Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Conference Review

I thought that everyone would have a requisite post about Conference, so I thought I wouldn't write one. Then I've noticed that almost no one mentioned Conference (not because you aren't spiritual, I'm sure, but just because it's not necessary to mention everything you do in life) and so I wrote one anyway.

My favorite session this Conference was by far the Sunday Morning Session. Why was this? Well, I did enjoy the talks a lot, which I'll get to later, but I think the largest reason resides in the fact that this was the only session wherein I did all of the following. I stayed awake and wasn't even sleepy, took notes, didn't hold a fussy Elisheva, didn't constantly parent Lydia (read: lecture about sharing) and hence it was the only Conference session that I not only listened to, but listened to with more that half my mind and actually remembered what was said. That will go a long way to help liking a session.

Regardless, I loved the talks on Sunday Morning. In the past I've come to Conference with a specific question, spiritual or otherwise in mind, and have been edified and uplifted in regards to my internal prayed over queries. I hadn't done this for several years though, and I thought that this would be a good Conference to try bringing my questions and difficulties to the Lord. The Family Home Evening before Conference we talked as a family (well Avram and I talked, really) about questions or concerns we could bring as a family and as individuals to Conference. For the family and individuals what I thought I was thinking about was prayer. This topic was addressed, most specifically for me by Elder Bednar.

The questions that I hadn't asked, but I was thinking about anyway were about blogging. It's kind of a silly hobby sometimes. For one thing, as I've mentioned before, I don't really like the name (although it's grown on me). (There was going to be a link here to an old post where I complained about the word blog, but for the life of me I can't find it.) More importantly, blogging feels like a fringe event, one that's considered a waste of time, or for people with no lives, or something. The first time I can remember reading something about blogging was back when I read Newsweek or Time and it had a little article about a Professor who blogged (or read blogs) for three hours every day. It had this picture of him in a dark room, staring into the blue light of a computer screen, all alone. (Avram says this says more about Newsweek or Time than about blogging. I agree with him, considering every article about the Church is always very slanted and gets things wrong).

That was the image of blogging I carried for years until I found out my friend Sarah read blogs, and then suddenly since she clearly wasn't a social outcast/hermit I developed a new image of the blogging world.

Still, blogging as an activity has been on my mind lately - how productive it is or isn't, what my place in the blogosphere is, why I write, etc. Also, I had been thinking about why I don't read almost any group or controversial LDS blogs. Not because I don't usually enjoy the actual posts. More because often the comments degenerate into fighting, and frankly as a member of the same faith it's both upsetting and embarrassing for me to read. I wish arguments about what's modest (a specific one I read) weren't hanging out like dirty laundry all over the Internet for the whole wide world to read. Also, I wish that we (I include myself, because although I never post on fighting comment sections, I simmer inside and then Avram gets to hear it all) as representatives spent more time acting like the Savior that we believe in. Avram used to have to hear my worries or anger about either people's interpretations of doctrines or practices, or merely how people could fight so bitterly (I think because of the relative anonymity of a computer screen. We would never stand up in Relief Society and say those kinds of things).

Now I just avoid websites that have very controversial topics or comment free-for-alls. Once again, not because I don't think that these topics shouldn't be discussed necessarily, but because I don't like the manner they're approached in.

Realizing that I dislike argumentative approaches to blogging, I try to avoid this in my own blog. Of course, there are lots of controversial opinions I hold, and would (sometimes) love to discuss in person, but from what I've seen when others attempt this, I don't think the Internet is the best medium for constructive discussion of controversial topics. I have all sorts of topics I feel strongly about that I write mental blog posts on, but that I end up discarding because of the potential backlash.

Anyway, while listening to the Sunday Morning Session, when President Eyring talked about Unity and being nice, it hit me strongly that I wanted to be nice on my blog and sow seeds of unity in the gospel and in life in general. Now, I don't think that being nice means being fake or that being unified means all being the exact same in all things and hence being boring. St. Augustine said, (although my ever loving scholar husband says that we (we being people like him) know he didn't say actually say it, but I say "whatever," because it's a good point anyway) "In the essentials, unity, in the non essentials liberty, and in all things, charity." So being unified doesn't equal being the same. I felt very supported in trying to focus on nice things, in general. The posts that I cringe over writing the most are all because they are negative rants of some kind or one where people negatively disagreed in the comments, and I'd like to look back over all I've written and not cringe at all.

Sometimes I have a hard time in life and sometimes I even write about it. I don't mean that I have to only write posts that sound like Seriously, So Blessed. I mean that even when I have hard times, I want to be nice and try to be positive.

Then in the next talk - yes, I know that I've spent more time talking about blogging than about the session, but this is what I felt inspired from the session. And it didn't take this long to think all of this in my head. In the next talk, by Elder Hales, he mentioned that we should respond in a Christlike way to things in life, and one of the specific examples he gave was nice comments on blogs. Later in his talk he also admonished to stay on the high ground online. (I'd like to give an actual quote here, but unfortunately the written copies of the talks aren't up yet). Here I felt re-strengthened in focusing my Internet activities on positive sites and thoughts, so that I come away from Internet and blogging time uplifted instead of dejected or worried.

On another note, I also really liked Elder Cristofferson's talk on Zion. The story about the table in the trailer park made me realize that I am far too concerned with having a nice home that matches and is cute, and don't spend enough effort on helping others, or staying in budget because I feel that the Declaration of Independance actually says I have a right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happinees, and matching couches, a cute toddler bed, and a microwave.


  1. Yeah, I like this kind of blogging too. :)
    Those blogs that host controversial discussions that quickly degenerate into overgeneralization, name-calling, pettiness and bashing always left me feeling really anxious and sad, and made me worry about (inconsequential) things I'd been blissfully unaware of before. So I stopped reading them! I like what you said about dirty laundry. That describes the situation perfectly.

  2. There's a good article about blogging in the Ensign in either Aug or Sept. It and the conference nudged me to improve upon my content.

    There needs to be more "nice" blogging out there. Let your light shine and stay out of the mud.

  3. Very thought-provoking! I've had many of the same thoughts...kept many thoughts and ideas to myself to avoid controversy. I like to be real on my blog, but I don't what to start discussions that end in hostility.

    I like that you mentioned the Savior we believe in. I wish we kept that in mind more.

  4. This is an excellent post, Thora. I was either nodding my head or feeling like it the whole time I was reading. Very well put.

    And thanks for the glimpses into some of the talks that we haven't listened to yet. I'm excited!

  5. well i must say my blog doesnt have much to diagree on, its really boring.. just about my life and kids. I keep my strong opinions to myself. maintly because i dont like people to tell me i am wrong in my views on things. but i dont ming talking to you about my views of things. thats what is great about calling you. :)

    Oh and i honestly have never even read one of those blogs that was all contentious. the only ones i read at all are my family and friends. and only once was there a heated discusion which was about what the point of kindergarten was and if we should teach our children before or not.

    anyways i digress. but I like uplifting bloggs. i dont think i would like one that picked apart all aspects of the churhc. I would feel like i was at the manti pageant with the mormon basher people. like they said in conference just walk away.

    oh and i was going to tell you i totally understand trying to listen to conference with the kids there. Its hard! I asked mom and she said it was like that when we were kids. she said when mary was a baby she paid a babysitter to watch us four and went to the stake center!

  6. I Liked what you wrote too. Even though I'm not LDS! It's funny because I've considered deleting my blogg and starting over. Because I too believe in being positive, and in being nice.

    I wonder, when, the world got such a bad conotation to "nice" how did that become a bad thing?