The Smugger-Murmur-H8er-Snigger-nacle and Me

People sometimes wonder why I bother. By which I mean bother writing blog posts or thinking about the church obsessively or trying to interact with people with whom I hold strong disagreements. In some cases, I’ve had to stop because folks were just driving me crazy (Hi, M*). So why bother? Does being involved in this community give me joy or not?

I wonder about this, because I have not had a casual relationship with this community. I am not the first and I am not the most influential but I was an early adopter of the bloggernacle and I’ve been present through most of its culture wars. I’ve been a member of the secret Archipelago cabal for years now. To whatever degree someone can steer or herd this group of cats, I’ve been on the committee trying to do it. Of course, individual blogs and bloggers are why people show up; I’m not the talent. But I’ve always been interested in the community and I feel like the personality of the community closely mirrors my own. I’m, as they say, fully invested.

Except, maybe not. I just moved to Germany and for a couple of months have had sporadic internet access. My new job has a stricter policy regarding internet use. I check the blogs maybe once every couple of days right now and I went about three weeks without checking them at all. I did not feel any great loss.

I should also add that I am going through my biggest period of inactivity since before my mission. I haven’t been to church since January. This is because the closest church is an hour away by car and I don’t have a car. I’m working to rectify this, but I’ve been busy and the time to buy a car is minimal. Hopefully we’ll get ‘er done today. I am feeling the loss of church, so I’ll get there.

Also, of late, folks are arguing to me that the bloggernacle as a community is a bad idea. Instead, we should segregate, in the manner that Nothing Wavering would have us do, into communities where it is okay to question and communities where it isn’t (not that the latter variety actually exists, of course, but I’ll let folks think that way if they like). The argument is that “mainstream” or “majority” Mormons will never feel comfortable on a blog like BCC, because we just question too much. I’ve also, in the recent past, seen the nacle referred to as the “Smugger” nacle and the “Murmur” nacle (I made up the other two, but they’re probably in use out there somewhere). I’ve been told that the bloggernacle is where people go when they want to complain and that we feel superior to other folk by means of our complaints, degrees, general liberalness (regardless of actual political beliefs), or some other font of unremitted self-confidence. Perhaps it is necessary to have this space, to give the wavering in faith a place to blow off steam rather than leave the church, but most folk don’t need or don’t want this space. They want to participate in endless discussions of how great the church is and how inspired the brethren are (unless they say something about immigration or scouting or some other hobby horse that isn’t identified as “liberal”).

I’m tired, almost as much as I’m invested, and I’ve just learned that I don’t need this. This isn’t the church for me; it’s an occasionally fun and an occasionally frustrating way to avoid work and family responsibilities. At any given moment, there is something more important that I could be doing than writing or commenting here. Should I continue?

When people talk about what the bloggernacle is, I almost always take it personally (this is a neuroses, I admit). I’ve spent probably thousands of hours on this thing; I identify it as, in part, my work. That’s me you are talking about. And, frankly, I do murmur on occasion. I am sometimes smug. I hate on folks and snigger just as much as the next net denizen. So I wonder if this medium only brings out the worst in me, because I hear about the bad aspects of this project (and my character) far more than the good. And, frankly, I’m dubious about most of the “good” that we occasionally claim to do.

Part of the reason is that I don’t really subscribe to the notion of a grand unified theory of the bloggernacle. I don’t really think it has a purpose or a higher cause. I look around at this place as a group of friends who enjoy talking about (or raging against) this stuff with each other, while also being sufficiently narcissistic to think publishing it online is a good idea. Perhaps the narcissism is what turns people off. We are all, like certain nameless Religion professors, actually unqualified to comment on the Gospel. We are not its source, we are not its best exemplars, we are, probably, more like Laman and Lemuel than like Nephi. Of course, everybody, including probably Nephi, is more like Laman and Lemuel than like Nephi. So, if we are true to ourselves and trying to be true to God, then we’ll necessarily appear as we are.

So, self-centeredly assuming that I’m typical of our type, who are we? Loyal to the Church and the Gospel, even when baffled by both. I’ve mediocre works, a great hope of grace, and determination to find justice in God’s will, even though it sometimes seems impossible. I have faith in the united will of the Brethren and the Lord, even while being occasionally skeptical that that is what we’re hearing on any given Sunday. I don’t believe that God cares a whit about your political leanings, nor about most of your theological ravings, which means we all can blather on about most of this stuff without doing lasting harm to anything but our egos and our preconceived notions. I think things that lead us to accept more people as Christian brothers and sisters are good; things are allow us to separate the wheat and the chaff according to our own standards, which we tend to find more amenable than God’s, are anathema. I believe that we are the flawed, human, temporal manifestation of our imperfect understanding of God’s glacially patient and implacable will. His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven, but it will likely be in spite of us, or accidentally at best. That’s the foundation of my testimony and, in some small degree, that’s what I see the bloggernacle as being a testament of. Remember, we’re all prophets, to the degree that we have a testimony of Christ. My words, never profound and more often than not fumbling, are nevertheless an attempt to find the Lord in my life. So, yeah, it matters to me what you think of this project.

My brother, who is very skeptical of the bloggernacle (he would definitely refer to it as the Murmurnacle), believes that I am forever halting between two opinions. That I should choose to just buy in to the Church in a way that I haven’t. I’m not sure what he means; I don’t think he is referring to personal conversion, but rather to taking my faith a couple steps closer to blind, which are a couple steps closer than I’m comfortable with. As I am, I’m not content, but I don’t think contentment is the point; joy is. Joy, I think, comes from becoming more like God. And I think, and feel, that my path to God is this path. Never certain, but striving for faithfulness, hopefulness, and charity. I guess that’s good enough for me.

Note: I’m not fishing for compliments on my awesomeness nor for assurances that I’m a crucial part of something or other. Should I quit (which I’m not planning on right now), your heart will go on. If you feel moved to comment (and I totally understand if you don’t), please talk about why you hang around the nacle (good or ill). The truth is good enough.

Comments

  1. I hang around to see people question things that need to be questioned. And I thank you for being one of those people.

  2. Why do I hang around? I love the gospel, and I love open discussion about it. I like hearing other people’s perspectives on what’s going on, and what’s happened. I have lost interest in a lot of the Mormon blogs and podcasts (frankly I think Mormon Stories nuked the fridge a while ago) but I think BCC keeps a steady flow of good blogging with interesting opinions. I need something like this in my life to keep my mind occupied, and to make sense of things. Johnny C, if I may call you that, I certainly hope you do keep blogging. I love your polls.

  3. “more like Laman and Lemuel than like Nephi.”

    Given the choice between tying someone up and beating them, and being tied up and beaten, I will almost always go for the former. I’d rather be the hammer than the nail. Yes, I would. I’m not Jesus. Yet. Although, Jesus would probably have rather been the hammer than the nail, too. And He’s going to get his chance, too, baby. It’s comin sooner than you think.

  4. I stay around because I need a place to talk about the tension between being a convert with a different-than lifelong-member perspective. I stay around because I need the community, which is very real, tangible and huge to me. I stay around because I find some of the discussions fascinating. I stay around because there are people who share my concerns, ideas, and joys. I stay around because these are my people.

    For me, the community is most likely more physically real that for someone who only comments occasionally. I know all the BCC permas in real life, and a great many of the writers at other nacle biogs. This community, or however it is to be defined, has nurtured me through the transition from new convert into full-fledged faithful member, and allowed me the room to expand the definition of what that might mean for me in a way that I’m not sure I could have navigated alone.

    Also, JDC, because of the nacle, our kids are friends. That’s a good thing. ;)

  5. As for the smugger-naccle. Can a person help it if God made them brighter and more interesting than others? It’s a very thin line between meekness and letting your light so shine.

    As for murmur-naccle. Come on. No one here is murmuring. They are flat out speaking their minds.

    Snigger-naccle. That’s half the fun.

    On a slightly more serious note. I’ve taken a step back from thinking about this as a community. YMMV – but that always helps me. Gone are imagined responsibilities, and wondering about what one’s function is and where one stands, and back is the joy of speaking and listening and acting as a free agent.

  6. Truthfully, I can hardly imagine membership back before forums like this existed. The fact that places like BCC exist where some things can be freely broached is of immeasurable importance to someone like me.

  7. KerBearRN says:

    I hang around because I have found that questioning, wondering, reckoning, arguing, and, yes, sniggering have all helped me be a more informed “consumer” of the Gospel. I think that here questions that NEED to be asked are asked, that discussions that need to be had are had. And it is with great joy (and no little measure of relief!) that I have found this forum where such things can be done without the loss of sight of the preciousness of the Gospel. This is probably the only place populated by mostly Mormons where I can say (without fear of repercussions and with the sure expectation of respect and empathy), “I don’t always know that the Church is true — but I do know that the GOSPEL is true.” I can be myself here. And thank you all for that.

  8. Peter LLC says:

    Where in Germany, if I might ask?

  9. I’m in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. If anyone wants to contact me about giving me a ride to church, I’m all ears.

  10. Benjamin says:

    I’m here because I need something more than what I’m able to get in a three-hour block. I’m here because the gospel never really became real to me until I learned to approach it intellectually, and that just doesn’t happen in most LDS circles. And I’m here because I can tell the Church is stuck in social ruts, but I’m not quite brilliant enough to identify all these ruts or figure out how to get out of them. The bloggernacle has helped me develop ideas and articulate problems to my ward in ways that I think have helped us grow into a stronger unit.

    I guess, in short, I’m here because I think being here will make me a better leader and, more importantly, a better person.

  11. As much as my ward is filled with good-hearted people (mostly), very, very few of them offer me any safe harbor for expressing either unorthodox/non-contemporary theological ideas, or desperately necessary constructive criticism about how we operate. There might be more people in my ward family who (and here I struggle to find a descriptor that won’t make me sound like a pompous jerk) appreciate something other than repetitive platitudes (hmm, don’t think I succeeded), but they are doing a really good job keeping it on the down-low. I’m a perpetual doubter, a bone-deep skeptic, and in desperate need of deeper understanding and fellowship with others who may share my struggles but also don’t wish to fall away. I wouldn’t exactly call this a “community” for me, I’m far too intimidated by the intellects on display here (which have certainly helped knock my occasional flares of feeling superior down a notch or two; I’m a hobby intellectual at best) to ever really jump into a fray. But I learn things here that i would never learn in church or by studying on my own. I find sources of information I would never have known of on my own. I’m enriched.

  12. Where else can I go to get commentary about modern issues from intelligent members?

  13. Can’t express it better than the ones before me, but that never stops me from trying. I have developed a level of empathy that was lagging once I actually heard the voices, complaints and yes, murmurings of those that walk different paths than me but have all found their way to the gospel. I am usually in some sort of leadership position so find this a safe forum to express concerns and voice complaints without shaking the faith of those I lead. Sorry to those whose faith I’ve shaken here. I guess, in the words of Dr. Phil, the bloggernacle is a soft place to fall.

  14. and communities where it isn’t (not that the latter variety actually exists, of course, but I’ll let folks think that way if they like)

    I tend to get that impression on Segullah (not that there is anything wrong with Segullah).

    I come because like most of us, I don’t have the time or resources to find a lot of the answers on my own. If it wasn’t for BCC, and other blogs, I’d be a lost soul sitting in SS wondering what it is I’m doing wrong. This community helps me feel normal.

  15. John C., this is what happens when you stay away from the Bloggernacle for three weeks — you get all introspective and brooding. I think you need to get on over to a potluck at your German ward (food is an effective treatment for depression), eat three helpings of bratwurst, then come back and blog about it (the whole visit, not just the food).

    I’ll second Melissa’s (#11) nicely expressed thoughts — there are online sites that cater to people who think, speak, and write largely in terms of “repetitive platitudes,” but the ‘nacle isn’t that place and doesn’t attract that type of Mormon. And as the Church continues to receive public attention and media coverage, it is becoming painfully apparent how deficient those repetitive platitudes are for engaging the rest of the world about Mormonism. We are going global with what is a parochial script, and it is not playing very well to the larger public. “Bloggernacle discourse” is one way to expand that script, personally if not institutionally.

  16. I agree that the bloggernacle helps people with similar concerns come together, but I tried not checking blogs or news outlets for a week once, and was amazed at what I was able to get done when I stopped doing something that I thought wasn’t taking that much time. Good better best I guess.

  17. I spend a lot of time in the Bloggernacle (no surprise, I know), largely for the same reasons others have stated already – but I will add one more:

    I am neither fully orthodox nor fully heterodox. I am completely orthoprax. I’ve never fit in completely in any group at any point of my life that I can remember. (Seriously, at the age of seven I was aware that the way I viewed lots of things was different than those with whom I worshiped at church – that I simply as different in fundamental ways than they were.) Finding the Bloggernacle changed that – even though I still find I am different than others here in many ways. It’s the fact that it’s totally, completely, authentically OK to be different here that is wonderful to me.

    It’s that ALL of us are different than each other in many ways but still can have deep, meaningful conversations regardless that means the most to me – as long as we are generally respectful and not being obnoxious jerks. Yeah, the snark comes out of me too often, but the overall tone of most threads (before the 100th comment) is respectful and thoughtful – and I really appreciate that.

    Finally, I love reading thoughts that are more insightful than whatever I had considered previously. I love being made to see something differently than I had imagined. I love being challenged intellectually AND spiritually – and both of those things happen quite regularly for me in the Bloggernacle.

  18. I come because I’m being tugged in 2 different directions & I don’t want to go either way, and this board is one of the only sane harbors left for my soul. Tugged by my spouse to “open my eyes, join the 21st century and leave the Church” (it’s so obvious to her it’s a sham, she can’t believe any intelligent man would continue to be duped & believe), tugged by my congregation to “question not & blindly follow, never say out loud (nor believe) that the Church makes mistakes.”

    I don’t want to lose my spouse OR the church, but I’m worried I might lose both.

  19. Billy, if the ‘nacle can help you keep your life from flying apart, then it’s doing a good thing.

  20. John C., it’s great to have your reflections here. This is where I wrestle with my questions about my religious community and my own faith. Really I use the comments to help me further develop the tentative answers I offer to many of these pressing questions. On top of that I find it fun. I laugh a lot and that helps me remember not to take myself or my musings too seriously.

  21. Nobody does Bloggernacle meta like John C. Good to hear from you again. Your life in Germany sounds wonderfully idyllic, I can’t wait for the church ride piece of the puzzle to be resolved for you.

  22. One of my reasons for continuing to return to the ‘Naccle is very personal. As far as I am aware, I don’t know anyone else in real life who participates in it, either as a blogger or commenter. But the response of sympathy and good wishes I received from the ‘Naccle when my wife died last year surprised and nearly overwhelmed me. People I have only met through a computer screen reached out to me in love in a very real and meaningful way. How can I not feel like this is a place I belong?

  23. As a non-orthodox member I’m here because I find more people who believe like I do than I do in my ward and because the discussion is broader than it is at church. What I find fascinating is as the non-orthodox approach the bloggernacle pews and say “Excuse me please move down and make room for us” the orthodox response is “No, this has been my place for my entire life and I don’t want a different view of the podium, find somewhere else.”

    Why do we accept almost any questioning from an investigator but shortly after you’re baptized you’re supposed to stop thinking for yourself? Would we really prefer non-orthodox members leave the church? If so the orthodox approach seems to be working well.

  24. Mark Brown says:

    John C.,

    I pretty much agree with most of your premises, but I disagree with your ultimate conclusion.

    It’s true, nothing that goes on here is all that important, much of it is vanity, and even more of it is probably a waste of time. I don’t see this as anything unique to BCC or the bloggernacle, however; I see it as pretty typical of human existence. Even though I am glad I served a mission, I can find very little convincing evidence to persuade me that it wasn’t an almost complete waste of time and money. Most church talks and lessons require a good deal of effort to find valuable. I’ve spent entire weeks of my life camping with young men, and it isn’t clear to me, at all, that there was any point to it, and that we wouldn’t all have been better off doing something else. Ditto the countless hours spent hometeaching and being hometaught. And so on. Just as God usually moves at a glacial pace, I think our progress is also measured in increments so small that we usually don’t see any progress, even as it is happening.

    My opinion is that the bloggernacle occupies a valuable place in the online media. It’s not all that important, but it’s not chopped liver, either.

  25. I keep coming back for the eggs.

  26. I hang out here because the opinions and debates have helped me to have a greater understanding of the breadth and depth of variety within the Church. I am one of those who is more like Nephi than Laman and Lemuel — my testimony and faith came easily and much of the doctrine of the Church feels absolutely logical and very much like home. And though I find much of what is written here to be only of the good variety (as compared to the better or best), my worldview and compassion for others has grown tremendously as a result.

  27. I remember writing a couple of posts along these lines over at the old Blogger of Jared. It got me snarked pretty hard and seemed to tick a lot of people off.

    For some reason i am strangely comforted that you posted a similar – yet better expressed version.

    For me it is not whether the bloggernacle is good or evil, it is whether it is good or a waste of time.

    I wish you well John C. I have always liked you for some reason.

  28. Love your thoughts, John C. You speak for me in a lot of ways.

    I can remember, just barely, what it was like to be a member of the Church before I found the nacle, and it wasn’t nearly as good. As far as I’m concerned, this place is as much a part of the Church as sunday school. I need it, and would feel a little lost without it. There’s no place else where I get what I get here, and I get a lot, from you and everyone else, John C. So thanks. I’m grateful for this place, and I have been worried about it lately. Sometimes I think it’s not doing very well. I want everyone I know to be here, and when it looks like people aren’t showing up much, I’m concerned and disappointed. I don’t know if that makes it a community. Maybe it’s more like a friend I visit often and chat with. My friend has looked a little under the weather lately, by I have hope that he will enjoy a long healthy life and will continue to teach me, entertain me and help me figure things out.

  29. “We are not its source, we are not its best exemplars, we are, probably, more like Laman and Lemuel than like Nephi. Of course, everybody, including probably Nephi, is more like Laman and Lemuel than like Nephi. So, if we are true to ourselves and trying to be true to God, then we’ll necessarily appear as we are.”

    Priceless. Exactly the words for the idea I’ve had for a while but haven’t quite said right yet. I especially agree with the 3rd to last paragraph about who we are. Cheers.

  30. Peter LLC says:

    I’m in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

    Cool. An acquaintance from there has told me about the epic trip to church. I look forward to hearing an alpine perspective on things church.

  31. Not really much to add – previous commenters have expressed my feelings pretty much. I will say that the Bloggernacle introduced me to a world of intellectual engagement with faith that I had never known existed, which has led to a much firmer engagement with my faith altogether, and for that kickstart I am forever grateful.

    One of the great things about the internet is that you can find people who are interested in the same things you are, even if your interests are obscure. I can honestly say that I know exactly zero people who are really interested in theology in real life. Lots here, though. :)

  32. I would have had some original things to say had I responded at 4:00 a.m. when I first read this, but I was only coherent enough to know my gender and approximate age at that hour.

    I could cut and paste from at least a dozen comments here and it would represent my heartfelt expressions of why I come to the bloggernacle. I will just sum up by saying I feel I have grown tremendously, both spiritually and in understanding, by reading many of the thoughtful and sometimes angst-filled posts here. And I feel welcome here, even though I am dwarfed academically and intellectually by most. At times I can tell when I don’t need to be lurking and doing other things in my life. I’m self-aware enough and usually have enough discipline to get my keister offline. However, other times I really do feel it is time well spent.

    Bless you all.

  33. …..and where the heck is Scott B?

  34. On facebook.

  35. Many commenters have said many things that have approximated the things I wanted to say. However, I’ll add this: Sometimes I feel like I visit the bloggernacle to put names to my discontent. This sounds like a bad thing but I promise it isn’t. In particular, it isn’t a bad thing because I found out about the difference between liahonas and iron-rodders, and I found out that it’s Okay to be a liahona. It’s Okay to question, and to be skeptical of answers. I think if I hadn’t found this community of faithful but questioning saints, I would have been even harder-pressed to negotiate my own place in the church.

  36. StillConfused says:

    I hang around because this is the only place where I can receive the truth… not the whitewashed crap I am fed at church

  37. Wait, you think we’re telling you the truth here? Hm, I suddenly understand why you call yourself that.

  38. I’ve been wanting to express thanks to bcc for some time. I am an ordinary and active church member with questions and concerns that would have been much harder to deal with without bcc. I don’t comment but I have been perusing and reading for 6+ years. I can’t possibly tell you how helpful it has been to me. Thanks so much to all of you who make this possible.

  39. MCQ: Shhh, don’t say that. People might lose their testimony of Steve Evans.

  40. I lurk because most posts aggravate me so much I have to think and study up!

  41. Mommie Dearest says:

    BCC is a vent for cognitive dissonance overload. There’s yer answer, fishbulb!

  42. Meldrum the Less says:

    When I was growing up in Northern Utah it seemed fruit orchards were everywhere. And people grew tomatoes and zucchini by the boat load. There was always something rotten and squishy to throw at my friends or at passing automobiles. Then winter set in with its endless supply of snow. Melting snow in the spring revealed the remnants of the fall produce, preserved frozen and still useable for some purposes.

    Being on the other side of the top of the hill of life, it is no longer socially acceptable to fling these favored projectiles around neighborhood and laugh at the results. My arm isn’t up to it and they don’t even allow the kids to do it anymore. But now there is the blabbernacle or bloggernacle or the whatever ‘ nacle. My beloved Mormon people provide such endless and irresistible targets.

    Thank you, everyone of you.

  43. I like the Bloggernacle because it helps me ignore my wife and kid for a few hours a day and learn about the teachings of Jesus. Err, something.

    In all seriousness, I’m not sure what the Bloggernacle is to me. I think it’s mostly that in the church (out in the “mission field” where all I know is small branches and wards of the American South), I was starting to feel like a goldfish growing up in a smaller and smaller fishbowl. It’s enlarged the fishbowl a bit for me. That’s really it. I don’t see it as a cure-all or a community either, but just a way to push myself out in ways I wouldn’t have thought to do before. It’s also provided, for me, a happy medium between the “regular” church lessons (like in the manuals), and the somewhat angry approach of my uncle’s fans (not my uncle really, just his fans). It has helped me shape my approach to faith in general (becoming more universalistic, interested in mysticism, and curious about other faiths), though I must admit I’m not sure it has saved my faith in Mormonism. It’s helped me understand Mormonism, but this has not automatically caused me to have a stronger testimony in it.

    I am also still not sure (even after perhaps 6 or 7 years reading it) whether the Bloggernacle crowd/approach/community IS Mormonism or just a different kind of Mormon-like faith community that has grown out of Mormonism. I’m not sure whether you guys would find that insulting or not. But I am keenly aware that the boundary of “what is the church” out of necessity does have to fall somewhere. I’m not sure where it falls. As John pointed out, I don’t think the Bloggernacle has the right to define what Mormonism is at all, it can just showcase the varieties within (and without) the boundaries that the church itself puts up. In other words, if the Bloggernacle took over the church and was given free oligarchic power over the church to implement all its ideas, voices, and perspectives to it… I’m not sure we could safely call the resulting church Mormonism at all.

  44. I’m here because they keep me as a mascot, and think I’m cute. =) … and because of my awesome smilies!

  45. Ok, I never ever comment, because my english is, let’s say, limited.
    I am in Spain, and I cannot express succesfully how bitterly, awfully lonely I felt until I found other folks like you writting about the very things I thought and had none to share with. I was, literally (and painfully), about to leave the church when I found BCC, FMH, D&S and others. It wasn’t only the fact of knowing other people felt like me, it was finding amazing, talented, educated, spiritual and human brothers and sisters speaking their minds and not judging others who do so and being able to lean unto them, as I am not any of those things.
    It has helped me identifying my pain as an existential one, that was pointing to a higher level, to a different level of perception. I am sorry if that sounds smuggering or any sort of self agrandizement, I don’t know any other way to say it (in english at least). In fact, I know I don’t belong here any more that I belong to rest of the happy non-cuestioning members around me whose situation I envy, but I just can’t go back.
    I read this somewhere else sometime ago but, truly, if I stayed in church was because this church HAS PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU. All of you. If you guys, with all your questioning and scrapping, with those bright sharp intelligences, could find the truth and the holly, the sacred and the mystic, then it was not a matter of leaving, but a matter of looking harder, going deeper. And so I do.
    (Please forgive my english, your eyes might be bleeding right now, I know)

  46. Abigail, don’t be so hard on yourself. Quoting you: “It has helped me identifying my pain as an existential one, that was pointing to a higher level, to a different level of perception.” I understand. You don’t sound smug or superior. If you think differently than others, you can’t stop that. I have tried! You only end up suppressing yourself and that never leads to happiness. Your words again: “I know I don’t belong here any more that I belong to rest of the happy non-cuestioning members around me whose situation I envy, but I just can’t go back.” If you find what you read here to be of value to you, if it helps you make peace with the gospel and/or church, then you belong here.

  47. I have a love-hate relationship with the bloggernacle. On the one hand, the more I hang around, the more negative I’m inclined to feel. There’s a lot of vented frustration and anger (including my own), and I don’t share the sense of community others have here. Even if I’m trying to be good, I always feel I’ve offended someone, been misunderstood by someone, and even misrepresented by someone, and I hate that.

    BUT… I credit the bloggernacle with a huge expansion of my perspective. It’s been immensely valuable. Not only do I feel I understand the gospel better, but I feel (perhaps mistakenly) that I understand my fellow ward members better and am less likely to judge or hurt them. Even those I’ve disagreed with have presented arguments that have made me think twice and modify my positions. From this perspective it’s been great. People like Ardis, Scott B., Cynthia L., BHodges, Stapley, WVS, Kristine, Hawkgrrrl, Thomas Parkin, and many, many more not only have my respect but appreciation.

    That said, isn’t it time for more silliness around BCC? Where’s Scott B.?

  48. Silus Grok says:

    My sister and I joined the Church as very young converts — she was 11 and I, a few years later, was 8. Our parents weren’t LDS and our siblings weren’t either. At least, they weren’t for long. A year after I joined, my sister moved to Mexico for the first of two “study abroads”. And I was left alone.

    From the very first, then, I learned that I needed to make my own community or do without. I latched onto LDS neighbors and weaseled my way into the hearts of a few adults. It wasn’t ideal, but it was what I knew. Ad hoc community making was my coping mechanism and I was good at it. And while I was loved and nurtured, it was clear from the git-go that I wasn’t a cultural Mormon (it wasn’t until college, for example, that I learned why all the rich kids in my ward disappeared every summer — to attend EFY at BYU). I had to choose — each week, some times — to be Mormon. Because of this, my approach to the Church was always an intellectual endeavor.

    I have a wealth of fine-grained spiritual experiences which are the mortar in my wall, but the great slabs of belief are intellectual.

    So … I guess what I’m saying is this: the Bloggernacle is home for me — because it FEELS like home.

    Even the rude and dismissive posters remind me a bit of folks I grew up with.

  49. When I moved from Utah, I used to hang around in Sam Weller’s picking up old copies of Sunstone and Dialogue because of the paradigm shift they offered. It was okay to have questions, and and to think out loud, which was not always well received at church. I guess I could have consistently subscribed, but it was more fun wasting time there when I should have been making calls on customers.

    When I moved to Seattle, Weller’s became kind of like In’N.Out Burgers, or Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The lack of access heightened the longing. Since I first came to the bloggernacle about 5 years ago, I’ve found my replacement for my Sam Weller’s addiction. Now, I can waste time and avoid talking to customers by just clicking on a mouse. I’ve lost the urge for Krispy Kreme since they moved here, but we still have no “double-double animal style” yet.

    The bloggernacle (really, just BCC, JI, and Keepa) are a great complement to what I get at church, and it is always there during the rest of the week as I need it. It can be infuriating, disheartening, or incredibly touching and uplifting, but it is never tame. I could live without it, but I’d rather not.

  50. kevinf–you can still subscribe to Dialogue! ;)

  51. I knew you were going to call me out on that, Kristine! The point was to avoid working while I was there, and even though I tried, I could never get that same thrill while I was reading the copies mailed to my home those years that I did subscribe.

  52. I don’t know where Scott B is, but I know what he’s been doing, apparently – disgorging a million posts over at Kulturblog. =P

    I would like to echo one of Eric’s comments in #21:
    I have always liked you for some reason, brother from another mother.

    I’m not sure why I hang out in BCC (or why I belong to an elite social group but never socialize with them, other than so I can put it on future resumes) I like the people, I like the discussions, I like the ruminating and theorizing, the humor, the love. Love is what it’s all about, IMO.

  53. Kristine says:

    kevinf–we could send it in a plain brown wrapper to make it seem more thrilling ;) Or something.

  54. I do think the Bloggernacle sometimes needs a face lift. Should we spend so much time discussing the bad and ugly? Doesn’t that just reflect upon us, and turn us into the monsters we commented upon? Perhaps a better focus on uplifting thoughts and ideals could improve things. I personally am not a liberal person, but I am very tolerant. That I could attend the Kirtland Sunstone symposium this last weekend, and not be over-bothered by a few over-reaching liberals, shows that there is an area where we can agree and get along in. But it requires we find common ground on some stuff, and not require everyone to march in step with everything we personally do.
    Oh, Kristine, I do prefer Dialogue, but since you weren’t offering a symposium in the Mid-west, I went to the one which was offered.

  55. My husband and I live in GAP and would be happy to give you a ride to church! email us at ibeneon@gmail.com or kphaueter@hotmail.com. My hubby works at the Marshall center. I think we’re one of the few mormon/american families down here.

  56. I value the Bloggernacle because it helps me identify the nameless nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right at church, something that wasn’t matching up with the things I hold dear and understood the gospel to be. I value it because it provides the opportunity to engage intellectually with spiritual topics, something I don’t have the opportunity to do at church, where I just try to get by on the fact that the people are lovely, even though I don’t have Spiritual Experiences.

  57. The bloggernacle came along at a time where it would have been very easy for me to just become another one of those LDS fiction writers who turns their back on native materials and wanders into literary or genre fiction with some slight echoes and hesitant nods to their culture but not much more. Without it I wouldn’t have rejuvenated enough to produce any writing worth publishing that was also saturated with Mormonism.

  58. I left the Bloggernacle a couple of years ago. The only blog left in my feed is ZD, and although I drop by here occasionally, I find my life is much lighter without the accoutrements of trying to engage with the church in a meaningful way. I just got tired. I decided to believe my own mantra, “It’s just church,” and I’ve mostly dropped out.

    I’m using the time for other things. I’m getting involved in local politics. I’ve made a bunch of wonderful new girlfriends. We worked together on a fund-raiser that raised $5000 to feed hungry people here in our parish. I’m volunteering for the Obama campaign.

    I’m a little obsessive, and moderation is not my nature. I can’t say that I miss the hours I used to spend here. Not even a little.

  59. John C, I had the most beautiful drive 15 years ago over the mountains from Garmisch-Partenkirchen through the Ettaler Forst past Linderhof Schloss to Reutte in the winter, then up to Neuschwannstein. You are lucky to be in such a beautiful part of Germany.

  60. I came here because a friend of mine writes here, and I needed to try and see if I could find a community within Mormonism. I have been semi-active for years now because I was unable to accept with that blind faith that everyone talks about. I am a questioner, a cynic, a skeptic, but I love the Gospel.

    I keep coming back, because I feel that the ideas I need to consume, and the things I need to discuss can only be discussed with other Mormons. I am the only member in my family so I need a place like this as a sounding board even if I never type a word. I have been having a lot of doubts about any future that me and The Church have together. While coming here has not magically fixed it; it has given me hope where there was no hope before. It is nice to know that you are not alone for thinking this, or questioning that, or wondering why.

    I came here to browse today and came across this post completely by accident. I do believe it was the prompting of the Spirit. The huge weight on my heart has lifted slightly, as a direct result of this post and the resulting comments. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here, and even in the short time since I came I do sort of feel like this is a community. So thank you to BCC for being here, and thank you to John C. for writing this amazing post.

  61. John C., I rode the train to Innsbruck for church while I was there. That or Munich were the best options.

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