Bloggernacle aficionados have been trying to define our little corner of the internet for years now. Everyone has a vague idea of what the term encompasses, and some stand ready to provide a concise definition, but it somehow resists pinning down. In this way, the bloggernacle is quite like Mormon doctrine* itself.
In a serious attempt to provide a working definition of the Bloggernacle, DMIDave wrote:
A Working Definition of “the Bloggernacle”
Blog•ger•nac•le \’blä-gur-na-kul\ noun [shortened from Bloggernacle Choir] (2004) 1:The set of all personal weblogs that host discussions of Mormon-related topics from a relatively faithful perspective.
In this definition Dave excluded, among others, blogs by institutions which seek to further their institutional mission or agenda, and blogs that do not have a “relatively faithful perspective.” This definition, while helpful, leaves plenty of room for argument among Mormon bloggers.
In the past year, we have seen the arrival of many Mormon “Mommy bloggers” on the internet. Some of these blogs are limited to chatty accounts of daily activities and pictures of sunny, smiling children. They are considered outside the pale of the Bloggernacle because they deal with personal subjects which do not apply to all participants. But some of the Mommy blogs include discussion of Mormon topics. And some of the Mommy bloggers have close connections (spouses) to important Bloggernacle personalities. Therefore some people include them as part of their personal Bloggernacle definition, and some do not.
Mormon doctrines which are similar to the Mommy blogs might be teachings such as:
Male Priesthood holders should wear white shirts to Church, and especially when passing the sacrament.
To some this instruction may seem to be simply a practice which is not mandatory or applicable to all situations. But to others, this is a part of their “Bloggernacle.” Both Jeffrey R. Holland and Dallin H. Oaks have equated this to the wearing of white clothing during sacred rites such as baptism or temple ordinances. Since apostolic authorities have taught this practice within the formal purlieu of General Conference, it is included within many members’ body of doctrine.
Other blogs which are often excluded from the Bloggernacle are professional blogs. But there is a great deal of overlap from these blogs, too, making their inclusion in our genre debatable. When Dave’s post was written, he specifically excluded blogs such as Sunstone blog from his personal conception of the Bloggernacle because of its corporate connection. But this calls into question blogs such as Segullah, which is also affiliated with a professional journal, yet is firmly ensconsed within the hearts of many of the Mormon bloggers. Closely related are “commercial” blogs–those which allow advertising on their sites. Should these types of blogs be included in a set of personal weblogs? I think the controversy here lies in how the blogging is implemented. Closely related in terms of Mormon doctrine are issues such as:
How shall tithing, fast offerings, home teaching, temple attendance be executed?
This can greatly differ from ward to ward, individual to individual, but some consider their particular way of doing it the most correct.
There are blogs whose authors do not participate elsewhere in the Bloggernacle. Thus, they are overlooked though their blogs may fit the definition above stated. Conversely, there are blogs which may be included only because their author is a well-known commenter on the big blogs. I will compare this to doctrines which have been taught in the past and have now fallen out of favor, such as:
The planet Kolob is a planet close to the actual location of the residence of God.
or the prohibition against birth control. Or things which are now taught that never were in the past such as not having multiple piercings. These types of things find varying degrees of favor among active Mormons.
There are many doctrinal issues which are nebulous in the LDS Church. They range from the inconsequential, like whether members should use the cross as a religious symbol, to the deeply theological. Does it disturb you that there is great disagreement among members on such issues as the following:
- The possibility of movement between kingdoms in the hereafter
- Whether polygamy is practiced in the celestial kingdom
- Whether sin can be completely forgiven, as it it had never happened, or if it leaves a mark
- God is living in or out of time
- How to reconcile teachings of past prophets and present prophets
- The nature of the Fall
- The nature of the Atonement
- Whether ethnic groups such as Polynesians or Native Americans have Lamanite blood
Observing the degree of disagreement and the intense emotional reactions which occurred during our recent Niblet thread makes me wonder what it might take to set off a similar reaction in the Church concerning doctrine. Early Church apostles actually came to blows over differences in doctrinal views. Exactly how unified are our current set of Church authorities on the above issues? Is it to our benefit or detriment that these doctrines are left undefined and nebulous?
*For the purposes of this post I define “doctrine” as a body of teachings, principles or policies taught or advocated by a religion. Think: the many topics which merit inclusion in Bruce R. McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine.”