The Apology

I’ve felt badly ever since I responded to DMI’s post by writing this and this.

Two of the secrets I have learned in life are: 1) never take yourself too seriously, and 2) never consider yourself as “too important” or as “irreplaceable.” I think I violated both these rules over the weekend, and I regret it. Dave (and all the rest of the ‘nacleites who suffered during my drive-by posting)–I’m really sorry for over-reacting. I know you’re all swell chaps. Please forgive.

The Clarification

The conversation has caused me to really ponder what Mormon Stories is all about (without violating the secrets I mentioned above, of course). One of the realizations I came up with is that 2 of my goals (open and respectful) are in some ways directly in conflict. How can I claim to fully support open dialogue, and still ensure that respectful conversation takes place? Open and respectful are often mutually exclusive (in practice). If I remove posts or block posters, I can’t claim to be truly open. If don’t block the posters that I feel are disrespectful, then how can I claim to be about respect? So clearly, I have to figure out a new tagline. For those of you who have sounded the BS meter for my inconsistencies….I acknowledge your arguments. Guilty as charged.

So… the spirit of clarifying what I aspire to be about on Mormon Stories….let me try to list 3 things.

  • My motives. I, in no way, am trying to be a “trojan hourse” to lead those happy w/ their LDS faith out into the “borderlands.” I fully support (and even admire) those who either don’t struggle w/ LDS history and culture, or who think they have it all figured out. I do NOT think the world or the church would be a better place if all Mormons were like me–nor do I aspire for this to be the case. Perhaps this is one of the things I struggle most with–how can I “control” who comes to my site, or listens to my podcasts? A year or two ago a teenage friend of the family read Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven”, and began searching for more answers on the Internet, eventually stumbling onto my podcasts this year. Between Krakauer, all the anti-Mormon stuff on the web, and my podcasts–apparently he is revisiting his decision/desire to go on a mission. This, of course, makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t feel responsible for starting him down this road, but I clearly have become part of his journey…for better or for worse (though he claims for better). Of course, my advice to him is to go on his mission….but it has been a tad bit painful for my family in the process. Anyway–what I’m saying is…I have ZERO desire to “lure” people into the work I do, and I fully respect (and even envy) people who are not where I am within Mormonism. If I had to summarize why I do this, it is to: 1) record my own exploration into Mormon issues, and 2) to provide a place for others like me to find solace, and company in the journey–to know that they’re not alone, and to also know that there are role models for people who arrive where I’m at (Bennion, Lyon, England, Poll, etc.)…who decide that staying in the church is still possible/preferable. That’s what I’m trying to do in a nutshell.
  • Open?. In the spirit of openness, I have let pretty much everyone (other than spammers) comment on my posts–including rabid anti’s and flaming apologists. I can see that this has not been a good thing (overall). From now on, I will work hard to not entertain zealots from either side of the idealogical spectrum–if they are not willing to be respectful/sensitive to other people’s views. Those who are on a journey to understand things better, or to support people in their journies in a loving way are welcome. Those who want to preach and criticize and trample on the views of others….I’ll try to weed out.
  • Building a Bridge Between the Disaffected and the Faithful. One thing that I will never change is the feeling of mission I have to reach out to the disaffected within Mormonism. I love these people dearly, count myself among them (though I remain fully active), and feel that Christ himself would support direct outreach/support to them. I am not a big fan of excommuniating or ostracizing those who struggle–and believe that it is our duty (the active) to reach out to those who have fallen away, or who are struggling. This is something that will never change in my blog/podcast (as long as it lives, anyway).

A Possible Solution to the “Bloggernacle” Problem: Currently is working hard to figure out its place within the LDS internet. They want to have a specific identity/purpose, and feel the need to manage it. This is all goodness, from my perspective. Faithful LDS members need some type of label or logo or ratings system that allows them to know where they can safely trod without having their faith challenged in ways they are not prepared to handle. Just like the MPAA ratings system, I believe that this will be hard, but totally worthwhile.

It does remind me of a speech that I heard from Jan Shipps once, where she discussed the desires of the church to control who gets to call themselves LDS, and who doesn’t. Her prediction (as I remember it) was that the church will be able to control who can call themselves “LDS”, but the term “Mormon” is much more broad, and encompasses culture, ethnicity, and heritage in a way that will never be fully controllable by the church.

This got me thinking. A long time ago, before I even started my blog/podcast, I grabbed the URL ““. I’ve done virtually nothing with it, but I wonder how the “powers that be” in the bloggernacle, along with the rest of you, would feel about a broader distinction/community within the Mormon blog world. “” is looking to define itself as the approved, correlated (I say that loosely…sort of tongue in cheek, and with must respect/affection) directory for LDS-themed blogs, and perhaps “” could be more of an umbrella, for anyone who chooses to associate with Mormonism, from all sides of the spectrum. I don’t offer this as “competition”, but instead as a way to clarify, and provide more “consumer information.”

Whaddya think? Anyone interested in creating a more broad community/directory, to help keep these very important distinctions clear?


  1. john f. July 25, 2006 at 1:19 pm

    That is a really interesting idea. Sort of apply Jan Shipps’s analysis of “Mormon” vs. “LDS” to this situation as well. But are you suggesting the creation of a third aggregator? We already have the MA and LDSelect. And are you suggesting that the mormonblogs aggregator would syndicate all the blogs on ldsblogs but in addition would add all the DAMU blogs to the mix?

  2. John Dehlin July 25, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    I’m not as much interested in the DAMU…so to speak. But perhaps can encompass a bigger spectrum of Mormon blogs, allowing LDSblogs to be more selective.

    Just a thought. No idea how it would all shake out. I’ve mentioned the idea to DKL…he’s really happy w/ ldselect….so it probably would be a 3rd aggregator…but maybe we could team up in a way that edifies/protects all.

  3. rtswen July 25, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    I’d give it a couple of weeks, let things blow over, and then evaluate. I suspect you will find this is a solution in search of a problem.

  4. Matt Elggren July 25, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    I think as long as you see an aggregator as just a window on a community that there’s no problem with having many such aggregators. And it’s not like these things are making money so it’s really just mindshare. A broader aggregator/window would take some pressure off MA and LDSelect and open a community to a broader mindshare…for those who are interested in such.

    The only problem I see is that some MA and LDSelect subscribers may not want to be exposed to readers and commentors from this broader community. The simple solution for such blogs is to not subscribe to the broader aggregator.

    It sounds like a great idea to me, John. I’m looking forward to a vibrant community of interactive and interconnected blogs ranging from TBM, through the various Mormon sects, to the disaffected and even non-mormon observers; one which promotes repect for the view-points and experiences of others, and at the same time does not flinch from the challenges to self that arise from those differences…

    I think that this broader community is not only possible but in the best interest of truth.

  5. Geoff J July 25, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    Dang! That was you who stole That was my first choice but it was taken so I settled for

  6. C. L. Hanson July 25, 2006 at 8:53 pm

    I agree that the term “Mormon” encompasses culture, ethnicity, and heritage in a way that will never be fully controllable by the LDS church.

    There are a number of “cultural Mormon” non-believers who talk about Mormonism on their blogs, and not all of them fit the “mean, angry, trying-to-deconvert-everyone” stereotype. I hope that this new umbrella aggregator would include such blogs as well.

    Even though there are some obvious camps, the frontier between the the LDS blogs, the NOM blogs, and the exmo blogs is not all that well-defined. In the natural anarchy of blog space, people all over the spectrum are already part of a larger dialog.

    It would make sense for an umbrella aggregator to reflect this.

  7. Guy Murray July 25, 2006 at 10:57 pm


    I appreciated reading your apology here. I don’t frequent your site all that much; but, I confess I respect you as a person much more after reading your apology here. It gives me hope that while we can indeed have some serious disagreements, we can still be civil and treat each other within the context of how Christ would have us so treated.

    Thank you.

  8. Remy July 26, 2006 at 7:10 pm

    On being “open”: I understand your initial desire not to censor even the extreme and disresepctful comments. I stubbornly refused to delete non-spam comments for five years, but after bad experiences with several trolls, threadjackers, and vicious commenters, I decided that these effectively censor the dialogue more effectively than the implementation of a careful moderation policy. They can transform a heated but productive discussion into something ugly and useless. I think that the thoughtful “weeding” you suggest will help with the bridge building by removing opportunities for those who would burn them.

  9. C. L. Hanson July 29, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    I’ve posetd some more discussion in favor of this idea on my blog: Bloggernaclin’ blues

  10. Jeff Day July 31, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    I would be in favor of seeing a mormonblogs site, largely because my own particular flavor apparently doesn’t fit in the agenda very well, and I wonder how many others like me (I am assuming there is at least one other person like me) I’m missing out on because they don’t make the cut. Note: I am a mainstream member of the Church, but my views are strange.

    ~Jeff, a “Mormon Gnostic”

  11. Equality August 1, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    I had the idea when I started my blog to have an aggregator site dedicated to the DAMU/Outer Blogness (I didn’t know the term “Outer Blogness” at the time). So I bought the domain name “” But then I discovered that there really aren’t many disaffected blogs out there, so I thought it just as easy to do a blogroll with all active DAMU blogs (except a few that I found were too strident for my tastes) on my blog. As more disaffected members and exmos come online with blogs, I think I may start using this site. Still, I think it would also be useful to have an aggregator for ALL Mormon-themed blogs–TBM, DAMU, ExMo, etc. Of course, then you’d still have the same controversy over which category certain blogs should be listed under (Purim, this one, Ned Flanders, and so forth). Isn’t there some guy who calls himself the Stake President of the Internet? Maybe he could decide who goes where by revelation.

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