Tweny years ago today, June 15, 1988, I entered the Missionary Training Center and began my 24 months as a missionary assigned to the Korea Seoul West Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’d like to take this moment to offer all my mission companions, every missionary I knew, both my mission presidents, all the people I ever taught, all the members I ever interacted with, the Korean people as a whole, and the church my deepest apologies, and ask for their forgiveness…because, as a missionary, I really sucked.
Reckless are [they]. Now… matters are worse.” “That [blog] was our last hope.” “No…. There is another.”
A few goings-on in the bloggernacle of late: I just found two new Mormon blogs (via Grasshopper, the creator of the bloggernacle). One is Outer Boroughs, written by a bishop in Brooklyn. (Side note: There are sure a lot of New York bloggernackers. There’s me (Bronx), Logan (Bronx), Nine Moons (Brooklyn), BCC (mostly Manhattan), Celibate (Manhattan), and a number of our guests (Greg Allen, the Bushmans). Plus a number of commenters.) The second is By Study and Also by Faith. We’ve also added a journal blog to the sidebar — it’s a journal run by a sister named Kacy F., who is said to have friends in high places. And they’re not new blogs, but new looks — Arwyn and Bob-and-Logan have both recently adopted snazzy new templates.
I am not proud of this, but I have to confess that a very substantial part of my entire self-worth is tied up with how many comments my posts get on Times and Seasons. Unfortunately, I just don’t get it. By what criteria do the commenting bloggernaclites choose one post over another. A silly, throw-away post that I dashed off in a about 15 seconds because I figured I ought to post something, just hit the top of the most comments list. On the otherhand, what I thought was a much better and more interesting post seems to have sunk into complete oblivion. This is not meant as a rebuke to anyone. I am, however, genuinely curious about what people find interesting and comment-worthy (are the two identical?) and why.
John Hatch continues his coup over at the liberalmediablog, with an interesting post on whether the church values orthodoxy (right belief) over orthopraxy (right action). John notes: If I don’t show up to help someone in Elder’s Quorum move, no one says a word. If I miss my home teaching, no one calls to chastise me. If I don’t sign up to do a cannery assignment, not a word of disapproval is uttered in my direction. . . . When I mentioned that the Melchizedek Priesthood was probably restored in 1830 and not 1829, two people were so angry I thought after Church they’d be heading to the hardware store to pick up torches and pitchforks. Why might heterodoxy be considered a greater threat than heteropraxy? (If it is indeed so considered, that is). My intuition is that it might be because heterodoxy looks like an active rebellion, while heteropraxy looks more like a natural process of decay. But it does seem like a strange prioritization system — I suspect that more people fall away from the church because their home teachers didn’t visit them than fall away because they’re worried about Zelph.
New additions to the bloggernacle continue to proliferate. I imagine at some point we’ll have to find some new taskmasters and start forcing new bloggernackers to make bricks without straw. But for the moment, we’re happy to welcome them to the bloggernacle. On that note: Rusty Clifton, over at his new blog, Nine Moons, has written several quality posts of late. He has an interesting discussion of symbolism in Mormon art. He also wonders if God has a sense of humor. Rusty’s blog looks like a great addition to the bloggernacle!
I just noticed that a “BYU blogs” blog ring has been established by Nate Cardon. It’s currently a rather small blog ring, with three member blogs, but likely to grow (it’s only a few days old) and it sounds like a potentially interesting development in the bloggernacle.
Davis Bell has posted a political breakdown of frequent bloggernackers. (Along with a few remarks about how T & S used to gross him out, but we’ll let those pass). Davis’s assessment is in, and it may (or may not) surprise anyone: I’m a liberal; Matt is a conservative; Nate is a cipher. The list includes quite a few well-known bloggernackers. Check out Davis’s list and (of course) register a complaint (with him, not me!) if you were left off or mischaracterized (he promises, err, prompt responses). A useful comparison tool may be found in this old T & S post, where many people posted their scores from a political quiz.
Over in a galaxy far, far away, rumor has it that a strange woman* has posted a brief report of her activities at the Sunstone symposium, along with sundry thoughts about Sunday School and correlation. Just in case anyone was wondering. *Not necessarily in the scriptural sense, but more in the sense of (to use her own term) “exceedingly weird.”
I should note a few recent additions to the bloggernacle. -Frequent commenter John Fowles recently started a blog, which so far has mostly dealt with politics and religion. I disagree with John sometimes, but his blog is definitely not uninteresting. Check out A Birds Eye View. -Another new addition is Ebeneezer Orthodoxy, a blog about church “doctrine, organization, practices and its influence on and relationship to society.” So far, Ebeneezer has posted a series of interesting discussions on stewardship, priesthood, and obedience. Check out Ebneezer Orthodoxy. -In the “Journal Blogs” section (which I don’t always frequent), Jenna’s blog (self-description: “Don’t mistake me for one of those feminist nuts”) deals with life at BYU, and includes frequent discussion of other blogs in the bloggernacle. Check out “You Too!”
I know that we’re all in the middle of something here, but I thought that I should interrupt everything in mid-action to announce that T & S blogger Russell Arben Fox has moved his solo blogging from his old digs at Waldchem vom Philosophenweg to a spiffy new place called: In Medias Res. That’s Spanish, by the way, for “in stockings beef.” (Really, it is.) I’m told it has a Latin definition too, and if I weren’t in the middle of something right now, I might try looking it up. Anyway, welcome to your new home, Russell! (And good luck keeping that beef in stockings — doesn’t sound like the best storage system, if you ask me!).
I’ve gotten a complaint that our blogroll is full of blogs that haven’t been updated in months or are now defunct. That’s a definite possibility, alas. I haven’t been keeping up the blogroll particularly well. I’m going to do a little bit of pruning over the next week or so. I’ll be removing blogs that don’t appear to be updated regularly (at least monthly). In the mean time, you’ve got a blog you would like us to consider adding to the blogroll, please let me know. If I mistakenly remove your active blog, let me know. And ditto for any other comments or complaints.
I’ve noticed two different posts recently in the bloggernacle that touch on the same theme: Non-Mormon women think that Mormon women are repressed and considered inferior to men, while educated and articulate (and believing) Mormon women are horrified at these broad characterizations. Janelle at Let Your Mind Alone writes of a conversation with a co-worker who told her that “Mormon women are bred to consider themselves inferior to their husbands.” Janelle was appalled at a broad characterization that potentially includes her, but discusses in her post how many Mormon women do seem to give an impression of inferiority. Jennifer Jensen at BCC writes of a conversation she had with a woman she met while traveling. “When I told her I am Mormon she was quite shocked. She asked me how I could be so educated and part of such a sexist church, thus allowing myself to be repressed.” Jennifer, of course, replied with a strong rebuttal — an argument which her nonplussed acquaintance apparently found unbelievable.
We’ve probably been remiss not to note this new bloggernacle development: Blogger and uber-commenter Clark Goble has started a reading club. He’s working through chapters of McMurrin and Ostler at the moment. He’s given these works a nicely detailed discussion so far. Clark’s first installment, covering pages from McMurrin, is available here. His second installment, covering the beginning of Ostler, is here. And Dave, over at the Mormon Inquiry blog, has posted his own responses to Clark’s McMurrin post here. Readers who are interested in philosophy or theology of Mormonism are likely to be interested in Clark’s and Dave’s discussions.
John Hatch has a not-to-be-missed examination of Zelph over at By Common Consent. (For those not familiar with Zelph, the very short version is that Joseph Smith, on finding a burial mound in Illinois, stated that the remains were of Zelph, a great Nephite general, and scholars, critics, and apologists have been writing reams on Zelph ever since). New DNA evidence makes Zelph look potentially problematic. John concludes that there are five reasonable possibilities for interpreting the Zelph story. His post is very interesting, and highlights some of the tensions and questions relating to Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling, modern scientific theories, and apologist work attempting to reconcile the two.
Over at Sons of Mosiah, Bob Caswell criticizes the popular labeling dichotomy of “Chapel Mormons versus Internet Mormons.” (Which, by the way, is the topic of an upcoming Sunstone symposium panel reputed to include at least one dazzlingly brilliant bloggernacker). To replace that outmoded framework, Bob suggests using his own recently invented dichotomy: Internet Mormons and Magazine Mormons. So, are you an Internet Mormon? Are you a Magazine Mormon? Do you think Bob is nuts to give us yet another useless dichotomy? Weigh in over at SOM, where the conversation has been quite interesting.
“Highway bloggery” is just another way of saying “Around the Blogs” since the same title gets old after a while. (It does sound vaguely immoral, but I’ll stick with it rather than repeat myself yet again in a title.) So: -Jan Lynn puts her own unique spin on foreordination, predestination, and why God lets bad things happen: It’s “Puppets in the Hands of a Sociopathic God.” -Jeff Lindsay continues to sparkle, with a post titled “Warning: EXMO Virus alert.” Among the effects of this nefarious computer virus are “Alteration of logic processing, such that the writings of Ed Decker appear to be logically sound” and “Large quantities of spam sent to everyone in the address book.” Check out Jeff’s site for information on how to protect your computer from this virus. -Aaron Brown is at it again, with a post about wacky mission companions. -Celibate JL has a funny, lengthy serialization of her latest relationship. Has she found “the one”? The story starts here, and goes through several posts (see especially here and here), and it reads better than many movie scripts; this woman’s life should really be made into a movie. (Paging Richard Dutcher — or perhaps Neil LaBute, if he can handle a movie with no sex in it).
There is an interesting exchange of ideas about the Sunstone Symposium happening at various other blogs. John Hatch, a Sunstone mucky-muck, has a shameless plug over at some other blog. Dallas Robbins, a vetern Sunstone Symposia attender, has a good rant on what’s wrong with the symposium, viz it’s too expensive, has poor quality control, and endlessly recycles the same issues. The comments at Dallas’s site are worth checking out. They include guest appearances by Dan Wotherspoon, editor and supreme dictator of Sunstone, as well as John Hatch, who as I noted is a lesser Sunstone baron. T&S’s Kristine Haglund Harris will be a participant on a panel at this year’s symposia on Chapel Mormons v. Internet Mormons, a variation on this topic has already discussed ad nausem in this forum. I don’t know if other bloggers will be making any appearances. I certainly hope that the Bloggernacle will exert some positive influence on Sunstone, a possibility that I have explored here before. Since this is a blog-round-up post, I include for your edication some other T&S posts related to Sunstone: “Should I Subscribe to Sunstone Again?”, “The Greying of Mormon Studies”, “A Mormon Studies Family”, “Marketing Sunstone”, and “Greying…”.
The bloggernacle is buzzing. Over at Wump Blog, frequent commenter and bloggernacle evaluator Danithew (also our resident chupa-cabra specialist) has created a list of the top ten Mormon blogs. (Full disclosure: His assessment is that T & S is number one; and yes, I should really be trying for a tone of false modesty here, but I don’t know if I could pull it off). Meanwhile, Danithew’s ranking is very interesting and has kicked off some debate over in his comments. Who was included? Who was omitted? Were there any egregious slights? Take a look at who the top ten are, and then tell the chupa-cabra expert your thoughts! Meanwhile, Jeff Lindsay at Mormanity (unranked: controversial? you decide) has an interesting post up about an ancient manuscript called the Narrative of Zosimus, and its parallels to the Book of Mormon. Also, Unrandom Thoughts (unranked and protested: controversial? you decide) has some interesting statistics about baptisms as a percent of membership. Finally (at least for this update), Dave Underhill, a formidable blogger in his own right (#4), has a thoughtful post over at BCC (#2) on how religious beliefs can or should affect voting.