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Great post, Dave. This is one aspect of a major issue both the Church and Mormon Culture are facing now -- language. I've commented a bit on other aspects of this issue here, and more recently, here and I expect to cover the language issue again in January.

It is interesting to note that the Mormon Archipelago and LDS Blogs listings do not include non-English blogs and websites. I assume that this is NOT by design, and merely from ignorance and lack of communication. There are many websites and blogs in both Spanish and Portuguese, the languages I try to follow (although I admit I don't have a personal list yet - but I do subscribe to about a half dozen email lists in each of these two languages). I'm certain that if you look carefully you will find others in French, and in German and many other languages. They are out there -- the language divide just keeps us from connecting to them.

Unfortunately, returned missionaries aren't playing the role they could in this respect. If US-based returned missionaries who spoke another language would subscribe to these lists and act as liasons with the English-speaking bloggernacle and Mormon Internet, we would see a lot of improvement very quickly.

The overall problem is language -- in spite of the Church's efforts to bring the gospel to the diversity of languages that exist in the Church. Despite what many believe, Church members need a Mormon culture in addition to the gospel. Yes, it is true that only the Scriptures and other materials provided by the Church directly impact their salvation. BUT, members need more than these materials -- they need the cultural elements that help them live the gospel. They need books, music, plays, sports, art and other elements that bring the gospel into their lives.

Look at the difference in activity rates between the Intermountain West, where there is a strong Mormon culture, and the "mission field" where there isn't any Mormon culture at all. I'm certain that a lack of culture contributes to this difference.

Bottom line is, we need to help Mormon culture develop in other languages. I'm not saying that the Church needs to do this. I am saying that it needs to happen.

Although firmly esconced in the flake, blockhead, and whiner corner ;), I still have something positive to contribute from time to time.

The following link is to a Chilean (I think) blog for faithful LDS. He's probably be grateful for input from 'Nacle inhabitants:
http://www.cumorah.org/

One more link, this one to a blog from a stake in Arica, Chile:

http://www.estacacostanera.blogspot.com/

I do sometimes exaggerate for effect, capt. jack. Besides, you use capitals and punctuation; you're obviously not one of the blockheads. And thanks for the links.

Kent, I think you're on to something. Anyone who wants to do some searching for LDS blogs in a foreign language should click the "language tools" option on the Google page (off the right edge of the search box) and play around for a few minutes. I didn't have much luck finding a french LDS blog, but the search continues ...

I think Japanese in particular will have this as a problem simply given the disproportionate use of the Internet by Japanese (and to a lesser extent Koreans). Yet the number of members with those languages dominant is small. I know FAIR has done some things to translate their stuff into German and other languages. But given these are generally organizations where volunteers contribute one is limited.

It simply is a fact that these efforts to be effective need to be grass roots. And that means foreign language speakers can make a very big impact for the Church by putting up multilingual pages or volunteering for groups like FAIR to translate.

Clark:

Part of the problem is that most members who don't speak English have no idea that FAIR or any other group exists!

I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on this. Groups like FAIR, Dialogue, the Mormon History Association, Association for Mormon Letters, etc. will need to make at least a minimal effort in various languages to get noticed and get volunteers.

But I agree that non-English speakers (a much better term than 'foreign language speakers', which is relative to the language you speak) can have a big impact just by putting up pages in their own language.

The problem Kent is that since these are largely volunteer organizations it's a vicious circle. Unless there are volunteers who know the language it's hard to do much.

So I guess this is a call for volunteers? It would be nice to have translations of the better apologetic works.

[Sorry, Antonio -- to post commercial advertising at this site, you need to buy a Google Ad, which posts on my right sidebar.]

Antonio,
My salutations to Gibraltar. Visiting "The Rock" was a highlight of my youth. Is there a Mormon branch there?

I don't know Dave.

I've found a couple Japanese websites, but unfortunately, I can't really read them.

Like most former "Japanese" missionaries, I have about a 3rd grade reading level, which means I don't recognize most of the characters in a standard newspaper or website. I love communicating through writing (which is why I enjoy the bloggernacle so much) and I wish I could transfer that to the Japanese language.

I suppose you're right though, it's something I ought to look into.

As an experiment, I typed the Japanese word for "Mormon" into Japanese google. The top 5 hits:

1. The Wikipedia entry on Book of Mormon. Looks fairly balanced.
2. A website with 4 accounts of women who claim to have been raped by LDS missionaries. Contains other informative links to information like "who are these missionaries", etc.
3. A sight "debunking" the Book of Mormon. The URL contains the name of the old Japanese version of the Ensign, probably as a way of luring in unsuspecting members.
4. A sight called "Waters of Mormon" that looks like its trying to be a pro-LDS blog, but lacks content.
5. The church's official website in Japan (never saw this before, cool): www.ldschurch.jp

The remainder of the top 10 contained 2 pro-LDS sites, 1 anti-LDS (Christian-backed) site, 1 humorous anti-LDS site, and 1 neutral web board with a variety of opinions on Mormonism.

My initial impression is that there isn't a lot of depth on historical church information (either positive or negative) on any of the sites. If a Japanese researchrd is looking for more information than a couple of sentences provide, they are probably stuck looking for resources in English.

Great post, Dave. I was pretty surprised a couple weeks ago when the More Good Foundation had a list of things that the average Mormon should do to better the internet. One was to make a ward, stake, quorum or RS website. Perhaps the tide is changing.

I've been thinking about this, and I know Google, and Alta-Vista have translators. I am wondering if it is possible to run these translators on current texts, then just solicit volunteers to go through and fix the inevitable errors.

I just downloaded the FoxLingo plug-in for the Firefox browser and tried it on a couple Japanese websites.

Seemed OK, for a computer...

I love Firefox!

I apologize for throwing a cold blanket on the proceedings, but...don't you think its a little below the irrelevant quotient to be talking about how the Japanese Saints are viewing the unfolding of the Mormon conundrum on the internet? What about the poor "Native Americans/ Lamanites and what they should be thinking"????
Those poor Native American Saints have been laboring under the mis... I'm sorry, I don't mean to be judgmental ... the conception that they were the descendants of immigrants from the middle east, the so called "Lamanites", and now they learn that, not only is there no credible evidence that their ancestors came from the middle east, at least in the scientific/archeological/scientific world, or that there was any kind of Book of Mormon archeological civilization that mirrors what they have been told, but now they find the genetic evidence has totally excluded the possibility that they evolved from any "Lamanite/middle eastern roots, and to make matters worse, that they have almost certainly come from asian ancestors. What a shock to those good saints who were assured that their existence had a special kind of "biblical/BoM" rudimentary Christian explimentationarianism. (I just made that word up.)
What do you suppose should be done to assuage their consternation at such a rude awakening??? I'm thinking that telling them they are loved none- the- less won't do the trick.
The Japanese ,on the other hand, should find a tiny bit of pride in the fact that one of their most ancient tribes (the Edo, I think) is probably the most closely linked to the ancestors of all native americans.
I think you should use that as tool to proselytize the Japanese in Japan and their descendants in this country.
What a teaching tool that would be!
Just trying to help.

Yes, Duff, you would think the Japanese would be proud to be related to various neighboring peoples -- but they aren't. They look down their noses at anyone who isn't Japanese. At least until they join the Church, when they learn to take a more liberal and less tribal view of humankind, buttressed by the 1978 revelation reminding the Saints that racial thinking and attitudes are no longer welcome in the Church. Joining the Church does make most people think better of those around them -- wonderful how that works, isn't it?

It's obvious you aren't really trying to help anyone, whether Japanese, Native American, or LDS. So why pretend otherwise? It certainly doesn't bolster your credibility. And why adopt this odd, phony pose of concern rather than just honestly disagree or express a contrary opinion? What makes you think feigned concern is better than honest disagreement?

The question, as I see it, is whether "internet mormonism" is a threat to "Mormonism" or a threat to the Church. (Is there a difference?)

Decentralized internet wisdom will help Mormonism grow more interesting, vibrant and provide more niche's for a diverse belief set--there's the opportunity (at least I see it as an opportunity). Such an improved culture, however, is exactly the threat that the "Church" aka those who manage correlation, among other things, fears from the internet--diverse beliefs, divergent loyalties, etc. Will the church (aka the powers that correlate everything) fight these improvements (i.e. treat them as a threat)? or will the Church see them as an opportunity.

Methinks there will be a struggle (ala allowing blacks to have the priesthood) between the old time hardline and the liberal younger blood. THe younger blood will win out eventually--as the old timers will die some day, but at a lag--say t-10 or 20 years. The question will then be can the members tolerate the t-10 to 20 year lag without becoming more loyal to the decentralized sources of internet wisdom--and can the centralized church hierarchy maintain its integrity and credibility in such an environment?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next 50+ years.

to J. Stapley comment #13. We've been specifically asked not to put up sites for the ward RS, YW, Quorums, etc. We're supposed to use the ward space on lds.org or do without.

I know because back in 1998, Rich Tensmeyer and I put up a website for our Indiana ward, with pages for each organization. We were asked to take it down in anticipation of the lds.org ward space.

Johnna, I recognize that they did ask everyone to remove the websites...but that was almost a decade ago. Perhaps things are changing - the More Good Foundation is not just a random bunch of Mormons...

If anyone doubts the need to capture some google attention, please google "mormon temples"; but buckle your seatbelts!

J:

I went looking for More Good's startling recommendation that we start Relief Society websites again, but all I found was this article from March 2006: What about the church telling us to instead do personal websites praising our local or worldwide Relief Society. No posting schedules or facilitating quorum work.

Obviously, not a couple weeks ago. Would you point me to article that caught your eye a couple weeks ago?

Who are these non-random Mormons anyway?

That should have been:

See here, Johnna. As to your last question...well, perhaps the three nephites?

FWIW, I've put together a list of 7 LDS blogs in Portuguese and another 7 LDS blogs in Spanish. [I excluded blogs with less than a few posts). I won't post them here, but they aren't too difficult to find -- use Google blog search (its a separate site, like Google Groups or Google images) and choose the language you want in advanced search. You can also search by words in the name of the blog (I searched on both Mormon and on SUD -- the Portuguese and Spanish equivalent of LDS) as well as in the content of the blog.

The problem that I see is that the level of sophistication is pretty low. Most of the blogs are either very personal or connected with a particular ward or stake. I think I found one or two that are about doctrine, and no truely group blogs, like BCC, M* and T&S.

Clark (#8):

You are right, of course. But I should observe that at least some of these volunteers have likely served non-English speaking missions and should be able to help a little. While I agree that a good portion of the problem is lack of time and resources, but I hope you will agree that a lot of the problem is that we English-speakers don't have these foreign language issues in our face much. Too often it simply never occurs to us that we should try to provide at least some of our materials in other languages and work with members in those languages to help that happen.

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