Is Mormon Matters Balanced?

May 28, 2009
By

Over the last week, we’ve received quite a few critical comments, ranging from a pro-mormon commenter about “another blog better left unwritten” to an anti-mormon’s attack on LDS church as “the Devil’s brother of Mormonism“.  When I was invited to be a blogger here at MM, the invitation included the idea that I was invited to contribute to the ‘general tenor of MM and the “faithful but analytical/critical” parameters we try to maintain.’

Some people can’t bear anything critical toward the church.  Others can’t say anything nice about the church.  Both types of people can be rude and offensive, and behave more like hecklers.  I don’t mind disagreement here.  I do mind attacking comments, and I do not welcome people who can’t make their point without being offensive.  Now I know I am not a perfect commenter, and have made people angry, but I have always tried to apologize instead of making the situation worse.  I hope I have gained a measure of respect from people who disagree with me.  I urge all of us, as Ronald Reagan used to say, to “disagree without being disagreeable.”

For those of you who enjoy “faithful” posts, I encourage you to be more active in commenting on those.  I posted on Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and on Mormonism’s top 5 cities, receiving a combined 10 comments for all 3 posts (as of May 25).  Both Hawkgrrrl and I tried to get an online RS/PH discussion going by following the manual, but I quit, because it just didn’t seem to reasonate with people.  People didn’t read, and didn’t comment.

However, when I posted on my disagreement with Polygamy, there were 147 comments, mostly from pro-mormons who disagreed with me.  My post dispelling the Spaulding Theory had 132 comments and attracted commenters more antagonistic toward the church.  I feel like my posts can anger both pro-mormon and anti-mormons here (which hopefully means I’m not being overly biased), and at other times people yawn at what I have to say.

So, On May 25, I decided to review the posts and categorize them for the previous 30 days.  I feel like there was a very good balance of topics, but as you can see the faithful/theological posts don’t get anywhere near the participation of the critical/questioning posts.  So while there may be a perception that MM is “liberal”, the truth is that there is a very good balance of topics, but the readers seem to react more to the liberal topics than the conservative ones.

Topic # posts 4/25-5/25 avg #  comments
Critical 4 84.5
Current Events 4 55.3
Historical 4 35.8
Satire/fun 3 34.3
Questioning 6 31.8
Faithful 5 29.8
Culture 3 18.7
Theological 4 10.8
Misc 5 7.6

In case you’re wondering, this is how I categorized them.  Do you disagree with any of my categorizations?

Post # comments Type
Adversity as a form of the love of God 2 Theological
Resentment and Gratitude 7 Theological
Defining Lust and Chastity 23 Theological
Is Accountability a Good or Bad Thing? 11 Theological
A Memorial Day Jack Mormon 0 Historical
Mother’s Day 5 Historical
Debunking the Spaulding Theory 132 Historical
Temples Unbuilt 6 Historical
Dancing through the Sidebar 4 Misc
Who’s #2? 5 Misc
Our Soldiers Need FAR MORE Than Tribute 3 Misc
An Explanation of My Reduction in Participation 23 Misc
Dancing Through the Sidebar 3 Misc
Freedom of Religion vs. Death 69 Current Events
Interfaith International British DJ 10 Current Events
Barack Obama’s Mother Has Been Baptized into the LDS Church! No joke!!! 31 Current Events
Marie Osmond Supports Gay Marriage 111 Current Events
Best and Worst of Mormonism: Quotes! 44 Critical
The Problem with Tolerance 132 Critical
My Perspective on Polygamy 147 Critical
LDS worship skills 15 Critical
Good Man Gone 14 Faithful
MM Poll: Your Favorite Scriptures 18 Faithful
Worship or Whine? 81 Faithful
When the Ward Splits 17 Faithful
April 2009 General Conference – Word Stats 19 Faithful
What’s My Age Again? 9 Satire/fun
Botched Hymns 47 Satire/fun
That We Could All Be Like – Satan? 47 Satire/fun
Mormon Masks 16 Culture
Bloggernacle Personality Survey 27 Culture
Deconstructing Christian chain mails 13 Culture
Why do we act? 7 Questioning
Who Should Go to Church, Anyway? 49 Questioning
Why are the 12 tribes of Israel important? 31 Questioning
More Christ At Church 36 Questioning
Are we going to be Eunuchs after this life? 63 Questioning
Reflections on a Thought Experiment 5 Questioning

So, what do you think?  Would you like to see something different here?  Why do you think faithful/theological posts don’t get as much attention as critical/questioning posts?  Do you have any requests for future posts?  If so, what do you want to see more?

[poll id="7"]

80 Responses to Is Mormon Matters Balanced?

  1. CarlosJC
    May 28, 2009 at 5:09 am

    “Would you like to see something different here? ”

    Yes, maybe a few less posts per week to allow discussions (and fights) to develop and grow as much as possible.

  2. Matt W.
    May 28, 2009 at 6:52 am

    I’ll be honest. I don’t read Mormon Matters enough to judge, mainly because this blog feels like an extension of BCC, and I already read BCC, because it is higher up on my blog aggregator.

  3. Rick M
    May 28, 2009 at 7:27 am

    While I may comment on the critical or current events posts a bit more, I can’t say they are my favorite. I like the theological and historical threads the best.

    Some might consider MM more liberal. I don’t necessarily think it is. I’ve seen heavily conservative discussion boards where the majority of starter posts and rebuttals are from liberal writers. That is just their way. They tend to be less satisfied with the status quo. Conservatives are, well… conservative.

    I think there is a good mix. The number of topics in each category seems spread out well so there is plenty there for all.

  4. May 28, 2009 at 7:48 am

    I think there is a decent balance. It is understandable that people don’t comment on the non-controversial posts–there isn’t anything to be passionate about. Even in my “critical” post, however, I tried to be balanced. I’m sure if I had made it more one-sided I would have had more comments. :)

  5. May 28, 2009 at 8:28 am

    I must say that many of these posts fit into multiple categories, and it was hard to put them in just one. For example, I put Adam’s in the “critical” category because it seems that the comments by readers seemed to judge it “critical”. However, I think Adam did a good job providing balance.

  6. Jeff Spector
    May 28, 2009 at 8:45 am

    it’s kind of interesting to me that liberal is somehow equated to “critical.” I am sure most people consider me to be pretty conservative and faithful, yet I find many things about the Church to be somewhat nerve-rackingly ridiculous, especially the traditionally held false beliefs.

    I think some people who comment here have a real chip on their shoulder about the Church in general so their comments come off as critical about just about everything discussed here. Here at MM, we allow that kind of comment while other sites, like BCC do not.

  7. May 28, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I first started coming here because I could get more current information about issues of religious importance to me than I could get from my own church (Community of Christ) due to its lack of any real analogue to the bloggernacle.

    The site seems balanced to me, but then your “liberals” tend to be to the theological right of the mainstream in the CofChrist, so maybe I’m blinded by my own conservatism.

  8. May 28, 2009 at 10:28 am

    A few observations:

    1. The scriptures are rarely used
    2. The first principles of the gospel are rarely posted or commented on (Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost).
    3. The teachings and counsel of the apostles and prophets are rarely seen
    4. Spiritual experiences are rarely shared

    The blog is titled Mormon Matters. This can be a misleading blog name because as I have pointed out above the essence of Mormonism is rarely represented.

    Having said this, if the past is any indication, I will be accused of this or that. I am not being critical, judgmental, or condescending. I am making an observation. Neither am I suggesting this blog should be an extension of Sunday School. This blog represents the heart and soul of those who created it and sustain it.

    In my opinion, the Bloggernacle needs to have better representation of those who frequent it. Those like me are hammered when they comment, so they generally leave or become lurkers. I’ve decided to stick it out for now, because I think it is important that the entire spectrum of “faith” be welcomed here. Maybe Mormon Matters will be the first to really make an attempt to see if the entire spectrum can be brought together in one blog.

    The spectrum I am referring to might be atheist on one end, and those alive in Christ on the other (those who are alive in Christ have been baptized with both water and the Spirit; in other words they have the companionship of the Holy Ghost).

  9. May 28, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Mormon Matters rules, I go here every day. Don’t change a thing.

  10. May 28, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Jared, I enjoy your observations, and welcome them. Usually when you get “accused of this or that” it is NOT because of the topic of your comments, but your tone. You could soften up a little in your delivery while still maintaining and sharing your views. It seems that even when you are making a “neutral” observation, people interpret it as negative. Perhaps if you tried to go a little overboard with smileys (or anything, really), that would help. Just my advice. I am glad you comment here, and fwiw, I will be trying to include more scriptures in the future.

  11. May 28, 2009 at 10:48 am

    While “balanced” is ultimately as diluted a term as, say, “legislation from the bench,” I do feel that Mormon Matters is the most even-handed of the blogs which I visit. And while I often read or comment on BCC, I feel more comfortable here at MM, anticipating less chance of administrative slap-downs, should I someday stray into some phrase, late at night, which might strike The Powers That Blog as peevish toward LDS General Authorities, the temple liturgy, or whatever else might unpredictably offend. (That hasn’t happened to me anywhere yet, but I still feel less inclination to duck, here at Mormon Matters, than elsewhere.)

  12. May 28, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Jared,

    Did you ever review the RS/PH lessons that Hawkgrrrl and I blogged about? While it is not the scriptures, it is pretty close. I never felt like anybody paid any attention to them.

  13. ThomasB
    May 28, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I quite appreciate MM and those who contribute. Is it perfect? No. Is it provocative? Much of the time it is for me. I rarely comment any longer because I do not really like getting caught up in the debate but I truly enjoy being a spectator. I can honestly say my testimony has increased greatly because of the reading I do here and on other blogs. Jared do not be so hard on yourself. I quite appreciated the lesson review and miss it. Joe Spencers stuff is a must read every week for me.

  14. Dexter
    May 28, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I have a question: who can post an article (as opposed to a comment). I am not seeking that authority. I am just curious as to how many people are administrators and able to post articles, and what requirements do they have.

  15. Hawkgrrrl
    May 28, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    ThomasB – I love Joe Spencer’s stuff, too, and I only partly quit doing the RS lessons due to lack of comments – mostly I discontinued it because I got a different calling.

    Dexter – there are a handful of administrators (who can add new authors and do site administration), even more authors (see the names to the left), and we also try out a variety of guest authors either at our request or their request if they submit a piece we want to run.

  16. May 28, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Did you mean Jeff Spector, not Joe Spencer?

  17. Dexter
    May 28, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Hawk:

    I think you are right that the administrators should not be blamed for a lack of faith promoting posts because I think there have been a lot of those and as you said, they don’ get much of a response.

    Frankly, I am turned off when posters simply avoid argument by resorting to, “well, it’s true so that is all there is to it.” I appreciate those who are faithful but who do not fall upon their belief that the church is true as an end all for any interesting discussion.

  18. Cowboy
    May 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I don’t think balanced is the right term, as much as I would say that Mormon Matters appears to have a liberal agenda, that of promoting dialogue on all thing’s Mormon – and that is the extent of it. I would have to say that this place is fair, and so balance isn’t really an issue. It seems that all viewpoints are treated with respect, and that the site itself does not have an invested interest in being a missionary tool. I just like being able to discuss my true thoughts and feelings regarding the religion I was raised in, with individuals all across the spectrum (Jared) who are each more or less doing the same. I generally feel that everybody here is honest in what they relate regarding their feelings and positions on the various topics, and there really are a wide variety of viewpoints represented here. This is a very authentic place to participate, and after a year long experience having commented on the numerous Mormon dedicated blogs, this is only one where I routinely feel inclined to follow.

  19. Jeff Spector
    May 28, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    “Did you mean Jeff Spector, not Joe Spencer?”

    Who is this Joe Spencer of which you speak?

  20. May 28, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Balanced–liberal–of course none of these terms is perfect.

    Looking at this from Jared’s point of view, I can see how this site is quite liberal. On the other hand, looking from Dexter’s point of view, this site is quite conservative. Pro-mormons and anti-mormons alike seem to really have a problem accepting that the opposite point of view is in any way legitimate. I think MM is a place to try to bring these people together. Both groups have valid points, and both have blind spots. Those of us who try to stay in the middle, usually get attacked from both sides for not being either conservative, or liberal enough.

    Jared, if I may try to disagree agreeably, those topics (faith, repentance, etc) do get posted on, but usually in a much different manner than church. I posted on the history of baptism (comparing it to the Jewish rite of Mikvah), and once again received few comments. The fact is that we allow all sorts of other topics here as well, so the relative importance of these theological comments is much less than one will see in church. You rarely get politics in church, but you will get it here. As Firetag mentioned, this is a site to fill other needs than strictly theological. I will also add that there is always a General Conference thread, and Hawkgrrrl posted an interesting article analyzing word usage in GC. So the stuff talking about current prophets is here, but does get diluted because we don’t focus solely on faith-promoting stuff.

    I appreciate you sharing your spiritual experiences. Ray did a post on a man who just died, and I thought it was quite spiritual, although I was appalled by some of the anti-mormon comments there. It really did feel like a heckler arrived at a funeral, and was in extremely poor taste. Of course, on the internet, it is essentially a public forum, so I think that is why spiritual experiences aren’t shared. People fear casting pearls before swine. I hope this post does help people examine their communication skills, and try to be more tactful. It’s fine to disagree agreeably, but we shouldn’t act like hecklers as in Ray’s post. The hecklers there really detracted from a beautifully written and spiritual post, and those people should be ashamed of their poor judgment.

  21. brjones
    May 28, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I think the site is plenty “balanced.” There are undoubtedly people here who don’t see as much of what they would like to see, but that doesn’t equate to imbalance. I can tell you from my perspective, and I am probably one of the people closer to the far end of the spectrum, I don’t think I’ve ever read a single post and felt like my view wasn’t at least partially represented in comments other than my own. I have also never felt that my views were not welcomed and even appreciated most of the time, even when it was clear that people did not agree with me.

    With respect to certain posts that don’t receive much comment, I think much of the reason for that is that most of the good debate on MM comes as a result of, and among those making comments to the original post. Well, a bunch of people who are all saying the same things is not a very interesting thread and probably isn’t going to go far. The great debate comes when people across the spectrum feel passionately about the issue and are willing to comment and discuss. As a result, when there are posts that have no interest to one side of the spectrum (to put it in VERY simplistic terms), it’s hard to get a good debate going. That’s certainly not to say that there shouldn’t be any posts about the more benign aspects of mormonism or mormon culture, but those posts tend to be less interesting to those who might not be firm believers. In my opinion, the posts about issues that affect everyone, like the current posts discussing gay marriage, are the most interesting. Everyone has an opinion and feels like they have a vested interest in the issue.

    In any event, I thoroughly enjoy the site, and as luck would have it, this is the first mormon-themed blog site I ever visited, and I’ve never felt the need to find anything else, so kudos to the administrators and posters.

  22. Cowboy
    May 28, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    By the way, when I mentioned that this site has a “liberal” agenda, I did not mean that in kind of a socio-political way. What I mean is that this site appears to have an open agenda to promote free discussion with limited boundaries. In fact the only real boundaries that I am aware of are civility and courtesy, and that’s just as it should be.

  23. Holden Caulfield
    May 28, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Jared–”Those like me are hammered when they comment, so they generally leave or become lurkers. I’ve decided to stick it out for now, because I think it is important that the entire spectrum of “faith” be welcomed here.”

    I frequent MM because of the diversity. While I have one foot out of the church, I also have one foot in. I do not like always reading things I agree with. Having a gay son, I subscribe to a family fellowship online feed. All people in my same situation. All pretty much feel the same way. Some help, but if all we are doing is trading woe-is-me-stories, there isn’t any growth or change. I don’t need to just commiserate with people and, at the same time, I am not looking for a punching bag.

    For me, the disagreements found here are what I am looking for. Differing opinions being discussed. If it weren’t for that type of balance, I’d be elsewhere.

    So, Jared, I probably disagree with most things you write. You probably disagree with everything I write. I wouldn’t have it any other way because I need to hear the other side. When I get disagreeable in my disagreeing, I sometimes wish I wouldn’t hit the submit button. But because of my sitation, I live much more on an emotional edge than I ever have before. Religion used to be everything to me, now I sometimes spit in its eye.

  24. May 28, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I lurk often and comment infrequently. I think part of why the theological posts get fewer comments than the other types is the perceived barrier to entry. I’m speaking from personal experience here, so take it for what it’s worth, but I feel a bit hesitant to comment on theological posts because my knowledge of theology is not that vast. (I read the scriptures and whatnot, but I don’t know Biblical Greek or Hebrew, and my history is weak.) I don’t want to come across as ignorant, so I just read and soak up everyone else’s knowledge. However, on cultural or other posts, I feel more comfortable commenting because I know more about the subject matter and feel more qualified to comment.

    I enjoy this blog, though. Just because people aren’t commenting doesn’t mean that they aren’t reading.

  25. Hawkgrrrl
    May 28, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Jeff – Not sure whether Dexter meant Joe Spencer (a poster at FeastUpontheWord blog whom I frequently quoted and linked in my RS lesson posts) or you. Maybe a conflation of the two!

    brjones – wow – great to have you here!

  26. Dexter
    May 28, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Dont drag me into this, Hawk. :)

    I never mentioned Joe or John or any Spector or Spencer.

  27. Brjones
    May 28, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    By the way, when I used the term “benign” in post # 21, I did not mean to suggest that questions regarding doctrinal points, or things more geared toward active LDS members were boring or anything akin to it. I probably should have used the phrase “less-controversial.” I just re-read the comment and I think it came off as a pejorative, which was not my intent.

  28. Hawkgrrrl
    May 28, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Oops – should have said ThomasB!

  29. Jeff Spector
    May 28, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    We’re not doing too well in the name calling/identification department today. :)

    “and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.(Isaiah 62:2)

    This post is certified to meet the quota of scripture quotes per post-inch.

  30. Doug G.
    May 28, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I may have my wires crossed, and I certainly have had my fair share of arguments with several of you conservative types, but I thought this blog was setup especially for middle-way Mormons.

    John Dehlin started this as an offshoot of his mormonstories website where he explored some of the more controversial subject matter of Mormon history with guest interviews called from both sides of the spectrum. John’s mission seemed clear to me back at the beginning. Provide a safe place for open discussion of Mormon history and thought, while maintaining that the world was still a better place with the church then without it. (A point I completely agree with… at least on good days. :)

    John deliberately delved into troubling problems with whitewashed history in an effort to give many of us the understanding that we weren’t alone in questioning what we’d been taught all our lives. When he agreed to turn this over to others, I think the folks that picked up the mantle have tried very hard to move this to a more conservative blog with more faith promoting posts. Some of us, who have been posting here since the beginning, have resisted that change for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which, is the hope that others that find themselves in the same position that we did years ago, can stay connected to our culture even if that means rejecting much of the past.

    I guess what I’m saying is, don’t change this blog to something even more conservative then it is now. We’ve already lost some great posters who provided good insight to many issues. I don’t see Equality, Lincoln, John Hammer, Mayan Elephant, and a host of others because I think they felt like their input wasn’t appreciated. In truth, the blog needs both sides of the spectrum to be engaging and interesting. More importantly, lots of folks are just starting to discover many unsettling things about our history and they need a place to discuss that information that isn’t possible within the walls of the chapel.

  31. Dexter
    May 28, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Well said, Doug.

  32. ThomasB
    May 28, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    HawK, Jeff, MM,

    I read Joe Spencer’s blog weekly and I think he is brilliant. I do miss the insights you had when you reviewed the lessons. They were always helpful. Hope this clears it all up.

  33. May 28, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Mormon Matters is pretty much my favorite site. I check it like three times a day and am a spectator of the little debates… they can be funny sometimes :P

    I second Thomas B in saying my testimony has increased.

    I like Mormon Matters the way it is. I think there are a lot of voices from a bunch of different sides and I think it can be considered balanced.

  34. jmb275
    May 28, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I’m with Doug G. on this one. I am new here, and haven’t commented much. But I have been reading most of the posts and comments for a few weeks now. I really like the tone, purpose, and intent of the Mormon Stories podcasts. They have been wonderful for me. I would like to see the site remain in the vein that John Dehlin intended.

    Let me add one more thing. While I really appreciate theological, philosophical, social, political, and psychological debates, they only feed one part of my soul. The other part, I find, is aptly fed with Mormon Stories, i.e. personal stories of Mormons. Nothing lifts me more than hearing someone’s personal story. Disaffected, TBM, heterodox, anti, it doesn’t really matter, I just love to hear people’s stories. Maybe we could get some more of that!!

    You know how President Packer often says doctrine will change behavior better than anything else? Well, for me, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I am often turned off by it. But give me a good personal story, faith-promoting or not, and I love to try and apply it to my own life.

  35. Ray
    May 28, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I’m glad I can help keep this a liberal site – as in “open”. :)

  36. May 28, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    jmb, incidentally I have a post next week that is about half “personal story”. :)

    It’s good to know that there are a lot of people who enjoy the site, even if they don’t comment very often.

    While I am mostly orthodox (I think), I feel VERY safe posting here, on pretty much anything that is an issue to me, or is interesting. Granted you never know when our good Calvinist friend will show up and throw a wet blanket on the conversation, but I enjoy the discussion, especially when there are multiple views that are shared with the intent of mutual understanding and learning, rather than trying to win debates.

  37. May 28, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Yes, I do think that sometimes the line between mutual understanding vs winning debates can get quite blurred. I love the debates, but I know it does turn some people off.

  38. May 28, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    I just finished reading all of the comments. It’s getting late so I can’t take the time to reply to all that I would like to, and by tomorrow this may be a cold post, so just a couple of thoughts:

    I’m not advocating MM become more conservative. I would like to see it expand some. And this would include a few post that explore the essence of Mormonism (1st principles). The idea might not fly as MH pointed out–his post on baptism didn’t get many comments. Then again, maybe the number of comments isn’t the only way to evaluate a worthwhile post.

    A couple of you said some nice things about my contributions, I appreciate that. I’m sure others will feel the same –when you’re genuinely impressed, let it be known as quickly as when you’re bent out of shape about something.

    I often forget about the diversity of beliefs present here and I need to be reminded. I appreciate what #23 Holden said, it gives me insight into the kinds of challenges being faced by the various personalities.

    Maybe we need a link with a paragraph telling us a little about the various people who frequent MM. Ray et al, what do you think?

    Anyhow, as I write this I feel a bond with each of you as a result of this post. Great job MH.

    #10 AdamF–it may be my military side showing up–thanks for your thoughts ;-)

  39. Ray
    May 28, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Jared, I provide quite a few theological, scripture-based posts here. Click on my name in the authors list; there are at least a dozen or two posts that are scripture-based – I think. It’s late, and I’ve driven 1000 miles in the last 36 hours, so I’m not going to check.

  40. May 28, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    I’m really liking Doug G’s post (30). That gives me some warm and fuzzy feelings.

    MM is not T&S. We are not really BCC. So, whether that makes us have a particular slant or whatever, I can’t say, but I like MM for MM.

  41. Ray
    May 28, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Just to second Andrew S, Doug’s #30 is spot-on brilliance, imo.

  42. May 28, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    What ev. I was totally offended when Doug said “you conservative types.” :)

  43. Ray
    May 28, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Oh, and just to highlight the absurd:

    My post about respecting the rules of common decency appeared on Monday. It had seven comments. There have been multiple times that many comments in the last 48 hours on two different threads that were in direct opposition to the spirit and message of that post.

    Having said that, I really love Mormon Matters (except for the tone of the last half of the comments of the two posts I just mentioned). :) I’ve cut WAY back or disappeared almost completely from quite a few other blogs in the last two weeks, but I still try to read and comment here daily.

  44. Hawkgrrrl
    May 28, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    I too prefer MM to the others. BCC has very high quality writing, IMO, but it’s just not my posse. T&S, meh. Mormon Mentality is one I like, but the writing is not solidly stuff I’m interested in. FMH is sometimes stuff I like, but not always, and I’m not a housewife. Whether a militant feminist or no, I leave to others to decide ;). Basically, I’ve just always liked Mormon Matters for the quality of discussion, that it’s welcoming and not cliquish, and the commenters.

  45. Kari
    May 29, 2009 at 12:21 am

    As one who has read, if not commented, since John Dehlin turned this into a group blog, it is my impression (which says more about me probably than it does about the blog) that the permabloggers here have moved from a middle-way in Mormonism to one that is more orthodox and less tolerant of heterodoxy.

    John stated that he was “Seeking balance from all sides of the faith spectrum (Fundamentalist, Orthodox, Moderate, Liberal, RLDS and Ex). I’m looking for at least 2 permabloggers in each of these categories.” I think that the permabloggers here all fall into either the orthodox or moderate classes, and I think that is regrettable. MM isn’t Millenial Star or LDS Alive in Christ, but it is much closer to them than it is to the original Mormon Stories or the posts that were here in the first 3-6 months of the blog. I miss John Hamer, Clay Whipkey, and Stephen Wellington. Not that I have anything against Mormon Heretic, Hwkgrrl, or Jeff Spector (who’s been her from the start), but MM just feels a lot different now than it did a year ago.

    Like I said, probably reflects more about me and where I’m at with the church, but you asked for our opinions, and we are an opinionated lot. Thanks for listening.

  46. gregeth
    May 29, 2009 at 1:13 am

    “Did you ever review the RS/PH lessons that Hawkgrrrl and I blogged about? While it is not the scriptures, it is pretty close. I never felt like anybody paid any attention to them.”

    Mormon Heretic

    ——————-

    I loved those! I actually enjoyed reading those lessons and would gladly take it anyday over some guy staring into a manual in Elder’s quorum mumbling the lesson while entire rows of people are sleeping or playing games on their cell phones and/or texting (myself included I’ll admit). For some reason the Church always has wonderful sunday school classes in wards I’ve been in, but priesthood tends to be a nightmare.

  47. James
    May 29, 2009 at 2:43 am

    “John Dehlin started this as an offshoot of his mormonstories website where he explored some of the more controversial subject matter of Mormon history with guest interviews called from both sides of the spectrum. John’s mission seemed clear to me back at the beginning. Provide a safe place for open discussion of Mormon history and thought, while maintaining that the world was still a better place with the church then without it.”

    Doug I agree with you!! MM has gone from a neutral position not afraid to look at everything for what it is to open honest and candid to more on the whole a very conservative extension of Sunday School. Which isn’t a bad thing if thats what interests you. I think thats why you have had in many cases fierce resistance to your comments and fighting the battles against an army on your own.

    I use to think of MM as kind of a Sunstone and Dialogue but interactive with bloggers. But now its more like the very slightly edgy version of LDS.org

    I really miss the interviews!!!!

  48. Foshaben
    May 29, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Since it was my post that sparked this blog, I guess I might as well put in my two cents. I am glad that you wrote this, as self-analysis from time to time is good to see where you’ve been and where you are going. For a while I simply read the blogs and kept quiet. However, I felt like too many had an overly critical tone with which they were written. My wife read through many of them after I mentioned something to her about it, and she felt the same way. This was our observation. I didn’t mean to cause problems, but I did feel it necessary to speak up. After which I felt attacked and ganged up on by many who obviously felt differently. There were a few who did seem to disagree while not being disagreeable, however that felt like a small minority of posters who were that way. Realizing that I didn’t quite belong here, I’ve unsubscribed from Mormom Matters on my Google Reader, and only stopped by this morning out of curiosity of how the comments from the other post turned out. I hope I didn’t seem “rude” or “offensive” or like a “heckler, as described above. I certainly didn’t mean it that way if that was the way it was received. Wish you all well as you try to define your group here…

    My suggestion? Base yourself in the scriptures and the words of the prophets. Seek truth, not rumor or contraversy. Write with the Spirit, and be kind to all of those who may feel differently.

  49. May 29, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Foshaben, I urge you to follow your own advice–”be kind to all of those who may feel differently.” Of course, you aren’t the only one who feels attacked. As I said before, “Those of us who try to stay in the middle, usually get attacked from both sides for not being either conservative, or liberal enough.” You are welcome here. I urge you to reconsider your decision, examine your communication skills, and “be kind to all of those who may feel differently.” By doing so, I think you’ll find this a great place to be, will feel less attacked, and you’ll learn with the rest of us. (I think you’ll also notice that posts aren’t as critical as they were last week in general.)

  50. May 29, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Kari, I miss those people you mentioned too, especially John Hamer. (I guess Firetag or Margie will have to substitute for our resident CoC experts.) I don’t know why they don’t post any more, but I don’t think they were “run off” by more conservative bloggers as Doug G seemed to suggest.

  51. May 29, 2009 at 8:32 am

    It does strike me as ironic that comments 45-48 came from people claiming that MM is too conservative AND too liberal. Is that the proper balance? Perhaps.

    I do know that it is difficult for the admins to find people in all of the categories who are WILLING to write. Do any of you have suggestions for people who are willing to write, who fit into the categories Fundamentalist, Orthodox, Moderate, Liberal, RLDS and Ex? I know we had non-member David Stout write, but he hasn’t been very active lately. Blogging can take up a considerable amount of time. Right now I have the time, but I suspect my life will get busier, and make it harder for me to write in the future. I suspect many of the people who wrote in the past just got too busy to write. I know John Hamer left this blog to write in another, and he just couldn’t do justice to both blogs simultaneously.

  52. May 29, 2009 at 8:44 am

    I think that generally a good gauge of a “moderate” Mormon is one who offends everybody, like MH said. I agree with some previous commenters that there are indeed a lot of moderate members here. I sometimes wonder if those on either end get frustrated and leave, like Foshaben (more conservative end) and others (more unorthodox end) touched at above. Maybe we have too strong of a pull to the middle? I am not sure how to avoid that, but I am glad there is a bit more diversity in the comments.

  53. Ray
    May 29, 2009 at 8:46 am

    I think it’s interesting that those of us who feel like we are in the middle (or all over the place on various issues) feel this site is nicely different than many others because it’s neither “liberal” nor “conservative”, while those who feel like they are on the more solidly heterodox side have seen the inclusion of some more orthodox posts and slightly more orthodox permas like myself (and I think it really has been only a slight shift overall) as a negative thing.

    The one thing that I agree with totally is that many of those who have stopped commenting regularly are the respectful ex-Mormons. I agree with Kari that I’d love to have Clay (and Stephen, although he’s not an “ex-Mormon”) back on a daily basis, for example, but they are incredibly busy. Personally, I miss Just for Quix – a very knowledgeable and civil ex-member who stopped commenting largely to focus on non-internet, interfaith outreach. I also think the fact that we no longer leave really rabid and hyperbolic crap unchallenged (and actually delete a comment or two when they are especially egregious) gives a false feeling to some of a radical shift that simply hasn’t occurred. We’ve tried to add more diverse authors and posts, including Rev. Stout’s series on LDS Worship, and we would love more of that.

    When you look at Kari’s list of commenter categories (#45), I think we still have a good mix – it’s just that we need more authors in the last two categories to replace those we’ve lost. If anyone wants to write something on a trial basis as a “Guest” author (that could lead to an invitation to be a perma), especially someone who is an ex-member or is affiliated with another Mormon community, send an e-mail with a possible post to:

    mormonmatters at yahoo dot com

  54. Doug G.
    May 29, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Thank You MH, Kari, Ray, James, Andrew S, JMB275, Dexter, (and not to be forgotten AdamF. :) ) for your help in wanting to keep MM on track with its original mission goals.

    Even though the blog has turned more conservative, the folks in charge are still very tolerant compared to many pro LDS sites. There are some days that I feel like I’m holding up the non-believer side of the spectrum alone, but that really isn’t true. Even among the fairly conservative types I’ve seen heretical views expressed at times, which is refreshing. I believe we still have a good mix of folks from TBM’s to Atheists. I just hope we can continue with respectful yet diverse dialog.

    I still feel like many of the ex /disaffected type members have left here because of the shift away from neutral ground. John Hamer did a great job, the fact that he left to write on another site should make us ask ourselves why this blog no-longer worked for him. Some of the others may have learned to not just leave the church, but actually leave it alone. (That is the classic line thrown at us from time to time.)

    “FMH is sometimes stuff I like, but not always, and I’m not a housewife.”

    Hawkgrrrl, you could have knocked me over with a feather! Perhaps we do need you perma-bloggers to give us a paragraph or two on who you are. :)

  55. Jeff Spector
    May 29, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Folks on the blog have come and go for a large variety of reasons. Many because they decide to no longer invest the time in to it. (Ray, notwithstanding, of course :)). Some have a very specific agenda and get tired of fighting for it. And others probably just get bored. Only one permmablogger as been kicked off of MM. Most of elected to move on.

    I think this is a very tolerant blog, for the most part, and we hope to keep it that way.

  56. Hawkgrrrl
    May 29, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    “Hawkgrrrl, you could have knocked me over with a feather! Perhaps we do need you perma-bloggers to give us a paragraph or two on who you are.” Not clear which was the surprise – that I’m not a big FMHer or that I’m not a housewife . . . I believe we mostly do have short bios associated with our author names. Mine’s in there. Not everyone does.

    Why did we lose John Hamer & others? I think for a few reasons. First of all, John Hamer’s loss was a blow, but BCC had a much greater readership than we did at the time (now we are 3rd – then we were 4th), and there were other scholarly bloggers there who invited him. Some of the others we’ve lost either maintain their own personal blogs and come and go here or just burn out over time. Especially for those who have a transitional faith or are non-believing, eventually they may choose to quit Mormon blogging (to go inactive, as it were). But others have gone to specialty or personal blog sites. The “faithful” bloggers simply remain more interested in talking about it for longer. I think that’s just a natural human phenomenon.

  57. May 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Yes, I think John Hamer left here for BCC, so I think the case could be made that MM was too liberal to him. :) Perhaps the conservatism has actually invited more readers than before, especially in light of Hawkgrrl’s comments in 56. (Perhaps someone can invite John over to clear this up–he did comment on one of my blacks and the priesthood posts a month or two ago.)

    I also want to mention that John is blogging on a new CoC site, Saints Herald.

  58. SteveS
    May 29, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Hawkgrrrl (#56): Good observations. Mormon Matters is my favorite blog by far. Like many of you I miss some of the old posters and commenters (Ray: I too miss Just for Quix!), but I like the fresh voices that drift in and out from time to time, too. Keep up the great work, folks!

    One thing I wonder about: with all this talk about how MM may edge toward orthodox/mainline/faithful Mormon thought on the various issues discussed, I wonder where I stand on the spectrum. I feel perhaps a bit more liberal or “left of center”, but I would be interested to hear how others perceive me.

  59. Jeff Spector
    May 29, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    “Yes, I think John Hamer left here for BCC, so I think the case could be made that MM was too liberal to him.”

    I think that John left over a particular post from one of our permas who is no longer here.

  60. Jeff Spector
    May 29, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    And it was our loss and BCC’s gain, I might add

  61. Doug G.
    May 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Hawkgrrrl,

    It was the “not being a housewife” thing that threw me. Of course that statement could mean a lot of things, but I always perceived you as a fairly normal LDS mom with a little too much time on your hands. :)

    Your posts have good amount of perspective, so I assumed you’d been through the fire once or twice…

    I couldn’t find your short bio on the author’s page. I see a big blank white area with your picture, but no writing. Is it just my computer????

    Of course your perception of why some of the folks no-longer participate here could be right on the money and I’m sure getting busy with life and moving on from blogging may even be seen as a healthy thing. I just miss some of the support from the old guys…

  62. Hawkgrrrl
    May 29, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    MoHer – “Yes, I think John Hamer left here for BCC, so I think the case could be made that MM was too liberal to him.” Love it! Very funny.

    As to what attracts people here, I don’t think it’s a matter of belief or non-belief. I was fascinated by how many of our commenters and posters were NF or NT on the Kiersey Temperament sorter. Maybe we attract people who are Mormon (or have been) who simply don’t fit the Mormon mold. I’d like to think so. If that’s the case, we are providing a counter-cultural haven for people at all ends of the belief spectrum. Perhaps that’s another reason why JfQ didn’t stick around (definitely an SJ type, although I do dearly miss his input). And perhaps that’s why the tone remains *ahem* generally respectful *cough, cough*. Because we identify with being the disenfranchised other, and we LIKE those types of people. Not that we need to poke a stick in the eye of the rest, either. The point is that we want to broaden the tent of Mormonism, not be cliquish and exclusive. MM is not clubby, at least I haven’t perceived it to be so in the last year I’ve been around.

  63. Ray
    May 29, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Hawk as a Molly Mormon housewife . . . I can’t get my mind around that, but I think I’ll play it in my head when I need to chuckle.

    Doug, Hawk is a corporate executive, if I recall correctly. She wears the pants; if there’s a traditional skirt being worn around here, it’s probably hanging in my “now play nice, people” closet. (I know; that’s an image nobody needs. My kids would be screaming, “My eyes! My eyes! They’re burning!!”) :)

  64. Hawkgrrrl
    May 29, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Ray – too funny! Yes, that’s correct. And I am a married mother of three.

    Doug – As to having too much time on my hands, not exactly! I do travel a lot on business, and what I blog doesn’t require that much thought or effort – this is just me being me, off the cuff. That’s why I am not always checking in on every conversation, just what most interests me. I pre-write my posts, and just check in on the conversation when I get a min here or there.

  65. brjones
    May 29, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Wow, Doug G., I’m really hurt. Maybe I’m not angry enough.

  66. Doug G.
    May 29, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Hawkgrrrl, I am truly impressed. I hope you know that my comment about you having too much time on your hands was delivered somewhat tongue in cheek. My spouse is a “housewife” and I certainly know that she doesn’t have too much free time on her hands either.

    I used to travel extensively for my job as well. (Up until someone accidently shipped some nuclear weapon fuzing devices to Taiwan which ended my traveling and my executive position.) Sitting around hotel rooms in the late evening provided good opportunities for blogging, at least for me. Thanks for taking time to be part of all this…

  67. Doug G.
    May 29, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Brjones, what did I do brother?

    If you’re referring to my list of posters in #54, I was thanking those that commented about my post (#30). I wouldn’t want to leave you off the list those that I think bring a good perspective to this board, you and I think a lot alike… So you must be ok! :)

  68. Rigel Hawthorne
    May 29, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    As time goes by, which is one of my favorite movie tunes by the way, some of the posts seem to repeat themes OR get threadjacked into repeat themes. While some may feel passionately enough to re-engage time and time again, I find myself becoming a lurker when things have already been said. More time on my hands could also turn me into a more steady blogger.

    I REALLY do miss those posts by John Hamer with those incredible pictures. Learning about the end of John Bennett with a picture of his tombstone. Learning and seeing pictures about the FLDS compound BEFORE it became national news. Even the pictures of Orem with stores like “Kneeshorts” was a fascinating commentary on Mormon culture to me, as one who has never spent time in the center of it all. Learning at the first black apostle in the restorationist churches was another fascinating look into the divergence of two branches of restorationist churches.

    BCC had a great thread that liveblogged the controversial Big Love episode, which was great for people like me who don’t have tv or don’t want to watch it. For a time, I was switching over, but I don’t follow the layout of their blog as simply and it seems there are more inside jokes that I don’t follow.

    I would like a post that explained more about the development of “Nauvoo University” and why it changed from JS Academy. Truman Madsen, who just passed away, is a fascinating figure and there must be something to post about his works. The recent cover story of Church News about the USS Comfort and the churches “contributions” seemed like a story that hijacked a mission that was sponsored by the US Navy and almost made it into a Mormon helping hands mission. Our visiting GA at stake conference just told us that we will be having a two year break from “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church” for RS/PH lessons and will be studying from a new and improved “Gospel Principles” book. (Which should be utterly stimulating!) Anyone else hear anything like that?

    I appreciate all you regular posters and the work you do to give me something to read. I would say that postings on the Sermon on the Mount, Dark night of the Soul, and the RS virtual lesson on becoming kings and priests have definitely let to more study of the gospel. Others too, but those have stood out.

  69. brjones
    May 29, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    I was just joking, Doug. I would just never want to be left off a list of fellow heretics.

  70. May 29, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Rigel, those are interesting suggestions for posts. I don’t know much about the topics you listed. The funny thing is, my brother called me up with a request for a post topic–why do we pass the sacrament to the bishop first–and I actually knew the answer to that question. He still wants me to blog about it, and perhaps I will, but I already have a backlog of requested posts.

    Perhaps I should revisit the RS/PH posts. I originally started posting on them because my wife teaches RS and kept asking me for ideas. I’ve been skipping PH because it is soooo boring (and my job as membership clerk keeps me plenty busy if I want it to). I thought posting on the lessons here might be a good way to repent, but it seemed to me I was boring everyone here too, just like in my ward. Perhaps I was wrong (but I must say those manuals are really tough to teach out of–they are inherently boring.)

  71. Bruce Johns
    May 29, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    What’s really interesting is that the “gap” between conservative Mormons and fundamentalist Mormons is not nearly as wide as the gap between conservative Mormons and liberal/progressive Mormons.
    Of course no one will admit that and it’s almost comical.

    I’ve got a rough draft of a book addressing this and the research is absolutely fascinating….more to come.

  72. May 30, 2009 at 7:18 am

    I like this blog for a few reasons. First, I do think the articles I have been interested in have been on average balanced. Those that have not been balanced at least mention that they recognize the imbalance. There is not so much the notion of “this is the way I see it and anyone who disagrees are idiots,” that frankly I get from BCC and half the T&S articles. When the writers are upfront about motives and biases then it becomes easier to discuss the topics without feeling so defensive.

    I have never been personally attacked in my comments. For a large and “liberal” place such as this that experience is rare for me. The disagreements with my posts have been respectful and filled with insight; rather than dismissive. It is true that I don’t comment here very much, but that is because a surprising number of articles speak for themselves. There isn’t a lot of reason to post just to say “that was enjoyable.” That is, ultimately, why the controversial topics get so many comments; they are controversial.

    The articles have improved over time here I think and become more balanced. Admittedly I do wish more topics would be of interest because when they are interesting they are good. To list what kind of topics those would be is hard to say. I do agree with Jared about inclusion of Scripture, Apostles, etc. However, unlike him I simply find that par of the Bloggernacle course. I can’t think of a lot of reasons to bring that stuff in because I actually agree that is more Sunday School than discussion material. There is a fault there, but I really can’t think of a way to rectify the problem.

    One final criticism is that I think there should be at least one more “faithful conservative” (and no I’m not gunning for the role) commenter added. Perhaps it should be someone who is Jared-like who does wirte more Sunday School type articles. That may not sound very interesting, but it is Mormonism. Perhaps by including someone who focuses more on the Sunday School aspect of Mormonism we might be able to see why there is a problem with that and how we might be able to overcome the limitations. Actually, that sounds like a good subject to discuss as a blog entry, “The disconnect between Sunday School and the Bloggernacle and how to bridge the gap.” Anyone like to tackle that topic?

  73. May 30, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Bruce Johns,
    I admit it and that is why I feel we should stick up for them more. The reason we don’t is understandable as they do cross legal, moral, and ethical boundaries that the liberal factions do not. Perhaps you missed that part. Theologically and politically they are much closer to conservative Mormonism. Legally and socially they are worlds apart.

  74. MH
    May 30, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I must agree with Jettboy here.

  75. June 5, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Hi guys!

    I appreciate all of the fond recollections of some of my past posts here.

    My move from MM to BCC has resulted in a lot of speculation on this thread. I would argue against using my move as a datapoint for changing MM in any way. Mine was a unique circumstance and should not reflect on the quality of both the content and the permas at MM.

    Hawkgrrrl’s explanation most closely reflects my thinking on the move at the time. Essentially, I was exposed to the bloggernacle around the same time my friend John Dehlin asked me if I wanted to be a perma on a blog he was about to start (MM). Although I hadn’t really participated in the bloggernacle as a blogger or read (I had only done podcasts here), I did happen to know many other major fixtures on other big blogs in real life. Essentially immediately after my first post here, friends on three of the other major blogs invited me to switch over. I didn’t move immediately because I’d committed to help start MM and I wanted to see its successful launch through to a more stable phase. Ultimately I switched to BCC because: (1) I knew so many of the folks there (I’ve met over a dozen of them in real life), (2) BCC had the largest bloggernacle audience already, and (3) there was less responsibility for me there. Since all of those reasons related to my own self-interest, they shouldn’t reflect at all on MM.

    Although Jeff S. correctly remembers that I had a back-end scuffle with one of the other former permas at MM and that corresponded with the moment I switched over to BCC, this was actually just a coincidence of timing. I’m very fine with arguing and debating, and although I can let loose my anger, I rarely take much personal offense. I’m not harboring any ill will over that affair. Obviously the permas on BCC each have a host of vantages that I don’t share and don’t agree with.

    Anyway, I think you guys are continuing to do an excellent job and I hope you’ll keep up the great work. I’m sorry that my check-ins have been sporadic; I’ve actually been distracted from blogging altogether because I’ve been concentrating so much on organizing Mormon studies conferences and publishing Mormon history books.

  76. June 5, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    John, thank you so much for stopping by. I had really been hoping you would see this, and I want to thank you for all your insightful comments and posts. I had a friend show me a book you wrote about schismatic groups, and I look forward to reading it!

    In an attempt to provide a little balance, I am planning a CoC post for about a week or two from now, and I hope you can stop by and correct any of my misinterpretations. I have recently made the acquaintance if FireTag (via blogging) and want to post some of the stuff I’ve learned about the CoC. It sounds like there are some big changes going on there.

    Also, do you have any details on these upcoming conferences? I’m not sure I can attend, but would love to know about them.

  77. June 5, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    We just finished a bunch of conferences. I was on the program committee for MHA in Springfield last month and hosted the 2nd annual Restoration Studies/Sunstone Midwest symposium the month before that. I will be at Sunstone in SLC this August, as will my sister Chanson.

    Our John Whitmer Historical Association conference will be held this Sept. 24-27 in Independence, Missouri. The topic is “Race, Gender, Ethnicity, and the Restoration.” Among other things it marks the 25th anniversary of ending priesthood discrimination on the basis of gender in the Community of Christ. We’re going to have a panel that will include female members of the First Presidency, the Council of Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding High Council. Apostle Bunde Chibwe, the first African apostle will also have a presentation on Africa and the Restoration. Darius Gray and Margaret Young will be there. Lots of other great presenters including Newell Bringhurst, Nick Literski, Christopher Blythe, Brian Hales, Connell O’Donovan, Bill Russell, Shields, and many more. I think this is going to be an important conference that people won’t want to miss.

  78. June 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    In terms of having posting on the Community of Christ or other non-LDS Mormons, I think you have my e-mail. You can write me at jhamer(at)johnwhitmerbooks.com, if you want to give me a heads up. Thanks!

  79. June 5, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Thanks John. That Sept conference sounds fantastic. I’m not in a position to attend, but I sure wish I could go. You have a fabulous set of speakers there. Thanks for your email–I’ll definitely let you know when I run that post. (I might even give you a rough draft so you can correct any errors before hand if you don’t mind.)

  80. MrQandA
    October 14, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Please keep the Faithful post coming, and I will try to comment on them more often to keep the juices flowing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *