As an outsider and newcomer, I must admit that there are just some things about the Bloggernacle that I cannot even begin to grasp. One of the things that I totally missed out on (but which I am [very] slowly scratching the surface about) is the (dark) period of Bloggernacle history regarding the Banner of Heaven.
I can’t even begin to comprehend it all, but I am fortunate for the glimpse and expose that Scott B is providing for it.
One thing I can’t help but think about is the sheer artistic nature of this undertaking. It is literary, first and foremost…and from the beginning, the project objectives bore innovative literary significance. As was described in the project objectives (hidden away from the general public for so long):
…our number one aim—beyond just having fun—with this project is to explore the potential of blogging as a story-telling form. More specifically, we want to explore blogging as a way of telling Mormon stories, and more specifically than that we want to tell stories that reflect back on the bloggernacle itself.
Of course, in the process, the project needed to be much more. Blogs aren’t static, but interactive. And with that, the Banner of Heaven project became more performative, social, experimental, and experiential.
I cannot even begin to understand the charged feelings and responses to the blog, because I wasn’t “there” for it. Yet, in seeing all the discussion about BoH after the fact, I always see a kind of damage control relating to the subject.
One idea that comes out frequently is that of deception. Was it deception? Was that the intent? Was that an unfortunate consequence? A known, yet calculated risk? What does that say about the participating bloggers (the actors)? I think the latest entry on the subject, which features a podcast interview of one of the participating bloggers, touches a few intriguing points. As one commenter to the thread sums up:
The one telling thing on this podcast is Rosalynde’s unwillingness to act deceptively. She was the only one who with the foresight to recognize how people were going to react to being tricked. They all knew she had misgivings about it, and forged on regardless with their grand enterprise. From this podcast it doesnt sound like her withdrawl resulted in any internal soul-searching or discussion with the rest of them.
People’s perceptions of whats funny sure is different.
I guess that psychological aspect running through it all is the most intriguing. Within this comment, I sense an undertone…a lingering disgust that carries with it a sort of judgment of the participating writers.
Yet, the fascinating part is I bet that many would still assert that there wasn’t any intent to deceive and, even now, the project wasn’t really as bad as some people would like to believe.
I certainly feel, even from a distance, that good, bad, or indifferent, this project made a big splash on the story of Mormonism (and the story of Mormon blogging). In fact, it is precisely because of the good and the bad and the indifferent that this makes such a great Mormon story.
I regret that the limitations of analogies for this project are unfortunately fatal. At best, it can tell us about a community built around a knowing untruth, but how far can that tell either a story about the real bloggernacle or Mormonism itself without making or taking taboo and unpalatable assumptions about either the former or the latter?