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 Internetuse the Internet to flood the earth with testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel. If they useThey 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 praiseworthyas 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,
*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.