Tribes and whatnot

Sometimes it’s depressing how we just divide up into tribes and assume the worst sort of faith on “the other side” and only the best of faith on “our side.”

“The children of God have more in common then they have differences.”

― Henry B. Eyring

Too bad so few of us actually believe this.I recently felt compelled to defriend a few people on social media.  I likely didn’t have to do it, and I may regret it sometime soon.  It’s just that the one behavior that really sets me off is tribalism, especially when the tribes start talking trash about the other tribes.  I was even told at one point, unironically by several people that should be intelligent enough to know better that there is only good faith and honest people on their side and naught but bad faith and self-righteous blowhards amongst those on “my” side (I may be paraphrasing a bit too much and freely here).

In church, I’ve heard too many lessons where “the poor” or the “the intellectuals” were discussed as though there clearly weren’t any poor or intellectual types in the room.  Too many blogs in the LDS market write as though only those who share the conservative/liberal/progressive/orthodox/whatever persuasion of the blog as a whole are welcome.

We’re all in this together.

Don’t think this is some plea for unity and a call to action to unite around what’s most important.  I’ve somewhat given up on the idea that’s even possible, and it depresses me.  I’ve seen plenty of those calls before, and they all fail because we refuse to give up our tribal identities.  I blog at M*, but I never really considered it my “tribe” – however, several recent events have made me realize people at other blogs like T&S and BCC and elsewhere see me as “one of the M* wackos” even though I mostly just post book reviews and tend to stay out of the more heated and polarizing discussions.

If this could be a call for anything, it’s to stop treating everyone on “the other side” as fungible, I guess.  But I’m not even sure that’s possible.  On my best days I start to approach this standard, but on my worst I’m as tribal as the rest.

I’ll end with the lyrics of my favorite U2 song, which seems appropriate somehow:

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I’m waiting for the dawn

Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don’t make a fist
Take this mouth
So quick to criticise
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahewh, Yahweh
Still I’m waiting for the dawn

Still waiting for the dawn, the sun is coming up
The sun is coming up on the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, tell me now
Why the dark before the dawn?

Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart
Take this heart
Take this heart
And make it break

 

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About Ivan Wolfe

Ivan Wolfe teaches rhetoric at Arizona State University. He has a PhD in English from the University of Texas - Austin, and a BA and MA in English (with minors in Classical Greek, Music, and Philosophy) from BYU. He has several credits on various Christmas albums aimed at the LDS market, several essays in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series, and various book reviews in academic and popular venues. He also competes in Scottish Highland Games and mud run/obstacle course races, and he can deadlit over double his bodyweight (his last PR was just shy of 500 pounds). He is currently married to Lisa Renee Wolfe. He has five kids and four stepkids.

41 thoughts on “Tribes and whatnot

  1. I unfriended a few people myself for tribal reasons as well, with time I’ve realized it made my social media experience stress free and more enjoyable. If people want to be obnoxious and attack me for my beliefs, they can go do it somewhere else but not on my own social media page. My page is like my home, nobody should be able to come to my house and insult me or tell me how to decorate so that my style won’t offend any visitors, which most of the time invited themself. At least respect my opinions. It never ceases to amaze me how people who demand respect for their opinions and beliefs are so unwilling to give it to others.

  2. What I find is that *most* members of the LDS Church I meet have a basic agreement on what the core values and ideas are, BUT the relative weight they place on any given value varies dramatically (charity versus self reliance, or providing protection versus honoring agency for instance). Therefore, the policies and ideals they value or support vary dramatically as well. Since most believe they have good reasons for placing the relative values they do on different core concepts I find I am able to make friends and have lasting relationships with Saints of very different political stripes; as long as I remember our world views may differ simply because we understand the Gospel slightly differently.

    While I am often working on the opposite side of political issues than many of my friends within the Church I don’t find that to be a great impediment to understanding my friends, nor to building lasting relationships.

    I find this attitude results in my being able to ascribe good will to the vast majority of people I meet (in and out of the Church), but it is only in cases where the process is somewhat mutual that friendships can develop.

  3. Are you saying there isn’t much charity found these days on Mormon blogs? And would you argue charitable posts are in the eyes of the beholder?

  4. sterflu: I don’t think there’s been much charity on most Mormon blogs (I do not exempt myself from this) for a long time, not just “these days” though I think it’s gotten worse lately.

    John Harvey: That’s an ideal I strive for and rarely achieve. I’m honestly glad you have success with it. However, I was told point blank (and this is not a paraphrase) by two different sources today that all of us at M* act in bad faith. I just can’t wrap my head around that. It really seems that too many don’t want to assume good faith, because that would mean taking certain ideas seriously rather than the default of bigotry/racism/sexism/homophobia/apostasy/whatever.

  5. Would you argue charity has become a casualty of polarization and partisanship on these websites? Or do some Mormon bloggers actually find offensive a post that other Mormon bloggers would consider charitable? I am curious whether charity has become a social construction in this online world or whether both sides are still capable of agreeing on whether something is truly charitable.

  6. Sterflu – if I were more self-aware, I could likely figure that out. My own guess is that I think that there’s more polarization and partisanship then when the ‘Nacle was young and there were only half a dozen blogs. However, the really aggressive, nasty “the other side is evil” posts tend to get the most comments and accolades (and attacks), so I think that there’s a self-reinforcing feedback mechanism that makes the problem worse and worse as time goes on.

    It seems conservative members are way to quick to drop the “apostasy/Korihor/disobedient” attack and progressive members are way to quick to jump to “bigotry/racism/homophobia” – as if we know each other’s minds and souls that well.

    When it comes to politics, I think there never has been any real charity (I still recall “George W. Bush does not serve God, he serves Bal or Moloch” type posts (I’m sure there’s some conservative LDS blog saying silly things about Obama, but I’ve scaled back my ‘Nacle participation a lot, so I don’t follow blogs so much as check in on a few every few months just to see what’s news) – but in the current climate, it seems like every post on Same Sex marriage or race or whatnot is really just people calling each other names, even if they do it erudite and eloquently (which is what counts for “thoughtful” these days).

  7. Maybe a charitable interpretation would find the decline of civility in the Mormon blogosphere is no worse than the recent tone of most political debate in this country. Or perhaps we need to put these posts in context and remind ourselves online anonymity can encourage cyberbullying. I’m left wondering whether most Mormon bloggers, in the midst of their battles over the issues of the day, have come to see charitable words and actions as naive or cowardly. Or is there still some space left on the web where church members treat one another with an understanding that “if ye have not charity, ye are nothing”?

  8. “Case in point:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2014/01/yes-m-is-a-child-sacrificing-misogynist-and-racist-bigot-blog/

    He particularly picks me out for being unself-aware and basically not as intellectually acute as “TT” is. I mean, wow. That’s intense ranting there, and it’s (sadly not) unbelievable in it’s self-righteous rage. It’s also a prime example of tribalism and attacking of the other.”

    It shows he also didn’t read my essay carefully. I am actually pleased that I’ve made it formally on the progressive Mormons’ enemy list.

  9. Disclosure: I’m a republican. I tend to lean right on fiscal issues and left on social issues.

    Progressivism is in theory the concept that progress can improve the human condition. But in practice it is often corrupted by the psychologically unhealthy self appointed victimhood of progressives and it plays out along the textbook dialog “I want” and “elect me and I will give it you” (by taking it from others) .

    If one logically looks at the ideal that progress can improve the human condition they must agree that at least some forms of progress in some amounts DO improve the human condition. But conservatism seeks to retain traditional social institutions (good or bad) and status quo (good or bad). In short conservatism opposes change. But his country was divinely founded on the idea of progressive change and it’s founding documents were specifically drafted with provisions for change! Today’s progressive movement is in theory just a continuation of that founding ideal. So if conservatives are honest with themselves and they really are motivated to improve the human condition they will find themselves sometimes agreeing with progressives on some issues. But this isn’t what we commonly see today, instead outspoken conservatives oppose anything with the slightest progressive tone and garden variety conservatives tend to hang with them!

    Progressives generally default to inclusive. Conservatives generally default to exclusive (exclusion of those who don’t agree). Progressives are more likely to argue rational nuance. Conservatives are more likely to argue faith based black and white. Why? Because faith based arguments subjected to logic and nuance cannot prevail in logic based forums so to prevent their conservative edges from becoming rounded by progressive arguments they refuse to engage nuanced logic with nuanced logic and by doing so truncate and polarize the discussion! If that doesn’t work they withdraw from the discussion or forum to more exclusive forums. When conservatives are honest with themselves they realize they do not really expect to prevail in any of these arguments, rather it is a good day when they can slow the progressives down. A faith based logical victory simply results in plausibility being left on the table regardless of how improbable that argument may be. It is an apologetic position that lacks respect from almost everyone except the “faithful”.

    The church is one of the last conservative bastions. Why? Well unlike the political model conservatives can point to the (even illogical) words of prophets as being the authoritative word of God. In other words their resistance to change and their biases can be defended via this appeal to the ultimate authority.

    I welcome the day that the so called faithful conservatives choose to venture out again from their exclusive faithful forums and enter the inclusive discussion in good faith. If you have nothing logically compelling to say you can always bear your testimony.

  10. My impression is that a high percentage of the participants in the Bloggernacle want to either convert or destroy – rather than to understand someone from another “tribe”. On the conservative side it tends to manifest as a desire to defend the faith, on the progressive side it tends to manifest as a desire to improve the Church. I think this comes somewhat from the missionary emphasis the Church has. As (either conservative or progressive) LDS we tend to believe our “world view” is correct and we attempt to persuade others to our view. Since our “world views” encompass considerably more ground than the revealed Gospel “covers” the opportunity for disagreement is huge.

    Since most participants in the Bloggernacle aren’t participating in order to *become* educated – they explicitly are hoping to 1) either win converts to their side/tribe or are venting off steam at their failure to convert anyone; or 2) simply meeting and associating with like minded folk, i.e., joining a tribe to be reassured in their opinions – the exchanges can very easily take on the form and result of “bashing” (meaning the arguments about the meaning of scriptures many of us engaged in on our missions with people who had both differing opinions and were very adversarial towards anyone who disagreed with them). Most such encounters then had the effect of simply cementing both participants more deeply into their preconceived ideas. Predictably most Bloggernacle “conversations” seem (at least from my perspective) to have the same result.

  11. ““Case in point:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2014/01/yes-m-is-a-child-sacrificing-misogynist-and-racist-bigot-blog/

    Here’s the deal: since the Book of Mormon itself tells the story of God destroying whole cities prior to Christ’s visit to the Americas, shouldn’t some Mormons be forgiven for believing that God is not entirely above that sort of behavior? Quite frankly, I take such stories at face value, and instead of pretending I know more about God than the Book of Mormon, I imagine that my own understanding of the issues surrounding life and death (and God’s role in it) is pretty infinitesimal. All I can conclude for now is that the God I worship has the moral authority to declare when life ends, and so the very concept of murder may not really apply to him the way it does to us. Does that make me a supporter of genocide?

    The challenge is that I see no love or charity whatsoever TT’s post. All I see is hatred. For him to stand on his rameumptum and claim that moral high ground as the “charitable” one makes HIM the one lacking self-awareness, since he is the one making the very uncharitable claim that anyone with the audacity to take the scriptures at face value (including prophets and apostles) support genocide. Heck, we can be wrong — but can’t we be forgiven for being wrong in ways that prophets and apostles have also been wrong? Can’t we be forgiven for being wrong in ways that the scriptures themselves are wrong too?

    OK, so let’s pretend that racism is the greatest sin that ever there was. (I’m not convinced of that, because I’m convinced that there are certainly greater sins.) So let’s say that making apologetic arguments for the priesthood ban is sinful and wrong, as is implied in TT’s post. But is not publicly calling out and dismissing such sinners as racist bigots also a sin? Is not this sin — just like the sin of homosexual behavior — just as deserving of our compassion and mercy? Elder Uchtdorf once said, “Don’t judge those who sin differently than you do.” Wouldn’t the sin of being inflexible immovable in apologetic concerns count there? And yet, I see nothing but unforgiving, spiteful judgment from TT, who seems to fancy himself a bastion of forgiving compassion and love.

  12. Howard – your comment is nothing more than tribalism. You denigrate conservatives with grossly inaccurate and very uncharitable descriptions and build up progressives with overly charitable and too positively skewed portraits.

    Just one case on point:
    “Progressives generally default to inclusive. Conservatives generally default to exclusive (exclusion of those who don’t agree).”

    No, both conservatives and progressive default to exclusive/exclusion. To claim otherwise is false.

  13. Ivan,
    My comment wasn’t meant to denigrate anyone, it simply defines and explains US tribalism and LDS bloggernacle tribalism in a fairly unvarnished way.

    Do you deny that conservative faithful blogs like M* or Real Intent are more monitored and moderated for content than say W&T or T&S where anyone’s polite opinion is welcomed by admin.? If conservatives feel uncomfortable at inclusive bloggs it certainly isn’t because their voices are being moderated out, that is a conservative trait. Isn’t the LDS church far more exclusive than the Unitarian church? Conservatism goes hand and hand with exclusion, it’s not a pedestrian philosophy nor does it seek to be.

  14. I have learned from experience that M*, BCC, T&S, and FPR all censor valid and truthful comments (lacking swear words and personal insults).
    A pox on all your houses.
    Most of the commenter from M*, however, are likely to enter the celestial kingdom… the others, not so much…
    So I forgive the M* tribe, even when they censor valid and important points…

  15. ” If conservatives feel uncomfortable at inclusive bloggs it certainly isn’t because their voices are being moderated out, that is a conservative trait”

    Pure and utter baloney, Howard. I was just “moderated” out of a “polite” conversation today by a vindictive, angry soul over at Faith Promoting Rumor, so please revise your take on the situation.

  16. Howard,

    “Progressive” blogs view themselves as tending toward “inclusion” but really only include other progressive viewpoints. So yes, you might find a wide range of feminists, for example, at FMH. But try expressing a non-feminist viewpoint and see how inclusive they are.

  17. Howard – yes, I deny it. I’ve seen BCC and T&S and other places ban and censor. My response to sterflu below covers one such incident:

    sterflu – “I’m left wondering whether most Mormon bloggers, in the midst of their battles over the issues of the day, have come to see charitable words and actions as naive or cowardly.”

    In some cases, yes. At FPR, for example, my mention that I might be paraphrasing a little too freely, which was my attempt to be a little tiny bit charitable and acknowledge my own biases was pounced on as weakness.

    Here’s one (there were several) comment that I was thinking of in my paraphrase above (I won’t say who said it, since my aim is not to call particular people out): “I don’t view what goes on at M* to be done in good faith. i have had dozens of bad experiences at M* . . . I can only assume it is because those comments made points that the author of the original post couldn’t easily refute and were therefore devastating to their facile arguments . . . [Our blog] doesn’t particularly view itself as righteous — just normal people trying to make sense of the world around them and the religious claims that are relevant to that world. M*, by contrast, is a constant stream of self-righteousness, frequently accusing others of apostasy or sin or faithlessness or cowardice, etc.”

    You can judge if my paraphrase above really is inaccurate and uncharitable as TT claims.

    I recall on one liberal blog that prides itself on inclusivness, there was a post that basically said everyone who didn’t agree with their position on immigration (open borders and amnesty) was a racist (and the commentators were nearly all in accord with this position – anyone who disagree). Now, interestingly, I’m pretty much an “open the borders and amnesty for all” type guy. However, I wrote a comment that I spent time making thougtful and nuanced and whatnot that basically said “I don’t think we should attribute racism to policy differences – we can’t know everyone’s heart and mind.” The comment was deleted, I was banned, and I was given a personal e-mail telling me I was racist and to please never post on that bloggers posts again.

    On facebook, one of the fellow bloggers said “if my fellow bloggers said it was racist, it was racist.”

    I don’t call that inclusive at all, and it points to too much hypocrisy on that blog. I’ve had similar experiences at other supposedly inclusive liberal blogs.

  18. Sorry to see that some of you are having as much trouble posting as I do! In my experience FMH and ZD do ban for being too successful at disagreeing with the OP but I think this has as much to do with the estrogen/testosterone divide and protecting their Postum party as the progressive/conservative divide. So to better explain myself, I watched and supported W&T invite and protect conservative faithful bloggers for several months. It wasn’t moderation that drove them off! Where can I find an inclusive faithful blog with the audience of a W&T or a T&C that will allow me to post openly?

  19. Howard – Thank you!

    Much of what I read on M* is of the “defend the faith” (as the M* folks believe it to be) type of material. Very rarely is there material trying to understand if the “faith” which some might want to defend is actually worth defending (i.e., the faith might be misplaced in a false principle).

    My understanding of the LDS prophetic role and stewardship is that these men are allowed to make mistakes but that the Saints who follow them in those mistake have much (at least from an eternal/stain of sin perspective) of the consequences of those mistakes erased. However, those who don’t follow *because* they’ve received an honest-to-God spiritual witness they shouldn’t follow the mistaken teachings are not condemned for “disobedience” – rather they would continue to receive additional spiritual guidance line-upon-line as they draw closer to (God’s) truth.

    The Church just “fessed up” that the Priesthood ban was due to the ideas men, not because of revelation from God. Certainly there were members of the Church who realized, because of spiritual confirmations regarding the worth of all souls, that this ban was wrong long before the 1978 change of policy. Many of those members stayed in the Church and worked for change. That is an historical example of where I think the progressive tendencies where shown to be the correct ones in the long run. While it took about 150 years for the Church to correct the policy, it also took another 35 years to admit the mistake.

    I think such a long time frame is due primarily to the Church as an institution having a very rigid “defend the faith” mindset. Some flexibility could go a long ways to correcting errors in a more timely manner. (I think.)

  20. I appreciate the responses. I think I hear you saying that it has become fashionable among many Mormon bloggers to appear thoughtful and inclusive. When they display these values, they generally do not expect or tolerate anyone disagreeing with them. If they face resistance to their stance on moral issues, they will likely defend their own position and attack statements from the opposition. These bloggers are convinced of their positions and see no need to look at issues through the eyes of their opponents. Those who use this rhetorical strategy may consider it charitable, but it rarely accomplishes the exacting elements of charity set out in the scriptures.

  21. John S. Harvey: I find the comment ‘Very rarely is there material trying to understand if the “faith” which some might want to defend is actually worth defending (i.e., the faith might be misplaced in a false principle)’ somewhat unkind and quite uncharitable.

    ldsphilosopher’s and Bruce Neilson’s posts don’t fit your caricature, for example.

    Your comments are a nice way to make progressives feel good about themselves (frankly, your comment comes across as: “*we* progressives get the personal revelation that shows our maturity, *you* people are spiritually immature and don’t have the insight we do” – its just a rewarmed version of the old and false dichotomy of Iron Rodders vs. Liahonas), but that’s about it.

  22. Well, h-nu, I’m pleased you think at least some of us might make it to the Celestial kingdom. I’m fairly sure many people at the more “progressive” blogs will too. In fact, I think we’ll all be surprised at who makes it (and I will certainly be surprised if I make it).

  23. I think this is a great thread. A lot of ideas are being examined and discussed. Many are “above my pay grade” though – for instance what does it mean to be charitable towards someone who disagrees with you for instance? Does it mean to react in a kind manner? To love them as Christ would regardless of what they say or do? (And what does that mean?!) To try to “correct” what you perceive their failings to be? To bear down in testimony against them? To warn them? To react in a manner which that person would perceive as charitable? I frankly don’t know.

    What I do know is that when I look at *most* of the posts and responses I read on M* I can quite readily understand why the person wrote what they did. As I implicitly stated earlier it is rare I read a response and think something like: “That person is just wrong.” or “They really need to apply some (state favorite scripture).” etc. Rather it is more often I simply realize that the person and I disagree on which principle of the Gospel applies most directly to the concept or idea being discussed.

    Regarding my previous post and Ivan Wolfe’s response to it: The examples I gave were somewhat incomplete. I think there are often times when a “defend the faith” response is the correct one. Even “Liahona” types need to keep their temple recommends current if they want to enjoy the full benefits of the Gospel and Church here on the earth. All I meant to express was that *my* impression from my reading of posts and responses on this site is that the most likely (in a statistical sense) response tends to be of the defend the faith variety. Meaning the presumption is that the Church has (and had) the question (whatever it is) correct. And if someone disagrees with or thinks the Church’s position is incorrect (regardless of the reasoning) the person who is in disagreement is automatically suspect. Now I absolutely admit that from a purely statistical perspective that response (a defend the faith type) IS going to be the “correct” one the vast majority of the time (why have a prophet at all if that were not true most of the time). (However the tone and intensity of the responses here might be a tad questionable sometimes.) But it also explains why a progressive member just might feel like they were tip-toeing among land mines over here as well.

    I also find it very interesting that as I read Ivan Wolfe’s original post which started this thread I kept thinking things like: “He got that right!” but as the thread progressed I found myself on occasion thinking things like: “Well that’s a predictable response.”

    In any event I think some of the questions/ideas that have been raised here are certainly worth thinking about in much greater detail. I plan to do so. Thank you very much for that.

  24. Well, like I said, I too often fall into predictable tribalism myself, even when I strive to fight against it.

    And I find pretty much nothing to disagree with in your last comment.

  25. Tribalism makes people feel safe. The less safe people feel, the more violently they defend their tribe.

    World history revolves around that core human fear.

  26. Having considered this issue, I posted the following on TT’s post on Patheos:

    “”Showing an increase in love.” TT, I will take you at your word that this is your intention here. However, having had interactions with you over the years, I am sorry to say that there is no doubt in my mind that “love” has not been your intention when you go about writing a comment on M*. Having said that, I will loosen the moderation policy towards you if you try to moderate your own rhetoric. Take that as an olive branch, because that is the intent.

    M* has three primary policies: 1) support the Church and the prophets 2)try to provide a comfortable environment for “average” latter-day Saints and 3)try to avoid some of the over-the-top rhetoric and nasty language that prevails on other Mormon blogs. As Jmax mentions, this also includes allowing individual writers to monitor and moderate their own posts.

    TT, we simply see the world very differently. This does not mean that I hate you or even have negative feelings towards you. I have a job that takes up a lot of time and involves a lot of travel, and I have five kids and a wife and a demanding calling at church. I try to go to the temple once a month and I do some missionary work in my ward. I also have a fair number of hobbies. I simply don’t have time to have strong emotions towards you or some of your on-line friends who have expressed very negative feelings toward me over the years. The point I am trying to make is that you appear to invest a lot of emotion towards me (or at least what you consider to be my on-line persona), but I simply don’t share those strong feelings towards you, either in a positive or negative sense. I am sure that if you were in my ward we would be friends and you might be surprised that I am a pretty nice guy just trying to get through life the best I can.

    In addition, I simply don’t read or participate in other blogs very much. I have not commented on a Mormon blog outside of M* in years, and I am simply not up to speed on the gossip or goings on in the Mormon blog world.

    I give you this background to help you understand that while some things that M* bloggers may write on other blogs seems outrageous, and you must be asking yourself how I could associate with such people, I am simply not aware of all of the goings on. I had not read Jettboy’s comments until I read this piece. I will not defend everything Jettboy does or says, but I will point out that the vast majority of the posts he has had at M* have been uncontroversial. FWIW, I have had a private discussion with him asking him to tone things down. I find his comments above offensive and in direct violation of Church policy (and I have told him this), but again I do not speak for him. I have never met him, but he seems like a nice guy from what I know.

    There is a bit of a “lynch mob” quality to this post and the outrage you ask your readers to feel towards M*. I would ask you and your readers to remember that we are all, including Jettboy, simply your fellow latter-day Saints trying to do our best. We all have difficulties and struggles. I would ask for love and forgiveness.

    I will offer this opinion as well: when people post comments saying that gays are “enemies” and “deviants” it reflects poorly on all latter-day Saints, so you are correct in pointing out your opposition to such comments. But once again I would remind you that I am not responsible for what Jettboy does or says on other blogs. Still, I would ask people to calm down a bit. He is just one person and is a sinner just like we all are.

    I will not spend time defending my post that you find so horrible. I would ask your readers to simply go read it themselves, including the comments. I stand by what I wrote and find it representative of the views of most of the people I know. I think the difference between Jettboy’s comments and my post should be obvious, but I recognize that not everything I think is obvious is obvious to other people.

    At the end of the day, I would like to emphasize that I am a convert to the Church and still filled with a bit of the convert’s zeal, even 15 years later. I discovered late in life that following the prophets is what has brought me true happiness and joy. I say that to explain that, even though I find the Church’s policy on same-sex marriage difficult to defend sometimes, I will continue to defend it the best I can because I simply feel like this is what latter-day Saints should do. The prophets have made it as clear as can be that this a policy that will not change. Other people can make their own choices about how they will live their lives, but as for me and mine we will follow the Lord. It is inevitable that some people will be offended by a policy that is often very difficult to understand, and it is inevitable that I will express myself in ways that are imperfect at times.

    As a convert, I believe in a “big tent” church. This means accepting people who are different than I am and have different perspectives, and it definitely means trying to be accepting to those with same-sex attraction. I have expressed this in many blog posts over the years and will continue to do so.

    Anyway, I have found some of this criticism by TT valuable. If we have open hearts we can sometimes learn from our fiercest critics. I would like to close by saying I love the Lord and try my best to love my fellow man, including TT, even though I usually fall short. “

  27. I think part of the problem is that there is often a fine line between attacking ideas and attacking individuals. Also, because we hold our ideals so firmly, we often feel an attack on our ideas is an attack on us (or the Church, etc).
    Charity does not mean we have to agree. It does mean that we try to use kindness in our responses, and ensure we are discussing ideas, and not personalities.
    I will say that on FB, a progressive who directly insulted me a few years ago just apologized, and I hope it may be the opening door to developing a friendship, at least in areas we hold common.
    I appreciate Ivan’s post. It is always important to have such a post on occasion to remind all of us what is truly important (such as U2 songs).

  28. Once again, I appreciate the ideas you have offered. I would like to suggest some reasons why charity seems to be on the decline in the Mormon blogosphere. I would appreciate your feedback.

    You may be right “kindness” and “pure love of Christ” are words that most readily come to the Mormon mind when considering “charity.” At the same time, Mormons are aware at some level of how the word has evolved in the larger culture. More often than not, we hear the word used to describe an organization that accepts donations for the poor and sick. Mormons engage charities a bit differently, though, since they give money for fast offerings but also give of their time in community service and humanitarian assistance. If charity in this context means showing compassion and sympathy, Mormons has a long tradition of helping those who are less fortunate.

    Although we may take it for granted, the technology behind blogs provides a democratizing impulse and mechanism. In theory, everyone has an equal voice because we can comment on a post and exercise our right to free speech. In the marketplace of ideas, we should be able to weigh evidence presented by different sides and work toward a better understanding of the topic at hand. Participants are more or less on equal footing and no one faces a disadvantage in getting out their viewpoint. Because Mormons do not see the faces and circumstances behind those who comment on a blog post, or they may not seem like neighbors deserving of our love, they do not perceive that certain individuals are less fortunate and may be more deserving of a charitable response.

    Another complicating factor in the Mormon pursuit of charity are the scriptural concepts of chastening, correcting and reproving. We have examples of the Lord chastening his people when they sin. Parents are told to correct their children when they do things that are wrong. Nephi spoke hard things against the wicked. He also said the guilty will find it hard to accept the truth. In the Doctrine and Covenants we are told there will be appropriate times to reprove people with sharpness. Occasionally the brethren have taught about “righteous anger,” a phrase that does not appear in the scriptures but is suggested by instances when the Lord talks about his “indignation.”

    Given these contexts, I can certainly understand why some church members are unsure of how and when they should treat others charitably. We may look to the life of Jesus for examples of what we should do, such as silently suffering through insults and not rejoicing when others sin, but the times have changed and now our society values snarky and witty comments. Christ showed us how not to be selfless, but we live in an individualistic society that takes advantage of people who are generous and love to share what they have with others. The scriptures say charity is about not being prideful, but our culture tells us we have to develop personal brands and put ourselves out there.

  29. I love everyone.

    That doesn’t require that I agree with them.

    Since I plan to align my worldview with God once we “see face to face” all my opinions are provisional anyway. So if their current views happen to be God’s views, then they may rest assured that I will agree with them in that day, if not before.

  30. Geoff, based on your comment at FPR, it sounds like you’re saying that M* gives the author of posts the responsibility to regulate comments at their own discretion. However, you’ve also advised me more than once as to which arguments I am permitted to continue making – on other people’s threads. Maybe you could flesh that out a bit. It looks to me like there really is power given to individual authors but also an overriding few who do their own regulation of the blog as a whole. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  31. I have some responses to several comments above, but decided to spin them off into another post entirely.

    However, with the not quite unexpected but still sudden death of my father, it will be at least two weeks before I get back. I will review any comments anyone else makes and potentially integrate them into the new post, but I’m going to be offsite for a few days.

  32. Ivan Wolfe,

    Sorry to hear of your father’s death. I hope you are able to find comfort in the memories of the time you spent with him and from the companionship of the Spirit.

    John Harvey

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