Monday, October 26, 2009

New Media and Missionary Work

A lot has been said in the past few days/weeks about the LDS Church, amid storms of spitfire arguments and controversial discourses. Whether you're on one side of the fence or the other, there is at least one thing all parties can agree on: new and social media are changing that way we converse in today's society.

It started with a few postings on a personal blog. It then elevated to a back-and-forth Twitter battle and a series of Facebook wall posts. A columnist at decided to show off their private battle to many in the uninformed, disconnected world we call "offline."

But Elder Oaks' controversial comments (as well as a recent column by a favorite MoTimes columnist) have got me thinking about new media. And how I engage in this medium as I branch out into the world on my own, a young, quiet Mormon attempting to make a name for himself in journalism and the City of Sin.

Today's lesson in Elder's Quorum involved Missionary Work. As one Elder in my ward called it, "today's lesson is 'Pump Up the Missionaries Day.'" I've recently realized how incredibly difficult it truly is to share the Gospel. As a missionary for two years, it seemed easy; then again, I was required to wear the identifying markers (white shirt, dark slacks, black name badge, etc.) while proselyting among the people of Venezuela every day. Here, in Las Vegas, a city where I don't hardly know anyone (Mormon and non-Mormon alike), a city where my beliefs are mocked by every billboard, every casino and a myriad other sources, I don't have that same luxury.

So I'm turning to the Internet. The World-Wide Web. Cyberspace: the Final Frontier.

While I know I am far from the first to join in this conversation (rather, I'm probably closer to the end of the line on this matter), I want this blog to also become a place where subjects pertaining to the Gospel can be discussed, debated, asked, answered and researched by inquisitive folks who happen upon this site in their latest Google searches.

After all, I am a living, breathing Mormon journalist living in Las Vegas.

Elder Ballard said, "There are conversations going on about the Church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches. While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time."

So here I am, a willing participant. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Fire away.

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