The only place online (besides T & S, of course) where I hang out is a message board for homeschoolers. The place is fascinating to me because it overcomes one of the biggest (in my opinion) disadvantages of Internet life: people with widely varying viewpoints are talking to each other over there. We all school the same way, but in addition to your evangelical Christians, we have every other flavor of Christians, non-religious types, Jews, Muslims, pagans, etc.
Sometimes the fur does fly, but for the most part, it is a pretty civil place. I admit that I enjoy eavesdropping on the kinds of conversations between coreligionists that I don’t think I would normally get to hear. For example, a woman recently posted asking for advice: Should she suck up what she didn’t like about her current church, or should she move her family to a new church? (Not a conversation one would likely have in front of an LDS friend!)
The responses were interesting and varied; here’s one that caught my attention, from ‘Melinda in VT.’ She saw the following as signals that it was time to move on:
“* Feeling I have to hide how I really feel or what I really believe in order to conform to the majority opinion
* Children being regularly taught things I don’t agree with/Feeling I have to deprogram the kids after church
* A persistent feeling of not being spiritually uplifted in church “
Well, sheesh, if I used that criteria, I’d be sleeping in and joining the Presbys for Starbucks next Sunday.
I exaggerate, but only a little. For the most part, I don’t have problems with (1) and (2), although (3) is a constant struggle, especially sacrament meeting with young children (but I think that’s a universal).
We don’t use her standards, of course. Our criteria is simple: you go to the Church with the true doctrine and authority. And if your political or social beliefs are a little out of the mainstream, you squelch them to avoid contention. If your kid has a weird Primary teacher, you make do and be sure to have FHE and scripture study so that they are taught what you want them to be taught. And if you aren’t spiritually uplifted, well, it is your own fault. It’s up to you to be prepared and active during a lesson to have a spiritual experience.
I have no real question, complaint, or brilliant conclusion here. Just, once again, the realization that it is far more than doctrine that divides us.