Spamming Flooding the Earth

The good folks at LDS Living have been burning the midnight oil, scouring the Handbook for the latest in correlated rubricking. They discovered some interesting changes in the section on Internet usage. We know missionaries have already stepped up their Internet game, so it looks like members are being invited to be better member missionaries along the same proven and effective lines. The excised bits are stricken out below and the new bits added in bold:

“Members are encouraged to be examples of their faith at all times and in all places, including on the Internet use the Internet to flood the earth with testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospelIf they use They should view blogs, social networks, and other Internet technologies, they are encouraged to strengthen others and help them become aware of that which is useful, good, and praiseworthy as tools that allow them to amplify their voice in promoting the messages of peace, hope, and joy that accompany faith in Christ.

This calls for deep analysis.

The first striking point is the replacement of the baptismal covenant-ish language “at all times and in all places” borrowed from Mosiah 18:9 with the “flood the earth” imagery reminiscent of President Benson’s 1988 conference address about the Book of Mormon. Granted, “flooding” has a negative connotation for most folks today. When I think of God’s love I usually think of the rainbow rather than the preceding 40 days and nights. But flooding the online world wide web is just good strategy given that our voices already risked being drowned out by stiff competition. The Internet is replete with people—some of them real—testifying of a number of different things you need to check out like coach outlet online discount bags handbags purse discount incredible new diet pill fifa15coin wardrobe outlet shoe discount [actual list of recently received comment spam]. Differentiate yourself by forming coherent sentences.

The Handbook‘s broader injunction to be “examples of their faith,” which could consist of simply posting a status update to the effect that “I like my family” is narrowed to the specific bearing of “testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel.” Pro tip: You might begin your status update or blog post by explaining Mormon usage of the word “testimony” to your non-LDS friends. Point out that in this context you’re not talking about legal proceedings.

The weak conditional clause “if” was thankfully replaced by the robust imperative “should,” indicating the Church’s greater commitment to promoting “Internet technologies” and a desire on the Church’s part for women and men to increase their dwindling screentime. I know my wife has been on my case all week, “when are you going to look at Facebook again? When are you going to stop letting baby distract you and get back to online testifying?” I’M ON IT GET OFF MY BACK STOP SAYING IT

The encouragement to strengthen others by the dissemination of things “useful, good, and praiseworthy” is gone now. At first I thought the mechanistic language of “tools” which replaced it was a bit harsh, seemingly conceiving of those with whom we converse as being pliable building materials upon which we work the wares of our trade. But the instruction to strengthen those we come in contact with was simply moved to an apparently new line below:

“As members use the Internet to hasten the work of the Lord, they should exemplify civility and focus on sharing praiseworthy messages that strengthen those with whom they come in contact.”

While we at BCC may not always succeed in our efforts to be civil, and although our messages may not always strengthen those with whom we come in contact,

Discuss.

*UPDATE: Just as I finished this tongue-in-cheek post I saw news that Elder Bednar gave an address here at BYU discussing the use of the Internet for the purposes of spreading the gospel. (The Newsroom went with “sweep the earth” in the headline rather than the “flood the earth” phrase.) Feel free to discuss his remarks here, too. Specifically, what are some ways you can represent the Church online that don’t come across as spammy. Thx. 

Comments

  1. Good to know the handbook is a guide, not gospel.

  2. Your last sentence is intriguing. I’m curious what comes after a qualifier like that.

    Here in my Stake, the church has a current campaign to battle The BOM musical which is in town for a few weeks. My wife drew the short straw and had to “liveblog” on her own facebook page with status updates as she followed the sister missionaries around for a 2 hour shift on Saturday. The rest of the ward was instructed to reshare everything being posted by her and a few other sisters who also were selected. It was kind of interesting, but I felt that the required hashtagging made the whole thing less authentic and pretty spammy.

  3. Steve, fascinating. Who came up with this plan?

  4. I try to post a minimum of one Mormon message every hour, either on my own wall or on various Facebook groups or blogs(Mormon and otherwise).

    SPEAKING OF WHICH HAVE YOU SEEN THAT THAI INSURANCE COMMERCIAL SO INSPIRATIONAL I KNOW IT’S TRUE!

  5. “While we at BCC may not always succeed in our efforts to be civil, and although our messages may not always strengthen those with whom we come in contact,”…
    What was that about coherent sentences? ;)

    I didn’t see anything terribly new in Bednar’s address (which I’ve only skimmed), but I appreciated the injunction to “be authentic” instead of a parrot.

  6. KerBearRN says:

    Oh good. More stuff to share indiscriminately on Facebook. We will be about as welcome (and heeded) as game requests. (“Kerri invites you to Become a Mormon!”)

  7. Does this mean no more identical posts about temple open houses in my newsfeed asking me if I’ve ever wondered what Mormons believe?

    For the record, I still wonder.

  8. “Kerri invites you to Become a Mormon!” I laughed out loud. In the middle of bedtime. Thanks for waking my littles. ;)

  9. BHodges, This was kicked off as July’s 5th Sunday lesson. From what they said, campaigns like this have been coinciding everywhere the BOM musical is showing. During the 5th Sunday lesson they shared stats from a prior campaign from somewhere else which I forget, possibly the Chicago area.

  10. I appreciated that Elder Bednar emphasized the importance of civility and the importance of uplifting others through our online interactions.

    I do have a concern about one of Elder Bednar’s recommendations, however. In addition to being respectful and civil, he encouraged us to be “authentic” in our use of social media, as Ben S. noted above. Specifically, he said:

    “First, we as disciples and our messages should be authentic. A person or product that is not authentic is false, fake, and fraudulent. Our messages should be truthful, honest, and accurate. We should not exaggerate, embellish, or pretend to be someone or something we are not. Our content should be trustworthy and constructive. Anonymity on the internet is not a license to be inauthentic.” (https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/to-sweep-the-earth-as-with-a-flood?lang=eng)

    I hope he’ll forgive some of us for being more than just a little bit hesitant to be truly “authentic” in our use of social media related to the Church, especially those of us whose framework for interpreting the gospel, interacting with the Church, and interacting with the Savior don’t necessarily look and feel exactly like the standard correlated Mormon narrative. After all, there have been several members excommunicated recently for being “authentic” in their online discussions of their testimonies, their relationships and interactions with the Church, and their views of its policies. These individuals certainly did not “pretend to be someone or something [they] are not.” Indeed, they were disciplined in part for things that occurred as direct consequences of following Elder Bednar’s counsel and sharing their “authentic” gospel selves with the world.

    This is especially a concern given that many Bishops were recently directed to monitor the online activities of their ward members to check for “apostate” opinions being shared on blogs, social media posts, etc. I know that for me, at least, there is a very real fear associated with being “authentic” online regarding the Church.

    Again, I respect Elder Bednar and greatly appreciate his counsel regarding online activities. But the point about authenticity seemed inconsistent with recent disciplinary actions that have been punished members for being TOO authentic.

  11. It should be noted that Elder Bednar literally invoked his apostolic authority in the talk.

    So, yeah, we should all be prepared for an onslaught of cute quotes and Mormon-y hashtags. Because, you know, Isaiah foretold it.

  12. “Truly, Isaiah foresaw this meme! Woe woe woe unto thee, forbidden hashtag! Thou shalt be cast into the realm of Disqus!”

  13. Steve G., it certainly didn’t happen in Chicago. Members here tended either to ignore or enjoy it.

  14. No directives regarding “The Book of Mormon” in the Philadelphia area, either, at least not that I’ve heard about. That is creepy. If I were asked to liveblog a split with the missionaries, I would say, “Are you kidding me?”

  15. BK– I’m not familiar with a directive to monitor member blogs etc. Are you talking about an official directive?

    Ben S: I couldn’t think of a way to end that sentence.

  16. Since authentic =/= correlated and correlated =/= authentic, the church probably needs to decide whether authentic > correlated or correlated > authentic.

  17. To clarify, here at BCC we’re flooding the earth with materials that do not claim to be endorsed by the Church, just to show that we’re in compliance with the latest handbook.

  18. Jason K, so in essence, materials that are not endorsed by the Church are endorsed by the handbook. ;)

  19. Geoff - Aus says:

    Does this mean that in future we will have a blog like this swamped by righteous do-gooders pointing out how we should follow the prophet?

  20. Angela C.,

    Perhaps, Correlated is to Messages from Church Leadership as Authentic is to Members individually. Thus c=/=a, a=/=c, and neither a>c nor c>a.

  21. My concern is about using the internet to hasten the work. I would hate for anyone who may still be using a dialup connection to miss out on the blessings of flooding the earth with pinterest inspired memes just because they are unable to post fast enough.

    I think these woes were first pronounced in Jeremiah.

  22. Jasonsager05, I believe the verse you have in mind is this: “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies, and to those with a 28,800 bit/s V.34 standard modem, for verily they shall be trampled to death in those days.”

  23. BHodges, if you are short on spamming ideas I would start by having Chicken Delicious share a favorite BOM passage each day. If that doesn’t lead to the loss of enough friends, you can always resort to handing out pass-along cards at Halloween.

  24. spamward, ever spamward!

    seriously let’s focus less on the tools available to us and remember the greatest way to be a missionary is to attempt to be the kind of Christian others want to be like WITHOUT the goal of converting others. I swear nonmos can smell the “i’m doing this to convert you” goal a mile away. That’s my hesitation with this whole “hastening/flooding the work/earth” – people obey out of duty and obedience and they are not just acting in love. I am showing love to others not because they should be Mormons, but because I should be an instrument in them feeling God’s love in their life.

    The real message to increase conversion and retention should be: be better Christians, love others more!

  25. BK: Yeah, where did you get your info that some bishops have been directed to monitor the online activities of their ward members? I’ve never heard of this. Source, please?

  26. Angela: more precisely, for our materials to conform to the handbook, they cannot be endorsed by the church, unless they’re produced by the church. As producers of independent content, we can only stay faithful by distancing ourselves from the institution.

  27. Geoff – Aus: “Does this mean that in future we will have a blog like this swamped by righteous do-gooders pointing out how we should follow the prophet?” Whaddya mean in FUTURE?

  28. Don’t worry, the righteous do-gooders don’t follow BCC for long,

  29. Also, the least effective way to get something to go viral is to try to promote if to go viral. It happens sometimes (but always feels fake to me) Viral, by it’s very nature, is organic. I loved the #becauseofhim video – but am skeptical of it’s organic reach. 5mil views is great, but does it hasten the work if 80% of the views are from lds re watching it 10x each? I wonder how much money they spent promoting it per view?

    I guess that’s why he’s suggesting we take the lead ourselves? Just like his #ldsconf example? Was that his theme? Go forth and be viral because we figured out it doesn’t work when coming from a centralized corporate entity? Hmmmm….

  30. What is ” the Handbook”?

  31. As is often the case, Joseph Heller had it figured out:

    Clevinger recoiled from their hatred as though from a blinding light. These three men who hated him spoke his language and wore his uniform, but he saw their loveless faces set immutably into cramped, mean lines of hostility and understood instantly that nowhere in the world, not in all the fascist tanks or planes or submarines, not in the bunkers behind the machine guns or mortars or behind the blowing flame throwers, not even among all the expert gunners of the crack Hermann Goering Antiaircraft Division or among the grisly connivers in all the beer halls in Munich and everywhere else, were there men who hated him more.

  32. Mark B.,
    ?

  33. I’m at a loss as to why this is even in the handbook. What I do on the internet is my own business… unless of course my bishop sees it.

  34. Don’t worry, the righteous do-gooders don’t follow BCC for long,

    Does that mean that BCC and its minions are all unrighteous evil-doers? I’m a bit puzzled by the implicit put-down of people who are trying to be righteous and to do good.

  35. I’m at a loss as to why Bonjo doesn’t understand what the word “encouraged” means.

  36. I understand that it’s encouraged, it just seems out of place to me. Especially in a section titled, “Administrative Policies”. The section about using the Internet in your calling makes perfect sense here, since you are ostensibly acting on behalf of the church when fulfilling a calling.

    There are many ways for members to do missionary work, both online and in person. I don’t need the handbook to encourage me to reference my faith when talking to my friends on the phone or over lunch. Again, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it just seems out of place to me.

  37. Geoff – Aus: “Does this mean that in future we will have a blog like this swamped by righteous do-gooders pointing out how we should follow the prophet?”
    As opposed to the unrighteous no-goodniks we usually get? ;)

  38. BHodges and Hunter: the reference to some Bishops receiving counsel to monitor the online activity of ward members comes from the May 17th area leadership training with Elder Ballard and Elder Clayton in the northern Virginia area. The same one where it was reported that Elder Clayton taught that publicly calling for women’s ordination was apostasy which has been identified as one of the catalyst events that led to Kate Kelly’s excommunication. (http://www.nearingkolob.com/elder-l-whitney-clayton-involved-church-discipline/ – the original link to the KUTV news story is no longer active.)

    I have a friend in a bishopric in the northern Virginia area who was at that meeting and he confirmed this information. He also added that they further taught at that meeting that publicly contradicting the Church’s teachings on same-sex marriage also constitutes apostasy and that “public” included online blogs and social media content. My friend told me that the local ward leaders were to counseled to monitor the online activity of their ward members to ensure that they were not publicly endorsing or supporting teachings contrary to the Church’s teachings on those issues.

    It’s possible that my friend (or I) may have misinterpreted or remembered incorrectly, but given everything we know about the events related to the various disciplinary actions this summer I think it reasonable to assume that this information is accurate (although I wasn’t there personally and I don’t have a transcription of the meeting). I don’t know how widespread this counsel was, though. It may have been limited only to that one meeting of local leaders in the northern Virginia area. But maybe not…

  39. If you watch the talk from Elder Bednar, when he quotes the Savior saying righteousness will sweep the earth as with a flood it’s an emotional high point for him. There is supposed to be a comparison with the flood of Noah there. The flood was one response to wickedness, and a flood of righteous examples is the modern response.

  40. Great, more people will have to be unfollowed on Facebook now.

  41. “Don’t worry, the righteous do-gooders don’t follow BCC for long”

    Ann, don’t cede that space to “them”. I consider myself a righteous do-gooder (in the sense that I keep the commandments and strive to live a life of true Christian discipleship — i.e. I try to seek God’s righteousness in my daily life — and try to do good), and I’m even a blogger at BCC!

    I know that some bloggers at other Mormon blogs have made it their calling to cast “the Bloggernacle” including BCC as a den of unrighteousness, and they have been very successful in their efforts to prejudice many Mormons against the thoughtful, devotional, and truly faith-promoting material at BCC. But don’t let that pit of vipers dominate the discourse of what Mormon blogging is or should be.

    From my perspective, BCC is far more “authentic” in exactly the sense that Elder Bednar meant than they are. This is because BCC consists of approx. 75% devotional content/testimony bearing and strengthening (which they dishonestly seek to suppress or rather convince people doesn’t exist) and 25% questioning/doubting/analytical content, which still comes from a faithful perspective of people who truly love the Gospel despite troubling questions they might have about particular attitudes, policies, or teachings. The act of presenting analysis and questions and opening up discussion about such issues is an act of authenticity — Mormons who are fully invested in the Gospel and the Church and therefore feel obligated and “allowed” to talk amongst ourselves in this way.

    The thing about never criticizing a Church leader even if the criticism is true that Elder Oaks said has now been thoroughly wrested from its context. Now they apply that to anything any GA has ever said or will ever say. They apply it to past or present policies or teachings. They apply it to manifestly troubling aspects of Church history — situations or events that are simply entirely ignored in correlated materials, which are the only materials many Mormons restricted themselves to reading for decades (and many still do). Elder Oaks provided an interpretive guide for that statement by clarifying in an interview related to the 2007 PBS documentary that it relates to past transgressions or mistakes, things like that. He used the example of putting undue focus on some particular misdeed of a historical figure — like George Washington — rather than taking account of his broader legacy of contributions for good.

    Does Elder Oaks believe that lay members of the Church should not analyze and “criticize” (in the academic sense) particular talks, speeches, or teachings of past or current GAs on social media like blogs or Facebook? That is certainly the interpretation given to Elder Oaks’ words by that segment of Mormon bloggers who wish to see the demise of “the Bloggernacle” and in its place only Mormon blogs that merely repost correlated materials put out by the Church. And it might actually be Elder Oaks’ view. We cannot know based on the current statements on the record, and we likely will never know because to my knowledge, despite Elder Bednar’s instructions on how to use social media and the Handbook’s changes that seem to reveal an expectation that members should be using it, neither Elder Oaks nor his fellow Apostles read BCC or any other Mormon blogs or interact at all with either lay members or non-members in social media venues like blogs, twitter, facebook, etc. But if this is Elder Oaks’ view, then it is very problematic in the internet age when it is no longer possible to exercise nearly complete control over the discourse, as was the case throughout the latter half of the twentieth century during the ascendancy of Correlation. Perhaps a better outlook in the changed circumstances of the internet age would be to encourage open analysis and engagement with talks and speeches. A type of intellectual and spiritual freedom that would correspond to the libertarian type of freedom that seems to have dominated discourse in many Mormon circles when relating to government. This would lead to the kind of “authenticity” that makes social media use effective, as Elder Bednar has apparently realized and now admonishes in this devotional address.

    (An exception to Apostles’ virtually non-existent authentic social media use might be Elder Holland who seems to have an authentic (rather than corporate-created and managed) Facebook account. And yet even his twitter account has only been updated a few times since January with new posts. That’s not how twitter works. If you’re going to be on twitter and setting an example for how members should be using it in “authentic” expressions of Mormon belief, faith, and lived Christian discipleship, then it needs to be all-in. 5 to 10 posts a day. That kind of thing.)

  42. John F,
    I think when you charitably their content, rather than buck at the notion that you should heed their counsel or offer criticism about how they go about twittering, maybe we consider another perspective, which is:

    It you’re going to be spending a massive amount of your mortal probation engaged in a certain type of activity, try to make it uplifting and righteous.

    They’re saying that they aren’t going to fight these tools of communication like a laggard but rather they view them as inspired opportunities for us to decide how we consecrate our time. In the past, if you used your time to write nice messages in your journal you might influence a few readers over the course of generations. Now you can influence hundreds, to thousands, to millions in the course of a few hours. So, maybe, the authorities seem to be thinking, we should put our time in social media to good use.

  43. “I think when you charitably their content, rather than buck at the notion that you should heed their counsel or offer criticism about how they go about twittering, maybe we consider another perspective”

    I don’t understand this because of the syntax.

  44. You mean, DQ, that mocking and sneering at the instructions in the handbook aren’t the authentic responses that Elder Bednar was hoping for?

  45. That’s not all you fail to grasp because of the imperfections of men John.

  46. Mark B., please explain how BHodges’ post about the changes to the Handbook constitutes “mocking and sneering”. Is it that you think there is isn’t a potential problem for Gospel-y spamming as a result of members trying to implement this? And so since you think that isn’t a risk, it is mockery and sneering for BHodges to identify it?

  47. what else, then, DQ, since you seem to think you have any idea what I “grasp” or how I incorporate the “imperfections of men” into my worldview and interpretation(s) of the Gospel. Enlighten me. (And, by the way, do I know you?)

  48. How do Bishops “monitor” how ward members interact on blogs etc.? Especially given that many people post anonymously/pseudonymously? Is there some incredible technology of surveillance that the Church has that I should know about?!

  49. My bishop knew about my blog and FB fan page and knows what name I post under; not anon. I was chastised by him for a comment I made on a post.

  50. that is really, really too bad. I am sorry that happened to you, Kristine A. these things shouldn’t be.

  51. Before the DQ/John F. argument spirals into madness, let me just offer up that I don’t disagree with DQ’s point that we should be uplifting and righteous, to use profitably our time spent on social media. That is just good advice. Unfortunately that advice seems to have been surrounded in argumentative phrasing which causes it to be overlooked.

    Mark B., sometimes your references are misinterpreted.

  52. What kind of Bishop has time to read all his congregants’ posts, tweets, and comments?

    (Also, while I disagree, I’ve been party to a conversation with several people who feel this post constitutes serious snarkiness and cynicism.)

  53. Steve G.,

    That sort of top-down directed use of social media including asking everyone else to follow along and “like” posts is cult like behavior in my mind. We should avoid it. If you heard that Scientologists were doing something like that what would your perception be? That they are savvy? Or creepy?

    I agree with you that such efforts come off as inauthentic, even within LDS circles. But think of what they look like to others.

  54. Ronan’s Scientology Rule needs to be invoked more often.

  55. What is their reasoning, Ben?

  56. Recently I feel like it needs to be invoked all the time. :(

  57. How john f. can simply say “these things shouldn’t be” in complete ignorance of any of the facts of the situation is beyond me. Do you mean to say, john, that there is absolutely no situation in which a bishop should “chastise” a member for something he or she said? (Note that “chastise” was Kristine A.’s word; maybe the bishop would have characterized it as “caution” instead.)

    Maybe Kristine A. serves in a leadership position where her comments might possibly be construed by others as speaking for the ward or for the church. Maybe her comment that led to the conversation with her bishop was contrary to church doctrine or teachings. Maybe it was a comment that might lead toward apostasy. Are you suggesting that a bishop has no responsibility to warn his ward members of that? Do you suppose that if you were a bishop you would simply sit idly by as your ward members talked themselves out of the church–can’t interfere with their freedom of speech, after all?

    Or is it simply the knee-jerk reaction to take sides, faulting the actions of those who don’t quite rise to the sophisticated level of internet veterans like the people at this blog?

    Some person unfamiliar with this blog and the people here could very well feel like Clevinger before the Review Board. He might arrive expecting to find fellow saints wanting to help, but conclude that he’d wandered into the airspace above the Hermann Goering Antiaircraft Division instead.

  58. Yes, I find it strange that a Mormon bishop would “chastise” a ward member for a comment she made on a Facebook discussion or that she left in response to a blog post. In my opinion, that shouldn’t be. So, we disagree.

  59. Mark, interesting questions:

    “Maybe Kristine A. serves in a leadership position where her comments might possibly be construed by others as speaking for the ward or for the church.” –Such as? What woman holds such a position outside of RS/YW General Presidents?

    “Maybe her comment that led to the conversation with her bishop was contrary to church doctrine or teachings.” –Maybe. Does the bishop pull people aside for spouting off stuff in High Priests, too? People say stuff all the time. When should a bishop intervene?

    “Maybe it was a comment that might lead toward apostasy. Are you suggesting that a bishop has no responsibility to warn his ward members of that?” –See above, only this one is even more awkward, since “might lead toward apostasy” could be anything in the world, including perfectly factual statements. A bishop certainly has responsibilities, but again neither you nor John have established the proper criteria under which a bishop should intervene. I think you’d probably agree that most internet participation doesn’t warrant a bishop’s involvement.

    “Do you suppose that if you were a bishop you would simply sit idly by as your ward members talked themselves out of the church–can’t interfere with their freedom of speech, after all?” –I’m not sure you can in good faith portray this as John’s actual position. Clearly we are accountable for what we say. And we don’t know enough about Kristine A’s context. I suppose we could agree that there is a spectrum of when various people feel a bishop should intervene when he becomes aware of something wrong on the internet. You appear to be more pro-involvement than John. But saying more than this, with the hyperbole you’ve used, is simply unwarranted.

  60. I suspect that a law school professor could spin a web of hypothetical situations that would discover the limits to your principle of “non-chastisement.” If not, then I really am surprised.

  61. Mark, it wouldn’t take a law school professor. It would take any person who bothered to think about it. Conversely, it wouldn’t take much to discover that principled chastisement is warranted in only a narrow set of circumstances.

  62. Can we convince Mark B. to post under a modified name so he doesn’t get confused with BCC’s Mark B.? I was reading his comments as though they were BCC’s Mark B., so it was weird to see this post described as an instance of “mocking and sneering.”

    Maybe I can clear up some confusion about the tone of the post, even though offering an explanation kills an already weak joke. I used sarcasm here for a few reasons. The biggest was because I think we in the Bloggernacle sometimes tend to be a bit over-analytical when it comes to statements put out by the Church. We sometimes see small changes and assume they have massive importance. People analyze word by word, sometimes resulting in unintentionally over-the-top conclusions. (Example: “if” being changed to “should” being interpreted above as a signal from the church that people should neglect their families in order to proselytize on the internet.) My final sentence (before the UPDATE) was a self-deprecating recognition that this post was not rhetorically framed in the sort of uplifting manner encouraged by the church (the sort of approach emphasized by Elder Bednar whose address I hadn’t heard or read when I wrote the post). It’s an incomplete sentence on purpose.

    Sarcasm aside, the underlying issue is the possibility of our not properly putting the Church’s instruction into practice, and it should be a real concern to anyone familiar with how the Internet works. Spamming is a real thing. Being inauthentic is a real concern, as Elder Bednar himself pointed out. Church members should think carefully about the ways they employ these recommendations. The Handbook change provides a good opportunity to reflect on that. Tone and approach obviously matter (and not merely regarding the admonition to civility, either).

    How’s that, DQ and MArk B.?

  63. I don’t think commenter Mark B. should have to do that — he’s been posting under that moniker for many years.

  64. Mark B.: Or is it simply the knee-jerk reaction to take sides, faulting the actions of those who don’t quite rise to the sophisticated level of internet veterans like the people at this blog?

    Can we de-escalate a little? My post was just a somewhat lamely satirical attempt to spur conversation about finding the best ways to let our light so shine online with the appropriate luminosity.

  65. john f.: Right, he’d not have to do it. Maybe he would just be willing to do it, something as small as “Mark B” without the period, or “MarkB.” without the space. Or does our Mark B. always do a link with his name? Maybe that’s the solution and I just never noticed it.

    Mark B: I added a question here for you, but removed it because it’s off topic. I’ll catch up with you later. Meantime, still interested in your response to my recent comments.

  66. Mike Bennion says:

    I have been using social media to talk about the church for a number of years. I intend to continue. I happen to believe that if an apostle, who I sustained as a prophet, seer, and revelator, asks me to do something in a major address, that I should do it. Call me unsophisticated and conventional if you like. I’m OK with that. I am also appending my name, because I am not big about hiding behind anonymity.
    Mike Bennion

  67. BHodges–I am puzzled by your comments about my name–in particular your reference to “our Mark B.” As I said to Senator McCarthy’s committee, I am not now and never have been a member of BCC. I apologize for misreading the tone of your post–in defense I’ll plead that many of the comments that followed it did not seem to have caught the tongue-in-cheek wave either.

    And I agree with the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of your 3:17 comment.

    Steve Evans–I don’t know that it’s necessary to delineate precisely where the limit of a bishop’s responsibility to counsel his members lies. I was simply countering john f.’s apparently categorical statement that bishops should not ever chastise a member for something said on the Internet.

    As to when a person’s statements might be construed as being made on behalf of the Church, I think the circle should be drawn much larger. We’re talking apparent authority, not actual authority here, and there is a lot of potential for misattribution, both by those not of our faith and by young people who may not have figured out yet that we’re just muddling our way through the fog too.

  68. Thanks Mark B. Like I mentioned in the original post, it was written before Elder Bednar delivered his interesting address. I was particularly interested in the observations he made about civility. I know I have room to improve in that area, as I pointed out at the conclusion of the post, which itself was a parody of overanalyIng church happenings, which as you point out, several people misunderstood. There is no question that the internet is a powerful tool we can use to spread the gospel messages of peace, joy, and hope. We should all be mindful about how to do that in ways that are appropriate for internet culture.

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