Sunday, May 11, 2008

Am I Apostate? You Tell Me

Here is your assignment: Read this post and then tell me if I'm apostate. If I am, I will readily repent.

The bloggernacle (the term used for the Mormon blog community) has a reputation for being a little off-center from mainstream Mormonism. Of course I don't consider myself this way. I'm pretty mainstream, in my opinion. But, a little while ago I started to wonder if the bloggernacle was having a bad influence on me, like that friend you had in high school. You know the one.

What made me wonder is when I discovered ldsblogs.com, which is a blog site dedicated to more mainstream Mormonism. In particular, one of their blogs is focused on helping new members become accustomed to Mormonism and our culture. This is a noble and worthwhile subject, but as I started to follow the blog I started to feel some antagonism toward what is written there. Before I get into why, let me state your assignment:

Go the the New Members section of ldsblogs.com, read a few entries or more, and then tell me if I'm entirely out of line for thinking this is over-the-top. I don't mean to be critical of another well-intentioned blogger, so I'm completely willing to accept that perhaps I'm the one out of line, and not her.

My concerns are these, and are not limited to just the New Members blog: The blog seems to be written with the assumption that the new member is ready to accept all the aspects of Mormon teaching and culture. Most of the entries start something like this: "Now that you are a member of the church, you are probably wondering how your life should change related to X." Is it just me, or does that sound a little presumptuous? Also, it sometimes makes assertions about what we believe without linking to a source, such as general conference article. I sometimes find myself agreeing with the article, but still left with a bad taste. It kind of feels like I'm supposed to trust this blog in the same way I would trust a general conference talk.

Normally, of course, it wouldn't bother me to disagree with another blogger. But what concerns me about this is that many new members might read it and assume it is the sentiment of the entire membership of the church: You need to change if you want to be part of our group.

So you tell me: Do I need to repent? Or do you agree that there's something amiss?

5 comments:

Ardis Parshall said...

Well, you're not apostate, but neither are they. There's a smarmy tone in a lot of the entries that I just read there, different but no better or worse than the arogance that a lot of us Bloggernaclers use. There's a patronizing, condescending feel to those posts, but I didn't read anything that I thought was flat-out wrong or even hazardous to anyone. Hopefully new members who mind find those posts are being fellowshipped and being exposed to a variety of Mormon lives through Sunday and social activities to counteract anything that is "off" there.

I'd get bored as a new member there pretty fast, I think, but it might also be the source of some good discussion starters with my home teachers or in Sunday School classes.

But you're not apostate -- just more sophisticated than that site's intended audience.

THEY, however, need to repent for mimicing the site address of the venerable ldsblogs.ORG.

ascentury said...

Furthermore, I have to wonder how likely it is that new members will even encounter the material...not to disparage the effort, just thinking out loud.

I don't suppose that the "patronizing, condescending" tone adopted is really significantly different than listening to a Gospel Doctrine lesson in any regular ward anyway. Like the guy this morning grunting about how the Bible was an altered hodgepodge of nonsense that had every bit of sense wrung out of it by third-century proto-Catholics. All in all, I think the approach just highlights the need to develop more tact than we already have.

Sofal said...

I agree with Ardis. The articles can be a little simplistic, smarmy, and presumptuous, but it's not intentional. This is exactly the kind of language and tone you see in Sunday school manuals and church magazines (and that old missionary guide *shudder*), though the material that the Church publishes is more carefully edited I'm sure. I'm not a big fan of that kind of watered down tone and shallow suggestions (like memorizing hymns, etc). It is hard for me to be edified by words that don't demonstrate a deep insight into my life as it relates to the gospel and the eternal scheme of things. I like a fresh perspective and not a conglomeration of Standard Church Phrases/Cliches that we all store up in our heads. This is why I subscribe to your blog, and why I'd never subscribe to the blog you linked to.

That said, I also think that feelings of antagonism toward this sort of thing should be checked. Far too often on the Bloggernacle I see examples people who get so worked up about the silly things at church that they feel they've got to dig a trench and bring out the guns. I see disparaging remarks about everybody who lives in Utah or goes to BYU. Suddenly all the mainstream Mormons become mindless brainwashed scum, to the disillusionment of the much more intelligent and rational (read left-leaning) people who don't live in the Utah Bubble. I think this kind of attitude is much less justified than the simplicity and fluff of the 'mainstreamers'. It is downright disgusting and damaging in my opinion. Bitter ex-members and anti-Mormons flock to these kinds of forums and point to all the silliness as justification for their decisions.

We'd like to consider ourselves as thoughtful and open-minded, and I think that's great as long as we don't hold others in derision. 'Open-mindedness' is probably one of the most abused terms in spoken language.

Mike said...

Thanks for your feedback everyone. I'm glad to hear I'm not apostate, although perhaps I should not be as quick to judge.

A few of you brought out that the tone is sort of like what you'd read in church manuals or sunday school. I think that sort of adds to why I don't like it. At least those things are endorsed by the church. A general authority, or my bishop, or the sunday school teacher called by the bishop, or someone commissioned by the church to write a manual, has some license to say, "God wants you to do X." But there's something that rubs me the wrong way about people doing this sort of thing in a blog, especially without referencing some authoritative source. In short, I didn't sustain the blogger as my spiritual leader. Then again, perhaps I've done similar things in my own blog. My intent was not to come off that way, but perhaps I could have been misinterpreted as I might be misinterpreting her.

Thanks for helping me come to terms with this. And I apologize if I offended anyone somewhat affiliated with ldsblogs.com. My main intent here, honestly, was to find out if I had migrated too far from the mainstream.

Perhaps I'm just bitter they didn't ask me to write one of their blogs.:)

Anonymous said...

[url=http://yljeavag.100webspace.net]Порно видео! / Free porn video![/url]