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Interesting post, Dave. I pretty much agree. I would change your definition to state that the bloggernacle hosts discussions of Mormon-related topics from at least a relatively faithful perspective. There is some very excellent extremely faithful content in the 'nacle.

Borderland blogs. I just read the Sunstone Symposium schedule for next month in SLC. Despite some folks that I view as solidly in the 'nacle territory (Edward Kimball, Kevin Barney, Greg Prince, etc.) there is a huge amount (the majority) that I don't think would be. I think the nacle is great, becasue it allows Joe Mormon (Mr. lawn-mowing I-don't-have-a-clue-what-Signature-is) to broaden his horizon without the DAMU folks to scare him away. I want it to stay that way. Very much so. So, in principle, yeah, the DAMU is not welcome in the 'nacle on their terms, only on ours. That may sound rude, but it is the way it is. Those sites that do welcome the DAMU on their terms aren't part of our community.

Very nice articulation. I've been blogging for a fair bit, but I get confused by the 'Nacle myself sometimes, so I appreciate this handy reference. (And thanks to Kaimi for the pointer here.)

I agree with your take, J. I was really thinking of where to draw the line; everything right of the line is clearly in the 'nacle.

Hi Dave,

I enjoy the blog.

I'm curious: In your estimation, how many posts out of every ten have to be on Mormon-related topics to be part of the Bloggernacle?

Very cool. Since I post about LDS stuff from time to time, or about my mental illnesses from my perspective, including spiritual perspectives of an LDS person, and other things about my life that include mormon stuff and reference to BOM scriptures, the Ensign, and the like, well then I probably fit. You think?

My blog is about my life, with extra emphasis on mental illness issues, both medical, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, financial, societal, social, political, etc., but my life, and my FAITH is a large part of that. I mean faith as in the church, but my faith as in my FAITH in the Lord. Sometimes I wonder if people think I'm cheesy for spouting off spiritually sometimes, but hey, it's all part of me.

Anyhoo, so I'm 'nacle. I think. Lol. Nice post.

I'm not dave, but I'd think it'd have to be one out of 20. or at leasdt some spiritual issues brought up, even if church isn't. That's where I'd draw the line, but I can't draw. And I'm nobody official anyway, but I AM somebody special.

I'm a special spirit (groaaaaan . . . I just had to make a BAD joke . . . .) Hee hee.

Dave, an excellent, highly informative post. And a personal thank you for your inclusion of my blog to the "the Bloggernacle."

Joe, I know better than to answer a question like that -- I'm sure any hard and fast rule could be shown to have problems. Notice I said "probably" in the post. The LDS and Mormon Blogs site makes a distinction between LDS blogs (with Mormon-themed posts) and Mormon bloggers (everything else). That seems like the same distinction I'm getting at. I'm not sure exactly where David S. draws the line.

Dave,

While I understand the sentiment arising from the need to categorize, I just had to write an entire post in response.

Keep up the good work and thank you for linking to Purim.

Dave,

Do you (or does anyone else) have a good handle on the numbers of people who participate in the bloggernacle?

While the number of blogs has certainly grown, it isn't clear to me that the number of participants has grown proportionately.

Dave, Good post. You're exactly right about the difficulty of "hard and fast" rules in defining concepts like "relatively faithful" or which blogs are in or not in the bloggernacle. Paraphrasing Justice Stewart, "[We] know it when [we] see it."

I don't think that I'm divulging any great secrets when I say that Dave's is a discussion that we've been having behind the scenes at the Mormon Archipelago. The MA (ldsblogs.org), LDSelect, and mormon-blogs all try and offer some kind of index/portal to the "Bloggernacle." Any input as to how the MA should configure its site to be what it claims to be -- "the gateway to the Bloggernacle"?

Ick. It seems to me that one of the things that ends up putting the D in DAMU is the incessant Mormon tendency to draw lines and indulge in categorizing exercises. Do we really need to carefully define the bloggernacle?? And make pronouncements about who is and is not welcome and on whose terms? As far as I can observe, blogs are pretty good at self-policing and finding the right niche of likeminded folks...

The first thing I'm wondering, as someone who has written fiction, is whether you defined Popcorn Popping as in or out of the Bloggernacle. Are fiction and poetry personal in the bloggernacle sense? Are they still personal after being selected and edited?

The second thing I'm thinking about is the irony of the situation for mormon journals, such as Segullah which is thinking of putting up a blog. Segullah exists to publish personal faithful mormon writing, particularly among women. But a blog attached to the Segullah, as you point out, is not a personal blog because it has an institutional agenda: the institutional agenda of supporting and publishing some personal faithful mormon writing somewhere other than the bloggernacle.

Do you think Sunstone, Mormon Stories, and Exponent II should have their own box on the Archipelago?

Dave,

Thoughtful post. I totally disagree with most of the stuff in it, but a nice post none the less.

From a relatively faithful perspective? Talk about vague! I see no reason why that phrase should be in any kind of definition of the bloggernacle.

Already you have shown in your post that "relatively faithful" just means what you think is relatively faithful. John Dehlin, an active Mormon who is trying to explore his religion, is not relatively faithful? Because you say so? Sorry my friend. You don't get to decide.

New Definition

Bloggernacle:
The Mormon blogging community.

Sorry it got too big for your side bar, but that's the way things go. We are very impressed with the OG bloggernaclers, but y'all don't get to make the rules. This thing doesn't belong to you.

The only way to have any kind of true and open discussion about this religion is for all voices to be heard. If you don't want to link to the DAMU then don't. You defining the bloggernacle is the same as you trying to define what i need to believe in to consider myself a real mormon.

This is just one more instance where we can make a choice between accepting others and rejecting others. John's site helps people who feel like they have floated to the outskirts of the religion. You want to cut that off? Can only the strongest and most orthodox members call themselves mormon bloggers? Mormons?

As someone who Dave just exiled to the "Borderlands," I'd like to object.

I think a much better (and more inclusive) definition would be blogs that discuss Mormonism in a respectful way and treats all commenters with respect.

I can't think of any blog that meets that definition as not being welcome in the Bloggernacle.

What is the point of enforcing a litmus test on faith? How people act towards each other is infinitely more important than what they happen to believe.

Hey Dave!!!

I agree with you on the distinction.

It would be really nice of you if you would agree to list my blog as a "borderland blog" since one of my main objectives is to promote respect and understanding between current and former Mormons, as discussed in today's post Religion and getting along....

However, if you feel that my blog is too "anti" to warrant any sort of promotion, I will not be offended. :D

I don't think you understand the purpose of John Dehlin's podcasts. The abrupt reconciliation that many Saints are now facing as they attempt to reconcile traditional history with what has been made available through the information revolution is a crisis within the Church. Thank God for Mormon Stories and the thoughtful approach it is taking to this crisis.

You've apparently kicked the hornet's nest, Dave. FWIW, I agree with most of your post.

CL, il est comme tu veux.

Kirk, sorry I bumped that chip on your shoulder. I've got no problem with Dehlin being "an active Mormon who is trying to explore his religion" or with him doing it online. My objection is to him taking an understood and accepted term -- Bloggernacle -- and redefining it to serve his own agenda by using it to refer to any blog that talks about Mormonism from any perspective.

Is a blog run by a Christian minister that does nothing but criticize LDS doctrine and belief from an Evangelical perspective part of the Bloggernacle? If you say yes, then you are using the term "Bloggernacle" in a way no one else is. If you say no, then we're both seeing things the same way in the sense that we're both trying to determine what the term refers to if not every blog out there.

There are limits to open discussion, otherwise the loudest and rudest speakers elbow out softer voices and drive away those interested in friendlier conversation. That's been my online experience -- your experience may differ.

Funny you bracket the Bloggernacle regulars who've been around maybe 3 years max as "old guard." I think the problem is that Sunstone has been around 40 years and that Sunstoners think they can dictate their enlightened view of things to we blogging newcomers. Talk about irony. Dehlin is a Sunstoner and thinks that way. Obviously, I don't agree with that view. He's welcome to his views, of course, and note I was pretty supportive of his project, but the Sunstone project is not my project. As far as I'm concerned, they made their bed, they can sleep in it, just don't try and make me part of it by saying "we're all together in the Bloggernacle." They can call themselves "Sunstoners Online" or "Borderland Blogs" or whatever they want.

I pretty much agree with everything Dave has said, however I think NedFlanders brings up a very good point (probably because I think he is the epitome of his point). Ned doesn't go to church anymore nor does he believe in the doctrines, yet he's always been extremely respectful to those within our community and I've always felt like he's part of the Bloggernacle. He probably has many of the same feelings as those on the DAMU boards but his approach is very different.

In all fairness, I guess you are free to define words how you want. If you only want to call a portion of the Mormon thought on the internet “The Bloggernacle”, no one can stop you. I think you hurt your own credibility when you try to pass off a persuasive definition like that but it is your own choice.

I have been thinking a lot about this today. Why it bugs me so much that you don't want to consider some of these sites part of "the bloggernacle". It is kind of a silly word to be fighting over. And as you pointed out, it really does “bump my chip”.

Now, I don't have 100% church attendance, nor do I follow 100% of church guidelines, nor do I believe 100% of the church. Actually I score a lot less than 100%% in all those categories. I don’t score 0 in any of them either.

But my name is still on those lists. I still served a mission and converted people. I still went through the temple. When the church quotes its super high membership number, I am still one of the 99.

The point is, we're still in the club. And we reject definitions that make it sound like we can be part of the church's numbers but not part of the church's voice. Whether they be for the word "Mormon" or the word "bloggernacle".

If a blog regularly recognizes and references to the wider bloggernacle community, why not let them in? Or give them "borderland" status or something?

I think I agree with you, Kirk. Certainly sorting blogs into lists or observing that Mormon blogs self-orgainize into distinct communities is no particular reflection on the LDS affiliation or participation status of the blogger or bloggers involved with those blogs. No mere online exchange really permits anyone to make those sort of judgments (although people try often enough).

Maybe the emotional intensity that blog classification elicits (I've seen it before, many times, before the present discussion) speaks to the whole issue of how Mormon culture classifies people into labeled groups. But I'll save that for another post.

I run a DAMU blog. When I first started it I was simply going to deal with some issues I had. with that in mind I sent my blog in to be listed with other Mormon themed blogs.

As time passed I came to the conclusion that my beliefs and the church's did not mesh. I did not feel it was fair for some member to come across my blog with the material that it had. I contacted the Mormon-blog site and asked that my blog be removed. They replied that they had.

I think if the 'naccle defines itself as group with like ideas and certain rules then they should have the right to limit, or allow, who becomes one.

Dave:

This is high-quality navel gazing. I'm impressed. It is not a genre that is generally conducive to high quality.

It seems to me that there are two things going on in your defintion and the discussion that has followed (particularlly by Kirk, Kristine, and other critics).

First, it seems to me that you are trying to get at the tricky question of how the term "bloggernacle" is actually used. Words do not simply mean what we want them to mean. Language is an inherently social thing, and accordingly it is possible -- in theory at least -- to figure out how words are actually used. On this front, I think that your definition of bloggernacle is fairly good.

Second, it seems to me that you are interested in defending what you see as the social capital that has been generated by the bloggernacle from appropriation or dilution. I take it that this is the root of your points regarding John Dehlin and Sunstone. If I understand you right, you see John as well-meaning, and even laudable in many ways, but as engaged in a different project, one that is not necessarily compatable with your perceived mission for the bloggernacle. This is not simply a matter of social meaning. This is a political act. I would be interested in seeing you flesh this out a bit more. What do you see as the value added of the bloggernacle? How would that be interfered with should the John Dehlin vision of the bloggernacle (whatever that is) prevail?

Ah, more navel gazing. Just what the bloggernacle is best at.

Perhaps the first time I've ever agreed with Gunner. I certainly don't agree with the mockery of his "Carnival of the Veil". That is perhaps an ideal example of what I consider to be outside the Bloggernacle. But, of course, I am not Dave.

Okay NBO, I'll lay out my cards on the second point. I would analogize "Bloggernacle" to a brand name rather than to social capital. Overall, "Bloggernacle," as a small community of relatively faithful Mormon bloggers, has established a pretty good reputation in the eyes of the much larger Mormon community (at least those who have stumbled across a blog) and, presumably, in the eyes of any leaders. At least I get very little "I am appalled" email from LDS visitors.

Rope the Bloggernacle to Dehlin/Sunstone and suddenly the Bloggernacle brand is perceived differently. That seems unfair since neither Dehlin nor Sunstone have invested much effort in establishing or developing the Bloggernacle (i.e., the relatively faithful Mormon blogging community, the one I tried to define in the post). Hence my response: defending the integrity of a valuable brand name from one who seeks to exploit it in the service of his own project. Whatever that is.

Besides, Sunstone has its own brand name! They have spent several decades developing it. It has a reputation and value. If they want to make a "Sunstone Blog Network" and build off of their own brand in pursuit of the Sunstone or the Dehlin project (whatever that is), fine. It's blogging — you can do any project you want.

I think Sunstone is still reeling from that powerpoint presentation that Nate? gave showing that T&S gets more readership in one month than Sunstone's entire subscribership.

Now, like the evil Mr. Potter making George Bailey an offer he can't refuse, Sunstone comes requesting a foothold in an online community that did just fine without them up until now.

Seth says, "Sunstone comes requesting a foothold in an online community that did just fine without them up until now."

I'm sorry. What was Sunstone, or I, requesting? We didn't start this thread. David started the attack, and I (unfortunately) allowed myself to get sucked in.

Yes I've used the term "bloggernacle" before--because it describes LDS blogging in (what I thought to be) a clearly understood way--but in no way am I, or is Sunstone, trying to co-opt "the brand." Seriously. This is an example of how insular and inbred you guys can be at times. I speak w/ Dan Wotherspoon weekly, and he has ZERO aspirations on the word "bloggernacle". None. Zip. Nada. I'll let him speak for himself, but I can tell you that the bloggernacle, generally speaking, is not even on his radar. Check your logs for how many hits come from sunstoneonline.com. You won't find many, if any.

As for me--I only use the term generally....again to describe LDS blogging. However, starting today, I now have a goal to do my best to stop using the word. In my Sunstone presentation, and for the thousands who end up listening to it (either live, or in mp3) I hereby promise to do my best to never mention the word bloggernacle. Happy? I actually decided this before today...but I'll state it publicly here for the first time.

I do think it's sorta funny how many of you folks tend to have the same types of conversations on your blog that Sunstone has had historically, and that you read from the books, and benefit from the scholarship created by past Sunstone participants (Bushman, Daniel Peterson, Hugh Nibley included)--but then you run away from supporting Sunstone when it catches some heat for standing up for what it believes in. To me it's a tad bit ungrateful and cowardly, and reminds me of the new NBA stars (Iverson, etc.) not knowing about, or giving proper credit or respect to the NBA pioneers who built the league (West, Irving, Dawkins, Barry, etc.).

Anyway, I honestly believe that you grossly overestimate the value of the word "Bloggernacle", and suffer from HUGE dilusions of grandeur thinking that we (John + Sunstone) are engaged in some conspiracy (or even have hidden desires) to co-opt and distort the name. Frankly, it's just not that relevant or important. We have never ever discussed this in any fashion, nor has the though ever crossed my mind. Ever.

The term bloggernacle isn't totally irrelevant or unimportant, but far, far less so than the attention you are giving it here (to me, at least). Again--this smells to me of fish bowl swimming, navel gazing, high-fiving white guys.

But I still love you all. Seriously. I hope I can meet each of you individually someday and talk this through. I know that you're all cool dudes/dudettes in person. I just think that blogs tend to distort our sense of respect and good manners at time. And I'm perhaps more guilty of this than most.

P.S. Virtually all of the books you are recommending and/or hawking on your site--written by devoted Sunstone members.

Arrington. England. Mauss. Bradley. Flake. etc.

It's just plain ungrateful, I tells ya.

Dude, John, because Dave doesn't want to include Sunstone Blog into his definition of "bloggernacle" doesn't mean he's ungrateful at all. It just means he thinks they don't fit within his definition of "bloggernacle", that's all. This is an exercise in defining terms, not values.

Thanks Dave!!!

On principle it doesn't seem unreasonable to me for people to expect that a "Bloggernacle" blog will be ultimately LDS-faith-affirming. However, I don't necessarily understand the feelings of those who have traditionally been members of the Bloggernacle community and have been excluded.

So, since it doesn't concern me, I'll just stop talking about it right now. ;-)

Oops, I mean "Merci !"

...and John, I'm hoping you can take the same criticism of yourself/Sunstone as you guys hand out to the Church on your own blogs. It would only seem open, honest and respectful, right? :)

Attack? Let's see, John, I said you post "some really innovative (in the sense that no one else is really doing it regularly) podcast features. So Mormon Stories is plainly not doing the standard DAMU blog gig ...." I said, "Nice site, interesting stuff, but not a Bloggernacle site." Do you always get this upset with people who compliment your site?

If Dan Wotherspoon "has zero aspirations on the word 'bloggernacle,'" he probably has the right idea. Good for him. I've got no beef with Sunstone or Sunstoners.

As for the term "Bloggernacle," you can use it or not, but if you're honest you'll at least use it the way it is generally used by LDS bloggers (including those who are disaffected), not the way you think it should be used or wish it were used. To use it differently than it is used in LDS blogging communities would be inaccurate and would confuse people. At least that's how I see it.

Dave: I doubt that "bloggernacle" is a brand with enough saliance among most members that its meaning can be diluted much. Furthermore, I think that there is a huge amount of ideological overlap between Sunstone and many bloggernacle participants, so I doubt that associating Sunstone as some sort of Bloggernacle particpant is going to have much of any impact on the bloggernacle brand. Furthermore, Sunstone itself has been trying to aggressively rehabilitate their own brandname. At least that is the impression that I get from Dan Wotherspoon's editorship. In other words, I don't see the problem.

John: I think that you are right to suggest that any belief in the cosmic significance of the bloggernacle is a mistake. On the other hand, I think that we can also dial back the rhetoric surrounding Sunstone. Sunstone is not the repository and main engine of thoughtful LDS discussion. It is a magazine that runs some symposia. Some of its articles are quite good. Alot of them are really pretty sorry stuff. There's nothing wrong with this. That is the way most publications operate. Likewise, the symposia sometimes play host to interesting and important discussions. Sometimes, they play host to inane ax grinding. Furthermore, there are other fora and institutions that have probably done more to push the ball forward in terms of serious scholarship on Mormonism -- MHA, Dialogue, BYU Studies, and FARMS all come to mind. (Which is not to deny that Sunstone has published some important stuff over the years.) Furthermore, while there is no doubt (in my mind) that some Church leaders have massively overreacted to Sunstone, it is also the case that many of its problems were not created by boldly standing up for truth and principle, but by plain old fashion dumb decisions. (Ask Dan if he thinks Sunstone suffers from any self-inflicted wounds.)

In short, Sunstone is a good thing. It is not, however, a holy crusade entitled to the allegiance of all literate Mormons on the basis of single-handedly saving us from intellectual oblivion.

Thanks John f.(28) I do disagree that "mockery" was intended on my website. I may do things on my blog you do not like, but that I disagree with.

The term "bloggernacle" has always seemed a little silly to me, a little joke that took root and stuck around to everyone's embarrassment. The same goes for "blog." On the few occasions when I have wanted to refer to the concept, I usually wrote "Mormon web logs." A Google search turns up five uses of the phrase, all by me. (I'll copyright it!) I barely manage to write up a couple posts a month, though, so I have little stock built up to take on one of these "what's it all about" discussions.

It concerns me that however the "Bloggernacle" presumes to define itself, it fails to steer far enough to sufficiently distance itself from the "great and spacious building". Little purpose would be served for this new niche to be subsumed into a habit that looks so much like an existing one that caters to such a small unrepresentative minority.

I think Sunstoned has always been about a gamboling stroll along the edge of the precipice. A minority of outspoken critics engaging in high-risk behavior. To cite the list of respectable folks they have alienated through their history is singularly ironic, and hardly lends legitimacy.

Most of the rest of us are satisfied to navigate far away from that dangerous trail.

As hard as this might be for some to believe, I part ways with Dave with regard to John D.'s blog. I think that Dave's analysis and comments are applicable to Gunner's website and Equality Time -- i.e. those kind of DAMU blogs that pose frontal attacks on the beliefs of mainstream Latter-day Saints. I don't see John D.'s blog as doing this, although as most could probably guess I personally strongly disagree with the views John D. has of the Church and with the views of most of his podcast participants.

In short, my view approximates Nate's above. To the extent Dave is interested in making sure that people in the larger Church or outside the Church don't get the impression Bloggernacle = Sunstone, then I think the concern is perhaps misplaced. Similar to the overlap in content that Nate noted between many bloggernacle blogs and Sunstone, I would add that, from my perspective, many or most of the blogs in the Bloggernacle would already seem pretty much indistinguishable from Sunstone material to most regular, non-internet Latter-day Saints. I am glad that there is also much in the Bloggernacle that clearly supports a faithful approach to inquiry. But if we are honest with ourselves, Dave, many LDS blogs, including this one, I would guess, already look pretty edgy to the rank-and-file members. After all, don't you have an archived post featured on your sidebar suggesting the Alma should be retranslated to talk about "turkeys and handcarts" (!) rather than "horses and chariots"? This is cute and even funny for those of us who have come to know you for the last several years in the Bloggernacle, but try thinking how this looks to a rank-and-file member stumbling across your site. It starts becoming pretty indistinguishable from John D.'s site on some superficial level, which is all a rank-and-file Latter-day Saint is going to reach in perusing this or other Bloggernacle sites. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, horses in the Book of Mormon also happens to be one of John D.'s specific problems with the Church.

So, I am not sure that John D. himself doesn't belong in the Bloggernacle, even as defined by you in this post. I am in agreement that the Bloggernacle isn't and shouldn't be synonymous with the DAMU. I think that so far it is not and the content of the MA page shows that. But, as you know, I am not in favor of delisting John D. from the MA page. I see a substantive difference between John D.'s project and the intention and content of the DAMU blogs.

I second John Mansfield. I never use the term because it sounds silly. However I tend to use MA precisely because I have some confidence regarding the relevancy of posts. But even there I find plenty of blogs I never read. (I'm sure most never read my posts which are much more narrow and esoteric - at least the ones at my blog)

As for the whole exclusion/inclusion thing. I find the downside to the community of blogs is that some do treat it almost like high school. I never quite got into that social aspect. There are people whose posts I enjoy reading and some I don't. Sometimes I have time to read a lot, of late I have time to only read a few. It's really not that big a deal. That so many do sometimes makes me wonder if people put blogging a bit higher on the scale of social importance than they should.

I'm with Chronicler #27, but I'm laughing as I agree. Aren't we all our own favorite topic? I know I'm my favorite person to talk about.

I tell everybody I'm a blogger, but most of them just figure it's the latest crazy thing I'm doing, like when I go to psychics. Some kids know what a blog is, but I haven't met anybody who cares, let alone understands, what I do at the computer all day.

Maybe it's the word "choir" that is missing. Bloggernacle Choir. If you want to get across the idea this is for blogs singing a particular range of songs.

John Dehlin,

I'm sorry. I wasn't at my best posting game there. The comment was meant to be a little silly, outrageous, and most of all, tongue-in-cheek.

Chalk it up to my inadequacies in conveying intent via the written medium.

Okay, I have one more positive suggestion about this which I have posted on my blog: Bloggernaclin' blues

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