Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cast Out?

DMI Dave has defined the Bloggernacle - and Viva Ned Flanders is not in it. He didn't exile us entirely. We're in a new area he's calling "The Borderlands."

This is a really good illustration of what happens to New Order Mormon-types.
  • We realize, for whatever reason, that we no longer believe some or all of the church's exclusive truth claims.
  • We decide that we want to stay affiliated with the church: for family reasons, for the community, because we think it's as good a place to find God and worship as any other, or any combination of the above.
  • We tell people or not, depending on our own circumstances. "Telling" usually involves things like letting the bishop know we can't teach, but that we're willing to serve in other ways. We try to work out a place for ourselves in the tent.
  • We're marginalized. Our honest search for God where we find God isn't faithful enough, and after all, we might damage somebody's fragile testimony (like the third member of the Godhead can't stand some a little heat and light).
I asked Ned to let me co-blog with him because I thought it was a good fit - Ned and I are in different places in our faith journey, but we both seemed to be able to interact with believers that they didn't find threatening. I know that my participation in the bloggernacle has been an enormous benefit to me in helping me to continue participating at church. I think after a long period of wandering, I may have found God again.

Apparently, that's not good enough.

I have an enormous amount of respect for Dave. For a guy whose last name I don't even know, he's been a huge influence on my ability to continue to see the good in the church. After a couple of years in the DAMU, finding DMI was a revelation to me. Here was a guy who talked about church stuff dispassionately. He talked about culture, history, and practice in a neutral tone. I didn't get the feeling that he had an agenda - that he was just interested in the subjects, and that he was writing down what he had learned. What a refreshing change of pace from the apologetics/polemics wastelands! And then the Bloggernacle emerged around DMI (at least, that was my perspective) and when BCC turned up (Democrats!) and Feminist Mormon Housewives hit, I figured maybe I can make this Mormon thing work after
all. Maybe these folks will have something to offer and will treat me like an equal, regardless of whether I buy into onlytrueness.

Apparently not.

I'm not sure where I'll go from here. When VNF moved to an "other islands" category on the Mormon Archipelago I thought maybe something was cooking. Now I suspect that it's just a matter of time before we're quietly dropped. The audience here is pretty small anyway. Losing our listing might just kill it. Maybe that's the point.

I do appreciate the folks who take us seriously and share their perspective without being obnoxious (Seth R. especially. That man can tell a story and share an opinion without setting off my BS meter even one little bit.) And my "New Order Mormon Guide to the Doctrine and Covenants" has been perking along in my brain for over a month now. I had thought that the experience might make a good essay to submit elsewhere, but the way the material was shaping up, the bloggernacle was looking more and more like the right venue.

Except now I'm not in the bloggernacle any more.

I'll try not to let the door hit me on the butt on the way out.


Dallas Robbins said...

Your'e always part of my bloggernacle!

C.L. Hanson said...

I just started reading your blog the other day, and I was thinking "Wait a minute!! Isn't this the same blog that won (or nearly) some bloggernacle awards just recently? What is going on here?"

This post explains a bit...

Well, whether or not the bloggernacle dumps you, you'll be welcome in "Outer Blogness"... :D

Wendy said...

I have you bookmarked, so I'll always check in.

I went to an LDS fellowshipping party, disguised as a "Neighborhood Party" over the weekend. It was interesting and reminded me very much of the Bloggernacle and who is, and isn't kosher. Sociologists would have had a field day studying it. ;-D

P.S. Seth R. is a-ok with me too.

Anonymous said...

Ah ... gee ... shucks guys ...

But I have to warn you. I don't usually come to this blog wearing my "Bruce R. McConkie face." And I do have one lurking about, I assure you.

But at least my feelings about that face are still ambiguous, so perhaps you'll forgive me.

Seth R.

Ronan said...

Dave wouldn't claim to have any kind of mandate to define the "bloggernacle." I think he's just figuring out a way to prevent anti-Mormons and bitter DAMU-sites from claiming the bloggernacle label. There is a desperate need -- if the bloggernacle is going to be of service to regular Joe Schmo Mormons -- that it not stray too far to the borderlands. FWIW, I do not think that you or VNF are doing that.

The Sinister Porpoise said...

I'm still deciding whether or not I like the term Outer Blogness...

I thought this was a blog posted to by one still active member and one inactive and questioning member when I first encountered it.

serenityv said...


You are one of the people I think of as embodying the essence of the bloggernacle. Please, don't lose faith (or interest) in your place among us.

Anonymous said...

You know,

An RSS feed for this blog would help a lot. Checking my Bloglines account is far easier than checking my favorites bar.

Does blogger accomodate RSS?

Seth R.

Ann said...

The RSS feed for VNF (and any blogger blogs, I think) is
(substituting the name of the blog for "vivanedflanders" if it's some other blog. We're not claiming omnipotence.

Thanks all for the kind words. This blog has of late been attracting the DAMU crowd more often than believers, and that is a concern for me. That's what you get, I guess, when your reputation preceeds you.

I already know what the disaffected think. I don't always know what the believers think. That may seem strange, but I so often get a different perspective about what Mormons are thinking when I read the 'nacle, compared to what I hear at church. On the bloggernacle, people say what they are thinking minus the church speak. For the most part.

Dallas, I will personally see to it that your link on our sidebar is properly titled.

C.L., if VNF was in the running for any kind of award, it was all Ned's doing, and way before my time.

Wendy, I'm glad you went to the party.

Seth, Bruce McConkie had at least one seriously fine moment: "Forget everything that I or anybody else has said about the matter. We spoke without the benefit of the light and knowledge that has recently come to us." Or something like that.

Ronan, I knew something was coming as soon as I saw we had been shifted in the MA. I just didn't know what form it would take.

Sinister, that is exactly the case. I'm the active member, but I'm also a New Order Mormon - I don't believe some of the church's faith claims, but I choose to stay anyway. Blogging is part of how I try to work out my place among the Saints.

Serenity, you're just saying that because I adopted you, and now you think I'll send you cash for Christmas. And no, I'm not helping with the move, either.

Stephen said...

When VNF moved to an "other islands" category on the Mormon Archipelago ... don't take it to heart, I got pretty excluded to by the same crowd, getting dropped a couple chains worth through the year.

Yet I consider myself part of things.

Stephen said...

Heck, I checked, you are still one step closer to the core than I am.

So, they've got you one step less cast out than I am by your analysis.

I wouldn't read to much into things just now, and I wish you light on your journey back.


Ann said...

Stephen, I sent you an e-mail to the adrr dot com address a few days ago. Did you get it?

Stephen said...


I don't think so. I usually get my e-mail responded to in 24 hours or so.

Could you resend?

Thanks! srmarsh (if you drop the "r" it goes into a forwarding trashcan/ spam block)

Dave said...

I didn't really intend for the placement of a VNF link on my sidebar to cause any angst. I'll remove it -- I really have very few blog links anymore.

Mike said...

I never thought the shift in MA was because of content, I always assumed it had to deal with size and traffic and connectedness to the original MA group.

However, since I actually use LDSelect more often, I didn't really pay much attention to the moves at MA other than noticing that you were in the same group as we are, and I liked that since we seem to like all of you here at VNF. (we being UoM)

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Ann!!!

I understand being upset about losing your Bloggernacle readers. But I don't see that attracting DAMU readers should be a concern unless you're afraid that they're scaring away your LDS readers. But really, people who won't have a conversation that risks to include exmormons are probably unlikely to be hanging around a NOM blog anyway...

I can see I'm doing a terrible job of making friends here, going over to Dave's blog to agree with him and then inviting you to join the apostates... ;^)

Sorry!!! Really I mean well...

But you're in a unique position to foster real, positive discussion with people all over the Mormon spectrum. Why not embrace it?

Gunner said...

I knew things for the 'naccle were coming to a head when they removed your feed from the naccle site due to Enochville(?) post that one time. The general feel from the comments on a couple of blogs seems to show an anger towards all non-orthodox thought and beliefs. John likely will be removed"for the peace" in the naccle, and then a tight definition will be made to keep others out.

Mike said...

"But you're in a unique position to foster real, positive discussion with people all over the Mormon spectrum. Why not embrace it?"

I think that Ann was embracing it but she feels, and I agree, that in order to effectively be that voice VNF should be a part of the bloggernacle.

If bannished to some sort of outer realm VNF becomes a place where people from all over the spectrum don't show up. If VNF is looked at as just another DAMU blog than all you have there are the DAMU.

I agree with Dallas- you'll always be part of my bloggernacle.

Then again, I think we should re-evaluate how we define bloggernacle once again in terms completely different from Dave's. From henceforth only those blogs that have members who participated in D-Train's bloggernacle bracket showdown in March over at UoM are part of the bloggernacle.

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Mike, you make a very good point.

Again I'm speaking from my own bias as someone who has been trying to foster such a discourse and who would never in a million years be accepted as part of the Bloggernacle. ;-)

I've kind of gotten used to the idea that it's okay if you're not part of the mainstream to participate as an outsider. However, it's very possible that that's not where Ann's at.

Stephen said...

Ann ... got the e-mail and sent you a reply.

You and Ned Flanders want to exchange links?


Ann said...

C.L., I have pretty strong opinions about the viability of believers speaking with non-believers. Mostly, I think there's so little respect in either direction that it's really a waste of time.

Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig. Who the pig is depends on which side you fall on.

I don't consider myself on either "side." My early faith in the church was very naive, and I don't believe that way any more. I'm trying to figure out a new way to believe while staying honest with myself and others, and I'm trying to figure out how to do that within the LDS church. That doesn't mean I'm actively pursuing a new testimony of Ancient Americans as described by Joseph Smith - and some members don't like that. It also doesn't mean I think Joseph was a lying pervert out for a piece of tail and to make a buck - and some ex-mormons don't like that.

I work on different pieces of the problem in different contexts. The bloggernacle is the "how do I stay" context. The DAMU is the "why do I stay" context. My participation here isn't about community building. It's about me :)

Dave, if I thought your link was a discrete event, I might not have thought about it twice. But I have a vision of blogs like mormonstories, VNF, VSM, Purim and others being exiled to small print in a tiny box in the lower right hand corner of the MA aggregator titled "Abandon hope, ye who enter here..." Don't minimize your impact here: you are not a just a guy changing a link.

Enochville said...

I am not sure what to say. If this change saddens you both, it saddens me as well, for I only want the two of you to be successful and to have an audience of the size and type you desire.

I am sorry if my guest post had anything to do with their decision. Because I certainly did not want to cause Ned and Ann any trouble.

C.L. Hanson said...

The bloggernacle stamp of approval certainly affects how others perceive you. But if it's all about you, does that matter?

Do people dismiss and disrespect those they disagree with? Usually, but not always, not completely.

Ann said...

Enochsville, my man, it's all good. No worries, mate. Que sera sera. Insert platitude here.

C.L., I acquire my perception from years of experience interacting on the internet with Mormons, former Mormons of all kinds, and anti-Mormons (real live "Mormons are wrong and going to Hell" types). Without very specific civility rules, disrespect runs rampant. The level of discourse degenerates to the lowest common denominator.

The advantage of having a clearly defined pro-Mormon bloggernacle is that when folks from the DAMU show up, they play nice.

C.L. Hanson said...

I sincerely think that there exists interesting, civil discussion outside of the Bloggernacle as well as in.

However, if you're more comfortable inside the Bloggernacle, there''s nothing wrong with that.

I was hoping to persuade you otherwise, but I'll cut it out now. ;-)

Mike said...

"I sincerely think that there exists interesting, civil discussion outside of the Bloggernacle as well as in."

I do as well, I just think that it's a different discussion. And blogs like VNF kind of fall in between- but I think the bloggernacle needs those blogs that are kind of inbetween.

But, shoot- the bloggernacle isn't defined so you can't really be kicked out.

Beijing said...

"I already know what the disaffected think."

Are you saying my comments are boring, predictable, and unwanted? If so, I'll try not to let the door hit me on my way out of your threads. :)

annegb said...

I have my own list, Ned and you're right where you've always been.

I thought that post was just overly analyzing.

C.L. Hanson said...

I've posted a little more discussion on the Bloggernacle situation -- along with my apologies to Ann -- on my blog here.

Anonymous said...

Let no one else define you. Seek not to be part of a collective. Would you rather be part of the Borg or a Starfleet commander?

Really sad how cliques continue long after high school has ended.