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"I don't think blogs or other online forums will displace journals or books anytime soon."

Neither do I; there will always be a place for rarified and refereed dicussion of lofty topics, just as there will always be a place for the rambunctious meetings of the proles.

"but laments the fact that most bloggers and online discussants seem unaware that many of their favorite topics have been discussed at length in prior issues of Dialogue."

If Dialogue publishes an article in the forest and no one is there to read it, is Dialogue still relevant?

I agree with Dave and Peter that books and articles aren't going anywhere (though I read--or find and print out--more than half of my scholarly articles in digital format now). But because blogging and books/articles are so different, I think that there are probably a growing number of Mormon Scholars: The Next Generation who read and/or produce articles and blogs.

The questions to me are: where do young intellectual Mormons choose to work out the questions of their faith, and where do they go to make connections with others with similar concerns? The older generation of scholars definitely did this through Dialogue and Sunstone. The survey of Dialogue Readers in the previous issue shows that Dialogue is not recruiting any younger subscribers, and that the subscriber base is aging along with the publication.

A blog post (in isolation) may not be able cover topics with the same detail, depth and attention to nuance as an article, but it makes these topics more accessible to a wider population and allows for an immediate sense of connection--perhaps even true dialog.

I am laughing Dave. You nailed on the head my personal interaction with blogs. I actually take the time to really meditate when in books.

Well, I can't speak for any of the other bloggers. But I would not consider myself "next generation of Mormon scholars."

I tend to remember trivia that I read, I have some measure of talent for effortless writing, I have an advanced degree (if you feel a JD qualifies), I am relentlessly opinionated and outspoken, and I seem to be capable of occasional flashes of "deep thought."

But I am not even close to a real intellectual. That title implies a degree of discipline and continuing study that I don't even approach. I'm not even particularly well-read. Dave's sidebar of reading material leaves me completely intimidated and awestruck. I'm currently working on Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling, but that's about it. I haven't read any of the others that are up there today, and I'm not sure I ever will.

I feel like I used to be a "good reader" in my undergraduate studies. But I haven't been a "good student" of human thought, history, or theology ever since I entered law school.

I guess I sometimes feel like an outstanding fraud here on the bloggernacle, keeping my "place" (if there is such a thing) by sheer volume and forcefulness, rather than any inherent merit I might have.

But there are several people on the bloggernacle whom I feel are the genuine item. I'm a little guilty about the possibility that someone, like Sunstone's readership, might unknowingly lump me together with them.

Actually most of my favorite topics are relatively neglected by all the journals. Quite surprisingly so. Yes for history the journals and books are better. For theology and philosophy outside of a few topics there is remarkably little written.

"Relentlessly opinionated and outspoken" ... yes, Seth, that's what it takes to be an accomplished blogger! You can fake all the rest. A fair degree of success in academics comes from the ability to be opinionated and outspoken as well, although in academics it takes more work to successfully fake the rest. That, of course, is just my humble and outspoken opinion.

John, I'm not sure who is "work[ing] out the questions of their faith," the writers or the readers. Or everyone, really -- it's not like a fair precentage of non-subscribers don't go through same process. The difference may be those (including many scholars) who do that from within their inherited faith tradition, and those who must step outside their tradition in order to do so. Or whose tradition requires them to step outside in order to do so.

I think how one approaches those questions is more a matter of personality and temperament than of some higher calling to be a douting intellectual. I just gag everytime I catch a whiff of the self-congratulatory "I'm so smart I can doubt my religion" line that appears from time to time in Mormon Studies writing. I'm not suggesting, of course, that those asking questions are insincere. I just think some people are too quick to equate doubt with insight.

I agree Clark. Blogging is filling a Mormon theological/philosophical gap for me as well. As interesting as Dialogue articles usually are they they almost never dig into things that I want to dig into so I do it myself instead.

Blogging is

1. Free, so I never feel ripped off or like I am supporting financially something I do not approve of.

2. Interactive, I can disagree openly when there is an issue I disagree with and have immediate feedback on my questions and comments

3. non-committal, I can fill a short period of time with blogging, parse out incomplete ideas, and move on without chunking out a large amount of ideas. Further, If I don't like something, it isn't laying around in my house, instead I can just turn it off.

4. richly diverse- Dialogue feels like a club, much like sunstone, where there are certain unwritten rules about who and what you can be, think, and feel. In the Bloggernacle, the potential is for anyone who has a computer to participate.

5. unpolished- or unpretentious. This may go along with #2 or be a side effect of #2, but in blogging, due to the formatting, I can throw out hypotheses, thoughts, feelings, ideas, etc. without being committed to them or without feeling they are binding to me in a way writing an article or a book would leave me feeling. This may have to do with the fact that you can always edit your thoughts in your blog, while you can not edit your feelings once you have published them via a hard copy format.

It seems that the next generation of Mormon scholars can be found at such places as SBL, AAR, and MHA meetings. They get together at meetings such as the recent Faith and Knowledge conference at Yale and work with Richard Bushman and Terryl Givens in summer seminars. Some blog, many don't.

The good thing about the U of U's digital archives is the fact that more people than ever have access to past scholarship in Dialogue.

Does R. John Williams really call it Feminine Mormon Housewives?

Anna, I suspect that was a glitch on my part and I will correct it forthwith.

"They do not, unfortunately, even subscribe to Dialogue"

"but laments the fact that most bloggers and online discussants seem unaware that many of their favorite topics have been discussed at length in prior issues of Dialogue."

Sounds more like an advertisement than it does any serious reflection. I don't think he takes into account all those who sometimes read the publication when available at libraries, but have never bought them. I don't even buy BYU Studies (why doesn't he lament about that?).

Perhaps there is a disconnect with the publications and those who blog. In fact, as has been stated, those who blog are not the kind of people who would get published. The reason for blogging is to have a voice that the publications do not afford. More people are interested in the "genuine" voices than they are in the "polished" scholars who talk past the average LDS member or disbeliever.

I think, if there is any real worries in the new scholars not showing up at the publication table, it is there are less people doing original research. For the past ten years the New Mormon History/Theology that make up those who get published in Dialogue have been losing their shine and relevance. what used to be cutting edge has turned into the usual screeds. The future, possibly, is in those studies that are done from a more believing angle - but without the simplistic conclusions. At least, it is books published in that direction that have been most important recently.

(five minutes later ...) Okay, fixed that unnerving but unintended typo. Thanks be to the limitless patience of Hera, Athena, and MIH that I wasn't struck by pink lightning before accomplishing the task.

pink lightning, good one.

but laments the fact that most bloggers and online discussants seem unaware that many of their favorite topics have been discussed at length in prior issues of Dialogue.

Also, many bloggers lament that most bloggers seem unaware that many of their favorite topics have been discussed at length already on other blogs two years ago.

True, Jacob. And sometimes, two months ago.

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