Twilight of the Conservative Mormon Group Blogs

Things are out of balance. While one side of the socio-political (and faithfully orthodox) divide waxes ever more prominent in the online Mormon world, the other side wanes, wasting away, evaporating into nothing.

Consider the position of some of the most notable conservative Mormon group blogs from recent years:

  • Real Intent launched in 2012 with more than two dozen great bloggers, including some widely known names, and produced some intriguing and even powerful posts. However, after publishing a total of seven items in the years 2015 and 2016 combined, they have yet to post anything since then.
  • Orson Scott Card created Nauvoo Times and seemed to have hit on an easy success formula: not only did it also have a roster of admirable authors, many of the posts were merely reprints from the authors’ home blogs–constant content should have been a simple thing. But this site also failed and folded, though archives are still online.
  • The great standard bearer of this group is undoubtedly the Millennial Star, but even that’s not immune from these doldrums. Frequency of posts declined sharply several years ago, and at the end of 2013, they brought in Meg Stout to apparently fill the void and keep their product fresh. Meg’s writing is thoughtful, lucid, and original, bringing views and concerns to the table that would otherwise be largely absent. But most importantly–and most relevantly for this post–she’s productive. Of the last fifty posts at Millennial Star as of 5/5/18, Meg has written 21 of them–nearly half. That’s as many as the three next most frequent contributors combined. This isn’t to criticize Meg or anyone else at M*–again, she brings a lot of quality to the table, but the point is that M* isn’t really much of a group blog right now, at least not to the degree it once was. It’s become more like Jr. Ganymede, a great personal blog that sometimes features other voices.

Meanwhile, how many of the socially/politically liberal Mormon group blogs have expired or declined? The only one I can think of is Mormon Matters, which didn’t really die so much as it evolved into something else.

Is no one else worried by this trend? Where have all the great voices–faithful to the church, dissenting from the world’s culture–gone?

Maybe they’re just sticking to individual blogs rather than the big groups, but even there we seem to be dying out. Consider that one of the greatest conservative Mormon bloggers there ever was, J. Max Wilson, has only posted one item this year, and only six in all of last year (and the first half of those were “conference odyssey” posts). Any number of other great men and women are likewise fading out. The infamous firebrand Kathryn Skaggs only posted twice in 2016, and only twice in 2017…and one of those was a guest post.

Are these great bloggers and great group blogs being replaced by significant new voices? Not any that have crossed my radar–if they’re out there, please let me know!

Are we giving up the ghost because traffic has slowed down and the effort doesn’t seem worth it? Or vice versa? But doesn’t the huge success of people like Rod Dreher and Jordan B. Peterson show that the world is hungry for these views?

Or is it just the conservative Mormon world that’s closing off to serious discourse, perhaps seen in the way that Deseret Book used to have tons of historical and doctrinal books with only a handful of flaky romance stories in the back, but now tends to organize itself in just the opposite way? Has our audience stopped asking for what we have to offer?

When I sometimes bring this up to friends in real life, the usual response is something like, “Faithfully active members of the church are too busy to spend much time reading and writing stuff online.”

And yet, not only does the church continue to urge us to put more faithful material on the Internet, the church itself is trying to expand its presence and resources online as much as possible! Also, it seems that tons of active, conservative members are still online a lot, but they’re doing social media and such more than blogging. Is our platform obsolete?

No disrespect is intended to anyone named here or to anyone else associated with this trend at all–they are wonderful people I admire and often miss. But it is a trend, though–a lot of people of the same kind of faithfully orthodox and politically conservative persuasion are disappearing from prominence online, and all that seems to be left is…the left. Why do their voices grow to dominate while we, apparently, head into the West with the elves?

I don’t think this situation is good or acceptable. I don’t think any individual has done anything wrong, nor do I propose a concrete plan of action to remedy this, but I’d really like to see those of us who are still around and kicking start to talk about it.

8 comments on “Twilight of the Conservative Mormon Group Blogs

    • I think this is a big part of it. I think that most (though certainly not all) who come online to look for discussions from a conservative/orthodox point of view do so because they have a need that isn’t being met through weekly attendance. Further, it’s safer to have these kinds of discussions at the ward level because the ward has mechanisms in place to prevent things from getting out of hand. Whereas, online discussions are more vulnerable to being brigaded from organized hostile groups. Most mods participate on a volunteer basis and they don’t have the time or the social capital to bring the hammer down like the bishop does.

  1. Nauvoo Times ended due to the death of Kathryn Kidd, its editor. I’d like to think all of its other writers still have something to say, but unfortunately there isn’t a place analogous to Nauvoo Times to find them all together.

  2. I have noticed this trend as well, and wish more faithful conservative voices were still posting. I used to, and still do, to a lesser extent, derive strength, and truly did/do enjoy new thoughts shared online about faithful Mormonism, but my bookmark list is getting pretty short.

  3. I think part of the problem is novelty. The liberal/unorthodox can always come up with something new, because they are unconstrained by the need to stick with things as they really are. The conservative/orthodox can only talk about things as they really are in so many ways.

  4. I have noticed and felt bad about this same thing. Like you, I’m not MAD about it and I understand that everyone is busy–they have more important things in life–etc.–but I do think there must be _something_ valuable that faithful voices could keep adding through blogs! I think Kent Budge’s comment may be part of it, and understand the feeling that “there’s nothing new to say!”…but it seems like we don’t have to keep saying NEW things–surely people’s personal insights and experiences keep coming, and can be shared? Just as, even though the topics in General Conference aren’t ever NEW, the general authorities come up with many different facets and new ways of seeing things to talk about?

    I don’t know. For what it’s worth, I’m still posting in the General Conference Odyssey every week, and intend to continue for my own sake (it’s been so good for me!)…but I’ve never had a huge readership and my blog content, other than the GCO, is a jumble of recipes and ponderings and babies and other randomness.

  5. I post replies on a somewhat liberal/progressive blog filled with whiners. That is where people with serious questions turn up and that’s where a good answer is sometimes needed but not always or very often appreciated. These are people that are either about to leave the church for some reason, or recently did so, or are active in trying to persuade others to leave the church. That is where the rubber hits the road, that is where good answers are needed to balance the bad answers.

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