For years, the internet has been transforming the way people communicate and are able to express the inner workings of their minds and hearts. The Internet has become so important a part of the spreading of the gospel message, in fact, that Elder Ballard?first in a December address to BYU-Hawaii graduates and then again in the July Ensign?has publicly urged Church members to engage with “new media”?including blogs?in conversation about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its teachings:
“There are conversations going on about the Church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches. While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time.”
(As an aside to my intent in writing this post, this is what Northern Lights has tried to do. When it comes to homosexuality in particular, the public conversation generally seems to take place among the theologically or socially liberal who critical of the Church’s positions on the issue. Our hope was to harness, and contribute to, the conversations taking place among those who believe in and are striving to live according to teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Northern Lights is intended to be a place where we and our readers can openly explore and discuss topics and issues of interest to the LDS community?and particularly as they relate to homosexuality and the Church?in an edifying and uplifting manner and within the framework of commitment to the beliefs and ideals of the Church.)
As part of a contemporary cultural revolution, more and more men and women from a Latter-day Saint background are opening up about their homo-ness leanings on traditional and video blogs, documenting their journey. Many of these folk are choosing to seek resolution within the strictures of Church teachings and many are leaving the Church to pursue gay or lesbian relationships (and some are torn, moving back and forth, while still others in an emerging younger crowd are attempting a sort of polluted middle ground). Regardless of the direction people choose, I think the openness is a positive evolution. What’s particularly heartening to me is when there can be mature dialogue and discussion between those of various perspectives, without reactionary name-calling, demonizing, and the like. Even among those I would disagree with philosophically or theologically, I have deep appreciation for the truth that each of us are “in process” and that we “see through a glass darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12) as we each are trying to find peace and resolution within the paradoxes of our own faith.
Those of us who choose to be more open simply have to expect that, in that vulnerability, we are opening ourselves to criticism. It’s simply part of the game. I’ve received a good share of my own. Some have simply been ignorant and attacking, while others have been grace-full, mature, and articulate and have given me pause for self-reflection and re-examination. I very much enjoy and appreciate the latter. I don’t presume to have life all figured out and love good intellectual stimulation.
Among others who have chosen to be more open and vulnerable in sharing their thoughts and feelings is a young man by the name of Clark, who maintains a video blog via YouTube. While there’s much that he’s said that I take issue with, I’ll be quick to add that I value his willingness to be open and vulnerable as he sorts through this issue in his life and to reach out to others. He states at the beginning of a more recent series:
“The reason I’m here is to reach out to someone who might be sitting in their house, feeling like there’s no way for them to have a happy life, and who is sitting there wishing there was some way they could cease to exist.”
One of the video responses he’s received is something of an apologetic by a Latter-day Saint who goes by the moniker of HiveRadical. I watched through it today and was impressed at the depth and tone of the response. He’s reasoned and articulate in his response to the things he takes issue with in Clark’s statements, and while he was strong on some of the things he challenged, he was nonetheless overall respectful. It’s the level of dialogue and depth of thought that I enjoy. He’s the kind of person I would enjoy a philosophical conversation with, and his responses are of a depth that there needs to be more of. The following is the 3-part series response, but while he’s responding to Clark, the issues he addresses are ones we’ve all heard before and can stand on their own. If you’d like to see Clark’s initial blog entries, however, you can view them here: parts I, II, III, IV, and V.
What’s your thoughts? Are these kinds of online conversations good? Necessary? A waste of time and energy?
While there’s a lot more that could be said about the content of both Clark’s video entries and HiveRadical’s response, I’m more interested discussing the process of what’s going on here. My assumption after viewing HiveRadical’s response is that he hasn’t personally dealt with issues around SSA, but I suggest they the conversation would invite anyone with an interest.
Moving beyond the online forum, I also look forward to a day when there’s more open conversation between these perspectives that is akin to that taking place between Latter–day Saint scholars and those of other faith traditions. Right now, it seems as though more of what we see is around homosexuality—from both sides—is name-calling, demonizing, and fear-mongering, but I have hope for more days of more fruitful and compassionately convicted exchange. Am I unrealistic in my dream? Perhaps. But I’d hope not.