Why Did You Resign (from Mormon Matters)? – Was I Disrupting Mormon Matter’s Real Purpose?

In my last post I gave some background on my stint on Mormon Matters and then talked about some of the important players.

When I left Mormon Matters my dear friend, DougG, was the only person that really noticed I had disappeared. He was also the only person that actually asked me to return. When I talked with Doug on the phone (that was when he asked me to come back) this is what I told him.

I said I felt like Mormon Matters played an important role of being a friendly place to ‘let off steam’ for those that didn’t believe in the LDS Church’s defining beliefs any more (sometimes still practicing, sometimes, not) while still allowing them to interact with a certain kind of Mormon that still believed, but was sympathetic to their concerns. This belief-with-sympathies approach really only worked if the believers were willing to not strongly challenge the post Mormons on their new beliefs or on their concerns.

So I had come to wonder if my presence there — where I would directly challenge a former members new beliefs — was disrupting that purpose. Was it possible that I was even causing people to quit by my presence?

We had several post Mormons quit within my short stint due to “too many posts supportive of the LDS Church.” After they quit, John Dehlin quickly utilized his post-Mormon network to find new replacements — and this took all of 30 seconds in most cases. And not a single post Mormon that quit ever said “I quit because I don’t like how Bruce is challenging me too much.” It was generally just the existence of too many “pro Mormon posts” that caused the problem. On at least one occaision, we had a blogger quit because she was upset with how Hawkgrrl had moderated a comment. (If you know how permitting Hawk is with comments, you will laugh at that last statement. You have to be cussing and threatening some GA before she’ll consider cutting the comment. Yet it was true that this angered at least one blogger that then quit.)

This played on my mind quite a bit. Was Mormon Matters really a place for post-Mormons to ‘get it out’ while getting a sympathetic comments or two from the Believing Mormons there? If so, was this a bad thing?

If I might give a good example here, I think Hawkgrrl is awesome at this. She would do a post that would include both positives and negatives about some policy or position of the Church. Then she’d let the comments fly. She has a heavy ‘restraint’ factor where she just makes a few simple comments here and there and that is about it. These comments typically consist of about equal parts “yes, I see your point and you’re right” and “have you thought about it this way such that maybe it’s not as bad as you think.” She is masterful at being both sympathetic and empathetic to someone angry at the Church while also just hinting at how they could improve their relationship with believers by changing themselves a bit as well.

But never does she strongly challenge these post Mormons in the way they challenge believing Mormons.

Though I didn’t know Jeff Spector that well, I noticed he used a similar approach. Stephen Marsh seemed quite masterful at this approach too.

Later, when Ray joined, he took a related but different approach. He too could be very sympathetic and even empathetic to those that had issues with the Church. But instead of just the hint of a possible resolution, he’d talk your ear off about possible ways to rethink your objections to various Church doctrines. (Post Mormons tend to automatically think the worst of all possible worlds when it comes to LDS Doctrines.) But he was so kind and considerate in how he stated everything, rarely losing his cool to the almost continual misreading of what he said.

At least for these four, they had this approach down and it worked for them.

So my feeling at the time I quit was “why should I want to be someone who stirs things up and might actually be a disruption to any good Mormon Matters is likely doing?”

The post Mormons there didn’t want to be reconverted in the slightest. They wanted to be angry and throw about accusations. If they were to interact with a currently believing Mormon, they needed a very specific type of believing Mormon.

But I was not going to be another Hawkgrrl. It was just that simple. We are all different kinds of personalities with different interests and different needs. The world needs Hawkgrrl’s (and Jeff’s, Stephen’s, and Ray’s) but it also needs Bruce’s and Bonnie’s.

Mormon Matters was a much better fit for a Hawkgrrl than a Bruce. It was practically tailor-maid for both a Hawkgrrl approach to the LDS Church as well as  John Dehlin approach to the LDS church (even though those two approaches are often at cross purposes with each other). It wasn’t so hot for my approach. I think this gets to the heart of my “outsider” status.

Or in any case, this is the reason I gave to DougG at the time.

In my next few posts, I’ll explore further why I had come to feel the way I did. And I will give examples of why I felt this view was a better model of Mormon Matters then either it’s self-proclaimed “celebration of Mormonism across a spectrum of belief” (as was our tag line for the first few months) or even as a place for dialogue between believers and non-believers.

In short, I will argue that Mormon Matters was fine — maybe even good — for what it was. It just wasn’t what it (probably sincerely) claimed to be.

28 thoughts on “Why Did You Resign (from Mormon Matters)? – Was I Disrupting Mormon Matter’s Real Purpose?

  1. I’ve been thinking a great deal about how much diversity a community can tolerate without ceasing to have any community identity. After all, this collective identity is why people come together anyway – it’s the reason for us to bother with connecting. While we may enjoy the big, wide world with its many colors and differences, we tend to come home to people who are like us. You wrote about community identities some time ago, and I agree that online communities are merely extensions of the communities we create anywhere else.

    The thing that defines our choice of online community is that part of us that yearns for a connection, either to increase a connection we already experience, or to find support for a part of us that is not supported in other communities. I, personally, am very comfortable in my personal connections, but I choose to take two very important issues to me into the online world because they are core issues: I love to write and read and I love to explore discipleship. Naturally, I am going to enjoy those communities most that Venn-overlap in those areas. Naturally, I’m going to grow weary of defending either of those things and retreat from communities in which that regularly occurs, no matter how much diversity and stimulation I might find there.

    I think we have a false idea that bigger is better. Communities have to remain somewhat local and smallish to best create networks of support and trust. If we want bigger, I think we just fall prey to a very western idea that the individual truly doesn’t matter unless s/he has garnered the attention or $ of a large number of others.

    Things change. We try communities on to see if they fit. We learn and contribute, but ultimately, sometimes we move. I agree with your premise that sometimes we withdraw because our presence, our diversity, disrupts the cohesion of the community.

  2. Bruce, I would love your thoughts on the old Neal Maxwell statement about people leaving the Church but being unable to leave it alone. I simply don’t understand why non-believers continue to hang around Mormon blogs, except if their explicit purpose is to destroy the Church. I wonder if you felt that way about Mormon Matters. By the way, I looked up the source of that Neal Maxwell statement, and it is here:

    “Newcomers, you may even see a few leave the Church who cannot then leave the Church alone. Let these few departees take their brief bows in the secular spotlight; someday they will bow deeply before the throne of the Almighty, confessing that Jesus is the Christ and that this is his work. Meanwhile, be unsurprised if, as the little stone seen by Daniel rolls relentlessly forth, some seek to chip away at it (see Dan. 2).”

    http://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/11/the-net-gathers-of-every-kind?lang=eng

  3. Most of the time, organizations can be assumed to be designed perfectly to get the results that they actually get.

    Blogs are organizations.

  4. Geoff, I’m no exmo or pomo and I’m certainly not sympathetic to that, but I’d guess that if you have devoted a great portion of your life to a certain cause, it is hard to turn off your interest in it, even if you are no longer interested in being a participant in the cause. Also, I know that many exmos and pomos feel betrayed by the church and they feel like they are acting in defense of others by dissing the church. It’s not my thing, but I think that’s the reasoning.

  5. John C, I accept that argument. I also accept the cultural Mormon thing, ie, you still like certain cultural things about Mormonism. To use one example, some of the biggest fans of Christmas I know are atheists who could care less for the religious aspects of Christmas but love the cultural aspects. So, I get that. I don’t understand the obsessive involvement, however of many ex-mos. I have left and rejected different organizations over time. Once I leave, I am not interested in having anything to do with that organization anymore. In my mind, that group no longer describes me. Ex-Mos seem to relish their description as “ex-Mormons” instead of relishing their description as whatever new they have become. That is what I find baffling.

  6. I posted for a short while (under my real name) at Mormon Matters, and left somewhat precipitously (in the middle of a series) for similar reasons to you, Bruce. Except I would say that my purpose was in writing things that I saw as thought-provoking and spiritual about the church, for an audience that was primarily faithful (my family and friends). However, I noticed that there was a quality control problem there, at least in my opinion. I didn’t mind sending my family and friends to read my articles if they were next to articles about sensitive and touchy issues about the LDS church – but I DID mind sending my family and friends to read my articles next to tacky, poor treatments of sensitive issues. One article in particular rubbed me the wrong way and I sought to publish my series elsewhere, and discontinued my participation in that blog.

    It was that combined with a general sense that the discussion there was too heated, too angry, etc. for my taste. I am trying to write this so I don’t sound elitist or snobby, and I am afraid that’s still how I’m coming across. But ultimately I like to surround myself with positive, scholarly people (because it encourages me to not be my arrogant, argumentative self), and I just didn’t find that at Mormon Matters.

  7. Bruce, thanks. This is really interesting. I think your memory is better than mine. Part of the tension is in trying to create a broadly diverse community, part is in walking the fine line between moderating and being open, and another part is in allowing bloggers freedom to write what they want vs. blogging to grow an audience or be popular or even sensationalistic. I was never that interested in activism so much as individual influence.

    I suspect each of us would have a different perspective if all the Mormon Matters alums wrote about it, so I do find it very interesting.

  8. Bruce-
    I’ll post some thoughts here that I hope might clarify some things. I hope they’ll be taken in the sincerest of ways. I joined MM approximately the time you were leaving (and am now at wheat & tares though I rarely post). I was invited by Hawkgrrrl and quickly became an administrator because of some technical prowess. But I wrote posts too.

    Here’s my view of your posts (primarily the ones I read at MM). Your posts are very insightful, well thought out, and thought provoking. I appreciated that. I did go through a faith crisis, and it was Hawk and Ray that brought be back from the nihilistic abyss. At that time, your posts struck me as apologetic, and frankly, they still do. That’s okay, I’m fine with that, and I’m much more open to learning from that viewpoint now than I was then. But that wasn’t really the problem I had. As someone going through a faith crisis at the time, the bottom line for me was that your posts felt hollow. Intellectually they were well done, but they still felt unrealistic, and lopsided. They didn’t get to the heart of the matter. To give an analogy, it’s like when John Stewart blows the “big bird” comment from Romney up and insinuates that Romney wants to “fire” big bird. Every fiscally conservative in the known universe knew that’s not what Romney was saying. But somehow liberals took it that way. Logically, intellectually they might be right, but they just didn’t get it.

    I feel the same way when I read this post. It’s not so much any one sentence, but how I feel when I finish the post. You indicate your sympathy, but I don’t feel it. In fact, I feel like you’re not really sympathetic at all, more like you’re trying hard to be because you feel some obligation to do so. Like the Stewart analogy, it’s like you don’t REALLY hear what the concern is, only the details which you’re prepared to debate. I’m not passing judgment on whether you’re really sympathetic or not, just indicating how I FEEL when I read your posts.

    The bottom line is that you simply cannot engage with people in a faith crisis on an intellectual/logical level because that’s not what it’s about. But that’s precisely what your posts are about. Faith crises are about feelings of betrayal, deception, unmet expectations, and shifting moral foundations. Attempts to reach them on any level other than these is just wasted ink…errr keystrokes.

  9. jmb,

    but the people undergoing faith crises often themselves portray their crises in intellectual/logical terms.

    i would love if people would focus more on the other things that you mention, but with concepts like “leaving to sin” and “leaving because you were offended,” i can understand why people want to stick to a veneer of objectivity, regardless of whether that is actually the case.

  10. Re Andrew-
    “but the people undergoing faith crises often themselves portray their crises in intellectual/logical terms.”
    Oh to be sure! No argument there. I certainly did. The rational mind is merely there to justify and rationalize our intuitions…at least if you believe modern moral psychology research. And this is the heart of the matter. We think we’re rational…and we’re not.

    Also, to be clear, I think it’s easy to understand why this is the case. It’s downright scary to admit that you feel deceived, that you feel duped. And in our Mormon culture there’s an ENORMOUS amount of shame associated with doubting and disbelief in the standard narrative (as you alluded to with “leaving to sin” etc.). The rational faculties work overtime to ensure we don’t address that nasty piece…way too painful. So round and round we go, talking past each other, never quite getting to the real heart of the matter. And for believers it’s the same thing. Intuitions come first, then the rational justifications.

  11. Bruce: Thanks for this history. I joined MM not long before its implosion and the subsequent formation of W&T. I can understand somewhat your feelings, since I often feel like one of the most conservative of the W&T bloggers, even though I’m “born in apostasy” in the church which represents the “liberal subspecies” of Mormonism, the CofChrist, and have an entirely different view of core memes like who’s in the legitimate prophetic line.

  12. Geoff,

    Regarding your question of why do some become Rejectionists (i.e. leave the church but can’t leave it alone), yes, I think that is a phenomenon in want/need of an explanation. And I even think I have a pretty good idea on why it happens. But it’s complicated and hard to explain in a few sentences.

    John C’s answer is a good partial answer, btw. But it doesn’t quite go deep enough on it’s own, I feel.

    Syphax,

    I don’t think you are coming across as elitist at all.

    jmb275,

    Actually, I don’t blame you for thinking my posts sound apologetic and “hollow” if you were at where you just said you were.

    In fact, you have very strongly made the very point in this post!

    That is my whole point in this post, isn’t it? That different people need different things and it’s impossible for one place to work for everyone.

    A person that is feeling betrayed or hurt over feeling like the LDS Church isn’t what it claims it is isn’t going to respond well AT ALL to my sorts of posts. So if that is the intended community, then clearly I am only going to hurt things and make them worse. That is why I quit.

    I would ask you to remember of a few things here though. First, I am not sure I agree with you that there is a “heart of the matter” that exists as some sort of ultimate entity. And to be honest, I think I am getting to the heart of the matter for some people.

    Second, remember that I was a) entirely new to Mormon Blogs and, b) to this day, Andrew S still insists that a place like MM or W&T is for everyone and is a good source of balanced dialogue because of that. (And anyone that disagrees is just being weak and avoiding “dialogue”.) I am taking exception to that based on the fact that I completely agree with you: I didn’t belong on MM at all because my approach was causing problems to the main purpose of the community.

    I have been where you were then at (though years ago). So I recognize that my approach is going to seem rather hollow to someone that is the midst of an existential crisis. As I said, that is why I quit; I was doing more harm then good.

    I think if a Bruce is at MM and a jmb275 is also there, a jmb275 will always see a Bruce as “not getting to the heart of the matter” and “ringing hollow” and I think that will come out in the comments, the interest level of the topic, etc. I think it will even (at times) lead to outright hostility for some towards a Bruce.

    I should also say that I doubt the approach that worked for you was the one that “got to the heart of the matter” for me. And you should keep that in mind as well. There is perhaps no ultimate “heart of the matter” (when it comes to one’s issues with the LDS church or any religion) that everyone will agree on and be meaningful to everyone. That is why we need to find the right community for ourselves, perhaps.

  13. Not only this conversation but the whole spectrum of various flavors/degrees of Mormonism and anti-Mormonism argument is somehow encompassed in this recent Sunday panel of the comic strip Dilbert:

    http://dilbert.com/2012-10-07/

    It’s like my second-most hated character, the slacker Wally (most hated is the pointy-haired boss), really GETS IT after all.

    Well, it’s Scot Adams who “gets it.”

  14. Second, remember that…to this day, Andrew S still insists that a place like MM or W&T is for everyone and is a good source of balanced dialogue because of that. (And anyone that disagrees is just being weak and avoiding “dialogue”.) I am taking exception to that based on the fact that I completely agree with you: I didn’t belong on MM at all because my approach was causing problems to the main purpose of the community.

    I don’t think it’s totally apt to make MM and W&T to be the same place…either by imputing MM’s “values” onto W&T, or by backdating W&T’s “values” back to MM.

    Very obviously, the fact that all of the W&T bloggers are at W&T and not at MM says at least something to the point that there was something different between then and now. most noticeably there is different “leadership” at w&t than there was at mm .

    You say:

    I think if a Bruce is at MM and a jmb275 is also there, a jmb275 will always see a Bruce as “not getting to the heart of the matter” and “ringing hollow” and I think that will come out in the comments, the interest level of the topic, etc. I think it will even (at times) lead to outright hostility for some towards a Bruce.

    But this presumes that the community is already “for” people like jmb275s.

    My argument is that it’s not. People like jmb should be challenged and stretched. But this doesn’t happen if all of the folks who disagree and who “ring hollow” pack up their stuff and leave.

    You mention things like interest level of topics. But this too seems to presume the community is already established for certain folks, when my argument has been that people have to attract the crowds they wish to have — especially to avoid the stagnation as the conversation tends to become one-sided in one direction or the other.

    I should also say that I doubt the approach that worked for you was the one that “got to the heart of the matter” for me. And you should keep that in mind as well. There is perhaps no ultimate “heart of the matter” (when it comes to one’s issues with the LDS church or any religion) that everyone will agree on and be meaningful to everyone. That is why we need to find the right community for ourselves, perhaps.

    I like this. I just think that people are more apt to realize this if they are confronted with people they disagree with than if they are all in the “right community for [them]selves.”

    on any given day, you might get a certain concession out of me: that maybe, we all are weak, and we don’t really want dialogue to begin with. Instead, maybe we want security, or validation, or approval, or something like that. in this case, being in our separate communities will probably be more likely to give us what we want than trying to engage with folks who disagree.

  15. I love discourse. But there is a fine line between discourse and defense. The problem, Andrew S. is that few people want to be disagreeable. And that is the inevitable stereotype for those who support the Church on most blogs.

    Though W&T has done a better job of preserving the discourse than most, I’ll agree to that. It is not the same as Mormon Matters.

  16. Re Bruce-
    “That is my whole point in this post, isn’t it?”
    But I think Andrew’s point is a good one. If you’re right, and we all need something else, then who does it help if you pack up your toys and go home? And I think you’re right, everyone is different. I wasn’t saying everyone’s concerns are the same (come on now, surely you don’t think I’m so silly…do you?). I’m saying that for people who are really in danger of leaving, or have left, their faith crisis was internalized (it wasn’t an intellectual game) and their responses are emotional. I’m applying the well researched concept that humans are intuitive/emotional creatures first, and rational creatures second, and pointing out that you’re speaking to the rational self and received all the backlash from the associated emotional responses. You see, perhaps I WOULD have responded to the reasoning in your posts had they been crafted a bit differently.

    If I was allowed to edit your posts, I would keep the logical/reasoning content the same, but couch it in emotional terms that make people feel like you get their concerns. At least if one of your aims is to help and sympathize with those in a faith crisis. That’s all.

    For the record, I’ve learned a lot from your posts, and have enjoyed them particularly after my own issues resolved.

    “First, I am not sure I agree with you that there is a “heart of the matter” that exists as some sort of ultimate entity. And to be honest, I think I am getting to the heart of the matter for some people.”
    Well, perhaps we’re speaking past each other, but maybe we’ll have to agree to disagree. I think humans are emotional creatures first and foremost, and the link back to emotional/intuitive self from the rational faculties is pretty rarely utilized. My “heart of the matter” is just that faith crises are primarily emotional and the logic and reasoning is just a cover story that the rational self invents to justify the intuitions and emotions. I’m not indicating there is a single issue that all people experiencing faith crises worry about.

  17. AndrewS (and also JMB),

    I actually have to agree with you that I intermixed W&T and MM too easily there. My apologies. The two have a somewhat similar approach, but only at an abstract level, to be sure.

    However, let me make a point. JMB and you are getting real dialogue and being stretched right here right now. And that happened *with* me packing up and leaving MM. And not a moment before.

    In my opinion, you should back off the assumption of the one stop shop and challenge it far more than you currently do. It “rings hollow” to me.

    I do understand your point, AndrewS, that if we all form our own little communities without any cross talk, then obviously no dialogue happens at all. But frankly, none happened with “a Bruce”-type then either. And I do believe “none” is JMB’s assessment (even if he thinks its a tone issue) and I think he is quite right.

    I appreciate JMB’s idea that the intellectual concepts (of my posts) were fine, but should be more emotional and understanding of doubt, and therefore more realistic to human needs of those doubting. I think it’s an honest compliment, btw, JMB, and I am taking it that way.

    But I think this misses the point because it assumes that I should, for some reason, have to write to accommodate doubters and their emotional needs. If I want to write to that group, more power to me. But why should that be a requirement at all for a site that was specifically, at the time, billed as “celebrating Mormonism.” But on MM, there was — as JMB points out quite correctly — an assumption I should be doing that. And I came to accept that that assumption was correct… for MM. So I agree with JMB entirely… for Mormon Matters. And that is why I left Mormon Matters. As I should have.

    Also, there is another issue here that I think needs more mention (and I will mention it in future posts.) That is the need for a believer to not be approached in the way most non-believers on MM approach their nearest and dearest beliefs. That is to say, the MM approach suffers and “rings hollow” for most LDS believers for exactly the reasons JMB found my posts ringing hollow, but now the reason is just the inverse of his. This is, I think obvious in retrospect; but never challenged at all on a place like Mormon Matters. And it needs to be challenged because it’s a problematic point of view if your goal is dialogue between the average LDS believer and doubters.

    In any case, the fact that we get “a bit” of dialogue now is already a massive improvement from the “none” we previously got. And my view is that Andrew keeps overlooking that we’ve improved fro m”none” to “a bit” because he’s convinced of the prime virtue of the one stop shop concept.

    But in reality, the “one stop shop” is really only a hit for certain personalities and situations and a dismal failure for others. Therefore making it NOT a one stop shop except in our imaginations.

    And here’s to belief that honest dialogue and stretching can be taken further than “a bit” if we choose to let it. But we will have to choose to let it. I commend both Andrew and JMB for letting it here and keeping this truly challenging dialogue respectful on all sides.

  18. SilverRain,

    I guess there’s just a lot of work to get to discourse…I just still don’t know if it can be accomplished better across multiple sites (as seems to be Bruce’s belief) or in one site.

    Bruce N,

    However, let me make a point. JMB and you are getting real dialogue and being stretched right here right now. And that happened *with* me packing up and leaving MM. And not a moment before.

    In my opinion, you should back off the assumption of the one stop shop and challenge it far more than you currently do. It “rings hollow” to me.

    I guess the thing that seems apparent to me is that for your cross-talking to work, you need pollinators to go to the different sites. These pollinators, unfortunately, will probably not be well-received (because they are the kinds of people who go to different sites that have a different environment/tone/whatever and challenge stuff that the people at those sites would rather not be challenged)…but I guess that’s OK, because that’s probably what leads to cross-talking in the first place. (E.g., if I can’t comment directly at BCC because I’m on auto-moderation, then I instead have to write response posts on my blog and just link back. The issue: the people they are referring/linking will probably not return the favor. I mean, after all, they didn’t want them on their site in the first place. They don’t want to focus on “critical” voices or whatever.)

    I’m not “assuming” a one stop shop. What I am saying is that there are systemic (actually, personality/personal) problems in either system, but moving away from a one stop shop to multiple shops does not fix these problems…and in fact, it allows most folks to walk away from these problems.

    This is, I think obvious in retrospect; but never challenged at all on a place like Mormon Matters. And it needs to be challenged because it’s a problematic point of view if your goal is dialogue between the average LDS believer and doubters.

    So, the problem is PoVs that are not challenged. OK, I can buy that.

    But my issue is you don’t really solve this by moving from a one-stop shop to a multiple shops. Basically, your resignation from MM points to me that you yourself didn’t challenge it on a place like Mormon Matters — and in fact, your own philosophy on this issue makes challenging it on Mormon Matters anathema…because you think that that would have gone against whatever MM was trying to accomplish.

    What I say is: why not stay to challenge it at MM? What’s the harm in staying at a site to challenge certain things about that site, rather than quitting it for your own?

    I mean, ultimately, you let MM have its POV, and then M* has its own POV, and never the twain shall meet. We can have discussions here or there about the merits of one POV or the other, but at the end of the day, MM still has its POV (because it is comprised of MM writers and commenters) and M* has its own POV (because it is comprised of M* writers and commenters), and they ossify because they don’t have internal challenge and don’t really have to pay any attention to external challenge.

    The problem is the attitudes of people — most don’t want to be challenged. I’m saying that challenge can happen either at a one-stop shop or on multiple shops, but that at a one-stop shop, the closer proximity allows for more challenge when you actually have that challenge.

    In any case, the fact that we get “a bit” of dialogue now is already a massive improvement from the “none” we previously got. And my view is that Andrew keeps overlooking that we’ve improved fro m”none” to “a bit” because he’s convinced of the prime virtue of the one stop shop concept.

    My view is that the reason we’ve gone from “none” to “a bit” is because I’m on the scene, making a butt of myself across multiple websites (or on my own, with cross-linking, when I am not allowed on a website). People like Seth R, prolific on every blog but his own, are the reason we’ve gone from “none” to “a bit.” Every person who actually engages communities other than “his own” — and who thinks that such engagement is valuable — is the reason we’ve gone from “none” to “a bit.”

    I think that’s really what’s behind your saying:

    But in reality, the “one stop shop” is really only a hit for certain personalities and situations and a dismal failure for others. Therefore making it NOT a one stop shop except in our imaginations.

    except for it is just as true for multiple shops.

    Because if we were to disappear, then we could all each have our echo chamber sites and preach to the choir.

    As it were, carry on with your choir practice.

  19. “What I say is: why not stay to challenge it at MM? What’s the harm in staying at a site to challenge certain things about that site, rather than quitting it for your own?”

    It takes a particular type of hubris to do this for long enough to make a difference.

    I am one of these “pollinators,” people who are genuinely interested in gleaning the nectar from wherever it collects. I am genuinely interested in being challenged. But it is a crummy place to be. People don’t REALLY want to be challenged, usually. They want foils for their opinions: people they can make look foolish to reinforce and recruit to their own side.

    There is only so long that someone who is genuinely wanting discussion can handle it before they wake up and realize they are largely alone.

    It is a good thing for me, personally, because it has taught me to allow people their illusions. Illusions are sometimes necessary. So is holding one’s tongue. But it also makes me much less likely to involve myself online. And I wager that most people who really want to learn, rather than convince, are the same. There just aren’t enough hills worth dying on.

  20. SR,

    Unfortunately, I feel you’re absolutely right. More and more, I find myself holding my tongue (although it’s not often all that successful…e.g., this thread)…it really has killed my blogging too.

    (p.s., is it just me, or does comment notification by email not work?)

  21. If Mormon Matters was one thing and Wheat and Tares is another, then why two years after the demise of the one and the creation of the other is Mormon Matters being suggested as someplace where all Mormons can exchange dialogue?

    As for Seth R., I think I understand what Latter-day Main Street gets out his participation (a Mormon to criticize in real time), but I don’t know what he gets out of it. Since Mormon Matters is defunct, is Latter-day Main Street the place for a one-stop shop? I’ve seen repeated claims there to being open to the thoughts of all.

  22. John Mansfield,

    I haven’t been paying attention to the conversation that much, but who has been suggesting that MM is someplace where all Mormons can exchange dialogue?

    I think much of the discussion is on MM because Bruce’s series is about MM. the discussion is at times retrospective and at other times counterfactual and hypothetical. (I think there could be a lot of discussion about where the differences in MM and W&T are that would make the counterfactual/hypothetical statements about MM become actual statements about W&T, but I guess this isn’t that post?)

    As for Seth R., I think I understand what Latter-day Main Street gets out his participation (a Mormon to criticize in real time), but I don’t know what he gets out of it. Since Mormon Matters is defunct, is Latter-day Main Street the place for a one-stop shop? I’ve seen repeated claims there to being open to the thoughts of all.

    I think there needs to be a lot more history covered to unravel everything that’s off in this statement, but to avoid addressing most of that, I’ll state:

    Both cross-talking and a one-stop shop rely upon folks like Seth R. The fact that many people “don’t know what he gets out of it” is probably an indictment against both cross-talking and one-stop shops.

    Both cross-talking and one-stop shop rely on people like Seth R who will go to places even if they appear to have a comfortable “status quo,” or a “safe zone,” or whatever, and who will challenge assumptions, the status quo, the things being kept safe.

    Any one-stop shop candidate requires leadership that will not act against those challenges, but also bloggers that will engage in those challenges as well.

    And you know, I think that MSP and W&T are closer to that than places like BCC and M*.

    OK, OK, but M* and BCC aren’t looking to be a one-stop shop, so it’s not fair to really judge on that criteria…so what about cross-posting?

    Well, to this point, I would say that MSP and W&T are still closer to achieving a cross-talking ideal than some place like M*. MSPers definitely go to other sites to comment (much to the chagrin to those other sites, usually). MSPers definitely link to other sites (much to the chagrin of those other sites, as well.) Same with W&T.

    But I don’t see much reciprocation.

  23. Andrew S,

    Of course I really have no issue with anything you say other than the fact that I don’t believe either MM or W&T are in fact “one stop shops.”

    Other than that (granting this is the key point), I probably mostly agree with you, actually. But remember, I’m not arguing that MM and W&T are bad. I’m arguing they are necessary to a balanced overall dialogue of any sort.

    Even your point about pollinators (including you being one) is probably true to a large degree.

    That being said, I think I’m going to create a category called “AndrewS” that will now contain the considerable number of posts I’ve made that are in fact cross talk. So I think you are missing it. Maybe that is partly my fault for not “get it out there” enough. Maybe it’s partially your fault for “forgetting about it” (i.e. you read it, but it’s in the past and not currently on your mind.)

    In any case, by making an “AndrewS” category, you can add it to an RSS feed if you wish and you will have an easy way to respond to my responses to you and other such “pollinators” as might decide to participate in future cross talk.

    As for my claim that MM is not in fact a one stop shop (whereas you are clearly still believing it was and W&T is) I guess I’ll just weaken that a bit and say “it depends on what you mean by ‘one stop shop’.”

    Other than that, I guess wait for the rest of my posts as I get to them. I will explain more on why I am dubious of the claims of a “one stop shop” and I’m even going to explain why I find your claim of “we cross link, why don’t you?” so hollow.

    I’m slow, but I do respond to almost everything you write to me or about me eventually. So keep up the good pollinator work and just realize that I’m only a part time blogger :) But I will continue to engage you if you want that. And adding a feed just for you can only help. Or you can just ignore it, of course, and I’ll just use it to wack you over the ideological head each time you claim there is no crosstalk.

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