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Not-so-big tent Mormonism

July 18, 2010

big tent

The other day, I read Chris Carroll Smith’s summary of his article in the latest edition of Dialogue Journal, as well as his thoughts on Dialogue’s new direction ever since Kristine Haglund has become editor. I have known about Dialogue Journal and Sunstone Magazine for some time, but I just haven’t been so interested in the concept. After hearing the gist of Chris’s article’s idea (and his connection to another piece in the edition that he believes is a good complement), I was intrigued by it. So I investigated subscribing, and I decided to go ahead.

I wondered, “Why not sign up for Sunstone?” I suppose Sunstone is primarily a set of symposia, but it also has a magazine. Why not read into that?

At this point, I realized I had no idea what the difference between Dialogue and Sunstone was. I knew they must have some kind of personality or orientation difference, but I couldn’t imagine. So, I did some research.

My quick (and certainly un-thorough) search excavation of ancient internet history led me to one particular article at By Common Consent (and, to a lesser extent, this one at Times and Seasons). I found a theme to the messages here, and this theme was significant to me because I have seen and grappled with in the past. From what I can tell, Dialogue has more credibility with the faithful community, whereas Sunstone is “alternative” or heretical.

Many commenters simply noted that the unorthodoxy, “whining,” and “religion-making” that pervades the symposia are off-putting. Another commenter wrote:

…It’s not that I am against a way for bridges to be built and for people w/ different perspectives and experiences and varying degrees of in-the-church-ness to associate. And maybe Sunstone will continue to be that place. I suppose if Sunstone changed gears, then something else would form that would run the same course and run into the same challenges.

My thought, though, is that as long as Sunstone continues to have such a wide variety, it will continue to have a reputation that will limit its audience and appeal, and there will always be a raised eyebrow from many a member about it. And because there is a lot of good there, I think that is unfortunate. But maybe there is too much baggage there anyway — even the name triggers a lot, no?

I feared this sentiment. Can it be that the seeking of variety will be the one thing that will discourage it?

In slightly unrelated news, I’ve hit another setback. At a particular site, yet another email of mine has been put on automatic comment moderation. It was only a matter a time; I’ve only been getting by on a technicality and loophole (and am probably risking an IP ban that will require more creative solutions.)

My comment was eventually fished out, but I couldn’t help but express to the person who had fished it out: One day, I’ll get this message for good and just leave. One day, I’ll accept that I’m not wanted and stop trying to crash the party. One day, I’ll stop trying to actualize a dream of mine that was always a nightmare for everyone else. But not this day.

A recent post on the Exponent has brought this discordant motif blaring forth again, with slight variation. How was Jana’s post received? Here is one comment that caught my eye. And here was another.

…it’s like you showing up at Fast and Testimony meeting and telling people how much greater life is now that you have tank tops and tea. You wouldn’t do that, not because you are saying anything particularly outrageous or rude, it is just not the forum. Perhaps (hate to put words in her mouth) Naismith feels like I do: that THIS is not the best forum to extol the richness of post-mo life. Exponent II is, as it self-defines, a forum for Mormon women. When people who are no longer (or never were) Mormon women come here and post about their non-Mormon womanness, it feels antagonistic to those of us who actually want to read about, you know, Mormon women (maybe that’s why most of those people read Segullah instead). But I agree that a forum for formerly Mormons might be a very comfortable place for such a posting.

I think the reason why people don’t show up to Fast and Testimony meetings to talk candidly about their doubts and disbeliefs is because they detect, discern, or digest that they can only destroy and damage relationships that way.

But I think when people visit sites on the internet, especially Mormon blogs, they do so with the hope — faith? — (however falsely founded) that there may be a different response. That there can be a bigger tent via the blogs.

Perhaps that simply isn’t the case.

I do not think that people are looking for reasons to leave. I think at all times, they are looking for reasons to stay. They are looking for reasons to stay in spite of the fact that they’ve overstayed their welcome, in defiance of the fact that their contributions are not cherished, in opposition to the fact that others would rather they stayed somewhere else.

I feel there is a disconnection in our diction, a void in our vocabulary, a challenge to our conversation. What does it mean for us to be Mormon and what does it mean for us to be ex- or post-Mormons? What does it mean to move on from the Church (to leave it), and what does it mean to move on from the community (to leave it alone)? ESO writes that she believes Exponent II is a forum for Mormon women. Can’t an ex-Mormon woman be a Mormon woman too? Mustn’t an ex-Mormon woman be a Mormon woman too?

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  1. I think both publications tend to reflect a similar range of perspectives, but they do so on different levels of discourse. Dialogue is more of an academic publication, where pieces must be peer reviewed prior to publication. Sunstone is more of a popular magazine, with a lot more humor and personal narrative and reflection. When it publishes academic work, it tends to be written in a more engaging way than Dialogue, probably because it has a less technical orientation.

  2. That was another orientation difference I had noticed — the idea of “professional scholarship” vs “amateur scholarship” (or something even less than “scholarship”.

  3. I must admit to a bit of a prejudice: I am VERY tolerant of a wide wide variety of beliefs and practices WITHIN Mormonism. Almost no action or belief would make me think someone should just get out of the Church (although some might think that they shouldn’t be teaching Primary), but once someone has left the Church, I really don’t think they should cling to a VERY historically significant moniker and component of Mormon culture.

    I am both a Mormon and a feminist, but I HATE that, for some, their first readings about that mix might be at a blog that is something of a wolf in sheeps’ clothing, considering the number of permas who post and do not consider themselves to be Mormon. Their posts are fine pieces, I just think they should be posted at solo bogs or perhaps at a group blog with less of a stated connection to faithful LDS history.

    There IS something very different about people who have left the Church (no matter how officially), I think. While they may go back to being Mormon (relatively rare, I think), during the period of estrangement they are fundamentally different. I know “different” is something of a dirty word, but that is how I see it. Those who have left have assessed Mormons and found us wanting, so it can be galling to have them come back and want to tell you how wrong you are (and the subtext of that post was: when I was a Mormon, I was wrong, and now that I left the Church, I am right). On the other hand, if they were Mormon blogging about the parts of Mormonism that attracted them to the religion, or the bits that still resonate with them, that is probably something Mormons would welcome. It’s really just like your English teacher always said: know your audience.

    • I know “different” is something of a dirty word, but that is how I see it.

      I don’t think “different” is a dirty word. Personally, I’ve always been “different” and I’m glad. Even though Jana’s post emphasized that she’s still the same person she always was, I’m sure she’d agree that we’re all different, and that’s part of what makes the human experience so grand.

      Those who have left have assessed Mormons and found us wanting, so it can be galling to have them come back and want to tell you how wrong you are (and the subtext of that post was: when I was a Mormon, I was wrong, and now that I left the Church, I am right).

      I’m not sure why you’re still repeating this after so many people (on the Exponent thread) explained that their own personal experiences aren’t meant to be a judgment on your experiences. As you pointed out, this isn’t F&T meeting.

  4. ESO,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I guess if I had to drill down my concern…it would be…does the Church (the formal institution of membership) own the culture? If so, why?

    I would think that when people leave the church, they would disagree that they shouldn’t “cling to a very historically significant moniker and component of Mormon culture,” because I think they/we would say that culture is separate from continued membership in the church.

    In this way, I don’t understand a lot of what you are saying. You say, “permas who post and do not consider themselves to be Mormon.” I guess I don’t know enough about the Exponent II permas, but I would venture that they split the term “Mormon” into two parts — membership in the church, activity within the church or identification with orthodox beliefs…AND the cultural background of being a Mormon and of natively speaking a Mormon vocabulary.

    I think the term ex-Mormon or post-Mormon more often means someone does not consider themselves the former. But I think the continued blogging or online interaction or whatever else of these people indicates they clearly consider themselves the latter. They are ex- or post- because they can NEVER be “non-Mormon” or “never-Mormon,” and THAT, I think, is what is very different about people who have left the Church.

    That’s the disconnection I see in our diction. I can understand what you mean when you see, “while they may go back to being Mormon (relatively rare, I think),” but at the same time, this seems incomprehensible, because being Mormon is not something severed by lack of belief, lack of activity…and not something “regained” by renewed belief and renewed activity. It is something you are by virtue of something just a hair short of ethnicity or a hair greater of nationality.

    I guess I can understand how it seems like all ex-mos do is haunt faithful sites and tell people how wrong they are, but I do *not* think that — in all its cynicism — was the whole subtext of that post.

    Instead, I think it was a crying out. It was a crying out of a Mormon experience (e.g., being afraid of losing a testimony, being afraid of what might happen to a life after loss of testimony), and it was a crying out for understanding of ex- and post-Mormon experience (good news, guys, I haven’t fallen apart. Instead of pitying me, why not we all celebrate — whatever our relationship to the church is?) It tries to bridge two worlds, and thus it tries to know two audiences. To the extent this directly challenges church and member beliefs that the apostate will fall apart, be ensnared by the devil, etc., then I guess this is an attack and I don’t know what to do about that.

  5. @ESO

    It sounds like you’re saying there’s one right way to experience Mormonism or have Mormon identity. I don’t get why you want to or think you get to decide who is and is not Mormon. It’s pretty audacious of you.

    I find it especially confusing why you complain that the Exponent isn’t something it isn’t claiming to be. We can discuss feminism and Mormonism from more than just one perspective. Indeed, the more perspectives the better. I’m a gay male feminist atheist ex-Mormon who reads and comments there because it interests me and because I feel a connection to both the issues discussed, and to those who discuss them. Maybe if hearing the perspectives and beliefs of those who aren’t active, orthodox Mormons bothers you that much, you shouldn’t visit the site anymore.

    Rarely have I found that commenters there (though it does happen) are trying to tell you that you’re wrong, but rather are sharing their experiences and ideas and beliefs which might just not coincide with yours.

    I’d also point out that as a feminist (of whatever flavour) you’re already on the outskirts of faithful Mormonism.

  6. Like I said, I am VERY comfortable with diverse beliefs and practices within the Church. I guess my Stake President would be surprised to hear that I am on the outskirts of faithful Mormonism, as I am in the stake leadership, but he knows all about my feminism.

    Maybe my concern is one of branding: Exponent is faithful LDS heritage. If a Mormon was interested in learning more and practicing more feminism and googled those two words, they would likely hit on Exponent. Reading there, one could easily conclude (rather quickly) that it might be impossible to be feminist and Mormon. I would HATE for someone to think that, because I staunchly believe it to be untrue.

    I’ll cop to the cynic and skeptic charges. Guilty. In the bloggernaccle, I think ex-mos need to prove themselves, a bit. They are not automatically trusted, and current members are generally given the benefit of the doubt. I admit that that is unjust. There are ex-mos who are well-liked and trusted: look at MikeinWeHo or John Hammer. Everyone loves those guys. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that when they comment on Mormonism, they do so in a complimentary way. They have earned the trust to have hard conversations. But they don’t run a blog connected to a vaunted part of LDS past, or portray themselves as Mormons, either.

    Sure, former Mormons have a unique perspective on culture. I would ask a former Mennonite about all sorts of aspects of culture, and they would be an expert. I would not, however, accept his explanations of doctrine, belief, or religious practice without a grain of salt. Ditto for some who identifies as “raised Catholic” or “formerly Pentecostal” or “ethnically Jewish.” They may know a lot, but they don’t have the same credibility as a believer.

    I have non-believers in my family. Most of my friends and all of my colleagues and neighbors are not Mormon. It’s not like I live in a Mormon bubble and can’t handle a diverse world. I have NO PROBLEM with posts like that at non-Mormon blogs. But if it’s purportedly Mormon, can’t it be at least a little Mormon?

  7. I guess I can see what you mean about branding. I suppose it would be tragic if someone came to the conclusion after reading articles at a place like Exponent that it would be impossible to be feminist and Mormon.

    I guess what I feel is that I think it’s tragic that Mormons and ex-mormons can’t talk together without there also existing preconditions and a vetting process, or without one or the other being seen in a second-class way.

    When I search for reviews for something, I do not give fans ultimate credibility. I do not go to a Honda dealership and only trust Honda’s review, or those who swear by Honda cars. I don’t go to a competitor of Honda and only trust their reviews of Honda cars. Instead, I look across a spectrum. Of those who currently own Honda cars (why?). Of those who used to own Honda cars, but don’t anymore (why not?), and of independent reviewers as well. I am particularly approving of brands that are not afraid to say, “Hey, here’s what others have to say about us, and here’s what we say back,” even if THAT is particularly rare (and may seem not to make much sense from a business perspective.)

    Most of my colleagues too are not Mormon. But this is in no way the same as someone who knows how Mormonism works (regardless of whether they currently believe or engage with Mormonism as it works). So always, at the end, I have to say that I feel there *always* will be “at least a little Mormon”ness in something that is ex- or post- because we are not – and can never be – “non-Mormons.”

  8. Honestly, I doubt that a visit to the Exponent blog, with its sole post about how a person didn’t fall apart after leaving the Church, is likely to strike fear in the heart of some person hoping that feminism and Mormonism are compatible. Judging by the vast majority of experiences related by feminists in the ‘nacle, I’d guess that simple attendance at church will do the job just fine.

    However, I think you have a point about ex-members needing to prove themselves. It’s my experience that many automatically correlate leaving the Church with becoming virulently anti-Mormon. I remember well how instantly guarded and suspicious I felt when friends left the Church, and I was certainly treated similarly when it was my turn. So I suspect there is a proving period for ex-members on many boards.

    [Andrew, I read your blog regularly but never (or almost never? can’t remember) comment; I apologize for a bit of a “drive-by” commenting.]

  9. Chandelle,

    I could see what ESO is saying. Consider someone is already apprehensive about feminism. She or he searches to see whether feminism can work with Mormonism in faith appropriate ways. S/he sees a post that not only is faith inappropriate, but seems to be downright apostate. I can see how this would give a distinct (if rather undesirable) impression of feminism and Mormonism.

    I am saddened that ex-members are in the state of needing to prove themselves. But I guess I’m more saddened by the fact that I can completely understand why such a proving ground is necessary, because no one is blameless. But I also feel like it’s a bind…to “prove oneself,” one essentially must become silent as to any of his doubts or her grievances…it is self-betrayal.

    I guess I’m most saddened that I feel partially guilty for this state of affairs. I am no John Hamer or MikeinWeHo.


    [Thanks; no need to apologize!]

  10. I don’t think we exMormons should have to prove ourselves. What do we have to prove anyways? That we have legit experiences in Mormonism? That we actually know what we’re talking about?

    “It probably has a lot to do with the fact that when they comment on Mormonism, they do so in a complimentary way.”

    That sounds to me like, “I’ll accept exMormons just so long as they never say anything critical/mean about my religion”. Obviously, I take issue with that sort of attitude.

    “I have NO PROBLEM with posts like that at non-Mormon blogs. But if it’s purportedly Mormon, can’t it be at least a little Mormon?”

    The Exponent IS more than a little Mormon. It’s quite Mormon. Again, this wasn’t a non-Mormon post, it was an exMormon post. There’s difference. ExMormon is still at type of Mormon.

    • Oh, and I agree with Chandelle. I find it very unlikely that someone would read just that one post on the Exponent, and think, “OMG! I can’t be a feminist and Mormon!”. No one forms an opinion that radical that quickly from reading one post. I’d say most of the posts on the Exponent are from a believing Mormon perspective of one type or another.

      Really, it does seem that you’re having ideological purity issues here. You don’t want ex/former Mormons posting or commenting on “your” blog. Except that it’s not your blog.

  11. Craig,

    “What do we have to prove anyways?”

    That we aren’t rabid or frothing at the mouth. It’s not enough to say we have legit experiences in Mormonism or that we know what we talk about. Instead, we need to project friendliness and social cohesion with the faithful community.

    If that sounds to you like, “I’ll accept exMormons just so long as they never say anything critical/mean about my religion,” then I guess you fail. Don’t worry. I apparently fail too.

    • My first sentence didn’t necessarily have anything to do with my second. My second was in response to her saying, “It probably has a lot to do with the fact that when they comment on Mormonism, they do so in a complimentary way.”

      Certainly I don’t always project friendliness or social cohesion. But I don’t think that I need to in order to be able to comment there. I try to be fair and not make ad hominem or other logically fallacious arguments. I try to not be offensive just for the sake of offending. I try to respect the right of others to have their beliefs, and express them, even if I don’t respect the beliefs themselves.

      • the issue is that what *you* think is not the criteria, because *they* have more influence over what the bloggernacle or the church or whatever other community will be like. So, it’s kinda a tough standard, but if you ever don’t project the “appropriate tone,” then it’s over.

        It’s kinda frustrating in a way. In trying to communicate the story, there has to be a point where someone doesn’t have to mince words. But any time this happens, it only fuels the “angry ex-mo” stereotype, so people don’t pay any attention.

        • True, and this is why I rarely if ever comment on such blogs. I stopped reading/commenting on the Exponent for several months b/c of precisely this.

          It gets very frustrating when you aren’t allowed to even communicate anything, because the substance of what you’re saying is deemed offensive and therefore inappropriate. Really, any sort of censorship makes me angry.

          • Amen to this. I finally took FMH and, more recently, Exponent off of my reader for these precise reasons.

  12. I liked Jana’s post. I definitely would place her and her husband in the “Mormon” category, even if they aren’t active in the church anymore. I don’t think she or John should have to prove their Mormon-ness to anyone, and I think the tent for “Mormon” blogs like The Exponent ought to be big enough for Mormon-by-heritage and Mormon-by-belief alike. The new is a good example of what you get when you moderate out anyone with heretical views.

    In the bloggernaccle, you have an in crowd who decides what are the acceptable lines of heterodoxy, who is “Mormon” enough for their site. It is of course within a blog administrator’s rights to decide who can and can’t be commenting on their blog. But moderation by natureis censorship, in this case to create the “community” wanted.

    As a feminist myself, I’ve yet to find a feminist Mormon blog that I find BOTH helpful and welcoming as a community. Some of the commentors on FMH are too heavy-handed Mormon orthodxy for my liking, and the Exponent is really aiming for a very “faithful” approach as of late. My crisis of faith last year was precipitated largely by my feminist leanings. I was unable to get (either online at FMH or the Exponent or in the chapel) the community I was looking for. I have since found that community in some of the Mormon Stories communities – but those sites presuppose that you should be open to dealing with individuals of all backgrounds in Mormonism.

    Anyway, enough rambling. I subscribe to both Dialogue and Sunstone, but I find that Dialogue is more my cup of tea than Sunstone is. I think its because while I find Mormon-related scholarship fascinating, its not my heritage. So while I can appreciate an article like the above one cited by Chris Smith (who is, by the way, speaking at the Sunstone Symposium), I don’t really get as much out of reading articles on Mitt Romney’s underwear or how the Twilight series is Mormonism in fiction form. Though there is some good stuff in Sunstone Magazine as well, and I am planning on attending the Sunstone symposium this year.

    • “As a feminist myself, I’ve yet to find a feminist Mormon blog that I find BOTH helpful and welcoming as a community. Some of the commentors on FMH are too heavy-handed Mormon orthodxy for my liking, and the Exponent is really aiming for a very “faithful” approach as of late. ”

      I like both FMH and ExII blogs a lot; but I can understand that some of the discussion there may seem unwelcoming, MC. If you haven’t yet tried it, I would strongly recommend that you check out Zelophehad’s Daughters. It’s a smaller blog than FMH or ExII, and doesn’t tend to attract quite as much attention from the orthodoxy police.

    • Interestingly, there are posts at FMH that seem too apostate for me, hehe. So, I don’t have much problem going there.

      I also like ZD.

  13. Mme Curie,

    While I agree with you that I think John and Jana should be in the Mormon category, I have to recognize of course that I am biased. How am I to confront a comment like this one (from the Exponent thread)?:

    Perhaps we have radically different definitions of “Mormon women.” I don’t actually think there is that much flexibility in those words. If I drop out of school, I am no longer a student. When a self identify as an ex-Star Wars fan, it means I no longer AM one. Post graduate studies denotes that my graduate studies are done. If you have claimed a different religion, you are no longer Mormon.

    It essentially nullifies and closes out that possibility of “Mormon-by-heritage”.

    • “It essentially nullifies and closes out that possibility of ‘Mormon-by-heritage’.”

      Which I think most of us, here and on the Exponent, find ridiculous.

      I think the only way to reply to that particular idea is to say, “It’s not up to you to define who does and does not get to claim Mormon identity, nor is it up to you to police who does and does not comment on a blog that is not run by you. You may not consider me/us Mormon, but that’s irrelevant.”

      • except other people (e.g., the owners of a site) *can* define such a thing. And in a community like the Bloggernacle, where certain people hold disproportionate weight, such a blacklisting can follow across several sites.

        I don’t think this is the case with the Exponent, but this entire issue just seems indicative of a larger thing.

        • Still, to some extent isn’t it within the right of certain blog owners to censor at their discretion? Not saying that it is fair that it is being done to you (it isn’t), or that the bloggernaccle isn’t high-school-cliquish (it is). But don’t the owners of individual “blog-communities” retain the right to decide who is or isn’t cool enough for their club?

          I think that the silencing of the ex- and post-Mormon crowd – i.e., the Mormon-by-heritage crowd – is dangerous on supposedly “big tent” sites, because it gives a false sense of cohesion that isn’t there, and it ostracizes the voices that would really be beneficial if heard. Regardless, though, its within their rights, even if it isn’t “right”.

          • that’s part of the entire deal. Yes, it is perfectly within the right of those blog owners to censor at their discretion. I just feel that…just because someone can do it, doesn’t mean they should…

            I guess the issue is that most sites don’t even pretend to supposedly be “big tent” sites. So, they can always fall back on, “You had the wrong idea when you even came here…”

        • Yes, it can. My point was that ESO isn’t in charge at the Exponent.

          Also, I’d never even attempt to comment at a lot of other blogs, including FMH. In fact, the Exponent is the only faithful-Mormon-leaning blog I’ve ever felt comfortable commenting at, and at first I wasn’t.

          Yeah, it is a big issue. It seems to me to be indicative of the mentality: “Don’t Expose Me To Ideas I Don’t Agree With Or Find Uncomfortable” (in certain settings at least). It’s a silly, childish mentality.

        • But that’s the thing, Craig…in the same way I have to admit that — yes, it is within the right of certain blog owners to censor at their discretion [even if ESO isn’t one of the Exponent owners] — I feel that yes, bloggers have a right to form sites where they don’t always have to be hassling with ideas they disagree with or find uncomfortable. Do I think people should cloister themselves off and invoke this right? No. But I don’t think I can say on solid ground that people have no right to a “safe haven.”

          • Yes, I agree completely. It’s stupid, but the right to do it exists, and I wouldn’t want that taken away (if that were even possible).

          • I think the weirdest thing about this specific case, though, is that ESO, who is not one of the blog’s owners, targeted her remarks at Jana, who is one of the blog’s owners. Seems to me that she isn’t saying “Don’t write things on my blog that make me uncomfortable,” she’s saying, “Don’t write things on your own blog that make me uncomfortable.”

  14. One one leaves America and lives abroad, she retains her citizenship while still living elsewhere. She may even do things in her new country that were illegal in her old one. That doesn’t make her an ex-American. If that American marries a non-American and has non-American children, those kids are still American by heritage. My ancestors are Irish and Slovak. I have never been to either country, but I still refer to myself as Irish-Slovakian by heritage. No one would argue with my ability to do so.

    I think its similar with religions like Mormonism that are so intrinsically heritage-based. Regardless of whether orthodox Mormons WANT to recognize Mormons-by-heritage, they still exist. With the passage of time, there will only be more of them. The question isn’t whether they are legitimately Mormon, the question is where they belong, what community they can ascribe to. Its like they are the bastard children of the covenant or something. Eventually they will have to be accepted somewhere. Its inevitable.

    • I thought of that same analogy. I’m Canadian and I live in the US. I am and always will be permanently affected by both my experience growing up in Canada, and my experiences in the US. If I ever move back to Canada, I’ll still have claim on Americanness.

  15. Good counter-examples. I guess there were some others on the Exponent thread as well:

    re: the whole “former” thing–some roles are considered so fundamental that they are never given a “former” status. A woman who bore three children who all died is never a “former” mother. If you graduate from medical school and get a license to practice medicine and don’t somehow forfeit it through malfeasance, you’re still a doctor even if you don’t practice–Howard Dean, for instance, is still a doctor. Those situations are closer to how I feel about my Mormonness than my role as student could ever be.

  16. Can it be that the seeking of variety will be the one thing that will discourage it?

    For me, the variety was my favorite part! That’s exactly what I highlighted when I wrote up my Sunstone experience for the Sunstone blog: Diversity at Its Finest.

  17. chanson,

    I guess…the impression I got was that the diversity skews more toward the heterodox (whether atheist, new order, CofChrist, Fundamentalist, etc.,) and this gives the symposium a negative feel for the “TBMs”. There seems to be great distaste of Sunstone in many of the bloggernacle entries I had read, for example.

  18. There seems to be great distaste of Sunstone in many of the bloggernacle entries I had read, for example.
    Sadly, by definition the bloggernaccle only includes folks that By Common Consent have deemed appropriate. They are notoriously stingy with their definition of Mormon – for instance, John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories recently got the boot from their aggregator. Seriously, when Dehlin isn’t “Mormon” enough for you, there is a problem.

    Sunstone is great. Its what keeps many of the intellectuals in the church with any connection at all to their childhood religion. Its a lifeline to sanity. TBMs claiming that the bloggernacle is only for TBMs is like the Tea Party claiming that the Republican base isn’t conservative enough. I’d rather not be on that part of the spectrum anyway.

  19. ^Mme Curie, that’s exactly the thing that I’ve had to “come to terms” with. To be fair, I can see why someone might have such a definition of Mormon…don’t necessarily agree with it, but I can see it.

    And in that case, I really don’t know what to do. Trying to “challenge” the current Bloggernacle elites to expand the definition seems hostile and counterintuitive. But without such a challenge, we will be marginalized and unendorsed.

    • I think the only thing you CAN do is wait for them to die off 😛 The number of disaffected Mormons is only getting bigger. Eventually, there will have to be a place for us. I never, ever, ever read T&S or BCC. Ever. My digestive tract is much too delicate for that.

      Some places on the internet are less hostile towards the heterodox. . . But, I see your point – they aren’t the places that TBMs will frequent. Its a frustrating conundrum, though… if someone would want to shut themselves off from any “faith-threatening” concern to begin with, they are unlikely to hear me out. Likewise, if someone comes to me and their approach is to bear their testimony in response to a real concern I may have, I won’t be able to see eye to eye with them. Each of us has our prejudices.

      Until there are venues where the oil and water can mix non-threateningly, neither group – orthodox or heterodox – will learn the communication tools we lack to hear each other. Its unfortunate that the bloggernaccle insists on separating the entities, rather than allowing an emulsion. But that is what the Powers To Be have deemed.

      I suspect that some sites are in the middle. . . Can’t think of them right now, but I think there are probably some there. The issue is getting them frequented.

      • I can sympathize with the frustration, but let’s not paint with too broad a brush. T&S has had a series of recent posts in which Andrew, Craig, chanson, and a variety of others have commented.

        Now it’s still obviously a predominantly faithful forum. The majority of commenters are active church members. T&S policies do limit comments in certain ways. You can’t say “all Mormons are stupid” or the like, and we do have to drop the hammer sometimes. However, I’d hope that on balance we’ve got a community in which MC can feel comfortable commenting.

        p.s. Mormon Stories is indeed on the T&S blogroll. 🙂

      • I would like to say I enjoy reading both T&S AND BCC. I enjoy commenting at T&S, because they let me do so. I do not enjoy commenting so much at BCC, because they do not let me do so, lol. So, props to T&S!

        But getting back to it, as I said, I enjoy reading both (and other sites). So, it’s not an issue of digestive track being too delicate from the content posted. So, I do not think — even with a smiley face — that the only thing that we can or should accept as a possibility is “wait for them to die off.” I don’t want anyone to die off.

  20. I’m reminded of your posts Andrew about the banner of heaven and the cool kids analogy. The bloggernacle isn’t (or can’t be) like testimony meeting because, well, this is the internet. You can’t put the same boundaries around it as some might an LDS church service. As it’s clear from banner of heaven, that might have been tried, and the experiment didn’t work out so well. Although if blogs want to have commenting policies, I certainly respect those (and will abide by them).

    Yet that’s what it sounds like some would like to do (make the bloggernacle sound like testimony meeting). And by suggesting that, I’m not trying to belittle anyone. Just stating my opinion and perspective from where I’m at.

    It’s strange, I’m also reminded of that discussion of groups defining themselves by who they are, rather than who they’re not. Just because one set of people makes a particular decision, doesn’t invalidate someone else’s decision, IMO.

    But has mormonism ever been big-tent? really? Have any of the blogs been “big tent” blogs? I would argue that mormonism might have “appeared” to be inclusive, or some bloggernacle blogs “appear” to be big tent, but actions speak louder than words.

  21. aerin,

    The interesting thing is that the Banner of Heaven showed that boundary maintenance is well and strong, even then. It’s not clearcut as to whether it conclusively showed one side or the other. The history is a lot more complex (and unexpected) than I had originally thought…

    As far as your last set of questions…I suppose that it so…but then I feel like I’m doing one of two things: 1) calling (however feebly) for people to act more like their words (because the words sound nice) or 2) calling people to consider the big-tent in the first place.

  22. Sunstone was very helpful for me for a long time, now I feel as though I’ve kind of grown out of it, I’ll still read some articles but don’t devour it like I used to. I wonder if there’s an analogy here for the various Mormon blogs, many are simply designed for people at a certain “stage”, and they just want to communicate with others at that stage. That’s fine, they have that right, but you can always take solace in knowing that when the moderators and other won’t let those outside of there ‘norm’ comment, it just means there afraid to step out of there box, they don’t want to hear all sides, and they’ll be the smaller for it.

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  1. In Vacuums | Main Street Plaza
  2. Survival of the Fittest: Mormon Style! | Main Street Plaza
  3. Doubting My Doubts | Wheat and Tares

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