John Dehlin and the Technicolor Bloggernacle Game-Changer

By: Andrew S
January 29, 2011

It’s been nearly four months since Mormon Matters functionally disbanded and Wheat & Tares was created, and already, it feels like a new tenuous equilibrium has set.

While I for one can’t help but feel that the transition has divided our tribe in a way that makes it difficult (if not impossible) for us ever to return to the previous status quo, I also have to admit that things have settled into a far better angle of repose than they might have. Most of the roster of Mormon Matters permabloggers have been involved with Wheat and Tares, and even some of our permas emeriti from Mormon Matters, like Bruce Nielson, have come back on board here. The names preceding many of the comments to the posts here seem familiar to me from Mormon Matters days, although I recognize both the presence of new names and the absence of familiar names.

Yet, even if not here, I’ve seen many of our displaced brothers and sisters elsewhere (with Natasha Parker and Andrew A both being heard as interviewers with Mormon Stories, and Joanna Brooks active at Religion Dispatches and Patheos.) So, I suppose our diaspora hasn’t been too great to sever all ties.

…and yet, I long to return to a homeland.

Mormon Matters

The brand “Mormon Matters” is up in the air. See, even as we settle in foreign lands, in the back of my mind (maybe yours too?) has been the idea of a Mormon Matters revival. But what could this revival look like, and what would it entail?

The other day, Dane Laverty had a post at Times and Seasons challenging commenters to consider the Bloggernacle and its potential for growth and maturation in thew new decade. Early in the conversation, Brad Dennis had ideas that intrigued me:

I like much of the bloggernacle because it is in many ways a place where more liberal Mormon views can be expressed and accepted. I like it because in some ways it appears to be working to foster more of a liberal Mormon culture coexisting with a conservative Mormon mass. My hope is that the bloggernacle become less diversified and more consolidated, and that some of its emerging stars, (e.g. John Dehlin, Joanna Brooks, Nate Oman, and others) gain more of a prominent voice among Mormons. Perhaps an alternative, or more liberal Mormon magazine could be produced. Something that isn’t quite Sunstone or Dialogue, but at least something to serve as an alternative to the moderately conservative Mormon Times or the ultraconservative Meridian Magazine.

But I was skeptical. Not about the thrust, but about his proposed thoughts for implementation.

Online magazines remain a much stronger medium than blogs, because they tend to be peer-reviewed and edited. BCC and T&S are in between blogs and magazines because they have a limited number of invited writers (including some relatively well-known academics in the LDS community), but no editing or funding structure. I would like to see T&S or BCC or other Mormon blogs move in that direction. They would just need some sponsors/donors, a bit more centralization in editing, regularity of publications, etc. The result could be the emergence of a more mainstream Mormon voice. I see the blogosphere as flailing. Too many bloggers who garner too little attention.

(emphasis added)

What I was skeptical about was the potential to marginalize through centralization. I felt (and still have some reservations) that in many ways, centralization (via correlation) got us to the status quo…and the bloggernacle arrived in many aspects to provide channels for discussing outside the correlated classes and wards.

Additionally, I felt (and feel) that Brad was in many ways advocating an aging, creaking model. While he sees the blogosphere as “flailing,” I instead see traditional media (newspapers and magazines) struggling to convert to more organic, social, accessible formats.

Nevertheless, I was interested in Brad’s idea of using media to result in the emergence of a new mainstream Mormon voice, especially if that mainstream voice could allow liberal Mormon views to be expressed and accepted within a conservative Mormon mass. I just never got past what I thought were flaws in Brad’s method of implementation.

Until recently.

John Dehlin

John Dehlin. Photo taken by Timothy Vollmer, Uploaded to Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Recall John Dehlin. He’s one of the major players in our tribe here at Wheat and Tares, even if the dispersion from Mormon Matters seemed to place us in different directions. And he had not yet been accounted for.

There’s no doubt to me that basically, every perma here is more talented than I am. But John is on a different scale. He is, in my opinion, a visionary man…for better or for worse. As early as 2004-5, in his Thoughtful Faithful Mormon Manifesto, he wrote of the need to imperative to embrace new media and new formats, and in his evaluation of his “Mormon blogging curriculum vitae” at Nine Moons, he rattled off the shear breadth of his reachout: he has created sites, podcasts, forums, and blogs to reach gaysfeministsintellectualsdoubtersthe mentally ill, and even the disaffected.

And yet, at the end of all that, he was asking: how can we reach out more effectively to those who are hurt? How can we extend the reach of the Mormon internet even further, especially in ways that augment the written word with the human touch? And how do we support these developments within the institutional church while maintaining the strengths of the church as is?

(I just get the sense that John hasn’t had the biggest level of support in pushing toward these lofty goals, and so it appears as if he is a one-man army…or at least, a tragically few-peopled army. The story of his starting these numerous sites seems connected to similar stories of his passing the mantles for most of these endeavors to others. In a sense, Wheat and Tares is the passing of the “old” Mormon Matters mantle to us.)

When I saw his latest post at Mormon Stories, detailing his plans for 2011 (with plans to revive Mormon Matters), it was thinking about his (unsolved) questions to the bloggernacle, and also about his pattern of planting communities that later become more independent) that made me interested in the new development.

Folks, this is a call to return to a homeland. It is an attempt to bring together all of the dispersed tribes, the independent communities on the Mormon internet — and especially those parts John has touched or even staked out — to a common cause. But even more so, it does so in ways that anticipate Brad Dennis’s suggestions as well as my technological reservations.Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat

This is, in a way, an amazing technicolor Bloggernacle Game-Changer and we are on the very cusp of it.

Steve Jobs iPhone What’s so amazing here is the disruptiveness of so ambitious a project (even knowing the things John has said and written.) As when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, you get the sense of seeing something unfold that you suspect could flop for a billion and one reasons…but if it succeeds, it will change the world forever.

It is something you additionally suppose that anyone “could” have pioneered (and others will struggle to replicate and catch up for years without coming close), but the reason it came here now was because of the force of a visionary man.

What do you think? Is it too risky? Are you hopeful? Are you on board (at least in spirit) with such a project? Or, more generally, think about your introduction to the bloggernacle or the Mormon internet — did any of John’s projects and communities factor in?

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168 Responses to John Dehlin and the Technicolor Bloggernacle Game-Changer

  1. Stephen M (Ethesis) on January 29, 2011 at 4:14 AM

    It seems more of an implementation of the evolution he has been striving for.

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  2. Stephen M (Ethesis) on January 29, 2011 at 4:16 AM

    I should add that the two real questions are:

    * can he get the necessary critical mass to sustain each area?

    * can he allow evolution outside of his own version of correlation?

    I wish him the best of luck, I think that as his experience continues, and the community grows, what he has been striving for over the past several years is now possible.

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  3. Andrew S on January 29, 2011 at 6:09 AM

    Stephen,

    Great couple of comments. The thing is, yes, it seems like an implementation of the evolution he’s always been going for (which is why you can find basically a paper trail of everything he’s done and it just makes sense to bring it all together.)

    at the same time…that evolution itself is a revolution for everyone else.

    Now, with respect to questions you’ve raised in comment number 2 — since each “area” has already been “outsourced” so to speak to different communities, they’ve already developed certain stable communities (whether “critical mass” or not, I don’t know.) I wonder how great the overlap between the StayLDS community and, say, the regular commenters at Mormon Stories is? Some people feared the iPad would “cannibalize” Macbooks or iPhones or some other line, but I remember someone at Apple saying, “If this is what cannibalization looks like, we’re not complaining.”

    The second question is a huge one though. Another question I’d have is, “Can he manage conflicting ideals successfully?” Perhaps the reason DAMU and Bloggernacle haven’t ever come together is because we really are on the whole too different?

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  4. kiley on January 29, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    “* can he get the necessary critical mass to sustain each area?”

    I think this is really going to be the issue. I think people will be interested in reading, listening and commenting when it comes to the actually produced products of this work. The challenge will be getting enough of the right people working on those projects to make them worthwhile.

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  5. Chris H. on January 29, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    Visionary?

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 4

  6. N. on January 29, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    I like [the Bloggernacle] because in some ways it appears to be working to foster more of a liberal Mormon culture coexisting with a conservative Mormon mass.

    I don’t see this at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m saying this as someone who holds “liberal Mormon” attitudes and doctrinal interpretations.

    I don’t see a lot of coexisting happening. I see the “liberal Mormon” Bloggernacle continuing to draw battle lines and run skirmish attacks on orthodox, conservative Mormons. Not bridges nor coexistence nor understanding on either side of the illusory divide.

    I have over the years sort of fallen out of love with the Bloggernacle in general, and (sadly) Bro Dehlin’s endeavors for this reason.

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  7. Jeff Spector on January 29, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    Andrew S.

    I almost wrote on this for my post yesterday. but I am glad I didn’t. Yours was a nicer approach.

    The only thing I can say at this point is that John is a visionary. Has had many great plans, some of which have happened. The vision for Mormon Matters is very interesting but very broad. I am not certain that six people could actually pull off what John has in mind, let along a Doctoral student who must provide for his family.

    And lastly, I couldn’t help but think, as I read his article, that Mormon Stories and the Bloggernacle has become a business for him.

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  8. diane on January 29, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    What I would like to see happen is that people not be so single minded.(i.e) Republican/ or liberal in their responses, and if they are be more respectful in discourse. Its’ unusually the same people who act as if they are authorities on certain subjects and quite honestly its rude.

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  9. Jettboy on January 29, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    At least I now know that Conservatives are not supposed to have any voice in this new liberal internet utopia. We are just the unwashed masses whose reason for participation is only to learn at the liberal knees of progressive greatness. Thanks for the warning. Whatever Wheat and Tares is, what it isn’t is Mormon Matters that I actually had some comfort with.

    What do I miss most about Mormon Matters? That the contributors seemed to actually respect and be respectful of alternative voices. That doesn’t mean only the liberal variety, but (as described by others) ultra-conservative me who likes to discuss all kinds of topics. You don’t have to be liberal to feel topics covered in correlated Church is bland and less than productive. So far I haven’t been very comfortable commenting at the Wheat and Tares, and this post puts into words exactly why. It is bloggernacle liberal domesticated.

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  10. Chris H. on January 29, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    Jettboy, maybe it is because you are always such an [expletive deleted] and not because you are a right-winger. You will be comfy at M*.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 2

  11. adamf on January 29, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    Um, just wondering Jettboy (and thanks for the feedback) – as W&T has pretty much the same permas as MM did, what about the threads here are less comfortable? Any specific examples of comfortable discussions there that have not worked with the same audience and writers here (albeit a different domain name)?

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  12. diane on January 29, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    apparently neither Jetboy, nor Chris H read my comment about being civil towards one another and being respectful in their discourse. Both of their responses prove my point wonderfully.

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  13. Chris H. on January 29, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    Diane,

    If it makes you feel better, I am an authority and I think plenty of liberals are also…I will not repeat it. I hope you are rewarded in heaven for you self-righteousness.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 2

  14. adamf on January 29, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    “I hope you are rewarded in heaven for you self-righteousness.”

    T-shirt #2. Thanks. :D

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  15. diane on January 29, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Adam F

    While I can appreciate your humor, you are encouraging the behavior.

    In addition, what I also find disturbing is how some people will get put into moderation the first time for saying something like what Chris has just expressed, and yet he is free to repeat his nastiness time and again.

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  16. FireTag on January 29, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Diane:

    It’s being worked. Not all of the permas have seen the comment yet.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  17. diane on January 29, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    @N

    I don’t see The Conservatives in the bloggernacle making any attempts to peacefully co-exist either. They can be just as harsh and nasty as the hardcore liberals can and then the name calling expletives come out on both sides, effectively derailing any rational discussion.

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  18. Chris H. on January 29, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Sheesh. Go ahead and remove my comments. I tend not to come hear because this place seems too tolerant of people like Jettboy. Additionally, too many of the those folks leaving commens are dullards like diane.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 0

  19. Jettboy on January 29, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    adamf, this one as an example. Read the mission statement in the article.

    “I like much of the bloggernacle because it is in many ways a place where more liberal Mormon views can be expressed and accepted. I like it because in some ways it appears to be working to foster more of a liberal Mormon culture coexisting with a conservative Mormon mass . . . ”

    “as W&T has pretty much the same permas as MM did, what about the threads here are less comfortable?”

    I have wondered that myself, but it seems that this article has put into words what I had vague feelings of when reading. There is a sort of liberal agenda that Mormon Matters didn’t or didn’t seem to have before. Not to mention, the respectful tolerance of individuals if not the ideas is missing here.

    Yes, there were a few people on Mormon Matters that got personal like Chris H, but they were few and often quickly put under control. I rarely felt defensive at Mormon Matters, as there were even liberals who respectfully disagreed with my ideas without calling them idiotic, stupid, mean, intolerant, etc. That toned down my own rhetoric because I felt safe that I could say what I wanted without retaliation. Perhaps that might even be why Mormon Matters self-destructed. A particular group of people didn’t like the relatively tolerant atmosphere and ended up ruining it for all. At least as an outsider that seems to be what happened.

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  20. Chris H. on January 29, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    BiV,

    Thanks for keeping me PG. :)

    Jettboy, MM collapsed over the Marlin Jensen incident.

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  21. Bored in Vernal on January 29, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Andrew, I have also read John D.’s new directions with interest. I agree that John is quite charismatic and has a great talent at starting new projects. His “talent” at delegating can be seen as positive or negative: often he just doesn’t have the energy to carry through and the daily work of the project is taken over by others. Then he swoops in as the mood strikes him to contribute.

    I have my concerns about his new thrust to bring all of the projects together. First, as Jeff mentioned, I don’t like the “business” side of it. I do know that people need money to support their families, but somehow it smacks of televangelism and the excesses we see there.

    The other problem I have with all of this is that it seems that John is trying to start a new religious movement, a new church, if you will. One with a Mormon foundation but with shoots sprouting every which way. This makes me very nervous.

    But I will say that I have benefited greatly from many of John’s projects, and I hope that we can be friends, even if we don’t always see eye to eye.

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  22. mh on January 29, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    jettboy, I have always appreciated your comments here and at mm, but I have to disagree with your memories of mm. some of the posts there were quite hostile to the church, imo, and while w&t has a liberal bent, it seems to me more conservative than mm was.

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  23. Bored in Vernal on January 29, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    Jettboy, I think your comment is interesting. From my point of view, the permas we have here at W&T were trying to preserve the respectful exchange of ideas and that is why we had to leave. We have tried really hard to do that here in our new place. We welcome conservative and liberal points of view and we’ve tried to make our posts reflect that. Hopefully this will continue to be a place where a wide spectrum of views will be discussed in a respectful manner.

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  24. adamf on January 29, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    diane – “While I can appreciate your humor, you are encouraging the behavior.”

    Feedback taken, diane, thank you. Perhaps humor is a protective stance for me.

    Jettboy – Thanks for expanding on that. For sure, none of us can really know what one individual is experiencing. That being said, it is interesting how it has been different for you. I agree with MH – MM has *some* posts that were MUCH more hostile, and sometimes more “liberal” than we’ve ever had here. Perhaps MM just had MORE comments (IDK), which could drown out any one particular grumpy thread.

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  25. Jettboy on January 29, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    I guess to each their own as they say. I do respect many of those who are permas here, such as both Bored in Vernal and Hawkgirrl among others. Perhaps I will have to go back and give the articles here a closer look. Many commentators do make me feel uncomfortable if not the articles. Perhaps I can go back and find examples. However, I do feel that following in John Dehlin’s agenda is bad policy for an open forum where all ideas are to be respected. More often than not they end up, as N. said, drawing battle lines.

    Do I have my own agenda? I would be stupid to say that I didn’t. However, I haven’t ever really thought about what that might be other than a vague belief that there is an attack against traditional Mormonism into something it never was meant to be. Perhaps I’ll talk about that in length on my own blog some day.

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  26. Bored in Vernal on January 29, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    Back to the OP, I wonder what others think of John’s call to return and gather the dispersed outcasts of Israel. Do you think it’s a good idea? Do you think the communities mentioned have developed their own identities to the point that they can no longer fit under John D.’s “big tent?”

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  27. Bored in Vernal on January 29, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    Oh, and I’d love someone to address Stephen’s comment #2 in greater detail:
    Can he allow evolution outside of his own version of correlation?

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  28. diane on January 29, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    @BIV

    On the face of it, sounds good, but I don’t think people should have to pay to be a part of it. For example, who gets the money that’s being contributed and how exactly is it being allocated? I’m bothered by that aspect of reinventing MM

    That and I’m also a little dismayed by the whole behind the scenes politics and who supports who and it does play out on the particular blog. Certain people back others so it creates conflict where there really should be none.

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  29. Mike S on January 29, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    Regarding the “tone” of W&T vs MM – I think they are fairly similar, although “tone” is obviously in the eye of the beholder. I think the articles here are well written and quite balanced, to be honest. I have enjoyed learning more about the CofC, about women and the priesthood, about math proofs, about everything else more directly or more tangentially related to Mormonism. I also really enjoy the wide variety of engagement that people here have with the Church – from fully active to atheist.

    Where things sometimes to get a bit uncivil is in the comments. This is different from some other sites. Some tend to attract more straight-line active members. Others tend to attract more of the “anti-” crowd. This tends to try to ride the bubble between (and including) the two extremes. Because of this, people come here with strongly held opinions at times. And they express them.

    The other thing that can lead to this is that comments are extremely rarely edited (and that’s really just to perhaps take out a profanity). Unlike other blogs where “uncivil” comments are moderated out to prevent arguments, etc., this site is what it is. This might not appeal to some people, but I like it.

    Overall, I have had my disagreements with people on here as well, but I have learned and grown in the process. I have come to respect Jared for his profound testimony and would love to have an experience like him someday. I respect Andrew S’s tolerance for and civility towards people with strong beliefs despite him perhaps being on the other end of the spectrum. I respect Jeff for calling me out on my obsessions. I respect Anarchist-guy (I forget tag) who thinks should all get married simultaneously to each other in a massive group marriage. I respect many of the people on here (although I don’t know any of them in real life).

    I feel bad when people are offensive towards each other personally. This truly is a great place and I’ve learned a lot about others, and myself.

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  30. Dan on January 29, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    I don’t know how successful a Huffington Post type blog can be whose main interests are to follow Mormon news, ideas, challenges and successes. But I say that as someone who isn’t a follower of the Huffington Post (I tried and found it wanting). Beside those who follow the Bloggernacle, exactly who would the target audience be? How many Mormons get online to find political/news blogs to follow? How many participate in the family/photo blogs instead? How would you target that audience?

    Maybe if an Apostle participated…

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  31. Mike S on January 29, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    As far as the subject of the original post, I think it is a great concept. I would love Mormonism to be like Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism or ??? where people can recognize a common foundation and consider each other “kin”, yet each be able to accept Mormonism on terms that make the most sense in their own life/background/circumstances.

    My biggest worry in this, however, is implementation. The issues are space, resources, and acceptance.

    By space I mean target audience/space. I see three real potential groups as it related to Mormonism: The traditional TBM-types (although I hate that phrase), the non- or ex-Mormons, and the in-betweeners.

    For TBM-types, I don’t think they will venture too far into the bloggernacle. They are, by and large, satisfied with their level of engagement with the Church. Occasionally someone may drift this way, but in general, they are find with official and correlated materials.

    For non-/ex- types, I also don’t know where this project would fit. For many peoplem, having been Mormon is a non-issue. They’ve moved on, left it behind, and it really doesn’t interest them any more. Some people have also left but can’t leave it behind. These folks are very “anti-” and also might detract from the project.

    So that leaves the “fringes”. I think that’s where this project lies. This is people who aren’t really getting what they need out of the Church, but still want to be a part of the Church. It includes a wide range of people. But how big is this group? Is it large enough to support a project like this? Is it a self-delimiting and temporary group of people in a transition phase? Do people ultimately need to jump both feet in or both feet out? I don’t know.

    Resources.

    Like it or not, these things take money. It takes money to support websites and design things. This may not be direct costs, but it absolutely include opportunity costs where time spent doing this is time NOT spent doing something else. And the project is vastly outgunned there.

    While John’s request for donations to help him support his family while he spends time on this might smack of televangelism or something similar (I feel the same BTW), it’s mostly because it’s open and a particular person. In the LDS Church, how many hundreds of people are supported 100% doing the exact same thing? It takes a lot of resources to design the Church’s website, product magazines, write and produce manuals and brochures, investigate some of these issues, produce multi-million dollar and multi-state advertising campaigns for visibility, etc. These costs are just hidden in the billions the Church take in each year in donations. If, instead of tithing, you were asked to donate to a particular filmmaker so he could make ads highlighting some “cool” Mormons, you might think twice about it.

    So, this project is always going to be VASTLY out-resourced. Again, unlike the Church with its tens of thousands of employees all paid for with donated money, we balk at giving a single person just a portion of what it takes to live. I’m sure John isn’t doing this to get rich.

    Acceptance.

    This will ALWAYS be one-sided. The people who would be involved in the project would bend over backwards to be accepted by the “mainstream” Church. They want to be a part of the “mainstream” Church, but just need a bigger tent. The people in the “middle” have very little problem (in general) accepting the most dogmatic, TBM member having their beliefs. Someone in the “middle” can accept someone being “TBM”.

    But it doesn’t go the other way very much. Many of the discussions and opinions held on this site alone would likely be considered apostate by many in the Church. We have talks about retrenching, 14 points, authority, avoiding internet sites, only correlated materials, etc. We hear talks about focusing on what is faith-promoting, not what is true.

    And, at the end of the day, everything is on the Church’s terms. For example, if someone believes that temple ordinances are essential for salvation, and if the Church decides the current requirements for entry there, we can either accept that or not.

    So, while I would love to see the Church broaden its tent, and while I’m going to stay a part of all of this, I don’t know where this will go.

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  32. diane on January 29, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Something else has been bothering me lately that I would like to see changed.

    The like and dislike button, I feel like its’ really highly passive aggressive and I wish we would just really do away with it. I don’t really see it as adding to the conversation in any real tangible way and if someone disagrees with one says, why not just say something, it just seems sneaky and back handed

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 6

  33. adamf on January 29, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    #32 – I just “liked” your comment. :)

    I still like the buttons though, but really only for popular and/or LONG comment threads. If I’m trying to go through the comments quickly, it’s really nice to be able to see which comments were popular, and which were controversial.

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  34. don't know mo on January 29, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Mike S. #9 well said.
    I’m relatively new to the bloggernacle and don’t know the back story to any of the drama. What has struck me from my limited experience in the nacle, is the over-arching tone of respect. With only MM and MormonStories to inform my opinion, John Dehlin seems to exemplify civil discourse and a genuine respect for individuals and their points of view. I’m not exaggerating when I say that finding MM, W&T, FMH, BCC, etc. and the open exchange of thought therein, has changed my life. So I thank all of you who share your wisdom, insight, study and humor in these forums in a respectful way so that we can actually listen and hear each other.

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  35. don't know mo on January 29, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Oops Mike S. #29

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  36. Bored in Vernal on January 29, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    I noticed this comment on John D.’s Mormon Stories post:

    John, what inspiring vision and goals! I had a question for you. How do you (or would you) respond to the idea that you are seeking to form a different type of Mormon community, almost along the lines of a different sect? Granted, if you are, I am in it, but it seems to me this is something along the lines of Reform Judaism. I am curious to see how you would articulate your response.

    Let me be clear I agree with you that this is the most positive way for mainstream Mormonism to go, but the fact remains you are forming a new definition and community of Mormonism without any top-down reform. Now, I think this very fact is one of the greatest strengths of the project. I have never been so happy in my Mormonism as since I have discovered this project. But it does open you up to that critique of advocating your own brand of the religion.

    This goes along with what I was wondering in my #21. Does anyone else share the same concern? I hope John will respond to this.

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  37. Chris H. on January 29, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    I just think that along with the thumbs up and the thumbs down…there should be a middle finger option. Ain’t nothing passive about my aggression.

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  38. Bored in Vernal on January 29, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    hahahaha
    this could ONLY add to our bloggernacle rep.

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  39. diane on January 29, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    @ BIV

    Why are you encouraging Chris H nasty behavior and why has he not been blocked and or at least put in moderation? Now I’m calling out all of the permas who condone this behavior and do nothing about it

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  40. Mike S on January 29, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    diane:

    Blocking or moderating isn’t really something done here. Someone may be tasteless, provoking, immature, etc., but that’s just like in the real world. There are some people whose comments I generally ignore based on their past comments, just like in the real world, there are some people I prefer not to be around. I’d encourage ignoring them.

    (BTW: For what it’s worth, I thought the middle finger comment was funny – but maybe that speaks to my immaturity more than anything else)

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  41. diane on January 29, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    @40

    So, since Chris H has been incredibly rude to me on this OP time and again I can tell him [edited] and I shouldn’t be blocked and none of you have the right to tell that I should have said given everything he’s said to me

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  42. Bored in Vernal on January 29, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    Why are you encouraging Chris H nasty behavior and why has he not been blocked and or at least put in moderation? Now I’m calling out all of the permas who condone this behavior and do nothing about it

    Diane, Chris is a very good friend of mine. Also, what Mike said.

    SO. Who agrees that we are on the cusp of an amazing technicolor Bloggernacle Game-Changer?

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  43. diane on January 29, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    @ BIV

    So, because he’s your personal friend, [more editing, sorry Diane]

    This is exactly the behavior I was speaking about on what happened at MM

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  44. Bored in Vernal on January 29, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    I actually like the idea of blog magazines. I think they would be frequented by a variety of Mormon thinky types.

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  45. diane on January 29, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    Some one explain to me why I was edited and Chris H was not. Please don’t give [edited] that he’s someone’s personal friend and that’s why he’s allowed to say any nasty thing that comes out of his mouth.

    I am now calling out all of the Perma who pull this [edited]

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  46. diane on January 29, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    If you are going to edit me, then edit your personal friend otherwise you come off looking like an idiot

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  47. Jared T. on January 29, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    Put me down as a big *yawn* for the OP, thumbs up to BIV’s #36 and Chris’ #37.

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  48. diane on January 29, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    just like high school and the popular kids not wanting anyone else in their playground,

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  49. mh on January 29, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    diane, we have your feedback and it is noted. f-bombs will get you moderated, but other than that, we.re pretty tolerant around here. now, for the good of the discussion, let it drop. you have banged the drum before, but your continued beating it only invites the behavior.

    back to the topic. john did and interview with dan wotherspoon (i think, or some former editor of sunstone), and the person said that they were really striving for big tent mormonism, but they were naïve. people from the left or right really don’t want to sit together.

    my memories from mm were wild swings from left to right. w&t is more in the middle. it seems to me that jettboy remembers the right posts he agreed with more than the left posts he disagreed with. the fact is that the permas who ran mm were generally moderates more comfy with both left and right. but since the move, we have tended to gravitate more to our comfort zones in the middle.

    at mm, it seems like I got into it with left and right for being too liberal AND too conservative. i’m not seeing that so much here at w&t. I think we’ve lost the poles, which is both good and bad. I do feel like my posts here don’t attract the wrath of the ultra liberals, and the conservatives don’t seem to comment because I am still too liberal for them.

    I like the big tent idea, but it is hard to pull off successfully. in that way, john had a talent that isn’t available here at this time. once again, there is good and bad to that.

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  50. diane on January 29, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    It’s funny now you want me to drop it after he’s taken it too far. You and the rest of the perma’s should have said something to him back in the beginning

    @MH

    I’m again calling the Perma’s out because on other OP Dan Henry Thomas have all used the F bomb and other curse words, not once have you’ve stepped in. nor were they edited,

    I’m edited, why/ I think this is a case of sexism at its’ core. the gentleman, I use the term loosely are allowed to use any and all forms of communication and its’ honky dory Yet, I say one thing and i get edited. Its’ happened time again. I suggest to go back and reread some of the last OP’s Like on the High Cost of Freedom
    Dan, Henry and Thomas used cuss words thru out and they were never edited.

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  51. adamf on January 29, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    Chris H. was edited on January 29, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    “Jettboy, maybe it is because you are always such an [expletive deleted] and not because you are a right-winger. You will be comfy at M*.”

    Back to the current topic, I think the “big tent” is possible as long as people actually want to be in it. Many people may not fit if they have a “love the church member, hate their beliefs” kind of attitude. I have a hard time being in the same tent as someone who has that kind of contempt for just believing in a supreme being. It’s not so much a matter of belief/lack of belief for me, it’s more about the grace one carries around these issues, how constructive their style of conflict or communication is, etc. I think Clay said something like that in times past. I was recently reading a post by an ex-mo atheist who said Mormons’ beliefs are “stupid” while suggesting that Mormons themselves are not. I don’t know how a stance like that can ever fit in the tent.

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  52. Bored in Vernal on January 29, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    So do you think this is the type of person John is reaching out to with his new emphasis?

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  53. adamf on January 29, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    Hmm… for his “new emphasis” IDK. Perhaps I’m projecting here, because I have tried to have a big tent of my own, but realized that the people I’ve described in 51 are just too costly in the psychological wages department. I don’t care what people believe or don’t believe, I just want people around me who have a “love the sinner, and feel at least some small morsel of reverence or respect for belief in general, or just plain ‘ol difference.”

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  54. Andrew S on January 29, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    re: everyone,

    Thanks for coming out and commenting. I was at a fencing tournament all day today (where I placed second in my event. Whoop!)

    I’ll try to address some selected comments herein:

    re 4:

    Kiley

    The thing is, as far as getting people is concerned, I think John’s really got a strength here. I mean, I’ve never gotten a personal invitation to be an interviewer for Mormon Stories (that’s probably NOT my skillset anyway), but then I see the people who are interviewers (and the people who are interviewed) — and I understand why.

    re 5:

    Chris,

    yes. At best, you might say you don’t agree with the vision, but it’s an entirely different sort of problem than someone being vision-less.

    re 6:

    N,

    I can see what you mean, both in the bloggernacle in general and with John’s work. But for me, it seems to me a matter of reaching out to different constituencies. It seems clear to me that his constituencies clash, and so someone from one side can say, “Eww, you hang out with *those* people.” And so, how do you navigate that without seeming to equivocate.

    re 7:

    Jeff,

    As I compare Brad Dennis’s comments (which emphasize sponsorship and professional fundraising with any media endeavor that is designed to reach out), and John’s approach, I can’t help but feel somewhat similarly: something’s going to have to give, whether it being John making Mormon Stories his job or finding a way to get more support than just donations from listeners. And of course, the time involvement begs for compensation above and beyond that which supports the site, etc.,

    re 8

    Diane,

    I’d like to see this too (even though I know I’m just as guilty), but it seems to me that we’re trying to change human nature itself.

    re 9

    Jettboy,

    That’s interesting. It seems to me that not only is much of Wheat and Tares comprised of the old Mormon Matters cast (so it can be compared with MM), but our environment here has brought some great posters whom I would consider to be conservative (for example, Bruce is back in addition to posting at Millennial Star). Maybe our mileage varies.

    re 21

    BiV:

    Yeah, we’ve definitely been through the “swooping in”. It’ll be interesting to see if the new project (which requires PLENTY of delegation and trust) will break this unfortunate trend?

    The business side doesn’t bother me so much because, well…money *does* make the world go round. I think that if John can get delegation down, then he can share costs (whether in time or money) around, which will be good.

    The new religious movement suspicion is one I have heard before, and I have seen some things that would lead me to suspect that as well. I think I put it on the shelf of, “Things that visionary men tend to do — for good or for bad.”

    I’ll get to a few other comments later.

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  55. Bored in Vernal on January 29, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    things that visionary men tend to do…
    fascinating.

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  56. Syphax on January 29, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    This thread is awesome.

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  57. diane on January 29, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    @ Adam F

    lets’ be clear it’s not just the language that’s pissing me off right now, its’ the fact that Chris H has been allowed to make pointed personal attacks at me all dam day and making jokes doing it and All of you are sitting there encouraging him. Acting like your still in high school of something.

    This behavior occurred at Mormon Matters because people behind the scenes were friends with other bloggers and then it shut down because of the personal conflicts that resulted from it.

    Now you people want me to back down when I’ve been trying to ignore him the whole day but watch how you people have been laughing right along with and now I’m suppose to step off? Are you kidding me.

    Let’s just get this all out in the open who is friends with who in the Background so we know who all the alliances are with

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  58. [...] most recent post at Wheat and Tares went up this morning (as usually, every other Saturday morning…if you haven’t caught [...]

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  59. jo bob on January 29, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    it’s a free country. if you don’t like the comment policy, quit commenting and start your own blog. lots of people do that. nobody is forced to stay here. quit derailing the discussion.

    part of the problem with a big tent mentality that john dehlin espouses is precisely the problem of interpersonal communications.

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  60. diane on January 29, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Jo

    I’m not derailing the discussion, I’m pointing out behavior that derailed MM and the same crap is happening here, specifically because of behind the scene friendships, or non friendship as the case may be.

    It’s likely to derail W&T and if John Dehlin ‘s not careful he’ll derail himself again.
    Behavior tends to repeat itself if not acknowledge.

    And right back at you, if you don’t like what’s being discussed you don’t need to read, nor do you need to participate.

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  61. Syphax on January 29, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    My favorite part is when the response to “acting like your still in high school or something” is “it’s a free country.”

    That’s my favorite part.

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  62. Jettboy on January 29, 2011 at 7:43 PM

    Diane, I only know you from this article, but I totally agree with you. These kinds of self-selected attacks are exactly why I don’t appreciate Wheat and Tares, or at least participate much. You can always do like myself and just not participate (much anyway). The LDS blog world is so much larger than the Bloggernacle or John Dehlin’s projects.

    On the topic, I agree with mh that, “people from the left or right really don’t want to sit together.” Considering my beliefs about what Mormonism means as a religion, I know I sure don’t want to sit next to the left leaning. This isn’t to say the political left so much as the theological left, although they are hard not to be separated. On more than one occasion (like this very posting) the other side has said the same to me.

    I am not a fan of a “big tent” because my main concern is the One True Tent. I feel there are too many who want to remain or get in the tent so they can tear it down. There are some I will grant believe they are building a stronger tent as they pull the stakes out of the ground. However, to be honest, I feel what has been happening at least since the 70s is a general apostasy similar to what can be interpreted happening in the New Testament.

    In answer to a question by Mike S. I would say John D. is hanging on to, “a self-delimiting and temporary group of people in a transition phase,” and, “. . . people ultimately need to jump both feet in or both feet out.” Most of those who are “fringe” have little or no reason to remain members of the LDS Church. They simply don’t want to try gaining a testimony or repenting of their sins labeled as such by the Leadership. The only thing I can think of for trying to keep them inside or remaining involved is, like I said above, a concerted effort to change the very definition of Mormonism to a secularist organization. In a word, I worry that Bored in Vernal’s quote that he is trying to create something along the lines of Reform Judaism as the goal. Unlike the quoted person, I am not happy with that as I feel Reform Judaism is a corrupt and irreligious Judaism. I don’t want to see the same happen to the mainstream LDS Church, although I don’t see that happening because of the same.

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  63. Dan on January 29, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    diane,

    #50,

    Dan, Henry and Thomas used cuss words thru out and they were never edited.

    Woah, hold that horse. I don’t use the s-word, the f-word, or call anyone a b-word (the feminine or the masculine). I’ll say damn, hell, crap, pissed off, but I see no need for the other ones.

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  64. Dan on January 29, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    hey Jettboy,

    #62,

    I am not a fan of a “big tent” because my main concern is the One True Tent.

    When you get to heaven,
    you will likely view
    faces who will be
    a surprise to you.
    but keep it very quiet
    do not even stare,
    maybe there are people
    surprised to see you there.

    Just FYI

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  65. Jettboy on January 29, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    “I don’t want to see the same happen to the mainstream LDS Church, although I don’t see that happening because of the mainstream Leadership.” That is what I meant to say. Although one could also say that the mainstream of Mormonism is non-participation.

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  66. Jettboy on January 29, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    Just FYI Dan, I doubt that. I doubt that very much. We will see some day won’t we? For right now I know what I believe and you know what you believe, and both of us will fight like cats and dogs until that great and dreadful day.

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  67. Dan on January 29, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    Jettboy,

    Not sure what you mean by that as I am under the impression we both believe strongly in Jesus as the Messiah, in the Book of Mormon as the keystone to our religion, and in President Monson as the prophet of the Lord. Maybe you mean we both will fight on the same side like cats and dogs until that great and dreadful day.

    Or are you suggesting that our different political views is the dealbreaker on that great and dreadful day? Because I don’t remember that being mentioned in the scriptures…

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  68. Andrew S on January 29, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    re 25,

    Jettboy,

    Question: do I make you feel uncomfortable? I mean, most of my posts here stink so I doubt they are too offensive, but still.

    Anyway, I can see some of your reservations. I just wonder…how then does one create an open forum that gives voice to a group of people that has traditionally been very marginalized — while not making uncomfortable another group of people?

    I think BiV’s second question in 26 is really good:

    Do you think the communities mentioned have developed their own identities to the point that they can no longer fit under John D.’s “big tent?”

    re 30:

    Dan,

    The general idea (I think) is that at the base, many of the same people who would be interested in the Bloggernacle would be interested in this. However, this attempts to address some shortcoming (or at least idiosyncrasies) to the Nacle.

    For example, the ‘Nacle has a high cost to entry, so to speak. There are established communities, in-jokes, etc., from a social perspective. Secondly, many sites cover issues from an in-depth, academically-minded way. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this…but I often feel that I’m just not smart enough to talk about certain things (that’s when I’m not banned on the site in question.)

    So, the expansion of Mormon Matters reaches more people by reaching a common denominator level of understanding (allowing people to enter into amateur study with a less steep learning curve.) But it also reaches out to people who spend time (and are willing to spend time) watching videos or listening to audio files, but may not want to read.

    re 31:

    Great thoughts, Mike.

    As for me, I can pretty easily conceive that the “fringes” include many people (because the “orthodox” can’t be pinned down so easily either)…but your point about this group being self-delimiting is pretty important (this definitely comes up in terms of the DAMU. We’ve only had Brodies awards for two years, but the blogs which are active and in the running are quite different.)

    re 49

    MH, interesting point from Dan…I guess in my continued naivete, I’d say it’s not enough to say, “X and Y don’t want to sit together,” but to evaluate why they don’t. Maybe we have an entire social scene that needs to be changed.

    re 51,

    Adam,

    The interesting thing about your comment is that I feel that it can apply both ways. For example, of course, “love the church member, hate the beliefs” has OBVIOUS cross-application to the idea of “loving the sinner, hating the sin.” At some point in intergroup diplomatic discussions, I feel that there is a basic incompatibility. For example, if I argue, “exmormons can be good people,” then I have to argue based on a “goodness” that is Mormon. E.g., “Exmormons can be people who follow the WoW, Law of Chastity etc.,” Of course, this argument concedes too much — what if we shouldn’t challenge certain things?

    Anyway, John already has problems, I feel with this. In his discussion, two commenters remarked about how limited a podcast about “credible LDS apologetics” would be.

    re 55,

    BiV, Indeed. Maybe that’s my version of the “shelf.”

    Then again, maybe it’s because I come from a nonbeliever perspective, but this seems a very useful way to look at many religious leader types. Visionary people (religious OR not…consider again, Steve Jobs) tend to do things that worry other people as threatening to upend the status quo.

    But, I think I defer to my answer to MH’s comment 49. Maybe the status quo NEEDS to be fixed. Maybe there NEEDS to be a new religious movement. (there I go poisoning my own well.)

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  69. Andrew S on January 29, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    re 56, 61

    Syphax, indeed. Although…not ideal. Not sure how to respond here.

    re 62

    Jettboy,

    I reluctantly have to say I see what you mean, just from reviewing many of the comments here. I think you have a point that the LDS Blog world is far bigger than the Bloggernacle or John Dehlin’s projects (a point I used to extremely lament. I wanted the bloggernacle to cover every LDS-themed blog rather than referring to a clique-ish corner…but things don’t ever turn out as well as we’d hope.

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  70. Chris H. on January 29, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    Syphax,

    Would you like to join my club?

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  71. Syphax on January 29, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    #70. You’re inviting me… to join you? Suddenly this is nothing like my experience of high school (or kickball in elementary school) at all.

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  72. davis on January 29, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    I likewise vote for a “Middle Finger” button. There are so many comments on this thread that I’d give the middle-finger to that you’d all be ashamed of them.

    Seriously, we have some serious petulance happening around these parts today.

    As for me: I vote for the biggest, hugest, massivest tent imaginable. In fact, I hope there’s not a tent at all. Do away with the tent, do away with the stakes altogether, do away with the manmade protection from the life giving (and taking) sun, do away with those things that suggest we can only go this far, “but no further.” Breathe the fresh air. Invite the strangest and coolest people in. Invite those who drop the F-bomb every 3rd word. Invite the self righteous who refuse to see any other point of view than their own. Invite the dogmatics, the liberals, the passivists, the aggressors and everywhere in between.

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  73. davis on January 29, 2011 at 9:47 PM

    (P.S. To clarify my “ashamed of them” I meant to say you’d be ashamed of how many middle fingers I’d use.)

    ,,!,,

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  74. Andrew S on January 29, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    I suppose the middle finger button would highlight exactly how a big tent approach is unsustainable and self-defeating…

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  75. Dan on January 29, 2011 at 10:01 PM

    Davis,

    Invite the strangest and coolest people in. Invite those who drop the F-bomb every 3rd word. Invite the self righteous who refuse to see any other point of view than their own. Invite the dogmatics, the liberals, the passivists, the aggressors and everywhere in between.

    Right on, man. God did, after all, create them all in His own image…

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  76. Mike S on January 30, 2011 at 12:10 AM

    #62 Jettboy:

    Most of those who are “fringe” have little or no reason to remain members of the LDS Church. They Most of those who are “fringe” have little or no reason to remain members of the LDS Church. They simply don’t want to try gaining a testimony or repenting of their sins labeled as such by the Leadership. The only thing I can think of for trying to keep them inside or remaining involved is, like I said above, a concerted effort to change the very definition of Mormonism to a secularist organization. labeled as such by the Leadership. The only thing I can think of for trying to keep them inside or remaining involved is, like I said above, a concerted effort to change the very definition of Mormonism to a secularist organization.

    I think this is the core of the problem. “Orthodox” members absolutely cannot accept “non-orthodox” members. They blame it on laziness or sin, because it is inconceivable that someone who is sincere does NOT have the same orthodox beliefs as them.

    I have shared this in the past, but will do it again, as it pertains to this:
    - I was born into the Church
    - I have ancestors born in 1846 in Winter Quarters, so they were there from the get-go
    - I attended seminary and was actually on seminary council
    - I went on a mission, including serving in every leadership position possible up to and including AP
    - I was married in the temple
    - I have always had a temple recommend with all that that implies
    - I have served in a wide range of callings
    - I have read the Book of Mormon at least 10-15 times, including in multiple languages
    - I have prayed about the Book of Mormon hundreds of times from the time I was a boy until now, and still pray about it

    But guess what, I have never received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true. I have never received an answer that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I can’t stand up in testimony meeting and say, “I know…”

    Until a few years ago, when I starting stumbling across some of these websites, I felt inadequate and nothing in the Church. Why? Because people implied (or outright said) things like They simply don’t want to try gaining a testimony or repenting of their sins.

    So, what were my options. Hang in there and hope that, despite my lack of luck in the past 4+ decades to get an answer, perhaps I might in the next 3-4 decades? Is it that I don’t WANT a testimony? Or is my particular set of sins so much worse than my neighbor sitting next to me at Church that I do not deserve a testimony while they do?

    Through sites like this, and many others, I am comfortable now. I realize that there are many, many people just like me. There are people who have been touched by Mormonism, who feel they are Mormon, but who, for whatever reason, feel “less” or disenfranchised.

    So, there is a tremendous need for what is proposed. I’m sure there are many in the LDS Church who have similar attitudes to the one you expressed – get with the program or get out. That is the biggest problem I see with this whole project. Back in the day, when President McKay stretched the tent wide, there was room for people who had a wide diversity of ideas but who had a common foundation. The edges of the foundation have been chipped away, however, and the tent has been taken in. Orthodoxy is now the norm.

    Perhaps the Church will be stronger if it jettisons people like me. Perhaps you just as soon me NOT teach your child’s YM class. Perhaps I’m not meant to be Mormon. Maybe God’s lack of an answer to me IS the answer – that despite my background, upbringing, and devotion to the LDS Church, including tens of thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of hours, I should leave.

    Or perhaps I should stay, relying on my fellow people in the “fringes” to help chart my course through life.

    What would you have me do?

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  77. davis on January 30, 2011 at 2:15 AM

    re #62

    “Most of those who are “fringe” have little or no reason to remain members of the LDS Church. They simply don’t want to try gaining a testimony or repenting of their sins labeled as such by the Leadership. The only thing I can think of for trying to keep them inside or remaining involved is, like I said above, a concerted effort to change the very definition of Mormonism to a secularist organization”

    Wow, how’s that for castigating whole swaths of people as either disinterested (“don’t want to gain a testimony”) or unworthy (“sinful”)?

    Newsflash: I’m one of those “fringe” members, and I’m not a “fringe” because I’m either disinterested or sinful (though clearly I am). I’m fringe because I don’t buy the “labeled as such by the Leadership” mentality that pervades the mainstream church. I, as a fringer, have as much right to the Church as you, a mainstreamer, do. Christ is the reason for church – not some definition, or labels or whatever it is that the “leadership” or “mainstream” concocts to corral the masses.

    Thanks to #14, we should pitch in and buy you a shirt. What size do you wear?

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  78. Ethesis (still mobile) on January 30, 2011 at 4:16 AM

    I think a visit to the Ensign that just came out would enrich this discussion. But I’m just one pf those tbm types, so what would I know? 

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  79. diane on January 30, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    I don’t think John is interested in creating one big tent, I think he’s looking for people to fund his Grad School. And the question then becomes, if people do pay him, does he get to own their stories, and their voices and what should he be allowed to do with that

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  80. Seth R. on January 30, 2011 at 8:09 AM

    I don’t know… I’ve never been much of a fan of “diversity for diversity’s sake” as a self-contained raison d’ etre.

    You gotta have more than mere “diversity” driving you, otherwise you have no real foundation, and your principles are largely reactive in nature.

    I’d have a lot more respect for this project of John’s if he were actually being driven by an actual ideological, theological or personal goal. But just saying “we need more diversity”?

    Says who?

    Personally, I think the stated notion of becoming “the Huffington Post of Mormon news and information” is a pretty unimpressive goal. It’s ideologically and morally reactive, and basically tells me you don’t really know who the hell you are, or what you want. Not to mention that it’s invoking an online magazine totally lacking in credibility – except among hardliner ideologues that share it’s agenda.

    Honestly, it sounded more like John was just giving a shout-out to Holly Welker than anything else.

    Essentially, John Dehlin doesn’t know who he is or what he wants, but wants all of us to join him on the journey.

    I guess I can sympathize. That’s a fairly prevalent theme in my own blogging activity. But I’m not asking anyone to elect me “leader of the revolution” based on that either.

    John, if you want to “take the Internet by storm”, encourage donations, and get everyone to follow you in the new glorious revolution, then it would help if you could formulate an actual CAUSE for everyone to march behind.

    But I’m not exactly seeing one of those yet.

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  81. Jettboy on January 30, 2011 at 8:20 AM

    I really liked the Ensign article Strengthening the Less Active by President Boyd K. Packer. I will admit it goes against my general attitude in the comments. However, it also speaks to what I am trying to say. You don’t remain a member to change the LDS Church. You remain a member to change yourself.

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  82. Stephen M (Ethesis) on January 30, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    That was well said Jettboy.

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  83. Jana H on January 30, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    I’ve participated in some of J.D.’s efforts, including a discussion board devoted to the issues that these “fringe” (whatever you want to call them) members whom we wish to be a part of the Mormon tent. I do think J.D. ultimately wants to model Christ-like love to all people regardless of their status in the Church. I do think his project, if successful, would have the effect that BIV is concerned about. I found as a theologically liberal, politically conservative temple recommend-holding member of a board populated with people in transition was depressing and ultimately not worth the time. In my case, they weren’t interested in input from someone of my status — they were more interested in building community amongst themselves apart from those who profess a more traditional faith in the church. I don’t blame them for wanting to build their community, and I was not particularly disappointed I was not a good fit in the community. I just say this to note that to the same degree “fringe” members feel alienated from the Church norm, the more faithful would be likewise alienated among a group of people gathering to emphasize their differences among the faithful (does that make sense)?

    In any case, perhaps it will work; I certainly wish J.D. the best. After my experience, though, I would likely just watch from a distance.

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  84. Mike S on January 30, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    Jettboy:

    I’m not really sure how to take the article. The problem for me is NOT one of activity. I’ve probably missed 2-3 Sundays of Church a year for my whole life (sick or traveling). I’ve sat in PEC or Ward Council and discussed the “less active”. I’ve served in just about every organization in a ward, including being YM president to 60-70 YM. I’ve always paid a full tithing and followed the WofW. I read the scriptures nearly every day. I literally couldn’t be more active.

    But I just don’t feel “home” at Church. I can’t say I “know” it’s true. It’s not from sin. It’s not from inactivity. It’s not from lack of desire. I’ve done everything that I can do – it’s up to God at this point – so I continue in faith.

    And, being completely honest, after all these years of people suggesting that these feelings are due to “sin” or “just not wanting it”, comments similar to yours make me LESS likely to even want to go. More than any commandment or policy, this attitude, which is common in the Church, bothers me more than anything else.

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  85. Jettboy on January 30, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    Mike S.,

    I applaud you for staying active for reasons of faith in faith, but I must ask out of curiosity, why do you stay? My worry is less about people like you and more those who don’t really believe and seek to change the LDS Church into their own image of secularist liberalism.

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  86. Bruce on January 30, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    I had a question for you. How do you (or would you) respond to the idea that you are seeking to form a different type of Mormon community, almost along the lines of a different sect? …but it seems to me this is something along the lines of Reform Judaism.

    I think, if we are being honest with ourselves, John does indeed represent a different sect compared to the LDS Church. I see no way around this rationally.

    I do not mean this as a slam at all. I respect John’s beliefs as I do all religions. I have as much respect for John’s beliefs and his personal religion as I do for a Muslims, or a Catholics, or anyone else’s.

    There is no ‘big tent’ we can all fit into, and such a big tent would truly be a horrifying thing if it ever actually happened. It would effectively remove all the good religion currently does in the world and eliminate none of the bad, I expect.

    We should not want a big tent. Instead, we should learn to love all religions and be tolerant of all beliefs while choosing to believe our own (whatever that might be.) We should learn to seek out and explore both similarities and differences and value both.

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  87. Bruce on January 30, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Mike S,

    You remind me of myself. Like almost entirely. But there seems to be a big difference between you and me that I can’t really account for.

    For example, I don’t mind the “I know” languate in Church. I love it, in fact. (If I had a complaint, it would only be that we should also allow for “I believe” language as well.)

    I have no problem using such language personally because “I know” does not, to me, communicate 100% certainty in any aspect of my life — ever. So I see no reason to expect it to just because I happen to be in Church.

    I can’t explain why this bothers so many people on the Bloggernacle and doesn’t seem to bother me at all.

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  88. don't know mo on January 30, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    My own experiences are very similar to those of Mike S., but I stay active because I have hope even though I dont “know”. I’m also old enough to have been on the “fringe” about the ERA, and Blacks and the Priesthood only to see the views of the Church change dramatically regarding those issues. The fact that Lds.org recognizes nature as a viable source for homosexuality is a huge positive change from previous statements from our leaders. So…I continue to have hope and I hope that’s enough.

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  89. davis on January 30, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    “You don’t remain a member to change the LDS Church. You remain a member to change yourself.”

    The problem with statements like these is that it presumes that the “LDS Church” is perfect, that it doesn’t need any changing, that all of its programs, policies, pronouncements, statements, efforts, and everything else is above reproach. It presumes that the Church is the ultimate arbiter in all situations, that the Church is the authority, that the Church is our god. It doesn’t come right out and say that, but the tacit understanding is hard to ignore – you “don’t change the Church”, after all.

    “My worry is less about people like you and more those who don’t really believe and seek to change the LDS Church into their own image of secularist liberalism.”

    As if some secularist liberal can’t have a good idea now and then? Personally, I’m quite tired of the labels we throw around – conservative, liberal, secularist, yada yada yada. The dualities we presume to carry the day are fabricated, largely, by the false priests of the main stream media who preach fear, hatred, idolatry and a whole list of other ills. We then buy – hook-and-sinker – into their fear and hatred and then categorize people into nice little boxes so as to make our lives easier, and in the end do a huge disservice to humanity.

    “You see that group over there – they’re “secularist liberals”. We stay away from them. We don’t talk to them. Their ideas are scary. We’re holy. They aren’t.”

    That’s not to say that there aren’t people, groups, organizations, foundations or whatever it may be with a hidden agenda, but we seriously need to break out of the categorical mode we’re stuck in. Just because our governmental leadership, the department of defense and many others label millions (billions?) of people halfway across the world as my “enemy” doesn’t make it so. Just because Beck or Limbaugh or Hannity or Colbert or Monson or Packer or anyone else calls someone who sees the world different than they or I do a “communist” or a “terrorist” or a bad, evil person from whom I should run or someone that I need to avoid, kill, maim, disparage or anything else, doesn’t mean I have to. Our elitist attitude is a problem and I think it should change – and yet I’m told that the LDS church doesn’t need change.

    Church is some thing we do on a weekly basis – 3 hours on Sunday (+ or – a few meetings). If you go to the LDS definition of “Church”, then all is well. You’re a good person. You’re righteous and worthy. If you wear a white shirt, tie, dress slacks and shined up shoes, you’re even better. Cut your hair in the missionary style and wow, do you have some spirituality going for you.

    It’s all based on appearances. We love to look the part, to keep up appearances. And, if you keep up the appearances, then no one cares. The minute, however, your decorum falls below the “standard” protocol, then you’re deemed unworthy, on the road to “inactivity,” then you become the Ward Council project.

    It reminds me of this:

    “27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

    28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matt. 23)

    We stick to that “outwardly” appearance, while inside we could be as hypocritical and iniquitous as we want – but, put on a “show” every Sunday and nobody knows, or cares. After all, they “go to Church.” Activity levels are what determines spiritual levels.

    We don’t leave any room for non-conformists. If someone wants to go into the wilderness on Sunday to meditate or commune with the divine, we say they’re breaking the Sabbath. If someone wants to fast longer than 24 hours, we say they don’t have enough faith. If someone goes to a bar to hang out with people, we question their worthiness.

    All of our standards of judging people are based primarily on activity and appearances, as if our definition of “church” is the only definition available to the world.

    Walk into church wearing long hair, a beard and sandals?
    Hang out with the riff-raff of the world – the prostitutes, bums, drunkards, winebibbers?
    Drink wine or any alcohol?
    Skip church?
    Work on Sunday?
    Offend the elders and the ‘Law’?
    Cleanse the temple?
    Actively form and teach in non-church sponsored ‘study groups’?
    Quit your job and become a vagabond or gypsy?

    “The take home message:

    If a man came to our ward, the son of Brother Johnson you’d find out, and stood up to teach on fast and testimony Sunday. He wore simple clothing obviously made by hand, no suit and tie as the law requires of men. His shoes were leather sandals without socks and he carried no scriptures under his arm. His hair was long and his beard too match. He looked to have been walking awhile, likely hitchhiking. Upon seeing him for a moment you than realized that you had seen him around just recently, but hadn’t recognized him till now. You’d seen him outside the buckhorn bar last Saturday drinking a bit, hanging out with a bunch of men every one in the ward knew were trouble. They seemed to be enthralled by his stories.

    You’d seen him hanging out in the park with the other homeless and toothless folks discussing things also. He’d even made the local news as soon as he got here because he broke some major law, and they threatened to kill him if he came back. And now here he is speaking in fast and testimony. He recounts the recent story of living on the street and traveling (yep, a hitchhiker) around to meet new people. He tells of going camping in the wilderness for well over a month. He’s obviously not gainfully employed, must just rely on everyone around him for support instead of getting a job. A welfare case.

    During that trip (several Sundays) he claims to have been ‘communing with god’ and studying scripture. They say hes a magician of some sort, performed a lot of tricks of the devil. Than, while talking, he reads a bit of the scripture and gives a crazy interpretation of it to the whole congregation.

    There in front of everyone on Sunday at the pulpit this miscreant tells US that we need to get our acts together. That the end of the world is near (sky is falling). That we misunderstand the scriptures. That the Gov’t is out to get us. That we have horrible diets. He read a few verses and declares that the entire Mormon church is in condemnation!

    He then proceeds to give an entire ‘revelation’ to us, (though he sounded slightly drunk) but thankfully the bishop didn’t allow him to finish before he was courteously escorted. Can you believe this itinerant is Brother Johnson’s son? The Nerve of some people! Perhaps if he stayed long enough, we’d have to run him out of town, folks like that just drag a place like Zion down.”

    Never mind: back to church we go. Have to be active, after all, to be worthy.

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  90. Dan on January 30, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    Jettboy,

    My worry is less about people like you and more those who don’t really believe and seek to change the LDS Church into their own image of secularist liberalism.

    I’ll take an LDS secularist liberalism over fake compassionate conservatism any day of the freaking week.

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  91. Jana H on January 30, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    davis says: “It’s all based on appearances. We love to look the part, to keep up appearances. And, if you keep up the appearances, then no one cares. The minute, however, your decorum falls below the “standard” protocol, then you’re deemed unworthy, on the road to “inactivity,” then you become the Ward Council project.”

    Even speaking in generalities, I’ve never experienced this in my wards. Granted, I’ve never lived in Utah or other Mormon-centric locales, but you grossly overgeneralize the culture. I was:
    *an older-than-typical single woman
    *pregnant before married
    *nose-pierced with non-traditional hues in my hair
    *wear hand-made non-traditional styled clothing on Sunday

    Surely, there is a place for constant reminders about pride and the importance of reaching out to those who don’t fit the mold. However, just today I had another lesson on this very subject, where story after story was told by members of our combined PH-RS meeting of how people had reached out and learned important lessons about making assumptions or judgments about those who are different.

    I read a comment like yours, and I have a hard time not imagining that you’ve put many faithful, workaday members of the church into the same little box that you accuse them for putting (you?) in.

    This is the same kind of attitude that I encounter within J.D.’s alternative communities, people in different phases of a faith (or lack thereof) walk who think they have everyone’s number and want to commiserate with one another. Not much desire for mutual understanding.

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  92. Troy on January 30, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    Jana:

    I’ll back up davis a little here.

    I’m not sure if it’s commonplace, but I’ve participated in “not a few” meetings in more than one ward/branch where the standard precursors for noting someones fall from activity was predicated on (a) clothing and (b) facial hair (speaking of men only).

    If a member of either the EQ or HP group, but especially the EQ, started wearing colored shirts, stopped wearing a tie and started growing facial hair, there were usually comments about it in either PEC, Bishopric meeting or Ward Council (or multiples thereof) – it wasn’t the only thing discussed, but it would take more hands than I have to count the number of times I’ve heard the “…it starts with facial hair” reference.

    While davis may be a little over the top in his assessment, I concur that we are a religion largely monitored by “appearance.” Males have been told to wear white shirts, be clean shaven, wear suits and ties and generally comport themselves as business men for several decades now – starting with the “bearded polygamist” references from McKay’s days. As a result, those who don’t conform to these largely unwritten policy are perceived in both conscious and unconscious ways to be “less than” standard/ideal.

    And, I’ve known several men who were asked to shave their beards in order to accept a calling. Almost all did – and I admit it’s generally a unit-by-unit phenomenon – but the mere asking is what is bothersome to me.

    Besides, for every lesson I’ve heard on not “making assumptions or judgments,” I’ve seen countless practices both in and out of the Church building that undermine the lessons. The lessons are a start, but until policy directives come out (like the new CHI on white shirts) and are publicly supported/promoted by the proper figureheads, change will be hard to come by.

    Just my $0.02.

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  93. Jettboy on January 30, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    Davis, I guess Brian David Mitchell is the most righteous man we currently know since he is the most like Jesus. I actually wasn’t sure if that description was for him or Jesus, and only understood who when I clicked on the link after reading. Sorry, but I think your still going by appearances, just in the opposite direction. You might be surprised to find out I agree with what you have to say, appearances can be deceiving and I think the LDS Church puts way too much emphasis on it. That said, I’m not going to form a movement based on my displeasure of the situation. There are far more important things to focus on, like getting my own house in order.

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  94. Rigel Hawthorne on January 30, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    1. Re #80 Personally, I think the stated notion of becoming “the Huffington Post of Mormon news and information” is a pretty unimpressive goal.

    Thank you Seth R.!!!!

    HP is much like a perezhilton website only with multiple contributors and the liberal political commentary. Why would MM want to do that? Holly Welker’s skewed conclusions presented as fact is not journalism.

    2. Re: #21 it seems that John is trying to start a new religious movement, a new church, if you will. One with a Mormon foundation but with shoots sprouting every which way. This makes me very nervous.

    Great comment BIV, but I’m a little surprised to see you take this angle. It seems you’ve been drawn to the dance the anarchist Justin is throwing, and his movement sounds more like a new religious movement to me.

    3. Re: #83 they were more interested in building community amongst themselves apart from those who profess a more traditional faith in the church

    Very interesting information Jana. Mormon Stories, according JD’s original podcast was supposed to include stories from all Mormon voices, including TBM’s. However it seems to have little representation of the most believing of TBMs. Perhaps their stories are felt to be just too boring to include…no searching, no questioning. I would like to see a few stories, for instance, of some (non-GA)LDS authors that publish under the Deseret Book title. Perhaps, however, Mormon Stories is considered by them to be to ‘out there’ for there DB book buying fans to accept.

    4. Re: #29 Regarding the “tone” of W&T vs MM – I think they are fairly similar.

    Yes the tone is similar, but I haven’t read that many posts that I felt passionately enough about to take the time to comment. Maybe its the layout…the posts on W&T don’t give you enough lines to read to get you hooked before moving on, maybe its that there are so few comments that the thread doesn’t get developed to a degree to inspire passion, maybe after a couple of years, there aren’t as many topics that haven’t already been hashed out, or maybe it is because I am in the midst of the nightmarish task of becoming an expert on medical records, which is causing me to spend 10 to 15 minutes on a computer for every 60 seconds that I could do with a dictaphone and transcriptionist.

    I do know that I generally look at BCC once a day because I love their, “Mormon Headlines” feature, but there is usually nothing else to keep me there.

    5. Re: #32 Thanks Diane for bringing up the like/dislike buttons. When I saw that someone ‘liked’ my comment, at least it was acknowledgement that someone probably read what I took the time to type in!

    2.

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  95. Jana H on January 30, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    Troy said: “The lessons are a start, but until policy directives come out (like the new CHI on white shirts) and are publicly supported/promoted by the proper figureheads, change will be hard to come by.”

    Some of us recently had a conversation about this topic, and I can certainly agree that there is likely a regional/leadership quotient to the degree that dress standards are enforced as though there is a righteousness component. I just object to the notion that it is somehow so incredibly overbearing that a person who marches to their own drummer when it comes to appearance is considered a loose cannon on the road to apostasy. Perhaps my urban ward (colored shirts and facial hair dot our Sacrament meetings) is somehow progressive in this respect. I do think that those who take a hard line on appearance are becoming fewer and fewer, especially considering the slow growth of our numbers. Perhaps I’m an optimist.

    To steer back to the discussion, the people that J.D.’s groups cater to tilt heavily toward the disaffected, and the issues of pressure to conform tend to be a gripe rather than the reason for disaffection. J.D. has the stated desire to foster understanding between liberal-minded and conservative-minded types, but in practice he’s typically giving voice to liberals. I get it: perhaps a conservative voice isn’t needed as much as the liberal. My problem is that those participating in J.D.’s more recent endeavors seem to have only minor interest in making it work in the church.

    I participated in a Facebook chat between Mormon Stories listeners and it quickly degenerated into people riffing on garments, the supposed lechery of Joseph Smith, among other things that most believing folks would find, at best, uncomfortable and at worst, offensive. This is why I have serious doubts about the “big tent” wherein people of all degrees of faith would be able to build understanding. If I defend my wearing of the garment, I’m just a fool that doesn’t know the true history — “Oh, I used to be like you,” condescension comes through.

    As I said, I have no doubt that J.D. has a very righteous desire to build a community based on love and understanding. I do wish him well.

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  96. Jana H on January 30, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    I should note, when I said “issues of pressure to conform,” I meant pressure to conform to an appearance standard.

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  97. Seth R. on January 30, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Jana, this is my sense on occasion as well.

    Sometimes I feel like calls for a “big tent” in Mormonism are nothing more than people who felt picked on in Mormonism looking for a way to “get some payback time.”

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  98. Mike S on January 30, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    Jettboy:

    Answering #85:

    Perhaps the best answer to your question as to why I even stay comes from the Dalai Lama. When asked if everyone should become a Buddhist, he suggested, “Bloom where you are planted” – ie. Unless there is another faith you have investigated and feel that it is right for you, stay where you are and contribute there.

    For me, my family is Mormon, I live in a Mormon community, and my world-view is Mormon. While there are things I don’t understand and other things with which I disagree in the LDS Church, there is much good as well.

    My ward and neighborhood are wonderful. There is a wide range of people in my ward (including GAs – I live along the Wasatch Front) who I am genuinely interested in and who are genuinely interested in me. We all have our follies, but they are nonjudgmental for the most part. On any given Sunday, 30-40% of the men will NOT have on white shirts, probably 20-30% have some sort of facial hair (including a member of the bishopric), etc. I care about and teach their children, and they do likewise to mine. So it is a great community of good people who believe in God and Christ.

    For all of the strange things that the LDS Church has taught at various times in the past (and now), there are also many profound things. I think that, overall, I am a better person for choosing to follow this path than another. I complain about some of the strange things on here, but that’s just the nature of things.

    And I suppose my biggest reason is faith. Mother Theresa went decades feeling like God abandoned her. Yet she persevered in the hope that that was perhaps her test in this world – that she would choose good despite not having an immediate reward (ie. good feelings, etc). Deep inside, I have a hope that this is the right path for me. I harbor a hope that someday God will finally let me know that these decades of “hanging in there” were worth it.

    One thing this struggle has brought to me is a WIDE understanding. I see much good in the LDS Church. I have felt good feelings reading the BofM. But I see just as much good in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, other Christian faiths, and in people who don’t necessarily claim a faith. I have felt the same feelings of peace reading the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Dhammapada, and the Qu’ran. While my faith in the LDS Church may not be as strong as it once was, my faith in God is much stronger. My faith in the goodness of EVERYONE, not just the LDS people has grown. I see truth in MANY places, not just in my own faith. And at the end of it all, I truly believe that there are going to be many more people in the highest level of the Celestial kingdom than the 0.1% who are active LDS in mortality – which means that for all of the teachings otherwise, it can’t really matter if someone is LDS in this life anyway.

    So, might I never “know that the Church is true”. Absolutely. Can I still be a good person? Absolutely. Might I think the Church’s focus on white shirts and number of earrings and having a glass of wine is a bit silly when there are so many more important things to worry about? Absolutely.

    For better or for worse, I fit under a tent described by John. I fit under the LDS tent in my ward. But there are many people who express comments like “Why do you stay” where I don’t fit under their tent. And that’s why places like this exist.

    And, despite it all, at the end of the day, my name is Mike and I’m a Mormon.

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  99. Bored in Vernal on January 30, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    That was beautiful, Mike.

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  100. Andrew S on January 30, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    Wow, I go for the second day of a fencing tournament, and when I get back, even more comments sprout up!

    re 80

    Seth,

    Do you think that the only way John could formulate a cause would be to reveal a religious “splinter group” from the church? Or is there a way for him to avoid reaction while not seeming like a new group, as people fear?

    re 81

    Jettboy,

    I liked that talk. It seemed like a just-so story with a happy ending.

    Nevertheless, I just feel like it addresses a different kind of person than many people here (or whom many people here are discussing). People whose issues aren’t because they weren’t invited to speak or pray or bear their testimony, but rather because if they did speak or pray or bear their testimony, their words could incriminate them in an LDS sense.

    re 83,

    Jana H,

    I guess a few other people have said something to similar effect, but this is interesting. If not a big tent, do you think that Dehlin’s projects do well to make smaller tents where marginalized groups can get together? Do you think that is a virtuous undertaking?

    (If others could think about those same questions, that’d be great!)

    re 86:

    Bruce,

    Why is what you suggest at the end of this comment NOT a big tent? If we learn to love all religions and be tolerant of others’ beliefs WHILE AT THE SAME TIME seeking out and exploring both differences and similarities, then why would the tent dividers remain? Why couldn’t we have different groups of Mormons in the same *tent* instead of saying one group of Mormons is so different from another that they should just have another tent?

    Basically, when does a splinter group become so divergent that it has to become a different tent?

    re 94,

    Rigel

    In response to your third point, I think this is a problem that even the Mormon Expression podcast (which you might say swings further disaffected than Mormon Stories) has. It’s tough to find a “TBM,” and the one they have really riles people up. People don’t know if he’s for real or if he’s just an elaborate hoax.

    Your thoughts about the dynamics of blog reading are duly noted…although I’m glad that you commented here, so I guess I did something to inspire enough passion here ;)

    re 95:

    Jana,

    Yeah, I have to (unfortunately) admit that I’ve seen that (even more so in some of the other places I traverse on the interwebs).

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  101. Seth R. on January 30, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Andrew, I think the concern with being either a “splinter group” or a “movement within” the Church is exactly what is wrong with this thing Dehlin is doing.

    Why not just have a freaking set of ideals you firmly believe in and advocate them – regardless of whose group they put you in?

    Gee… now there’s a concept…

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  102. Andrew S on January 30, 2011 at 8:34 PM

    And of course, I agree with BiV that your comment was beautiful, Mike.

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  103. Andrew S on January 30, 2011 at 8:37 PM

    re 101,

    Seth,

    What if the freaking set of ideals you believe in is in healing those who are hurt? That seems to be a “freaking set of ideals” that John firmly believes in and advocates — across a number of spectra.

    But it very much matters what group people put him in as it impacts how he can help.

    I guess…this kind of medicine is always going to be “reactive.” But preventative care…what would that look like here?

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  104. hawkgrrrl on January 30, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    Back to the comment about you don’t stay a member of the church to change the church but to change yourself, I don’t take that to mean that the church is perfect. There are many valid complaints about the church and its culture. The church can need to change, can need to become less authoritative, can have many flaws (even some glaring ones) and still – nobody stays in a church to fix it. That’s just not why people stay.

    They stay because they get benefit in terms of personal improvement, because it is successful for them personally on some level. Similarly, no one stays in a company to fix that company if they feel that it has unsound business practices or a corrupt governance board. That’s a quixotic venture, destined to fail. People stay because it works for them on some level, more than it doesn’t work for them. Their lives are better in some way for staying.

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  105. Seth R. on January 30, 2011 at 8:41 PM

    Andrew, I didn’t say John didn’t personally have some ideals.

    I just said they don’t really show much in his mission statement here. He more seems to be advocating diversity for diversity’s sake than anything.

    Look, I’m not unsympathetic. As you know – I’ve long advocated myself for a “larger tent.” It’s just that I still see problems with the whole thing.

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  106. FireTag on January 30, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    Mike S.:

    The problem I have with the “bloom where planted” argument is that there would be no Mormonism in the first place if our ancestors had bought the argument. From Palmyra onward, we’ve been the Christians who LEFT our heritage to find where God was calling us.

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  107. Bruce on January 30, 2011 at 9:07 PM

    “Why not just have a freaking set of ideals you firmly believe in and advocate them – regardless of whose group they put you in?”

    And Seth R calls out the rational inconsistencies of Rejectionism.

    Good on you.

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  108. Bruce on January 30, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    “Why is what you suggest at the end of this comment NOT a big tent? If we learn to love all religions and be tolerant of others’ beliefs WHILE AT THE SAME TIME seeking out and exploring both differences and similarities, then why would the tent dividers remain? Why couldn’t we have different groups of Mormons in the same *tent* instead of saying one group of Mormons is so different from another that they should just have another tent?”

    Because, Andrew, differences do matter. It is not rationally possible for both the Evangelicals and the LDS Church to both be completely right. It is not possible for classic reincarnation and classic resurrection to both be completely right.

    And, then, this also forms the answer to your next question: “Basically, when does a splinter group become so divergent that it has to become a different tent?”

    If two sets of beliefs become mutually exclusive, then they are now different religions and should split apart and work to convert each other to “the truth” as they understand it.

    To fail to do so is to be dishonest in one way or another. I see no way around this logically. Can you? If so, you’re going to need to explain a lot further.

    So here is my question back: why can’t two mutually exclusive religions both work to convert each other to “the truth” as they understand it while also being respectful and tolerante of one another?

    The LDS Church in particular seems to be very well positioned to do this, in theory anyhow, because we are semi-Universalists. It’s probably a lot harder for Evangelicals, for example. But I suspect it’s possible for all religions to love each other. The right resources within that religion just have to be activated and used.

    I have expressed may grave doubts about the honesty of the NOM movement elsewhere. This is one of the reasons why it seems to be problematic for them to be fully honest about their beliefs — because to do so would reveal a truth that would undermine their effectiveness. To be effective at what they want to accomplish they must appear to believe in things that they often do not actually believe in.

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  109. Bruce on January 30, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    @108

    After writing this, I remembered the first rule of internet communication: anything that can be misconstrued will be.

    So let me clarify something.

    I believe ‘mutual exclusivity’ is the dividing line between sects. But this is really just a tautology.

    There is an amazing amount of range of beliefs that are *not* mutually exclusive. For example, I see nothing whatsoever mutually exclusive between Mike S’s description of his beliefs the the LDS Church’s official teachings.

    There is nothing mutually exclusive (that I am aware of) between my beliefs and the LDS Church’s teachings.

    I can even take this one further: an agnostic doubter that understands the value of the LDS Church in the lives of it’s believers and is not out to try to change it is not mutually exclusive from the LDS Church either.

    Forming a counter movement or a church within a church is mutually exclusive and must either officially separate itself or will ultimately become increasingly dishonest to survive.

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  110. Andrew S on January 30, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    re 105,

    Seth,

    Actually, just based on a few comments between the two of you, I think that I can highlight a clearly different ideology between you and John, whereas the stated mission (“larger tent”) appears not to show much.

    To compare, John’s mission isn’t to advocate a larger tent so that NOM-ish member may return to ‘full-fledged membership,’ but rather that NOM-ish members may take the good that can be found from the church and filter out the bad/hurtful/whatever.

    I dunno, I feel these permeate well enough through what he does so that it can’t be said that he is advertising, “Diversity for diversity’s sake.” In fact, I think it’s precisely because people recognize that he’s not just advocating the minimal “diversity for diversity’s sake” that there is a lot of ideological — yes, ideological — opposition. For example, John’s goals suppose to heal people by sanitizing the church (changing the church) rather than by operating on the people (changing the people).

    re 106,

    FireTag,

    I actually think Mike S added a statement that addresses this.

    Unless there is another faith you have investigated and feel that it is right for you, stay where you are and contribute there.

    re 108

    Bruce,

    So, would you say then that it matters whether someone takes a literal view of the scriptures, whereas someone takes a non-literal view…and that, regardless of which position you feel is more sound, the two people/groups are following two different religions that should be in different tents?

    Now…here’s the clincher question, IMO:

    Supposing you say yes there (or yes to a similar issue of debate that might be found within the church), can you then go on to suppose which side should be Mormonism as per the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and which side should belong to a different tent?

    It just appears to me that even if there are such differences and these differences *are* mutually exclusive, we don’t splinter ad infinitum. Even though both can’t be right in a number of situations, the church isn’t as interested in turning people away for these reasons as they could be.

    now, as per your final paragraph, I am reminded of a discussion at Faith-Promoting Rumor on Dirty Belief, where interestingly enough, I’m arguing somewhat closely to your position here (albeit probably in a far crappier and logically flawed way). Had you checked it out?

    The response that I ultimately seemed to glean from the conversation is that “honesty” is overrated when one is cultivating and seeking “relationships” (which is the object of the effectiveness that may be undermined.) Furthermore, it’s not just the church where this happens — honesty is overrated in plenty of relationships we have.

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  111. Andrew S on January 30, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    re 109.

    dang it. you beat me to my own response.

    I guess I don’t see at what point an agnostic doubter (or someone like Mike) becomes so divergent that he instead becomes a NOM who has something to hide, or who has a different, mutually exclusive religion.

    It seems like a sliding scale rather than a bright line…

    Basically, the only major thing I can get is this, “An agnostic doubter will shut up and not agitate. But a dishonest, suspect NOMer will create secret combinations and uprise.” ;)

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  112. Seth R. on January 30, 2011 at 9:53 PM

    I guess the problem Andrew is that Dehlin’s approach to making the church more “friendly” and “less harmful” to everyone is to essentially neuter it, and make it of no real societal relevance whatsoever.

    I’ve found that die-hard secularists are often quite content with religion when it doesn’t matter. They raise few objections when it is impotent.

    It’s only when religion matters and actually has the power to influence people that they start to get all squirrely.

    I think Dehlin simply goes to far. His remedies would essentially render the LDS Church pointless and redundant. It would have no further point in existing if it followed the full and logical progression of his prescriptions to its final conclusion.

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  113. Andrew S on January 30, 2011 at 9:58 PM

    re 112:

    Seth,

    I think that’s a valid point. But it does point to an ideological difference. What Dehlin views as good religion is something quaint…something that doesn’t matter.

    (However, I think that secularists get squirrelly not just because religion matters and actually has the power to influence people, but when it uses such a power against them. I.e., when the religion is, as the secularists will say, “on the wrong side of history.”)

    But think about that for a second. It is not impotence that pushes history. So there MUST be a force that is at least as passionate as traditional conservative religions doing something. So, that’s why I don’t really think that it’s true that Dehlin (or others like him) aren’t standing for anything.

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  114. Bruce on January 30, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    “It seems like a sliding scale rather than a bright line…”

    Andrew, I will grant you that it could be a sliding scale in theory and perhaps is in some cases.

    What I will not grant you is that it is generally that way.

    “So, that’s why I don’t really think that it’s true that Dehlin (or others like him) aren’t standing for anything.”

    Andrew, totally agree with you on this. He does have theological beliefs and they are mutually exclusive from the LDS Church’s current teachings. That is why I made post #86.

    However, I think you are misunderstanding Seth here. John’s adjustments to the LDS Church would leave it without any truth claims and thus without a religious identity. There would no longer be a boundary between, say, political liberalism and LDS Church theology. Therefore, there would be no reason for the LDS Church to exist any more. Within a generation or two, it wouldn’t exist any more. That is what I think Seth means — not that John has no theological beliefs of his own. (We all do, even atheists.)

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  115. Bruce on January 30, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    @112,

    Seth, you are making way too much sense. Stop it. What are you doing on the bloggernacle? ;)

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  116. Seth R. on January 30, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    Bruce, I guess we all have limits. Boundaries beyond which we are not willing to step.

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  117. Bruce on January 30, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    “However, I think that secularists get squirrelly not just because religion matters and actually has the power to influence people, but when it uses such a power against them”

    I think you could have put this more succinctly as “people dislike a religion when it disagrees with their moral world view.”

    I don’t think it has anything to do with being on the right or wrong side of history. People dislike anything – including but not limited to religion – that politically disagrees with with personal “religion.” Organized religions are just a bit more scary because they tend to be well organized and with high degrees of belief correlation. But then do does the sierra club or the ACLU and you get about the same vehement distrust with those groups as well for the very same reason.

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  118. Andrew S on January 30, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    re 114,

    Bruce,

    I guess I can see what you’re saying. I’ve had plenty of time to think about the idea that “within a generation or two, it wouldn’t exist anymore.” Seth had a similar idea, but he put it in terms of something like, “liberal religion leeches off of conservative religion.”

    So chalk that up to his “making way too much sense” (as per 115 ;) )

    Or, in another way…cultural Mormonism just doesn’t survive past one generation. I mean, there may be new ones each generation, but the children of cultural Mormons aren’t cultural Mormons — because they aren’t Mormons first.

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  119. Andrew S on January 30, 2011 at 10:45 PM

    re 117,

    Bruce,

    yeah.

    And FWIW, I used “wrong side of history” as an example of a popular catch phrase — of course there’d be different ones to describe different oppositions, but it’s pretty much as you say: people dislike a religion when it disagrees with their moral world view.”

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  120. Mike S on January 30, 2011 at 10:45 PM

    I think my biggest issue is this:

    A lot of different people “relate” better to different denominations. Many people try out different faiths to see which one fits their particular temperament, background, etc. They look for they way that makes the most sense to them. Some of these differences are obvious, like race or gender or sexual preference. Others are personality issues such as rationalism vs emotionalism, level of faith, etc.

    Given this, it is natural for someone to find a way where they can express and develop their faith in God in a constructive manner. If I were a black man in the 1950′s, for example, I would have found it really hard to develop my faith in the LDS Church. If I were homosexual, I would find it really hard to develop my faith in the LDS Church today.

    Other things are more subtle. The LDS Church is upon “blind” obedience based on emotion. We, ideally, are supposed to “feel” something which gives us a testimony. After that, we are supposed to accept whatever a prophet tells us to do blindly, without any rational reason in some cases. Some people have forms of Asperger’s or other issues that make an emotionally based religion hard for them.

    Again, in an ideal world, people would find the faith that fits them best. In LDS theology, however, none of these are acceptable. It is ultimately the LDS way or nothing. Given this, can we truly expect people of all these different backgrounds to fit in the Church, or do we need to expand our thinking a bit?

    And it doesn’t need to involve major changes to theology – just practice.

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  121. FireTag on January 30, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    Andrew:

    I note Mike’s qualification as stay until you find something better, but note also that you really have to leave your spiritual home BEFORE you can hope to find something much better. The Nephites had to commit to the Indian Ocean on a one-way-only basis; the LDS had to cross the Mississippi without expecting to go back to Nauvoo, etc.

    I think we are in practice motivated to grow by our dissatisfaction rather than actively seeking something better always. Finding a better spiritual path is a lot like finding a better career path; you have to spend a lot of time in spiritual living so you can’t spend all of your time in spiritual searching. I look for a new job when I have reason to think there’s something “better enough” to be worth the search and close enough to be obtainable. Maybe I have to feel uncomfortable or fearful to be open to the call.

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  122. Bruce on January 31, 2011 at 12:05 AM

    “Again, in an ideal world, people would find the faith that fits them best. In LDS theology, however, none of these are acceptable. It is ultimately the LDS way or nothing.”

    Mike,

    I’m sorry, but I have concerns wih what you are saying here. I think you’re just not seeing the world as it really is.

    What you just said here is certainly true for the LDS Church. But it’s true for every moral world view everywhere and always will be.

    I could easily demonstrate it’s true for, say, Unitarian Universalists or Bahai or Atheists or Agnostics. I could show it’s true for political liberals or conservatives.

    Yes, people that don’t fit with the LDS Church may have to leave it. They may have to start their own Church. They may have to give up organized religion. They may have to stop believing in God. They may have to start believing in God. They may have to do a lot of things. This is up to them and is between themselves and God.

    I suspect that what you are really trying to say is that the LDS Church is more all encompassing then, say, the Bahai or UU or many other religions.

    This, I would agree with. The LDS church is therefore more demanding spiritually and theologically. Compared to, say, UU (who sometimes I think their only real demand is that you have to believe that beliefs don’t matter, only practices) I’m sure the LDS Church seems far more restrictive from a certain point of view.

    But I’ll tell you, from another point of view UU is far more restrictive. What if you actually use your brain and come to realize that if there is a God believes must in fact matter? Suddenly UU seems rather restrictive to me in the way that probably matters most.

    My point is that there is no escaping this conundrum you are seeing. It’s threaded into the fabric of reality. If you think you’ve escaped it, then it’s only because you are no longer being self critical of your beliefs.

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  123. Bruce on January 31, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    “if there is a God *beliefs* must in fact matter?”

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  124. Bruce on January 31, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    Andrew,

    In an unrelated conversation, I just said this to someone that I just realized pertains to this discussion as well:

    What it is that people feel strongly about is [not politics per se but] their morals — because our morals define the meaning in our lives. We do not want our meaning of life to be challenged so we defend it with our lives. That is why we fight for our moral world view so strongly.

    Morals can take the form of religion or politics or both. That is why it’s actually impossible to not mix religion and politics and all attempts to entirely seperate them is doomed to fail.

    In fact, it’s why they are actually just two words for the same thing with the only real difference being wether or not we connect our morals to “God” or not in our minds.

    Or anyhow, that’s my take on it.

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  125. Bruce on January 31, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    “Seth had a similar idea, but he put it in terms of something like, “liberal religion leeches off of conservative religion.”

    Did Seth say that? Really? I thought most people were too afraid to say things like this.

    Seth, if you said this, you have my respect for both boldness, correctness, and lack of tact. :P

    But to put this a bit nicer, I do think there is a type of religion that is self sustaining and a type of religion that only exists next to a self sustaining one: a Rejectionist religion so to speak.

    The divide isn’t quite that bold. Christianity feeds of Judaism to some degree. Mormonism from Orthodox Christianity. But in generally, it’s safe to say that Mormonism can exist without orthodox Christianity and so can it, in turn, with out Judaism.

    On the other hand, NOMs can’t exist with Mormonism. Many (but not all) “liberal Christian” sects can’t exist without believing forms of Christianity.

    So there is, at a minimum, two legitimate categories of religion here. I’m just not convinced that these two categories precisely map to ‘conservative’ vs. ‘liberal.’ (I’m not even sure what ‘conservative vs. liberal’ even means when we are speaking of religion and theology. And while people throw the terms around – including myself – I’m not sure we use it with a clear idea of what it means. I have grown more and more convinced that we use those terms to obscure what we really mean so as to not offend people.)

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  126. Seth R. on January 31, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    Yeah, I said something kind of like that Bruce. But it leaves out the other half of my comment where I blasted religious conservatives as being dangerous heretics.

    Something for everyone – that’s me.

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  127. LDS Anarchist on January 31, 2011 at 4:04 AM

    Okay, so I finally got around to reading the link in the OP about Dehlin’s plans.

    What do you think?

    Dehlin says:

    All over the world there are people who are struggling to navigate Mormonism “outside of the box,” so to speak…from liberal Mormons, to gay Mormons, to feminist Mormons, to single Mormons, to ex-Mormons, etc.

    There’s no mention of anarchist Mormons. And I don’t, in fact, think he has the anarchist Mormon in mind with any of his projects.

    Is it too risky?

    Um, I’m not sure where you are seeing risk. I don’t see anything all that radical in what he wants to do.

    Are you hopeful?

    Nope. For example, the “Liberal/Post-Mormon Dating Service for Single Mormons” seems too narrow. Sure, Mormons need more dating services (there are too many singles), but do we really want Post-Mormons to hook up and raise children to not be Mormons? That seems counter-productive. I suppose it’ll benefit the church to some degreee if he charges a fee, which ends up getting tithed and donated to the church, but the cons seem to outway the pros.

    Also, what’s up with being so exclusive as to include the Liberal label? Can’t a Liberal and a Conservative come together? Must only Liberals marry Liberals and Conservatives marry Conservatives? And what about the anarchists?

    Finally, there’s that really annoying last qualification, “for Single Mormons.” Shouldn’t Married Mormons be able to have a dating service, too? Heaven knows there are plenty of mainstream LDS who would love to live the “Principle” if only they could find other like-minded Mormons. Etc.

    So, I find his plans too narrow-minded and non-radical for my tastes. ;)

    Are you on board (at least in spirit) with such a project?

    Hey, I say let him knock himself out. I didn’t see one single mention of Jesus Christ in any of his projects. That tells me a lot. Kinda reminds me of all the busy-ness of church activities, spinning wheels without any spiritual gifts manifesting nor anyone confessing by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ. So, I doubt his projects will bring anyone to Christ, but maybe they will keep people too busy to harm their neighbors.

    Or, more generally, think about your introduction to the bloggernacle or the Mormon internet — did any of John’s projects and communities factor in?

    Not that I know of. I don’t think I fit into any of the categories of Mormons that he is outreaching to. Perhaps I should contact him and ask him to include tribal anarchists into his plan?

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  128. Bored in Vernal on January 31, 2011 at 6:25 AM

    LDSA, If you contact JD, I am POSITIVE he would do a Mormon Stories interview with you… :) Want me to hook you up?

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  129. Chris H. on January 31, 2011 at 7:02 AM

    I love that Bruce likes to imply that liberals are non-believers. This is part of why I am uncomfortable with Dehlin grouping post-Mormons and liberal Mormons. Theologically, I dislike the DAMU as much as I do Millenial Star.

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  130. AdamF on January 31, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    I second #128 – I would LOVE to hear a Mormon Stories interview with LDSA.

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  131. Andrew S on January 31, 2011 at 7:55 AM

    re 124:
    Bruce,

    I never thought about a connection between religion and politics that way…

    re 125:

    I think your error was in connecting Seth with “most people.” Bold and tactless describes Seth pretty well most of the time. Correct too, but maybe not as many times as bold and tactless.

    re 126,

    Seth,

    oh yeah…I forgot that part…

    re 127:

    LDSA,

    I think being a different kind of radical doesn’t make him NOT radical. Although it probably continues to point out the “new religion” aspect of the project (where instead of making an all-encompassing tent, it just separates different people out of a different tent structure.)

    re 129:

    Chris,

    Well, it seemed to me that at the end of his comment he wanted to get away from the liberal/conservative dichotomy. So, it’s not that liberals are unsustainable religion-wise…it just happens that many unsustainable religions (liberal Christianity) happen to be unsustainable.

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  132. Chris H. on January 31, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    He would lose his whole MO without somebody to villify. I was not responding to the sustainability point, but that he sets as the opposite of liberal Christians…believing Christians. Bruce knows what he is doing and he does it all the time. Now, I actually reject Bruce and Jettboy’s Mormonism, but I refuse to let them define it. Not having faith in those types does not lessen my faith in Christ and my love of the Church.

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  133. hawkgrrrl on January 31, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    Big tent Mormonism can mean many things. I think John’s goal is to alleviate suffering, even though some of it is self-inflicted. The real tautology is that between exclusivity and inclusion. Frankly the church has to include some of both to succeed. I believe John feels (rightly so) that there are some among the members and leaders who create exclusivity parameters that are arbitrary (shirt color, earrings, whether one has doubts) and needlessly stringent.

    Of course, there are some difficulties in implementing such a vision. First, everyone (even among the Q15) has a different border for the tent. Secondly, there are many with incompatible hidden agendas and/or axes to grind (both in and out of the church). And lastly, many if not most who have left do not wish to return, and many inside do not want them to return whatever the cost.

    John’s after the biggest tent possible. I am too, but only as big as the number who can positively benefit from and participate in the community. Rather than protecting the fanatically orthodox who witch hunt for heretics (as seems in vogue), I would require a return to Christian principles for all. But I would have less interest in dialogue with ex-Mo activists who are against the church than John has. I do think there should be dialogue with them to the extent possible, but if the Q15 don’t do it, John D only reduces his effectiveness by doing it.

    I don’t know that John wants to create a schism in the church (he has repeatedly denied that), but I’m not sure Jesus set out to do that either.

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  134. Bruce on January 31, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    “I love that Bruce likes to imply that liberals are non-believers.”

    “I’m just not convinced that these two categories precisely map to ‘conservative’ vs. ‘liberal.’”

    Love ya Chris. ;)

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  135. Chris H. on January 31, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    I am not using it as politics. I am talking about liberal theology.

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  136. Jana H on January 31, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    @100 Andrew asked: “If not a big tent, do you think that Dehlin’s projects do well to make smaller tents where marginalized groups can get together? Do you think that is a virtuous undertaking?”

    I don’t know about “virtuous,” although probably it is needful. I suppose it depends on your definition. To the extent that Dehlin is creating an outlet for people to work themselves out, I certainly think it is a valuable thing.

    Whether it is virtuous to create tents where people essentially self-select into post-Mormon, cultural Mormon, liberal Mormon, etc is another question.

    Dehlin is a psychologist (or in study to be) and he is providing a means for some form of therapy for all these outside-the-boxers. Well, I’ve been through therapy and you have to work through anger, frustration, and more before you come out the other side. Dehlin’s tent, I fear, becomes a place to commiserate over all those negative things that go along with being a square peg. This is a vital component in self-actualization, but it is not necessarily any sort of way to build understanding.

    I’m in firm agreement with hawkgrrl in 133. She sounds more hopeful than I would be, because those with the hidden agendas and axes to grind seem to far outweigh those with less confrontational aims. (I am basing this assumption in participation in one of Dehlin’s discussion communities, in addition to Facebook MS group, both of which I’ve since left.)

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  137. Jana H on January 31, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    I should clarify that I mean many small tents may be useful for those in transition to try to find peace where the church has caused strife. As an active, believing type person, I don’t know that I would call it virtuous.

    I also think that extremely heavy moderation would be required to ensure that the most people possible are moving the dialogue in healthy directions. I’m not confident that the project is manageable.

    (I hate to pooh-pooh these grand designs. I feel like a jerk here.)

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  138. Troy on January 31, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    Re: #137 – “As an active, believing type person, I don’t know that I would call it virtuous.”

    Re: #136 – “Dehlin’s tent, I fear, becomes a place to commiserate over all those negative things that go along with being a square peg.”

    I suppose that what Jana is really trying to say is this – after all, all of us “square pegs” have negative things to overcome, need to commiserate over these negative things, and since we don’t fit in the “active, believing type,” our efforts can’t be defined as “virtuous”:

    (Comment #111)
    “Basically, the only major thing I can get is this, “An agnostic doubter will shut up and not agitate. But a dishonest, suspect NOMer will create secret combinations and uprise.”;)

    That being said, I’m an active, believing type too.

    I believe, as Richard G. Scott mentioned nearly two decades ago:

    “We spend far too much time bringing people to Church instead of bringing people to Christ. The Church should never come between an individual and Christ.

    Re: #133 – “I do think there should be dialogue with them to the extent possible, but if the Q15 don’t do it, John D only reduces his effectiveness by doing it.”

    So, why does the Q15 deciding not to do something reduce John D’s effectiveness to do something? I was with you up until that comment.

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  139. Mike S on January 31, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    #122 Bruce (in response to my comment that it’s ultimately either the LDS way or nothing)

    I’m sorry, but I have concerns wih what you are saying here. I think you’re just not seeing the world as it really is.

    I think this REALLY is what the Church teaches, from its very inception.

    Joseph Smith: “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt;”

    Boyd K Packer: “We did not invent the doctrine of the only true church. It came from the Lord. Whatever perception others have of us, however presumptuous we appear to be, whatever criticism is directed to us, we must teach it to all who will listen.”

    Delbert Stapley: “My intent is to assert with testimony and persuasion of scripture the reasons there can be only one Lord, one acceptable faith, one baptism, and one true church.”

    It could go on and on, but I AM seeing the world as it really is. There are hundreds of quotes from Church leaders that this is the only true Church. It is a necessary part of a restoration doctrine.

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  140. diane on January 31, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    we all forget that Chris H is the authority so he should know what types should be let in the church and who shouldn’t be;

    Can we say the word Blowhard

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  141. Chris H. on January 31, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    diane,

    I am glad to know that I interest you so much.

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  142. brandt on January 31, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    I’ve held off on responding because I want my comment to be about what Dehlin is talking about, not Dehlin as a person or his thoughts/ideals. I’m finding that for me personally, it’s hard to differentiate between the two, but I’ll make my best effort:

    I will commend John. He’s done a great job of exploring the different avenues of Mormonism, same with people like John Larson of Mormon Expression, and same with everyone who participates in the bloggernaccle. I think this outflow of information, ideas, and theology has done a great job of getting more of Mormonism out in the minds of people.

    I could go point by point for what Dehlin is describing as his “vision,” but it’s been hashed to death in the 140 comments previous to mine. And I don’t want to talk for either side, whether the TBM, the NOM, the DAMU, the liberal, the conservative, or the anarchist. I’ll speak for myself.

    First, for the bloggernaccle in general. I think there will be a maturation that will come, and partly because how many times can you discuss polygamy, or sticky history, or this, or that? I mean, I’m sure the conversation could go on forever (isn’t this what Dialogue and Sunstone have done?) But at some point, the discussions will go from sensational to thoughtful, which is really my view of a maturation process.

    The biggest problem that I have with Dehlin’s vision is that it exposes problems without rational thinking solutions. The thing that stood out most was his “EFY”-type encampment for children of Liberal or Post-Mormons. What would be different at that EFY-type encampment compared to elsewhere? Local meet-ups? It seems as though Dehlin doesn’t want to bridge gaps between liberal/disaffected/democrat/republican/conservative/TBM/homosexual/heterosexual peoples, but he wants to further distance that gap. And the suffering will go away? I dont think so.

    John needs to take a look at what his “end game” is, and objectively take a look at if it is going to help or hurt those that are suffering. Further distancing those who appeal to him won’t help, it will hurt. At least, that’s how I feel.

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  143. Thomas on January 31, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Bruce,

    There is no ‘big tent’ we can all fit into, and such a big tent would truly be a horrifying thing if it ever actually happened. It would effectively remove all the good religion currently does in the world and eliminate none of the bad, I expect.

    We should not want a big tent. Instead, we should learn to love all religions and be tolerant of all beliefs while choosing to believe our own (whatever that might be.) We should learn to seek out and explore both similarities and differences and value both.

    Thoughtful.

    Instead, we should learn to love all religions and be tolerant of all beliefs…

    Surely some religious beliefs are less worthy of love than others. I can recognize a man’s right to believe as he does, without undertaking an obligation to love a wicked religious belief.

    Regarding the general point — I actually agree that the last thing we want is a universal faith, if to get to it, we have to water down each religion into its bland lowest common denominator. A vague devotion to “love God and your neighbor” may or may not be all that’s really needed, but experience indicates that it’s rarely sufficient to inspire enough people that they form themselves into religious communities. And religious communities absolutely do strengthen faith, and serve God’s purposes.

    If I can be permitted a metaphor, I hate modernist architecture. Sure — maybe it really is true that all you need to build a functioning courthouse (to take one example) is to set up some blank concrete walls, slap a roof on it, hang up some fluourescent lights and rig up an elevator. You will, however, end up with something like the Van Nuys, California courthouse — a soul-killing chunk of architectural nothingburger. Give me Riverside any day.

    http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/3461984.jpg

    Maybe many, most or all of the embellishments and decorations sprinkled onto sectarian religions aren’t strictly necessary for salvation. Maybe true worship consists of being rootedness in a common Tao that underlies all good religion, and that God will call his saints from among all the different traditions where they practice it bundled with various degrees of sectarian religion.

    Catholicism recognizes a concept known as “anonymous Christianity,” in which some people are constructively Christian even without knowing it. I like this approach. It has an interesting corollary: Even as I allow that Buddhists and Muslims and Jews and agnostics of good will may actually be anonymous Christians, then notwithstanding my own faith in Christ, I have to recognize the possibility that I may be an “anonymous Buddhist,” or an anonymous whatever-the-true-faith-is.

    That may sound like a weaker faith, because I don’t completely rule out all possibility that I might be as mistaken in my sectarian affiliation as I’m supposed to think all those other heathen are. And yet this liberates me to practice my own chosen religion — the faith of my fathers — as well as I can, and trust that it will be acceptable to God. It frees me from the temptation to throw over a perfectly serviceable faith, whenever I stumble across an imperfection or a contradiction or something that — if I absolutely had to be convinced on every level that my own Church was uniquely and absolutely true — might wreck my faith.

    So yes, I do ultimately think that all believers can fit within a “big tent,” without abolishing what makes them distinctive.

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  144. Andrew S on January 31, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    re 139,

    Mike,

    I’m not a Bruce expert, but I don’t think that was the part Bruce was disagreeing with. I don’t think he was saying, “Nuh unh, the church isn’t all-or-nothing.” I think he was saying, “Everything in life is all-or-nothing.” (See his next paragraph)

    So, the real question is: how is anyone going to get to your “ideal world” where people find a religion that fits them best, when ever serious moral worldview is going to say, “We’re right and they are wrong”?

    re 142,

    Brandt,

    It seems to me that the reason people keep having conversation over standard issues (polygamy, etc.,) is not because we just love talking about the same thing over and over…but because there are different people who find out about these things at different time. So, if you’ve been through the “Bloggernacle lesson manual” once…when we start going over it a second time, you’ll have seen most of the punches. I guess the hope should be that we can learn to present things thoughtfully each time, while being accessible to people who haven’t heard it before.

    But I see your point about the “distance” Dehlin’s efforts could cause…

    re 143:

    Thomas,

    Great post (especially with architecture references). I mean, I’m not a big architecture fan, but in other arts, I can appreciate some modernist stuff, some minimalist stuff, etc., (it’s just the postmodern stuff that gets too out there for me)…but at the same time, I also can appreciate complexity and embellishment. I’m not striving, for example, to take everything away but the bare essentials.

    …yet (I seem to be going back and forth a lot in this comment) I recognize that someone who does strive to get at bare essentials and bare minimums is really doing a lot of work. Perhaps as much as someone who wants to make something ornate and embellished.

    So, maybe getting to bare essentials is tough, and maybe it’s not sufficient to inspire communities. But what if that’s still the goal and we’re settling for less otherwise?

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  145. brandt on January 31, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Andrew (re: #144):

    Don’t get me wrong. I do find it fascinating, especially the different avenues people can take on a certain issue. It’s like saying “OK, we’ve learned about the universe once, we’re done with it move on.” I don’t want it to be that way. But it’s interesting viewing the topics of some of the original blogs when the blogging boom first started, and now.

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  146. Jana H on January 31, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    Troy said: I suppose that what Jana is really trying to say is this – after all, all of us “square pegs” have negative things to overcome, need to commiserate over these negative things, and since we don’t fit in the “active, believing type,” our efforts can’t be defined as “virtuous”:

    I’m talking about what I’ve witnessed *in practice*. I make no assumptions about you as a square peg. If you’d read my comments, you’d see that I myself am such a person. BIV expressed concern early in the comments that Dehlin’s efforts could cause a schism.

    I think that is a real possibility given the tenor of the debate in Dehlin’s already-existing forums created for the purpose of building understanding. I sought what Dehlin advocated: a place to build understanding, find common cause, etc. etc. What I saw were a lot of people very unhappy with the church in many ways, who were primarily interested in coming to terms with disengagement or contemplating future disengagement. I am describing an experience, so there is no need to make all of this personal, as though I am making assumptions about you.

    I don’t know that I can call what I participated in particularly virtuous, as I define the word. I didn’t call it wrong or sinful or anything else of the kind.

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  147. Mike S on January 31, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Andrew S: re 144

    I actually think that it is fine for a bunch of religions to say they are the “only way” yet still also be simultaneously right. It seems illogical, but makes sense to me (perhaps that says more about me than anything else, but that’s a whole other story).

    I see it much like physics. For thousands of years, a particle was either here or there. Time marched forward in lock-step. Etc.

    In the beginning of last century, with the introduction of quantum physics and other concepts, a particle might be inherently here AND there. It might not resolve this until observed. There were many things that were impossible for some people to accept, but ultimately, the evidence made it hard to deny.

    Similarly, perhaps there is an abstract “way” back to God. Perhaps how this is instantiated on a practical basis depends on the observer. In this case, they can all be seen as “right”, even though for each religion, they are the “only true way”.

    Things that go along with this:

    1) If there was only one best way that was absolutely essential for EVERYONE to follow, it would make sense that, as a part of the plan, this should resonate strong enough with people worldwide that an overwhelming number of people would join. This isn’t happening, and in many areas, the LDS Church is stagnant or shrinking.

    2) The biggest determinant of someone’s faith is where they were born.

    3) All religions, including ours, seem to crystallize incorporating many things common to the location/time in which they were started. Our Church incorporates many thoughts prevalent in 19th century Eastern US in our originating documents (ie. D&C, BofM, etc.) Islam incorporates many things prevalent in Arab countries at that time. Buddhism incorporates much of Hinduism. Christianity incorporates much of the Near East. Branches of Christianity incorporate things common to the era in which they were formed.

    Perhaps these are all examples of truly inspired people. Perhaps societies develop in such a way that there is a tension between the existing religions and where society has gone. In these cases, someone is inspired to “instantiate” a new religion, incorporating much of the old, but changing a few things.

    4) There is no majority religion. Each religion essentially damns all of the other religions. My own personal opinion is that God is more successful than that.

    5) Even Christ stated that “other sheep I have”. They shall all hear His voice. Perhaps all of these religions are, at their core, the same, instantiated different ways depending on the cultures and personalities of their founders.

    Just a thought.

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  148. Thomas on January 31, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Our Church incorporates many thoughts prevalent in 19th century Eastern US in our originating documents (ie. D&C, BofM, etc.)

    Well, clearly the 19th century eastern United States was a perfect representational microcosm of the most significant themes of the entire human experience.

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  149. Justin on January 31, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Mike — I particularly like your number 4 and 5.

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  150. Arius on January 31, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Mike S and Bruce,

    Is there any way that I could email you guys? Your stories are pretty similar to mine.

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  151. Dan on January 31, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    Chris,

    #132,

    Now, I actually reject Bruce and Jettboy’s Mormonism, but I refuse to let them define it. Not having faith in those types does not lessen my faith in Christ and my love of the Church.

    Well said, sir. They are not the arbiters of what defines a true Mormon believer.

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  152. diane on January 31, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    Well, for that matter, neither of any of you, but you seem to like to think you are.

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  153. Chris H. on January 31, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    Diane,

    When have I said who is a good Mormon and who is not? I have said you are a bore. But being a bore probably makes you a good Mormon.

    The main reason that I do not have much to say about who is a good Mormon or not is because I am really not concerned with who goes to hell or not.

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  154. diane on January 31, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    Chris

    I think you need to take a look in the mirror. You are always claiming to know best, that’s the very definition of a bore.

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  155. Chris H. on January 31, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Hehe

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  156. Bruce on January 31, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    Arius,

    Go post over on one of my posts on M* or here and I think I’ll see your email address and can email you.

    Mike,

    Andrew understood my point correctly, I was not claiming the Church does not claim to be the True Rhurch. My point is that all all religions, political views, and really any sort of moral world view makes an equivalent claim. If it claims it does not, it just made such a claim.

    While I understand your desire to apply a physics analogy here, it doesn’t work for me rationally. The fact is that there are way to explain how a particle can be both here and there at the same time in a consistent and logically rational fashion. (MWI for example.)

    I guess it’s the Popperian in me. I can buy that all religions are an approximation of the truth in the same way I can buy that all ancient theories of philosophy were approximations of the truth. But, as we know, one of those philosophies (atomism) turned out to be far more right than any other. It wasn’t “THE TRUTH” but it was “advantaged” compared to all other philosphies.

    That does not mean the other philosphies were valueless — far from it. Each had latched onto certain truths that the other didn’t have.

    And indeed, they were all partially right. And atomism was partially wrong and still had a long way to go to the full truth. (And in fact, even today still has a long way to go).

    But without a doubt truth and rationality demand that there is either an advantaged explanation or that we are all so far from right that it doesn’t matter and nothing does. (i.e. Lovecraftian)

    I’d rather believe in an advantaged position and I feel that attempts to say otherwise amount to either ‘giving up’, contradiction, or deception.

    I am, on the other hand, completely open to the idea that God saves everyone. i.e. semi or full universalism. (You’ve probably heard me say I’m a univeralist, which is mostly true, or at least a good sound bite approximation.) But that would not eliminate the rational requirement of an advantaged position.

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  157. Bruce on January 31, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    Arius,

    Actually, go post on one of my posts on http://www.millennialstar.org/ because I’ll get your email in an email to me that way.

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  158. brjones on January 31, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    Chris, you’re my new favorite. (No offense, Diane)

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  159. diane on February 1, 2011 at 7:48 AM

    @BR& Chris

    I know when I am dealing with children in a sandbox and you and chris are one of those who gets their shorts in twist when someone doesn’t agree and then the name calling and cyber-bulling begins.

    You two are representative of the people I deal with on a continual basis in the churches regional ward. When someone disagree with you you bully and then the people around who hear do nothing, but claim how the church is for everyone. No its’ not and this is a good example of why its’ not same behavior Blah

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  160. brjones on February 1, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    #159 – Diane, at this point I’m just going to encourage you to take yourself and others a little less seriously. I have never uttered a word of criticism of you, even when you continually dominate large sections of comments of certain posts with your incessant whining about other posters. I challenge you to produce a single comment in any thread where I have ever attacked you. I don’t know that I’ve ever even vocally disagreed with you, apart from the comment where I explained why I had disliked one of your comments. I find this outburst from you highly ironic, considering the abuse you heaped on Stephen in a recent post for something he didn’t even say and a comment that wasn’t directed at you. No one on this site interprets or feels compelled to speak out about more imagined slights than you. That’s fine. But please don’t drag me into your delusions of persecution. My comment didn’t have anything to do with you. I find Chris’s writing style and sensibilities to be enjoyable. It has nothing whatever to do with you, as disappointing as you may find that. I think it’s telling that this post is at its 159th comment, and you have made scarcely a substantive comment in the entire thread. Do you want an example of childish behavior? Throwing a tantrum because those around you won’t agree with you or do what you want. You must have posted a dozen comments complaining because no one was as outraged as you and insisting that others be moderated. Maybe you should spend a little less time worrying about other people and more time worrying about yourself.

    By the way, it was me who disliked your last comment. I’m just sorry I can only do it once.

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  161. brjones on February 1, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    And by, the way, Diane, I doubt that I’m typical of those you deal with in the church. As someone who is not involved with the church, and has been quite critical of it, I have always been sympathetic to your complaints about leadership. Unfortunately, your behavior on this site, and in this thread in particular, hurts your credibility when you complain about the bad behavior of others in outside contexts.

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  162. Chris H. on February 1, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    brjones,

    I appreciate the love. I have been asked to let it drop.

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  163. diane on February 1, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    BR

    Standing up for ones self is not whining. Especially not when you have people who are completely mean spirited. I can handle someone not agreeing with me, I don’t appreciate the bullying and name calling and I never will. I will not tolerate it. I will not tolerate name calling and bullying from a people who profess to have the same gospel that we were baptized in and made the same covenants that I have.
    This behavior is done by the same culprits time and again and its’ tolerated and put up with by moderators especially when they are there friends.

    This site proposes that it welcomes viewpoints of all people, Believers, non-believers. Straight, Gay, TBM, and the most liberal of believers. To which I say fat chance. They are some who go out of there way to make pointed purposeful personal attack to those who don’t believe the way do on any given subject with the express intent of humiliation and to derail any purposeful conversation. So yes, I will open my mouth and I don’t {care} [edited] if it {ticks} [edited] you or anyone else off

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  164. diane on February 1, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    And btw BR

    The in the op that you keep mentioning I never once called Stephen an ugly name, Nor did I make the disagreement a personal attack. I simply disagreed and we had a discussion on it. The way it should be

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  165. brjones on February 1, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    #162 – I will do the same.

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  166. brjones on February 1, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    I apologize for losing my temper, Diane, and making the issue personal. It was wrong of me to do so.

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  167. Bishop Rick on February 2, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Now I’m confused. When someone says “BR” are they referring to me or brjones?

    Life used to more simple.

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