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Also Extracurricular…The Bloggernacle, Scout Trips…and Missions?

March 10, 2012

Considering my thoughts about the potential for religion to be extracurricular (both here and at Wheat and Tares), it was interesting to see John C.’s post reflecting about the Bloggernacle. Some selections from the post:

 …of late, folks are arguing to me that the bloggernacle as a community is a bad idea. Instead, we should segregate, in the manner that Nothing Wavering would have us do, into communities where it is okay to question and communities where it isn’t (not that the latter variety actually exists, of course, but I’ll let folks think that way if they like). The argument is that “mainstream” or “majority” Mormons will never feel comfortable on a blog like BCC, because we just question too much. I’ve also, in the recent past, seen the nacle referred to as the “Smugger” nacle and the “Murmur” nacle (I made up the other two, but they’re probably in use out there somewhere). I’ve been told that the bloggernacle is where people go when they want to complain and that we feel superior to other folk by means of our complaints, degrees, general liberalness (regardless of actual political beliefs), or some other font of unremitted self-confidence. Perhaps it is necessary to have this space, to give the wavering in faith a place to blow off steam rather than leave the church, but most folk don’t need or don’t want this space. They want to participate in endless discussions of how great the church is and how inspired the brethren are (unless they say something about immigration or scouting or some other hobby horse that isn’t identified as “liberal”).

I’m tired, almost as much as I’m invested, and I’ve just learned that I don’t need this. This isn’t the church for me; it’s an occasionally fun and an occasionally frustrating way to avoid work and family responsibilities. At any given moment, there is something more important that I could be doing than writing or commenting here. Should I continue?

(The first thing that’s really interesting is that he juxtaposes the idea of “community” [as a bad idea] AGAINST the idea of “segregation”. But what I had heard from numerous people, Bloggernacle or otherwise, is that communities are formed by segregation…you lose community when you don’t try to segregate.) 

The second interesting thing is his point that he “doesn’t need this.” He juxtaposes the bloggernacle against the church — the bloggernacle is “occasionally fun and… occasionally frustrating.” But it’s always a diversion from more important things. (But the way that he juxtaposes the bloggernacle against the church suggests to me that he views the latter as one of those “more important” things he could be doing.)

Honestly, I didn’t make a connection between what John was saying and my post about extracurrical activities until a commenter quite far into a discussion said something that inspired the connection. Mark Brown wrote:

It’s true, nothing that goes on here is all that important, much of it is vanity, and even more of it is probably a waste of time. I don’t see this as anything unique to BCC or the bloggernacle, however; I see it as pretty typical of human existence. Even though I am glad I served a mission, I can find very little convincing evidence to persuade me that it wasn’t an almost complete waste of time and money. Most church talks and lessons require a good deal of effort to find valuable. I’ve spent entire weeks of my life camping with young men, and it isn’t clear to me, at all, that there was any point to it, and that we wouldn’t all have been better off doing something else. Ditto the countless hours spent hometeaching and being hometaught. And so on. Just as God usually moves at a glacial pace, I think our progress is also measured in increments so small that we usually don’t see any progress, even as it is happening.

OK, really, the thing that caught my eye here was the idea that someone would state that they could “find very little convincing evidence to persuade [them] that [a mission] wasn’t an almost complete waste of time and money.” I mean…I don’t really quite know even what to ask in response…

But I guess that goes with the larger point too…there are plenty of things that we can do that, at the time (or even looking back on them), we don’t appreciate the value that they (surely) had. We can’t always rely upon our own sense of what is worthwhile and what is not, because we are not good at evaluating worth anyway.

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