The Church of Bloggernacle Saints?

It was with some regret that I made the decision to not attend the Sunstone Symposium snacker this last Friday. First of all, I had publicly said that I would attend. Second, I really wanted to (I do so love to sit around and gossip with other ‘Nacle people). Third, there were a load of people in attendance that I really wanted to meet (Kristine, Kevin, Aaron, Kaimi, Russell, fmhLisa, BiV, Ann, and a host of others). Also, I really wanted to attend the Bloggernacle session and I am grateful for the notes taken by McQ. However, my ward had a campout and I don’t spend enough time with my kids as it is, so I chose that (don’t worry, the irony that, if there hadn’t been a campout, I would have likely blown off hanging with my kids has not escaped me).

That said, the session kind of disturbs me. The question asked was, “How well does the Bloggernacle represent Mormonism?” and the various ‘Nacle representatives sought, in their presentations, to answer this question. To judge by McQ’s notes, they decided that it didn’t. Combine this with Dave’s recent ruminations on the subject and it leads me to ponder what it is we are engaged in here.

It is cliche, I think, to argue that the Bloggernacle is the Sunday School class or the foyer discussion that we wished we had. I believe it equally cliche to consider this place group therapy. Certainly, there are people here who are here simply because they are alienated elsewhere in church. We try to be as welcoming as we can. However, I tend to think that we are something more than an island of Misfit Saints.

In part, I am disturbed by any idea of Bloggernacle exclusivity. One of the distinctions that I hate in the church is the “Iron Rod/Liahona” distinction (see here for an earlier discussion on its relevancy). The greatest reason I have for hating it is that I have never heard a “Liahona” describe an “Iron Rod” without condescension or an “Iron Rod” describe a “Liahona” without loathing. While the original essay that coined the terms was meant only to be descriptive, it set both terms on pedastals that divorced them from reality. The “Liahona” in that essay asks questions in a manner that challenges but never destroys faith (it potentially could, but our unfailing Liahona does not succumb). The “Iron Rod” in that essay is the quintessential Nietzschean bon homme, a very nice fellow, but too stupid to be trusted with the Sisyphean task of actually struggling in faith. The Liahona’s jealousy of the “Iron Rod” strikes me as similar to ideas regarding the “noble savage,” which are possible to take seriously only if one is actually unacquainted with savages.

Nonetheless, the Bloggernacle discussion seemed to argue for a definition of Bloggernacle sainthood that differs from the rest of the church. Russell apparently tried to integrate the two which is nice, I suppose, but I don’t know why we should have to try so hard to integrate. As Dave noted in his essay by being Mormons writing about Mormon topics we are inherently representing the church. Whether or not we want the responsibility, it is ours.

Why should the church we represent be different from the church our non-Bloggernacle participating brothers and sisters enjoy? Are we really trying to create a differing Mormonism here? Or do we really believe that we are participants already in a differing Mormonism, one that stares the truth in the face while the other members of our congregations walk with carefully blinkered eyes? If participation in the Bloggernacle contributes to a feeling of alienation from (or superiority to) one’s local ward members, is participation positive?

At its best, the Bloggernacle is a place where those struggling in faith can go and find fellow travelers who can help navigate tough waters. Further, at its best, the Bloggernacle provides glimpses of eventual Zion or the beauty all around. I believe in the project of the Bloggernacle as I believe it is a place where we all come to work out our salvation with fear and trembling before God. I just don’t see how that makes us any different from (or better than) those who don’t participate.

In other words, if we really don’t think the Bloggernacle represents the church, then how can it be a positive thing?

ps. one final note, I am going on hiatus in an effort to finally finish the dissertation. After this thread, if you see me here or in any of my other haunts before Sept 30th, please politely scold me. Thank you.

Comments

  1. It seems like we are attributing the Bloggernacle with the source of who we are, rather than a symptom of who we are. I think the bloggernacle doesn’t make people think they are better than the rest of their members, to use an example you cited, but that a lot of people turn to the bloggernacle because they come here to get something they don’t feel like they can get from their regular membership. Thus the bloggernacle is a symptom, not the cause.

  2. JDC, are you saying that the Bloggernacle is just some mirror of our own personal preferences? What is it, then?

  3. JDC, I tend to agree with you. I think we represent the Church quite well. It is simply that we represent a part of the Church. My ward does a crappy job at representing a ward in Ghana. They share a lot, but they are also wildly divergent. At the core, though, they are both places “where those struggling in faith can go and find fellow travelers who can help navigate tough waters. Further,… [they provide] glimpses of eventual Zion or the beauty all around.” God forbid it ever devolves into “us vs. them.”

  4. JDC,

    I think where you blog does color how you feel about the church, and how you perceive that blog represents the church. I am much more comfortable commenting here than on some other sites, although there are many that I just don’t have the time to pay attention to.

    To me, BCC reflects what I see as the best that the church represents, a community of saints who are striving with their relationship to Heavenly Parents, and our participation in the atonement. While I have never met any of you in person, I much appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts, feelings, and truly amazing levels of knowledge. It represents to me an additional way each week between Sundays to keep in mind the real purposes of life, and helps me to keep my faith more fresh.

    There are other sites that I have visited, that I find not so comfortable to me. And so, unlike our regular congregations, we can vote with our feet, and “attend” where we feel most comfortable. That is not to be negative about other sites, as I know that I have found both good and bad about some of them, but feel less comfortable with some of those. To some extent, it’s like choosing where you sit at church. You may not choose to sit by the retired military officer with strictly authoritarian views and conservative political philosophies, just as you might not sit next to someone who continually pokes his finger in the eye of the gospel doctrine class with his or her pet overlooked doctrines or scriptural references.

    I know that is my weakness. I have found in attending church, when I do interact, I learn to love all of these individuals, even though I may want to keep my distance from time to time.

    In that sense, the bloggernacle does represent the church, because we are the church, all of us with all our weaknesses and strengths. And ultimately, we bear each others burdens, mourn with those that mourn, and rejoice when we have cause for rejoicing. And I like to think that He whose name the church bears, is pleased with that.

  5. JDC, when you say that we aren’t different from the rest of the church, I have to disagree. We are different because we participate and they don’t. Obviously. But there are implications. On average, we’re probably a bit more oriented toward written text than the average member, and conceivably a bit less oriented toward verbal text. We also have motives for seeking out extra Mormon-themed discussion. For some people, the motive is outrage of one kind or another (at heresy, at simplistic belief, at simplistic disbelief, or whatever). For others, curiosity. For some, the search for a friendly community to use to weather the storm of doubt, etc. But these are likely to represent real differences: many of those who don’t participate stay out because they lack the motive to seek out extra discussions. Because this discourse is online, it’s likely that we’re on average younger, a bit better educated, and more middle-class than the church as a whole.

    The only way we could be representative of the church would be if participation in the LDS blogs were mandatory — either for all Mormons or for a random sample of Mormons. As long as participation is voluntary, it will necessarily suffer from unrepresentativeness, like all other voluntary activities… Some people choose to participate and others don’t, and because people choose for reasons, the two groups necessarily differ. So I have a hard time seeing unrepresentativeness as a moral evil.

  6. Mike Parker says:

    The Bloggernacle gives many Saints who have doubts or gripes or issues a place to work through these with other Saints who are reasonably informed and willing to discuss difficult issues openly. This is often not something that can be found in a typical ward, where asking difficult questions or proposing alternative viewpoints is frowned upon.

    The downside to the Bloggernacle is these doubts, gripes, and issues sometimes end up in a “why doesn’t the Church see it my way?” complaint session.

    I think many who read and post here (and I include myself) would wish the Church would be more open, transparent, and politically liberal. Our personal challenge is to not let those frustrations keep us from full participation in the gospel.

    Sadly, I know people whose Bloggernacle experience has soured them on the Church to the point they no longer participate.

  7. The Bloggernacle is no more representative of the Church than ESPN.com web polls are representative of sports fans or CNN.com web polls are representative of those interested in the news. They are measures of those who decide to participate.

    Sadly, I know people whose Bloggernacle experience has soured them on the Church to the point they no longer participate.

    Participate in Church or participate in the Bloggernacle?

    I go back and forth on the value of the Bloggernacle. I think there’s a definite difference in the blog owners vs. the blog commenters, and between both groups and those who don’t participate.

    There is a certain value in navel-gazing, but the degree of navel-gazing is higher here than in the American Church at large.

  8. Mike, I don’t know anyone who has left the Church because of the Bloggernacle — but obviously that’s a possibility, albeit a sad one.

    RT, I think you might be misinterpreting JDC. Fundamentally he seems to be arguing that because we come from the Church, we cannot be different from Church members. I see the logic of his view, although it has a fallacy in that the Bloggernacle is only a subset of the Church as a whole. I don’t even think making the Bloggernacle mandatory would change the piecemeal level representation, really, even if such a thing were possible.

  9. JDC,

    I think the bloggernacle represents the church in the same way that the stake basketball tournament represents the church. Some of us enjoy playing hoops and some of us enjoy discussing our religion online. And I’m not sure it is useful to look very far for transcendent value in either venture. I know people who probably wouldn’t have stayed in the church if they hadn’t participated in the Thursday night b-ball game, and people have announced publicly that the ‘nacle was their lifeline that allowed them to rebuild their faith.

  10. The only way we could be representative of the church would be if participation in the LDS blogs were mandatory — either for all Mormons or for a random sample of Mormons. As long as participation is voluntary, it will necessarily suffer from unrepresentativeness, like all other voluntary activities… Some people choose to participate and others don’t, and because people choose for reasons, the two groups necessarily differ.

    Is there value in noting that in some election, only 7% bothered to vote. Is it because the voters don’t care, don’t distinguish any separation between the candidates, or didn’t know it exists? Is it because the voters can’t read? Or do they generally feel things are going OK?

    A lot of scientists find value in analyzing why data doesn’t exist.

    So I have a hard time seeing unrepresentativeness as a moral evil.

    It’s not a moral evil. But the problem is when those who do participate view their participation as important and critical to the functioning of the larger body.

    Where my election analogy breaks down is that in an election, only the 7% who do vote actually get to decide the implementers of the larger body, and the 93% who don’t participate may be OK with their non-participation, but they don’t get to pick the next mayor. In the Bloggernacle, it’s doubtful that anyone who participates really influences much change in the Church at large in anything except at a personal or family level (unless the discussion centers around a ward management issue and the participants are ward leaders seeking perspective). Simply, what is said in the Bloggernacle doesn’t impact those who don’t participate. As you say, that’s not a moral evil. But it’s not a moral virtue either.

    I’ve often wondered how big of a ward would be if you filled it with all of Bloggernacle participants. How many people post at least one comment a month? 600? 700? 1500? I think a Bloggernacle demographic study would be a really interesting undertaking at some point. Wouldn’t FMH (just one example) be interested in knowing exactly who reads and comments and their participation in the Church? Would it change FMH’s focus if they found, say, that there were a lot of relief society presidents and bishops reading? Would FMH’s focus change if they found that 85% of their readership and commentership were not active (against, just a hypothetical).

  11. Steve, I think I understood JDC’s point — and was pointing out the same fallacy you did. Part-whole conflation is a classic inferential fallacy.

    I don’t fully understand your argument about mandatory participation not producing adequate representation, though. A random sample of, say, 2000 people who are somehow forced to participate in the bloggernacle would produce a group of people who would statistically represent the church as a whole (on any dimension you care to choose) with better than a 5% confidence level. But you probably know that, so I’m guessing you’re saying something else and I don’t know what that is.

  12. queuno, by coincidence, I’ve actually done research on political participation/nonparticipation. So I agree that such questions are important. But they require something we don’t have regarding the LDS blogs: systematic data about random samples of participants and nonparticipants. I agree that the collection of such data would be fabulous.

    I think a lot of what is said in LDS blogs may affect nonparticipants via two-step communication patterns. Thousands of Mormons read the blogs, and they have tens of thousands or millions of non-reading contacts (friends, family members, ward members) that they interact with. So a pretty high percentage of people in the church probably either reads the LDS blogs or talks about church stuff occasionally with someone who does.

  13. RT, I guess my problem with the mandatory participation idea is that the Church as currently composed has participants and non-participants. Forcing church members to participate on the blogs would only affect the actives, because the inactives just wouldn’t do it. Of course, your hypothetical probably would include a means of getting the full swath of members to participate, so maybe I’m just nitpicking a hypothetical for no good reason.

    As for pointing out the same fallacy — erk, I guess you’re right, except that I wouldn’t necessarily call us different from the rest of the Church, I’d call us not necessarily representative of the Church as a whole. Maybe that’s just my lawyering at work.

  14. “the bloggernacle is a symptom”

    Sure, but if you say that, you need to explain what it is a symptom of and describe how it scratches that itch.

    “are you saying that the Bloggernacle is [isn't?] just some mirror of our own personal preferences? What is it, then?”

    When I am at my most cynical, I think it is only a mirror of our personal preferences. I have argued in that past that because it is a mirror of personal preferences, it is okay to exclude certain voices (impolite ones).

  15. Steve, I guess it really comes down to what we mean by “different.” I’d assert that, for perfectly comprehensible and healthy reasons, blog participants are on average: (a) better read; (b) more verbal; (c) better educated; (d) more theologically engaged; (e) more interested in church history; etc. than the average (active, if you like) member of the church. Is that difference on average “different”? A statistician would say yes; maybe a lawyer would say no.

  16. John C., go away.

  17. RT, yes we have demographic differences, but I think the reason I shy away from saying “we are different from the rest of the Church” is because we’re all a part of it, and the Church is the reason we’re here. Admittedly it’s faulty logic, but declaring us as different sounds to me like a type of declaration of independence (although I realize that’s not necessarily the case), when really we declare our dependence on the Church all the time.

  18. I participate because what I gain from that participation means more to me than others things I might do with the time it takes for me to participate – the exact same reason I attend “non-mandatory” church activities, political meetings, social events, etc.

    Is a Singles Ward representative? Is an African ward or a rural Utah ward or a Mexican ward representative? Is a ward book club representative? What about a RS group made up of elderly, single sisters? Why does ANY group need to be “representative” of the larger group – or, in this case, since it is open to those who are not baptized members, a different group? This is a discussion group. Why does a discussion group have to represent any other group?

    Frankly, while I understand the conversation on an intellectual level, I just don’t care about the question on a personal, emotional level. I’m secure in my membership, and I enjoy the fellowship of the Saints (regardless of denominational affiliation) I find here. That’s enough for me, even though I am a stereotypical Utah-raised, white, middle-class, personally conservative, fully-active, TR holding, stake administrator whom most people envision when they think of a “representative” of the Church. This is a discussion group – and that’s all it is, in the end.

  19. I guess what I was trying to say was that non-participation in the Bloggernacle (or lack of knowledge of the Bloggernacle) and understanding what that participation doesn’t occur is more interesting that the effects of forced participation in the Bloggernacle.

    JNS – you’re right – there are probably a lot of quiet people that don’t read them.

    I’ve asked the question casually in lessons I’ve taught in my ward — have you heard of the Bloggernacle (the issue of virtual congregations has come up a couple of times in priesthood lessons I’ve taught). And I can tell you that in my North Texas ward with 90% annual growth from move-ins and a very high degree of active members — the Bloggernacle is an unknown entity. Most of our move-ins come from either traditional Mormon strongholds (California, Utah, Arizona, etc.) and centers of high commerce (Chicago, Boston, etc.). A high percentage of the priesthood holders are returned missionaries who are well-read in Church literature. An extremely high percentage are computer literate and have broadband access, and work in technical fields. I’ve found that maybe 15% know of the Bloggernacle, and even precious less have read it. We’re not some outpost off in a corner of the US — we’re the ward (or type of ward) where everyone is moving to. We’re practically a “Utah” ward in density, but not even close in mindset. And if the people moving into our area haven’t heard of it and don’t participate, I find it hard to believe that people in the areas where they come from are participating.

    Now, I’m sure that the “named” bloggers’ associates are more aware of their participation. But the average Joe Mormon who doesn’t know any bloggers and, while being technical-aware, doesn’t read blogs or spend hours online? I really doubt that the Bloggernacle has much impact on them.

  20. JNS – you’re right – there are probably a lot of quiet people that don’t read them.

    That DO read the Bloggernacle. DO, not DON’T.

    Serves me right for trying to comment and listen in on a work conference call at the same time.

  21. MCQ’s notes are great, but you’ll need to hear the session to really get a good idea about the panelist’s conclusions. There’s been some talk about making the How well does the Bloggernacle represent Mormonism? session available to download for free at SunstoneBlog. I’ll check and see when/if this is still going to happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the Sunstone staff is still catching up on sleep.

    Russell Arben Fox had a great line about the Bloggernacle representing the White, College-Grad, Computer Geek, etc. slice of Mormonism. It was pretty funny and quoteworthy, so I hope he’ll repeat the line here.

  22. Steve, I agree that we’re dependent. Different, but not independent; how’s that for a summary?

    queuno, everybody who’s ever sat in one of your lessons is indirectly affected by whatever effect the LDS blogs have on you. Multiply that out by all blog readers and you’ve got a pretty big effect.

  23. Sorry my last comment was abrupt. I had to run to get on a bus.

    Steve,
    I was going to continue to say that while I accept the mirroring qualities of blogging, it creates a danger of turning into a mutual appreciation club. It always worries me when I find that all right thinking people agree with me; it makes me wonder if I understand right thinking. The self-selecting nature of the ‘Nacle lends itself to this naturally, so hearing that those luminaries decided that we really did think differently gave me cause for concern (esp. as I value the ideas of those who presented).

    J.,
    “It is simply that we represent a part of the Church.”
    I guess this is what always disturbs me. There are plenty of people for whom the Bloggernacle is not a part of their life. I want to include their faith experience as I develop my own and I am afraid that if we don’t elicit those experiences as well as our own we are somehow failing. Those notion that we represent some other church just crystallizes those fears for me.

    JNS,
    “many of those who don’t participate stay out because they lack the motive to seek out extra discussions.”
    I doubt this. My brother, who removed himself from the ‘Nacle, loves extra discussion. I have never known Mormons who don’t enjoy the occasional dip into deep doctrinal waters (tongue-in-cheek or no). Arguably, they may not like our discussions, but they do like discussion.
    “Some people choose to participate and others don’t, and because people choose for reasons, the two groups necessarily differ. So I have a hard time seeing unrepresentativeness as a moral evil.”
    It isn’t unrepresentativeness that I see as a problem, necessarily, but the way that participation or the lack thereof can be worn as a badge to say something about oneself. We don’t know the motivations of those who don’t participate, but I don’t think we have cause to dismiss them as uninterested in what we discuss (or unable to care about it). When we do, it worries me.

    “I think the bloggernacle represents the church in the same way that the stake basketball tournament represents the church. Some of us enjoy playing hoops and some of us enjoy discussing our religion online.”
    I agree. However, I think that what we do here, if it really is about becoming better saints, is more important than basketball (albeit, I’m probably wrong). If this really is, to some small degree, about perfecting the saints, I just hope we don’t start thinking of ourselves as better at it than those offline saints.

  24. FWIW, there has been an interesting thing happening on Ardis’ T&S post soliciting thoughts and recollections of Pres. Faust. The first couple of days were full of comments from members in the US. The last couple of days have included more and more tributes and thoughts from saints in other countries around the world.

    I don’t know if these people are “lurkers” who check in once in a while or if they are people who heard about the post from a regular reader or search engine, but this post apparently gave them an outlet to express their feelings within what they perceived to be a fellow group of believers around the world. One person admitted no connection to Pres. Faust (with an implication of non-membership), but he expressed amazement at the comments and their obvious love for a high-level leader who was a humble, good, loving man. That’s a good representation, regardless of how “representative” it is or isn’t.

  25. JNS – This isn’t a big virtual PageRank algorithm, is it? Does the Bloggernacle get to bath itself in reflected light?

    If so, Bill Simmons has had a far greater impact on our elders quorum than the Bloggernacle will ever have.

    Once, during a lesson, someone asked about the informal congregations to which we belong. I mentioned the Bloggernacle and asked if anyone had read anything there – citing various of the Big Fish blogs. 6 months later, a similar topic came up and I asked the question again. The continuing lack of acknowledgement for the ‘nacle was deafening.

    Does Sunstone get credit for the personal growth of members who haven’t even heard of it?

  26. Ray – I noticed the same impact. Was it people who already knew about T&S or who found it on a google search looking for information about him?

    If you type “James E Faust” into google at this moment (2:07PM Central on 13-August), you’ll find the T&S story the third hit.

  27. (In fact, lds.org’s posts about Faust appear BELOW T&S. Maybe this Bloggernacle thang has staying power, after all…)

  28. In large Singles’ wards, there are many Sunday School classes. People scout out who is teaching where and divy up according to their likes and tastes.

    I think the Bloggernacle is sort of like that. Certain Mormons are attracted to blogging and then within that certain people are attracted to certain kinds of blogs. We are all Mormons, just attracted to some of the same things.

  29. Thanks, queuno. Like I said in a different comment, I don’t think a discussion group needs to represent the religion to which most of its visitors claim allegiance. However, I think it’s a great place for people to feel a sense of community with other people who like to discuss the same things.

    How’s this for a question:

    Why do many Bloggernacle participants care if they are representative of the Church? Why aren’t they satisfied with simply being part of such a community?

    I think the answer might be very different for me (given how I just described my stereotypical self), for MikeinWeho, for FMSLisa, for Margaret Young, for Todd Wood, etc. – although I really don’t care about the different answers much, in the long run. The participation and the enlightenment I receive from everyone is enough for me. I rarely ask those at Church with me on Sunday about their motivation for being there, but I hear about those motivations occasionally in the normal flow of conversation. In that way, this specific blog might be more representative than others that are focused more openly on a specific issue.

  30. By “such a community” I meant the Bloggernacle, not the Church.

  31. John C., I have a hard time imagining that there aren’t a lot of church members who really don’t like endless discussions about minutia. We may not run into them all the time, because, well, we like endless discussions about minutia. But I’ve heard people say that they prefer to do rather than to talk, a viewpoint I heartily respect.

    Queuno, my comments borrow from the two-step model of how political information spreads. Relatively few people pay attention to political news media, but so called “information leaders” indirectly convey opinions and information to a lot of people who don’t pay personal attention. It’s a real phenomenon, and it’s the reason virtually everybody knows about, e.g., Dan Quayle’s spelling woes even though relatively few probably saw the original newscasts where they were discussed. But it surely also works for other stuff. How many things in the 20th century have had a bigger impact on U.S. Mormons than Disney cartoons? Hard to say.

  32. Yeah, second to Matt’s comment, I should have included a disclaimer on my notes. There is a lot that could be added to them and you really should listen to the full discussion to get the full flavor.

    The participants can speak for themselves, but one thing I would add to correct the record is that I believe Kristine’s conclusion to be that the nacle IS representative of the church, in a lot of ways that really matter.

    I agree with what she said and I would add that some of the hand-wringing over the nacle being unrepresntative seemed a little overwrought to me. I think the nacle, as a whole, does a terrific job of representing just about every viewpoint you could expect (or want) to hear from members on nearly any subject (including brownies for gosh sakes). Care to challenge me on that? We’ll take a tour around the nacle and I’ll prove it to you.

  33. I think the key to making the “bloggernacle” more representative is for its biggest members to go out of their way more often to search out Mormon bloggers who haven’t yet discovered the bloggernacle community. There are a lot of LDS blogs and bloggers who just haven’t heard about some of the main bloggernacle sites, like BCC, T&S, FMH, etc. Not that you guys do this, but if you all spend most of your time visiting and commenting on the same dozen or so “bloggernacle” sites, then the “bloggernacle” will become just a click within the larger Mormon blogosphere.

    I don’t think that blogging as a medium necessarily attracts people who are intellectuals, complainers, or members with faith/doctrinal issues disproportionately more than the more “mainstream” members of the church. Blogging has some basic prerequisites (such as basic typing and computer skills) and attracts people who are creative or expressive in some way. That can include those who have pressing doubts about the church, but it can also include just the opposite, such as people who love the church and its doctrines so much that they want to tell people about it. It can also include those who are creative or artistic, or those who are just really outgoing and love to share what’s going on in their lives. I’m surprised by all of the blogs by stay-at-home Moms that I’ve seen out there, and some of them are VERY well networked with each other.

    I myself started subscribing to and posting comments on these “bloggernacle” sites because I wanted to find other Mormon bloggers and see what they were doing. But I’ve also found several Mormon bloggers with interesting and thought provoking blogs who don’t seem to know that you guys exist.

    If you really want to turn the bloggernacle into a project or a community, it would be a good idea to get out and visit some of the new Mormon bloggers who don’t know about you guys. Post a few comments on some of those sites and see if they respond. Post on your own blogs about them, and link to them. I think DMI Dave said somewhere a few months ago that it would be a good idea if one of the main bloggernacle participants started a blog devoted exclusively to searching out new Mormon bloggers.

    I know that there’s already a framework in the bloggernacle that’s doing this kind of stuff. Dave’s Mormon Inquiry and A Soft Answer both review new LDS blogs, and there are a couple of good Mormon blog directories. However, I think that it would be wise to shift some more resources to these venues if you want the bloggernacle to be more representative and less clickish.

  34. This reminds me of a t-shirt I saw John Lennon wearing once, with a drawing of a guy’s body curled up and around and his feet descending a staircase into his the open top of his own head.

  35. Tracy, the thread killer. How do you add comments when you can’t stop laughing at the mental picture of that shirt?

  36. Everyone,
    I am not so much concerned with representation. My concern is self-satisfaction and the pride issues inherent therein. Why are we so complacently satisfied to consider ourselves a breed apart?

  37. I can only speak from my own experience as an independent blogger. But here’s the thing:

    I’ve been blogging since January 2007. I set out with a goal in mind: to transition out of the comfortable mindset of “What Would Molly Mormon Do?” I wanted to learn to have the best of both worlds as a faithful saint AND an independent thinker. So far, I’ve been doing a really great job because I’m much more comfortable with myself now than I was before.

    I don’t really make a point to be included in the larger Bloggernacle clique; my disdain for cliques is the reason I had to turn to blogging in the first place. What I see coming from the Bloggernacle I think is an inadvertant tribute to high school: those who are here to question and find answers raise the questions, and the following discussion is where everyone decides, together, what we all should think about certain issues. And of course that leads to dissension, and confusion about what we even set out to do in the first place.

    The Bloggernacle is like the Church in that you get out of it what you put into it. If you’re only here to take sides, or to perpetuate the same pointles questions, then your experience is doomed to be a waste. And those who are really trying to achieve something, chances are, are finding what they set out to get.

    With all of this in mind, I think the Bloggernacle is exactly like the Church. There are those of us who lead, and those who follow. There are those who raise the questions out of genuine curiosity, and those who are only trying to make a point against the church. There are those who avoid the cliques, and those who seek them out. I find it interesting that the patterns of our behavior in church often translate onto the web and how we deal with one another in the Bloggernacle, whether we want them to or not.

    Therefore, if we are dissatisfied, I can honestly assert that it’s through our own failure. But at the same time, failure in the Bloggernacle is eradicated with the same thing that eradicates failure in the Church: effort to become a better person. (Not to be confused with arguing, making friends, etc.)

  38. Well spoken, Paradox.

  39. “And of course that leads to dissension, and confusion about what we even set out to do in the first place.”

    I know that’s why I’m here!

    Honestly, I am flabbergasted with the talk of cliques. I just don’t see it. To talk of it mystifies me. There are some people I’ve known longer and some people I know IRL, and I’m more comfortable with those people, but that’s a natural result of human association rather than having a ‘cool kids’ table or something. In fact, I don’t know anyone who is even remotely cliquish in the Bloggernacle — if you’re willing to say something and be coherent in doing so, it’s the most egalitarian place I’ve ever experienced.

    To those who speak of cliques and elitism in the Bloggernacle: can you elaborate? Are you sure it’s a matter of being cliquish?

  40. John C., I don’t know if anyone complacently considers us a breed apart in the sense you seem worried about. There are inevitable ways in which we’re an unusual subset of Mormons, but does acknowledging that require us to suppose that we’re either better or worse than other Mormons? I don’t think it does, and I suspect that not many LDS bloggers really think of themselves as better or worse than LDS non-bloggers — although I’ll admit that my suspicion is probably really just my own experience writ large. But acknowledging difference is not the same as implying superiority; on the other hand, eliminating difference would require mandatory participation, an unworkable and coercive hypothetical.

    Nonetheless, I absolutely agree that if there are people who see themselves as better than other Mormons because of blogging, some serious questions should be asked.

  41. Steve Evans:
    i’d tell you about the cliques and elitism, but I can’t. You aren’t in the “in group”.

  42. har!

    Look, it sounds like there are people out there who really feel excluded or scorned, so I don’t want to make fun of what they’re saying. But I sure don’t understand it.

  43. If anyone would like to join the clique, email me. I’m the secret-keeper.

  44. RT, people think we’re a clique because of comments like THAT!

  45. I would have been there but was fighting a bad cold and in that state, driving from Provo to Salt Lake was just too much especially late at night with all the drugs I was taking :-)

    I often wonder about the Bloggernacle too and also the future of things like Sunstone. Frankly I think that Sunstone might be on the decline though I have no real hard evidence to back that up. Just something that I have observed.

    Oh well, enough Bloggernacling and more laundrying :-)

  46. I have an elite education – the only one of my extended family who does. Most of my brothers and sisters have no formal education past high school. My father hated school, and gained a vocational degree only for its impact on his job prospects. From an outsider’s perspective, I am an anomaly – not just in my family, but also in my hometown and the entire area that feeds into the high school I attended.

    Does understanding and acknowledging this difference make me elitist? The difference MIGHT lead me to feel superior, but it is not causal. Frankly, as I have expressed previously, I stand in absolute awe of my father – someone who is twice the man (at least) than I am. How does recognizing our differences separate us? What strikes me is that I can walk in my circles, he can walk in his, and we each can admire the other for what and who we are. Sounds a lot like Church to me.

    John C, I understand your concern about self-satisfaction and pride, but I have seen MUCH worse exhibitions of those traits in my weekly service inside a church building than I have on the few blogs I choose to visit. I choose this blog and a handful of others for that very reason – a predominantly deep and thoughtful conversation that contributes to my spirituality. Sure, it goes too far once in a while, but I don’t see rampant pride from the vast majority of those who comment here. Sometimes a bit too much passion, perhaps, but that can be said about me too often to let it stop me from enjoying the community.

  47. Eric Russell says:

    “if you’re willing to say something and be coherent in doing so, it’s the most egalitarian place I’ve ever experienced.”

    I’ve noticed the same – and I think it’s one of the winning aspects of the bloggernacle.

  48. So much for being a “thread killer.” Hrmph.

  49. You got me on that one, Tracy. :-)

  50. Friends, living in a solid segment of the LDS corridor, I think bloggernacle is quite different than Church LDS. Quite different.

    Bloggernacle appears to me as an avid, passionate,intellectual subculture.

    I think there would be more connection to Church LDS if more bishops and stake presidents blogged. I know many of these guys are highly educated, technically in tune, continual internet users, but to my limited perception, little involved with bloggernacle.

    Why the disconnect? I would like to converse with bishops and stake presidents from time to time on these very issues brought up in bloggernacle.

  51. Todd, I think there are more bishops and stake presidents (both current and former) who read and comment than you think.

  52. #50 – Great! If any of them have any future blogs, point the way, Ray.

    Blogging is a time-consuming thing, but I respect more those LDS leaders who are both accessible and strongly transparent about what they believe and would give their life for. I like it when leaders lead the way on fundamental heart issues and controversies.

  53. Todd
    As a currently serving bishop, who has a 60-hr a week job, I find it difficult to do much blogging. But I have gleaned a great deal of useful information and ideas that have helped me in my service. For example, 2 weeks ago we had a sacrament meeting based on hymns that turned out to be one of the most spiritually edifying meetings I can remember. We will do it again. I got the idea from lurking here. On the same Sunday I taught a combined RS/MP meeting with a lesson based on JNS’s “The Parable of the Bad Shepherd.” (Thanks JNS. It went very well.)

    I have been dismayed by a few of the things I have read on the bloggernacle (is it OK to hate that term?), but I have also found some gems. I try to learn from others and incorporate, through prompting of the Spirt, ideas that will help me as I serve my ward.

    I would probably read and write more, but it is a time issue. I suspect the same is true of other bishops.

  54. Peter LLC says:

    #44:

    RT, people think we’re a clique because of comments like THAT!

    Actually, I think it’s comments like

    John C., go away.

    that would leave such an impression on the occasional passerby.

    An insistence on doing research before posting and inside jokes as well as a certain tolerance of personal insults as long as they come from friends might also contribute to a sense of the un- vs. the initiated.

    Whether these are accurate observations that apply generally to the ‘nacle (that brings to mind another characteristic–unique vocabularies) or just the warped or misguided views of (allegedly disaffected) commenters is another question–as is the issue of whether the above is enough to constitute a clique–but the possibility that a blog co-founder and commenters could have different views of the same content is unsurprising.

  55. Peter LLC, we’ve visited this topic together before, haven’t we? You seemed quite vexed on that thread back in June; apparently that hasn’t changed. One would think that a few months’ time would be enough for you to feel “initiated.”

    I wonder if there’s any way to disagree with your comment without coming off as elitist? First, I’d argue that elitism and cliquism both imply exclusionary methods. Knowing a topic before pontificating, sharing jokes with friends and reacting differently to commenters based on personal acquaintance all sound exclusionary. That said, they can also sound like plain old common-sense methods of human interaction. I suppose the boundary between what is acceptable and unacceptable in this regard is a matter of personal judgment; certainly someone who has been offended or with a chip on his shoulder would scorn any in-jokes and make a blog utterly public and open to all without any implied prerequisites of knowledge or understanding.

    I don’t question the notion that I could have a different view than another person of the same content. Heaven knows this happens all the time in a myriad of contexts. At the same time, not all perception is reality, and just because someone cries “clique” doesn’t make it so. You’ll have to do more than cite occasional in-jokes to show that BCC is a clique — after all, with your commenting over the last couple of months you now get some/most of them yourself. Good heavens! You’re part of the clique!

    Finally, the occasional passerby who reads my “John C., go away” comment might come to a conclusion such as your own. Then again, that passerby might (correctly) read it in light of John C.’s own post above:

    ps. one final note, I am going on hiatus in an effort to finally finish the dissertation. After this thread, if you see me here or in any of my other haunts before Sept 30th, please politely scold me. Thank you.

  56. Steve-

    I’d imagine this one made some feel like they were not invited to sit at the cool kids table:

    http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/06/stop-reading-blogs/

    “You young whippersnappers need to stop reading blogs and read some books. Seriously. It’s fine to have an opinion, but you should probably keep it to yourself unless it is at least a minimally informed opinion. Here’s your summer reading list–what I consider the absolute minimum preparation for reasonably well-informed discussion of Mormonism. Don’t talk on blogs until you’ve finished it.”

  57. I’ve been blogging since January 2007

    So far, I’ve been doing a really great job

    I have an elite education – the only one of my extended family who does.

    y’all should quit braggin’

    Steve: I think this is something we should bring up at the next double-secret meeting. I’ll send an email to all the cool kids.

  58. anon:

    Kristine is way too cool to be criticized by the likes of you. (And if you can’t recognize a toungue-in-cheek post then you deserve what you get).

  59. anon (#55) — you could be right about that. Peter LLC also thought so.

    MCQ, it’s not a double-secret meeting IF YOU COMMENT ABOUT IT.

  60. MCQ-

    I’ll just go back to the hole I came from. But thanks for making my point.

  61. If you want to be on the inside of inside jokes, all you have to do is not take yourself so seriously. If you can’t do that, you don’t get to complain about inside jokes. My hell, people. Lighten up.

  62. 39–It’s not clickish once you start getting involved in it, but it can kind of look that way when you look at the people who really get into it. I mean, there is some specialized language (or at least acronymns) that people use quite often, there is an awards site for things like “best commenter of the year,” there are recurring discussions (like coffee and the WoW) where the community responds in a humorous and familiar way at times that seems confusing to someone who hasn’t participated in previous discussions, some of the big group blogs, like BCC, T&S, or Mormon Mentality look and feel the same (at least at first), and there is even a blog dedicated to making fun of the “bloggernacle” blogs in an inside-joke kind of way. Above all, the people in the bloggernacle seem to take themselves too seriously, with drawn out academic discussions about the “bloggernacle” itself ;) and discussing it as a “project” that is consciously being built instead of a phenomenon that is evolving on its own as individual bloggers all do their own thing. When you look at all of that, and then look at some of the other LDS blogs that aren’t as connected with the rest of the “bloggernacle,” it gives the impression of a clique, even though the individual members are friendly and the discussions are open to a wide variety of different views and perspectives.

  63. onelowerlight, I see what you mean. How should those who have been doing this stuff for a long time change their discourse? Are long-timers better off not using in-jokes and being overly familiar?

    And yes, we take things WAAAAAAAAAAY too seriously.

  64. Blog foul! Blog foul! Anytime you mention Big Blogs, you must include FMH. It’s in the bylaws. Somewhere.

  65. p.s. nice shots of the City.

  66. 42–it’s not that I feel excluded in any way, in fact since I’ve started getting involved I haven’t ever felt like that at all. It’s just that before you start getting involved, it has the appearance of a clique. In reality, the bloggernacle is probably the most moderate, polite, friendly, and non-obscene community on the internet. And I’m not complaining about feeling excluded at all–I’m just suggesting that those who are trying to grow and improve the bloggernacle would do well to search out and get involved in other LDS blogs that are not so much a part of the community.

  67. Tracy, next thing you’ll be lobbying to get MMW a mention as well. They can’t ALL be Big Blogs! Besides FMH cheats in its stats, everyone knows it but is AFRAID to speak the TRUTH.

  68. I don’t think the “cool kids table” phenomenon is as great on this particularly blog as it is on other blogs. But it does exist.

    I think the whole Banner of Heaven ruse — while I liked it — was an example of the “cool kids” (interconnected bloggers) trying to pull a ruse on the newbs.

    Frankly, I don’t care. Since I’m not a hardcore scriptorian who can read Greek, or a lawyer, or a philosopher, or a law professor, I’m not really “one of them”. That’s fine. But the “we’ll talk about what we can to talk about, and delete comments and cut off discussion and ban commenters” and all that gives some the perspective of a closed group. There are a few permabloggers out there who make it their mission to stifle discussion they don’t agree with and viciously attack those who question them.

    Now, we’re nowhere like Slashdot, for instance – there’s just the potential for it.

    Re anon/Kristine – I really, really don’t think the “go read some books” edict was as tongue-in-cheek as some like to claim. There is an undercurrent at times that, if you’re not one of “the group”, your opinions are automatically discounted, and there is definitely a whiff at times that if you haven’t passed the secret test, don’t come knocking. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But all of the “tongue-in-cheek” seems like a bit of spin at this point. (No offense, Kristine.)

    For me, it’s enough that you accept 99.9% comments without having to sign in first. I think if the lists went to more formal methods of authentication/verification/moderation, you’d lose part of the community. I like the ability to wonder aloud things I wouldn’t dare say at Church. I like the ability to remain somewhat anonymous (although, my real identity is known to some, and I don’t try to hide it — I just don’t like name showing up on a Google search).

    (I loved BoH. Yes, I got suckered too. But I thought it was just tremendous. Seriously.)

  69. Queuno, Jenn blows you a kiss.

    I don’t think you can have a blog these days without moderating conversation and banning on occasion. It’s hard to say where that becomes stifling the conversation.

    Re: being in “the group,” that’s a tough one. For example, I’ve read your comments and have interacted with you, gosh, for years now (is that possible?!?!). So I know a bit of what to expect, and would imagine you do as well. And so communication is easier and more direct. We can see eye-to-eye more quickly. Newcomers see this happening and cry foul. But what’s the solution?

  70. By the way, there is a definite cult of personality on some blogs. If I were to kidnap Nate Oman or Kevin Barney and start posting stuff in their name, some of you would take it a lot more seriously than if I start posting as “iHeartBoydK”.

    In fact, you could create a completely fictitious post, with fake comments from certain people’s handles attached, and most people would think it was real. BoH has nothing on what could be done with a fake posting that included comments from the fake Nate Oman, Julie M. Smith, bbell, Kevin Barney, the Matts, the Steves, Nick, annegb, and fhmLisa (to name just a few).

  71. I’ve been reading the Bloggernacle for about 2 years – ironically, about as long as I’ve been trying to research and write my dissertation.

    I totally agree that moderation and banning and the like are needed. There are some blogs with an itchier trigger finger than others. (This is not limited to the Bloggernacle.)

  72. Queuno – exactly. If I’d have posted #56 as Kevin Barney, I would not have received the disdainful rebuke addresed to “the likes of you.” Instead, I would have been invited to be a permablogger on another not so major blog. I’ll admit, however that Kevin has earned his reputation.

    Maybe I’ll do as you suggest and assume anothers identity – I’ve actually always secretly admired Steve Evans with his quick wit and subtle, yet sharp online charm….

  73. Eric Russell says:

    That anyone would enter a forum where people have been talking for years and then cry of cliquishness when there was a joke they didn’t get boggles the mind.

    But Steve says is best that, “if you’re willing to say something and be coherent in doing so, it’s the most egalitarian place I’ve ever experienced.” True – and one of the winning aspects of the bloggernacle.

  74. Eric –

    Yep, you’re right. Those of us on the outside should have been more on the inside.

  75. kidding anon. Thanks for making MY point!

  76. MCQ, since I made your point, am I in the club?

  77. btw, Eric — I think the spam filter was picking up some of your comments by accident. To those who think they may have been inadvertently banned — drop us an email. Sometimes our spam robot is overaggressive.

  78. anon, you’ve been in the club forever.

  79. Eric Russell says:

    anon, it’s actually a thing of etiquette – you can’t march in and expect the world to revolve around you.

    Queuno, I wouldn’t call it a “cult of personality.” I take a comment by Nate Oman more seriously than an anonymous one simply because he has proven to be a lucid thinker in past comments. It’s pretty straightforward. Start posting intelligent comments under the name “iHeartBoydK” and people will quickly start paying attention.

  80. I don’t think you guys need to change anything about what you’re doing so long as you show a genuine interest in seeking out and connecting with other LDS bloggers who might not know about the bloggernacle. Of course the community is going to have its own quirks and faults, and not everyone is going to be interested in or participating in it to the same degree. However, it’s always nice as a starting blogger when someone with influence in a large community writes a post on your blog and sends some traffic your way. The interaction that follows leads everyone to become more interested in each others blogs, and communities evolve of themselves. Everybody’s happy, and nobody needs to feel guilty about anything that they are or aren’t doing.

    I’m glad you liked the photos, by the way!

  81. Eric-

    I didn’t just march in here – as Steve said, anon has been in the house forever!

  82. Wyatt #53, I’ve just got to say that you just made my day. Oh, and also that it’s absolutely fine to hate the term “Bloggernacle.” I don’t especially care for the term myself and usually refer instead to “the LDS blogs” or “LDS blogging.” Not that there’s anything wrong with “Bloggernacle,” other than it sounds a bit kludgy.

  83. anon, you’ve been in the club longer than I have! (Aren’t you the one who told me the secret passwords?) It’s just that Kevin would know not to criticize Kristine. There are some things you just don’t do. It’s like leaving the fridge open. Don’t even think about it.

  84. kludgy??

  85. MCQ-

    I wasn’t criticizing Kristine, I was joking :)

  86. well, you’re in for sure then!

  87. re: kludge, he’s just mad he didn’t think of it. And he hates Grasshopper, too, I bet.

  88. Yeah, there was a ton of grasshopper envy goin on at the bloggerpanel. He needed a bodyguard.

  89. Wow, thanks for linking me. I don’t think though, by that definition, that a word can be a kludge. You lose again JNS.

  90. MCQ, watch out or I’ll go all Uwe Boll on you. Anyway, why can’t a word be “a clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem or difficulty”? If ever a word was clumsy and inelegant, it’s Bloggernacle!

  91. Bring it on. And may grasshopper build a nest in your ear, JNS.

  92. Wyatt (#53), THANK YOU!

    I just got back from FHE and the related Mormon activities, and I have been laughing non-stop for long enough that my wife came in to see what was going on. #57 in particular just about killed me. MCQ, I will try to repent of my inadvertent arrogance. (It’s hard enough to overcome my advertent arrogance, so I’m not sure how successful I will be.)

  93. I’ve been blogging since before T&S. I don’t comment that often so I have never been a part of the in crowd. There are a lot of blog references that I don’t get. I have also frequently changed identities so that there has never been a real following of my few comments over the years to really build up a reputation. So I think that I enjoy neither the status of insider nor the honor of instant respect when I make comments. That said, I find that when I make good, thoughtful comments, people pay attention. I think that if you want to be heard, you either have to make really insightful comments or comment a lot. It is that easy.

  94. You forgot the easiest one, TT: be obnoxious. There are many examples of those who have followed that route to bloggernacle fame and glory. Some of them even brag about the blogs they get banned from. Can you imagine?

  95. MCQ is right–it’s wrong to criticize me, even if the criticism is true. (I’m kidding!!)

    I wrote that post in haste, and have been repenting at leisure, if that makes anyone feel better. Maybe I’ll take another stab at a less sarcastic version sometime. But I do hope that “whippersnappers” would serve as a rhetorical marker for something to be taken not quite seriously…

  96. MCQ, being “obnoxious” is relative. Some consider anything but praise to be obnoxious.

    Kind of entertaining that nobody has talked about the egotism and pride that fuels blogging in general and the Nacle in specific. People put their pet ideas out there and expect to be praised for it, they do not want negative feedback. I rarely see that kind of bull-headed arrogance in real life at Church, but you see it constantly in blogs and the Bloggernacle. It is not all that common that someone asks a question or posits a idea genuinely open to any and all responses.

    Steve wants to know why/how there are Bloggernacle cliques. Because there is a Bloggernacle back channel that promotes the interests of specific individuals and groups, just like gossip in a High School. You have groups of people, some formal and some informal, who operate behind the scenes to forward some particular goal or agenda, usually benign and mundane, but not always. Even outsiders can see that, but they have no real evidence of it because they arent included in it. But it is there. Look at the old M* versus BCC thing from awhile ago, and the more recent BofJ versus BCC spats. Look at the MoArch versus LDSelect spats and the petty who gets listed where arguments. And what about the Banner of Heaven blowout and so on. Those are the public manifestations that are just the tips of the ice bergs when it comes to what is going on behind the scenes.

    Yes, yes, Steve, the Bloggernacle is egalitarian in the sense that anyone can post and comment and if they do it in an intelligent fashion they can “accepted” as such. However, that doesnt get them into the Bloggernacle back channel and it doesnt necessarily get them into the list of guests bloggers at the Big Blogs.

  97. Steve Evans says:

    ED, you say that the spats are just the tip of the ice bergs of what’s happening behind the scenes, but in my experience they represent a substantial portion, if not the entire, ice berg.

  98. Steve,
    You clearly haven’t been reading Protocols of the Elders [High Priests?] of the Bloggernacle, have you? It’s all in there: the one world government, the plots by Mormon bloggers to corner and control all of the world’s BoM supply, and, most of all, the invidious insertion of subliminal messages in Janice Kapp Perry and Michael McLean songs, all so that you Very Important Bloggernacle People can keep your back-channel dealings secret.

  99. Forgive me for being opaque. I meant to infer that the tip of the iceberg was the public side of the spat. The majority of the back channel stuff is the “usually benign and mundane”, the administrivia, the beaurocratic of running and participating blogs. You know, you nagging permabloggers to post and J Stapley changing header pics and all the other non-controversial stuff. All of that relies on relatively exclusive social networks that are occurring outside of the public view. Most would have no interest in those things, but those social networks are also there when it comes time to deal with controversies.

  100. Steve Evans says:

    Fair enough I suppose.

  101. Nick Literski says:

    E.D., do you at least keep your weapons stockpile and your ammunition stockpile in separate locations, for safety?

  102. cj douglass says:

    Kind of entertaining that nobody has talked about the egotism and pride that fuels blogging in general and the Nacle in specific. People put their pet ideas out there and expect to be praised for it, they do not want negative feedback.

    That’s funny. If someone didn’t disagree with me what would be the fun of being here in the first place? I’ve always assumed that is how most everyone else feels. Not that I’m looking for a fight – just some different perspectives.

  103. Sam and Nick, setting your attempts at humor aside, I am not talking about a Bloggernacle Illuminati, never even hinted at any such thing. I likened the petty back channel nonsense to the adolescent shenanigans of High School gossipers, not some apocalyptic cabal.

    Regardless, the Bloggernacle has plenty of behind-the-scenes social networking going on, and those networks come in to play when it comes to dealing with controversies. Mostly they deal with the mundane things of blogging, but they also are used to promote private agendas of individuals and groups when it comes time to settle scores or gratify egos. Pretending they arent is just sticking your head in the sand. Bloggers are just people, and people are naturally self-seeking, that is just reality. How would blogging be any different? It isnt. And, so, you have groups of people wanting to form and participate in social networks (Sunstone Blogsnacker anyone?) and then, sometimes, not all that often, those social networks are used for selfish reasons by individuals within them.

    If you want a specific example, look at the Mormon Archipelago’s demotion of T&S to box 3 for refusing to carry the logo, and the mixing in of LDSelect starting up. There was a pretty big back channel mess going on before any of that went public. When it went public, it spilled out all over the place and it was very obvious that there were a good number of egos clashing throughout it. Another example would be the Banner of Heaven implosion, which had a very big back channel mess as well as public one. Those are only examples of ones that ended up spilling out into public overtly, there are a lot more examples that dont get that public but are no less heated.

  104. ED,
    Ah, you recognized it was supposed to be funny. You are a hard one to take seriously, but then, so is just about anyone else. Except my triple-secret cabal, which sadly includes mostly just my dog these days. But he’s a good dog.

  105. I realize I’m posting something after 104 comments, and nobody may pay attention to it, but regardless of whether the Bloggernacle represents the Church as a whole, I’ve been grateful for what I’ve read and participated in on various sites. For a long time now, I’ve been faithful, attended church, had a temple recommend, but some things that happen within the church just kind of bug me. I’ve thought that I was faithless or just a bad person because I disagreed with local leaders or questioned programs in the church (gasp!). It’s been enlightening (and kind of a relief) to me to read some of the threads and see the discussions that other members are having that resonate with the way that I feel. (Wow! Other people hate fast and testimony meeting too!!) It’s nice to give a voice to my feelings, regardless of whether everyone agrees with me or not. I have also read some postings and threads that have given me new perspective and strengthened my faith. So, thanks.

  106. Bizarro Kevin (aka kevinf) says:

    I missed out on most of this yesterday afternoon, and now I discover there’s a double secret clubhouse, and it’s not just for boys and lawyers?

    I felt much better when I was clueless.

  107. Xena, that’s exactly how I feel about the nacle. It was a revelation to me when I found it and its an important part of my faith every day. I find it comforting and invigorating at the same time. So, thanks from me to all of you too. It’s just plain nice knowing y’all are out there (especially you hipster doofuses at the cool table).

  108. nobody special says:

    I’ve been reading blogs for a while now, and I want to pipe in on this discussion. I happen to be one who thinks the bloggernacle can be cliquelike at times. I think Geoff B. described it well in this post.

    Every group has a dynamic, and the group dynamic for the Bloggernacle very often seems to me — and many, many other Church members — to be that all of the commenters are way, way smarter and more sophisticated than the average Joes in the Church. And because they are so much smarter and sophisticated, it is OK for them to question silly doctrines in the Church. And of course anybody who believes those silly doctrines is an uneducated rube. And if anybody dares to say, “ahem, as Church members we actually follow the Prophet and do what he says, and he has said XXXX,” they are immediately laughed at and, yes, pilloried.

    I have seen people who are (quoting Steve Evans) “willing to say something and be coherent in doing so” and for people described in that little quote, the bloggernacle really isn’t always “the most egalitarian place I’ve ever experienced.” And is often far from it. It sometimes does seem like an elitist clique that poopoos people who don’t feel the need to question every last thing that is done or said in the church. It is sometimes a place that communicates that you are better if you question and that simple faith (or lack of questioning) is a weakness. As much as I do like reading blogs, I don’t like this part of what is called the bloggernacle. And I am willing to think that there are some who would comment more if there was less of what Geoff described going on.

  109. nobody special, you say “It sometimes does seem like an elitist clique that poopoos people who don’t feel the need to question every last thing that is done or said in the church,” but I don’t understand this. I understand that you are probably using some exaggeration, but I certainly don’t think it’s true of BCC. Would you mind, perhaps, pointing me in the direction of an instance here where someone was poopooed for not questioning, or that suggested that simple faith is a weakness?

    In other words, please point me to something real to show me that your feelings aren’t just out of nowhere.

  110. Bizarro Kevin (aka kevinf) says:

    nobody special,

    While I am certainly not “inside the clubhouse” or sitting at “the cool table”, I have always felt welcomed here, even when I make uninformed, ill-conceived statements. Every now and then, though, I get lucky, and have something to add to the party, and you know what? The people at the cool table turn and nod their heads.

    I will admit to being someone who is always wanting to know why, and if that sometimes comes across as questioning, so be it. Be advised, I am not a closet doubter, and try to serve faithfully and really am pretty conventional. I am much more interested in promoting faith, and am never in favor of trying to subjugate it. From my experienced here in the last 12 months, I have decided that most everybody here is also interested in promoting faith. We all have our idiosyncracies, but from what I have seen, we’re probably not all that different from you.

    Except that some of us get to pretend that we are wearing superhero costumes.

  111. I am waiting to be invited to the table before I go out and buy a purse – or get a dog – or ask for a decoder ring.

  112. Steve Evans says:

    don’t hold your breath, Ray.

  113. Bizarro Kevin (aka kevinf) says:

    Ray,

    I stole a decoder ring, intercepted a secret cool table message, and unencrypted it said “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine”.

  114. Man, I knew I shouldn’t have hit the “Add my comment” button after that one – especially since I had it on bad authority that I was only 35,432 comments away from the clubhouse doors. (or 246 obnoxious ones, right, MCQ?)

  115. Yeah, kevinf, but you have the secret HC decoder ring. That’s not fair.

  116. Bizarro Kevin (aka kevinf) says:

    Ray,

    That clubhouse meets at 6 AM on Sunday mornings. Be careful what you wish for.

  117. I’ve already admitted to being a church geek. Those threats don’t scare me.

    6AM on ALL Sundays? They don’t do that in our stake.

  118. Man, I’m a perma here, and I don’t even have my decoder ring or cape yet!

  119. kevinf, If Tracy M. doesn’t have a ring yet, I’m really jealous of you.

    Steve, do you have connections with anyone who can steal back his ring?

  120. Bizarro Kevin (aka kevinf) says:

    Ray,

    Up until last week, all Sundays. Starting next month, we get the first Sunday off.

    Tracy M, we’re just trying to make the cool table kids jealous.

  121. Nobody who tells alleged secrets of the inner sanctum in public actually knows of what they speak. I, not they, am the secret keeper.

  122. Isn’t it against the 5th Article of Faith for kevinf to use a stolen decoder ring?

    Our HC meets three times a month – one Sunday morning, one Wednesday night and one Thursday night. I will tell a friend of mine on our HC to count his blessings.

  123. nobody special says:

    Steve Evans, why, if I don’t provide proof of my perception, would that mean I’m just pulling my thoughts out of nowhere? My perception is just that, my own perception. I don’t go around keeping a log of all the comments and posts that I have read that have led to that perception. It seems silly to demand “proof” of how I feel. Or is it because I’m not part of the club that this is required? haha

    Anyway, I have seen some of what Geoff B. was talking about (this is not just perception, it happens. Geoff B gave an example in his post that I linked.). From where I sit, that kind of thing should concern us all if the bloggernacle’s hope is to somehow be representative of the church, whatever that means. There ought to be more room for people to say, “Hey, folks, this is what the church teaches” without getting pounced on. And in the months I have read, I have seen quite of bit of pouncing. To me, that seems incongruous with a group that wants to be representing the church. This isn’t to say that everything in the bloggernacle follows this pattern. But it happens and that is a negative in my mind.

  124. Steve Evans says:

    nobody special, I’m not demanding proof of how you feel. I’m asking that you show me an example from BCC of something that makes you feel that way.

    Just now you said, “I have seen some of what Geoff B. was talking about… And in the months I have read, I have seen quite of bit of pouncing.” Have you ever seen it here? If so, please let me know. You mention pouncing on those who simply stand up for what the church teaches, but I have not seen it here, and would really be interested in even the merest example.

    And yes, if you aren’t able to provide any tangible reasons for your perception, then it could very well mean that you are pulling thoughts out of nowhere, couldn’t it?

  125. nobody special, I agree with Steve here. It is a fairly serious thing to say that simple faith is not tolerated in a community. I will readily admit that a personal simple faith is, well, fairly personal and most blog posts aren’t set up to be Testimony Meetings (though not even all Church meetings are set up for that and I often am strengthened by posts and comments).

    What I am trying to say is that to anonymously criticize a forum without any evidence that strives to be always constructive as apostate is just not particularly fair. It isn’t particularly welcomed in any community online or off.

  126. I have found that the bloggernacle can get more edgy than the mainstream church community, but I’ve also found strong expressions of personal faith in the bloggernacle as well. I was following a discussion here at BCC the other day where the initial post was a little bit edgy, and was pleasantly surprised to see teachings of the church affirmed and witnessed of in many of the comments. Of course there is going to be more of a place in blogging for the edgier, more doubtful crowd, but not to the exclusion of the faithful (or, as they’d say on the old FAIR boards, the “TBMs”), and the bloggernacle seems to make room for both.

    What probably irks you is the idea that official teachings of the church are considered fair game for criticism and dissenting views. While agree that it can get irksome at times, I don’t think that the majority of the bloggernacle has taken the next step, which is to accept this criticism as the norm. Some blogs have done it, but not most of them, IMO.

  127. nobody special says:

    W-hoa there now, J. Stapley.
    Nowhere did I make any accusation of anyone being apostate and I never meant to imply such a thing. Perhaps I didn’t say what I’m thinking well enough, though. I’m not saying that the bloggernacle is worthless, evil or faithless. I don’t think working through questions in faith is a bad thing. I think there is plenty of good to be found in the bloggernacle. I just thought that what Geoff B. said was relevant to the original post and the consideration about representation. Sometimes it does feel elitist to me. Sometimes (I agree with onelowerlight that it’s not always or all blogs) standard church answers are met with some hostility or frustration and I think that reduces the representative nature of the bloggernacle and makes it a community that isn’t as inclusive as it could be.

    Perhaps I should have just linked to Geoff’s post and left it at that. He said things far better than I did. But as Geoff B said “Please do not take offense because no offense is intended.”

  128. nobody special,
    Obviously, I have concerns that run along similar lines. That said, I don’t believe the bloggernacle is a place where “simple faith” (a phrase I hate because I don’t believe it ever describes reality) is disparaged, but it could become one (except I did it just then…hmm…I hate the phrase, but I don’t find the concept of having faith or acting in faith offensive; instead I find it laudible). It is (I think) a real danger if we begin to take ourselves too seriously around here (not that there is real danger of that, as many of the comments on this thread have hopefully demonstrated). Steve will tell you that in our double secret, back channel, cool kid chats I have a real history of fretting about this very thing. Something about the second-hand presentation of the bloggernacle session made my expression of worry boil over into a post. Again, I don’t see this as a current problem (at least, not at the blogs I frequent), but I know the tendency in myself and suspect it likely to be present in others.

    That said, argument’s are always strengthened by actual evidence. Without evidence, we can’t tell if you are basing your feeling on something everyone could agree with or if you are just giving some portion of the bloggernacle a particularly uncharitable reading. If my post came off as a call to repentance, it is because I think we all need to repent all the time anyway. It shouldn’t be read as an attempt to call specific bloggernacklers to repentance (especially not the members of the esteemed panel). Fundamentally, the thought that the church might not be recognizable in what we do here worries me (perhaps because I believe it is easily recognizable; it makes me wonder about the changes in me). But, as stated above, I am a fretter.

  129. nobody special,
    You are not alone in your perceptions. I too have witnessed prevalent pouncing.

  130. For me, the Bloggernacle served as the gateway to the DAMU, and for that I am grateful.

  131. What is DAMU?

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