Unfortunately, a confluence of factors — vacation, increased tasks at work trying to make up for said vacation, shuttling daughters to and from various summer activities — has kept me out of the Mormon Matters community over the past few weeks. This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened to me. In every long-distance friendship, I’m the one who forgets to make the phone call, who doesn’t return the e-mail, and who eventually drops out of communication altogether, leaving the other party to the friendship wondering, “I wonder what happened to that dude.” Long story, short: don’t take it personally, friends. It’s me, not you 🙂
Predictably, in my absence (which has been both busy and enjoyable), I have found myself missing our on-line conversation. Not so predictably, however. this feeling has led me to think quite a bit about (1) what keeps me coming back to MM and, more generally, to the Bloggernacle, and (2) what have I gained as a result of my participation. The first question is easy to answer — it’s the intellectual, emotional and, yes, spiritual stimulation I receive from the discussion. The second question, however, stuck in craw my quite some time. But, after much consideration, it boils to a simple, one-word answer . . .
That’s right — I said that blogging, especially Mormon blogging, has taught me tolerance. I know that, given the heated exchanges seen here from time to time (can you say “same sex marriage”), that idea may sound funny, but let me explain myself.
I was born into the Church, my family was all active, and growing up in Las Vegas, there were plenty of other Mormon kids in my schools. One negative by-product of this otherwise great upbringing is that my exposure to ways of life and thinking other than my own was limited. Sure, like everyone else, I had friends who were not LDS and who engaged all manner of teenage debauchery. But, while many of them were lapsed something-or-other, none of them espoused any sort of cognizable faith or spiritualism. I was an undergraduate at BYU and well, let’s just say that it’s not necessarily the best place for gaining an appreciation of differing points of view. I went to law school in Ohio, but I had my head crammed so far up my torts book that I had no time for spiritual maturation.
So I think its truthful to say that it wasn’t until a few years ago, when I first discovered the Bloggernacle, that I began to explore what others mean when they say “I am a Mormon” or “I am a [fill in the blank].” I have to say it was an eye-opening experience. For the noob, the web is chock full of troubling facts about the Church, ranging from Adam-God Theology to Zelph. I’d be lying if I said these bits of information didn’t send my head reeling more than once. For many folks, this is a deal-breaker of an experience; I’ve had friends lose their faith based on what they have learned through blogs, and you probably do to (heck, maybe it happened to you).
Funny enough, I have found my involvement in the Bloggernacle to be an overall faith-promoting, rather than a faith-killing, proposition. Over the years, I have heard from jack Mormons, conservative Mormons, liberal Mormons, Iron Rod Mormons, Liahona Mormons, New Order Mormons, Buddhist-Mormons, social Mormons, cultural Mormons, gay Mormons, anti-Mormons, Sunstone Mormons, Ex-Mos, and TBMs. And while I have not always agreed with their points of view, I feel blessed to have been able to get to know them through their words and to learn from their experiences. Looking at my spiritual life now, I like to think that I am more open to differing points of view that I have been, and that I see Mormonism in particular as a much bigger tent than I ever did in the past. In other words, I feel more Christian in my attitudes towards my fellow man. I credit this new perspective chiefly to the Bloggernacle, and especially to MM. Thanks to you all for your (albeit unwitting) role in this transformation. I’m looking forward to jumping back into the waters with both feet.
To that end, here’s my Friday question for you all: what is the most important thing/lesson you have learned from your participation either here at MM, or in the larger world of the Bloggernacle? On the whole, has it been a positive or a negative experience for your spirituality? How has your involvement altered, if it has, your view of Mormonism and other Mormons.