Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What affect has blogging had on you?

After talking matters of faith with an elderly man and explaining (by his request) what a blog is and why I blog, he asked me an excellent question: "What affect has blogging had on you?" I had only a split second to think of a satisfactory answer.

Off the cuff I answered: "It has deepened my commitment to believe things that are true, and it has weakened my commitment to believe things that [I now feel] aren't true."

All in all, I actually feel pretty satisfied with that answer. While at the time I kind of felt like I was on trial, I still appreciate the question and I'm interested in hearing from others. In a non-interrogative way, what affect has blogging had on you?


Papa D said...

The educator in me can't help but pointing out that the noun is "effect". The verb is "affect". *grin*

I would say first and foremost, it has given me an avenue whereby I can keep a regular "journal" - a spiritual record. I have struggled all my life to keep any kind of daily record, and I just don't care at all about recording the "details" of my life. My own blog is where I can write about the things about which I care - hence, "Things of My Soul".

As for my blogging within the Bloggernacle, it has given me a community wherein I can speak openly (mostly) and freely about what I believe with people who generally are ok with perspectives that are a bit different at times.

I am a solidly orthoprax member of the LDS Church. People see my life and assume I'm a stereotypical Mormon. At Church, I am careful to share my heterodox views in a way that will not put a stumbling block in front of anyone; I share things, and am not deterred by any kind of "social pressure" (which I believe in many cases to be self-constructed and perceived) - but there are certain things that simply are not appropriate for that type of self-indulgence. The Bloggernacle works much better for that as an outlet.

I still battle pride a bit, and I think I can help others to a degree - and part of what I do now is to focus in one forum on helping those who are struggling with some kind of a faith crisis. That has become almost a mission for me, and I am grateful for it. I've cut way back on my overall blogging since a couple of years ago when I had lots of time at night and was almost omni-present in the Bloggernacle (*grin*) - but blogging has had a wonderful effect on me, and I'm glad I was introduced to the concept and the Bloggernacle.

Matt W. said...

Do you mean just writing blogs, or reading them, or what? Writing my thoughts, and putting them out publicly has really challenged me to more clearly communicate my thoughts.

Reading blogs has really opened up opportunities for me to more greatly appreciate the richness of my our theology.

Aaron said...

Blogging has really broadened my perspective, my world view, and has influenced my overall philosophy on life.

It's also been therapeutic to get thoughts out on virtual paper.

Clean Cut said...

Papa D, the education in me has taught me that "affect" means "to have an influence on or effect change in", while "effect" means "something brought about by a cause or agent; a result". In this case, I really was meaning to use "affect" more as a synonom for "influence" rather than "result". But I can see the sentence also working as "what impact"--in which case I would use "effect". Can the sentence work in both cases?

Matt W, I mean the whole gamut. Especially the interaction with the community--The Blogging Experience--which challenges me, enlightens me, and most certainly continues to educate me.

I appreciate both of your thoughts. I appreciate both you you, period.

Clean Cut said...

Aaron, I didn't see your comment before I posted. I completely agree with that, as well.

John and Peggy said...

It's broadened my horizons, brought the world to me, and wasted a hell of a lot of time.

Jared said...

As both a blog author and reader of LDS blogs for three years, I've come to understand that many of the LDS in the bloggernacle are not too interested in the first principles of the gospel, the meat; milk seems to be more interesting.

I am not saying this to be critical, its an observation.

The meat of the gospel; the means to draw upon the powers of heaven is found in the first principles, milk is everything else.

I think the prosperous times we live in contributes to this. It's sad but true--adversity is the trigger to greater Spiritual experiences.

Papa D said...

I think Jared's experience highlights that we tend to see and take from blogging (especially in the Bloggernacle) whatever we see and believe prior to starting - that the perspectives we bring to blogging often dictate much of the effect for us as individuals. My own experience is vastly different than Jared's, but that's because our general perspectives and outlooks are different. I respect that - but, honestly, I disagree intensely that "many" in the Bloggernacle aren't interested in the first principles of the Gospel. The VAST majority care deeply, imo - but they simply view them in differing ways.

One of the things I like most about blogging and the Bloggernacle is that I have a chance to read and consider widely differing perspectives and beliefs among people who are committed deeply to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the LDS Church.

As to the discussion of "affect" vs. "effect" - - - The only common use of "affect" as a noun is a technical psychological term when it is an abbreviation of "affection" - meaning that "affect" as a noun is a feeling or emotion, with the short "a" vowel sound and the first syllable emphasized (in distinction from "affection"). (as opposed to the verb "affect" - where the second syllable generally is emphasized)

From - under "Usage Note:

Affect and effect, each both noun and verb, share the sense of “influence,” and because of their similarity in pronunciation are sometimes confused in writing. As a verb affect 1 means “to act on” or “to move” ( His words affected the crowd so deeply that many wept ); affect 2 means “to pretend” or “to assume” ( new students affecting a nonchalance they didn't feel ). The verb effect means “to bring about, accomplish”: Her administration effected radical changes. The noun effect means “result, consequence”: the serious effects of the oil spill. The noun affect 1 pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, is a technical term in psychology and psychiatry. Affect 2 is not used as a noun.

Sorry for the threadjack. I'm a bit of an English Nazi and an incorrigible editor. I just can't turn off the switch. *grin*

Jared said...

Papa D--

Respectively--you can't have it both ways. We're either focused on the first principles of the gospel or not.

There are many interesting aspects to the doctrines and history of the church. But to access the powers of heaven one needs to be focused on those doctrines that are designed for that purpose.

When I came to the bloggernacle I didn't have any preconceived ideas about what I would find. I was actually looking for a site where church members shared their sacred experiences about accessing the powers of heaven. Unfortunately, I never found such a site.

However, I did find a lot of wonderful people focused on the milk or the controversial aspects of the church. IMO, we can focus our priorities on subjects that are good, better, or best.

Elder Uchtdorf put it this way:

The Church, with all its organizational structure and programs, offers many important activities for its members aimed at helping families and individuals to serve God and each other. Sometimes, however, it can appear that these programs and activities are closer to the center of our heart and soul than the core doctrines and principles of the gospel. Procedures, programs, policies, and patterns of organization are helpful for our spiritual progress here on earth, but let's not forget that they are subject to change.
In contrast, the core of the gospel—the doctrine and the principles—will never change. Living according to the basic gospel principles will bring power, strength, and spiritual self-reliance into the lives of all Latter-day Saints....

The Lord has a lot of variety in His kingdom. Each of us are at different places on the path to eternal life based on how we focus our priorities.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Christlike Attributes—the Wind beneath Our Wings," Ensign, Nov. 2005, 100

Jared said...


I accidentally put the source of Elder Uchtdorf's comment in the wrong place. It should be above the last paragraph, after the ...

Papa D said...

Jared, I beleive you can have it both ways. There are LOTS of people and posts that focus on the milk and the meat of the Gospel - and also share interesting insights and funny stories - and also address controversial topics.

To name only three, By Common Consent is so popular largely because it does all of those things - reflecting the overall lives we live, and Juvenile Instructor and Keepapitchinin are wonderful resources for deep and thoughtful posts and discussions.

If you are looking for sites that ONLY address deep, meaty subjects non-stop to the exclusion of everything else . . . I'm not you'll find many. If you are looking for sites that have numerous such posts mixed with lots of other stuff, there are quite a few.

Jared said...

Papa D--

Respectively, you're missing what I am attempting to relate.

We all need to be born again and put off the natural man. This is the message of the Book of Mormon.

This topic is seldom discussed in the 'nacle. This is an indication that it isn't meaningful, just as Elder Uchtdorf said (see my previous comment).

The natural man can be defined as the most noble to the most ignoble of mankind. This includes those who go to church regularly, those in the universities, the business community, the homeless, and those in prison. They are all natural men and women and therefore enemies to God, and will be so until they accept Christ and put off the natural man through the atonement.

It’s possible you’ve never considered this definition of the natural man. A careful reading of the Book of Mormon and the words of the apostles and prophets will confirm this definition.

Do you agree with this definition? If not, please use the scriptures and the teachings of the apostles and prophets to redefine it.

Aaron said...

Ah the endless comment box debates. Another aspect of blogging I think we've all been affected by in some way or another.

Clean Cut said...

Jared, you are defining the "natural man" as actual people--God's children. I would like to suggest that God doesn't look at his own children as enemies at all. He looks upon this abstract idea of the "natural man" similar to sin or anything else that doesn't bring us closer to God. Anything that takes us away from God is the enemy. So, the "natural man" doesn't necessarily refer to men and women themselves, but rather their behavior.

Clean Cut said...

In other words, man in his current state of nature must put off "the natural man" (ie: put off sin, etc. and become a Saint through the atonement of Christ). He cannot "put off" himself--so the person is not "the natural man" as we speak of putting off behavior that is the antithesis of sanctification.

Jared said...

Clean Cut—

You’re saying that God loves His children but hates the sin. I don’t see that has being different than saying that the natural man (children of God), who is spiritually dead because of the fall, is God’s enemy until he yields to the Spirit by repenting of all his sins, and chooses to follow Christ.

Remember, the only reason a person becomes a son of perdition is that they will not repent in this life or the next (D&C 88:35). All others will eventually repent; very knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, thus allowing them to be saved in one of the degrees of glory.

The road to the Celestial Kingdom, that Kingdom God the Father wants us to return to because we are His children, is accomplished by following the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. These principles should frequent our thoughts and our prayer should be—Heavenly Father—how am I doing? Is the course of life I’m living pleasing to Thee?

Papa D said...


Please do not respond to this comment. I desire it to be used for internal reflection only - not to cause a response here. I am very serious in making this request. Please do not respond here in this thread. Also, please understand and pardon the length.

As gently as I can say this (and I truly mean that), I believe deeply (and I truly mean that) that you are not as judgmental and condescending in person as you come across in print when these topics are discussed online. I think I have glimpsed your heart in the comments you make around the Bloggernacle, and what I have glimpsed is good and sincere and caring. However, that simply doesn't come through your words very easily - and it took me a while to see.

I share this with you for one reason and one reason only - so that you might be able, hopefully, to realize that challenging everyone else's righteousness, spirituality and dedication to the Gospel simply because they don't approach it in the same way you do is counter-productive and, in reality, alienating to many who really are on your side and good, sincere, faithful, loving, dedicated saints.

I've seen you call people to repentance (or, at least, appear to do so) and chastise them when you have no idea if you are speaking to Bishops, Stake Presidents, High Councilors, Relief Society Presidents, respected LDS historians, strongly loyal local members, etc. (I have seen you chastise someone in each of those callings and more.) You seem to have entered the Bloggernacle with a pre-conceived notion and, not finding exactly what you personally would write, decided it is because those who write therein are not as faithful as they should or can be. (I say "seem" and "appear" because I don't know you well enough to be totally certain.)

You seem to have had an amazing experience, and you come across as chiding or lecturing others who don't speak in the same terms and talk of similar experiences - not realizing that many of them simply choose not to speak of them, while others simply experience and express things differently than you do.

Please understand, I am not "offended" by this. I took Elder Bednar's advice seriously (even before he gave it - *grin*) about not letting others offend. I also am not calling you to repentance in any way. I really do see you as a very good, sincere, dedicated saint.

However, if you really are serious about helping people, you are going to have to find a different way to do it than the method you are employing at this point. It's not working, and many people who could benefit from your experiences and insights are skipping right past every comment you leave - assuming you are just chastising and slighting them once again. (This isn't conjecture; I know personally that this is happening with MANY people.)

I have no idea if this will help in any way, or if it even will make sense to you, but I care enough about you and appreciate your effort and heart enough to try to help. After all, someone took the time to say something to me when I first entered the Bloggernacle, and I am grateful that they cared enough to do so.

Clean Cut said...

Well said, Papa D. I agree.

Jared said...

Ray-I've thought carefully about your comment--maybe a "sugar coated missile" would more descriptive.

After thinking about it I decided to respond, not argue or have a prolonged exchange.

Clean Cut wrote a blog post, I came by and commented. Both of you responded, I followed up with what I'd hoped would be useful information to stimulate a thoughtful exchange. I generally focus on the basic principles of the gospel.

Instead of focusing on the topic at hand you decided to perform an analysis of my character with the intent of helping me. It would have been better received in a private email.

I believe I understand something that many in the 'nacle don't understand, and many don't care to understand--we are the restored church of Jesus Christ and therefore much is required of us.

As a people we are struggling--we are under condemnation (D&C 84:56-59) because of the way we have received the Book of Mormon and the doctrine contained therein.

I have tried to do whatlies in my power to address this concern. I know my efforts haven't always been well received of or well done on my part. However, you may be surprised to learn that I have received enough feed back via emails and comments from readers expressing gratitude for my approach.

I'll continue to work on my approach so that my written communication reflects what is in my heart. If you are serious about helping then please point out specific examples and email them to me. I would welcome it. Maybe you could start with the comments I made on this post.

I want to keep this short and also express to you and Clean Cut the importance of thoroughly understanding the doctrine of Christ. When I say this I view it has an invitation to come nearer to God, not an attempt to call you to repentance--that never entered my mind. I view myself as a fellow traveler on the road to salvation in Christ sharing what I have so all of us can arrive pure and clean before Christ at the Judgment Day.

Let's be friends in Christ.

Papa D said...

"I want to keep this short and also express to you and Clean Cut the importance of thoroughly understanding the doctrine of Christ."

That, in a nutshell, Jared, is exactly what I am referencing. If you are looking for an example, there it is.

"Let's be friends in Christ."

Amen, brother.

Jared said...


It's interesting how we can read things so differently. In my mind, saying what follows is an invitation and a means to become friends in Christ.

"I want to keep this short and also express to you and Clean Cut the importance of thoroughly understanding the doctrine of Christ."

Clean Cut said...

Jared, I first read that statement as if you're saying that you have a mature understanding of the doctrine of Christ, while mine and Ray's understanding is insufficient. Personally, I feel like I've got a great understanding of (and appreciation for) the doctrine of Christ. Naturally I'm always learning and seeing things in new ways. But I feel like I've heard and "seen" more of those principles from Rays' natural participation in the bloggernacle than admonitions about needing to be different or say more of this or that. I appreciate the clarification, because it honestly sounded kind of snobbish and condescending.

Jared said...

Clean Cut--

Wouldn't it be great if we could just assume the best of people until they clearly show us otherwise.

This discussion started when I expressed my concern that many in the 'nacle don't appear to have a great deal of interest in the first principles. This is an observation, not an indictment.

I think we would all be better off if we put are focus where the Lord has asked us to put it--"say nothing but repentance to this generation".

I think this is a topic worthy of discussion among those interested in the doctrine of Christ.

Of course, I'm not going to press the issue if others aren't interested or disagree. But I hope others won't think less of me for saying what's on my mind.

ji said...

I hope visiting and contributing to blogs has helped me learn to say only what I want to say, so that others don't misinterpret. Visiting the bloggernacle reminds me of the need to always testify of Christ, even when among fellow Latter-day Saints.

I sometimes make a posting just for the record, so to speak -- just so other non-Latter-day Saints, or Saints weak in the faith, can see my perspective and benefit from that. Many blogs in the bloggernacle, perhaps especially the most popular sites, contain an unfortunate amount of mocking, pointing the finger, sneering, and belittling -- I sometimes try to counter that by offering a simple heartfelt observation and reminder of basic principles. Often, such then invites more mocking. But I want other visitors to see that there is a rational, patient, and Christ-centered perspective among Latter-day Saints.

Visiting blogs has also helped me continue to appreciate that there is value in diversity. So often, I am reminded of Romans chapter 14. I can see one matter in a particular light, and you can see it in another, and both of us can be counted faithful. There is beauty in that.