I received my first vinyl Soundgarden album in middle school. I eventually fell in love with Pearl Jam, scorning Nirvana as no talent hacks. I was raised in a Seattle suburb, so I had some grunge cred even though I wore preppy shirts tucked in and leather shoes with matching belt. I even had a semi-grunge band during my first year at BYU. Just before I left on a mission to France and Belgium we released our self titled debut, Splendid Sun. One of the greatest lessons I learned during those years is that while angst makes great music it makes a crappy gospel. In the last couple of years I have learned further that it makes crappy Mormon Studies.

I once asked a prominent historian of Mormonism that happens to not share our faith if she ever went to Sunstone. Her response, “No. There is just too much angst.” Now, I just attended Sunstone’s Seattle symposium and really enjoyed several of the presentations. Bonner Ritchie’s account of Elder Hunter commissioning him to build bridges with Palestinians was an extraordinary example of what the organization can and should promote. I wish Sunstone success as I realize that there is a significant population of Mormons that find community there and they have done some really great things. My prescience suggests, however, that with the recent establishment of Mormon Studies associations (e.g., SMPT, EMSA, MSH, MSSA) that offer the scholar new and elevated fora for presentation/publication and the continued effort to grow older scholarly associations (e.g., Maxwell Institute), Sunstone will become, basically, a forum for popular culture and liberal community. This is a great niche, but even at the fairly conservative (by Sunstone standards) symposium this weekend, the average Mormon would have been very uncomfortable and perhaps would have been offended because it was assumed that anyone there was a “Sunstoner” and therefore a measure of commiseration and angst was acceptable as a reprieve from the trial that is regular interactions with Mormons. If Sunstone is to survive, it will be because they make a conscious effort to not wallow in angst. They have done this in print, but the symposia are a different animal. I consider myself a fairly open individual to aberrations within the standard Mormon model, but I can’t help feeling a measure of what my historian friend felt.

You can’t have angst and remain. You either get over your angst or you leave. There are tons of web communities that are antagonistic to Mormonism. These communities, sometimes referred to as the DAMU (Disaffected Mormon Underground) are cauldrons of angst and antipathy. We recently had several links to BCC from some popular DAMU sites and the decline in the conversation here was palpable. This isn’t because somehow the truth was more fully elucidated, but because these individuals aren’t interested in constructive discourse. The light can handle all things on which it shines, but truth is not flavored with angst. Without qualification the DAMU community is not welcome here at BCC. Additionally, the message board style handles and disrespectful discourse that is common on many internet fora are not welcome here.

Some might say that the truth will necessarily cause angst in many. I disagree. Look at the greatest institutions in Mormon Studies among us. At the Mormon History Association, you have individuals from all perspectives, from Dan Vogel to Susan Easton Black. The discourse is courteous and devoid of the hate and angst that so many love. This isn’t to say that there isn’t pain. But angst and pain are very different. I still weep every time I fully consider Jane Manning James. Mountain Meadows Massacre hurts. My own path out of the correlated worldview included some hefty bumps and bruises. This is normal and natural. But the difference between pain and angst is a choice. The study of history can yield compassion, empathy and forgiveness.

A recent new comer to the bloggernacle remarked to me how elevated she felt the discourse was compared to other electronic Mormon communities. Let’s keep it that way and improve.


  1. I’ve also heard Bonner Ritchie’s tale of building bridges. Did he say anything about whether those ‘bridges’ are still standing? It’s a sincere question.

  2. I wore preppy shirts tucked in and leather shoes with matching belt.

    Glad to hear that hasn’t changed!

    To be fair, Jonathan, your average member might also feel uncomfortable with some of the MHA talks. I was at a FAIR fireside yesterday, and even those guys can’t help opening cans of worms as they try to close others.

    But yeah, if it’s the diff between “angst” and honest inquiry…I think I get you. The exmo boards linked to the “Expansion” post with glee because it somehow proves that “that stupid, lying, ***** Church is false.” That’s no way to have a sensible conversation, at least not at a blog that is run and mostly read by active Mormons.

  3. Danithew, time was short and he spent most of his time on background information. He didn’t discuss the current relations between the Church and Palestine. He did refer to a recent Kennedy Center publication that did have some information, but I don’t have those notes with me.

    I think we are on the same page Ronan, but I don’t mind the worms. I know as you know that the average Mormon might experience some shock at MHA, but that is a different feeling than what you get from communal angst.

  4. J.,

    This isn’t because somehow the truth was more fully elucidated, but because these individuals aren’t interested in constructive discourse. The light can handle all things on which it shines, but truth is not flavored with angst. Without qualification the DAMU community is not welcome here at BCC. Additionally, the message board style handles and disrespectful discourse that is common on many internet fora are not welcome here.

    I didn’t realize that pseudonymous handles were verboten here. Many apologies. I have changed my name from the “handle” I usually use to a more Mormon-sounding personal name.

    The above quote I must say I find surprising. I did not see any of the comments that were deleted in the Statistics thread, so I don’t know if your characterization of the decline in discourse is accurate. But I think you paint with a very broad brush here and make generalizations that I think are unfair. I have a lot of experience reading and posting both in the Bloggernacle and in the DAMU. I think it is fair to say there is a certain amount of angst in both communities.

    But I think it unfair and inaccurate to say that individuals who post in the DAMU are “not interested in constructive discourse.” That may be true of some, it is certainly not true of all. It has been my experience that there are individuals in the apologetic sphere who are quite disdainful of “constructive discourse.”

    While it is not always the case, I can testify that I have had numerous rational, courteous, elucidating conversations with people in the DAMU over the past year. I have also had some that might more properly be deemed “angst-ridden.” I have had others that one might call “sophomoric” and others that were simply time wasters. The same is true of conversations I have had with people in real life and, for that matter, in the Bloggernacle.

    Why the need to banish “without qualification” all those who (a) use “handles” (btw, does this include folks like RoastedTomatoes and Eugene V. Debs?) and (b) post in the DAMU? Why not simply state the parameters of acceptable discourse on this blog, delete those comments that do not fall within those parameters, and ban individuals who refuse to abide by them? It seems to me that would be a more courteous and rational approach than issuing blanket condemnations.

  5. I feel cheated that a post starting out with Soundgarden references is actually about being nice.

  6. “Without qualification the DAMU community is not welcome here at BCC.”

    J., I agree with the sentiment, and it is important to distinguish BCC from the various antimormon sites. To say that without qualification that someone isn’t welcome, however, is a bit much even for me. I would say rather that the form of analysis, the bitter tone and ultimate ends of those other sites aren’t harmonious with what we’re trying to accomplish here. On a person-by-person basis, however, I think there is room for everyone at BCC. In other words, my objections follow tone and (to some extent) content rather than any particular people.

  7. Fair enough, Steve. I agree that if indaviduals are willing to shed the antagonism and angst (basically not bringing the community here), or if they are free from it to begin with, then sure. My post wasn’t explicit BCC policy. I think you and Ronan have made some good points.

    Peter P., some of my favorite folks use handles (as you mentioned, RT/JNS). RT has invested a lot into the community and is a very well known commodity. Handles such as trucker-78* make it difficult to have a conversation, especially if there are several of them or if they are ephemeral. No one is going to be banned for a message-board style handle.

  8. Sorry, Susan! Louder than Love was such a tasty album…

  9. Does that mean I can go back to being Equality as long as I post sans angst?

  10. Perhaps it would be realistic and appropriate to acknowledge that the relative communities of the DAMU-style sites, on the one hand, and the Bloggernacle, on the other, each have implicit rhetorical aims: one to address departure from the community, the other focusing on participation within the community. J.’s post speaks in broad swipes as to the incongruity of the two approaches, and I think he’s dead on in that respect.

    That said, the post does speak in broad swipes, and people like Equality and others have already spoken as to how much more there is to the picture.

  11. Aaron Brown says:

    “You can’t have angst and remain.”

    Sure you can. Lots of people do it everyday (and over many years, or even a lifetime). This is a rather bold, sweeping and insupportable statement.

    Of course, it is probably harder to have angst and remain. And if one doesn’t make progress in processing one’s angst in one form or another, it will probably drive one so crazy that that one will eventually leave. But angst is, ultimately, manageable. At least for a lot of folks it is.

    However, it seems to me that you really need to do is define what you mean by “angst.” I kinda sorta get what you mean, but given the robust claims you’re making, a more precise definition would be useful, and necessary.

    Aaron B

  12. Aaron Brown says:

    Some additional thoughts:

    1. I agree that “angst” can make for “crappy Mormon studies” in a lot of ways. (And by “angst” here, I think I mean something like “undue preoccupation and harping on specific Mormon issues with which one is disatisfied and cannot fully come to terms”). This is because the angst-ridden soul often cannot come down off his hobby-horse, so he is inclined to obsess about, and see every other issue through the lens of, his particular concern or concerns. And when the angst-ridden perpetually talk only amongst themselves, and don’t try to constructively discuss the subject of their angst with others less angst-ridden than themselves, they are not likely to develop new or interesting insights. However, on the other hand, I think that the palpable tension of those with angst can be a sure source of motivation to explore and delve deeply into the issues that concern them. And this can be productive.

    2. I think you put it well when you say “it was assumed that anyone there was a “Sunstoner” and therefore a measure of commiseration and angst was acceptable as a reprieve from the trial that is regular interactions with Mormons.” To be more precise, I think this does accurately describe the feeling of the Sunstone symposia that I have attended in the past. (As you know, I was only able to attend Bonner Ritchie’s presentation on Saturday, so I can’t comment on the rest of the day’s activities this year). You’re right that it would not serve Sunstone well to create a forum where everyone is always “wallowing in angst.”

    There’s a whole other conversation to be had about what Sunstone could or should be, but there’s lots of other threads where one can explore that topic, so I’ll quit now.

    Aaron B

  13. I liked the post. I guess I am pretty unfamiliar with the DAMU community

    In my view angst is usually not a good thing to be carrying around inside.

  14. MikeInWeHo says:

    Re: 11 I could not agree more. In fact, I admire people who choose to stay even though they can’t get over their angst (Buckley Jeppson, Grant Palmer, et. al.) These saints don’t convert those feelings into negative, bitter speech though.

    Also, it’s not a “stay or leave” proposition for many of us. I’m not familiar with the DAMU but it doesn’t sound appealing to me at all, yet I’m not an active participant in the Church right now. There are shades of gray here.

  15. It’s worth remembering that the off-Broadway symposia (in Seattle, in Southern California, and elsewhere) feature attendees who don’t live in the shadow of Mormonism on a daily basis. Makes for less angst and less wallowing, I would imagine.

  16. Thanks for the comments, all. Aaron, I have spent some time trying to figure out a good definition for angst, and it is not coming. Perhaps it is like the legal definition of obsenity: I know it when I see it. :)

    MikeInWeHo, I don’t know Buckley or Grant personally, so I don’t know if they are angst-ridden or not. I wouldn’t suspect that they are. You don’t strike me as full of angst and your (or anyone else’s) level of belief or church participation is not at issue. That is why I like the example of MHA. You have all sorts.

  17. Amen Dave.

  18. Nice post, J. I agree, I think.

    It’s important to say what this is not. It’s not that the DAMU are per se bad people or somehow unworthy of conversation. However, the two communities have different norms and different goals. And as a result, it’s likely that very few people who have the rhetorical flexibility to maintain a major presence in both communities. My impression from occasional peeks into the DAMU (I’m by no means an expert) is that the only bloggernacle regulars who also regularly participate in the DAMU are Ned Flanders, Beijing, and John Dehlin. And you, Equality — though every nacle conversation you get in lately seems to end in a scuffle.

    (I don’t know that it’s entirely accurate to link DAMU angst to Sunstone angst, by the way. In my observation a lot of the SunstoneBlog crowd, while perhaps as angsty as anyone in the nacle, is also quite respectful and open to civil, non-axe-grindy discussion.)

  19. Kaimi,

    Fair enough. I have been feeling a bit more prickly lately. Perhaps I have been breathing too deeply the DAMU vapors. I agree that the DAMU and Bloggernacle generally have different norms and goals. But there are places in the DAMU that deal specifically with trying to help those who have doubts about the church maintain their membership, so I don’t think it’s fair to say that the DAMU exists only to help people exit the church while the nacle’s purpose is to help people remain. I also think that the characterization of all DAMU participants and discussions there as lacking in constructiveness is inaccurate. There is variety in the DAMU as in the nacle (NOM is a far cry from RfM, for instance).

    P.S. I would add capt. jack, Nanna P. anf Hellmut to your list of people who contribute regularly in both spheres.

  20. Yep, Kaimi, Sunstone is not DAMU.

  21. I’m relatively uncomfortable with discussions of types of Mormons that produce dichotomies and unqualified polarities. People have helpfully distinguished between Sunstone angst and DAMU angst, and I second Equality’s statement that the DAMU is not in any way a homogeneous world. The New Order Mormons message board was really important and positive for me during a period of time a while back, in terms of helping me come to perspective and maintain my church activity through what was for me a difficult process of coming to have a more realistic view of church history. Capt. Jack, Nanna P, Beijing, and some others were especially helpful for me during that period; I’d hate to see these good folks tarred with the brush of incivility and aggression that legitimately does apply to certain strands of discourse from the disaffected folks.

    Likewise, I agree with the assertion that there’s probably a relatively high quotient of angst among Bloggernacle participants. Perhaps a useful distinction among different communities involves not the level of angst, but rather the intended goal for the angst? Maybe the Bloggernacle is largely for people who want to manage and eventually dissipate their angst, whereas the Recovery from Mormonism movement and other more polar components of the DAMU are intended for people who want to use their angst as fuel to transform their religious lives?

    In any case, I think there’s a clear benefit to be had from maintaining the existence of diverse kinds of fora for discussing Mormonism. That way, people have a choice; they can go one place or another, and have different kinds of conversations. I think it makes sense to defend a “Bloggernacle kind of conversation” here at BCC. I just hope that doesn’t get defined as excluding certain categories of people or ideas. Perhaps naively, I continue to have faith that people of goodwill, even from different ideological backgrounds, can speak together and all be edified.

    On the pseudonym question, I rather like them. I think Justin Butterfield, Ned Flanders, and Dave might agree with me. What we might perhaps ask is that people choose memorable, easily distinguishable pseudonyms — with no numbers included — and maintain them over time. In my view, what’s important is that an individual be identifiable; real names aren’t inherently better labels than pseudonyms, as is evidenced by the fact that I often have to explain that my real name and RoastedTomatoes (my rather more famous name!) refer to the same person.

  22. “Maybe the Bloggernacle is largely for people who want to manage and eventually dissipate their angst, whereas the Recovery from Mormonism movement and other more polar components of the DAMU are intended for people who want to use their angst as fuel to transform their religious lives?”
    Is it bad that I don’t see these as mutually exlusive goals? By which I mean that I believe it is possible to transform one’s religious life within the Church?

    Furthermore, I don’t trust the pseudonymous. They’re shifty.

  23. However, it seems to me that you really need to do is define what you mean by “angst.”

    Thanks, I’m so glad to see that I’m not the only one who would like to see this.

  24. HP, I forgot to list you among the pseudonymous. Do accept my apologies, my brother in shiftiness!

    Should I clarify my “transform their religious lives” statement? I suppose I was a bit too indirect. Perhaps “transform the institutional commitments that characterize their religious lives”?

  25. I agree JNS. I think on all fronts, except for the nacle angst, maybe. I think if I were to rewrite the post in light of the comments, I would have clarified that I am not intent on excluding indaviduals. Tone and rhetorical positioning (i.e., community, though I should have clarified better) are important and the focus of my post.

  26. Thomas Parkin says:

    As far as angst and Seattle goes …
    we haven’t had that spirit here since 1992.

    We’re metronatural now.


  27. I agree with yout thoughtful comments, RT.

    Let me just be clear: I am very happy to conform to whatever the groundrules are for discussion when I venture forth into the Bloggernacle. If I stray from those, I don’t mind at all being moderated and being asked to tone it down or knock it off or whatever might be required. I know I sometimes push the envelope (or simply push someone’s buttons unintentionally). But I also like to think that I am capable of engaging in thoughtful and respectful discourse on occasion and I do like interacting with those whose perspectives and experiences differ from my own. I think there is value in havng discussions in a “safe” space where everyone basically agrees with each other; I also find value at other times in having more robust discussions with people of differing viewpoints.

    This particular blog has always seemed to me to be one that was more accepting of different viewpoints as long as they are expressed without insult or indignity., which is why I was somewhat taken aback by the initial post here (but, to be fair to J. Stapley, I did not see the posts that were the catalyst for his remarks). Thanks for letting me post here. I do appreciate it.

  28. Ditto to Aaron and Naismith. Without a better definition, I’m inclined to say that the truth is, often, flavored with angst.

  29. JNS,

    True enough. I’ve got friends who like the DAMU and find support there; for some people, it works well.

    For me, one salient difference is that certain in-jokes and baselines are present in the different communities. In much of the DAMU, it seems to be par-for-the-course to make snide sorts of asides about the church. Look at the vocab list for the View from the Foyer (one of the less antagonistic boards). The church is “Morg,” Brigham Young is “Breed Em Young,” and so forth. And that’s for one of the less hostile boards — outside of NOM, the least hostile. The RFM vocab list, as expected, contains quite a bit more derogatory slang.

    And as a general matter, I don’t like snide asides. I don’t like it when Ann Coulter makes them. I don’t like it when Lou Midgley or Dan Peterson make them; nacle veterans will remember that one of the great T&S flame-wars happened when I severely criticized Midgley for his use of unnecessary swipes towards Signature. (That was the thread that spawned the recurring Midgley/fondue joke). And following the same pattern, I don’t like it when I see snide swipes in the DAMU. If someone wants to write critically about some church practice or doctrine, it’s perfectly possible to do so without descending into junior-high level name calling about the Profit, the Morg, and all that kind of bull.

    And I had forgotten about Nanna P; every interaction I’ve had with her has been quite civil.

  30. “And as a general matter, I don’t like snide asides”


    p.s. watch your filthy mouth, Kaimi.

  31. I’m a relative new member of the Sunstone Board of Directors, but I’m pretty sure no other topic — Just how much angst should Sunstone tolerate? — has been as much talked about or fretted over in the past 30 years. The same can be said for SunstoneBlog, where private e-mails between Blog Contributors devoted to just this subject travel back and forth on a fairly consistent basis.

    Rory Swenson, a Blog Contributor and Board Member wrote a recent Blog Post called “Our Shared Responsibility” about just this subject…

    “With forums such as the Symposium and this Blog, Sunstone gives voice to – and places trust in – those who wrestle with spiritual issues. But with that voice comes a responsibility…. Does this mean that we, as forum participants, need to censor ourselves or be “investigator safe”? No – but while we need not censor content, we should pay careful attention to tone. Perhaps the most significant portion of the comment policy – and this policy extends to all of Sunstone’s forums – is that posts and comments must be respectful of all people and the ideas and beliefs they hold sacred. Sunstone as an institution has great value. Its value lies in the potential to frame spiritual and intellectual discussions relevant to Mormonism in an honest and constructive way.”

    I’m glad Kaimi (and later J. Stapley) correctly de-linked Sunstone with the DAMU crowd, not that I (or Sunstone, I would imagine) have anything against the DAMU crowd, its just that we’re interested in discussing different things. Of Sunstone’s roughly 20 board members and staff, all but two are active members of their local wards. Two are former Mission Presidents. To be honest, I’m not that familiar with DAMU, but I don’t think that level of activity is indicative of ex- or anti-Mormons.

  32. Well, I can make exceptions where appropriate, Voldemort.

  33. Now, for J. Stapely’s assertion that “You can’t have angst and remain. You either get over your angst or leave”

    I don’t know, this no-angst goal strikes me as a little naive, and even undesirable. Church History (to say nothing of ancient scripture) is replete with one “angst-y” episode after another. It is often via angst or contention between the Brethren that Church leaders have solved problems. It is often via angst (think Alma the Younger, or even David O. McKay or Richard Bushman) that one comes to his or her testimony. In fact, if you’ve read James Fowler (Stages of Faith), angst may just be a necessary part of one’s spiritual journey (Stage Four). In a Church with members numbering in the millions, all of whom are at different stages of their spiritual journeys, angst is just a flat-out given.

    J. Stapely says that “The Study of History can yield compasion, empathy, and forgiveness.” Yes, but it can (and will) definitely yield angst as well, and to deny that is to ultimately deny the compassion, empathy, and forgiveness that follows the angst (and often ONLY after the angst).

    For me, Sunstone (and Dialogue and MHA and the ‘nacle) was a life line that gave my angst a much-needed outlet. I was/am not looking to bash the Church, I just wanted someone to hear the pain in my heart, someone to provide more than stock Sunday School answers to my questions. MHA was my first exposure to such a community and it was like taking Vicodin for my angst-riddled mind.

    To be sure, Sunstone (and Dialogue, MHA, etc.) has sometimes crossed some invisible “Angst Line,” but I’ll take those chances any day to the alternative of living in some make believe no-angst world.

  34. Perhaps this boils down to definitions. I believe that there will always be pain. God feels pain. I feel pain frequently because of life, family and church. I agree that this is necessary. I don’t think God has angst, though. I think that compassion and empathy assuage angst, even though the pain still remains.

  35. It has stated indirectly on more than one occasion that people who struggle with their membership and are trying to make it work on their own terms are not welcome here on BCC. This is not surprising; every intelekchul believer’s favorite dead apostle, Neal Maxwell, said basically the same thing about the church proper.

    I have not been blessed with the ability to believe that which contradicts my own experience, but I somehow find myself with my butt in a pew every Sunday unless I’m leading the music. Now, not only in Real Life, but also on the internet, that’s not “good enough.”

    You’d think with all the hints that have been dropped in the last year, this throwing of the gauntlet wouldn’t catch me so off guard. First DMI Dave’s “The Borderlands,” and then whatsisname’s crack about my opinions not being welcome here on BCC, and now this. Third time’s the charm.

    RT/JNS (you’ll always be RT to me) and Kaimi, thanks for the kind words. I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot from both of you. I will miss Kevin Barney more than I can say.

    As for you, Mr. Stapley…fill in the blank.


  36. Mayan Elephant says:


    i would love to read your comments about midgley. having met some fantastic signature people, and compared my experience to midgleys presentation, i cant help but create endless streams of profanity whenever midgleys name is mentioned.

    i have met a bunch of these damu folks in real life. and many i have known for decades. i think its fair to say, that the generalizations made about them are so far off its comical. with the exception, of course, of the fine things said about nannap. i had lunch with her recently and would be happy to have lunch with her on any given day. she is nicer and kinder than one can imagine.

    my biggest issue with these generalizations is that they often center around a few key words. it amuses me that one is a foul mouthed evildoer for using a few four letter words, but suggesting a parent not be in public with a gay daughter is inspired, godly, lovely and we seek after such counsel. bizarre. i would take a foul mouthed mother who loves her gay daughter over a pious one that shuns the daughter and her partner anyday.

    that was not meant as a hijack, just a simple point that these generalizations are useless and there are in fact, good people on both sides, though more good people are in the damu than here (jk) and great conversations can actually occur between all sorts of people.

  37. J. (#34) God may not have angst (or maybe he does?), but imperfect human beings speaking on His behalf will undoubtedly lead to angst. There are just so many versions of God/Truth in the marketplace of ideas (even within the narrow confines of Mormonism), that angst is a given. How does one make sense of it all and avoid angst? Instead of trying to avoid it, I think it is better to learn to modulate it, to work with it, or through it. I couldn’t agree more that compassion and empathy are the keys. It pains me to see the sometimes lack of compassion and empathy on display in the DAMU world. However, I’ve seen it on display in the Bloggernacle as well.

    Now, all this talk of angst has got me feeling angsty, so let me vent: How in the *&@#% can you call Nirvana no-talent hacks, and then turn around a praise Pearl Jam, of all bands?!? :)

  38. I’m sorry Ann. Really. I did not mean this post as a slight against you. Your post from the hurricane remains one of my favorites here. I was hoping my anolgy to MHA which has Vogel (for the uninitiated read humanist historian of the restoration) and Black (faithful), would make it clear that it isn’t a belief test that I’m advocating. The tone of the blogs that I linked to was troubling to me and I found some of the comments that resulted from that link were regrettable. I don’t doubt that there are many fine indaviduals who frequent the DAMU. Again, I am sorry.

  39. I agree, Matt, that compassion and empathy should flow in abundance and as has been shown repeatedly in this conversation (especially my last comment), I could sure use a healthy dose.

    But as far as Nirvana goes, dude, both his guitare playing skills and his singing just can’t pass muster. Can’t say that he has the chops.

  40. Mayan,

    Since you ask, the famous Midgley meltdown thread is here: . Warning — it’s ugly. When I wrote it, I had had three or four recent major, substantive clashes with a few of the FARMS regulars — Dan Peterson, Juliann Reynolds, and others. The Midgley post started out as yet another substantive critique, but deviated from that pattern, probably because I was sick of saying the same things, and ended up making it mostly just a smart-ass post. This turned out to be a mistake, and led to near-instant comment meltdown. I tried to put some substance back into the discussion, as did some other commenters, but the flame war continued until Nate finally shut the thread down.

  41. Stapley, on Nirvana, come on, man. Rock isn’t about chops, especially not punk rock. It’s about making the music mean something. That’s what Pearl Jam never managed, in my book.

  42. J., maybe “angst” is too complex a concept. Maybe “griping” is a better and simpler term for what chafes about some discussions and conversations. The optimal amount of griping in a conference is maybe one remark per presentation.

    Anne, the “Borderlands” label came straight from a recurring feature at Sunstone magazine. It sounds better than “Sunstoner” or “dissenter.” I’m not sure why it is such an irritant, especially since my DMI sidebar is the only place I’ve ever seen it used besides Sunstone (where it obviously is not used in a derogatory fashion).

    And I’d like to put in a plug for the Sunstone Blog, which has put up a lot of interesting and reflective posts that are 180 degrees away from the sort of reptitive topics and dismissive comments that litter DAMU boards. Like the posts by Dialogue folks here at BCC, the posts at the Sunstone Blog are pretty good PR for Sunstone the Magazine.

  43. I’m with J. Nirvana are way overrated.

  44. Mayan Elephant says:


    yowza. this is going to be fun. did you ever read the mayan et al vs. midgley vs. peterson all star debate over at mormonstories. that was a classic.

    you would have loved it, i can just tell.

    with that, i better sign off. i love ann too much to hang out here if she aint so welcome.


  45. J.
    Is your concern about anger or hostility? That seems quite far removed from what I would think of as “angst.” I do think you’re using the word in a way I don’t quite recognize or make sense of.

  46. Thanks for the kind words said about me in the comments.

    I guess y’all have missed the threads in which DAMU groups put together care packages for DAMU posters serving in Iraq, money for DAMU posters whose lives were disrupted by Katrina, books for women in polygamist groups, or money for a DAMU family whose little girl has cancer. (Just to name a few things.)

    I guess y’all also have no idea how many people in the DAMU are still active and planning to stay active. The DAMU has had and still has regulars who are current bishops, bishops’ counselors, RS presidents, Primary presidents, and others who you would never imagine would want to say things like “Morg” about the church…and some of them never do. Some blow off steam in the DAMU, then go back to church with renewed zest. You have no idea who you’re tarring with your broad brush.

    Yes, there is more heat than light in the DAMU (the usual dismissive “why the DAMU is icky” rationale). I’ll give you that. But that doesn’t mean the light isn’t there. If you stick around the DAMU long enough (I’m talking about months and years), you’ll see poster after poster start to mellow significantly, and at that point many of them cut way back on their DAMU participation or leave it altogether. The culture of the DAMU encourages people to stay as long as they need to, to come back occasionally and vent when they need to, but ultimately to work toward “graduating” from the forum. Thus, somehow, even before this post, and in some cases even without the “Constant Companionship of the Holy Ghost,” the DAMUites as a whole, as well as individual after individual, managed to figure out that angst is not a good emotional place to stay in indefinitely. Imagine that!

    Unfortunately, you feed into the angsty “no one at church would accept me if they knew how I really feel” dynamic when you issue the ultimatum to get over the angst or leave the church. For someone who is going through a church situation that may be tougher than what you’ve ever had to deal with at church, whose angst is rooted in issues that will take a very long time to completely overcome (if at all in this life), you know what that black-and-white dichotomous approach causes them to do? If you didn’t before, now you do: Ann just showed you.

    How would Jesus act if he were to visit the DAMU? Would he pop in, see the four-letter words and dust his feet off, thinking “ew, those nasty foul people, I must not have them sullying my discourse”? Would he have hung around long enough to get to know which poster has infertility, which poster is an abuse victim, which poster is going in for eye surgery, which poster just lost his job, etc.? Would he have mourned with them and blessed them?

  47. “You can’t have angst and remain.”

    Aaron is right that a lot of us have angst, but I get the larger point of the post:

    “You can’t seek to foment angst and remain.”

    I think J. Stapely is right, that this is one of those places on the web where your intent really should determine your participation.

  48. Beijing,

    Any chance you could clarify who the you’s and y’all’s in your comment are?

    I can’t speak for others, like J. Myself, I poke my head over to the DAMU to see what’s going on, more than you or others probably realize. I watched the recent Arch/Sol/Foyer/Flak meltdown. (And actually, I thought that some really interesting intellectual property issues were potentially at issue, before Arch mooted them by handing over the keys). I read the threads relating to your own Mother Superior incident. I keep an eye on happenings, and I think I’ve got a pretty good sense of the pecking order of hostility, from NOM to FLAK and VFTF to Cherry or RFM.

    So I absolutely know the DAMU is not a monolith; I know that some commenters have more hostility and anger than others. (And I certainly have respect for you, given your history as a regular vote for reasoned discussion.) My general point is that, even if not everyone in the DAMU is adopting the same tone and making comments about Morg and such, that the community in general seems to tolerate or even expect a certain degree of hostility and mockery. As I noted, it’s my own view that constructive discussion (whether or not critical) about the church need not involve that kind of condescending tone. (I’d cite some of the commenters here and elsewhere in the nacle — Matt Thurston, or John and Jana Remy, or Roasted Tomatoes, for example, — as models for posting material that is sometimes critical, but not condescending.)

  49. J. (#39) Roasted Tomatoes (#41) nailed it re Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam. And Susan M. (#43), your impeccable taste in music has just taken a hit in my book. :) This may be inflammatory, but I’d take STP over PJ, anyday! (By the way, I always prefered much of the non-Seattle Grunge to Seattle Grunge… i.e. Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur Jr., Afghan Whigs, etc.)

    This post has resulted in some nice comments by Beijing, Kaimi, RT, Mayan, DMI Dave, Ann, and others.

    Mayan Elephant, I used to read your comments at Mormon Stories. Where do you hang out now that MS has gone the way of the Mayan Elephant?

  50. Ann,
    leaving the nacle over me is like leaving the church over that old lady in the back who keeps asking you when your getting married. I’m not worth it. Believe me.

  51. I am a frequent reader here, elsewhere in the bloggernacle and some DAMU boards. I also hold a leadership position which requires me to regularly counsel with members, some of whom struggle with the issues that get a lot of airtime in the DAMU and in the Bloggernacle. I like the angst. It gives me a perspective that I don’t often get elsewhere. It helps me to understand the issues better when I see them through the eyes of one who is hurting. I want to hear the angst expressed by gay members. I want to hear the perspective of those who feel betrayed, or of those who believe that the church has become a barrier in their marriages or other family relationships. I need to hear the voices of those who once worshipped with us, but no longer believe. I want to know how they feel and why. I want to understand the implications for them and their families of their loss of faith. I have learned a lot by reading their stories. They often have profound insights.

    I don’t have any interest in hearing insults or condescending “the church is full of it” kinds of comments. Let RFM have a monopoly on the assinine and rude comments. But those kinds of comments are not angst. They are just insulting, or childish or thoughtless or something else. Keep the angst, throw out the other junk.

  52. Kaimi, to answer your #48 question, no, I couldn’t. :) But I’ll try from now on. When Kaimi reveals that Kaimi is intimately familiar with the DAMU community, Kaimi makes my point for me about not knowing whom one tars with the broad anti-DAMU brush. Some might consider the amount of DAMU lurking Kaimi does enough to make Kaimi, to some extent, part of the DAMU community.

    Kaimi says his point is: “the community in general seems to tolerate or even expect a certain degree of hostility and mockery”

    Correct. I don’t deny this. This is close to what I meant by “more heat than light.” And my point is, so what? As long as they don’t mock or engage in hostility when they visit the Bloggernacle, there ought to be no reason to stomp on their fingers when they reach out in this direction. Forbidding and deleting all mocking, hostile posts in order to maintain the kind of forum you want is a very different thing from making DAMUites unwelcome.

    I agree that in a place for reasoned discussion, there should be only reasoned discussion. I [heart] reasoned discussion. But let me ask you. Does this sound like a plea to exclude unreasoned discussion, or to exclude people: “Without qualification the DAMU community is not welcome here at BCC.” Before you start to qualify Mr. Stapley’s statement, may I remind you that it starts out: “[w]ithout qualification.” And the next sentence says, “Additionally, the … disrespectful discourse … [is] not welcome here.” Thus, the “disrespectful discourse” is something other than the “community.” Both have been flatly pronounced unwelcome in the post.

    Mr. Stapley, I respectfully suggest you might want to amend your post, rather than explain again in the comments that you don’t actually intend to follow through on what you posted about making the entire DAMU community unwelcome at BCC.

    More about reasoned discourse… For many of us, there is an emotive aspect to these faith upheavals. For me, the intellectual aspect has not been too stressful; the hardest part of the journey has been the emotional part. It has been incredibly helpful to have a place where I could go to cry it out, shout it out, curse at it, and swing the reverence pendulum way too far to the other end, and know that I was still loved, no matter what.

    My ward was not a place where that could happen, or my family, or the Bloggernacle. In those arenas, everything has to be nice and pretty and wrapped up with a faith-promoting bow on top. Not that there’s anything wrong with niceness and faith; I [heart] niceness and faith. However, early in my journey, I felt like a hideous freak of nature on the inside, whose inner thoughts and feelings no one could stand to look at (not even me), that everyone would turn away in disgust before they ever came close to seeing the true state of my testimony.

    So, Kaimi’s right. Much of what goes on in the DAMU is not reasoned discourse. It’s blubbering and screaming and freaking out and frothing at the mouth. And it’s fine to keep that walled off from people who would prefer not to be around it. But what was I going to do? I had never dealt with those emotions toward the church before. I didn’t have them all thought through and rationalized so that I could discuss them politely. Thank God someplace took me in and helped me through it. At its worst, the DAMU is ugly, cruel, insane, blind leading blind, and heck, I could go on about its bad points. But it’s human, it’s real, there’s more love and compassion in it than what shows up on the surface, and it played a big role in healing me.

  53. Steve Evans says:

    Beijing, J. made it pretty clear that he wasn’t speaking on behalf of BCC from any policy point of view. There’s no point in your clarion call for him to amend his post. Taking out of context as you have isn’t very constructive.

  54. Beijing,

    J’s post is the 1832 version with angels and Jesus. His subsequent comments represent the 1838 canonical account.

    FWIW, I don’t think Mr. Stapley was sufficiently subtle. What inspired this was the surge of visitors and commenters from RfM because of the “Expansion” post. The bile spewed over there is not welcome at BCC. I think, however, that Stapley and others have made it clear by now that we don’t mean to tar the whole DAMU community with the same brush.

  55. It’s not a clarion call, but a suggestion. And I’m taking it *in* context of the comments. Why do you think J. clarified in comments 7, 16, and 25 that he wasn’t trying to exclude particular individuals? I think it’s because there were other people who understood his post more or less the same way I understood it. And even after J. clarified thrice, in comment 35, Ann said very emphatically that she felt he excluded her. J. apologized and again clarified in 38 that he wasn’t intending anything against individuals. I’m just suggesting that if he doesn’t want to see more reactions like Ann’s, and I feel sure he doesn’t, knowing that as the comment list gets longer there tend to be more people who read the post but not the comments, he might want to make sure people don’t have to dig through the comments to see how he really feels. He’s free to ignore the suggestion, of course, but I don’t think it’s very constructive of you, Steve, to say there’s no point in my suggestion. The point is correcting misunderstanding and preventing hurt feelings.

    I’m going to bed now.

  56. I was still typing 55 while Ronan posted 54. Now I’m really going to bed.

  57. You can’t have angst and remain.

    . . .

    The study of history can yield compassion, empathy and forgiveness.

    I don’t know, J. You seem to suppose that reasonable analysis must in the end produce outcomes, which affirm your faith.

    Scholarship is civil only if scholars submit to logic and evidence rather than agenda.

    Why should a historian have to “stay?” Whether or not one is Mormon should not have anything to do with the study of history.

    The study of history can affect people in all sort of ways. You write “can” but it feels like “ought,” especially in conjunction with your demands about who is and who isn’t welcome. The moment we cross that divide, we subjugate reason to agenda.

    In other words, we cease to be reasonable. And that means that communication between believers and non-believers becomes indeed impossible.

    You seem to assume that reality validates your position a priori. That might be faithful but it is not reasonable.

  58. What does the DAMU say about the Mormon experience? It seems to me that it is not enlightening to evaluate the DAMU by the standards of an academic conference. It might be more productive to look at the DAMU as a Mormon phenomenon that tells us something about the Mormon experience.

    Nobody would be in the DAMU if there were not an LDS Church. Nobody would call the LDS Church names if they didn’t care. Nobody would feel betrayed if they had not believed. And people would not use pseudonyms if they did not feel threatened.

    It’s not surprising that some people who have to rebuild their worldview, loose it on and off. It’s not surprising if people cannot disagree amicably if they have been socialized in a world where husbands and wives, and parents and children do not dare to disagree about religion. It is not surprising that people who have been raised to submit to authority have to learn to be free.

    I agree that DAMU posters are better off when they take charge and responsibility for their actions. That does not change the fact that the DAMU is a Mormon phenomenon that is the product of Mormon theology and Mormon socialization.

  59. A few years ago Reeve Lindbergh, daughter of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wrote a family memoir, Under a Wing. As the Washington Post put it at the time, “The daughter wrote her book as a ‘living witness,’ as someone who could – by writing what she knew directly – restore the humanity behind the fame. ‘If you’re a witness, you are not a judge.'”

    Often, for example, discussions of the black priesthood ban resound with enough anguished chest beating that any comprehension of the mattters in question is pushed to the margins. Brother Stapley wrote that a prominent historian skips Sunstone for this kind of reason. It sounds like he doesn’t want to turn away fruitful Mormon studies from his own activities.

  60. Mayan Elephant says:

    i obviously have been queued again. for what, i dont know. but it really annoys me that i can see my comments and nobody else can and it messes up the number references in subsequent posts. thats lame.

    this is what bcc queued. ill try posting it again.
    my good friend started a new church this weekend, its called the church of riding buzzed on a wooded path, i think i am going to hang out there.

    i have pretty much been banned at all the naccle sites now. i had a good run at m* but feel that i should not wear out my welcome there. i think i taxed clark and the boys a bit much over there.

    i miss john dehlins stuff a lot. while i am far removed from the church and just hit the one year mark since entering through the chapel doors….shhhhhhhh, be still….. i appreciated john’s work and thought a movement with his tone and message could have a meaningful impact on my family that has stayed in the church.

    i appreciate beijings comments on here too. i agree that there comes a time to leave it all behind. i think i am close to that point. i want to be there. i have processed the “angst” and practiced my new positions on the boards until, quite frankly, i am sick of it. i am not leaving because i am angry, just the opposite, i am leaving because i am less angry less betrayed and less interested.

    i often wonder if folks wouldnt leave the naccle if they were to ever arrive at some level of peace with church issues. i think the bloggernaccle is just as much a refuge for mormons that know how much crap there is to explain but choose to rationalize and explain and appreciate the bloggernaccle as a venue to practice apologetic or faith promoting arguments. maybe i am wrong.

    what i absolutely will not concede is that one side has a higher ground for using or not using rotten nasty language. thats just silly. perhaps manners are lost with foul language, but when its just the internet, that aint that big o whoop, ya know.

    i think the substance of the arguments in the damu are amazing. you cannot believe the great things i have seen those damu folks do for one another. it is amazing to see the networks and real life contributions folks have made for each other.

    i have seen them gather around and arrange for professional care for a poster that was clearly in a bad way. and guess what – the dude got help, real help, and it will have a long term impact on his life.

    i had lunch with ann last week. i felt like the luckiest guy on earth to be there with her and my wife and feel that the meal would have been a bargain if it meant travelling across all seven continents and seven seas and paying twice the price. it was amazing.

    my home has been the site of many meals with folks from the damu that i would otherwise have never met, and not one of them has been a dissapointment. amazing folks i say. amazing.

    and guess what, they are all good folks and its fairly obvious that they dont drop word bombs in front of their kids. but more, consistently people mention that they have left the church, or considered leaving, for their kids. yup. its the right thing for them to do, and one of many reasons cited, they dont want their kids to judge or be judged in a broad way. uh, much like what we just saw.

    all that said, i dont mind that you want to kick damu folks off of here. its your place. your blog. kick anyone off and discourage anything, as you see fit. its yours. have fun. i say the same about the mormon church, if i dont like it, ill leave. and i did. and if the church doesnt want people like me, they can tell me to leave, and they did (though less directly.) fine by me.

    matt, i am still a bit shocked that you followed my stuff. that cracks me up.

  61. It is a point of pride with the relatively new Salt Lake Public Library that everyone and every legal behavior is welcome. There’s no “Shhhh!”-ing to stifle joyous youth. Weary walkers kick off their flip-flops and rest their dusty feet on the tables. Handheld computer games are available with all their beeps and lights. You can bring in your bagles and covered drinks, but you might want to wipe the table first — remember those dusty bare feet?

    You can do everything but read, in fact, because the noise level is so high.

    That’s why I was happy to discover blogs that didn’t have an anything-goes policy. My internet experience is that the disaffected drown out any other discussion, and if you say anything supportive of the church you are treated like a fool — “when you get to be as smart as I am, naive one, you too will know that the church is corrupt,” which is how I felt about my attempt to join in the “Expanded” thread.

    Maybe DAMU folks feel the same about sanctimonious true believers — There are a very few voices in the Bloggernacle that weary me in that direction, too.

    I am relieved to find a place where my kind of discussion is welcomed without the ridicule and scorn that drowns me out elsewhere.

  62. I’m late to the conversation (as usual), but I’m still going to pitch in my two pennies (again, as usual):

    1st cent: Angst is, for many people, a universal emotion. I started experienced angst in adolescence and it has continued with me through my adult life. In fact, I remember the moment when I realized that teenage angst never really goes away, but is transformed into adult angst. I think it’s fair to say that my mission was, in many ways (if I don’t filter it through the romanticism through which we tend to view earlier periods of our lives) one of the most angst-filled times in my life. Oddly, I’ve managed to be fairly productive during times in my life when I’ve also been experiencing the most angst. Counter-intuitively, I’ve also been relatively happy despite the angst.

    2nd cent: I’ve had a lot of experience with Internet fora, and somewhat more limited experience with the bloggernacle. I don’t think that broad, sweeping statements like “members of group x are unwelcome here” are really necessary. In fact, I think for this and other fora, a simple “Trolls not welcome. Don’t feed to trolls.” pretty much says what needs to be said. I think it’s remarkable that religion in general, and Mormonism in particular, manage to be discussed civilly on the Internet at all, and I applaud the powers that be at BCC for their efforts.

    Semi-pseudonymously yours,

    BTD Greg

  63. Rosalynde says:

    I’m fond of Ann and Beijing, and I’ll be sorry to see them go. But I think the BCC boys are well within reason to control the tone of their blog in any way they choose.

    That said, I can see why some commenters feel that there’s a bit of a double-standard going on. It’s my observation that commenters who are known to and respected by the powers-that-be can make damaging and inflammatory statements with relative impunity, as long as they aren’t profane in doing so. This blog once hosted one of the most blasphemous and offensive comments I’ve ever read—to the effect that the Mormon God is a rapist—and yet it went largely unremarked mostly because, I assume, the commenter was known to and respected by the administrators. The commenter was known to and respected by me, too, as it happens, but I was deeply offended by the breathtaking disrespect of the remark, and I don’t think it should have been allowed to stand.

  64. Ardis,

    I totally agree that there should be fora for believers to discuss their issues without being drowned out by condesecending comments from disaffected members or ex-members. And I agree that it should run the other direction, too. I don’t think all Mormon blogs and discussion boards should be free-for-alls. Some boards and blogs encourage that; others have a stricter moderation policy. For example, the New Order Mormon discussion board does not allow proselyting remarks from “true-believing Mormons.” Faithful members may post there, but are not permitted to issue “calls to repentance” and such. It is designed to be a safe haven for people who have “angst” about the church to share their thoughts and feelings without feeling like they are being judged by the “righteous.”

    Blogs like Millennial Star have a similar policy running the other direction–they have little or no tolerance for comments that question the foundational truth claims of the LDS church (regardless of how “respectfully” the comments may be offered). That’s fine. Both web sites have reasons for the policies they enforce. It’s a big (cyber)world out there and room for a wide variety of fora for engaging in dialogue about Mormonism.

    The BCC blog has always been viewed as more “liberal” than M* and T&S. It has a history of allowing greater latitude and accepting a wider variety of viewpoints. For me, that makes it a more interesting place. I agree with you and with J. Stapley that BCC does not need to accept comments from folks from RfM who throw insults and make trollish statements. So I understand what moticvated the post. And I will admit that I have, on occasion, interjected barbs or snark on the ‘nacle just to tweak people (but I would never argue with a moderator for deleting such comments).

    I think what Beijing’s and Ann’s and my comments illustrate is that some folks in the DAMU bristle at being lumped in with every “bitter apostate” who posts at RfM or proclaims his own version of “Mormon Truth.” I appreciate the backtracking from the original post and will redouble my efforts to only post substantive, thoughtful comments when I venture into the nacle. Thanks for letting me post here.

  65. Danithew (#1), in 1999, my Wife went to Palestine and sang there with BYU singers. Bridges were there then, though that is a few years back now. I think it was pretty strained though, from what I understand, but I think that was more of an American issue than anything else.

    My wife always can’t help but mention the absolute poverty there every time she talks about it. It is a miserable situation.

  66. On the pseudonym issue. One of the reasons I decided to go that way (and actually dropped my blog) when a woman at church asked me to give her a blessing because she had been reading my blog. It frankly creeped me out.

  67. Rosalynde,
    As you point out, there is certainly a double-standard around here, and around everywhere. But as you also point out, there’s a reason for it. If I know you, and have a sense as to what your personality is and your thoughts on various issues are, I can cut you some slack if you “cross the line.” But when a troll turns up out of nowhere with some unknown pseudonym, then there is no context for the remark. This is less tolerable, even if the comment is the same. I hope that makes some kind of sense.

  68. I have been a frequent contributor to many DAMU sites. I was given a link to this site by a friend, but after reading the article, I don’t know if I will be welcome here. I will sign with the initials of my pseudonym. Let me know if my kind are tolerated here Mr. Stapley. Thank you.


  69. Well, Rosalynde, if I were aware of such a comment, I probably would have had the same reaction as you. But as Ronan stated, relationships do make a difference – there are many examples of similar incidences at T&S.

  70. Mayan Elephant says:

    hey, thanks for posting my comments. sorry they seem out of context as they were originally submitted yesterday in an angry, substance-induced, satan-worshipping rage. ok, it wasnt a rage and i wasnt really upset, though i was wishing the kids would go to sleep and stop getting out of bed, and i was eating a chocolate chip cookie which is an acceptable substance, and i dont believe in satan. but other than that, i am just an exmoexdamu bad person so i still appreciate my queued comments making it on here.

  71. Rosalynde: “there’s a bit of a double-standard going on.”

    That implies that there is a single standard to begin with, which there isn’t, Rosalynde. BCC doesn’t have a strict comment policy – it’s never had one, and I don’t believe we ever will have one. Do commenters that are known by the bloggers here get special deference? You bet. That’s not unusual, or unfair. It’s called trust!

  72. Equality (#64) — thanks for the comment and level-headed sentiment. You’re good people!

  73. Nick Literski says:

    Well! I attended most of the Seattle Sunstone symposium last weekend, and in fact met our famed “J. Stapely” for the first time in person. If there was anything I noted in the gathering, it wasn’t angst. It was more an air of superiority. I commented to someone about the positive aspects of a particular book, only to have a boorish fellow chime in that the book was written in such a way that only “the National Enquirer crowd” could enjoy it—in other words, “Slam! You’re not as smart as I am!” This from a total stranger.

    The hostess was a delight, and Dan was his usual jovial self (much of my reason for going was to see Dan again, anyway). I had the pleasure of meeting Brent Metcalfe for the first time in person.

    I was treated civilly, for the most part, but now I find that since I am no longer a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (by my own choice, thank you very much), I must be part of the “DAMU” (is that pronouced “Dam-oo” or “Dam-you?”). I apologize for somehow missing the rule list that required active LDS church membership for participation. In any case, I guess it’s always important to know when you’re unwelcome.

  74. I apologize for somehow missing the rule list that required active LDS church membership for participation. In any case, I guess it’s always important to know when you’re unwelcome.

    No-one said that, man. Come on.

    BTW, your temple pages were like the first Mormon internet thing I stumbled upon way back in the day.

  75. MikeInWeHo says:

    Since no one is vetting the participants, for the most part who knows who any of us are (or our status in the Church for that matter)? I don’t see how the moderators can do anything other than moniter the comments one-by-one and delete anything that is in violation of the site’s rules. How can people really be “banned” anyway? Couldn’t they just change names?

  76. “I’m fond of Ann and Beijing, and I’ll be sorry to see them go. But I think the BCC boys are well within reason to control the tone of their blog in any way they choose.”

    I didn’t realize I was going. Am I being told to leave after all, even though I didn’t participate on the thread in question and have never received a warning about tone or had my comments queued or deleted?

  77. MikeInWeHo: we have psychic powers. And access to IP addresses!

    You’re right, however. Almost always, the only thing we’ll do is delete individual comments expressed in offensive ways.

  78. Stay, Beijing!

  79. Thank you, J.

  80. What we might perhaps ask is that people choose memorable, easily distinguishable pseudonyms — with no numbers included — and maintain them over time.

    Which is what I’ve tried to use with mine. There were just too many Steves in the Bloggernacle when I arrived …

  81. I don’t understand all the melodrama. Ann should know that her opinion is welcome and respected here. If she wants to get offended by Stapley’s post, that is her right, I suppose. When people talk about the lows of polygamist living, I don’t normally get offended on behalf of all people who call themselves Mormon. I love Ann and want her to stay (heck, she complimented me on a post once). But I don’t think this piece is the straw that should break the camels back.

    Having said that, I don’t know what is going on in her life, in the back corridors of bloggernacle gossip, or in the real life, for the most part. Perhaps there is a great purge happening at the moment. If so, I’m just sad that no-one asked me for my enemies list.

  82. Aaron Brown says:

    Nick Literski,

    Molly Bennion says we were sitting right next to each other briefly at the Sunstone, and I didn’t even know it was you. Alas! Better luck next year.

    Aaron B

  83. Nick Literski says:

    Darn! I was looking for your name on a badge, too!

  84. Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges, Nick.

  85. Sheesh, Beijing, you’re going to blow all my credibility with the Committee. I’m not a lurker, dammit, I’m a spy!

    But seriously, I chuckled at your inclusion of me in your community. I guess I’ve got something to tell the bishop if they ever try to make me scoutmaster! In general, though, I just like to keep an eye on folks who link to my blog — and T&S gets enough DAMU attention that it makes sense to stay informed about what’s going on.

    I’ve read your own story a few times on the blogs, and I’m sorry that you felt like the bloggernacle wasn’t welcoming to you. I’ll agree that the nacle doesn’t (generally) accept ranting very well. On the other hand, I’ve got to quibble with your characterization of the nacle as requiring that everything has to be “wrapped up with a faith-promoting bow.” Um, have you seen some of my posts? Duty to dysfunctional wards; why does God call women whores?; women-and-the-priesthood, about 27 times; whether medicinal marijuana is allowed under the Nyquil exception; why it’s okay to be pro-choice; one popular post on why we don’t have a duty to always present the church in a favorable light; enough posts and comments and arguments with Adam about gay marriage that it’s now a bloggernacle running joke; and so forth. (Links available on request :P ). Now, to be fair, I tried to be evenhanded in my discussions, and I don’t think that I’d characterize them as venting, or axe-grinding. But to suggest the opposite — that they’re all tied up neatly in faith-promoting bows — seems inaccurate. I analyzed the issues, as they made sense to me; faith promotion not a required baseline. (And I’m far from the only T&S or BCC poster to write posts that can’t be accurately described as complying with a requirement of faith promotion.)

    Early on, we adopted our comment policies at T&S, based around two major principles. “Times and Seasons is a forum for believing members or for others who are willing to respect members’ beliefs. Commenters do not need to believe in the Church, but comments that suggest that all believers are per se unintelligent or uninformed are not welcome. On the flip side, it is also unacceptable to call into question a commenter’s personal righteousness.”

    I can’t say how many times I’ve had to lay down the law in one direction or the other, but the number is really high. Every single month, we get drive-by comments that clearly violate one of these guidelines. Either “I can’t believe you would talk this way about the church, you’re all going to hell.” Or “You Mormons are all so stupid don’t you see that Joseph Smith was a fraud.” Either way, they find their way, pretty much immediately, into the waste bin. We really do try to avoid the ranting and harshness from either side of the divide. (Keep in mind that I may be saying on this thread that the DAMU has tone issues, but I’m also on the record as saying, probably several dozen times, that FARMS Review has tone issues and needs to cut out the crap. I didn’t buy the “FARMS is not a monolith” defense, either. You can be non-monolithic and still have tone problems.)

    You and others (e.g., Hellmut and Equality) have written that the DAMU can be a helpful therapeutic outlet for needed ranting. That’s fine; I don’t begrudge the DAMU that space, and it’s reasonable that some folks are going to need a ranting space. But at the same time, that doesn’t fit well in the nacle dynamic. There are interesting discussions to be had about some of these issues, that just can’t be had if one is being constantly ranted at in the one direction, or preached at in the other. Hence our policies at T&S.

    Given the differences in norms, some posters accustomed to DAMU social norms on ranting are potentially disruptive to the different environment of the nacle — just as I would be disruptive to the ranting environment if I tried to insist on T&S comment policies at RFM.

    I can’t speak for J. Stapley, but it’s my impression that in the original post, he was merely trying to remind commenters of that difference, and trying to remind commenters of the appropriate norms and boundaries on his own blog. Perhaps he did so in a way that was overstated; but he’s since done his part to clarify that.

  86. Also, just to be clear, I’m not saying that I think _you_ rant on T&S or BCC, Beijing. Lots of dual citizens have always seemed quite at home with the different norms (you, Hellmut, Ann/Nanna; Capt Jack); and I’m encouraged by Equality and Mayan’s measured comments in this thread. :) The major target of Stapley’s ire, I think, was the influx of RFM trolls on a few posts. And I can sympathize; that gets old really fast.

  87. Kaimi, I think you and I have reached a point where we’re basically saying the same thing. The only disagreement is that you apparently think clarifying in the comments negates the effect of the post; I don’t. If J. really didn’t mean what he said in the post, he wouldn’t be OK with leaving it up there under his byline. But he is OK with it; he just wants to parse it so that he can say “without qualification, the DAMU community is unwelcome,…oh, you easily-offended members of the DAMU community, you should have known I didn’t mean *you* are unwelcome!” But, whatever, no big deal. It’s his blog, he can offend whoever he wants to.

    BTW, I have read your posts on those topics. When I said “faith promoting” I didn’t have a Boyd K. Packer standard of faith promotion in mind. More of a “why I stay” type of faith promotion.

  88. Rosalynde says:

    Oops, Beijing, my fault; I must have misread a comment somewhere along the line. Glad you’re sticking around.

  89. Matt W., will you come over and give me a blessing? I think I need priesthood strength to have my dentist appointment tomorrow. Since I’m 86’d from valium. No pressure, I’m sure you can heal me.

    I have friends who are in DAMU (is that an official group?), and they’ve never once even hinted they might help me leave the church. They’ve always been respectful to me and of me.

    On the other hand, I’m pretty iconoclastic as Mormons go and I’ve never been criticized on the bloggernacle ever for it. I’ve been chided for my language, which I’m sorry for, whole world, but nobody kicked me off. I would have kicked me off.

    Angst. Isn’t this a Jewish word for constant worry and self examination? I’m angst personified if that’s the case. I’ll go look it up.

    Ann, don’t let anyone run you off. We’re all good people here. Except for that person I’m going to go over and name on my enemies list in a moment.

  90. I’m late coming into this discussion (and the grunge thread really lost me — in my world, Nirvana is still a Buddhist concept and no-concept!), so forgive me for basically repeating what others have said. I can certainly appreciate the desire to create a respectful community (and the frustrations that arise when this respect has been breached), but if an angst-ridden but active Mormon is an oxymoron (OxyMormon?), then I would have been doomed a long time ago. :-)

    I’ve had seasons of my spiritual journey that have been deeply fruitful and centered, and feel blessed to be enjoying such a season right now. But other seasons have been riddled with doubt. I trust and believe that such angst is not merely something to pass through as quickly as possible. Doubt is simply God’s way of telling us that it is time for us to grow. We must be patient with ourselves, and equally as importantly, with others when they are passing through such a requisite season. I have been there before, and know that if I am growing and progressing as I ought, I will be there again. And I am grateful that there will be a place for me, both in the Bloggernacle and in the kingdom.

  91. J- I’m skipping over all the comments, to just refer to your original post- Yay!! I love what you wrote, and applaud your point of view.

    Now I’m a little disgruntled and must go re-tool a post I was working on for this site on the very same topic. But, I’m glad nonetheless!


  1. […] Yesterday, a friend of mine tried to explain what he found troubling in certain areas of Mormon internet discussion. Some people read themselves into his post, which pointed no specific fingers. Others did not. I am curious as to why that is. It is not as if anyone here is entirely free of embarrassing moments of internet hyperbole (with the possible exception of the always level-headed RT). Another member of the community, whom I have always respected and hope to someday consider a friend, read herself into Stapley’s post, even though I don’t think she has demonstrated the characteristics he mentioned as troubling there (although, I am certainly not familiar with all that she does on the internet). I wish she hadn’t. I would have thought that the bloggernacle’s respect for her was self-evident. But now, she’s gone. […]