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Excuses for not blogging, part III

July 1, 2010

This is the third part in the series on my excuses for not blogging. The first part concerns my feelings about blogging here and my feelings about blogging at Main Street Plaza. The second part began to dive into Mormon Matters, and the process of my acquaintance with the deeper history (and the fault lines) of the bloggernacle’s relation to MM.

As I previewed in the last article, our discussions behind the scenes increasingly reflected on what course of action would be best to take. Here are my thoughts on that.

Mormon Matters’ hosting of the Niblets the first time did not come without complaint. It was not welcomed with open arms.There was controversy over who should be on the ballot, how the ballot should go, whether the process even should be democratic. Who is part of the bloggernacle? Is Seriously So Blessed part of it? Are Mormon Mommy Bloggers? Do they even participate on other non-mommy sites?

I think it revealed cracks and fissures that have existed since long before I even got on the scene. Nevertheless, being a part of one battle of this war gave me a sense of solidarity for Mormon Matters that I didn’t have before. I wanted (and want) the site to be the best it can be.

Some of the discussions behind the scene tended toward how we could grow the community. There were quite a few scraps behind the scenes concerning the tone of some of the commenters. Some people had problems with the constant criticisms coming from some disaffected commenters. Others had problems with the “holier-than-thou” attitude of some faithful commenters.

I thought there was a big problem that some permabloggers were considering leaving or dropping out because of their feelings of constantly having to “justify” their own existence as believers.

At the center of the debate, I think, were some of the values of the site and community. The goal, as I understood it, was to allow people a chance to air their voices. Our goal was not to prune and moderate and silence heavily, because we didn’t want to alienate people with real issues.

…but how could we mesh that with being a faithful blog trying to be accepted in a faithful bloggernacle? There has been a phrase about Mormon Matters — it is a site for those who love Mormonism (however that may go). I could see how one can be on any part of the faith continuum and love Mormonism…but at the same time, but I could also see how it could be said that some people quite simply didn’t “love” Mormonism.

And I wondered…what does it mean to love Mormonism? How could I write for the site without knowing that (even if I came up with a highly idiosyncratic answer to the question)?

…I guess I’ll segue into another part of the atmosphere at Mormon Matters. When I first got on board, I was amazed at how different things were behind the scenes at MM than at MSP. There was a schedule at MM, for example, so that was one piece of structure. There was a lot more behind-the-scenes panel discussion at MM, so that was another way to find out the “secret life” of the blog. In contrast, MSP didn’t have a post schedule (until I suggested it :3, but that didn’t stick, I don’t think.) And MSP has been sparse on panel discussions (…if there even has been any).

So, at first, I thought that these two sites could be the two ends of the spectrum.

I quickly found out that might not be the case.

Since I wanted Mormon Matters to flourish, I was disheartened when I’d see our posters go to other sites. Especially sites like By Common Consent. But from such migrations, I began to see some illumination into BCC.

Some things that I could glean from them were 1) they had a much more academic readership, 2) they had a larger and more active community in general, and 3) the community was far more close-knit. People talked about becoming far more acquainted with the other permabloggers at BCC in a guest-posting stint than they had since joining MM.

I was intrigued by this. I could see the difference between permablogger interaction and close-knitness of community between MSP and MM, but I couldn’t imagine what could be the case at BCC to elicit such accolades. From the outside looking in, I could tell BCC was different. But what I saw in their very well-defined community was a plethora of inside jokes, and, unfortunately, high barrier to entry. Not fitting it at BCC meant being suspended or (which I think may be worse), being ignored. (Aside: I find it sooo fascinating that some people found the Banner of Heaven blog project so appealing because you were less likely to be ignored there.)

Nevertheless, we wanted to do something to expand the community and staunch the brain drain.

I had gone on a bit of a dry spell at Mormon Matters already, but I was active in discussions about the direction of the site. I wanted things more defined, if only so I would know. What is the purpose and goal? Sure, we don’t want to be a clique, but how can we expand when we don’t know which direction to expand? We knew that expanding in all directions was a counterintuitive option — as instead of having a happy medium, we had constant and furious clashes of polarized extremes.

I was glad to see progress in the discussions. Particular bloggers took leading roles in crafting site goals. Nevertheless, I knew the chosen goals would be a challenge for me. The direction seemed decidedly to move away from “scab picking” and criticism — and, to be sure, I don’t think I “pick scabs,” but it seemed that on the continuum, the implication was that we were all skewing more faithful.

Our schedule became more codified, with the Quorum of the 12 (ok, I just made that up) having assigned spots and even publishing times throughout the week (with Sunday being set apart for a new purpose — I have particularly loved some of these.)

In the beginning of the new regime, what motivated me to write was 1) the challenge of meeting the new, established directions, 2) love of the site and desire for it to succeed (feeling I could have a part in that), and 3) a sense of obligation, being one of the 12.

But since the change, I found myself struggling…every Saturday morning, to scratch out a topic, just a few hours before my “deadline.” I knew that my products were not up to par, and I could barely even stand to revisit them. After only 3 weeks, I missed a deadline, and knew this wouldn’t work out. For the sake of the site, I couldn’t continue this.

I sent an email announcing a sabbatical from the site shortly after, although I have tried to read articles more diligently.

How can I say I love Mormonism? I am not rabid against it, but I am not fascinated these days. This article series has fascinated me because it is about a community, about a society…but what is specific to Mormonism about this other than the fact that I was thrown here by my upbringing?

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12 Comments
  1. hawkgrrrl permalink

    Yeah, I hear ya. It’s hard not to get stale on Mormonism. I too feel this struggle. I think in 130+ posts I’ve said what I had to say several times. Fresh thoughts on the topic are difficult. Anyway, you’re always welcome, and in my mind you are part of the 12.

  2. BCC was a fun place while I was there.

    But like hawkgrrrl, at a certain point, I had said what I wanted to say, and discovered about Mormonism what I wanted to discover. For me, the bloggernacle was a way of finding myself in the Church, and exploring what I really thought of the whole thing.

    But at a certain point, you arrive at a decision of what you think about feminism, evolution, following the prophet, correlation, and the other common standbys of discussion over there. At that point, you just don’t have much to add to the conversation.

  3. FireTag permalink

    In the Community of Christ, people don’t stay in the Quorum of 12 for life. That’s not a bad thing. It lets new ideas and growth into the light. And then there’s a time when old messages have aged and been seen from new perspectives, and its time to share the secrets of the trail with people walking it for the first time.

    That’s ok, Andrew. I’m still hearing things at Mormon Matters that are new to me, and I’m still adding topics to my to-write list. Now, if I can just get the “kingmen” ( :D ) in Washington to stop adding to my paperwork burden long enough to get them written…

  4. as with any volunteer activity, you’re attracted to participation as long as you feel you can contribute and are getting something back in return.

    if the cost of participating (time, energy, internal politics) is higher than the reward

    then it’s time to move on to other volunteer opportunities.

    I got burned out after 10 years of volunteering with an organization, so I haven’t volunteering again for the last 2 years

    • very logically stated, but I also think it’s tragic to speak of burnout…

      • yes, burn out sucks, but it happens

        you hit a point where you have little left to give and need to recharge and reconsider.

  5. Aaron R. permalink

    Its been interesting to read your view of this whole process. I have enjoyed your work at MM and have appreciated some of our discussions. I hope to see you stick around in some form.

  6. Glad to hear that, Aaron.

    I’ll probably be trying to comment around more, even if I get out less articles.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Excuses for not blogging, part II « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  2. Not-so-big tent Mormonism « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  3. Doubting My Doubts | Wheat and Tares
  4. I dare to address polygamy…at Wheat and Tares « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

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