Blogging on the Road to Damascus

April 8, 2011 | 7 comments
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saul damascus oneTranscripts of the recent General Conference have been posted at LDS.org, including President Uchtdorf’s talk “Waiting on the Road to Damascus.” The talk was mostly a word of encouragement to those members of the Church who, for various reasons including self-doubt, are not full participants in their local wards. The focus of the talk was on the invitation to get past or around whatever the issue is, not on the details of the difficulties or doubts some people face.

Of course, his comments on blogging and social media were the most interesting part of the talk. He made these comments in the context of how members of the Church ought to be more open about sharing the gospel.

With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before. In fact, I am almost afraid that some listening have already sent text messages like “He’s been speaking for 10 minutes and still no aviation analogy!” My dear young friends, perhaps the Lord’s encouragement to “open [your] mouths” might today include “use your hands” to blog and text message the gospel to all the world! But please remember, all at the right time and at the right place.

Brothers and sisters, with the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children in a way that can be heard not only around our workplace but around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity.

I am confident that the placement of the aviation joke right in the middle of the paragraph on blogging is a signal that this is the truly important portion of the talk. But what is he saying about social media? And what does he really think about blogging? [Divine response via Fleetwood Mac: Don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to.] I’m not quite sure what he means by “at the right time and at the right place.” I’m inclined to think the right place is T&S and the right time is pretty much anytime except during Sunday meetings. Or at least not during Sacrament Meeting. Well, definitely not during the blessing and passing of the sacrament itself.

Damascus signI like his reference to “a single phrase of testimony.” That is a nice way of distinguishing between on the one hand the sort of explicit, structured testimony that happens at the pulpit in testimony meeting once a month and, on the other hand, the positive comments or references about our beliefs or about our activity in the Church that occur naturally in our daily conversation. Or emails. Or blog posts. As Pres. Uchtdorf notes, a single phrase of testimony can go a long way.

Blogging and Damascus, interesting juxtaposition. Saul took the road to Damscus expecting to throw Christians in jail and came back as a witness for Christ. Sometimes blogging brings surprises — it is never quite what you expected, is it?

7 Responses to Blogging on the Road to Damascus

  1. Krissie Ireland on April 10, 2011 at 7:22 am

    I guess I’m one of those who are not full participants in their local wards. I also have a blog BUT I no longer blog about the LDS church. While I was contacted by members from around the world who loved my blog, some describing it as “edifying”, I also received really negative feedback from my local ward. In the end I decided to edit out of my blog all references to the church. Many thought the negative feedback from my local ward was unjust to say the least and very badly handled – it was described as “cultish” by one..
    I have had a hard time in the church – I was bullied and had other pretty horrible experiences as well – including experiencing disability related ‘hate crime’. After almost nine years of membership I still don’t feel at home in the church and don’t feel welcome. When people talk about the ‘ward family’ it’s not something I feel part of or ever have.
    I did enjoy blogging about the church, my testimony of God, my experiences in the church, (my blog never made direct references to any individuals I had bad experiences with – individuals were only mentioned when I was talking about a positive issue and with their permission), and I also wrote about my personal feelings in coming across issues such as polygamy, the priesthood ban, the way gay people have been treated by the church etc. I also have a serious illness and my blog dealt with that also. I tried to make my blog honest and well rounded but I discovered that that is not what the church wants.
    At General Conference they always seem to have one of these talks saying, “Come back to us!” but when will the church do something about the things that drive people away? Apparently if we are having a ‘bad’ time in the church it’s because we are seeing the glass half empty instead of half full but I think the church needs to accept that sometimes issues occur that require action on their part – nobody should experience hate, nobody should experience bullying – and nobody should be attacked for then being open about those experiences.
    I love God, and I know God loves everyone despite my experiences in the LDS church…
    I think this was a really interesting post – thank you for it!

  2. Grant on April 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Not intending to self-promote (but sometimes it can’t be helped), as a fairly new blogger I was blogging during all sessions of conference and wrote on the Priesthood Session after I got home. All I did was type the general note-taking I do in my own notebook (when I’m not dozing off or less motivated for conference – typing kept me awake and on my toes!) I only made a few personal comments that were not earthshaking in any way. But I do have a rather unique blog perspective as a faithful Latter-day Saint, Obama-supporter, absolutely at political odds with the very large conservative majority in Utah.

    The amazing thing to me is that even though I referred people to the official LDS.org sites which had live feeds, etc. I had more hits on my blog for the conference sessions, even during the sessions, from all around the world, than for anything else I’ve done, even my second most popular subject, the recent, crazy Utah Legislative session. As I noticed people were actually reading me, I was more motivated to do a good job.

    I do sincerely express my religious beliefs along with political views. I am hoping that my perspective might persuade others politically and touch some spiritually that might not be otherwise exposed or receptive to the church. And I have total control over my content and can avoid the views and expressions I don’t feel comfortable with in both politics and religion. It is a great sense of freedom. I’m not sure that many people in my ward know that I blog even though I post links on facebook where many of them have “friended” me (even if I am A Democrat in south Davis County, Utah).

    I am hopeful that this is what Pres. Uchtdorf meant – that we can share our personal perspectives and testimony that may not be in the more usual and structured format of Church Meetings and Missionary contacts. And I’m having a great time!

  3. Dave on April 11, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for the comments. Krissie, sorry about your bad experience, but I am glad you enjoyed the post. Grant, welcome to blogging. Nice work on the Conference posts.

  4. Raymond Takashi Swenson on April 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Krissie: I hope you have let your bishop and Relief Society president know how you are feeling. They have a responsibility to make sure you are cared for as a member of the ward family. As for jerks you encounter in church: I am pretty confident that they would be jerks even if they were Baptists or Catholics or Buddhist. There is nothing about the LDS Church in my experience in congregations in Japan and all over the US that engenders jerkism.

  5. Chuck Whicker on April 14, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Krissie,

    What I am sensing is that you’re hungry for the right kind of companionship. Let go of all your victimness. Don’t spend another minute thinking about how people have treated you. Instead, seek to redefine yourself in the Lord; recreate yourself under the Lord’s direction. Ask for insights in your study of the scriptures. Share those insights with us. “He that loseth his life, shall find it” the Savior said — which means, we must give up our old life in order to take it up again in a more glorious form. Good luck!

  6. Chuck Whicker on April 14, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Wow, Grant!

    An Obama supporter is a rare thing among the LDS. Most of us support, instead, the Constitution. You do have some companionship, though, in Harry Reid.

  7. Krissie Ireland on April 22, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you Raymond and Chuck.
    I don’t see myself as a victim even though things have been hard and life is a daily struggle (physically a struggle, I mean, I’m physically disabled). I know God loves me (and everyone else). I feel great concern for those LDS church members who have problems like hateful attitudes. If anything, I am grateful for the experiences I have had…
    I attend other churches now. I learned that sometimes the best thing to do is walk away – that’s part of letting go of it all. The following quote ascribed to celtic Christians sums things up, “Let your feet follow your heart until you find your place of resurrection.” Just today I attended a meeting at our local Church of England chapel and it was so wonderful!
    I feel at peace now – I didn’t when I was attending the LDS church and that was turning me into someone I didn’t like…
    Me and my husband are Obama supporters too!