If I were guilty of even a tenth of the crimes, misdemeanors, idiocies, cruelties, and hypocrisies of which my online critics accuse me daily, I would, indeed, deserve the public loathing and contempt that a number of them eagerly heap on me.
A friend alerts me to two of my latest misdeeds:
While my wife and I were visiting a different friend down in Cedar City a few weeks before we left for Israel — I blogged about the visit, which was timed to catch an annular solar eclipse that was exceptionally clear just south of Cedar City; you can find it among my posts from (I think) May — he invited me, after the general opening of priesthood meeting, to sit out in the foyer of his ward building during the third hour of the meeting block in order to discuss various issues. I skip priesthood meeting like that about once every eight to ten years, and, as a former high councilor and bishop’s counselor and bishop, I’ve attended plenty of meetings generally, so I didn’t feel too terribly bad about doing so.
Anyway, somebody apparently spotted us and reported to a vocal online critic that I had skipped priesthood meeting. He breathlessly brought this to the attention of an apostate message board, which evidently led to a thread full of clucking (by people who, on the whole, probably haven’t attended any Mormon meeting of any kind for years) about — big surprise! — my arrogance, how I consider myself too good for ordinary members of the Church and too sophisticated for ordinary teachers, and etc., and etc.
It’s one of the usual themes. But I have to admit that the thought that I couldn’t even attend church in Cedar City without having my activities monitored, reported upon, and then publicly condemned by anonymous critics still strikes me as astonishing and utterly absurd, even after many years of such nonsense. I seriously wonder if these people have lives.
I said, somewhere, that, under the circumstances — I’m traveling, which means that I’m very busy, and that my access to the Internet is often sparse and difficult and expensive — I would probably be unable to participate in sustained conversations about the recent coup at the Maxwell Institute. To which one of my critics has apparently responded that I’m plainly being disingenuous, because I’ve had time for daily blogs.
This particular critic, an alienated member of the Church who is, however, still on its books, posts constantly, throughout every day, day after day after day, on a predominantly atheist/agnostic ex-Mormon message board that is primarily focused on attacking “apologists” for Mormonism. With some of my colleagues, I’m a particular target of his and of his friends. One might imagine, given my apparent recent defeat, that his appetite for personal criticisms of me might have been sated for at least a few days, but this appears not be the case.
Anyway, here’s the deal: My single daily blog entry while traveling on this current trip represents pretty much the sum total of my Internet activity since I left the country — along with individual responses to literally hundreds of kind and supportive personal emails regarding my recent ouster. I haven’t been reading his message board, nor following any other message boards or blogs.
I had committed to blogging every day, at least once, even before I transferred “Sic et Non” over to Patheos. Having transferred it, that commitment seemed even more important; I don’t want the blog to die at its new home.
With perhaps one or two exceptions since I left on 8 June, I’ve managed to fulfill that commitment. But it’s been a strain on my time and my energy.
My inability to spend a lot of time on the Internet has been a mercy, though, I think. I hadn’t foreseen recent actions by the director of the Maxwell Institute, but I can well imagine myself spending hours a day reading viciously insulting posts of triumphant crowing about my sudden removal by email as editor of the Mormon Studies Review. However, as things stand, I’ve spent almost no time at all reading such posts, for the simple reason that, however tempting it might have been, I haven’t had the time or the opportunity.
And, as of this coming Sunday, I’m going to be lecturing on a cruise around the United Kingdom. (That’s why I’ve been over here, killing time, as it were, between leading a tour in Israel and taking up my duties aboard the ship.) If anything, I anticipate that my time for the Internet is going to be even more limited and difficult on the boat.
So, with that in mind, I’m hoping that this will be the first of two blog posts today. And maybe — my access here is free and unlimited, which it won’t be on the ship — even more, if the mood hits me and I get a chance. But right now the rain has let up, and I’m headed out the door. (Yet another crime against humanity, I suppose.)
Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, England