I was astonished this morning to open my Metro newspaper on the subway and see the headline "Mormon mommies have the best blogs." It's not often you see Mormons in the paper here, and it's even more rare to have the article be something complimentary. Apparently our commitment to family, creativity, and general wholesomeness appeals to readers, LDS and non-LDS alike.
The article also pointed out that most Mormon bloggers try not to get too preachy and don't want to bombard their readers with their faith, and I have to say I do that myself. The purpose of my blog is to exercise my writing while hopefully entertaining a few people and stretching our thinking from time to time. I can't disconnect from who I am, of course, and my faith will inherently influence what I write, but evangelism isn't the purpose of the exercise. But there was one quote in the article that bugged me. Patrick Mason, the Howard W. Hunter chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University in Southern California, is quoted as saying, "Mormons want nothing more than to be liked and respected and mainstream...They want to be just like everyone else but they want to be better at it."
If that were true, why bother becoming a Mormon in the first place? The point is not to be like the rest of the world. We aren't mainstream, and that's the whole idea. We haven't exactly withdrawn from the world, but we are trying to live differently, act and think differently, and we avoid the things of the world that can drag us down or distract us from our faith and our purpose. Our religion should set us apart from those around us, or what's the use of it? Our past shows we aren't afraid of being not liked and not respected if that's the result of living according to our beliefs. The world seems to be more tolerant of diversity now and it's been a long time since we were tarred and feathered and driven out of the country. But if it came down to it, I think any truly converted Mormon would be willing to go through pogroms and persecution again if necessary. (And I suppose in some countries that is still going on to some extent.) So I'm not sure why Patrick Mason would say such a thing, unless maybe he was misquoted.
I suppose there's also the danger in our blogs that we could be perceived as the DIY church, or the Church of the Happy-Looking Children, and the theology could become secondary or even buried. There needs to be a balance in there somewhere. There's a theological reason behind the self-reliance and the smiling children. Our religion informs everything about us, from our clothing styles and diet to the way we think and speak and how we spend our time and money. It influences our hopes and ambitions and where we stand and what paths we take in life. If our beliefs don't change us and make us different, we aren't living according to them very well.