Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Blog Aggregators & the Dynamic Gospel

The brouhaha ( I, II, III, IV ) over J. Max Wilson's recent expulsion from the Mormon Archipelago — and Wilson's decision to start an aggregator of his own (which, presumably, won't send him packing) got me to thinking…

What kind of role do these Mormon blog aggregators play in the dynamic gospel?

Oh… you've never heard of the dynamic gospel? My apologies. It's a personal theory that I've yet to fully flesh-out. But, in broad strokes, it posits a couple of things:

  1. The first is that just as individuals may grow closer to God in both understanding and comportment, His church does as well. This shouldn't be a ground-breaking idea. We've all thrown out the phrase "line upon line, precept upon precept". Now whether we actually believe the church progresses from vaguaries and innacuracies towards clarity and Truth™ is an entirely different matter… but surely you've used the phrase. Were we to graph this progression, we'd see a line that moved like the graph of a stock exchange… and were we to zoom in, closely, we'd see that the line was comprised of myriad lines — each with their own paths. Unlike a stock exchange, however, the moving averages are always positive — we are, inexoribly, working our way towards God. And this, I believe, is the truth behind Wilford Woodruff's sentiment found in Official Declaration 1, that "[t]he Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray".

  2. The second is that in deciding what they do or do not believe, members of the Church must contend with a number of factors: the canon of the Church; the words of the prophets; the whisperings of the Spirit; and Church policy… and each of these must be weighed against both a personal and corporate ( I can't think of a better term for the Body of Christ ) understanding of what they each mean. Each of these factors acts as a dampening agent against both true inspiration and counterfeit — slowing and enabling the progress of the Church, simultaneously.

  3. The third is that this slow and deliberate process brings notions to the surface quietly, most times. Bubbling, as they do, to the surface of the group's consciousness… ideas of little value disappear over time, while Truth™ (or a semblance of it) remains.

So what does this have to do with aggregators? At its root, this process of percolation is about memory… what remains, after time, survives to join the Gospel. It's mainstreamed through the nurturing and care of the members of the Body of Christ. Like sleepwalking stewards, we slowly (slowly!) clean the Lord's vineyard. And memory is very much determined by writing… the Canon is entirely written — it is scripture; the words of the prophets are also entirely written; if we follow the words of the prophets and keep jounals, then the whisperings of the Spirit are also written; and, finally, Church policy is almost entirely written.

Unlike personal or even organizational libraries, digital libraries are "easy" to search and diseminate… as such, their reach is both broader and deeper. Never before has so much been so easily accessible. Aggregators — especially those that purport to speak for the Bloggernacle or Mainstream Mormonism play a role in dictating what people read… and, in turn, what people remember. This will, undoubtedly, have an affect upon the process described above. But to what extent, I do not know.

This conversation is part of a larger one, I think. One about Correlation, one about the Church's online tools, one about the PR efforts of the Church… each facet playing into the larger process of memory and acceptance… and our eventual arrival at a true understanding of the mind and heart of God.

So there you go… I've set the stage for a discussion… here's my question again: what kind of role do Mormon blog aggregators play in the dynamic gospel?

NB: This post is cross-posted from Nine Moons: Blog Aggregators & the Dynamic Gospel, please join us over there to comment!