Email is a powerful communication tool that has largely changed how the world communicates.
In this series that I have titled “Notable Emails”, I have been sharing some one on one conversations between myself and others through traditional emails. However, electronic mail takes place in several different formats. Another form electronic mail takes place in the form of blog comments.
Blog comments are an amazing form of electronic communication because it enables a group of individuals to join in a discussion, in real time, as well as in extended time.
Sometimes a personal discussion takes place between two people that others don’t join in on, yet they are able to be bystanders and listen in on the personal exchange. Other times lots of people participate with the potential for a synergistic outcome.
In a future post I am going to share a doctrinal debate that I had with a person in a comments section that ended up in an unbelievably long thread of very short scriptural snippets. It demonstrates just how quickly a doctrinal topic can be fleshed out when two people are smokin up their scriptural word crunching software.
In other posts I will share some traditional email conversations that began with a blog comment and then morphed into a traditional email conversaion. Others will simply take place on-line in the comment section of a blog.
Rigdon Posterity is coming to the Party Late ..
..but they are Coming!
Another one of the future posts will be from a non-member lady who is a direct descendent of Sidney Rigdon. She made a comment on my blog and I contacted her by traditional email to continue the conversation. I think you will find the conversation interesting.
Sidney Rigdon was promised in a patriarchal blessing that his posterity would be scattered for a time but that they would eventually be gathered into the flock.. I see this woman as a partial fulfillment to that prophecy.
“Blessed are his generations: nevertheless, one shall hunt after them as as a man hunteth after an ass that is strayed in the wilderness and straitway find eth him and bringeth him into the fold: and thus shall the Lord watch over his generations that they may be saved..”
A few decades ago you would have been hard pressed to find a believer in the Book of Mormon with the last name of Rigdon or even that name in their genealogy.. I think that may be changing.
I guarantee it will change when the servants return.
Anyway, in this post I am going to share an even different variation of online communication. In a sense, it might be considered electronic eavesdropping.. It is the act of finding out what other people in different online communities are saying about something or somebody online using various Google keyword searches or blog analytics.
I recently did a keyword search that brought up a fascinating discussion on the newordermormon site. The topic of the thread was “Can You Summarize the “Other Voices” Out There for me?” that forum appears to be composed of an eclectic bunch of folks who range from unbelieving to simply creating their own version of Mormonism with a new age spin on it.
In the post, a person is asking for help from his fellow earth travelers in identifying who some of the other LDS voices are on the Internet. Here is a snippet:
” I just listened to Lindsay Hansen Park’s latest Year of Polygamy podcast that implies the idea that the mainstream LDS church is really an offshoot church. That they left the bad and took the good with them. And she describes tons of splinter and fundamentalist groups.
I can’t stop thinking about this concept. For those of you who have been at this longer than me, what are the other voices out there and what are they about?
I’m wondering because I have 2 TBM teenagers and hundreds of TBM family, some of whom seem to have curious leanings towards Snuffer.
My worst fear is my daughter joining a fundamentalist polygamist sect or that the mainstream LDS church will bring back polygamy because it will be legalized. The likelihood of that happening is low but I guess I’m wondering what else might I be afraid of her joining?
To be honest I am more afraid of some of these groups than her staying TBM.
Here are a few I’ve heard of … more? And a brief description? Thanks for your help:)
Who is “onewhoiswatching”?”
The Crisis of Faith is Causing People to Search
I am going to suggest that we are entering a new era of Mormonism wherein the current, growing, large scale crisis of faith in Mormonism is causing people who never visited alternate LDS websites is going to begin to increase exponentially as people begin desperately looking for answers in order to maintain any degree of faith. I guess the scriptural explanation of this .. is that since the dispensation of the fulness of times is getting ready to usher in, God is removing the blindness that he put upon Israel many generations ago.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Rom 11:25)
In other words, we are experiencing the beginning of the preparatory light that is preparing the minds of this generation for the last great restoration.
Interestingly, someone deleted the above thread, it only shows up as a cached page on Google.
Those of you who use wordpress, realize that the service provides an analytics feature that allows you to see where many of your viewers or coming from, along with live links so that you can quickly visit a blog, email group or chat forum to see what the chatter was that prompted people to visit your site.
Periodically I notice a surge in visitors to one of my old blog posts that are sent from another place on the Internet and on days when I have way too much time on my hands, I will sometimes visit some of these links to see why my ears have been burning.
Back in September I noticed a bunch of visitors that were being directed to my site from exmormon.org.
Obviously, I found this a little bit intriguing so I visited the site to see what was being said.
A member of that community had posted the following comment/question to the rest of the group:
“…by One Who is Watching.
Can anyone tell me anything about this blog?
I was looking up some info on Lyman Wight who moved with some followers to Texas after J. Smith’s death. I came upon this blog after it was referred by Google as source of some Wight info.
Very strange and interesting reading. Anyone have some info on who writes this blog?“
He then followed up with the following observation:
” This guy seems to have a fairly extensive knowledge of LDS scriptures and some new ideas I’ve never heard before using the scriptures to back his views.
I started reading from one of his entries and he made a statement that he had listed thirty scriptures to support his claims but they must be read in the precise order he lists them so as to prove his point.
This seems to be taking things out of context and manipulating them for his own purposes. Sounds like another from the early 1800s.
It amazes me how people can search thru scriptures and pick and choose those pieces that fit into their puzzle. How are they able to do that?
Further searches have revealed no new evidence as to who he is. Very weird and strange at the same time.”
Taking things out of context?
Frankly, I just couldn’t resist the urge to make a comment so I did:
” What I don’t understand is, why are people so curious about who I am.
The blog is not about me.
Why can’t you simply focus on the content instead of getting distracted by wondering who wrote it?”
It appears to me as if the reason this fellow wanted to know who I am is because if you cannot kill the message, you can always try to kill the messenger.
Killing the Message by Killing the Messenger
You see, most human beings who have their lives closely scrutinized, have a huge credibility problem with other human beings in that they are, well… human.
If you can find out who the messenger is and can find some dirt on them, or, at the very least, you can show that they are not successful people worthy of emulation, you can convince people that their voice is not worth listening to. If you can show that they have never accomplished anything worthwhile, you can easily dismiss their ideas. By doing this, you can justify rejecting what they are saying that invalidates your own conclusions.
Hence, you make a comment like the one shown above instead of saying something like this:
“hey, this blogsite I have stumbled onto is presenting some groundbreaking historical and doctrinal interpretations that I have never been confronted with and they are overwhelmingly backed up by passages in all four of the standard works! Furthermore, the guy providing this information can’t spell very well and is clearly to stupid to have made this stuff up!
The research provides compelling credible answers to the major stumbling blocks that most of us on this forum are having. I think we should test the suppositions on this site and see if he is onto something, after all, our eternal salvation is at risk here… etc., etc., yada yada yada..”,
Sadly, it is much easier and safer to discount the content and to try to find out who the smuck is, focus on his human-ness, and demonstrate that he is a clown, so that the information on the site can be marginalized.
That is one possible scenario, however, I think there is a deeper reason that the exMormon started the post. More on that later in this post.
I suspect this fellow was shocked and mortified when I entered the conversation and made the above comment.
Group Mentality of the Mob
Needless to say, several of his cohorts, who have now accepted the lifestyle of unbelief and entered the community of unbelievers, all chimed in to mock and make game of me which I found mildly entertaining.
I am afraid some of their comments reflect the mob mentality and cumulative emotional IQ of the forum. I was a little surprised when a few children of light weighed into the discussion. I have no idea what they were doing visiting the Mormon red-light district of the Internet.
If you have ever visited an exMormon site then you realize that many people who have lost faith and left the church become extremely dark, cynical, and critical of everything. Unbelief and the feeling that you have been deceived colors a person’s communications in a pervasive way and they end up mocking anyone and everyone of faith.
Quick.. Take a Shower!
When you leave an exMormon site you feel so dirty that you want to take a shower. But that is only when you are conversing with these lost souls as a group. Conversing with them individually, if they have truly done some significant research on their own and not just accepted the research of others, is actually quite refreshing because they can clearly and intelligently explain what they don’t believe and why.
It can be a very different and enjoyable experience speaking with these folks on a personal basis because they are usually very intelligent, articulate, thoughtful people who have done lots of sincere research. They actually demonstrate that they have a mind. And sometimes it is still open.
Over the years I have had several conversations with several people who have lost all faith and have become exMormons. Some visit my blog and engage me. Sometimes I visit their dark and nefarious domains to engage them. Often times an initial conversation in a blog comment switches to traditional email.
I prefer Speaking to the EXMOs
I am now going to tell you something that will probably shock and offend many readers of this blog.
I actually enjoy speaking with skeptical exMormons one on one, more than I enjoy speaking to mainstream members of the church, one on one.
Because I often sense a much higher level of personal integrity and intelligence in the skeptics than I do in members of the church that have blinders on and will not prayerfully consider the facts.
You see, a person can arrive at the wrong conclusion about something through research even though their research was motivated by sincerity and integrity of their heart. The problem is that they don’t have all the facts, yet their research was conducted out of a sincere desire to know the truth.
Many of the exMormon community leave the church because they sincerely just want to know the truth and it starts them on a journey of research that destroys their faith. This happens because they don’t go far enough down the rabbit hole looking for answers and they are not looking for answers in the right places.
Their loss of faith does not occur because they are evil sinners.
It isn’t because they don’t want to pay their tithing.
It isn’t because they don’t have charity for their fellow man.
It is not because they are out committing adultery with their neighbor’s wife.
More likely, they have concerns about Joseph Smith committing adultery with his neighbors wives.
It is because they are confronted with difficult historical and doctrinal conundrums and they have the personal integrity to search for answers instead of placing the questions on the proverbial “shelf” that well meaning institutional leaders so highly endorse, since they have no credible answers to proffer.
During their search, they cannot find adequate answers. Before long, they find community with others who share the same concerns and conclusions. These new seemingly like-minded friends in the exMormon communities seem to validate their conclusions and it provides the vindication they are looking for relative to the life-changing decisions they have made that makes them look like covenant breakers to relatives and past friends.
Despite how darkened many of these disenfranchised souls often become, I have noticed that many of them are people of integrity. Sadly, once they have lost the light, which invariably results from making false conclusions, and they associate with the dark side long enough, it is hard to resurrect hope in them again.
Nevertheless, I actually find it easier to reason with many of these folks who have lost faith, than with the TBM. When I try to reason with mainstream members of the church, all they can do is shut me out, or rehearse the testimony that they began memorizing when they were in Jr. Sunday School.
In the last post, JL observed that the information discussed on this blog cannot be taught, it can only be revealed.
Holy shmoly is that ever true.
I wish I could get that through my head and just quit wasting my time trying to convince anybody of anything.
I often leave conversations with mainstream members of the church feeling like I have sustained significant brain damage.
Regarding the rabbit Hole
I have found that if you go down the rabbit hole far enough, you eventually come out on the other side of the earth where the sun is shining brightly even though the world around you is very different than the one you came from… and you discover you are no longer in Kansas anymore. That is the problem with most exMormons IMO, they didn’t search far enough, and deep enough, and they searched the Internet instead of the scriptures… they lost faith in the holy and infallible word of God before they could experience the epiphany that it’s content can bring.
One parting thought. There is another possibility as to why that person posted their comment/question on the exMormon site.
It might have been a cry for help in a sea of unbelievers.
Maybe he began to be convicted in his heart and mind by one of the scriptures he read on the blog. Maybe his heart and mind are still open. Maybe the light of Christ is calling him back into the light.
If that is the case, come on in brother, the water is fine.
Notable Emails Part 5: “the truths that both you and I hold so dear …are things that cannot be taught they can only be revealed.”
Notable Emails- Part 3 “Have you ever read ‘Letter to a CES Director?’” Yes… and it has strengthened my testimony!
Notable Emails- Part 2: “Readers deserve to know if you truly are a heretic or just a faithful divergent thinker”