Alternate Voices: Why I Am Abandoning the Bloggernacle

* The contents of this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Millennial Star or its contributors.

Before anything else, I want to apologize to the folks at By Common Consent for the harsh criticism I insensitively levied against them a week ago. Even though I think that my underlying concerns are valid and deserve to be considered, my presentation was too contentious and personally hurtful.

I would like to explain those underlying concerns, which are really more about the bloggernacle in general than about any specific blog or individual.

Recently, there have been several references to Elder Oaks’ 1989 remarks on “Alternate Voices” in which he declared, among other things,

Individual members of the Church may also confront difficult questions when they are invited to participate. The question is more complicated when the invitation does not relate to a publication or a lecture on a single subject, but to a group of articles, a series of publications, or a conference or symposium with a large number of subjects. One article or one issue of a publication or one session of a conference may be edifying and uplifting, something a faithful Latter-day Saint would wish to support or enjoy. But another article or another session may be destructive, something a faithful Latter-day Saint would not wish to support or promote.

Some of life’s most complicated decisions involve mixtures of good and evil. To what extent can one seek the benefit of something good one desires when this can only be done by simultaneously promoting something bad one opposes? That is a personal decision, but it needs to be made with a sophisticated view of the entire circumstance and with a prayer for heavenly guidance.

There are surely limits at which every faithful Latter-day Saint would draw the line.

As Latter-day Saints consider their personal relationship to various alternate voices, they will be helped by considering the ways we acquire knowledge, especially knowledge of sacred things.

The conference of 1989 is among the first that I can remember for myself. I was 14 years old. Elder Oaks was not speaking in a contextual vacuum. His remarks were immediately preceded by Bishop Glenn L. Pace’s “Follow the Prophet” talk. In the preceding session of conference, President Ezra Taft Benson had given his famous “Beware of Pride” address. And the next morning Elder Nelson followed up with his thoughts on “The Canker of Contention.”

A careful re-reading of these 1989 instructions from the Brethren, supplemented by Elder Maxwell’s 1992 address Settle This In Your Hearts, Elder Pace’s 1992 words regarding Spiritual Revival, Elder Ballard’s 1999 warning to Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers and Elder Eyring’s 2004 discussion of Faith and Keys has convinced me that I can no longer participate in the questionable dialogue that is the bloggernacle.

In “The Canker of Contention” Elder Nelson declared:

…worthy servants of the Master, who would not speak ill of the Lord’s anointed nor provoke contention over teachings declared by ancient or living prophets.

Certainly no faithful follower of God would promote any cause even remotely related to religion if rooted in controversy, because contention is not of the Lord.

Surely a stalwart would not lend his or her good name to periodicals, programs, or forums that feature offenders who do sow “discord among brethren.”

I have been wrestling with my own participation in the bloggernacle for some time now, but recent events in my personal life, combined with these instructions from the Brethren have made my path clear.

There are wonderful, righteous people involved in the bloggernacle. I have grown to love and respect many of you, even among those with whom I most ardently disagree. I know that many of you with whom I have often disagreed are good people struggling with difficult issues, issues that often are born of difficult personal experiences of which I am largely ignorant.

There may be a few others who are wolves dressed in sheep skins, taking advantage of the nature of the Internet and the bloggeracle’s high tolerance of dissidence to destroy the faith of those who are already weakened by adversity–but they blend in so well that I cannot accurately tell them from the real sheep with honest questions.

Elder Oaks explained,

Some alternate voices are those of well-motivated men and women who are merely trying to serve their brothers and sisters and further the cause of Zion. Their efforts fit within the Lord’s teaching that his servants should not have to be commanded in all things, but “should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.” (D&C 58:27.)

Other alternate voices are pursuing selfish personal interests, such as property, pride, prominence, or power. Other voices are the bleatings of lost souls who cannot hear the voice of the Shepherd and trot about trying to find their way without his guidance. Some of these voices call out guidance for others—the lost leading the lost.

Some alternate voices are of those whose avowed or secret object is to deceive and devour the flock. The Good Shepherd warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matt. 7:15; see also 3 Ne. 14:15.) In both the Bible and the Book of Mormon the Savior charged his shepherds to watch over and protect the flock from such wolves. (See Acts 20:28–29; Alma 5:59.)

I look at the voices of the bloggernacle and often find it difficult to discern those questioning to seek answers and those questioning with less honest motives.

In general, however, I question the propriety of discussing doubts, criticisms, and concerns about the church in such a public forum. It is a little like discussing one’s marriage difficulties, concerns, or criticisms in a pub, and soliciting public comments from everyone present, while avoiding discussing the problems with one’s own spouse. That, I think, would be completely inappropriate. One might rightly wonder if someone who did so was not looking more for a sympathetic ear, and justification for their disenchantment than real solutions to their marital problems.

I know several people intimately whose questioning and oppositional attitudes foreshadowed their complete rejection of the Church, Joseph Smith, and even the need for a Messiah. My experiences inevitably contribute to my sensitivity to the dangers the alternate voices.

When the many voices of the LDS blogs are taken as a whole, I do not feel that the bloggernacle, as it currently operates, is consistent with my faithful support of the organization that the Lord Himself has established as His vehicle in the latter days. The good in the bloggernacle is not sufficient to justify the amount of questionable material that is simultaneously promoted. The tone and nature of the bloggernacle are much too critical of the Brethren and the Church, and much too contentious in general.

Another danger of the bloggernacle is that it is all too easy for those of us who started out as well-motivated men and women merely trying to serve our brothers and sisters and further the cause of Zion to change into another kind of voice. The contention, the natural temptations of pride and prominence, and the critical leanings of the bloggernacle can very easily transform even the best among us.

I have puzzled about how I can continue to contribute to the good in the bloggernacle without simultaneously supporting, indirectly, that which I believe is wrong and pejorative to the Lord’s organization, and without allowing it to transform me.

There is no perfect answer.

Nevertheless, I have come to a solution that I am comfortable with: I will withdraw entirely from participation in the bloggernacle community. I will no longer read any LDS blog or feed.

I will miss many of you. You can contact me at any time by emailing jmaxwilson, at gmail, dot com. If there is ever anything I can do to help you out, or if you ever find yourself in Utah and need a place to crash for a night, please let me know and I will be happy to do what I can for you–regardless of whatever ideological differences we may have.

If, in the last year, my writing, my thoughts, and my testimony have earned a little of the respect of the faithful among you, I urge you to read and ponder the words of the prophets linked to above and to prayerfully reconsider your own role and participation in the bloggernacle.

God bless all of you,

Jonathan Max Wilson

103 thoughts on “Alternate Voices: Why I Am Abandoning the Bloggernacle

  1. I think what was expressed in your post has been considered in varying degrees by several. It is what has caused me to drop many blogs from my reading list and yet add a couple others that seemed more sincere in motive. In the final analysis, I have concerns about reconciling participation at times with the temple recommend question of affiliation. Perhaps there will come a time in the future when I abandon all of them.

    No doubt many will contend with your statements. Many as well will quietly reflect on them and perhaps affect changes in their own blog participation. Best wishes, JMW.

  2. Thanks for your excellent posts, Jon, I’ll miss them.

    You make good points here: How many, or what percent, of objectionable scenes can we tolerate in a movie before we leave the theater?

  3. …er, Jon. All this, time, I haven’t been able to figure out which name you primarily go by. Sorry we didn’t have a better chance to be friends.

  4. JMW,

    I understand where you are, and have considered my motiviations for some of my comments. Am I airing grievances, pointing a condemning finger, or just looking for a sympathetic ear or figurative shoulder to cry on?

    Ideally, the bloggernacle would contain a dialogue something like this:
    Commenter1: I have this problem in the church….
    Commenter2: I had a similar situation, this is how I handled it….
    Commenter3: I see where you are struggling. Have you considered….

    Instead, too often it looks more like this:
    Commenter1: I have this problem in the church….
    Commenter2: I have that problem too. I also have a problem with ….
    Commenter3: I have that problem, and I reject the traditional church teaching that….

  5. Forgot to add:

    I’ll miss you, JMW. Your posts are always thought-provoking.

  6. Well, I think I speak for the entire Bloggernacle when I say that we are very saddened by your decision to have your name removed from the records. We may perhaps visit you from time to time to see if we can reawaken your interest in returning to full activity. We want you to know that the door is always open to you if and when you choose to return.

  7. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

    When I couple that statement with John O’Sullivan’s First Law, which says: “All organizations which are not specifically right wing, will become left wing over time”, I can see how it happens.

    I suspect the the Church has a corollary to that, which is: “All organizations which are not specifically supportive of the Church, will become antagonistic over time.” And I assume it will also happen in the bloggernacle. Because those who are supportive of the Church will find that the attacks upon them, and the contention they experience, are not conducive to the Spirit. For their own spiritual peace and happiness, they will withdraw, leaving the field to the those who glory in contention.

  8. Bon Voyage. I understand, I believe, your reasons for leaving the community. I think we all have to measure our participation in any activity. We must also recognize that we all will have different thresholds.

    I would like to state my belief that the Bloggernacle is one of the greatest movements in the church for good. I wonder how many google hits the bloggernacle gets as a whole? I know from experience and emails that our community has done much good. While I have ideological differences with many in the community (spoken as a closet conservative of sorts) I have a deep respect for the majority.

    So, allow me, at once, to bid you good wishes, respecting your choice, and proclaim the virtue of the bloggernacle. I do not accept your repudiation, but accept your choice and belief.

    You also have an excellent command of the subjunctive.

  9. Noooooo! John was one of the few ultra conservatives which was willing to actually give some what respectable reasons for his beliefs concerning many of the issues I tend to take issue with. Even though he and I disagree on so many fundamental issues, I sincerely hope that he is pulling a “Kim Seiver” and only pulling out temporarily.

  10. I’m dying on the vine still awaiting the return of Adam G. and now JMW is pulling out. Surely this is a dark day for conservatives.

  11. Never fear, Jack. Prudence is still here to proclaim truth and righteousness at all the heathen liberals, and I have the advantage of being invincible to their apostate charms. I am like Ammon, ready to chop off the limbs of the ravening hordes.

  12. JMW, you will be missed. I think this was probably a good decision for you personally, though, as you’ve always struck me as a guileless soul a little ill-suited to the rough-and-tumble of public debate. Best of luck.

  13. Alamojag, you make a pretty good point. When we ask questions in these forums, do we most often hear affirmations from others that those questions are justifiable, or suggestions from others on how to resolve the issue? I think that question merits some involved discussion here.

    As J. Max put it above, we all might profit by asking ourselves whether such questions are asked in the spirit of “looking more for a sympathetic ear, and justification for …disenchantment than real solutions to . . . problems.”

    Thoughts, anyone?

  14. JMW,

    I can sympathize with your concerns.

    As you know, the Bloggernacle will continue to grow and flourish whether you participate or not. My question to you is why must you silence your own voice entirely? There are many that agree with your views and approaches to social and doctrinal issues. Why not (re)start your own individual blog again like so many others have? Look at guys like Jeff Lindsay, for instance. He rarely, if ever comments at other Bloggernacle bogs but we include him at the MA site ( and he in an important voice on the Web in the larger Bloggernacle. Maybe being in a “mainland” site like this is too close to the heart of the traffic and contention for you, but does that mean you should silence yourself entirely?

    If you are leaving because of time constraints of other personal reasons I can only wish you well. But if you are just frustrated with the arguments that swirls around this portion of the bloggernacle, why not go solo (maybe bring Ebenezer back) and blog in less choppy waters?

  15. I add my best wishes to the many others already posted. I too however hate to see the influence of the “right”…being right….wing conservative go by the wayside.

    Those of us who remain active need to take into consideration Jon’s advice.

  16. I second (er, third) JMW’s and alamojag’s remarks.

    I started participating in the Bloggernacle without fully realizing where the participants were coming from, what the zeitgeist was about, and found myself leaving some murmuring type comments on a couple blogs, which I now regret.

    Some of the “Yeah, but….” whinyness of the so-called liberal participants appears to be on the road to apostasy.

    I’ll point ya’ll to page 156 of “The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”: “That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.”

    Folks, I went that route, went inactive in 1987, and requested name-removal (for that and other reasons) back in 1991. I dug myself into such a hole that I’m still working to get out of it, even after being as active as an ex-mo can be for 3 years.

    I’ve been on the road that some of you are on. If you keep on publicly complaining, fault-finding, and murmuring, you’re going to end up leaving the church, EVEN IF you have a testimony. Yes, I’m living proof that you can leave the church and request name-removal while still having one of those “burned-in” or woven-in testimonies.

    It’s a tough thing trying to resolve problems even when you _know_ the church is true, but brother or sister so-and-so did this, and the bishop said that, and president so-and-so hurt my feelings, and I was done wrong, and that shouldn’t have happened, and a priesthood leader really hurt me, and bla bla bla. Well, stuff happens!

    But keep do the dirty laundry in private. Resolve the issues and offenses in private. Go up the chain-of-command when you have to, in private.

    Alamojag was right. When stating “a concern”, ask help to resolve it. When responding to “a concern” offer help to resolve it. And try to avoid contention and feeding off of each other’s problems, er, I mean “concerns”.

  17. “In general, however, I question the propriety of discussing doubts, criticisms, and concerns about the church in such a public forum. It is a little like discussing one’s marriage difficulties, concerns, or criticisms in a pub, and soliciting public comments from everyone present, while avoiding discussing the problems with one’s own spouse. That, I think, would be completely inappropriate.”

    An interesting analogy and one which could be explored a bit more–for marriage difficulties DO need to be discussed rather than tactifully ignored if one is to improve the marriage. So then, whom do we discuss our “issues” with? Our bishop? Our Sunday School teacher? The Lord? I submit that it is the message rather than the medium that should be thoughtfully reconsidered. The bloggernacle, like the political arena, has a wide spectrum of viewpoints and opinions. Read and blog where you feel most comfortable but don’t leave the field altogether.

  18. J, Max,

    I truly hope you the best and am sad to see you leave. You’ve made some of the most profound insights in the Bloggernacle and will truly be missed.

    I also echo what J. Stapley said. I believe the ‘nacle has a tremendous positive impact on those participating and would be surprised to find out that anyone actually lost faith because of it. I believe that most of those with issues didn’t acquire them here, but rather are resolving them here.

    I also regret that people are suggesting it’s because of the liberals. Ironically it was that exact accusation that caused so much of the contention to which J. Max refers.

    “How many, or what percent, of objectionable scenes can we tolerate in a movie before we leave the theater?”

    As always it depends on the person. The scenes I found most inspiring in Saving Private Ryan would have caused my grandpa to leave the theater. Some draw strength from the Bloggernacle.

    I think your question (#15) is an important one, though you might not find my opinion satisfying. The truth is that I don’t know where in the ‘nacle J. Max is hanging out. On the whole I don’t see more than a couple people who seem to be trying to justify disenchantment rather than looking for real solutions. And just because some of the solutions don’t align with what J. Max considers right doesn’t make them wrong. In my view the Bloggernacle is largely a very positive, uplifting place for us to find solutions and see the solutions others have found.

  19. Dear J. Max,

    I totally respect your decision and feel even more fortunate that I was able to catch your puppet show when I had the chance.

    I, myself, have to disagree with Rusty and J. Stapley about the bloggernacle’s positive influence. I know many people have found a community here, and a sense they’re not alone, and a sense they can still feel and think the way they do and still be Mormons and members of the church. I see that as positive and negative, depending, of course, on precisely how they think and feel. If the bloggernacle is helping people build up identities as doubters without encouraging any searching for resolution I think that’s harmful.

    My personal experience has been that the bloggernacle has given me more doubts than I had before participating in it. Some people may find that surprising, but it’s simply true. Now I have to resolve those doubts. Would I have been happier to remain in ignorance? I don’t know.

    And if an investigator stumbles across the bloggernacle I find it hard to believe that it would have a positive effect at all.

    I have a co-worker who recently informed me that he’s going to be baptized. I was happy for him, of course, but part of me felt like saying, do you know exactly what you’re getting into? That attitude is a direct result of all the reading I’ve done in the bloggernacle and I consider it unfortunate. It’s not an attitude I would have felt before.

    So of all your posts J. Max, this is the first one where I can truly understand where you’re coming from.

    Good luck, and I’ll miss you,

    Brian G

  20. Nevertheless, I have come to a solution that I am comfortable with: I will withdraw entirely from participation in the bloggernacle community. I will no longer read any LDS blog or feed.

    That sounds a bit too dramatic, final and complete to me. That’s blognitive dissonance. It’s the moment when you promise you’ll never blog again — that feeling that impels you to delete the blog, quit all your past associations and swear to never pull up a web-browser again. You will read more scriptures. You will pray more. You’ll read the best books. You’ll magnify your calling. Pull out the General Conference issues because it’s all wrong and you don’t need the Bloggernacle.

    Here’s why you’ll almost certainly be back:

    1) You write great computer code. Those who still run sites won’t be able to continue without your comment plugins and maintenance help. It’s pure Christian service, like visiting those who are in prison, feeding widows and orphans.

    2) It’s too easy, especially for someone as internet savvy as yourself, to pop up a web browser and type in a url. So easy that you’ll do it by habit and curse yourself. We’ve all had that feeling. Oops, it’s Fast Sunday and I’m standing here with the refrigerator door open.

    3) You’ve made friends and maybe there are still a few writers who have a style and approach that ultimately appeals to you. Even if due to your preferences you can abstain from reading BCC: or one of those other eeeevil liberal blogs, there isn’t really anything wrong with reading the occasional Nate Oman or Adam Greenwood post.

    4) The power of lurking or anonymity. No one has to know. You can remain silent or write comments under an unusual Dickensian pseudonym.

    If for the rest of your days you truly are able to utterly turn your back on the ‘Nacle, then I commend your resolve. I couldn’t do it.

    Edited at comment writer’s request

  21. Warning: I’m a former believer. I don’t mean to offend with what I’m about to say – I’m only calling it like I see it.

    I’ve been participating in Mormon forums regularly for about 4 years. Like many people, I got on the internet hoping to learn more about my faith and resolve some concerns. A friend had confronted me with some anti-Mormon claims, and I wondered what I could find online to defend myself. I got interested in apologetics and spent a lot of time reading material from FARMS and FAIR, along with freelancers like Jeff Lindsay. It was immensely helpful to my faith. It gave me an “intellectual” testimony and confidence that the church wasn’t relegated to conceding the victory to its enemies. It was wonderful to meet other people who had the same questions and wanted to find a way to be both thoughtful and faithful. Of similar support and comfort were publications like Sunstone and Dialogue. On the strength of this new-found faith, I decided to serve a mission, which I completed honorably.

    However, upon further study and participation in Mormon forums — and maybe this is going to “prove” JMW’s point, but here goes — I eventually decided that the church really doesn’t add up. It is not what it claims to be, it teaches a number of things that I consider to be false and hurtful, and it does not merit my continued support. It was not online participation or the liberal Mormons who destroyed my faith. (If not for them, I probably would have lost faith long ago.) It was church itself. Believers tacitly admit that the more the more you scrutinize the church, the worse it looks. Too much thinking is a bad thing. Sure, do some research if you absolutely must, they say, but be careful to shop short of getting the whole picture. To be learned is good, if…

    Here’s my point: if the church, faith, and testimony can’t withstand this kind of dialog, how much are they worth? Are conservative believers who run away like this doing so because they’re aware that they’re “losing the battle”? And to what do they attribute this loss? To the evils of liberalism, Satan, or whatever else looks handy. Have they ever wondered if maybe — just maybe — faith in the church doesn’t always win out because the church ultimately fails to deserve it?

  22. Abner Doon, I’m sorry that your story is at the point that it is. But, I would like to answer your last question with an unqualified “No.” If anything is unworthy it is indaviduals, like myself, who fail to live a more Christ-like life (yesterday, today, and tomorrow). I was a good little quasi-orthodox boy before Mormon Studies. I had tangible manifestations of the reality of God and the Church in my life. After exposure to Mormon Studies and the more liberal strains in thought, I find my faith strengthened, albeit challenged. Mostly the challenge lay in casting aside my pride and preconseptions. I think I am the same quasi-orthodox boy, just hopefuly better.

  23. Following alamojag’s thought, it would be great to have a series of “resolving doubt” posts – with an issue of the week/month. It might do a lot of good. Well, for me anyway.

  24. Abner,

    I doubt that there’s a church or religion on the planet that is immune to scrutiny. To paraphrase a professor of mine, “All religions are equally wacky.” What am I trying to say? That if you are a spiritual person, with yearnings after the divine, and an inclination that there’s something “out there,” Mormonism is prone to being as good or as bad as any other faith in providing answers. That’s why it’s a “faith,” and I am confident that most of the Bloggernaclers have this faith, which is why I value our community here. I am willing to bet that the Catho-nacle has the same issues.

    But J. Max should be respected. To paraphrase another great man, “You must do what you think is right, of course.” No-one needs the ‘Nacle. What we do need are the grace of Christ and the words of living prophets. J. Max seems to have covered that base. Good for him.

  25. JMW,

    I will miss your participation. I was impressed with your ability to engage others and to express your beliefs and opinions clearly. I think that you are helping to fulfill your own prophecy about the bloggernacle by abandoning it.

    I think that the more serious issues covered by the bloggernacle help shed light on many aspects of our religion. This is not something that we should fear. The Church is true and because of this scrutinty of the faithful will result in firmer testimonies.

    I think that where you erred (if I may be so bold) was not in the area of looking at the Church but in looking at others and attributing contentious motives to them. I can certainly see where if you feel compelled to do this then getting out of the bloggernacle is probably good for your soul. Though staying and conquering this might be even better.

    Aberner Doon,

    I find it very odd that you name yourself after a character in the most Mormon work of fiction that I’ve ever read. Would you care to share how you selected this handle?

  26. M* editors … I sent an email to your editor at M* dot com addy. I wonder if you still check it at all. I just wanted a small edit in my earlier comment if possible.

    JMW, if you are even reading the comments on this, I just want you to know that I am sorry to see you go. My earlier comment went through a super-serious draft phase which got tossed out and exchanged for a more lighthearted “aw c’mon you’ll be back” approach. I do hope that you will change your mind. I enjoyed meeting you at a previous bloggersnacker and was impressed at how intelligent, thoughtful and creative you were. So if you are really going, I think it is a loss to the ‘Nacle.

    Some more thoughts. In my opinion the ‘Nacle is pretty self-regulating. The outright enemies and apostates tend to get rebuked or dismissed pretty quickly. Maybe they aren’t the ones you are worried about as you speak of “wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing.” I had some similar misgivings as the ones you expressed when I first started participating in the ‘Nacle — but in my experience the intense open discussions that take place are invigorating and even faith-promoting. One might be initially surprised and occasionally even shocked at the wide diversity of opinions that are expressed by LDS people … but in time I think we become accustomed to it and it begins to serve a positive purpose.

    Yes there are some other places where an candid dialectic like this can occur. I think of the home and in the university. But in some ways even those places have their limitations on expression. I feel the ‘Nacle still provides a unique and valuable forum that is very difficult (perhaps impossible) to replace.

  27. Why does this guy feel the need to make such a dramatic pronouncement upon leaving the bloggernacle? Why not just unplug and walk off? Its like he is trying to convince himself he really does need to abandon it, and take as many people with him as he can, and if they dont then they arent following the prophets like he is. Is that what this is all about? Or is it just some exercise in face saving? Its nice he apologized to BCC for slagging them and fostering contention, but making some big production upon bailing out? What they heck? I’M LEAVING NOW, AND HERE IS WHY, SO AS TO NOT LEAVE ANY DOUBTS, ITS NOT BECUASE I SHOT MY MOUTH OFF AND CAUSED A BIG OL EMBARRASSING MESS, ITS BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY DISSONANT VOICES IN HERE, NO EGG ON MY FACE.

    The blog is just the latest fad in communication, in the 90’s it was e-mail lists, and what a surprise a bunch of people who used to participate on scripture-l, eyring-l, mormon-l and a mess of other e-mail lists are now doing blogs as e-mail lists wither and die because theyre not cool and hip enough. OK, so something else cool and hip will come along in 5-10 years and blogs will be passe. But, you know what, people have spare time on their hands, and people like to talk, and people like to think they know what theyre talking about, and people ask questions, so there you have it. People are going to communicate, whether its face to face or through some indirect medium, and the bloggernacle is only one outlet. Condemn it because there are some people around who are idiots? OK, then we may as well condemn Elders Quorum because there are some real idiots in there too. The bloggernacle is heterogeneous and no more dedicated to undermining the LDS Church than is any large group of Mormons. Wow, some people lean left and some lean right, some people read their scriptures and some dont, some people are rude and some are polite. What a surprise.

  28. Another post about Mormon web logging. Millennial Star is way over the monthly self-referential quota.

  29. I didn’t know Kim and Adam quit blogging.

    J. Max, I wish I could say I would miss you, but my short term memory is so unreliable I could forget you the second I post this post. I could also remember you until I’m ninety, God forbid I should live so long.

    You expressed some of my concerns as well, but for me, the good has outweighed the bad. Although bad isn’t really the right word.

    I have benefited from this exchange. I am more dedicated to the gospel because my concerns have been intelligently validated or refuted. I needed to know I was not alone.

    So here I am, you can’t get rid of me. Heh, heh, heh.

  30. Sue M: Following alamojag’s thought, it would be great to have a series of “resolving doubt” posts

    About half of the posts I put up are on this general subject… The problem for some people is that I have only one resolving answer I keep repeating — Get Revelation. I am confident that in Abner Doon’s explorations and searching (#26), a clear dialogue with God was not part of that journey (if God had told him to leave he would have mentioned it). I would ask Abner the Nephi question: “Have you inquired of the Lord”. I’m afraid I would expect the Laman and Lemuel response though: “The Lord maketh no such thing known unto us”.

    My recurring point has been that if we can’t get real and regular revelation — even after prophets, the priesthood, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost have been restored — then we are largely wasting our Mormonism. Life eternal is to know God, not just to know some things about Him. I believe “alternate voices”, even unfaithful ones, have very little effect on those that know how to clearly hear the One voice — the voice of the Good Shepherd.

  31. (New Cool) Jeff,

    Yes, of course, personal revelation is the ultimate answer to most questions. But there are some questions that the answer is “Not Yet.” I know those are the answers that I struggle with, and I suspect others struggle with those, too. Another possible advantage to addressing concerns where the answer is, at best, ambiguous, is that other people have probably figured out a way to reconcile what we know with what we don’t.

    Take SSM, for example. The Bloggernacle gives a wide range of reasons why the church opposes it, and a range of reasons why people don’t. What I find interesting is how those who would otherwise support it reconcile their personal feelings with the official position of the church. I believe, as you do, that the answer will eventually come to a person who is sincerely trying to do that reconciliation, but what do people do before they get that personal answer? That is the kind of issue I am talking about. From what I get from JMW, part of his concern (which I believe is a legitimate one) is that there are people who make no effort to reconcile, and take an antagonistic opposing view: “The church teaches something different from what I believe, the church is therefore wrong, and I reject its position. All right thinking people should reject it, too.”

  32. I admire you for standing up to the complaining and contention that the blogs produce. I’ve mostly stopped reading the bloggernacle because I’m tired of the pretentious style of writing that is so prevalent. Seems like a lot of people use the blogs to show off their vocabulary at the expense of communicating plain and simple truths to their readers.
    That seems kind of prideful.

  33. “Another possible advantage to addressing concerns where the answer is, at best, ambiguous, is that other people have probably figured out a way to reconcile what we know with what we don’t.”

    This is what I appreciate. Finding out how other people explain/justify/understand the issues that trouble me, that I have not received an answer for in prayer…

  34. Abner (#26):
    “Believers tacitly admit that the more you scrutinize the church, the worse it looks.”

    Since the offense belongs to the attackers of faith, they are always going to appear to outpace the defenders of faith. “Scrutiny” (aka digging for dirt) is always going to be ahead of the answers/explanations/resolutions/solutions. That’s just the nature of the “they-attack-and-we-defend” game.

    P.P. Pratt was right. As soon as you even begin to answer one concern, the mockers point the finger elsewhere crying “Aha!” Their purpose is to waste our time and trip up the weak.

    I’ve researched the explanations of sufficient “Aha!” accusations, and have received adequate resolutions to the apparent conflicts, and seen enough proof that the mockers have unworthy objectives and hide exculpatory evidence, that the entire process now bores me.

    Sure, the “researchers” come up with more and more “startling discoveries”. But if you look at the history of apologetics, all those things are eventually explained/resolved and put to bed. So what if there is a lag time of a few months to a few years before the “startling discovery” is answered? All the “old” discoveries have been answered to my satisfaction, therefore, I’m confident that the “new” discoveries will follow the same pattern.

    In the interim, the antis hope to trip up those who’ve been exposed to the accusation but haven’t been exposed to the answer.

    Is my faith and testimony to be based on which side has the best researchers, publishers and arguers?

    No, my faith is based on personal and powerful revelation from God.
    1. I know, by revelation, that God lives.
    2. I know, by revelation, that His Son Jesus is the Savior/Messiah/Atoner.
    3. I know, by revelation, that Joseph Smith was visited by God.
    4. I know, by revelation, that the Book of Mormon is true.
    5. I know, by revelation, that David B. Haight was a true apostle of Jesus Christ. (That one helped me over my question of who had the authorized line of succession after Joseph Smith’s death.)

    Therefore, I really don’t give a hoot about:
    1. the circumstances of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages,
    2. how many changes/corrections that prophets have authorized to the
    Book of Mormon,
    3. how much Mormon history has been “whitewashed” to omit embarassing mistakes and dirty laundry,
    4…. Sorry, I’m bored already, because no matter what new “startling discovery” pops up, I’m thinking “I’ve played this game before.”

    We’ve got a lot of reading to do. We need to read, not merely by commandment, but for our own good:

    1. Daily Book of Mormon reading (per Ezra Taft Benson). And now per
    the new “Preach My Gospel,” daily scripture reading is a baptism
    committment. Oh, and per Pres Hinkley through the end of year, too.
    2. Sunday School reading assignment.
    3. Priesthood/RS reading assignment.
    4. Monthly Ensign.
    5. Semi-annual conference issue of Ensign reading (I find I can’t read
    the conference issue in one month.)

    So every time I need to go research and read apologetic stuff (or wasting time on the bloggernacle) I’m taking time away from other reading assignments that are going to do ME good.

    Reading apologetic stuff does good for who? My reading the apologetics doesn’t help the antis. I’ve already been edified by the old apologetic stuff, and all the new attack/defend stuff is just more of the same.

    All the new pages from the antis’ playbook bear striking similarity to the old pages: Twist, take out of context, lie, mix truth in with lies, tell half-truths, hide evidence that goes against your point, make invalid assumptions, make invalid extrapolations. Bla bla bla. It GETS OLD! All the “startling discoveries” eventually get filed under one of those headings.

    If my brother is in doubt due to the antis’ mocking accusations, I’d really prefer that he do his own research, thank-you-very-much, as I’m not his paid research assistant. He can do his own reading at FAIR/Farms/Lindsay/et al. And if the “new” answers to the “new” attacks haven’t been published yet, look at the track record of previous attacks.

  35. Critical thought and discourse is important; ideas should stand up to such critique, however FAITH is not a critical thought or social idea.

    By its very nature, faith cannot be proven, as we all know.

    Since I began visiting the blogernacle, my faith is a little shakier, not stronger, and for this reason I will recluse myself as well. Thank you JMW for pointing out the obvious. I plan to return to my GA’s and the Prophet for my advice. I am happier when I do so.

  36. New Cool Geoff:

    Your admonition to “get revelation” is precisely the problem for many. They have tried, sometimes for many years, and the revelation never comes. How long should one beat one’s head against the wall before deciding to move on?

  37. I take it that revelation is a spiritual gift that all may not be given. People who aren’t given it apparently need to find an alternative, like trusting in the testimony of others.

  38. Abner Doon said:
    “Here’s my point: if the church, faith, and testimony can’t withstand this kind of dialog, how much are they worth?”

    At the risk of pigeon-holing myself (in some people’s minds) into one of the unsavory categories of churchmember invoked by some on this thread, I need to say that I think Abner’s question is a very fair one. The irony is that there are so many who claim the issues and controversies discussed in the Bloggernacle don’t matter to faith, but their hostility to these discussions belies their claim; obviously, they do matter to faith, sometimes enormously. Clearly, for many churchmembers, open dialogue is very, very threatening to faith. I think this is unfortunate. I think this doesn’t speak well of the faith that so many profess to have — a faith that supposedly comes from revelatory or inspirational experiences that presumably should be immune from challenges made to certain factual assumptions about Church history, Church leaders, etc.

    Abner continues:
    “Are conservative believers who run away like this doing so because they’re aware that they’re “losing the battle”?”

    Answer: I don’t think so, if by “battle” Abner means “the battle to prove the Church is true.” Even if “battle” refers more modestly to “the battle to show that Mormonism can be intellectually respectable/defensible, granted that no one’s going to be able to “prove” its truthfulness one way or another.” But I do think there is the perception among many members that the “battle” to keep many members comfortable in the faith is easily lost by exposure to discussions or issues (historical, doctrinal, etc.) that take place outside a very narrow, safe range. As an empirical matter, perhaps this perception is warranted. But this is very unfortunate. And I suspect one of the dividing lines between critics and apologists for the Bloggernacle concerns how one should best deal with this reality. I see two basic choices: (1) Encourage members of the Church to shy away from anything that runs the risk of causing them to question their faith; or (2) Encourage members of the Church to develop a kind of faith that is immune from the damages that come from these exposures. I obviously favor option #2, but how do we accomplish this? Perhaps we need to do a better job of helping people shift the ground of their testimonies/faith away from empirical or historical assumptions that are erroneous or problematic. Perhaps we need to inculcate more strongly than we do the notion that the Church’s or Gospel’s truthfulness does not turn on particular understandings
    or overly-robust assumptions about prophetic authority, the character of our leaders, etc.

    Much of “anti-Mormon literature” consists not of outright falsehood or lies, but of truths that the antis know are unknown to your average Church member. Think about that for a minute: There’s this huge industry devoted to debunking Mormonism that thrives in large measure because its authors know many members of the Church entertain naive assumptions about their own history or faith. You’d think the way to combat this would be to integrate uncomfortable or awkward truths into our self-understanding and then move forward, assured that our spiritual conviction of the Church’s truthfulness is still intact, regardless of some of the factual adjustments we’ve had to make to our understandings along the way. Instead, some of us preach how awful it is to read too much stuff about Mormonism outside a narrow range of sources, in the hopes that most will never be made to run across anything that might challenge their understandings. I think this is very sad, and the idea that it is desirable is certainly counter-intuitive to me.

    Aaron B

  39. Shawn Bailey, would you mind emailing me at ryanbrettbell at yahoo dot com (no, you’re not in trouble) 🙂

  40. Well, I guess my tendency to forget to change my name back to Aaron Brown was bound to catch up with eventually. Oh well … :

    Aaron B

  41. Abner Doon — Thank you for looking for a nice way to respond. I half-expected you to blast me for my comment.

    gary — You are asking the what is perhaps ultimate question in our “probationary state”. I suspect that for many, answering this question was in fact the reason we chose to come here to earth in the first place. That is, we probably all thought we would never give up on this quest to receive revelation and “know God” but upon arriving many of us learn that it is much harder than expected.

    In answer to your question, “How long should one beat one’s head against the wall before deciding to move on?” I can only point out that God and his prophets recommend never giving up. But of course that is circular reasoning.

    In the end, men and women really are free to choose.

    Shawn — We are told to seek the best gifts. While leaning on the faith and testimony of others is a useful crutch along the way, it will not allow us to truly know God. As I read the scriptures, I believe that at some point in our lives (and I don’t mean only our mortal lives) we are going to need to “know God” in order to have Eternal Life. I think getting that done here is a better option than hoping to get it done after this life.

  42. Aaron McPrude: as if we didn’t know!

    Geoff: sure, all should seek. But the question isn’t merely selecting between options. Those who seek and fail to find all they desire should take comfort. There are other ways of getting there.

  43. > David B. Haight???

    He was speaking at our Stake Conference. I think he was the first Apostle I saw in the flesh. The Lord used him to address a question I was having at the time. The Lord let me know that the Apostolic mantle was upon him. That answered a question I had at the time concerning the RLDS church, because, technically, my testimonies had been about the Book of Mormon and the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith, which the RLDS also claimed to have beleived in. I guess that wouldn’t be as much of a concern today because they seemed to have shelved the Book of Mormon. Last time I checked their web site, , I couldn’t find anything at all on the Book of Mormon.

  44. Shawn — I’m with you. Believing the testimony of others is a very important gift in itself. I was simply afraid that some might think that obtaining that gift was a sufficient and stop seeking other gifts (like direct personal revelation) as a result.

    Aaron B — It’s too bad you tripped over your keyboard in that comment because it contained several very good points that I agree with wholeheartedly. I hope the actual comment isn’t overshadowed by the gaffe.

  45. I also echo Aaron B’s comments. He said/wrote what I was thinking but wasn’t willing to take the time to write.

    And count me in the group sad to see JMW go.

  46. Aaron,

    You’re not gonna let Prudence McPrude die now are you? He’s (she) become our favorite celebrity.

  47. New Cool Geoff: I agree with you that your reasoning is circular. That being the case, do you have any other suggestions? We tell people that if they study and pray sincerely, God will answer them. We (and God) can hardly be critical when people take us up on the challenge and then move on after receiving no revelation.

    Why do we place so much emphasis on “knowing” that the church is true? Why isn’t it enough to earnestly seek to know God and to sincerely try to do what is right, without fearing for our eternal destinies because we cannot affirm that God has deigned to reveal to us certain information? And what is the source of this pernicious idea that truth should be protected by a cloak of ignorance and even falsity, and that one’s salvation is jeopardized by being exposed to certain kinds of information or opinions? Is God’s love really so capricious?

  48. 54.
    GreenEggz, The CoC/RLDS site refers to three books of scripture: Bible, BoM, and D&C. I found quotes from Bible and their D&C, expecially Section 161, but not from the BoM. It’s interesting that at one point they refer to “Book of Mormon (a second testimony of Jesus Christ).”

    Comments on the BoM are found at:
    * Who We Are / Overview
    * Who We Are / FAQs
    * Who We Are / History / Book of Mormon

  49. 59.
    Gary, re: your “We tell people that if they study and pray sincerely, God will answer them. We (and God) can hardly be critical when people take us up on the challenge and then move on after receiving no revelation.” There are both the quality of the seed (Al 32) and the quality of the ground to consider. Frequently, people need help to become grounded in their testimonies.

    “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matt 13:19-23)

  50. Once again, Prudence has to take time away from her scripture reading to disclaim authorship of a prior comment. In this case, she also must disclaim any affiliation with the notorious, apostate BCC permablogger Aaron Brown. How dare Aaron B try to merge his identity with that of Prudence’s! Milk and grapefruit juice just don’t go tother, and neither do Aaron B and Prudence. It’s really sad that Aaron is so insecure in his own identity that he has to impersonate others. Fortunately, Prudence has no such problem, and she is confident she will one day relax in a much grander and luxurious kingdom, while Aaron is feverishly digging for scraps in the Telestial Hellhole.

  51. gary: We tell people that if they study and pray sincerely, God will answer them. We (and God) can hardly be critical when people take us up on the challenge and then move on after receiving no revelation.

    We and most other churches tell people to do these things. I wasn’t advocating being critical of those who have not received answers, I was mostly responding to your question of when should a person give up trying to receive revelation. My answer is “never”. Others may come up with another answer for themselves and they are free to do so. I am simply saying that “knowing God” (which requires personal revelation) is in fact the major purpose of our mortal lives.

    Let me explain my logic. Our scriptures tell us a couple of things. One is that the mission of God is to bring about the “eternal life of man” (see Moses 1:39). Another scripture says that life eternal is defined as knowing God (see John 17:3). Therefore I believe that our primary objective before arriving in this life was to attain eternal life by accomplishing the goal of knowing God.

    You mentioned that we as a people are hung up on “knowing the church is true” and I agree that such a goal is not sufficient. However, in my experience, knowing the church is approved of God is a subset of knowing God. If we know him we can ask him his opinion about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, President Hinckley, etc.

    You know President Monson’s favorite quote as of late: “When God speaks and man obeys, that man is never wrong”. I am confident that truly knowing God leads people to Mormonism and not away from it. There are many in this world (ok most people) that disagree with me though. Therefore the only way to know for sure is to get God to tell us himself. (In the process, we get to know him so no one has anything to lose.)

  52. I’d rather be uncomfortable in my faith than comfortable in my incredulity.

  53. JMW,

    I will miss your comments. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to read your blogs. With you gone, there will be a vacuum created and your assessment may speak to the quality of comment that fills that void.
    This is unfortunate. It is akin to good men not running for political office because of those with whom they have to associate, and the muck and mire they will have to wallow through.

    Perhaps if you were to blog on the speeches by the Brethern you would be a light in darkness that will breathe fresh air into the Bloggernacle. I am impressed with the strict adherence you give to the Brethern, and even though I try to imitate that, I find myself seriously lacking. With you behind the analysis, reminding us what the Brethern have said, I feel confident that you would do far more good for many of us.

    This is a venue that holds tremendous promise. Make it work to the positive, and you will not be disappointed. Imagine being able to send investigators to your site.

  54. JMW I am sorry to see you go. I am one who has benefited from your perspective. Thanks Greeneggz. Your comments were full of wisdom and I agree with what you so eloquently have said.

    My Faith is simple. I have had a testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ that I have been blessed with since I was a child. I have not experienced serious doubts about the truthfulness of the Gospel, but there are certain doctrines that I have come to believe are the teachings of men. There are also events in Church History that I know were not inspired. These things I put upon a shelf and deal with them on a need-to-know-basis.
    Basically it comes down to this. The Book of Mormon. Who wrote it? I know that Joseph Smith did not write it. He could not have. A young man with limited education living in the early 1800’s would not be capable of producing that volume of work. Plain and simple. I am not convinced that anyone one other than God did. I do not care how it happened; only that it happened. Also when I read the Old Testament I also receive an added testimony that God works with flawed and dysfunctional human beings.

    In the early 1980’s I was at BYU; when that awful nonsense broke out about “The Salamander Letters” and Mark Hoffman. Some around me questioned their faith. I stood back and remembered my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I knew in my heart that all would work out in regards to the truthfulness of the LDS Church and it did. No matter what challenges Satan puts in front of the Church, somehow it will all work out.

    For me, the blog has been good for me and my Faith. I stay away from certain blogs and ignore certain discussions. For me, the blog experience is like the media. I am not going to get rid of the TV set or not go to any movies, but what I choose to expose myself to has to have purpose and not offend the spirit.

  55. Okay, I give. There are a few references to the Book of Mormon at the CofC web site. But I think they’ve downplayed it.

  56. I found myself living with a lot of internal stress. Much of it could be linked back to the issues I had with the church.

    I started my own blog to not only talk to my wife but to put down in words my feelings. Since then I have found that many of my issues are much smaller then I thought they were. I even went to church last Sunday for the first time in two months.

    The blogernacle can be a positive or a negative. It all depends on what you want to get from it. I’m not a member but the Mormon blogs have enlightened me and given me a place to think and talk.

  57. Good for you J. Max. My husband and I have made several vows to stop reading blogs only to get sucked back in. My criticism of the bloggernacle is as follows:

    1. It doesn’t build faith. I disagree strongly with those who argue otherwise. I have almost never felt the burning of the bosom of the Spirit when I have been readings blogs. After a year of reading them I feel no closer to Christ and no closer to the Spirit. I have never left a session of blog reading thinking, “Wow, I should be a better person.” Or, “Wow, I should go out and serve more.” Instead when I read blogs I feel an emptiness and a blah feeling.

    2. The bloggernbacle may clear up some concerns, but it amplifies other ones. Yes, you may find help to some doubt you are struggling with but then you see a pet issue, ie., “I hate it when…” and you remember, “hey, yeah I hate it when the church does that too!” The net effect of on your spirituality is then zero. Or negative. I was so excited when I first found the nacle. I thought it would help me with concerns and doubts I had. It occasionally has, but it has mostly highlighted more concerns and annoyances. Now when I go to church I think about all the things the nacle can’t stand about it.

    3. It is time consuming and addictive. You can surf through the blogs for large blocks of time and when you are done you have none of that feeling of accomplishing something worthwhile. Occasionally posts are worthwhile, but most of time is like the online equivalent of reading Us Weekly-a lot of mindless fluff. When you try to stop because you feel the emptiness of the pursuit, it is only a matter of days until you are surfing again.

    4. Many nacle proponents tout the idea that the nacle builds community. Hogwash. Many times when I post, there are no responses to my comments. It is not interesting enough, or applicable enough, or controversial enough or it does not use high falutin language adequately and it is ignored. What kind of community pray tell, ignores the comments of others? If this was a real forum as a opposed to a cyber one, and we were all in a circle talking and I said something (no matter how dumb) and then no one responded and instead kept talking amongst themselves it would be considered quite rude. In the blog “community,” it is par to the course. Furthermore people would never have the courage to say some of the mean things to people face to face that they say online. The ideal of community is Zion, a place where all are equal (whether they are law school graduates or not), where spirituality is increased and devotion to faith is magnified, where we are kind to each other, and service abounds. The nacle meets none of these requirements.

    This all being said I still find myself reading and posting. I just had to get it off my chest. J. Max has given me the chance to know that not everyone thinks that the bloggernacle is a wonderful thing with a glorious future.

  58. Abner Doon,

    enlighten me, if you have made your final decision, and the Church is not true, why the heck are you wasting your time here? Shouldn’t your spritual curiosity that led you away from the LDS Faith be leading you in a search for what else may be out there? I just always wonder why those who leave the faith can’t leave it alone (mangled quote there from some GA, can’t remember now who)

    What possible fulfilment could you be getting from montioring a group of people that you are convinced are going down the wrong path? It just seems to so odd to me.

  59. Katie,
    Your concern about community is valid. As someone who posts at blogs, though, I can say that it is unfortunately impossible to respond to every comment out there. It bugs me greatly and I wish there was a better way of including everyone in the discussion.

    I’m curious: your beef with the nacle seems quite large. Why then do you still find yourself “reading and posting?” Is there nothing good, or is the nacle an LDS narcotic?

  60. Katie,
    Maybe I’ll be the first to respond to one of your comments 🙂 You said that “if this was a real forum as opposed to a cyber one…” but the problem is that this isn’t a real forum, it is a cyber one. A lot of people are posting at the same times as others and many people have subconversations in the same thread. And not everyone is a lawyer… I went to art school.

    Secondly, you seem to insinuate that your experience is the same as everyone’s and that we’re fooling ourselves if we say otherwise. I’m sorry you don’t feel like this is a community and that you haven’t had the Spirit while here. I do and I have. And I know others who have as well. Please don’t try to tell me that I am not having a good experience here.

  61. I’ll join my MA brethren and chime in on Katie’s comment too.

    Katie, I can’t tell if you are mostly feeling bent because you were ignored in some of your good comments or if there is more to it. If getting ignored is a big part of the problem let me suggest you go to the smaller sites in the bloggernacle instead of the “mainland” sites like this one, T&S, and BCC. Check out the action at the smaller islands of the bloggernacle here. You will find that when you a comment at a smaller blog you will almost always be acknowledged and engaged. The comments arrive more slowly in the islands and the conversations can often be very rewarding.

    If you just hate everything everyone says at Mormon blogs then the good news is that blogging is a completely opt-in hobby.

  62. I have the opposite experience that Katie does.

    I’m uplifted by a lot that goes on in the ‘Nacle, and the rest, well, that’s just how I learn what not to do. 😛

    I often have the experience of feeling like a fly on the wall, in a very good way. I can ‘listen’ in on all of these great conversations and not even have to put any work in. I just reap the benefits.

    Although I teasingly posted earlier that no one in the bloggernacle loves me, I actually enjoy the anonimity, because I can just be me, off in my tiny corner of the world.

    And even if all that weren’t true, I’d still read Mormon blogs, simply for the joy that Prudence McPrude brings into my life. I love her. In a staunchly non-lesbian way, of course.

  63. Prudence is a big fan of non-lesbian love. Prudence reciprocates Crystal’s non-lesbian love, particularly if she is the same Crystal who helped Prudence preach repentence to the heathens at that unmentionable site that was kicked off the Mormon Archipelago some time ago. Prudence thinks the righteous should join forces and together, reign over the wicked with an iron fist.

  64. Rusty-
    I’m sorry if I insinuated that my experience mirrors others. That was not my intent at all. Rather my post was meant only to convey my personal feelings. I only wished to provide a counterpoint for those who felt uplifted my the nacle. I believe it happens to others. I am just saying it does not happen for all.

    My comments being ignored is actually my least important beef. I read much more than I post and I generally don’t feel slighted if I am ignored when I do. And like you said there are smaller venues where you are less likely to be ignored (FMH is a lovely one). My point was only to dispute the claim that the nacle constituted a true community. I suppose my disillusionment is from the allure that it is one, which you get drawn into, but then it doesn’t quite fulfill its promise. It comes so close but doesn’t quite deliver. You feel some sort of weird dissonance.

    And I definitely do not “just hate everything everyone says at Mormon blogs.” I realize now that my post was worded way too harshly (please see me point #4 above). There is much good in blogging. A post by J. Stapley at Splendid Sun resulted in a grand spiritual experience and a personal revelation which kept me in the church when I was seriously thinking of leaving following my endowment. So there, I must admit, at least once, the bloggernacle saved my testimony. But those experiences are few and far between.

    I suppose J. Max’s post simply brought to a head frustration that I have felt for some time but didn’t have the proper post to vent on. I wanted to play devil’s advocate to those who think the nacle is a complete good. I feel like we must acknowledge that it has warts as well and be willing to discuss them. My post was to indicate what I believe it is not, that it is not a proper community, nor a true faith builder. There is a strange interplay between distance and intimacy in the bloggernacle and sometimes it just doesn’t feel right and makes me frustrated. But I do think it is thought provoking and entertaining. And for many can be much more. Just not for me. I suppose when I found the nacle I was excited at the prospect of an open sort of cyber Sunday School. I have grown disillusioned that it is not, and perhaps this was my own fault-my own misperception. And will learn to like it for other reasons.

  65. Katie, a few thoughts on community:

    I joined Millennial Star in part because I wanted a blog home where I could help build up the sense of community in the bloggernacle. We accept reader submissions, feature reader comments on our sidebar, and we have a few other ideas brewing. I think primarily in terms of community when I think about the bloggernacle.

    Still, what does community mean? I agree that there is “a strange interplay of distance and intimacy” in the bloggernacle, as you so nicely put it. I suppose I didn’t believe much in the strength of the bloggernacle community until (New Cool) Geoff J posted this plea (follow up post here). In a sense, the bloggernacle-as-community came to life for me then because one man imagined that the bloggernacle could be more than just a bunch of blogs. I spent all day praying and hoping for a boy I had never met or seen, because a man who I knew only as a sometime commenter on a blog I contribute to asked for help, and that was the only help I could give.

    Forgive me for not knowing this Katie, but do you have a blog somewhere? Blogging is different than commenting. If a commenter goes away for a while, it may take a while for people to notice, if they ever do (where is Kingsley, anyway?), but when a blogger takes time off, it doesn’t take long before people start to wonder what is going on. And bloggers have a sense of responsibility to their readers as well. I’ve felt guilty about not posting here, and my other blogs have been shamefully neglected over the past few months. I don’t feel bad at all that I haven’t commented much over at T&S or BCC lately, but I am sharply aware that I haven’t contributed much here since the birth of my latest child. Becoming a blogger sharply increased my sense of connection with the rest of the bloggernacle.

  66. Good question, Porter. You ask, “Why don’t you leave the church alone?”

    Snarky answer: Why should I? It’s my church, too.

    Non-snarky answer: If by “the church” you mean believing members, I do leave them alone. I don’t attempt to tear down anyone’s faith. This is maybe my fourth or fifth post on the bloggernacle. I usually only lurk on “believing” LDS web sites and post only on boards specifically intended for debate or disgruntlement. I posted this time because I thought my opinion might be of interest to some people.

    Why do I continue to think and read about the church?

    1) Mormon issues still interest me, even if the church isn’t “true.” The psychology of it all fascinates me endlessly.
    2) Mormonism is a big part of my culture and heritage.
    3) Most of my family and friends are still Mormons.
    4) I’m still a Mormon, and I still go to church. (I’m a closet disbeliever, not a raging apostate shouting on temple square about Joe Smith and damnation.)
    5) I grew up and reside in a very Mormon area. I couldn’t escape Mormonism if I tried.
    6) I don’t think Mormons are necessarily “going down the wrong path.” Sure, I don’t think the church is “true,” but that doesn’t equate to “worthless.” You can learn something from everybody.
    7) There are lots of topics on Mormon web sites beyond “how to have faith” or whatever. I don’t consider reading them a waste of time.
    8) Old habits die hard. I’ve spent enough number of years doing Mormon research, it’s almost a reflex anymore.
    9) Prudence McPrude makes me laugh.
    10) For all you know, God led me here to build my testimony. 🙂

  67. I’ve been on vacation, so am late to this, but I would like to state for the record that while I am personally sad to see Jon go, and while I have a somewhat different view of the bloggernacle as a whole, I feel that he has made a good decision. If there’s ever a time when I feel that the bloggernacle is hurting rather than helping my spiritual development, I’m out of here too.

  68. My husband was into blogging before I was and I thought that it just wasn’t all that interesting. Then my son almost died and so many on the bloggernacle posted comments and told us how they spent the whole day praying and frankly I was shocked. I was so touched that people would worry and pray for people they had never personally met. I did a few guest posts for my husband’s blog and then kind of got hooked myself.

    I enjoy the bloggernacle for several reasons: It’s nice to know that us Mormons are not as homogenous as you might think. On the opposite side of the coin it’s nice to know that other people struggle with issues I sometimes struggle with. I’ve made friends with people that I probably never would have in any other situation. A lot of the posts really make you think and learn and grow. I like that the things I’ve written are now there for my posterity to read someday.

    It can be an intimidating place and there have been times that I’ve made comments and it felt like everyone in the discussion stopped, stared, and then someone said, “Anyway, what were we talking about?” Sometimes I’ve been envious of the friendships and inside jokes that people share but you know what? That’s life anywhere you go. There have been other times that I’ve found a fellow blogger so completely annoying (founder of the unmentionable site)that I’ve wanted to have voo doo dolls made in their image and poke lots of pins in them!

    I’ll stop rambling now. Best of luck to you JMW and God bless

  69. Wow…I must hope Abner is a statistical anomally. I’m not very comfy at all with the thought that folks at church don’t really believe. shatters all sorts of heuristic filters…

  70. There are lots of people who go to church without believing in it. Some post on these blogs, and others post of different boards (including ex-Mormon ones). Some boards and blogs cater to those who want to stay in for family reasons (e.g. to keep the peace with spouses, parents, etc.). If I were to believe the boards and blogs, I’d think the *believing* component might be the minority and the ultra-orthodox ones come off as fundamentalist wackos!

    Check out (or is it .org?) to see what I mean!

  71. Abner, just want to say that you’re welcome here. There’s no belief litmust test for participation at this or any other blog, as far as I know. You seem well aware of the codes of conduct, despite your personal doubts, so please feel free to stick around. Maybe when you become converted from reading all our great posts, we can use you as proof that the Bloggernacle really is a fabulous place. Or not.

  72. But Kim, you’re still here. And you commented on another blog today, I think. How is that quitting? Not that I want you to, although you irritated me awhile back.

    And once again you puzzle me. Precisely why did you quit?

  73. We’ll miss you, Jon!

    I’m sure you have a few reasons for moving on, and I trust this is the right choice for you. There are many ways for you to build up the Good and the True, and likely your talents will be better exercised elsewhere.

    I’m a little puzzled because I really don’t see “the bloggernacle” as a collective enterprise analogous to a symposium. It is not quite as diffuse as “the internet”, but it is more like the internet in general, or like a town, than it is like a symposium. So I don’t see that you would need to feel implicated in anything outside of M*, except for your own comments on other blogs. There are certainly things going on to do with Mormons in the blogosphere that I wouldn’t want to be implicated in.

    The blog-world is a different experience for different people. I was just at a gathering of members of my local ward the other day, and several of them were having a conversation about how the bloggernacle is a support to their faith. I got an email recently from another friend whose bloggernacle experience is keeping her in the church.

    Abner Doon, thanks for your measured comments. For my part, I see some parts of the bloggernacle as living evidence that Mormonism is intellectually viable, even vibrant, and even helping to bring that vibrancy to fuller fruition. I hope to see you around.

  74. Dear Prudence,

    Sadly, we do not require your services any longer. Please dispatch forthwith.


  75. I’ll miss you a lot, J. Max. I’ve had your debate many times, especially on the lone-voice-crying-in-the-wilderness days. I stay for two reasons.
    First, though you are likely right about the ultimate fate of the bloggernacle, or at least of the blogs therein, we aren’t there yet. Just the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, I think most of our human endeavors were doomed from the foundation of the world, so if I pulled out of everything I thought would end badly, I would do nothing. This is not to criticize your decision, however. I may take it myself someday.

    Second, as you point out, far too many conversations in the bloggernacle take the form of doubt affirmation. But I believe there are many possible worthwhile conversations too be had that take the gospel as given and move from there. I hope to foster those.

    Rumors of my retirement are much exaggerated. I’ve been moving the last couple of weeks and haven’t had internet access.

  76. Ebenezer,
    Oh goodness, I’m sitting here trying to think of something appropriate to say, and nothing lovely enough comes to mind. You’re one of the good ones, the real Mccoy. Thank you so much for being a guest blogger on FMH all that time ago (a few decades in blog years). I was so shocked and grateful that you’d go out on a limb like that, and so pleased with what you produced. Clearly you put so much time and effort and thought into it. It was so generous and sincere and kind. It meant a lot to me and I’ve had the softest, squishiest, warmest little spot in my heart for you. I’ll miss you, go in peace.

    As for the nacle, well, I’m not sure it’s effected my faith much one way or the other. However, I am quite certain it’s saved my activity level and my sanity level. At this point (hard won and long in coming) my faith is a rock. And while I know that church (often inextricable from church culture and church people and church poltics) is the medicine that keep faith healthy, FOR me, the nacle is the sugar that helps the medicine go down. I heart the nacle. I heart Ebenezer.

  77. This is one good thing that happened because of blogging, for me: Today I read on one blog (sorry, can’t remember which one) the Nicene Creed. Then I read the talk that the prophet gave which refers to it. If I’d read the talk alone, without the blog reference, I don’t think I would have paid much attention to the prophet’s comment. I might’ve, but I might not’ve.

    So it’s worth it for that kind of thing.

  78. “14 JMW, you will be missed. I think this was probably a good decision for you personally, though, as you’ve always struck me as a guileless soul a little ill-suited to the rough-and-tumble of public debate. Best of luck.”
    ~ Rosalynde

    I think that was the most smug and condescending post I’ve ever read in the bloggernacle!!

  79. Then I don’t think you know Rosalynde, which neither do I, only from blogging. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard being smug and condescending. Confusing, but that’s just me.

    This is a rough and tumble world, it’s scary and discouraging. It takes backbone to have an opinion, especially an opinion that nobody agrees with.

    I don’t JMW, either, I don’t have anything against him, but I’ve never thought guileless was a criticism. I think a lot of people quit because they get their feelings hurt. The argument can dredge up feelings of contention and make you feel bad. It’s got to be worth it to keep on.

    And I guess nobody gets to decide that for any of us.

  80. I think I perceived the comments the same as annegb. To be without guile, is a good thing. I used to think that if I ever had a son that I would name him Nathaniel because Jesus said that he was without guile. Since a cousin took the name Nathan already, I will have to find another name if I ever have a son. At any rate, I think Rosaladye is extremely cool as are all the female bloggers(and male too). I think annegb is ultra cool! I can understand how one may misinterpret such a statement.

    JMW, I wish you well wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
    We have to all do what feels best in our heart.

    I am glad for all the good that I continue to find here at M*. I think everyone has stepped things up a notch as of late. 🙂

  81. I understand completely, Jon. I visit the bloggernacle only rarely, primarily because I have little extra time. But if I really wanted to be here, and found the discussions worthwhile, I know I’d find the time to visit. I guess the real reasons I am not here much are the ones you list.


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