloggernacle whose faithfulness might be implicitly questioned by others as well-meaning as yourself)

    The question isn’t really over what you like or dislike, JDC (which doesn’t matter the least to me). The question is the way in which a community can influence those preferences and the power it has to focus the lens through which one views the world. I’ve seen this happen at Mormon book groups where people will read books written by non-members and active members of the church, but absolutely won’t read books written by a former or less active Latter-day Saint regardless of the quality of the book (I’ve seen this happen with Terry Tempest Williams _Refuge_, for example). I find this response (fear, suspicion, distrust, anger, dismissal, judgment . . .?) interesting and worth trying to understand.

  44. Matt W. says:

    Meridian isn’t even a blog. It’s more like a periodical. It has no comments section, and no public interaction with commenters. (Though I have written both OSC, who ignored me, and Kieth Merrill, who wrote me back and disagreed with me about the “Passion of the Christ”) There is no community to meridian, so it fails to qualify.

  45. An Observer:

    “I don’t think you’re a hypocrite down deep. You just sometimes play one on BCC. In truth, I was not trying to point out what might be considered your hypocrisy. I am hoping to see you grow in compassion, about which possibility I remain hopeful, but that would be a side benefit of your recent discomfort and not my primary aim in commenting at BCC.

    There’s no need to be patronizing.”

    er….. pretty patronizing for your average anonymous coward. I’m surprised by your little vendetta here, but knock it off.

  46. Matt W. says:

    Ray (42), maybe I forgot to say this, I think we can say almost anything faithfully, depending on how we say it.

    I liked your addition. It makes me think of the old story about going for a walk when mad at the wife, or counting to ten, or whatever.

  47. Observer,
    I recently discovered that I had read MT’s article entitled “If LDS Women have had the priesthood since…” or some such. Apparently, it didn’t have much of an effect. Also, I am not sure that I disagree with the meat of the article anyhoo (its been a while since I read it). That said, you can go to my comments here (when I had freshly read it and, to continue the theme, very poorly formatted) and see what I said. This isn’t about all of MT’s work, of course. I have seen her operate outside of her work and I don’t feel like my characterization of her tone is inaccurate, but I can be corrected (usually with a heavy stick (just ask Steve)).

    “In your recent comment you said that you disparage [Margaret Toscano] for work you haven’t read [some of which I actually have read (but certainly not enough to dismiss all her work (bad form on my part))] because of her “tone” which you find fault with because she “intructs” rather than “suggests.” That is a fascinating comment coming from an academic! Good academic work is not merely suggestive; it’s thesis-driven. Academics make and defend arguments.”

    True that academics is thesis-driven. Of course it instructs. However, what one does with the argument is dependent on a number of factors. An argument can be a suggestion, a demand, a reprimand, or an observation. Any argument made is necessarily tentative in any case, becaues there is always new evidence to be found (at least, that is the case in my field). Certainly is not a function of academics as I understand it.

    Regarding my imputation of MT’s tone, to be completely honest, I don’t know. I consider, for instance, the women writing at FMH to be faithful, because I have heard their testimonies and I read their frustrations with the church as simply that. We all get frustrated and we all seek answers. When Darron Smith posted at BCC and suggested that we all contact our local GA’s in order to encourage them to issue a formal apology for the church’s history of racial injustice, I was frightened. I knew that I didn’t want to be a part of that. Margaret’s tone has probably changed since she was excommunicated. If the way she approaches the church and change in the church now is how she did it then, I can see why she was excommunicated.

    “those in the bloggernacle whose faithfulness might be implicitly questioned by others as well-meaning as yourself”

    Questioning faithfulness in the bloggernacle is many things but it is rarely well-meaning, even in myself.

    Regarding compassion, I don’t know what to say. If I was actually engaged in a discussion with MT, I would be polite and attempt to understand her viewpoint. I think she was an eloquent spokesperson for and against the church in the recent PBS documentary. I don’t hate her. I agree that she probably feels misrepresented in many ways, but she hasn’t yet explained to me how? I don’t wish her ill or to do her further violence, but I don’t know how exactly I could be more compassionate toward her. Our lives don’t intersect.

    “I find this response (fear, suspicion, distrust, anger, dismissal, judgment . . .?) interesting and worth trying to understand.”

    I agree and that is why I wrote the post.

    Thank you for your questions. :)

  48. An Observer says:

    Hey Steve,

    Talk about misreading tone. I was teasing not patronizing him. Chill out!

    My comment expressing about compassion is true for everyone including myself. I wasn’t trying to suggest that he is somehow particularly lacking in charity. Quite the reverse.

    At any rate, he’s lucky to have you watching his back. Everyone should have such a good friend!

  49. Aaron Brown says:

    Like Kristine, I am waaaaaay past finding this sort of discussion interesting. Tiresome, tiresome, tiresome.

    My advice to all: Keep blogging, however you are comfortable doing it. Chances are, someone will find your words faith-promoting, and someone won’t. Feel happy about the former; ignore the latter. It’s a free country.

    Life is short. You’re never going to please everybody. If you try to meet some “faith promotion” standard that you’ve got set up in your mind, you are necessarily going to placate somebody at the expense of someone else.

    I suspect that the “faith destruction” going on with a lot of folks is of a faith in false notions about Mormonism that we would do well as a community to jettison anyway. So, yes, a lot of the “bad” is probably “good,” in my mind.

    If I really believed that the price of strong faith in the Church was necessarily a willful ignorance of the stuff that gets discussed in the Bloggernacle, I would have left this community looooooong ago.

    Aaron B

  50. Whatever a faithful Mo-Blog looks like, it probably needs a new banner…

  51. An Observer says:

    Thanks for your response, JDC. I’m out of time now to reply in detail, but I think we’re in closer agreement than I originally thought. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not really that interested in discussing MT or her work except as it bears on the larger question of insider/outsider status and community boundaries.

    I think we have the same fundamental questions—What is it that makes something “faithful” or appear to be “faithful” and why do other things (articles, people, etc.) appear to fall outside of that category? Who makes those decisions and according to what criteria? It seems to include supporting church leadership, but it also goes beyond this. I think the fact that it’s MT’s tone that you don’t like is actually instructive (now I’m not trying to be cute, here. I really do think it’s is instructive and that’s a good thing. I’m always willing to be instructed). How often is it “tone” more than substance that qualifies something as faithful? If it’s often the case, then I think we’re in a quagmire because, as I’ve already said, tone is so difficult to judge. We often judge tone based on the person we know (or think we know) behind the words on the page.

    I’m perennially interested in the larger questions of group dynamics and the role they play in identity formation. I brought up MT because I think those that have been involuntarily expelled from the church provide an interesting case study inasmuch as some continue to self identify with a community that has formally rejected them. This is such a different case than the large majority of disaffiliates who simply drift into inactivity and no longer self identify with the community (many of which who want nothing whatever to do with the group).

    I know that you are particularly interested in exploring what makes faithful blogging in this thread though and I certainly didn’t mean to derail that specific dicussion.

  52. I think faithful Mormon blogging should look like faithful Mormons sharing their honest thoughts and opinions. I think it’s garbage to try and establish a framework where faithful bloggers can’t or shouldn’t say certain things, particularly when those things have more to do with cultural norms than religious principles. If you’re faithful, it will show in your blog. If you’re less than faithful, it will also show. Work on yourself, not your blog.

    I would, however, like to see more sincere expressions of testimony or faith. I get that occasionally on the bloggernacle, but I seem to get it more from Mormon blogs that are more isolated from the rest of the Mormon blogging community.

    I think that LDS bloggers who are closer to the edge of the Mormon community are more likely to look for a sense of community in alternative sources, and so within the blogosphere, which is unfamiliar to the majority of the rank-and-file of the church, it’s more likely for edgier Mormons to network together than for mainstream Mormons. So, the result is that the bloggernacle is going to lean towards the edgier side of Mormon culture, whereas more of the purely faith promoting blogs (and there are several good ones) are ironically going to stay on the periphery of the bloggernacle.

    Welcome to the bloggernacle, where the periphery shall be the mainstream and the mainstream shall be the periphery.

  53. Welcome to the bloggernacle, where the periphery shall be the mainstream and the mainstream shall be the periphery.

    There may very well be something to that.

  54. I know faithful blogging when I see it?

    Now that is a defined standard.

  55. What exactly should the object of faith be for a ‘faithful’ blogger? Should the blogger be faithful to the church or the gospel (according to Elder Poelman, these are two different things)? If we are to be faithful to the church, what exactly is ‘the church’? Is it the institutional structure, the leadership, the members, the buildings, the curriculum? What about being faithful to the gospel? Which gospel? According to whom? If I side with Young, am I being unfaithful towards McConkie? Can I hold a different view of the Gospel than a church leader?

    If faithfulness can not be defined, then establishing a criterion for faithfulness is impossible. Without any objective criteria, then judgment is a meaningless and hollow operation. Sure we can (as some do) pronounce certain criteria for determining faithfulness, but such would essentially be running criteriological circles, establishing oneself as a beacon of truth, and ultimately making oneself equal with God. Now that wouldn’t be a good thing, would it Connor?

    Besides some anomalous wolves in sheeps’ clothing (those few who may be out actively deceiving others), I doubt there are any of these MFAMs out there in the ‘nacle. I think we should take them prima facie as being faithful in their writings, that they are writing in sincere respect to their faith. Sure we may disagree, but in doing so we must recognize that they are just as determined to be faithful as the ourselves and the rest.

  56. C Jones says:

    What exactly should the object of faith be for a ‘faithful’ blogger?

    How about God?
    If my object of faith is God, then faithfulness can be defined as it applies to blogging. D&C 93:36 says light and truth.

  57. How about God?
    If my object of faith is God, then faithfulness can be defined as it applies to blogging. D&C 93:36 says light and truth.

    Well that answers everything… except what it means to have ‘faith in God’. What does it mean to be faithful to intelligence? What exactly is intelligence? What is light and truth? Says who? And why should we accept them? And by why should that be criteria for a reason why we should accept them?

    Most Christians who are explicitly Anti-Mormon would say that they are doing so with faith in God. So then would the only true unfaithful bloggers be atheists? What about this light and truth? Could an atheist actually be a faithful blogger because they inadvertently place faith in God because of their determination to be faithful to light and truth?

  58. Latter-day Guy says:

    C Jones, please expand your thoughts. How to apply?

    How would the ‘nacle’s role as a forum to honestly share thoughts and feelings, faith and doubt, to explore doctrine and practice in a way you cannot in Sunday School be altered or remain the same? How would this look if it were more “God” centric?

  59. What should faithful Mo-blogging look like?

    I think the tricky part here is pandering to the least common demoninator. That is, I don’t think I need a testimony from everyone every time something difficult is said, but in order for absolutely no one to be confused about an author’s motives, you’d probably need to include one in every post. And I find that an untenable solution. So you may need to work from the presumption that no matter what you do, someone is going to be believe you’re an apostate for discussing the gospel deeply.

    But I think there are some good ways to let the average reader know that the intent here is to understand, flesh out, and analyze, and not to tear down. One that comes to mind, for example, is Steve Evans’ recent discussion about his temple service. I found that refreshing, because it showed me what Steve Evans does when he’s not here telling people which pasty areas they can stick sundry items should they disagree with him. That’s useful to me because I at least know we’re on the same team, but just disagreeing on what our strategy in the game should be, rather than who should win the game.

  60. Thanks jimbob, I like to mix it up a bit from time to time.

  61. I hate it when Steve goes righteous, because it’s so much easier to write him off otherwise as an apostate, friendly anti-Mormon like the rest of us here.

  62. …except for the “friendly” bit.

  63. Yeah,

    Three things here at BCC brought me around to liking BCC a lot more.

    1. Steve Evans temple post
    2. ” ” Twin post
    3. Ronan’s great defense of young LDS families with multiple children about 6 months ago

  64. Steve,
    Yes, we used to be nastier. Time to bring the nasty back.

    Bbell,
    I don’t remember that one. Some of my stuff is ghost-written by J. Stapley who makes sure we all hit a 20% righteous quota.

  65. To be a scientist, it’s not neccessary to doubt, criticize, or be a skeptic. The heart of faith lies in the scientific method. The Scriptures are full of terms like prove, experiment, and evidence. The scientific method itself is hypothesis driven and therefore based on faith. My faith is likewise built on hypothesis and experimentation. And so far, I have observed both tangible and intangible results that support my faith.

    Don’t let Intellectuals fool you. They aren’t the ones in the lab doing the experiement. The real scientists I’ve met are (for the most part)people of faith. It’s the vocal Intellectuals (many of whom) have never stepped foot in a lab, who get on TV and write articles the media who relentlessly attempt to spin the data against God.

  66. Ah. Very interesting question. Now you do realize that there’s a difference between faithful and honest blogging.

    I tend to find that external shows of faith tend to be manufactured to what we think others want to hear/see.

    Faithful has a different definition for everyone. To me a faith unquestioned is not faith. To others questioning faith is makes it not faith. So really when you’re talking about faithful you’re playing into subjective definitions, and you’ll have to play along with what other people say, ergo why you get people playing to an artificially high standard because they think that’s what others think. It’s a variation of living on borrowed light. How many times have we seen someone who claimed to live high standards suddenly break down because they don’t really?

    However, there is no question as to what is honest. We live in an interesting time. We can converse about personal things in open forums and question things as they come up. I would hope this could be used a vehicle for positive change. It makes me feel good to know that there are people out there like me that study things, but don’t accept the party line hook and sinker.

    Of course people are not going to be happy with people questioning things because it makes them question. However, the boat that rocks is the only boat that goes anywhere. For my money I’d rather read an honest blog about being a mormon than a “faithful” blog about being a mormon.

  67. C Jones says:

    RE: #57
    Wow, that’s a lot of questions. I guess that defining “faith in God” requires a belief in God. Then we have to decide if there are any absolute truths. If we believe that God exists, then truth could be defined as things as they really are– God’s knowledge, intelligence, perceptions, etc.

    Says who?

    I would say that Mormonism would have little value to me if I couldn’t put some confidence in Joseph Smith, the scriptures, and the current prophet.

    What does it mean to be faithful to intelligence? What exactly is intelligence? What is light and truth?

    See D&C 93:29,30,36
    Victor Ludlow said that the roots of the word intelligence are legere (to gather or select) and inter (between).
    It is usually pretty easy to recognize something that is very good- say a Mother Teresa. It is also usually pretty easy to distinguish evil- say the abuse of innocent children. But in between the opposites are the gray areas where we refine our ability to perceive between choices. Perhaps that is how we increase in intelligence. As we move closer to the source of light, we are able to see more clearly.
    As far as your last paragraph goes, I have to admit that I don’t understand your point..

  68. Costanza says:

    BRoz,
    What about the scientific requirement of falsifiability? Most scientists (although not all) argue that an experiment must be potnetially falsifiable in order for it to be a sound experiment. Is there, for example, any possible outcome of the application of Moroni’s promise which could lead you to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon is not true?

  69. If we believe that God exists, then truth could be defined as things as they really are– God’s knowledge, intelligence, perceptions, etc.

    Is there objective access to God’s knowledge, intelligence, perceptions, etc. that can be accepted by everyone as a criteriogical standard of faithfulness?

    I would say that Mormonism would have little value to me if I couldn’t put some confidence in Joseph Smith, the scriptures, and the current prophet.

    Everything Joseph Smith said? Whose interpretation of the scriptures? If they were so plain and simple, we wouldn’t be having everyone arguing over them. And why not the previous prophet who may have different with the current one?

    Victor Ludlow said…

    Why do we need Victor Ludlow? Isn’t Joseph Smith, the scriptures, and the current prophet enough? Why should I accept Victor Ludlow? Can I disagree with Victor Ludlow and still be a faithful blogger?

    As far as your last paragraph goes, I have to admit that I don’t understand your point..

    The point was that ‘faith in God’ is a very vague and abstract notion that can mean almost anything. If it can mean anything, then it’s basically meaningless.

  70. “The point was that ‘faith in God’ is a very vague and abstract notion that can mean almost anything. If it can mean anything, then it’s basically meaningless”

    Loyd, as far as I can tell, we believe faith in God to mean something specific in the church. Specifically, it is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What that means is that we believe that Jesus is the only name and way to achieve salvation. What that means is that we must submit our will to his and we must undergo the specific ordinances that he commands us to undergo. I can continue onward if you like.

    The point is that faith in God does mean something. Arguments to the contrary are not arguments that accept the basic facts of Mormonism.

  71. HP, to be fair to Loyd, it’s true that we can fill the meaning of “faith in God” to have all kinds of implications in terms of praxis and accepting of some authorities over others. It isn’t completely devoid of meaning, but from a practical point of view it’s still pretty nebulous.

  72. Re: 66 Exactly Ronito.

    Honesty is exactly what I am looking for when it comes to the bloggernacle. I think in general, each blog attracts like-minded people to some extent, and so for the most part, I think if people just write what they think and feel (obviously using common sense and kindness, etc.), then people will naturally gravitate to where they feel most comfortable. All this talk about what a faithful blog “should” look like to be faithful is a bit disconcerting to me. If I wanted a purely “faithful” blog atmosphere, I can have it at church, where no major questions or doubts are raised. I rarely comment, but finding the bloggernacle has been very reassuring for me to know that there are others like me who think deeply about gospel topics, may have experienced moments of doubt at times and yet still are active and faithful in the church. I know for many it is an outlet where they CAN truly speak more openly about spiritual issues than anywhere else, and there is something very positive about that.

  73. Can I just say that I don’t find the “honest”/”faithful” dichotomy helpful or true?

  74. C Jones says:

    Loyd, you may not need Victor Ludlow, but he’s the best I can come up with for Greek definitions. If I want to quote someone on doctrine then Joseph, scripures, and the current prophet are OK by me.
    And yes, I do believe that God’s knowledge and perceptions AKA truth can be accessed. Are you saying that there is no objective truth, or just that there is no way to access it?

    The point was that ‘faith in God’ is a very vague and abstract notion that can mean almost anything. If it can mean anything, then it’s basically meaningless.

    If this is true, then is there any abstract notion at all that is not basically meaningless?

  75. a random John says:

    #73,

    Whatever. Pick a side already you pansy. Stop trying to please God without offending Satan.

  76. Loyd, you may not need Victor Ludlow, but he’s the best I can come up with for Greek definitions.

    Do we need Greek to understand the D&C? Why?

    If I want to quote someone on doctrine then Joseph, scripures, and the current prophet are OK by me.

    What about the status of men on the moon? What about a scripture that can be interpreted in a dozen different ways (which pretty much accounts for most of them)? Is the current prophet’s teaching on doctrine still valid after he dies?

    Are you saying that there is no objective truth, or just that there is no way to access it?

    Here is the point of all my questions. I am not saying anything about objective truth, or the ability to access to it. I am sure there is truth which can be accessed… the problem is in trying to establish that you have accessed it. How do you know if you have accessed ‘objective truth’? Even worse, how do you get the next guy to know it?

    If this is true, then is there any abstract notion at all that is not basically meaningless?

    Depends on the context.

  77. Even at my most critical, I was never out to persuade anybody.

    In spite of the “fact” that y’all aren’t faithful enough for some, I wonder where I would be right now if you weren’t here.

    There are lots and lots of places where you can meet interesting, intelligent, thoughtful and fun disaffected Mormons online. I’ve hung out in those places for almost five years. Before BCC I really didn’t have much interaction with interesting, intelligent, thoughtful and fun believers. Nothing against believers, but some of them seem to be able to suck all the life out of a discussion just by throwing out copious GA quotes, or shutting down that same discussion by bearing testimony.

    I didn’t come to the bloggernacle interested in what y’all “know.” I was more interested in what you thought. I liked what I read, and when I commented, most everyone was pretty kind and treated me like a person and not like an evil apostate.

    I wonder how things would have been different if, when I first submitted a guest post in 2004, Steve Evans had waxed all Melchisidek on me, admonishing me to repent or accusing me of leaving to sin. But he didn’t. He submitted my post to the cabal for review, and then posted it.

    A couple of months ago, I was looking through my hard drive and found a letter I wrote after Russell Nelson’s constitutional amendment disaster. It was my resignation. It was pretty much straight from Mormonnomore.com: “I am writing this letter to inform you that I am no longer a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” A couple of the reasons I didn’t send that letter were because D. Fletcher wrote a comment on BCC about being both gay and Mormon, and Kevin Barney wrote a post on BCC about why he supports gay marriage.

    It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, of course. One or two incidents really got my underwear in a bunch. But for every one of those, there are a dozen good things. Wilfried’s posts. Kristine’s Holy Week series. Happy Birthday Betsey Pearl. Even Steve’s temple post, which scared the hell out of me, was an overall positive; another wave in the current pushing me down the river.

    In my not so humble opinion, your openness, willingness to address the issues, good humor, and interesting perspectives on Mormon stuff probably help far more people stay IN the church than are chased out by article on the Documentary Hypothesis. At least, that’s what you’ve done for me. And in then end, isn’t it all about me?

  78. Kristine says:

    Victor Ludlow’s parsing of “intelligence” is not from Greek, but from Latin roots. And you don’t need Victor Ludlow for that, just a half-decent dictionary.

  79. Heck Ann, back in 2004 I was the cabal. The good ol’ days of my dictatorship! I’m glad you’re around, you know that?

  80. Eric Russell says:

    “I want to know what you think faithful blogging about the church would look like.”

    John Bytheway’s short lived blog on Deseret Books’ site might be a good example. He tackled such issues as how to have good scripture study with your spouse and the best tools to mark your scriptures with.

  81. C Jones says:

    RE: #58
    Latter-day Guy said:

    How would the ‘nacle’s role as a forum to honestly share thoughts and feelings, faith and doubt, to explore doctrine and practice in a way you cannot in Sunday School be altered or remain the same? How would this look if it were more “God” centric?

    I am not arguing that the ‘nacle is flawed or unfaithful. I do find defensiveness towards Eric’s original post and a response of “been there, done that” mildly annoying.
    Actually, I think that the bloggernacle is somewhat useful as a way to refine our ability to clarify fine differences in our search for truth and light.

  82. C Jones says:

    RE:#78
    Well, Victor Ludlow must have a very fine Latin dictionary because I like his parsing exceedingly.

  83. Some thoughts:

    -HP, you last paragraph in #14 was excellent: “As long as my brother, whom I love, thinks that this is a very bad thing, I will likely keep thinking about it. I am interested in what people who disparage the blogs would like. It seems like most of the feedback we get is of the “just shut up” variety. If we could figure out how to change the root of that reaction, I think that the Bloggernacle would be a bigger, fuller, and more exciting place.”

    – Related to that (at least in my mind), I’d like to think of the ‘nacle as a place we could build up and enhance the church community (through dialogue and understanding) rather than run away from it, disparage it, and/or create a different, separate community. Sometimes, it feels like blogging ends up being a selfish endeavor (e.g., “if you don’t like what I say, go somewhere else; I don’t care”). I think it would be a better place if we were all willing to seek to understand more and build bridges, not entrench gaps that already exist. The few times I feel people willing to do that (or when I try to do that), the more connection, love and benefit of the doubt flows more naturally.
    (One of the ironies to me about the ‘nacle is there is often complaint about not feeling included or fitting in at church, but then sometimes there is a sort of exclusivity in this sphere, wanting to keep people away who make want to bring SS-like thinking to the table, for example. Shouldn’t there be room for all sorts of faithful discussion?)
    I think it would be really interesting to look at blogging in light of recent conversations (e.g., T&S) about the tensions between liberty and charity (a la Paul in Romans 14 and elsewhere).

    – I’m really, really uncomfortable with the idea that the bloggernacle is somehow more intellectually savvy and MORE righteous (consuming meat over milk) than those who don’t want to blog or who don’t like discussions here. It’s a fun place to discuss ideas that don’t get discussed in SS, but let’s not start down that “we’re MORE righteous than all those SS simpletons.” That smacks of self-righteousness to me and is one obvious thing that could easily undermine faithful blogging.

    -I like what jimbob said in #59. And incidentally, a while back I tried to make such a suggestion and was told to “not try to change the ‘nacle” — but this was really all I was trying to get at. Once in a while, it’s nice to be reminded that “we’re all on the same team” by a post that comes back to “home base” a bit.
    We don’t know each other as entire people, only as words on a screen. It’s not just the responsibility of people reading to know our hearts; we have a responsibility to show them, IMO.

    – In short, I think a huge part of faithful blogging is kind behavior toward others. It’s too easy for all of us to get defensive, sometimes even mean, when someone comes in with a different point of view, or different style, or different approach. Such behavior isn’t tolerated (or at least shouldn’t be) at church. Why should it be any different just because we are online? I think what we do here can affect the church community at large. Faithfulness in this sphere can’t just be about content, because faithfulness in “real life” isn’t just about professed belief or words. Ultimately, our faithfulness is most evident in how we treat others. If love isn’t a key motivation in what we do, then blogging ultimately can’t be faithful. IMO.

  84. 77
    Ann, thank you for sharing this.

  85. John Mansfield says:

    Some of these indignant sputterings over questions of faithfulness bring to mind the scene in Lawrence of Arabia where the Arabs are murmuring that some say that Lawrence is only fighting for the British and not to further Arab aims. Peter O’Toole as Lawrence angrily responds “Who says this?” and spits on the ground. One of the Arabs points at Lawrence’s spittle on the ground and says “That is not an answer.”

    So following in the footsteps of the movie, those who want to show they are running faithful Mormon websites should wander around an occupied village until they catch the eye of the garrison commandant. When the commandant’s soldiers seize them, they should reject his advances and receive the soldiers’ beating without uttering a cry of pain. Then we’ll know which are the faithful websites.

  86. Steve Evans says:

    John, wtf? The joint BCC/FMH task force razed that village to the ground.

  87. Constanza-

    Sure, Moroni’s promise can go both ways. I haven’t yet met a serious person that says God told them the Book of Mormon is not true. The majority say, “I don’t need to read it or pray about it because the Bible already tells me it’s not true” (or at least their interpretation of the Bible). But I do not find people that follow the promise by reading, pondering, and praying with faith and dont get an answer.

  88. How many of us are the ones in SS who comment 3 or more times during a lesson. How many of us are the ones others think, “There he/she goes again” as we go into some long-winded tangent.

    I like to Blog because it gives me a place to record all those thoughts I have during SS that just may not be right to comment on for fear of highjacking the lesson.

  89. a random John says:

    BRoz,

    I met a whole family of such people on my mission. We taught them for months, they read and prayed. No answer.

    More memorable to me than the family was the fact that I was physically attacked in EQ once for mentioning this missionary experience.

  90. I would think that bloggers would promote their own faith. We get enough of other people’s faith promoted in other settings, perhaps this should be a place for those who are faithful, have testimonies, but march to the beat of a different drummer.

  91. Steve Evans says:

    BRoz, I also taught a number of people who told me that God had affirmatively confirmed to them that the Book of Mormon was not true, and they’d given it a fair shake.

  92. Random John is right. I remember working with a woman as missionary who read, prayed, and listened to our message but nothing happend for her. But I think that there were things that in her life that were holding her back (she was hooked on meth). But I do know that at least our friendship made a difference.

  93. I was more referring to people that say they got an actual answer against the Book of Mormon. There are lots of people without an answer. Im sure that there are some that claim getting an answer against but I havn’t met one and I suppose they are rare.

    I would like to meet a person who could look me at me with pure love in their eyes and say something like, “Bro. David, the Book of Mormon just isn’t true, Its a craftily contrived hoax which has led you away from the true Christ.” And at the same time feel that overflowing sense of the spirit confirm to me that what they were saying was true and that God’s spirit was calling me to a different way.

    However, that has not been my experience. My experience has been that I feel closer to God and Christ via the Book of Mormon and my friends who I have given books too havn’t cracked them.

  94. Thomas Parkin says:

    It’s hard to say what a “fair shake” is. We unfortunately begin telling people they can receive an answer the minute the open the book and read a few verses. That they can have this amazing, unquestionable, testimony establishing experience that from will leave them forever changed. Maybe that sometimes happens. Certainly people should pray, and no time like now to start, and praying for spirtual experiences is maybe the number one thing we shoudl ask for – but, in my current view, we should empahsize more a pondering, maybe even a relatively long pondering, of WHAT they read in the BoM before they embark one evening, haphazrdly on a course that will shape their view of the BoM forever, for good or blank.

    There is usually a warm up period for these things, sometimes a long warm up period. Moroni himself says that one must “ponder” about some specific things, including the history of the Lord’s mercies to men(??), already have developed some measure of faith in Christ, and have a genuinely “sincere heart” and “real intent” (not at all easy things to come by) before asking. Surely ‘if it be wisdom in God that you should receive these things’ means more than having the book in your hand or on the shelf, or having perused a few verses.

    I’ve personally never received an answer that the BoM is true, in the way I hear it described. Rather, I have a had dozens, scores, many many experiences where I’ve had sometimes in a powerful, sometimes very simple but sure, bits of knowledge flow to me while reading, revernetly, prayerfully, etc. accompaied by an incrase not only of understaning but of peace and an ability to experience love. So, yes, I’d say I know the BoM is true, as well as I know anything (after all, I might be a brain in a bucket of goo, on the good ship lollipop, half way to Betelguese), but I’d never say I had a single overwhelming spiritual witness that it was true. Ditto Joseph Smith, in spades.

    ~

  95. JDC: I want to know what you think faithful blogging about the church would look like. What do you think?

    Before I submit any post or a comment that I’ve written, I ask myself, “What would Jesus do?” Would he make a comment or a post like the one that I’m about to submit? And then I think, “Yes. This is exactly what Jesus would say.” And then I submit it.

  96. I’ve personally never received an answer that the BoM is true, in the way I hear it described. Rather, I have a had dozens, scores, many many experiences where I’ve had sometimes in a powerful, sometimes very simple but sure, bits of knowledge flow to me while reading, revernetly, prayerfully, etc. accompaied by an incrase not only of understaning but of peace and an ability to experience love.

    This has been my experience with everything with the Church. I was comforted when Pres. Packer talked about his testimony and how it also came in this way.

    When I first read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover, I read [Moroni’s} promise…. I tried to follow those instructions, as I understood them.

    If I expected a glorious manifestation to come at once as an overpowering experience, it did not happen. Nevertheless, it felt good, and I began to believe….

    My experience has been that a testimony does not burst upon us suddenly. Rather it grows, as Alma said, from a seed of faith.” …

    Do not be disappointed if you have read and reread and yet have not received a powerful witness. You may be somewhat like the disciples spoken of in the Book of Mormon who were filled with the power of God in great glory “and they knew it not” (3 Ne. 9:20).

    I figured if a line by line testimony is good enough for a prophet, it’s good enough for me. :)

  97. m&m,
    Thank you for your comment. I suppose that I am interested in why my brother finds this endeavor to be so fruitless, when Ann found it to be fruitful. I too frown upon the general disparaging of Sunday School. I also find any group that includes me and yet considers itself intellectually superior to be fairly delusional. I don’t think the nacle in general believes this to be the case. I don’t think I would hang around if they did. But it is a caution.

    I also, obviously, agree that a simple response of “screw ‘em,” while usually satisfying isn’t helpful. However, sometimes we may have to admit that our way isn’t anothers. Not that that is inherently sufficient reason to absolutely dismiss another…

    Ann,
    Thanks for hanging around. Please feel free to ignore my recent apology for the brethren on another site ;)

    BRoz,
    I know someone who have told me that she prayed about the Book of Mormon and was told it wasn’t true. I still don’t know what to think about it, but there is that.

    Eric Russell,
    I double dog dare you to write a post about scripture marking.

    DKL,
    I always assumed that was what you did. I am please to finally have confirmation. Now I know we are in the same church.

  98. HP, I don’t think we are necessarily dismissing others when we accept that our perspectives differ. There isn’t one true perspective or approach to enlightenment. What works for your brother at this time and place in his life wouldn’t have worked for me, and vice versa, and that’s OK.

  99. In my various callings, I have told the full-time missionaries in my wards and stakes for the past 15 years to stop telling people exactly how they will receive an answer to a prayer or a testimony. I also have told everyone who will listen to stop telling people they can “know” whatever they want to know. Those two claims don’t match our scriptures.

    First, just like teachers tend to teach with their own learning modality, members and missionaries tend to think everyone will feel and experience the same way they do. To complicate it further, we tend to think if one person was told they will feel the Spirit in a certain way (e.g., Oliver Cowdery’s burning in the bosom and stupor of thought), then everyone should be able to feel it in the same way. We need to recognize that the “fruits of the Spirit” are wide and varied, and any one of them can signal an answer to prayer or a spiritual impression. What makes it “real” to the asker is their own recognition of it, which is the tricky part.

    We talk about individual conversion, but interestingly, the single best indicator of future baptism that has been identified in our stake, with the guidance of our Area Authorities, is Sacrament Meeting attendance. It isn’t referral source or “strong witness of the Book of Mormon” or answer to prayer – but Sacrament Meeting attendance. I think there is an entire thread’s worth of discussion on that one, but I simply will point out the communal spirit that hopefully attends that meeting. Likewise, their is great power in the sharing that occurs at sites like this. Thanks for pointing that out, Ann.

    Second, “to some is given the gift to know; to others is given the gift to believe on those who know.” “Nuff said.

    What constitutes faithful blogging? Perhaps, as others have said, it’s no more than honest expressions of sincere faith. I hope not every comment here needs to be “faithful” – but I hope every comment is honest and sincere. I also hope all of us are governed internally by the Golden Rule.

  100. Can we just cut to the chase and get to the point? Enough dancing around the bush. Who are the faithful bloggers and who are the Mormon Friendly Anti-Mormons? I want names.

    Let the inquisition begin.

  101. Can we dance around the bush as long as it’s doing an interpretive burn?

  102. How about judging people on the content of their posts, not on the contents of their cup. By this I mean that so many latter-day saints spend so much time worrying about a commenter’s standing (see, for example, “The Mormons”), as if the commenter’s membership status were only way to gauge whether or not someone’s comments were of value.

    Let’s hear what the say, and make base our judgments alone on the argument’s merits.Let’s drop the whole insular persecution-complex thing, mmkay?

  103. HP,
    If it helps any, my husband also finds most of this to be fruitless as well. His attitude is, “I know it’s true, so what else matters?” On one hand, I sort of am that way at one level, but enjoy conversations both to understand different points of view and to have specific issues and topics to mull over. So, for what it’s worth, I think for some people like him, nothing you do would change his perspective because he’d just rather be spending his time doing something else. I think I remember him saying that he also had some experiences in grad school with “intellectuals” (I really hate that label) who didn’t really care about anyone’s point of view but their own, who didn’t seem to care much about the faith side of things, so that probably left a bad taste in his mouth.

  104. Perhaps in considering “faithful” blogging, we’re mistaking appearance for substance.

    A faith-filled blogger will enact her/his faith through her/his blogging — what sort of actions depends on what sort of faith.

    Faith in community will yield a blog that creates community.

    Faith in rational thinking will yield a blog that embodies rational thought.

    Perhaps faith in Christ would yield a blog that loves its enemies, blesses them that curse it, does good to those who despitefully use it and persecute it, one that leaves 99 and seeks the 1, one that makes of itself a lamp for the feet of others.

    I’m reminded of an observation by a woman who returned to her home in the United States from a Zen retreat where she’d spent several years. IIRC, she said something to the effect of “My parents really hate it when I act Buddhist. But they love it when I act the role of the Buddha.”

    In the context of blogging, perhaps we should worry less about displaying our “Mormonism” through our blogging and simply engage in the works of Christ. The accounts we have of His life suggest plenty of intellectual engagement, debate, wordplay and repartee, for those of us so inclined. They suggest plenty of bombast and diatribe, for those so inclined. And they suggest plenty of wildly revolutionary ideas about how to interact with others to create something pretty remarkable.

    Am I a faithful blogger? Probably not by anyone’s standards but my own.

    But I’d rather live by the light I see than by what I think others will think of the light that they think they see when they glance in my direction.

  105. CS Eric says:

    DKL,
    As I was reading your comment, I was reminded of the old cartoon where in the first frame the character says, “I asked myself, what would Jesus do? and I forgave him.” In the next frame the character says, “Then I asked myself, what would Porter Rockwell do? and I hit him.”

    If DKL is making the comments Jesus would, who is making the Porter Rockwell comments? Or are they reserved to the Snarkernackle?

  106. Whatever a faithful Mo-Blog looks like, it probably needs a new banner…

    Perhaps a heavenly banner?

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