Monday, December 31, 2007

Lessons On LDS Blogging

I have had this particular experience on my mind for several days and have felt impressed to share it.

I started blogging immediately after my mission. I found blogging to be a small substitute for the daily activities of my mission. It gave me a chance to share my testimony every day (even if it was only to myself depending on my blog's number of visitors).

I began searching for other LDS blogs and in doing so was led to many by members of the Church that I felt were negative and consumed with fault-finding. The more I read the more offended I became, until I found myself posting attacks to their posts. I grew obessed with arguing and fancied myself a "defender of the Church."

Later I stumbled upon a particular blog and after beginning my usual criticism the author sent me an email explaining his situation and history. His candor and sincerity hit a strong nerve within me. I began to feel a special love for this person. More importantly, I began to understand the reasons behind the feelings and words he posted.

An interesting change took place. As I read words that I once found negative I looked past the words and tried to connect with the author. Instead of taking offense and feeling attacked I began to feel the pain and struggles of the individual.

This newly gained empathy caused me to evaluate my own life, and through these once negative posts I grew. Oddly, some of the positions expressed on these blogs that angered me, I actually began to agree with.

My testimony of the Church was never shaken, and I still see myself as a strong member of the Church. But I learned many lessons from this experience.

The first and most important lesson I learned was that as members of the Church (and as human beings for that matter) we must love eachother. We should use our online voices to show charity for those we come in contact with.

Second, we must communicate with humility. Looking back, I strongly believe my attacks on others were propelled by inner-pride acting as a wall protecting my testimony. When someone has a strong witness of the Restoration they should be able to humbly communicate it to others.

The third lesson is that we need to remember that there is an actual person behind each post. Most of us wouldn't walk up to another member at Church and begin attacking them because of a particular comment made in Sunday School. What gives us the license to do that when blogging?

Fourth, there are varying degrees of testimonies in the Church. Just because we believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God in the traditional sense, doesn't mean someone else who also belongs to the Church feels the same way. This was a hard lesson for me to learn. I could not understand how someone could consider themselves members if they didn't accept some of the core tenets of the faith. But whether we understand it or not, that's just the way it is and it shouldn't prevent us from loving and accepting all no matter how much their beliefs differ from ours.

These lessons have had a profound impact on me that has extended past the bloggernacle and enriched my life offline. I hope that as members of the Church we can do a better job of loving and supporting one another in the blogosphere. I hope that we can stop being defensive and start being charitable toward one another and as Alma says be "willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Common Reflection

by Drew

Many things I have doubted in life
But something I have never questioned
Through this world's challenges and strife
It has been my common reflection

That inside each man and woman
Burns a fire of heaven's greatness
A divinty that is always yearning
To display its undying witness

It can consume our outer person
That is only if we let it
We can hide it in the depths
Of our soul and forget it

We can let it light the world
Through our actions and our works
But we can turn away from it
Not ever realizing what we deserve

I have walked alone in the cold
Feeling the warmth of the ambers burning
Calling upon me to act
Upon my divinty and its yearning

This Blog's Purpose

Recently I was prompted to begin blogging again after reading Elder M. Russell Ballard's recent words at a BYU Hawaii commencement address:

"May I ask you to join the conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the new media to share the gospel and explain in simple clear terms the message of the Restoration. Most of you already know that if you have acces to the internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true."

Click To Watch Elder Ballard's Address

I have read various blog entries written by members of the Church who were also inspired by this charge.

After listening to this address I spent some time pondering on what my purpose in blogging would be and what benefit, if any, could someone get from reading my words.

I desire to be a good writer but unfortunately I am not. My vocabulary is limited and my grammar is poor. My knowledge base is small and I do not have any idea or position that is new or worthy of discussion. But I do have a testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel and can at the very least add to the voices of Latter-day Saints proclaiming the Gospel on the Internet.

I have had a lot of exposure to Church doctrine and history. I have worked through many questions and concerns during my time as an active member. If anything, I hope that this experience will prove to useful to someone (if only myself) in my posts on this blog and comments on others.