Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Metablogging and Belief

This is a blog post about blogging. And about belief. I try not to metablog too often, but it's been on my mind a lot, so I'm gonna go for it.

First of all, what the crap am I doing over here, right? I mean, this thing started out as an ADD blog, and when that (OBVIOUSLY) didn't last long because of my raging ADD, it turned into a humor blog where I randomly told stories about colonoscopies and neighborhood cats that terrorized my children. People started following it then, and commenting with really hilarious comments. I loved it.

And then June happened...
and suddenly my blog--my very personal place--became a really public place where people came together to talk about the issue of homosexuality. For months, I felt like there was this really awesome, usually civil, discourse around that issue. I contemplated trying to move that discussion to another place because, after all, this was my blog--the place where I shared pieces of my own life with the planet. (Granted, they were ridiculous pieces.) But at that time it felt like I should keep the discussion alive, right here on The Weed.

I think that time might be over. At least the part where I allow just anyone to say anything that suits their fancy.

For example, while I love discourse, I'm not really interested having a sweet post about my daughter's video about Martin Luther King Jr turn into a discussion about blacks and Mormonism, which then devolves into an all out religious war. It's a natural segue I suppose (if you're intrigued by that sort of thing). Perhaps that interests other people? But, it's not that interesting to me.

So, I think I am enabling comment moderation here at The Weed. At least for a while.

Allow me to be clear. I don't mean to stifle anyone's voice, and I fully believe in people's right to express their thoughts. However, I'm not writing this blog to have discussions about the validity of the Mormon church. I deeply believe in the Mormon church. I do not invite and will not allow commentary that cuts it down.

I am an open-minded person, and I have read a lot of stuff. I assure you, I am not scared of truth, and I am not ignorant. I am not afraid to look at things objectively, or to hear hard truths, or to look very deeply into the mirror or into the annals of my religion's past. I have had experiences over the last couple of years that have tested my faith very profoundly. I couldn't even dream up the scenarios that have thrust my belief system into new, fresh contexts--contexts where I could examine things with clear eyes and heightened perspective. Only God Himself knows me well enough to have constructed some of those experiences. Experiences that allow me to look at myself clearly and say "I know what I know."

I have contemplated truth, read history, prayed and fasted. Yet my faith remains simple and undiluted. I read the Book of Mormon every day and it helps me feel close to God. I know it comes from Him. I believe Joseph Smith saw what he said he saw. I do not think he was lying. I feel the spirit every day. When I do, I feel peace, I feel the desire to be a better man, I feel able to see those I love more clearly and love them more deeply and interact with them less selfishly. I believe in prophetic counsel, and I believe in personal revelation. I believe God guides our lives and loves His children--all of them.  These are my beliefs--my most sacred truths. I do not challenge you with them but I do share them without shame or apology, and I do ask you to respect them.

It is important to me that people feel able to discuss issues here, but not in a way that feels like people are trudging mud into my own cyber-living room. This blog is my conceptual home. I want it to be treated respectfully when it comes to my most sacred beliefs, as well as the sacred beliefs of others.

There are so many other places online that support dissenting views on the LDS Church. Losing this one should not hamper anyone who wishes to find support, camaraderie or discussion of that nature. I completely respect anyone whose views differ from mine. Several of my best, closest friends have wildly different belief-systems from my own. But you'll note that none of them come here to dispute issues of belief. That's part of how we remain friends: we respect each other's view points.

So, if you're adamant that your voice and views be heard, I support you and applaud you. I invite you to google groups and blogs, at your leisure, that dovetail with the message you wish to evangelize. Or, heck, do what I did and start a blog. I will totally read a blog about your religious views if you send me a link. I might even comment from time to time because I love reading blogs, especially about religion. Don't be silent, and don't stop sharing your thoughts. I'm sure the work you are doing is important, and I'm positive there are people who need to hear from you.

But as for me and my Blog, we will be respectful about religion. Period. This is not the place to denigrate the Mormon church, expose "hidden" (those quotation marks are actually air-quotes that come with a severe Michelle Obama-caliber eye-roll from me, because I'm a sassy gay man and am allowed) truths or historical accounts, or challenge people you feel are antiquated or mistaken or hopelessly provincial. I love you and I love the people you are challenging and I'm tired of seeing the fallout. So, that ends now.

So yeah, comment moderation. I'm going to try it out. (This is a mechanism on the blog that makes it so comments won't appear until I have approved them. That means that when you post a comment, it won't show up at first.) Maybe I'll hate it. But for now, it seems like the best choice. I'll do my best to post moderated comments as quickly as possible and when in doubt, feel free to post a comment and let me do the work of deciding whether to post it or not.

Second item of business, I have had a lot--and I mean a lot--of people email me over the last six months.

I have done an extremely poor job of replying to people. I am so sorry! I want you to know that this has to do with my ADD, mainly. If you have emailed me and I haven't responded, it is totally about me and my issues with organization, and has nothing to do with you or what you have shared with me or asked me. I'm spending time every day going back and responding to emails, but I have a ways to go. I am trying really hard and I am so sorry if I haven't gotten to you. If you have something you sent a while back and I haven't responded, feel free to send it again and in the subject line let me know that it's the second time you've sent it. Your message will take priority.

Okay, business post over.

Wait, one more thing! The Ricki Lake episode we were on is going to re-air on Thursday the 24th. So, if you didn't get the chance to see it the first time, set your DVR's now...

Things to look forward to this week? A check-in and a FFAQ question post (which I'll answer the next Friday, so it alternates. Like a pendulum. See how good I am at systems and organization?  *finger guns* Pew pew pew!).

Over and out.




49 comments:

  1. Dude, is this guy a therapist who knows how to handle conflictual situations or what? I am so proud of you, Josh, and so thankful for your willingness to keep putting yourself out there when I'm sure it has been incredibly difficult at times. Thinking of you and Lolly and the kiddos and hoping you stay happy and well!

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  2. Well put. I am Christian, but not Mormon, but grew up in an area with a large Mormon population. I will say, that through your coming out I was reminded of how tolerant, loving and non-judgemental my Mormon friends have always been despite our very different belief systems. It's a shame that it was not reciprocated.

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  3. I completely agree! I do the same thing on my facebook page, if people try to start an argument or get rude, I just delete done! They can start up whatever they want on their own page or blog. I know you are up for a good discussion, but not rudeness.

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  4. Your blog, your rules. Rock on! ;-)

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  5. I want to invite you to read my blog! I'm a active member so it's not one of THOSE blogs but I do have one

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  6. Boundaries are good! More power to you! :)

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  7. Josh, thank you, thank you, thank you. You never cease to amaze me with your incredibly admirable wisdom and endearing humor all rolled into one. You have a way of communicating pure love, even through your writing, and even to people you have never met. Not to sound creepy or anything but I FEEL like I know you even though we've never met in real life. Maybe someday I hope. :)

    And thank you so much for your testimony. It truly, truly means a lot.

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  8. Well thought out and said.. NICE! Kudos to you, brother Weed..

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  9. Sounds fair, and sorry for my part in it.

    And I would so watch the riki lake episode....if I had a TV. Sometimes having the computer as a TV has its shortcomings. ::sigh::

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  10. I like how you delineate this as your blog space with regards to comment moderation. I have always had comment moderation turned on with my blog, but have never had to wield its awesome power much. But, I have been wondering how I would explain where I draw the line. You explain it beautifully.

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  11. Can I share something with you, a treasure which fell into my inbox today? It's a little off topic but your ADD might just love that. It is about faith. My husband discovered today that as well as being a faithful Latter-Day Saint it would appear he is also, like his grandfather was, a Zoroastrian.

    Richard's aunt emailed us a transcript of a letter which was written to her by her father (Richard's grandfather) when she was eighteen. It was unopened, so although it was written in 1959 it was not read until 2012. It contains a wealth of family history as well as beautiful, tender advice from a father to a daughter on the cusp of adulthood. This beautiful passage came near the end of the letter and provides a wondrous illustration of my husband's and my children's heritage. It is something I am proud to have in my family.

    "Your religion consists of a belief in a Creator and simply the three tenets of ‘good thoughts, good words and good deeds'. If you think carefully, this embraces all human activity. It is the fundamental and the most desirable way of life and who ever practises it is a good Zoroastrian or a Parsi whatever else he or she believes in. You may follow the teachings of Christ, Buddha, Mohamed, Confucius or any other prophet or savant of any other age. It does not prevent you being the fundamental Parsi. You only cease being a Parsi or Zoroastrian when you depart from good thoughts, good words and good deeds. And if you do, any other religion you may profess is mere sham. Your religion allows you to pray and commune with your Creator in any church, mosque, temple or open air for that matter. One does not go to a church because God lives there. You will find God in his creations. "For this reason I have never objected to or put any restrictions on the religious teaching at school. It has not done you any harm, only good because all religions based on a belief in God had fundamental principles which make for good honest living and spiritual uplift."

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  12. Diplomatic yet strong. Pure Weed. LOVE IT! I do think you are going to get very tired of the moderation, but I bet you can hold out longer than the haters. ;)

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  13. Good call. Haha your blog morphing is kind of humorous when I think about it. Sometimes I miss the Weed humor blog that had me rolling on the ground laughing. Not that I don't think your new content isn't valuable and awesome, sometimes I miss the silly stuff. Seriously what is with hilarious mormon dads? Have you seen any Arturo Trejo videos on youtube- you and him are my favorite hilarious mormon dads hands down.

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  14. I thought you actually decided to moderate months ago, made me wonder why you found some of those comments acceptable to be posted.... anyway....

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  15. I am continually impressed by your ability to express your beliefs without offense. I admire and respect the courage it took to make you and your family vulnerable by sharing your story and your truth. I personally cannot fathom the strength it takes to not get brought down, discouraged, depressed, or angry by others hurtful comments especially when it is directed at something you love. I don't know you personally, I do not comment on stranger's blogs, but as a fellow Mormon I feel a kinship to you, and I appreciated you standing firm for what you believe while graciously allowing others to believe how, where, or what they may. The feeling of love and acceptance you and your wife have for everyone is conveyed through your words. I just wanted to let you know there are others, who often stay silent, who appreciate the good you have done and are doing to spread the gospel of Christ - love, compassion, and kindness. Those who have a desire to tear someone down are usually the loudest, but know there are many more that support you. I just thought you might need some encouragement and lifting up after I read that post, thus the compulsion to actually comment. :) Wishing you and your darling family all the best. May God bless you and keep you always.

    Amber

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  16. "I'm a sassy gay man and I'm allowed" I love it when you write something that literally makes me laugh out loud. This is going on my "Today is the Best Day of My Life" list. (I am sending you a link to my blog so that you can see what that is all about. I think you might enjoy it ^_^)

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  17. Well said!! It is so very hard to post positive things on this blog without someone trying to make you feel awful for believing things of the spirit. So that is great. Thanks for the voice......

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  18. HIGH FIVE JOSH! We are so happy to hear this and love this post. I, (Mrs. IDM) literally got my own frustrations out as I read your awesome words, out loud, to Mr. IDM. Powerful stuff and wonderfully said.

    We are right there with ya, and have been considering moderating comments as well on our blog, since we have had some 'trouble' with rude and disrespectful comments from a few people who seem to bring a negative spirit and attitude.

    This 'blogging' world is a wonderful community and we are gaining new friends through reading and sharing and it has been very therapeutic for us and our family. We agree with all that you have said, and also feel that, while we are not narrow minded, and appreciate diverse points of view, genuine efforts to learn, grow, and understand, we definitely don't need or want the drama/attacks/disrespect, etc. to infringe on the great and positive things that are happening through our blog.

    (huddle) Bloggers.....Unicorns.....Mormons UNITE :D (break!) -lol;)

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  19. Geez. You want to have the freedom to delete comments or moderate or whatever? Fine. Frankly, probably very few people care. Stop writing lengthy blog posts about why you are doing this or even that you are doing this. I enjoy your blog posts but this is something like the fifth time you have written about moderating comments in some way. If you're going to do it, do it. Stop explaining the ins and outs of why because the people who you are not concerned about posting, probably won't care. Add a blurb at the end of a post and be done with it. You certainly don't need to write 12 paragraphs on why you're going to moderate comments.

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    1. It is interesting to me that you feel the need to criticize this post. You seem to have an underlying anger in your words. It feels more like a little bit of a personal attack. You know you don't have to read a post if you don't want to, novel thought. And there are a lot of people who DO care about Josh moderating comments.

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    2. I enjoyed all 12 paragraphs...

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  20. Thank you. I quit reading the comments a long time ago because I couldn't stand the venom some of them contained. Maybe now I can start reading comments again.

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  21. Josh, you should write a post where you ask people to name and talk about their favorite post.
    I like the little-mentioned "Morning Run."

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    1. Au contraire mon frair (bad , really bad French sorry). Josh has mentioned the justly famed "Morning Run" at the drop of a hat (or a deuce- ha!).

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  22. Good for you! Not many people would go in to your livingroom and through dirt around, but in cyberspace some think they have the right to do just that. This is your cyber-livingroom and people should think about that. HOW people do things says a lot about who they are and why would anybody care to listen to what someone, who shows so much disrespect for others, has to say. Their behavior talks for their believes. We have all heared the saying "People don't hear your words because your actions speaks so laud." Your actions, Josh, speaks tons about you and your believes, that's why we all keep coming back!

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  23. Sorry for my part in that debate, I tend to get caught up in debates and not use good wisdom. Thank you for being yourself.

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  24. This blog is like my spiritual bar. I'll take three more shots! Pew pew pew! Love it.

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  25. Great post! I'm proud of you for setting some boundaries for your mental health!

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  26. Well said~!.... I totally loved how you present your posts and I totally loved reading this. I definitely would and could not have put it better. As a matter of fact, I'm always more blunt than I would care to be out in the real world.

    I don't usually post, but I wanted to let you know that I activated comment moderating because I was getting a lot of spam in my comments. I do not regret this one bit and so far I've not had anyone say anything about it... but then again, though I get a lot of likes, not a lot of comments.

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  27. Well, I don't share your beliefs either, but so what? I'm here for the humanity, honesty, wisdom and sharing... to name a few.

    My prayer for you is that over time you find a way to do comment moderation in a way that is sustainable and not overwhelming. While some negative posters will never give up - they'll keep on trying to put things in - my hope is that others get the message and that the volume of stuff you need to look out for shrinks, and that you get REALLY good at spotting things so you can spend more time on other things, more enjoyable things.

    Comment moderation is, basically, discipline. Yuck. I say this as a mother. But necessary, you know. When you get good at it, please tell us how you do it - I haven't started even one of several planned blogs (yes, I'm afraid I'm a bit over-ambitious) but I'm quite willing to learn about the pitfalls in advance.

    Oh... right - also, I echo what just about everyone already said. You've got some amazing people in this community - it's a privilege.

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  28. PERFECT. Lengthy post or not, I think people ought to get the message after your clear explanation of what this blog is the place for what it isn't. Keep up the awesomeness!

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  29. I'm surprised you didn't start moderating months ago. It's your blog; you get to control the content. It's that simple.

    In fact, if you want this blog to remain both relevant and readable, you NEED to control the content. Other readers may disagree with this idea. But I think it's like you said: those who want to derail or hijack a discussion to promote their own agendas can find other blogs receptive to their comments, or they can create their own blogs. (Personally, I don't think they'll get nearly the readership that you have. Smiley face goes here.)

    Want some free advice about your email backlog? Issue a blanket apology, and then throw it away. Start over fresh. Otherwise you'll be carrying around a (self-imposed and totally unnecessary) burden of guilt and obligation for a really, really long time.

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  30. There are SO many people who comment. And you might get fed-up with reading each O_o But yeah, the lines have become a little blurred, and since the coming out post, I think this is regarded as more of a public forum, rather than someone's personal blog.
    Can't hurt to try it out though :)

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  31. My Dear.... A dear friend & Good Christian said to me once (because I am almost a heathen and I was questioning them) "They call it faith for a reason" YOU have faith and you do so much for all people by writing your blog. I think you should write what ever you want. I admire you so much for your faith, your bravery and your writing skills. PLEASE keep up the good work. Hugs

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  32. YOU have faith,this is America and part of our beauty is we can say what we wish and we are all different and we can have faith. Thanks for being you, and being brave and writing so well. Hugs

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  33. I know you're doing this for yourself... But thank you. I had to quit reading and walk away for a week. Not because my religion was being dissected , but because a 5yo girl was.

    Salaam!!!

    -Grey!

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  34. Glad you are doing this Josh. I love your blog, but hated the comments. Even though I don't share the same beliefs as you, I found it incredibly frustrating how some people felt the need to be consistently downright hateful about your faith...kind of defeating the purpose of your desire for openness in the first place. Anywho...keep doing what you're doing! You're an inspiration.

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  35. Thank you Josh! The hurtfulness has gone on long enough. I love your blog posts, they make me laugh. It's disgusting how some people hijack the thread to further their own agendas. It has been personally offensive to me as a Latter Day Saint. I love the Gospel so much and try to just love all people as Jesus taught. Thank you for your example of love and tolerance for all of God's children while setting boundaries against abuse.

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  36. Agreed. I'm not a Mormon myself, but the way people mock and tear down Mormonism is offensive to me, as a matter of principle.

    And since you did ask: I'm a gay anarchist Catholic (believe me, I'm baffled by it too) and I have a blog too, about religion, politics, and queer issues, with a side of metadiscourse. This is it: http://mudbloodcatholic.blogspot.com/

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