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Emily W. Jensen: Bloggernacle Back Bench:, He Said/She Said

A month ago,

Time magazine featured a new Web site claiming to answer the question of "What Do Other Religions Believe?" Beginning in 2008, this new Web site,, recently added a Mormon

Gateway. Describing

itself as "the premier online destination to engage in the global

dialogue about religion and spirituality and to explore and experience

the world's beliefs. Patheos is unlike any other online religious and

spiritual site and is designed to serve as a resource for those looking

to learn more about different belief systems, as well as participate in

productive, moderated discussions on some of today's most talked about

and debated topics."

Hmm. This grabbed the attention of the Bloggernacle, which first explored it with a post on the "New

Mormon Gateway." And

in fact, the Patheos Mormon gateway manager is former Bloggernacle

regular Ben Spackman, who gave a subsequent interview concerning his

role to Times and Season about this

"New Religion Website." Spackman explained that he hopes the Mormon Patheos gateway "will

be a mixture of Mormonism for Dummies, Gospel Doctrine class and By

Common Consent... We have a lot of good resources in the pipeline,

including a good verse-by-verse index to the LDS scriptures, an

interactive historical timeline, interviews with LDS from around the

world, teaching aids, scripture round-tables with LDS grad students,

and more."

Similarly, By Common Consent interviewed Leo Brunnick, co-founder of

They wondered: "1. Does the world really need another religion website?"

Brunnick answered that Patheos "sits in a middle ground between

existing sites that are academic (balanced and rock-solid, but dry and

hard to consume), or popular (interesting and exciting, but thin and

gimmicky), or faith-based (passionate and knowledgeable, but narrow and

biased toward one faith)." Using another description, Brunnick called "the ESPN of Religion."


will be interesting to see how this develops and how will

distinguish itself from similar sites such as and Click if you are interested, or as Spackman explained, "we're

open to ideas as well. Feel free to post comments here or email me with

feedback and things you'd like to see. bspackman at patheos dot com"

Now to highlight other new blog development from this past week in the Bloggernacle:

Power pick: What do you think about viewing Mormon spirituality on the big screen, or in the case of

the The Book of Jer3miah, the computer screen? So asks this insightful post on the "Con-trovver-see"

regarding honestly telling Mormon stories versus making viewers

uncomfortable watching Mormon spirituality in film. And while her

analysis is fascinating itself, this blogger also went to the director

of Jer3miah, who weighed in: "The

Book of Jer3miah" is unapologetically Mormon. Why? There are many

reasons — but for this discussion, I'll highlight two: 1) Telling stories

about Mormons and about being Mormon is not a crime; 2) Telling a story

about Mormons requires being 100% true to their Mormon-ness — this means

capturing how they speak, what they do, and what they believe." Check

out more of this amazing discussion!

New blog: He's

conservative. She's liberal. He blogs about missionaries, she blogs

about Kolob. What do you get when you put them together? The wacky and

wonderful, the pleasant and profound, the new blog from

married-in-real-life bloggers Dr. B and Bored in Vernal He

Said/She Said. To give you a taste of their style, I asked each of them

the same questions and found their diverse yet similar answers fun and

fascinating. So who thought of the blog? He said: "BiV thought up the

blog. She thought people would find it interesting to see a

conservative versus a liberal response to LDS issues." She said: "This

was my idea, I've wanted to do it for some time, since we've discovered

that we often have opposing views while blogging. We thought an

audience might find our discussions diverting and interesting." What

about their favorite post? He said:

"I think my favorite post is on civil

disobedience because it is more the length and thought-provoking level I

enjoy writing." She said: "My favorite post is the one I just wrote on civil disobedience. I think they are going to get better and better."


what future topics do He Said/She Said hope to tackle? He said: "We

have some interesting ones coming up...from missionary work to church

practices, doctrine, husband/wife relationships, etc." She said: "topics

as diverse as birth control, stay-at-home moms and evolution — to can

men read their wife's minds." And do they write together, or

separately? He said:

"The truth is that I have had to come up with

most of the topics, which is pretty funny since I am a conservative. We

negotiate the topic but she ends up usually tweaking what I suggest, so

it changes slightly by the time we write it. We have done a

combination of writing together, one writing first then the other

responding or vice versa." She said: "Our procedure is that we agree on

a topic, then one of us writes about it first and the other reads it

and responds to it."


finally, what do their children think about it? He said: "Our children

think we are a couple of wackos and are an embarrassment as parents

who should quite blogging and spend more time with them listening to

their teenage angst." She said: "Our children are horribly embarrassed

by our blogging." Love it!

Techie tip: "We

all hate e-mail spam." So what can you do about it? LDS Media Talk

provides eight important steps to help you reduce the "E-mail Spam" slogging up your inbox. For instance, use a secondary

e-mail address for sign-ups and other potentially spam-generating

online activities. And I didn't know this one: "Turn

off your e-mail client's ability to 'preview' e-mail messages. Spam

e-mail messages often have links embedded that report back to a Web

server as soon as you preview the message." Wow. And there's a lot more

good advice to cut your spam down.