I haven’t been blogging much for quite a while. First I had depression and couldn’t. Then that ended and I got a shoulder injury (repetitive strain injury, I think) that made it near impossible for me to blog without significant pain. That’s been going on for a year. It sucks getting older and — at least on the inside — I seem to be aging particularly fast. I haven’t had consistent good health for a couple of years now. If its not one thing its another. Did I mention the eye surgery I have to have in a couple of weeks?
J Max, ever my counselor on blogging, actually encouraged me to stop blogging until I fully recovered. And when I do get over this shoulder problem, I’ve decided I’m going to “go back to school” and do an online master degree from Georgia Tech in computer science. For the most part I hate computers, I’m an technology laggard, and I was never a good programmer. But I love artificial intelligence, computational theory, computer graphics, and quantum computing. So I guess that means I like computer science more than I like computers. So my life is a bit strange. (Didn’t Geoff call me the blogger that reads books no one else will? Guess he’s right.) So I don’t see a return to my mammoth blog posts with lots of references any time soon.
So I’ve wondered about how I might contribute to Mormon blogging given my limitations. I had an idea a while back that I’ve never done and I think now might be the time.
So for the next 30 days, I’m going to read By Common Consent. Yup, you read that right. No, I’m not mentally ill (any more — at the moment.) For 30 days I’m going to read By Common Consent and when I come across good uplifting posts that I think M* readers would find interesting, I’m going to briefly blog about them and give some thoughts.
Here are the rules: For the next 30 days, I will only praise posts at BCC. If I don’t like a post, feel it’s liberal non-sense, or feel it’s anti-LDS doctrines, I’m going to ignore it altogether — at least for the next 30 days. I suspect this won’t be all that hard, actually. Presumably a site like BCC is overwhelmingly more positive than negative to the LDS Church, but I guess I’m going to find out. Believe it or not, I’ve probably only read a total of 10 or so posts on BCC in my life and I’ve commented maybe on 3 of them. So I have no real experience with BCC and no real opinion of its content.
Oh, and I probably won’t read the comments. I’m really only interested in the posts. And comments are always nasty business anyhow.
After 30 days, who knows. I might give up, I might decide to continue, I might decide to continue but add in criticisms as well as praise.
In short, I am hoping to add a bit of cross talk between “the liberal Bloggernacle” and the more conservative “Nothing Wavering” sides of the Mormon blog-sphere. There is probably already quite a number of you that read both sites, so this is gong to be redundant for you maybe. But still, you’ll get my point of view and feedback to attack, defend, criticize, or praise. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.
To get started, here are a few thoughts on two posts over at BCC I read today:
Face to Face with the Unknowable God
This is, in part, a post about Emmanuel Levinas, who our own Jeffrey Thayne loves and has written about here.
What I particularly liked about this post was its portrayal of “transcendence” as connection with others — God and other people:
Transcendence by its nature can never be about ourselves alone: it comes only through the miracle of our connections to other people, and to God.
I’ll have to think about this more. I tend to avoid words that seem to me to have only vague or abstract meanings — well, usually I do. And “transcendence” by its very nature is about as abstract and vague as it gets most of the time. I also tend to think of “transcendence” as being some sort of moral meaning (as I’ve written about elsewhere) that we dedicate our lives to that is universal in nature. What I really like about this view of transcendence is that it’s a) not vague and abstract (or a lot less so) and, b) fits the scriptures perfectly, as with Matt 22:38-39.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
This also matches my own inner intuitions about what I want most out of life — to really come to know some people and have them become part of my life in a very real way. Obviously starting with family, but then perhaps moving on to some close friends. As someone that spent the first couple of decades of life feeling socially distant from my peers — possibly due to biological issues, though I’m not sure — I can tell you that this is a meaningful thing to me. A desire I have long held but have found difficult to ever fulfill to the degree I’d like.
Print Culture and Orality in Early Mormonism
This is an interesting post that points out that we moderns care mostly about print. And historians, so completely dependent on what is in print, obviously favor print to the exclusion of what often mattered much more to our forefathers — oral tradition. Here a good quote that I think summarizes the point:
Future examinations of Joseph Smith’s sermons await the application of tools like Performance Criticism that will surely challenge some of the assumptions of past scholarship of early Mormonism.
I’m always in favor of challenging what-we-think-we-know, so this sounds interesting to me.
Is Orality really a word? 😉
New Post: Mormon Blogging and Cross Talk: . I haven’t been blogging much for quite a while. First… http://t.co/HLmVragcFu #LDS #Mormon
TheMillennialStar: Mormon Blogging and Cross Talk http://t.co/1uUPuGg0GQ #lds #mormon
This seems like it will be a fun project! Glad to hear from you and know the reasons for your silence!
I hope you feel better Bruce. The world needs more of your very unique perspective on things.
Okay, I’m going to reveal my naivete and ask “Why target BCC?” And why should I care if you review their posts as opposed to other existing blogs? Are they the ultimate “liberal” blog of the Bloggernacle? What is their general reputation? Or, maybe a better question is, how do they want others to see them? (Of course, I’m sure the answers will vary depending on who is asked.) Finally, should we be concerned for your spiritual/mental well-being in taking on this project for the next 30 days? Should we pray for your soul? : )
Hi Bruce, I’ll be interested to see what you think.
I’m also really sorry to hear you’ve had a bout of depression, and I’m glad you’re feeling better. This is a problem that several of us at BCC have grappled with, in one way or another; you might want to look at the series of group posts on depression from a few years back: http://bycommonconsent.com/2010/02/22/living-with-depression-series-overview/
A comedian once said, something like: “I used to suffer from mental illness. Now I kind of enjoy it,”
Kristine, thank you. That was kind.
Tiger, BCC is the largest of the, um… man, the terms are all ruined these days. So they are the flagship of “the bloggernacle” which used to refer to only a small group of blogs (BCC, T&S… I forget the rest), but now refers to any Mormon blog. But they are the largest and one of the oldest of the group blogs. Yes, they have a liberal reputation, though most Mormon blogs do. But I am told put out some pretty good stuff (I’ve read a few) as well as the occasional attack on Mormon beliefs they disagree with. I have read the occasional attack on the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality in particular. And as with most liberal blogs, they have, um, modesty issues. That’s about all I know.
I didn’t know you’d injured your shoulder too! Sorry about that. Good luck reading the BCC stuff. I couldn’t do it. 🙂
There have been a few BCC articles every now and then that have been good, but on the whole I probably will think less positive than you have already found. By the time it gets to the comments, any good will the OP has is quickly gone as the typical commenter will find some way to attach the Church and any faithful member.
. . . as the typical commenter will find some way to attack the Church and any faithful member.
Kudos to you Bruce! I wonder how many people only read blogs they agree with rather than considering other perspectives. I suspect this behavior contributes to labeling people rather than seeing each other as fellow saints. Good luck!
As for the comment section, you might enjoy parts of it. I usually skim over comments of any blog. If it’s all angry then I pass over it. But sometimes it’s better than the blog; even more insightful.
Deborah Christensen, with BCC that is simply NOT true. Almost every last comment (save a be a few lone defenders) sound like apostates on the edge of activity if they haven’t already fallen off already. Like I said, other than one or two a YEAR, the whole place is an intolerable mess!
If you’re after mitigation of pain, BCC is probably wrong for you. I suppose Steve might object to having an honest LDS playing in his personal sandbox, even if you only lurk and report your impressions.
I found BCC a little too “heavy” for my liking, but maybe you will do better.
M* is the best out there I have to say.
You could always check out my blog. Not really heavy at all, but I think you might still enjoy it.
On March 12, 2004, Steve Evans announced the birth of By Common Consent, or “BCC” with the following text:
So this is an auspicious beginning: a liberal mormon blog that harshly rejects conservative viewpoints.
To whatever degree Latter-day Saints might be thought of as having “liberal” or “conservative” viewpoints, well, you can see from the above what is welcome and what is unwelcome at BCC. But it is better to be honest about it than to play a lie, isn’t it?
That was tongue-in-cheek, meant to make fun of the “liberal”/”conservative” divide that dominates Mormon discussions.