Lonelygirl15, Banner of Heaven and Cybermemory

Some of the more web-savvy of you may follow YouTube and already know the tale of lonelygirl15. For those who don’t, here are a couple of articles summarizing the internet scandal du jour, and for the extremely lazy, here’s an even more brief summary: some film people in NY made up a teenager and her online journals for YouTube, in the hopes of landing a film deal.

Sound familiar?

It shouldn’t. Banner of Heaven has little to do with lonelygirl15, aside from a fictional element. Some of you may be unfamiliar with BoH or The Banner. I recommend you learn about it at the source. For the uninitiated, the skinny: in May 2005, I and a few friends started a fictional blog, aiming to hold a mirror up to the LDS blog community and explore the edges of some of the commonplace themes we saw. We didn’t tell anyone we were fake, and actually told our real-world friends that it was all real (Random John is still waiting to meet Jenn, I believe). We got busted before we finished, and the world descended upon us in wrath. If you’re feeling whimsical, search T&S sometime for “banner” to witness the Bloggernacle’s vengeance.

Here is the interesting part: no one really remembers much about Banner itself; instead, what everyone recalls is the outrage. Either you remember the deceit, or you remember the pound of flesh publicly exacted from the Bannerites. Few of us recall reading Banner or the ideas laid out by the characters. Bannergate has sucked the work dry.

Witness lonelygirl15, whose vignettes at YouTube were highly engaging and, when viewed in succession, laid out an interesting (and well-done) narrative. Will people remember how well-done the videos were? No. It is far more likely that we’ll recall feelings of mistrust, spurred by quotes like this one from one of lonelygirl15’s creators:

We were all under N.D.A.’s…They had a lawyer involved. My first impression was like, wow, can this be legitimate? Is this ethical? I was very concerned about that in the beginning.

Maybe I am being overly pessimistic about human nature.

I don’t intend to change people’s minds about Banner of Heaven — indeed, I don’t know if that’s possible, or desirable. Instead, I’m interested in the nature of memory, and I’d like to ask a few questions:

1. Can we select which memories we hold onto?
2. If so, how do our selections reflect upon us as Christians?
3. If we cannot control which memories we retain, how do we forgive?


  1. a random John says:


    Jenn has assured me that she is coming to Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year.

    So there!

  2. rJ, you’d better not hold your breath. I heard she got engaged to the Shelver.

  3. Awesome.

    I think that the Lonelygirl thing was very similar to BoH in that people were speculating the whole time that it could be fake but we all wanted to believe.

    As we are soon approaching the 1-year anniversary of Bannergate I figure I may as well post a link to the beginning of the end here.

  4. N.D.A.’s?

    Non-Disclosure Agreements?

    1. I don’t think we can really choose to remember or forget anything. I’ll have to give it some more thought though.
    2. N/A based on my #1.
    3. Can we not forgive without forgetting?

  5. Tim, yes — NDA = nondisclosure agreement. sorry — lawyerisms take over.

  6. By the way, I haven’t heard Bannergate mentioned much at all in the past several months (the good nor the bad). And most of the time it’s one of the participants doing.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of people choosing to not to remember BofH. What’s to remember? Most people weren’t even aware BofH existed before it all came crashing down.

  7. Tim, Banner’s only on my mind here because of similarity to lonelygirl15 — but you’re right.

  8. (Initial side note: Your post is overstated. Some of us remember Banner. Even after many moons of therapy.)

    Interesting question about how we choose to remember. Do we only remember the bad?

    To some degree, you’re probably right. It’s like nixon — no one remembers China, everyone remembers watergate. But that’s only at the high-school-kid level; anyone who actually follows politics knows China.

    As for whether we choose what we remember, I think the answer is, yes and no. We choose what to focus on, to some degree. Other times, events are so traumatic, we may lose the ability to choose. Also, some events may by their nature color all other events. Thus, it may become impossible for us to remember event A, without also remembering event B.

    There is no Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. You can’t erase the sad ending and just keep the happy beginning, because the sad ending becomes a prism through which the happy beginning looks different.

    Part of the happy present is hope for the future. And if and when that hope for the future is proved a lie, then the happy present just doesn’t look as happy when we look back on it. We can recapture some of the feelings of the present, but not the then-existing hope for the future.

    For examlpe, I’m pretty happy in my job right now. I’m enjoying talks with my colleagues, teaching, and so on. But part of that enjoyment is the hope, the expectation, that good things will continue. So the picture, the “i am happy on Septmber 12” is 2 components, at least. First, the present. I had a nice lunch today, a good meeting with a co-worker, etc. Second, the hope. I have specific hopes for the future. I will have a conference, publish an article, etc.

    Fast-forward a year. If I haven’t seen the future events come true, then I can’t recapture the future optimism that was part of the good feelings of today. And we’re back to Eternal Sunshine. Part of the joy of the start of Eternal Sunshine is the present excitement of “hey, Kate Winslet is flirting with me, this is fun.” And part of it is the future hope, the “I wonder where this is leading?” And when we take away part 2, the whole picture of the past isn’t as happy.

    To the extent that a future event removes that component of then-future hope from a past memory, it alters the past memory in a way that the memory cannot be fully replicated again.

  9. When I was in the mission I always told my companions that I knew I’d look back on the mission and only remember the good stuff, even though at the time I knew it was kinda hellish. Well, I was right, I really don’t retain in my memory the bad things and my good feelings are overflowing, almost to the point that some of the things I thought were bad I now think were good.

  10. The nature of memory:

    I think our memories are largely shaped by our emotions. I have read several articles recently that state that people are actually not usually happy, but that we selectively remember and focus on the things that cause intense emotions. An example used was parenting: we all say how much we love being parents, and how wonderful and rewarding it is, but usually, it’s just drudgery and sleeplessness and selfish small people who demand and cry and crap and puke. But then she will look up and smile and reach for you and even though that’s only one minute out of six hours of unpleasantness, THAT’S what we remember.

    I can barely read the words “Banner of Heaven” but my breath becomes rapid and shallow. I get really, really angry, all over again.

    The things I remember most? Naomi Frandsen, “crying in the Georgetown library, because everybody is mad at [her].” DMI Dave’s rationalization: “Because they asked nicely.” The shame and embarrassment of having been made a fool of. Again.

    I can go for months without thinking about it, and then somebody brings it up again – usually a perp, as Tim J. says. And then I get to feel humiliated and stupid all over again!

    Forgive? Why bother? My forgiveness means nothing to y’all. I’m just a prole.

    Thanks for asking, Steve.

  11. Eric Russell says:

    Ha! I was just watching lonelygirl15 last night after reading about the outing and was thinking about the Banner. It’s surprisingly good, even knowing it’s fake. (Then again, it might be something other than its “quality” that keeps me watching.)

    Question 3 is interesting, Steve. Is the presence of a memory or the lack of a memory the thing you see potentially standing in the way of forgiveness?

  12. Steve Evans says:

    Eric, interesting question — seems to me that forgiving is a volitional act, and so it requires conscious thought, and therefore a stimulus, a memory. We have to remember in order to forgive. And yet we say forgive and forget — which implies that once the act is forgiven, we commit an act of forgetting (which sounds impossible to me — can you purposefully forget something?). the paradox!

  13. ‘Banner of Heaven’ predates my entrance into the Bloggernackle, but man do I wish I have been here for it. I’d first and foremost like to say that the whole Banner debacle will never be forgotten by me; freakin hilarious. But perhaps I only think that because I wasn’t here to be scammed…

    Anyway, I agree that forgiveness must be a volitional act. You cannot volitionally act upon something if you do not know it exists.

    I see two sides to this, the first is giving forgiveness and the second is receiving it. In giving forgiveness: if someone trespasses against us, and we forget about it and don’t hold it against them, then forgiving them is a moot point.

    As far as attaining forgiveness goes: I think that the atonement is most active in resolving those things that we cannot resolve ourselves. Repentance implies a change in view, not necessarily an ‘I’m sorry’. If I’ve forgotten about pissing someone off because I’ve been a jerk, but then later on in life change my behavior so that I am no longer a jerk, I have no problem believing that God will forgive all my past jerky behavior, whether or not I specifically innumerate each instance. It isn’t necessary for me to remember ‘I was a jerk here and here and here…’, only that I recognize that I have been a jerk in times past and wish to no longer be a jerk.

  14. Jared, what about a broader sense than forgiveness: what do you take forward in life from your past? What do you forget? Can you choose?

  15. Not really “on target,” but here’s an OpEd from the NYT on “sock puppetry.” The bloggernacle is full of sock puppets, not just BoH. We do what the web does; we’re just Mormon doing it.

    And a thought on memory (again, not entirely what you were looking for, ol’ Steve): I was watching The Bourne Identity last night (Supremacy is better) and it is clear that because Bourne has forgotten that he was an assassin, in a way he is no longer an assassin.

    Matt Damon teaches Truth, man.

  16. interesting.

    being new to the blogging world, and not yet a part of the “bloggernacle”, I don’t know much about the Banner of Heaven or its reactions.

    but I do find the point about the outrage over fictitious things portrayed as reality far more interesting.

    I remember when The Blair Witch Project came out back in 1999. I knew from the getgo that it was a movie porporting to be a real documentary. The selling point, even as a movie, is in its manner of presenting itself as reality. It even presented itself in its advertisements on the web as a real documentary found. The movie made $150 before the rest of America figured out it was fake, i.e. a fictitious work. Some got mad at being fooled, others laughed, and others claimed they saw right through the film.

    I haven’t paid attention to Lonelygirl (Frankly, I’m married with a little girl, why would I want to go looking at a myspace account for a “lonely girl?”) so I don’t know if it gave any indication that it was either real or fake, but just it was.

    Must someone creating a YouTube video put a disclaimer out saying, “this is not real?”

    Well, what is real in the world of entertainment?

  17. oops, i mean $150 million, not just $150 dollars. :P

  18. Dan,

    Please tell me that people didn’t really think Blair Witch was real.

    Because people are hunted by dead witches in magical woods all the time. Just the kind of documentary you’d expect to find lying around.

    (So, is it that people are just stupid?!)

  19. LOL, Ronan. You already know the answer to that last question. Banner of Heaven was very similar to the James Frey/Oprah kerfluffle over his non-fiction/fiction book “A Million Little Pieces”. Unfortunately the Banner-ites didn’t offer a refund to those who bought it :P

  20. This is too funny — I was just going to write a post about lonelygirl15. Bannergate is one useful referent, of course, although I have little to say about it anymore. A broader point involves the narrative work that our conceptions of “truth” do in our experience of a text.

    But, Steve, you beat me to the punch. And since you’ve brought up Banner of Heaven, let me just say that lonelygirl15 shows us what Banner was really lacking: overtones of Satan worship.

  21. I’m one who bought BoH all the way, but I don’t regret it, nor do I feel a sense of betrayal. The characters were stand-ins for people I know. So, for instance, when Jenn was seriously starting to consider marrying a guy who was obviously just interested in her from the neck down, I worried about her in the way I was worried about people I know in real life who were about to make terrible decisions in their marriages and relationships. When Greg considered going down to New Orleans to help with hurricane relief, it struck a chord, because I was already there. The only thing about it I regret is that I engaged in several back and forth conversations with Miranda on the topic of male/female sexuality, then I found out it was really DKL. You tell me: Do I need therapy?

  22. D. Fletcher says:

    eh. I don’t think BofH was such a terrible thing, but I don’t think it was very nice, either. It hurt people’s feelings. If it was meant as satire, it would have been better to show that it was fiction, right up front.

  23. Yesterday I was actually looking through the archives here at BCC and I came across th couple times that Steve announced the arrival of Banner of Heaven. It just made me smile.


    I agree with your statement. There was a lot of crap that went on dring my mission, but for some reason only the good aspects have stuck with me. I’m not sure if it is something I did conciously, though.

  24. I’d never even heard of BoH until things went pear-shaped and everyone was getting bent out of shape on T&S.

    My main concern during that controversy was trying to smooth things over.

    For me it’s ancient history. Everyone apologized (except DKL). I’m fine with it.

    But I should note Steve…

    Much like BoH is remembered more for the controversy and hurt feelings than its actual content, I think this post will cause more discussion of its first two thirds, than responses to the three questions at the end.

  25. “Banner of Heaven has little to do with lonelygirl15, aside from a fictional element.”

    I read about lonelygirl in the paper, and yeah, it did remind me of BoH. Mostly because, as Steve says here, both contained a “fictional element”.

    But Steve, I’m curious what dissimiliarities you were thinking of in the above quote. Maybe it was in the post and I just didn’t pull it out.

  26. (Tightens seat belt.) Here we go…

    (When is the Banniversary anyway? See, I don’t remember. Ha!)

  27. Ronan,


    hah, read this for fun to see just how the hype was back in ’99. Yeah, at the Sundance Film Festival, supposedly film buffs, there were actually people who believed it was a real documentary. Wikipedia has a section that shows how the filmakers got away with this deception for a while.

  28. Kevin Barney says:

    I don’t know nor care much about Bannergate. But I believe memory is pretty malleable (witness the false memory syndrome that was rampant on the Wasatch Front in the late 80s/early 90s). The notion of looking at the past through “rose colored glasses,” as several have mentioned WRT their missions (and I’m sure some could add high school!), is just one manifestation of the malleability of memory.

  29. Steve Evans says:

    Seth, I’m afraid you’re right. Admittedly, it’s the last three questions I’m really interested in. But isn’t this thread up to us to create?

  30. Steve Evans says:

    Frank (#25), my post isn’t a compare/contrast paper with lonelygirl15. I believe there are numerous differences, probably more differences than similarities. I view that discussion as largely irrelevant to the post, however.

  31. D. Fletcher says:

    OK, the nature of memory.

    I had a friend who needed a place to stay, in 1994, while he looked for an apartment. I let him stay with me, thinking it would take 6 weeks or so.

    He begged to let him move in with me, which I did, at a very low rent.

    He was my roommate (he had his own room, larger than mine) for 6 years.

    In July, 1999, I asked him to move out and find his own apartment, partly because I think he needed this incentive to get his life together. He agreed to move by January 1, 2000 (6 months leeway).

    He finally did move on February 1, 2000, and told all his friends that I kicked him out.

    Funny that he didn’t tell them I kicked him out after letting him stay 6 years.

  32. Memory is a weird thing. I feel like I don’t remember much from my childhood. My husband thinks I remember more than most people. I don’t feel like my childhood was that awful. My husband thinks it was traumatic. And he’s right, it’s just that well, memory is a weird thing.

    I’ve noticed that a lot of my memories are not accurate. I could swear I was 8 when my grandfather died, but my mom recently told me I was 9. I can remember very vividly certain things happening, but not why or when or what exactly was actually going on. Like my dad chasing my teenage brother around the house and him jumping out a window to get away. Or my sister showing up at the house with a black eye.

    So when I read a memoir, like James’ Frey, I’m very aware that most of it is probably made up. Unless he kept a really detailed journal while he was in rehab, which he never mentioned doing, chances are he couldn’t actually remember all that stuff. Especially considering he was in rehab!

    I don’t think we can consciously choose what we remember. But we can try to shape how we feel about our memories.

    I remember having moments when my children were small where I wanted to freeze time, and impress that moment on my memory forever. But what I remember is wishing I could do that. Not that actual moment.

  33. D. Fletcher says:

    Susan, your parents might have bad memories too, and yours might be more correct.

  34. That’s an interesting thought. I’ve compared notes on some things with my brother and he remembers some things differently than I do. Since my short-term memory is not that great, I always assume other people’s long-term memory must be better than mine.

  35. what about a broader sense than forgiveness: what do you take forward in life from your past? What do you forget? Can you choose?

    Steve: Is there any definitive answer to these questions? What do we take forward in life? I think we take everything, whether or not we explicitly remember them or not, all experience is a part of us in one-way or another. Can we choose what we forget? Probably, if we refuse to think about something for an extended period of time.

    I think the larger more interesting question is: to what extent to we delude ourselves and why?

  36. D. Fletcher says:

    One thing should be mentioned: traumatic events are often locked memories, and this creates serious mental problems later.

  37. People remember whatever they want to, that is what denial, sublimation, regression and all of rest of that is all about. Throw in a heavy dose of subjectivity as well. Meh.

    Of greater interest is the way Kaimi has this persistent thing about famous actresses diggin him (#8 above and #346 in the JDC Bush post). I didnt realize we had a regular Leonardo DiKaimio here.

  38. Susan, wonderful comment about wanting to step outside the moment we are sharing with our children in order to capture it. I’ve done that too, and when I do there is always a little sadness, knowing that time is marching on and I can’t stop it.

  39. Tim, if you look closely, you’ll see references to the Banner all over the place. References to it in the past month are too numerous for me to site here; suffice it to say, the Banner seems to permeate the bloggernacle; sometimes as an inside joke, sometimes as the source of an insult, sometimes as sheer nostalgia. The two places where it came up that come to mind immediately are Jim F’s thread about me at Times and Seasons. It came up with the past few days, when Kaimi was insulting me.

    I will grant, however, that as a percentage of content, references to BoH represent a very small part of the ‘nacle–just the occasional comment here and there a few times a week. But I don’t think any other single thing is as enmeshed in the fabric of the ‘nacle as BoH. That’s my take anyway, and I’m biased.

    As far as forgiveness, the simple answer is that most people simply don’t forgive. In my experience, most people carry grudges with them their entire life, becoming increasingly encumbered them like baggage until they wilt of old age. My forgiveness skills certainly aren’t what they should be, but it does help that I have a lousy memory.

  40. DKL,

    I agree with you that it has been mentioned, though scarcely, and usually by or directed to a memeber of BofH. And usually when it is brought up, you’re in the middle of it–usually. Not that that’s a bad thing, you’re just a lightning rod for controversy is all.

    I think if BofH was as “enmeshed” in the ‘nacle as much as you say, it would be discussed and brought up a whole lot more. I can think of several other things that are enmeshed in the ‘nacle more than BofH.

  41. DKL,

    Your humility and graciousness is an example for us all.

  42. re 15, Ronan, Lyle blogged on that very theme back in the day. I’m not sure googling “Speaker for the Living” will get you the post though. Too bad — he had some interesting things to say about The Bourne Identity/Supremacy and the Atonement.

  43. Steve Evans says:

    Susan (#32): “I remember having moments when my children were small where I wanted to freeze time, and impress that moment on my memory forever. But what I remember is wishing I could do that. Not that actual moment.”

    That is one of the most profound things I’ve heard in a long time, and one of the most touching. Thanks Susan.

  44. Rusty (#9), you’re spot-on, at least from my own perspective. I even had a sense while on the mission that anything that seemed negative would fade away or even be remembered as something positive. But that was because I knew myself: pretty much everything becomes a rosy memory for me. This can perplex my wife at times but suits me rather well.

  45. Let me quickly clarify my #44. For some reason, pretty much everything becomes a good memory because, for some reason, my own mind seems to cloak that past in a nostalgia that even makes rosy memories of some terrible things. For example, as a teenage skateboarder, I remember one time that my friends and I got jumped by bloods while skating one evening. Apparently, my friend had punched a kid while skating the previous day, and this punk kid has blood connections. So, while we were skating the following day, the kids non-skateboarder blood connections showed up, beat my friend senseless, and even ran over him with the car as they left. By any measure, it was a horrible event. But my memory of it doesn’t have any fear or horror; it is just filed alongside all my other rosy afternoons, evenings, and nights skateboarding with my friends. In some ways, it even becomes a “cool” memory because I can dazzle people with it at cocktail parties while holding an orange juice. There are many other examples of this.

    I know other people do not share this same characteristic. In fact, some people in my own family (not Jordan) seem to have the opposite characteristic; that is, pretty much every memory is negative or sucks. This contributes to numerous grudges that cling tenaciously. I am not sure what causes either one. Is there some kind of psychiatry-related description for “rosy-memory-syndrom” and can I get some kind of ADA credit out of it?

  46. D. Fletcher says:

    I was mugged, twice, in the early 80s in NYC. Unfortunately, the memories of those events are not pleasant.

  47. Yeah, it probably makes a difference when you are the one beat up!

    But even so, the time skinheads jumped my companion and me in a deep, East Berlin ghetto housing project, and I received an uncomfortable booted kick to the lower back, doesn’t really remain as a negative memory for me. It just happened, and merges with the rest of the mission as one rosy memory. Weird, I know.

  48. Extreme Dorito: Your humility and graciousness is an example for us all.

    Thank you, Extreme. I’m genuinely flattered that you’ve noticed.

  49. Maybe it has to do with your personality make-up. I know people who can be very bitter about their bad memories. In my family, though, we’ve always said we’d rather laugh than cry. Which is why I can laugh about all kinds of inappropriate stuff. :)

  50. “But I don’t think any other single thing is as enmeshed in the fabric of the ‘nacle as BoH [the project DKL was involved with].”

    Yeah, we seem to have forgotten all about SSM, women/authority, polygamy, politics, and the Church in all our discussion of BoH. Good observation.

  51. Rusty, I think that you’ve made a category mistake. It’s not SSM qua SSM that is enmeshed in the bloggernacle. What is enmeshed in the ‘nacle is the notion that SSM is a topic about which there are often ridiculously rambling and protracted threads. Thus, BoH doesn’t supplant SSH threads, because it’s categorically different. BoH is part of our shared ‘nacle culture, just like our memory of SSM wars.

    Just a note of advice: if you’re going to make sarcastic quips like “Good observation,” to cap off an argument, it’s probably a good idea to have a good grasp on the nature of the topic you’re arguing about.

  52. Eons ago, on some other thread, I made a comment about how DKL was a member of the bloggernacle elite. He objected.

    I always thought his participation in BoH belied that, but I don’t recall the chronological issues involved.

  53. HP/JDC,

    I would agree except a few of the participants didn’t do a whole lot of commenting or posting before that, so I wouldn’t say involvment in BofH constituted being “elite.”

    Come to think of it, I never read the Spinozist before Bannergate, and I had no idea who Brian was (it was kind of a letdown that he was involved and not someone more well-known).

    I will say that, for some reason, DKL is most easily associated with BofH. You’d think Christian would have been considering his character was by far the most obnoxious/annoying/offensive.

  54. Tim, BrianG doesn’t comment as much as he used to, but he’s a very prominent and well respected voice in the ‘nacle. For example, he and his wife did a guest post stint at T&S some time before bannergate.

  55. DKL, I think you’re just being cheeky. According to your definition of “enmeshed in the fabric of the nacle” YOU are that thing most enmeshed, not the BoH. Long ago we stopped caring/talking about the BoH because it’s been dead for some time now. On the other hand you’re still around saying smart, condescending things that give people the need to continue to talk about you. Don’t flatter the BoH, you will always be our favorite thing enmeshed in our fabric.

  56. It’s interesting to me that I *had* actually forgotten that you were involved in BOH, Steve. Perhaps it’s the case that I forgot because I had “forgiven” you, but I don’t think that’s the case since despite my general disapproval of the prank, I was not personally sinned against and was not in a position to grant forgiveness.

    No, I think I forgot your involvement because I strongly associate you with other things—-feminist friendly blogging, generosity, hospitality, devoted husbandhood and fatherhood and so forth. My positive opinion of you is more or less fixed and overwhelms minor evidence to the contrary that seems incomptabile with what I already know about who you are.

    This tendency, common to all of us, is too bad in some ways, I think. Those who don’t impress us initially as trustworthy, smart, beautiful, interesting, good . . . (pick your favorite attribute here) may remain in the less favored category perpetually unless something dramatic forces one to change one’s perspective.

  57. Re #53, Christian Cardall is passed over as the most easily associated because to all ardent BofH watchers, his character was so over the top it was obvious he wasnt real. Christian also apologized for his part.

    DKL is most easily and frequently associated because of his refusal to apologize, his persistent arrogant trumpeting of his participation (now there is a surprise, how out of character), and the manner in which he promoted himself through the MPJ character by setting himself up for easily cherry picked attacks wherein he could show off. It is a stain on him that non-participants apologized over BofH more than he did.

    As for BofH being the thing single most enmeshed in the fabric of the naccle, what utter rot. It was a flash in the pan that will be forgotten when DKL finds some other diversion besides the naccle to salve his security hemorrhaging ego.

  58. Melissa: I think I forgot [Steve’s] involvement because… [m]y positive opinion of [him] is more or less fixed and overwhelms minor evidence to the contrary that seems incompatible with what I already know about who [he is].

    Tim J., this statement by Melissa implies a simple answer to your puzzle about why I am the one “most easily associated with BofH.” Specifically, it implies (a) that Steve loses association with BoH by virtue of the goodwill toward him, and (b) that I may well gain association with BoH by virtue of the ill will toward me. I’m good with that, and I think that it’s probably reflective of a more general outlook.

    Steve asks some interesting questions in his post. I think that the theory I’ve taken to be latent in Melissa’s comment supplies definite answers to them:

    1. Can we select which memories we hold onto?

    Yes. We select the ones that suit our biases and opinions. We dismiss the ones that require us to radically revise our outlook.

    2. If so, how do our selections reflect upon us as Christians?

    It means that we’re imperfect in all the ways that Christ’s admonitions imply that we are.

    3. If we cannot control which memories we retain, how do we forgive?

    N/A. We do control the memories we retain. Having that control is what makes forgiveness difficult. Christ didn’t tend to emphasize fast and easy moral principles.

  59. Extreme Dorito,

    Perhaps DKL is a reminder to us all that our job is to forgive even when forgiveness is not sought by the offender.

    Of course, it’s easy for me to forgive DKL because I’m not offended by the BoH ruse–though I might feel differently if I had ever commented there.

  60. so far, every condemnation of DKL in ‘nacle that i have read leaves the commenter looking a bit vindictive and silly.

  61. I was mugged, twice, in the early 80s in NYC. Unfortunately, the memories of those events are not pleasant.

    I too have been mugged twice in NYC! You’ve got to love those homeless people who just want your watch (sigh).

  62. Here’s a little bit more on the lonelygirl15 story.

  63. so far, every defender of DKL in the ‘nacle that i have read leaves the commenter looking a bit naive and like an enabler.

  64. Steve Evans says:

    so far, every comment about DKL (for and against) is a threadjack. Cut it out, all.

  65. I’m thinking of doing a hoax of my own. As soon as I get time and energy.

    Pish posh, no big deal.

  66. 1. Can we select which memories we hold onto?

    Yes. We select the ones that suit our biases and opinions. We dismiss the ones that require us to radically revise our outlook.

    2. If so, how do our selections reflect upon us as Christians?

    It means that we’re imperfect in all the ways that Christ’s admonitions imply that we are.

    3. If we cannot control which memories we retain, how do we forgive?

    N/A. We do control the memories we retain. Having that control is what makes forgiveness difficult. Christ didn’t tend to emphasize fast and easy moral principles.

    Comments like this are among the reasons I like DKL. It may look like he is just randomly insulting Melissa up there, but he ain’t.

  67. I try valiently to resist the temptation to comment on Banner of Heaven, but I’m afraid I must address Tim J.’s comment (#53) where he expressed disappointment that I didn’t turn out to be someone more well-known.

    The truth is I’m Rosalynde Welch.

  68. And being Rosalynd Welch is FABULOUS!!!

  69. I’d say something inflammatory, like “DKL is a rat bastard,” but then Steve would get mad at me for continuing the threadjack.

    And to think I was a little worried this thread would turn into another Bannergate meltdown rehash. Instead, like ~33% of bloggernacle posts, it’s simply become another discussion of whether we like DKL. Yawn.

    We really should have more threads that involve refernda on the character of folks other than DKL. If I say “Steve Evans is a rat bastard,” is that a threadjack? Probably, but at least it has the benefit of introducing a little orginality into the discussion of who’s a bastard. Of course, saying “Kaimi is a rat bastard” has the same effect, but I’d rather avoid that option, for obvious reasons.

  70. BrianG, you’re funny a man.

    My disappointment only existed because I didn’t know whom I could direct my outrage towards.

  71. D. Fletcher says:

    Well, Kaimi’s not a rat bastard — too soft and sweet. DKL isn’t a rat bastard — too smart. Steve Evans is a nice guy, but he did move away to Seattle which might be considered the path to rat bastardization.

  72. Seriously though, this post isn’t really about BoH and it’s a disservice to Steve’s ideas that there isn’t a deeper discussion.

    Basically, projects like lonelygirl15 and “A Million Little Pieces” are increasingly more common in today’s culture because the line between truth and reality on one hand and falsehood and fiction on the other is being increasingly blurred. In a lot of cases what we’re seeing is people don’t care about those distinctions as much as they probably should. Banner of Heaven was maybe an exception to this, maybe to everyone’s credit.

    But this trend has been going on for some time and is an extension, I think, of the fact that technology has allowed much greater access to both production and distribution of media content. The ability to reach an increasingly large number of people cheaply and quickly has never been something huge masses of people have had until recently. As sources for information and entertainment spread wider, the authoritative and dependable nature of what’s being said always suffers. You see news (fact) and entertainment (fiction) blur. This is well-illustrated by the 24-hour cable news cycle and the popularity of The Daily Show and Colbert Report.

    At the same time that the masses can create and distribute their own media creations, they can now, like never before, be the subjects of their own narratives, and are increasingly seen as more worthy subjects of interest. Take the popularity of reality TV and blogging, for example.

    As a result, the bar of significant accomplishment as a pre-requisite for notoriety has been lowered and is falling fast. This is evidenced by the unexplainable attention paid to people like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, and to a certain degree, I must admit, Banner of Heaven.

    Although I think there was some wrong-doing in the execution of BoH, I admire DKL’s unapologetic stance because it prods people to at least consider whether BoH was really a silly hoax or an effort at something more. It is, however, an effort that’s in vain. What Steve pointed out is that in these sort of phenomena people remember the controversy more than the craftsmanship.

    Which is too bad, I guess, it’s a noisy world, and whether you’re the Numa Numa kid or the makers of Blair Witch it takes a little something to even get on the radar screen of most people.

    Nevertheless, I think what we’re seeing as a culture (and as aspiring amateurs) is that just as wickedness never leads to happiness, illegitimacy rarely leads to legitimacy. You can’t lie your way to credibility.

    That’s why, the length of this comment notwithstanding, I’m trying to move on to finally get the legitimate attention I deserve (just kidding).

  73. Brian G’s self-deprecating end to comment #72 notwithstanding, I’m still not seeing how the virulent reaction to the unveiling of the Banner-ites overshadowed BoH’s incisive, brilliant commentary on Mormon life. The conversations on BoH weren’t materially different than conversations on the bloggernacle in general. The conversations on BoH were just plain bizarre.

    On the other hand, the Numa Numa guy was totally freaking hilarious. I propose a BoH reunion video featuring Naomi Frandsen’s own interpretation of the Romanian folk song, “Dragostea Din Tea”. Miranda PJ could sing “The Hero’s Return”.

  74. Brian,

    I’ll take it one step further. To some extent, we’re all Banner bloggers. There are portions of our true identities that we hide online; and there are “fake” — or at least, exagerated — aspects of our online personae.

  75. Oh, yeah. I’ll second (and third) Kaimi’s #74.

    While I applaud the creativity behind lonelygirl15, BoH, “Million Little Pieces”, etc., the lying and emotional exploitation that inevitably accompanies these projects are extremely distasteful byproducts.

  76. Steve Evans says:

    Kaimi/ECS, you don’t need to be online to hide who you really are. We’re all behind masks of some sort – it’s part of being in a society. The internet just allows greater freedom to deceive.

  77. Yes, Steve, but there’s a reason there’s no New Yorker reading “at the water cooler, no one knows you’re a dog.” (At least, none that I’m aware of. I’m sure if such a cartoon exists, some commenter or other will direct us there with a link.)

    That kind of masking is much more broadly available online.

  78. Steve Evans says:

    Kaimi, that’s what I just said in my last sentence, no?

  79. Damn. Steve blew my cover as someone who only reads the first two lines of a comment. And I had succesfully hidden that till now. You really are a rat bastard, Steve.

  80. Steve Evans says:

    mwah hah hah.

  81. Brian,

    It’s an interesting question, since (as commenters have noted) Banner was a story that entangled a number of threads. When evaluating a story that involved some degree of deception, how do we disentangle the strands? How do we separate the potential good of the story from the real-life consequences?

    There was a news article six months back or so — some freelancer at a magazine (Salon, as I recall) decided to write about the phenomenon of conservative dating websites. But she wrote her story from a sort of participatory or guerilla journalism angle — she registered on a few conservative dating sites, accepted a few dates, met with people, and then wrote it up. Her story was thus along the lines of “The rise of conservative dating sites is an interesting cultural phenomenon. Let me tell you about the freaks who I met through one of those sites.” The reaction was understandably upset. People thought they were going on a date with a woman who was interested in dating them. And to all appearances, their dates were real dates — meeting, having coffee, talking. But they ended up being written up (rather unkindly), and this led to the angry reaction. Her article might have been a very good analysis, but the content was drowned out by the outrage over her tactics in getting the story.

    Can the storyteller never participate, then? Is there no such thing as an observer/participant? Clearly there is; some of the best stories can only be told through a participant’s eyes. Finding the right balance is the trick.

    And all of the same considerations apply to Bannergate. Bannergate wasn’t just a freestanding discussion of principles of blogging, it was a specific one with real-life consequences.

    FWIW, I tend to see Banner and Bannergate reactions as a series of pendulum swings.

    Initial reaction to Banner: This is awful. Run them out of town on a rail. Wo to Bannerites.

    Second reaction: Hmm, we got a little out of hand with that rail, didn’t we? Wo to Bannergaters.

    Eventually, it will (mostly) all die down. Banner involved some degree of lying and deception, and this was bad, but isn’t the end of the world. Bannergate involved harsh overreaction, and that’s bad, but that’s not the end of the world either. There were human reactions on all sides, and understandable hurt feelings felt by many. Ultimately we’ll see it all in perspective. And your own comment shows a lot of perspective, I think.

  82. D. Fletcher says:

    Ok, I’m willing to take the usual DKL position here, if only for clarity. Steve would like us all to remember the value, the goodness, of Banner of Heaven, that enriched all of us who participated in it. It’s more than forgiveness, but rather, artistic vindication. Good luck with that.

  83. BrianG, I simply refuse to believe that you could be both me and Rosalynde Welch at the same time. Not for a second.

  84. Steve Evans says:

    D., don’t put words in my mouth. I have no such illusions.

  85. a random John says:

    I have tried to avoid serious participation in this discussion (other than to claim FIRST POST!) but I’m unable to resist.

    I think some of the blame for the distorted memory of works such as BoH is because the deception (or hoax or fraud) becomes a bigger story, known to more people, than the work itself. My wife now knows who lonelygirl15 is because it was on NBC news last night. Prior to that she knew nothing about it. Should she be offended? Should she have to forgive lonelygirl15 of anything?

    During the Bannergate discussion on T&S some of my comments were deleted by Julie M Smith. This resulting in an email exchange in which I wrote the following:

    second point was that any T&Ser could have uncovered the BoH thing. People were shouting, “Fraud!” or, “Parody!” from the third day. By the time it had been around for a month almost every discussion involved the suspicion that it was a fake blog. Both Rosalynde and Kaimi were suspects. Other T&S perma bloggers could have uncovered the truth by either directly asking Rosalynde or Kaimi or by simply doing what Frank did and finding out who the characters were. I should note that I think T&S should have a policy against what Frank did since those characters were not committing abuse at T&S, but that is a subject for another day. The fact that none of you paid enough attention to the ongoing scandal that was BoH for the last six months to uncover the truth behind it makes me wonder if T&S is really the right place to do the post-mortem. I am thinking that many of these discussions would be better held as guest posts at the Banner of Heaven or at Nine Moons rather than on T&S where the audience is totally different and totally oblivious to the day to day operations of BoH.

    Honestly if BoH has done damage beyond its readership it is because T&S has drawn negative attention to it beyond the readership. Of course you guys can post on whatever you want and are certainly entitled to discuss BoH to your heart’s content, but I think that there are more appropriate places.

    She did not respond to the email.

    What is the point? The point is that is that I think that there are people who had every right to be offended by BoH. Those people are also likely to remember BoH itself as well as the Bannergate. Those that learned of BoH through the explosion of hostility on T&S are less justified in taking offense, though it is obvious why those people only remember the uproar and contention rather than the stories and the interaction. In case you need it pointed out to you the reason is that they never experienced the blog itself. I don’t think that the people in that situation are of much interest.

    Much more interesting to me are the people that were active participants and have a distorted memory of the event. I suppose we all have distorted memories. That said it is obvious from comments left here that there are people that still have very raw feelings on the subject and focus much more on the deception than any good that was done. Maybe these people have a legitimate argument that no good was done. But I’d rather engage in a discussion with them (or attempt to as the case may be) than to try to discuss it with those that fall into the category of offended after learning about it.

    Personally I miss BoH and the level of interaction that it had and the friendly community. The friendliness was not artifice, and I think that many blogs could learn positive things from examining the logs there. I understand why a few have hurt feelings but think that most of the controversy of it is very exaggerated.

  86. HP/JDC: It may look like [DKL] is just randomly insulting Melissa up there, but he ain’t.

    Does it really look like I’m insulting Melissa? I didn’t intend to at all. I was just trying to provide a dispassionate analysis of a comment that was mildly insulting to me (by implication), but otherwise fairly insightful.

  87. Is bastardy among rats really any more prevalent than it is among any of the other animals in the rodent family? And if not, why insult all the rats. Why not mice (although “mouse bastard” doesn’t quite have the same ring) or marmots?

  88. Mark,

    As a Brooklyn resident and subway rider, aren’t you familiar with the out-of-wedlock birth rate among rats? It is, alas, alarmingly high.

  89. Steve Evans says:

    In France they refer to it as “concubinage,” but rats do it there, too.

  90. aRJ, I respect your opinion on this, but I have difficulty accepting your premise that the BoH friendliness was genuine – especially at first. The BoH-ers meticulously responded to reader comments in order to drive traffic to their site and dupe them into becoming unwitting participants in the BoH experiment.

    Do you think as many people would have commented at BoH if they knew the BoH-ers were fake from the start? The BoH-ers knew one of the main reasons people return to a blog is that their comments are recognized and responded to. Since the bigger blogs in the bloggernacle routinely ignore their commenters, the BoH site offered people who wanted to participate in a conversation an opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, these people were also some of the more vulnerable members of the bloggernacle community, and who were shocked and dismayed when the truth finally came out.

    All that is water under the bridge, of course. But I still feel like an idiot for allowing myself to be repeatedly manipulated and lied to.

  91. Actually, DKL, the three of us get along quite well in the same body. Wit, brains, and beauty. It’s the perfect combination.

    And in case you’re wondering…

    I’m the beauty.

  92. Steve Evans says:

    ECS, we were friendly because we wanted site traffic? Possibly. I can’t blame you for assigning the worst possible motives. For my part, I disagree with your assessment on that level.

    And really, this isn’t what I wanted out of this thread, but I suppose I asked for it by bringing up Banner at all. Some wounds are still a little fresh.

  93. a random John says:


    I’ve met personally with many of the bannerites and discussed this very topic with them and it is my opinion that while the characters they portrayed are not actual people their friendliness was in fact real. You are welcome to disagree, and if claims of being manipulated and lied to count for anything then I’ve got to be in the top 5 on that scorecard. You should see the email conversations between myself, Septimus, and DKL… Actually you probably shouldn’t…

    As long as we’re making our cases via victimhood and credentialism I should point out that I was one of those that brought BoH down. Rusty and Kurt might feel differently but I’m sorry that we presented our case against them when we did. If I could go back and do it over I would have tried harder to get them to finish up the story and come out on their own. I sincerely regret the fallout.

    I guess this brings up the topic of what is the appropriate response of those that are creating a site/series of movies/what have you when they know that there are people hot on their tail that are going to reveal them. I’ve only watched lonelygirl 15 once and didn’t get it, but I hope that they have their entire storyline in the can and that they continue to release it as planned.

  94. LOL, yes, aRJ – you would win the battle of victim credentials hands down. You’re a peach. :)

    A blog needs commenters. Commenters wouldn’t have participated if they knew BoH was a fake blog. So BoH-ers lied to its commenters to keep the blog going. Is it worth it to lie to your commenters and friends to keep a blog going? Especially if the most vivid memory of their blogging experience is betrayal and humiliation? I thought that was this post’s general question.

  95. “Will people remember how well-done the videos were? No. It is far more likely that we’ll recall feelings of mistrust…”

    It really sucks to be deceived. I don’t know jack about this BoH thing but I don’t know a thing or two about being deceived and how it makes someone feel.

    “how do our selections reflect upon us as Christians?”

    A better question is what does it say about a group of Christians who would set out to deceive other people to “explore the edges of some of the commonplace themes”? Without a doubt this is one of the most chilling, unnatural, and unChristian things I’ve read on an lds blog and that’s saying something.

    Another question would be how does a Christian get over the fact that other Christians would think it perfectly acceptable to take advantage of people’s trust and intentially lie?

    If you and your cronies think of the world as your psych lab full of students who didn’t knowingly volunteer, you are an evil lot. You’re no better than a friend who premeditates and executes deception, trashes someone’s trust, defends it as an experiment then wonders why that person can’t remember all the good times you shared. You’re comparable to a page from the Book of Mormon, an example of evil people can be and how not to treat others.

    Pardon my french but you don’t f%&*! with people like that and then acuse them of blowing it out of proportion. I’m glad I missed this thing with a website and the videos whenver they went down. What a load of crap. Don’t expect people to remember the good times you shared after you’ve kicked their feelings and trust into the crapper.

    “If we cannot control which memories we retain, how do we forgive?”

    It helps when people admit they did something wrong and apologize. But when you’re dealing with people who don’t have the humility to recognize their wrongdoings, you try your best to forgive them in your heart. Your ability to trust people again is what takes much longer to heal.

    The number one thing you try to do in your own life when forgiveness is tough is follow the golden rule to do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. Stating that begs one question: Should people set out to deceive you as you sought to do to them?

  96. Oh brother. My commnt wasn’t intended to be mildly insulting to you, DKL (even by implication).

    Steve wrote the post and raised the questions so I thought about the issue regarding Steve. In case it needs saying I am quite fond of you too–so engaging to converse with, witty, honest, sharp . . .

    I don’t spend any time thinking about BoH and I don’t associate it mentally with any of those players whom I’ve met in person. The ones I haven’t met I don’t think of all.

    And I didn’t think you were insulting to me, DKL. It seems to me that anyone who is a fairly decent reader could have picked that up.

    Good grief.

  97. I’m closing the thread. I was hoping to discuss issues of memory and perception and forgiveness, but I chose an exceedingly poor way to go about it. People have asked whether it is “worth it to deceive” friends and lie to them for the sake of an art experiment. That’s an obvious question — of course it isn’t worth it, nor have I said otherwise. But maybe, on some level, it’s worth evaluating ourselves and our reactions to times when we’ve been hurt, deceived, lied to, and consider whether we are masters of our memories. Sorry to reopen fresh wounds for some.

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