Online Orthodoxy

Plenty of conversation has focused on inclusive versus exclusive definitions of Mormonism. Organisations are free to define what they are and are not. After all, if there are no defining criteria at all, an organisation would vaporise and cease to exist. While I fall on the side of the argument that the LDS church is too rigid. I don’t believe anything Jesus said justifies throwing people out, and I oppose the generally hostile environment that exists inside chapels when it comes to dissent, alternative thought, and concerns of those outside the structures of authority.

The existence of the bloggernacle, which is populated with believers, doubters, and post-Mormons, is proof of this. If the LDS church supported lively dialogue and debate, the discussions that go on at various Mormon blogs would happen at church, not online.

That’s why I found it puzzling and sad that the Bloggernacle, a word that conjures up the idea of an enormous tent full of individual and equal voices, would decide to follow the pattern of the LDS church and provide an orthodox definition of what is and what is not part of the Bloggernacle.

This action is largely meaningless. The Internet is by nature an open thing. Anybody can set up a blog and while I suppose is free to say who is and who isn’t part of their little clique, anybody can make what they like of the Bloggernacle. Unlike within the LDS church, declarations of authority made by a web site are meaningless. There’s no threat of shame or excommunication. Anyone can participate, and those who are idiots, trolls, wise, or kind are identified for what they are by the community. The announcement of Bloggernacle Times’ new online orthodoxy was a mixed bag;

Throughout 2010 the rebooted Bloggernacle Times will feature the best posts, blogs, and bloggers of the Bloggernacle as chosen by a representative group of Bloggernacle elite bloggers. We will not post very often but enough to herald and attempt to better define this wonderful community. No doubt this venture will irritate the heck out of a lot of you. Nevertheless, we hope you will join us.

It is important to determine what style any written publication will have, so readers seeking particular content can find it. But, tongue-in-cheek though it was, I don’t like the way that “elite bloggers” are described as the new apostles of online orthodoxy. If it’s really a bloggernacle, shouldn’t it seek out the best of all Mormon-oriented writing? While I appreciate the honesty that everyone is welcome to read, even those who don’t like what they do, it is disappointing to think that a group using the word that represents Mormondom on the Internet — the only place where Mormons can be diverse and outspoken in their opinions — would try to be as limited in defining what makes a good Mormon as the LDS church can be.

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