Posted by: nflanders | August 22, 2005

Sheep in sheep’s clothing

Fortunately, I was in the midst of a move and missed most of the M*/BCC/Dialogue nonsense that flared up last week. (If you missed it too, and have a healthy dose of masochism, feel free to read it here.)

The fallout from this is that over at M*, Jonathan Max Wilson informs us that he can no longer in good faith participate in the bloggernacle. It seems to me that every six months or so, certain bloggers get fed up with the bloggernacle, insinuate those left behind are on the road to apostasy, and bow out. (In fact, I made a similar post almost exactly five months ago, and J. Max Wilson even left a comment.) That’s fine. Maybe they are right, maybe they are wrong; what irritates me is the suggestion that they know my intentions better than I do.

I think the bloggernacle would be a much nicer place if everyone just took a deep breath, relaxed, and ascribed the best intentions to everyone in it. The idea that there are wolves in sheep’s clothing, or Bloggernacle stalwarts who are secretly anti-Mormons posing as faithful questioners, is patently ridiculous.

Heterodox Mormons are not in league with Satan, and Orthodox Mormons aren’t (all–ha!) Pharisees bent on driving the rest of us from the church. We are all working out our own salvation here, trying to resolve our feelings about often difficult and murky topics. I am not trying to lead anyone astray; I couldn’t even if I tried. I am trying to figure out what parts of Mormonism work for me and which ones don’t, and whether those that don’t preclude me from returning to full activity. If discussing hard topics offends some people, then they shouldn’t participate; life is too short to be constantly offended.

If the open and freewheeling nature of bloggernacle discussion offends you, fine, but don’t pretend to know my motives. We are all sheep, still looking for the right shepherd.



  1. Nice post, Ned. I’m always frustrated with the ways that the online, textual medium seems to encourage the kinds of battles that you’re discussing. We’re told by some computer psychologists that this is a result of the lack of facial and vocal cues that help us moderate conflict in face-to-face and even telephone interaction. Be that as it may, I do think we need to find ways of working through these kinds of tensions without having to for each others’ throats.

  2. i couldnt’ agree more.

    part of the reason i’ve turned to the internet and blogs is precisely because people DON’T want to talk about difficult subjects or hear alternate viewpoints on topics. people are too easily offended and think that they are more righteous or following the prophet better becuase they don’t have disagreements or confusion on isssues.

    i can’t stand that about the church. i think it’s ridiuclous to think that we live in a vacuum and that nothing would ever cause questions. it’s too much of the cult we are accussed of being if we DON’T question. And honestly, when have I done the most learning in my life? When I’ve had questions and things didn’t make sense and I didn’t just blindly believe everything. If the church is REALLY true, then having questions will only cause you to dig deeper and search more in depth and find out more truths. if there’s nothing to hide, there’s no reason to discourage critical thinking.

  3. i just can’t understand why people take this stuff so seriously. i mean it’s just church, no need to get your panties in a wad. so what if you aren’t comfortable w/ what someone else discusses on another blog. don’t read it.

    i always disliked that talk by oaks. heaven forbid people might actually discuss an uncorrelated topic.

  4. I’ve always been pretty open about my level of unbelief, and have found people to be remarkably courteous, under the circumstances.

    I agree with M. It’s just church.

  5. Well said, Ned. I begin to tune out/get frustrated when people start to ascribe ill intentions to those they don’t know. It’s one thing to suggest, for example, that my best friend isn’t having more babies because of his worldliness. It’s another to suggest the same thing to the general membership of the Church.

    M and Ann,
    The problem with saying “it’s just church” is that for most here “church” is the equivalent to “working out our own salvation.” More than three hours on Sunday. I respect JMW’s decision and wish him only the best, but I don’t agree with his reasons.

  6. Call me a cynic, but I think this is just an effort at face-saving by this guy. He makes a fool of himself, and then ducks out, blaming it on the medium. I think its good he apologized for his part, but he still has the stink on him, so he is walking away rather than deal with the uncomfortable reality of his own actions.

  7. Hi, Ned-

    Hope your move went well. I worry that the Mormon blogs will be abandoned by the conservatives. As soon as that happens, we’ll be hearing from the Church leaders that blogs are dangerous and that we should stay away from online discussions about the Church.

    So where are all the Mormon conservatives on the blogs? I think Adam Greenwood quit posting awhile ago. There are few conservatives left around here who are articulate and reasonable – two things necessary for online public discourse.

    I’m of half a mind to start taking conservative positions, just to even things out.

  8. Well said, Ned.

  9. Don’t worry Tess, I’m under the apparently false impression that I’m conservative and orthodox and I’m not quitting my blogging habit…

  10. Thanks, Geoff! We need you. Can you recruit any of your orthodox, new cool friends to join the bloggernacle? And, if I may be so bold, you need to post more on the Big 3. I rarely see your comments on T&S, BCC and M*.

  11. Well, some people do just want to get a reaction out of people. But, so what?

    I think most of us are well-meaning and I really enjoy fishing around the bloggernacle. Some of the really conservative stuff (religiously conservative, not politically conservative) makes me cringe a little bit. I’m trying to believe this stuff and when somebody says something that I totally disagree with (but know is doctrinally sound) it’s hard.

    But, it can be good, too. There’s nothing wrong with taking a good look at ourselves.

    Blogs aren’t Sunday School. But, that’s one of the things that I like about them.

  12. I’ve explained it more than once that most of the time you can ascribe more to stupidity than malice …

    I, too, thought that “Don’t worry Tess, I’m under the apparently false impression that I’m conservative and orthodox and I’m not quitting my blogging habit..” should apply to my posts and my blog.

    Hey, that’s why BCC links to the Angry Mormon and not to me! I am conservative 😉

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