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Proof that the bloggernacle is evil

Guest - July 13, 2005

Submitted by Ned Flanders

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.

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

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 VivaNedFlanders.

**Please note: Rusty has brought it to my attention that he did not make the comment I so vividly remember and attribute to him. Alas, my memories are no more reliable than I am. Please do not impute someone else’s delightfully on-target apostasy to Rusty. He fully sustains all our apostles, especially Elder Packer, even if he were to speak out against beards.**


  1. Hey cool — I was the first one to respond to your first comment over at T&S. I totally forgot about that thread. Who knew you would become such a masterful blogger in so short a time?

    Comment by Geoff J — July 13, 2005 @ 7:02 pm

  2. Wow. I didn’t even realize that was you, Geoff. I appreciated your advice, but being a newbie at the time, I didn’t want to start a thread-jack by responding. Unfortunately, I have no such qualms now.

    Comment by NFlanders — July 13, 2005 @ 7:17 pm

  3. “I pretty much disregard everything that some people, like Boyd K. Packer, say.”

    Other great post Ned. Rusty sure gets away w/ a lot. People get so bent out of shape when I say I’d put money on BKP being a repressed homosexual the way he carries himself, his obsession w/ masturbation, women’s fashion, etc. I get these angry E-mails saying I’m speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed. But under church doctrine being a homosexual isn’t a sin, just the act, not the orientation. Repressed homosexually is a positive under church doctrine.

    Anybody know if Monson and BKP get along? What I’d pay to see a fist fight between two apostles in the temple? I’d put money that that’s happened too.

    Comment by Steve (FSF) — July 13, 2005 @ 11:02 pm

  4. Ned,
    Great post. Thanks for sharing your experience here. I think that’s one of the reasons I like the ‘nacle as well, that there are others out there that think like me. Though I must say, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t me that made that comment about BKP. I don’t remember ever thinking that. Do you have any recollection of which post that was said on? I think I remember reading it though.

    Anyway, regardless, I’m glad you found your way here. I always appreciate your perspective and insight. And I’m also happy you’ve come to realize that we are all not that much different.

    Comment by Rusty — July 14, 2005 @ 1:02 am

  5. Uh oh, Rusty. I hope I didn’t slander you. I really thought it was you. Unfortunately, T&S doesn’t let you search for comments. I will investigate (and sorry for that “personal apostasy” crack).

    Comment by NFlanders — July 14, 2005 @ 9:07 am

  6. Yeah, we don’t want to get anyone thrown out of Church for personal apostacy because of their participation on the bloggernacle! Does anyone think that could happen?

    Anyway, back to the point of the post. It’s interesting you’re coming back to Church, Ned, because of your experience in the bloggernacle. So, if you were somehow able to connect with the normal Mormons out there in the real world (as opposed to the cyber Mormons online), do you think you would be able to acquire (or reacquire) a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel?

    I read your post to imply that you might already know the truth of the gospel, but since the Mormon culture is very much “untrue”, you have decided not to be an active Mormon.

    Also, do you see yourself ever progressing from sitting in the back pew to becoming more engaged in your ward?

    Comment by Tess — July 14, 2005 @ 9:32 am

  7. Ned,
    Great post. I went through a similar time (you can read the extendo version here), but without the help of the ‘nacle. My situation is different from yours because my husband is also a Mormon, but we were bothing questioning the church.

    We were inactive for a number of years (although we never stopped going) and we tried out a few other churches. None of them felt right. Our church didn’t really feel right, either (since I no longer believed it) but it felt like our church.

    We wanted our family to be a church-going family, so we went back to church. At first, we were just totally cultural mormons. And sometimes I still feel like that, but I’m ok with that. Sometimes I can actually let myself believe it.

    Truthfully, the most important thing to me is my Christianity, not my Mormonism. But I’m most comfortable with the Mormon brand of Christianity.

    Also, I was surprised that Mormons were less black/white than I thought them to be. Whenever I would mention my inactivity, there was almost always someone else who had always been inactive, too.

    As far as blogs, sometimes the ‘nacle brings up crap I don’t want to deal with, but overall I think it’s a great place.

    Comment by Laura — July 14, 2005 @ 11:06 am

  8. I meant to say: We were inactive for a number of years (although we never totally stopped going)

    Comment by Laura — July 14, 2005 @ 11:08 am

  9. Tess– I don’t know if meeting “normal” Mormons would help me acquire a testimony of the gospel. It couldn’t hurt. Belief is a very private thing, but social interactions do affect our perceptions. Somehow, seeing reasonable people believe, despite doubts and concerns similar to mine, makes my own belief more plausible.

    The problem, of course, is that I could never interact with people in real life the same way as we do online. Church just isn’t the place where concerns and doubts are aired.

    As for my future activity, I truly don’t know. I am moving soon, and I guess I’ll have to feel out the new ward. I’m not big on social commitments and unfortunately, callings seem to be the main reactivation tool.

    Comment by NFlanders — July 14, 2005 @ 11:36 am

  10. Ned,

    Great post. What is interesting to me is that your very own ward is probably full of people that think those very same things but they won’t say them in gospel doctrine. I know that there are several people in my ward with very interesting viewpoints, but when it comes to participation they almost never say anything that would cause you to think that they are anything other than fully correllated.

    I like to think that I am my same self in meetings and willing to really say what I think, but I am not. We had a lesson a week or two ago on the Word of Wisdom and I didn’t say a word. Well, I did have my hand up at one point, but I didn’t get called on and didn’t want to push the issue.

    The social expectations of church are such that lots of people will say things that make them look the same as everybody else. Probably because they know how uncomfortable any trace of contention is.

    For example, ask Tess what she thought of me six or so months ago.

    Comment by a random John — July 14, 2005 @ 11:45 pm

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