The hidden apologetics of Banner of Heaven

June 22, 2010 | 35 comments
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Scott at Bloggernacle Times has been putting on a very impressive Behind the Music retrospective about the old Banner of Heaven blog.  The hair, the women, the trashed hotel rooms — it’s all there, complete with interviews with band members (Brian G. comes clean about the infamous “no brown M&M’s” contract), groupies band aids, and even the occasional critic.

In fact, about the only point that Scott seems to have missed so far is the group’s hidden apologetic purpose.

What apologetic purpose, you ask?  Only that a widely read book — also widely perceived as hostile towards the church — was google-bombed halfway into oblivion.  Now, curious souls who google “Banner of Heaven” are as likely to read about X-boxes or the speculation train as they are to learn about Mountain Meadows.  Apologetics, meet Web 2.0.

And the apologetic stone cut without hands will roll forth virally, until it has overcome the entire Googleverse.  Amen.

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35 Responses to The hidden apologetics of Banner of Heaven

  1. Joseph Smidt on June 22, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    You know, I was wondering this the whole time I was reading Scott’s post: Could the name for the “Banner of Heaven” blog in any way be a response to or have been influenced by the book that puts a negative face on the church.

  2. Tracy M on June 22, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    10,600,000 Google hits for _Banner of Heaven_ wow.

  3. Scott B. on June 22, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Kaimi,
    You make a strong case! I am glad to see this post alerting T&S readers to the series, as T&S will be a focal point for the next 2-3 entries in the series.

    Incidentally, I haven’t discussed the origins of the title yet, as that is one of the interview questions for the last podcast interviewee (Steve Evans).

  4. California Condor on June 22, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    In light of the Krakauer book, the Banner of Heaven blog title did have a certain sense of genius to it.

    I remember an anti-Mormon named Aaron Shavalaloff (sp?) sending an email to the Banner of Heaven blog. I wonder what he thought of the title.

  5. Bill of Wasilla on June 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Kaimi – First, it’s good to see your name in here again. It has been so long I was beginning to wonder if you had left the blog.

    Second, thanks for the info and the reminder. It’s very hard for me to keep up with all this stuff, but then I do need to.

  6. Dan on June 22, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    well

    http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=banner+of+heaven&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

    it seems amazon and wikipedia still top the search results for Banner of Heaven. And Google has differentiated between the book and the blog! That’s mighty impressive.

  7. Scott B. on June 23, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Of course, a cynical person might suggest that this post was merely an attempt to bring up Krakauer’s story…

  8. Alex on June 23, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Other than people posting as someone else, what is the impact of the Banner of Heaven weblog? Were we surprised that LDS would impersonate others? What was the big deal? Do we seriously need to give this as much attention as serialised postings about the matter? Have we exhausted any other meaningful conversations?

  9. Rusty on June 23, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Alex,
    You could always just, hm, let’s see…not read those posts. Or comment on posts about those posts, complaining about how much attention people are giving to those posts.

  10. Scott B. on June 23, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Alex,
    As Rusty said, if you’re not interested in the series I’ve been doing, don’t read it. If you’d like to understand what the actual impact was–which has been phenomenally large, in my opinion–then come by to read and listen.

  11. Alex on June 24, 2010 at 4:45 am

    @Scott B.

    My point was what was, in a nutshell, the impact of the Banner of Heaven weblog? So far as I can see, it was a prank. Since I wasn’t connected to it, I seem to fail to grasp the “phenomenally large” impact it had. Could you elaborate a bit more?

    @Rusty
    Your you could, erm, actually answer some questions. Just a thought.

  12. Alex T. Valencic on June 24, 2010 at 9:01 am

    As Dan pointed out, the book still tops the Google search lists. I checked on Yahoo! and the blog doesn’t even show up.

    So, if this was an attempt to blast the book into internet oblivion, I’d have to give it a fail.

  13. Dan on June 24, 2010 at 9:20 am

    and of course the book is called Under the Banner of Heaven. If you google that, there are no results for the blog.

  14. Dan on June 24, 2010 at 9:23 am

    sorry, one more thought.

    And of course, by completely deleting the entire Banner of Heaven blog from existence, google cannot search that blog anymore. Right now, there are no search results on the first page of google for the blog reposted under Mormon Mentality. The first search results go to Museum of Hoaxes. Not exactly a positive search result.

    Poorly handled throughout.

  15. Kaimi on June 24, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    In case it was not clear from the original post, I don’t actually think that BoH was started with apologetic intent.

    Now, I’m off to read the latest naccle blog, “No Man Knows My History,” with writing from a set of entirely believable Real People including a lesbian polygamist, a Danite, the Osmonds’ non-musical cousin, the church translation department’s Klingon language expert, and someone who claims to have actually liked the Book of Mormon movie.

  16. Rusty on June 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Alex,
    Let me answer your questions:

    Q) What is the impact of the Banner of Heaven weblog?
    A) This is the purpose of the retrospect. If you are truly interested in knowing the answer to this question, follow along. If you aren’t, don’t.

    Q) Could you elaborate a bit more?
    A) retrospect = elaboration

    Q) Were we surprised that LDS would impersonate others?
    A) Short answer: some were, some weren’t. Long answer, follow along.

    Q) What was the big deal?
    A) Again, follow along.

    Q) Do we seriously need to give this as much attention as serialised postings about the matter?
    A) Seriously need? Probably not. But I’m not sure we “need” any postings. So in the absence of other interesting posts, why not? It’s compelling stuff.

    Q) Have we exhausted any other meaningful conversations?
    A) Do you mean “we” to be the Bloggernacle? Or does “we” mean you? I’ve been in the bloggernacle for a long time so I’ve exhausted a lot of meaningful conversations. Not all, but a lot. So I’m enjoying this stuff.

  17. Geoff J on June 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Alex: Have we exhausted any other meaningful conversations?

    Pretty much. If you don’t believe me go back and read the 6+ years of archives in several bloggernacle blogs. That ought to take you a year or more…

  18. John C. on June 24, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Geoff,
    you can do better than that. Give him a link to everything you’ve ever written about libertarian free will, multiple mortal probations, and the atonement. You’re getting sloppy, man.

  19. Scott B. on June 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    In case it was not clear from the original post, I don’t actually think that BoH was started with apologetic intent.

    My previous comment (#7) now looks less cynical and more accurate.

  20. Kaimi on June 24, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Err, huh? Why would I want to do that? Krakauer’s book is pretty awful. (If a person wants to read about MMM, there are half a dozen books they should read first.)

    I made a joke about the BoH blog having an ultimately apologetic effect. That’s all that this post is. I have no hidden pro-Krakauer purpose, and I don’t see how anyone could reasonably see that in anything I’ve written here or elsewhere. The idea is pretty bizarre, and I’m baffled that you would suggest it.

    In fact, I think a cynic would point out that this post will itself further the google bombing, since it’s got three links to BoH posts and none to any substantive Krakauer discussion.

  21. Kaimi on June 24, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Err, make that four links in the original post. Which doesn’t even mention Krakauer’s name.

  22. Scott B. on June 24, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Kaimi,
    I’m teasing you.

  23. Kaimi on June 24, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Ahh. Sorry bout that – false alarm.

  24. Scott B. on June 24, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I would use smiley-faces, but I signed a contract when I started at BCC stating that I would never, under any circumstances, use smiley-faces in blog comments.

  25. Cynthia L. on June 24, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    :-) Oh good. :-) Evidently I slipped in right before that clause was added. :-) :-) :-) :-)

    :-) :-) :-)

  26. Scott B. on June 24, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Evidently Steve Evans failed to put the fear of a frowny-faced God in at least one of his recruits…

    :-P :] ^_^ ;-)

  27. Kaimi on June 24, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I’ll see if I can whip up a plug-in to automatically smilify all of Scott’s comments.

  28. Kaimi Wenger on June 24, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Hey, look, Scott isn’t afraid of smileys. I guess he might not be such a bad guy. :P

  29. manaen on June 24, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Interesting that my comment yesterday does not appear today.
    .
    Here’s today’s offering:
    Alex asked Other than people posting as someone else, what is the impact of the Banner of Heaven weblog?
    .
    An answer to this question is found in comments 20 responding to 7, 22, and 23. Before BoH, we likely would have neither the touchy watch-my-back of 20 or the tip-toe-around-you 22 and 23.

  30. Alex T. Valencic on June 25, 2010 at 12:24 am

    So… the ultimate impact of BoH was that folks in the bloggernacle are more polite? That seems a bit… anticlimactic.

  31. MCQ on June 25, 2010 at 3:01 am

    The ultimate impact of BoH is yet to be determined, but I believe it is both pervasive and subtle, and includes both positive and negative aspects. Politeness may be one of those, but I doubt it.

  32. Alex on June 25, 2010 at 6:01 am

    Cheers Rusty (16). Will follow on.

  33. manaen on June 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    30.
    .
    Not polite; wary. Lack of presumption of good-heartedness leading to exactness in not provoking another blogger.

  34. Bookslinger on June 25, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    People on the internet pretending to be someone they’re not?

    I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

  35. DKL on June 27, 2010 at 12:55 am

    If you want to know how truly bad Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven really is, you should read the rebuttal that I wrote, which is linked to from this intro page.

    Incidentally, the story behind the name Banner of Heaven might interest a few people:

    I was seriously engaged in praying and pondering about what we should name our upcoming fake mormon blog, and Jesus appeared to me — right there in the shower. He told me that He understood my quandary, and suggested the name “Banner of Heaven.” I offered Him a towel, and He patted His brow and forgave me for my sins. And I’ll tell you what: When I got out of that shower, I’ve never felt so clean in all my life!

    Anyway, I’ve still got the towel for anyone who wants to see it. Just kidding! Jesus took the towel with Him, and the fact that it’s totally missing is the most convincing part of the story. I mean, you can’t just dream up a missing towel, can you.