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Excuses for not blogging, part II

June 29, 2010

In part 1 of Excuses for not blogging, I talked about my feelings about Irresistible (Dis)Grace contrasted with my feelings about Main Street Plaza, as well as my psychoanalysis of the effect of the atmospheres there and here. As I disclaimed, all of the things I’m saying about outside sites or people or things probably best should be used to psychoanalyze me. To great profit and merriment, I hope.

In this part, I want to turn over to the other “side.” The faithful side. I was invited to blog at Mormon Matters sometime after being invited to Main Street Plaza, and boy, I was just as excited there.

But I felt many of the apprehensions I had felt before, as well as a few ones unique to this blog environment.

As I mentioned in the first article, the difference between the group blogs and my own blog is that I’ve always been acutely aware that Irresistible (Dis)Grace is my home, but other blogs are places that I have been fortuitous enough to be allowed in. So, from the beginning of my writership there, Mormon Matters also was not my home. As a result, I felt (and feel?) constrained and sensitive about what I should write there.

When I was originally invited (which began with a comment from Hawkgrrrl here), I already was worried about the tones and direction of the site. Nevertheless, hawkgrrrl insisted (ooh, behind the scenes alert!) that my tone would be on the mark, and that the site didn’t have particular direction as for message, content, etc.,

I think this hurt, in a way. Much like my first (now defunct) blog, which didn’t have any particular direction, the lack of direction here made me unsure about what would go well.

Nevertheless, my first few posts were pretty successful, I think, if not controversial.

Posting at Mormon Matters has been hit or miss with me. I am even more sensitive to poorly received articles there, because the blog receives a great deal of traffic. (It’s harder to blame things on being an unknown nobody site).

I began to see why things were hit and miss by becoming more familiar with the regular commenters there. When I alluded to MM at the end of the last article, I described it as a “[movement] along the spectrum.” What I mean is, I cannot say that MM is “the other side” of Main Street Plaza. Certainly, MM is more of a believer’s blog, and MSP is more of a nonbeliever’s blog, but both do a good job, I think, of not utterly alienating the other side.

The thing about MM is that it has a wide range of characters…some who are staunchly anti-gay-anything (to the point that I can predict when they will go on a tirade)…some who are overbearingly orthodox and conservative in their beliefs…many who are greatly faithful, but more moderate…many who are struggling, doubting, but clinging to the good they find, and some who feel so hurt and betrayed that I can predict when they also will go on a tirade.

This wide range of opinions and views seemed to alienate me more…I didn’t feel aligned with anyone. The detractors detracted too strongly against issues I wasn’t concerned with. The faithful had strong faith in issues I simply didn’t have faith in.

Mormon Matters, in a way, exposed me to a different kind, and I didn’t align with them either: the New Order, or liberal, or middle-way Mormon.

…There are innumerable names for this group, and I guess every name captures something slightly different about it. But nevertheless, there were people who largely had issues with the church, but were sticking in, and figuring out ways to stick in. Or there were people who did not believe everything, but found a great deal of good in it, so they clung closely to that good.

I didn’t think back then that I was on either side’s “extreme,” so for a while, I thought I might fit in as some variation of this middle way type? Why not be a NOM or Liahona or whatever else?

I think I have touched upon that elsewhere here.

To figure things out (and to crack the enigma that is Mormon Matters), I had to look further into the character of its brain-father, John Dehlin, and his other works. I still think that John’s work, “How to stay in the LDS Church…” is foundational to understanding the history and atmosphere of his involvements, projects, and interests.

I can distill his idea best as…sometimes, people need and want a way to stay in the church. The common theme…the crossroads of all of the projects…is in reaching out to those who want and need a way. I think the atmosphere of Mormon Matters has its diversity of people because it is trying to address that. The disaffected leave, sever, work through, start anew. The New Order or middle way have something that they don’t want to leave or sever, so they work through and maintain with adjustments. Some people do it in a resentful way; others do it in a hopeful way. So, there’s the gamut.

I noticed very quickly that this path is quite unpopular.

Part of the reason why I say Mormon Matters is a move along the continuum and not the “other side” is because of how the unpopularity falls. Only after a while did I realize that John Dehlin has some detractors. On both sides. And Mormon Matters does too.

I was shocked to realize that Mormon Matters enjoys at best a tenuous position in the bloggernacle. But of course, I hadn’t known the history of the bloggernacle. I was shocked to find it was poorly regarded, at best tolerated. MM’s efforts to host the Niblets certainly revealed some of the tension. I saw that other bloggers regarded MM as unkempt, wild, and apostate. A perhaps heretical outsider trying to invade the bloggernacle community proper.

And so I felt guilty for writing at Mormon Matters because I felt like I were contributing to the impression of the site as apostate. I felt guilty every time I saw a comment too critical because I felt as if it vindicated the criticisms of others.

I don’t think I was alone in noticing this effect. Part III will cover the team’s awakening to this elephant in the room, and our discussion of what to do.

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9 Comments
  1. interestingly the biggest growth group according to a recent PEW study, is the no particular religion group.

    they aren’t atheists, but rather, don’t accept any of the claims for any religion, are unsure that what they think is out there is a god in the sense of a personally and actively involved god

    and they don’t go to churches or temples or mosques

    and worse, not only do they only vaguely think that there’s something more out there than what people can quantify, they aren’t only incapable to articulating their vague beliefs, but aren’t even interested to

    indifferent is winning

    and this is scary for religious folk who try to frame atheists as still involved with a god by characterizing us as being in active opposition

    but the indifferent to any deities are just not at all engaged and living morally and decent lives without a second thought

  2. That’s a good point (especially that this is scary for religious folk too). Because even when these groups are part of a church, they have their idiosyncratic beliefs.

    I think it’s an interesting phenomenon…people are just not caring about things like that anymore.

  3. I remember especially that someone commented on the “Nibletology” thread that letting MM host the Niblets was like letting the head of the DAMU camel into the tent…

    Years ago, I was annoyed with John Dehlin’s position that the faithful should welcome his work because he was keeping people from the horrible life-shattering tragedy of leaving the church entirely. He has since toned it down (before you arrived on the scene, and largely due to people who have explained, quite sincerely, that leaving the church has been the opposite of a tragedy for them). That said, I understand that people have good reasons for wanting to stay in (despite the challenges you describe), and I support what John is doing for his community. So — while I was happy to participate in the Niblets if the faithful are welcoming of the whole spectrum — I don’t mean for MSP to be the weight that pulls MM out of the circle of the “real” Bloggernacle…

    Ultimately — as I said in my comment on your other thread — the folks who don’t believe or practice don’t have quite the same investment in being accepted among the faithful.

  4. chanson,

    I soooo wanted the Nibletology thread for quite a few of my posts here, since it’s just a gold mine for the family affairs of the various bloggernacle and DAMU relatives (and particularly for the unfavorable status of MM in the bloggernacle.)

    But it seems to be gone, and I’m not that adept at searching cached web pages as I probably could be.

    Since doing a lot of my research, I have seen the way in which Dehlin’s approach and opinion of the option of leaving the church has changed. But unfortunately, I do think that it had an effect of distancing himself further from the faithful (while many ex-members he had [naturally] offended before still seem suspicious of his motives.) So, it seems tragic in a sense.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Excuses for not blogging, part I « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  2. Excuses for not blogging, part III « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  3. Not-so-big tent Mormonism « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  4. Doubting My Doubts | Wheat and Tares
  5. Sunday in Outer Blogness: Independence Day Edition! | Main Street Plaza

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