Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that the Bloggernacle is the name for a large group of Mormon blogs. One of these, called Banner of Heaven, never really caught my interest, so I didn’t spend a lot of time there. But boy oh boy are the Bloggernaccle-ites boiling mad about it now.
Seems that this particular blog was nothing but mini-drama of made up characters. But the creators were not honest about this, and since people regularly opened up on the comments portion of the blog, more than a few people are feeling betrayed.
In a story in The Des News II, Peggy Fletcher Stack explains how the creators were unmasked as fakes, and better yet, why the real bloggers of the Bloggernacle are so angry.
From the beginning, some readers suspected that Banner wasn’t real. The characters seemed too extreme and situations too outrageous to be believed. But others were drawn in by their stories. Doesn’t every Latter-day Saint know someone in their ward who believes God sent Katrina to punish sinners, as “Aaron” wrote? Isn’t there an angry feminist like “Miranda” who turns every Sunday school lesson into a gender battle? “I guess I thought people would be so dazzled by our wit and storytelling ability that the ethical issues wouldn’t matter,” says Brian Gibson, a co-creator of the blog. “Now I realize it was just wrong.”
The only thing that REALLY bothers me about this whole charade is that Mormons won’t see it for what it is…. The reality of their religion. The entire faith is set up around faith-promoting stories and miracles, most of which are never validated or verified. The Joseph Smith first vision story itself has changed so many times that were Old Joe alive today, he would wonder who the hell this young buck was who could run miles with gold plates that had to have weighed hundreds of pounds. There are quite a few different versions of the first vision, none of which bear much resemblance to the story touted on the LDS Church Web site.
Writing it up, or spinning it better, is the very essence of Mormonism.
Boyd K. Packer said of those writing about Church history:
“Your objective should be that they will see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now….there is no such thing as an accurate or objective history of the Church which ignores the Spirit…. Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer…”
“Some things that are true are not very useful.”
So why all the hoo haa about a mini drama played out on a blog, written by real believing Mormons? They do it every day on Temple Square. Because it wasn’t real? Well, hell, if you believe the First Vision story, you’ll buy just about anything, right?
And Mormons LOVE made up stuff. I know, I know, you know someone, who knew someone, who knew someone else whose sister was saved from a rape by one of the Three Nephites. I’ve heard so many Three Nephites stories–mysterious stranger appears, saves someone, disappears, and they realize it was one of the Three Nephites, who are walking the earth and can’t die, or something like that–that I can repeat some of them by heart.
So the fact these guys set up a fictional Web site with fictional Mormon characters but weren’t honest about the fact these were fictional characters is NOT surprising. I mean, it was only a matter of time before it happened.
And I guess it’s a first in the Mormon Blog community, which is why it is getting so much response. At least we THINK it’s the first…. Or is it?
Time will tell….
And in the meantime, the creators are very, very sorry.
“In the past, some people have posted very personal, very important, very difficult-to-discuss things on the blogs. In turn, commenters have shared their own pain. I think that healing has occurred that never could in real life. Real good has been done,” wrote Julie M. Smith of Austin. “But the next time someone posts (especially at a smaller or newer blog) about a sensitive topic, do you think that there will be the same outpouring in the comments? I doubt it. Once bitten, twice shy.”
Some critics of the LDS Church grabbed onto the Banner of Heaven episode as a parallel for the church’s own founding, saying that it was like founder Joseph Smith claiming invented revelations.
That is most upsetting to Banner creators who are all believing Mormons, Evans says. “Religion is more than telling a beautiful story, it’s about truth.”
Seems that old truth issue is always the sticky wicket…. (I have no idea what this cliche means, but it just seemed to fit. What the hell IS a sticky wicket?)