The “short bus” post re-visited

I thought I would go back and offer some thoughts and reflections on the post that put me on the map: Memoirs of a former evangelical anti-Mormon.

I’d had it in mind to talk about my personal experiences with the evangelical counter-cult ministry since Day 1 of starting this blog. I had left 5 comments over at LDS & Evangelical Conversations, but beyond that I don’t think I’d had any interaction with the LDS-Evangelical blogging community at the time of the post. ClobberBlog was a rather eclectic, small-scale blog wherein I was blogging about everything from politics to personal updates to World of Warcraft with little focus on a single area. My real reason for starting a blog was to take my mind off my dying mother, so all I wanted was a distraction. I knew from my writing classes at BYU that I was a capable enough writer, but I didn’t go into blogging under the expectation of developing regular readers or winning Niblets. That was all a pleasant surprise. I certainly didn’t think this one post would generate so much interest.

Prior to writing my “Memoirs” post, I did two things:

  1. Photoshopped the words “EVANGELICAL ANTI-MORMONS” onto a photograph of a short bus.
  2. Googled the names of the people I would be mentioning to see if they had Web sites or blogs to link to.

Through this latter effort I wound up publishing the post with a trackback to Todd Wood’s Heart Issues For LDS blog. Todd was the first to comment on the post followed by Seth R. from Nine Moons, so I’m guessing that’s how they learned about my blog. Aaron Shafovaloff from Mormon Coffee later showed up as well. “Memoirs” was the first time I had a conversation with any of them, and since then I’ve found my online friendships with each of them to be edifying in its own way, so “Memoirs” was a pivotal post for me if only because of the connections I made through it.

If I were to write the post for the first time today, I would definitely change some things. Here’s what I would and wouldn’t do:

  • The short bus analogy makes me wince. I realize the outrageous, abrasive, politically incorrect nature of it is part of what drew people in to the post, but I guess in the last 14 months, I’ve grown soft on the metaphor. The fact that my daughter is now enrolled in a special education preschool class probably accounts for part of this. Comparing people who are willfully mean-spirited and ignorant to people who have serious disabilities is really unfair on the latter group. So I probably would not have used the same analogy today.
  • You can tell from the February 2009 update on the post that I decided to remove the full name of one of the people I discussed. Since what took place between us was mostly a private affair and he contested my account, I figured it wasn’t fair on him for people to find my blog when they Googled his name. I did learn my lesson though: if you ever agree to a phone discussion with someone who wants his wife on the line as a witness, get your own witness listen in. In any case, I still stand by my version of events.
  • I should have been more specific in explaining which counter-cult activities I saw as problematic. It’s not fair to paint every single person involved in the counter-cult ministry with the same brush.
  • I don’t think I would have changed a thing when it comes to my assessment of CARM.

All in all, that post was a turning point for me in my blogging career, and people continue to enjoy it today, so I’m glad I did it. It would have come out differently had I done it today, but I’m leaving it as is.


The “short bus” post re-visited — 4 Comments

  1. Back when I first started looking into Mormonism seriously (a few years before your introduction to the Church), I found much the same thing as you did about the anti-LDS apologists. The first thing I found out was that most of the time when they said “Mormons believe X” that that usually wasn’t the case, or it was a belief taken out of context. And the second thing was that they held the non-Biblical Mormon scriptures to a higher standard of accuracy and consistency than they did the Bible. (Using their standards, for example, I would have thrown out both Matthew and Luke because of their flatly contradictory genealogies of Jesus. And there was a certain irony in their argument that that it would have been impossible for Jewish family to migrate to the Americas, even though to the anti-LDS crowd there was nothing absurd in believing that every species on the planet was saved from extinction by Noah.)

    Another factor was that they often defended the parts of evangelicalism that made me most uncomfortable with the teachings I had grown up with.

    Strangely enough, the bogus arguments and tactics used by the “apologists” actually game me more reason to take the claims of the Church seriously. I certainly knew I didn’t want to identify with those who attack their enemies with lies and distortions.

    (Nothing I say here should be seen as endorsement of the approaches taking by some LDS apologists either.)

  2. Wow, has it already been more than a year?

    On the other hand, it also feels like you’ve been around a lot longer than that.

    Actually, I discovered your blog via my Google keyword alerts. I meet all sorts of interesting people that way.

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