Skip to content

I would not want to be so infamous that…

October 14, 2009

Sometimes, I get into a…mode…where I just want to read about marketing. Branding. Blog marketing. Increasing traffic. Wow, wouldn’t it be cool to have 1,000 twitter followers?! Wouldn’t it be nice to have better blog readership!? Wouldn’t it be great if my technorati authority were higher? And so on.

But I feel split. I like the niche that I have now, and I feel I would have to overextend myself or betray my niche or my message to expand. I don’t want to become an SEO whore. I don’t want to write articles that I hate just to attract others.

But I do sometimes feel that the niche I do enjoy is limited…how can I reach out to orthodox and believing Mormons? How can I reach out to ex-Mormons who want to sever all ties to the church? If there is a group in the middle, how can I reach out to anyone?

Am I even providing a valuable message here in this middle? One person warned me that everyone starts out in the middle, but eventually, we are all corrupted, and we become anti. Is that the case? Is this middle position feeding a demon inside that will eventually burst forth and take control?

I want to think that it’s good — not bad — for me to just write things down, even if no one else is reading. If I don’t have a single reader, I still have value. (So I don’t understand bloggers who quit. Who say that their blogging is a pain. Don’t you blog because it nourishes you? How can nourishment be venom?)

But my readers here…my fellow bloggers that I’ve linked on the side (and even some I haven’t)…you all are like dessert.  I totally don’t deserve you at all, but if I can have you, it’s a great treat.

I see others who attempt to carve a niche. A Middle Way to Mormonism. Wouldn’t you think that everyone would love it? It’s not too excessive, yet it isn’t too deficient. It’s just right.

Well, it turns out, it doesn’t net fans. Rather than making friends on both sides, you make enemies on both sides. You become notorious and infamous. Who are you? Are you for real? How can you be such a liar and deceiver? Why are you so lukewarm? Because you know and I know that the organization we have grown up with isn’t tolerant of the middle. They want you to be on an end…the believing end, if they can have their way. So, how can you actively advocate the middle as if nothing is wrong? It is a disingenous, despised middle.

I don’t even understand you, but I know that I feel bad for everything that you take: the crown of thorns. The cross. I feel bad that you are a huge target on both sides, and both sides see you as a subversion. Perhaps a subversive asset, but a subversion indeed. A wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I want to ask: are you? I don’t even understand you after all…so perhaps you are a wolf. Can I even trust you? Can I even trust this middle position? Or should I be attempting to make a foundation of integrity on either end? After all, the middle isn’t doing much for me either. I should get over it all, right? And live my life one way or another. But not in the middle.

Do you bear this cross and crown of thorns because you are genuine and you wouldn’t fight for something that you knew was a lie? That’s what they said about Joseph Smith.

Or is the reason you are being crucified — and people are calling for your blood to be shed on both sides — precisely because people know you’re a deceiver, and you’re just trying not to show your guilt and seal your fate?

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

20 Comments
  1. Yeah, I have thought about this a lot lately. And here’s what I think. I think about my life. I’ve invested 10 years and a years’ salary into the LDS church. Well, more than a years salary, when you consider fast offerings and other donations. And I find out it isn’t what it said it was – but its still a decent organization, in some ways. I find myself saying, Why bother MC? If it bothers you so much, just leave. The thing is… I can’t. Not yet, anyway. I’m invested, see? I have family. I have friends. If I leave, they see me as a sinner who wanted to sin. I don’t want that. What I want is to take this good thing (the Church) and make it great. I realize I will have no really effect on the system itself, but maybe someone out there will see someone else struggling for the middle way and say, hey! They did it. Maybe I can too, and together we can make a good thing better.

    Days like today… I’m not so sure. When I read Elder Oak’s talk from yesterday’s BYU-I devotional, and I think – Is anything really going to change? Do they even want people like me? I hear Elder Holland’s talk in GC and think, Clearly he’s asking me to leave. Shouldn’t I just go?

    I think your blog serves a purpose, Andrew, and it isn’t just to make a name for yourself. Those of us stuck in the middle with you, we like to know that there are others here with us. And we feel a little better inside because of it.

  2. But Madam Curie…don’t you realize that if they knew you as you truly believe, they would still see you as a sinner. For you do not have the same testimony as they do. You do not believe as they do. If you fully reveal your heterodoxy, then you still risk being alienated…But if you DON’T fully reveal you aren’t “orthodox,” then your hiding of this fact is deceptive, even if you feel it is for a good purpose. You’re really just fortunate because no one has caught on (assuming they indeed haven’t caught on).

    Doesn’t that bother you?

    It’s why I don’t go to the meetings. Because I would not be able to quietly sit during class, just for the sake of harmony. I would not be able to go every Sunday without letting it slip that I don’t believe the same as the others. Even if I know it’s good for appearances, for friends, for family. I am fine with being called and unbeliever…call a spade a spade. I won’t try to twist the temple interview questions…

    But at the same time, I don’t let Elder Holland or anyone else drive me away. I don’t let myself even take the interpretation that they are presuming to drive me away.

    It’s funny…I am fine with talking to people who are willing to believe and help them with questions about the church. I am happy if they can have faith in the church.

    I am fine with talking to people who don’t believe and help them with doubts about the church. I am happy if they leave and find something that brings them joy.

    But these people in the middle — the people like you or me — when I meet someone like that offline, I don’t know what I can say. I don’t want them to leave if they truly feel something…but I don’t want them to stay if it truly hurts them. I don’t know what I can say to this person without being disingenuous or being destructive.

  3. Since I started my blog, the group I drew the most criticism from was other evangelicals as well as fundamentalists. They didn’t like me calling them “intellectual short-bus riders” and panning their heroes like Walter Martin. I’ve learned to largely ignore people who angrily growl about how I compromise too much and “don’t know how to call a spade a spade.” You might as well just hang a sign around your neck that says “Welcome to Stepford, Home of the Stepford Evangelicals” and move along.

    Then I did my post on how to witness to Mormon missionaries a few weeks ago. It was a pretty friendly post which largely encouraged respect for LDS missionaries and mutual interfaith dialogue, but I did include a section on the best tactics for trying to convert a Mormon wherein I talked about three areas that seem effective in getting Mormons to doubt the church. And then Mormons started complaining, some more stridently than others. “And I thought this was a ‘Mormon Friendly’ blog. So sad,” wrote one commentator. Another one wrote walls and walls of text repeatedly insinuating that I was “lying in wait” for Mormons and brushing off all my friendly interfaith credentials until I finally kicked him off the blog. (Well, he’s allowed to comment there. Just not with vowels, which he learned the hard way.)

    Most of my LDS readers stuck around, even the ones who complained. But it’s left me feeling cynical about the so-called “middle ground.” Does the “middle ground” really just mean you’re only going to get complaints from one group or the other? Does it mean that you’re doomed to eventually drive away one or possibly both groups?

    Oh well. Contrary to the claims of certain evangelical anti-Mormons, I was never in this for the popularity. If people don’t like what I have to say, they can stop reading. I’d rather go back to being a blog that gets 10 hits a day and maintain the integrity of my opinions than start catering to one group or the other just so I can have more readers. Screw that.

    • Oh well. Contrary to the claims of certain evangelical anti-Mormons, I was never in this for the popularity. If people don’t like what I have to say, they can stop reading. I’d rather go back to being a blog that gets 10 hits a day and maintain the integrity of my opinions than start catering to one group or the other just so I can have more readers.

      In the end, I suppose I have to agree.

  4. Andrew, have you been getting some negative press recently or something? Everyone I see on here usually is very civil. I guess I haven’t read your conference posts and comments, though.

    I haven’t been to church in about a month, so I am not sure how it will be when we finally go back. I think that if you don’t fit in with the Mormon culture, you will eventually find yourself on the fringes. I was already there, even before I became disaffected. I’m still that weird feminazi Catholic convert who doesn’t hold a temple recommend, curtailed her family size, and works outside the home.

  5. This is actually written because of someone else I know, who has taken abuse on a different site, and seems to take abuse quite frequently. Just mentioning his name tends to start trouble.

    My site is fortunately very peaceful…except for a couple of run-ins with some people, which is why I wonder if I’m not in the same boat as well. But on the whole, I am incredibly, incredibly grateful that I don’t seem to have a problem with crazy commenters and crazy comment wars that I’ve seen on some other sites.

  6. Andrew, I don’t think it matters if one is liberal, conservative, or middle way. Two out of the other 3 groups are going to have a problem with the other position. I find that being a middle way Mormon means I get attacked from both sides, but I also can attack overly-liberal or overly-conservatives as well. If one picks too many fights, I think a time-out is necessary just to regroup.

    I think the middle way group is necessary to keep the liberals and conservatives in line, and try to get them to be civil with one another. Even middle way people lean toward conservatism or liberalism of particular subjects.

    There are middle way Mormons like Armaund Mauss who have excellent communication skills. They still get attacked too, but seem to handle it better than some.

  7. It’s hard to stay in the middle when the debate is so impassioned.

    I’m kind of like that myself. Even on my mission, I enjoyed the “hard cases.” People who weren’t going to convert – and it was understood they didn’t want to convert. I new I wasn’t going to change their minds. But I kept visiting anyway. They enjoyed the association, and so did I.

    I naturally gravitated to this when I started getting involved in blogging too. The opposing side interested me. And I naturally gravitated towards people more like me – those who were interested in meeting in the middle.

    But it’s been very hard. In looking for these kind of interactions, I naturally run afoul of hardliners. People who just get under my skin. It’s hard to avoid engaging them.

    But the more I engage the hardliners, the more and more I feel like I’m losing the ability to talk evenly with people who aren’t so strident.

    It’s like most people want you to be an extremist. When you try not to be, they find it offensive.

  8. It doesn’t help that I’m naturally passionate by nature either. A real part of me wants to be the ideologue.

    But I just find myself, little by little, turning into a bit of a jerk, and I don’t much like it.

  9. But the more I engage the hardliners, the more and more I feel like I’m losing the ability to talk evenly with people who aren’t so strident.

    It’s like most people want you to be an extremist. When you try not to be, they find it offensive.

    Beautifully said, Seth.

    But I just find myself, little by little, turning into a bit of a jerk, and I don’t much like it.

    You and me both. Well, I’ve always been a jerk. Lately I’m just having a harder time suppressing it.

    Maybe we need a buddy system.

  10. MH:

    How is the middle position good for keeping the conservatives and liberals in line and trying to get them to stay civil with one another if neither side trusts you as a representative of the middle position. After all, look at your online handle…you’re a Mormon Heretic. So dangerous! So subversive! How can you be trusted?

    Seth:

    But the more I engage the hardliners, the more and more I feel like I’m losing the ability to talk evenly with people who aren’t so strident.

    It’s like most people want you to be an extremist. When you try not to be, they find it offensive.

    Spooky.

    Is there a way to not turn into a jerk? Is that what we all should be learning how to do? Learning how to face strident people without succumbing to creeping jerkness?

  11. Touche` Andrew.

    I try to be respectful of people. But as Seth and Jack mention, there are hardliners who are hard to ignore. I do have a goal to soften these people up. Sometimes it works. I will say that I can think of a few people who I’ve been able to help be more diplomatic in there extremist views, and I view that as a success. Of course, there are others that I’ve merely argued with. But I think that the successes help all of us, so I keep trying to pull people to the middle. After all, are we told that “there must be moderation in all things”? I think it’s a good thing to strive for.

    • FireTag permalink

      Hanging in thin air is part of the job requirement for being a bridge, MH.

  12. But I think that the successes help all of us, so I keep trying to pull people to the middle. After all, are we told that “there must be moderation in all things”? I think it’s a good thing to strive for.

    Ah, MH, but “moderation in all things” was a quote by a Roman dramatist. In contrast, the book of Revelations in the Bible (3:16) indicates that those who are lukewarm, the Lord will spit out.

  13. yeah, must there be “moderation” in all things…or on the other hand, must there be opposition in all things? The scriptures also talk about this.

    With the one, things mellow out in the middle. With the other, each side takes his position strongly, and things mellow out as a result of average the two extremees.

  14. I once heard someone say that if a Democrat recommended turpentine in the holiday punch and a Republican recommended diesel fuel, a moderate would happily suggest one half portion of each.

  15. Phillippians 4:5 “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” While Revelation 3:16 said God will spew out the lukewarm, it was Jesus building bridges with the hated Good Samaritan–all the other Jews spewed in the Samaritans direction. I think Jesus was preaching moderation also when he said “don’t get angry” (not just “thou shalt not kill”.)

    Scriptures are inherently paradoxical. We’re told to “submit” to the will of God, yet we have free-agency to make our own decisions. Yes there is supposed to be opposition in all things, but God also wants unity. God creates Man, then destroys man in the Flood. Terryl Givens has a new book on the paradoxes of scripture.

    I stand by my statement that I think it’s better to be moderate. There are quotes from Jesus espousing by extremist and moderate views, but I think the moderate views are the ones he prefers. Love God, Love you neighbor, and I think it is an extremist position to spew (often unrighteous) judgments while unjustly quoting scripture.

    • FireTag permalink

      Of course, maybe this is reconciled by noting that Jesus had some extreme notions of what love required — the cross.

  16. I think it is an extremist position to spew (often unrighteous) judgments while unjustly quoting scripture.

    Well, I’m going to hope that you weren’t referring to me here, MH, because that would just be rude if you were.

  17. Madam Curie, I don’t view you as an extremist. If you are, I’m not aware of it yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: