Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Proof that the bloggernacle is evil

Tess, in a comment on Is Church Embarrassing?, asks why I have started going back to church. I'm not really sure that I know the answer to that. It may be that the explanations I tell myself are wishful thinking; the reasons seem to change as I try to figure them out.

I had been attending the Episcopal church with my wife occasionally and I liked the feeling of going to a church, any church. I found the bloggernacle in December, left my first comment in January, and started blogging in March. I don't think it was a coincidence that four weeks later, I attended church for the first time since 1998. Would I have attended church without the bloggernacle? Probably not.

I used to think of the church as a monolith: I imagined scads of members with highly correlated testimonies. It's tempting to fall into the either/or mindset as a Mormon. Either the church is true or it isn't. Either you have a testimony or you don't. You are a faithful member or you aren't. When everything is in black-and-white, it's hard to see where you fit in. This virtual community of bloggers reminded me that there is incredible variety within the church. Some people with views very near my own are active, faithful members. This threw me for a loop; maybe I wasn't as far outside the mainstream as I had imagined.

Back when I was lurking on Times & Seasons, I saw a comment that said, "I pretty much disregard everything that some people, like Boyd K. Packer, say." I was shocked to see my own feelings reflected in a Bloggernacle stalwart, but pleasantly surprised that a believing Mormon could think this. I found the commentator's own blog, a website called Nine Moons (you may have heard of it), and this was the first blog I visited regularly besides T&S. So, in a way, you could say that Rusty's personal apostasy contributed to my partial reactivation.

Being part of the bloggernacle made me want to check out church, just to see what I was missing. So why do I keep going (well, not next week; it's ward conference)? I don't know. I don't take the sacrament, I don't get a lot out of the talks, and I don't actually talk to anyone. I don't think God cares whether I go or not. I guess I go to remind myself that there might be something else out there, something that is very imperfectly reflected in the noisy congregation of saints gathered each week.

Could I get the same feeling at another church? Probably. But I guess I'll stick with this one until they start bothering me at home.

Cross-posted at Nine Moons. Please comment there.