I just checked, and my last post on T&S was in January. Although I have never experienced a period of prolonged inactivity in my Church life, this posting drought has caused me on more than one occasion to reflect on the state of mind of “believing inactives.”
As I use the term here, “believing inactives” are a subset of all inactive members. Believing inactives accept, and often live by, most of the teachings of the Church, but they do not attend services or hold a calling. In many instances, their failure to attend is not the result of any particular negative experience with the Church. They are not motivated by an objection to any person or practice in the Church. Their inactivity just happened — perhaps because of a move or a job that required them to work on Sunday or the death of a spouse — and it has become habitual.
My blogging inactivity was the result of preoccupation with other matters that seemed more pressing. I was not disenchanted with T&S or upset by any of my co-bloggers or commentators. But as time passed, I found that the thought of posting became increasingly daunting. Why?
Two reasons come to mind. First, posting on a blog is a relational experience, and my relationships with commentators have become attenuated. In my experience, blog-based relationships are more fragile than real-world relationships. In the first year or two of T&S’s existence, I felt part of the community here. By not posting, I have distanced myself from that community and deprived myself of some shared experiences. To begin posting again requires me to re-insert myself into an ongoing conversation, and that can be scary.
Second, a blog is a cooperative enterprise, in which the bloggers and commentators all contribute. If I am going to post something, I want that contribution to be viewed as valuable. When I was posting consitently, the value of any single contribution was not a weighty concern because I felt that the collective value of my participation was sufficient to excuse an occasional dud of a post. Coming out of inactivity, however, the bar seems higher. On several occasions during the past few months, I have begun to draft a post only to discard it as insufficiently interesting or worthwhile.
So, what pushed me over the edge and caused me to write this post? Well, it certainly wasn’t that fact that this inactivity angle was a killer idea that would “wow!” the T&S community. No, not that. I was prompted to write this post by the Manhattan First Ward Choir.
Last weekend, I was in New York City with my two oldest children, and we attended the sacrament meeting of the Manhattan First Ward. It was my first time in the Manhattan Chapel, and I was impressed by the size of the chapel and the congregation. (I am not sure what I expected, but it was smaller than what I saw.) We heard excellent talks on the Restoration, but for me, the choir stole the show.
As they sang, my thoughts turned to my co-bloggers (Kaimi and Greg) who at one time lived and attended church in Manhattan. I also thought of Kristine, who has enriched all of us with her posts about music. And I wondered whether any of our regular commenters were sitting in that congregation, listening to that beautiful choir (we seem to attract a disproportionate number of New Yorkers). In short, the choir triggered memories of a community that I value, and those memories in turn sparked a desire to overcome my reticence, to reintegrate myself in that community.
You’re on notice.