When I read about the bloggernacle for the first time, I thought, “This is great. People writing intelligent blogs on important gospel topics. I figured there would be a little fluff; you know, cultural items of interest only to cultural Mormons, also known as Utahns (Sorry. That might be just a little unfair. Many Utah Mormons are quite devoted to their religion. It’s just that many also tend to confuse religion with tradition). I do not really have much interest in that stuff. I have not lived in Utah since the age of five, and I am not overly concerned with the cultural niceties of being a Mormon. My interest is in the meat and potatoes of the religion: the power of the priesthood, the essence of the Holy Ghost and personal revelation, the possibility of knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ. I want to read about the power of the gospel to change people’s lives, and the ways the Church can carry that gospel those who need it.
As I started reading more blogs and articles, imagine my surprise as I discovered that the bloggernacle was not just good natured and well-intentioned Mormons bearing testimony and sharing knowledge and ideas! It also includes mean spirited rants by ex-Mormons with bones to pick, PAMs (dontcha just love that term, Professional Anti-Mormons), people who got hurt by a Mormon and blame the whole church, Mormon intellectuals who think they could run the church much better than the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles, and the most insidious group of all, “active” Mormons who want the church to change to keep up with the times.
In the course of my new discovery, I came across a term that confused me: TBM. The writers who use this term just assume that everybody knows what it means and therefore do not always explain it. I had to do a little research to understand the term. It was important because it seems that many writers use it so derogatorily. I found three different explanations, which at first glance all seem to mean the same thing, but are really quite different. They are:
1-Totally Brainwashed Mormon
2-True Believing Mormon, and
3-True Blue Mormon
It probably comes as no surprise that I absolutely reject the term “totally brainwashed Mormon”. Although the term “brainwashed” has its place, when referring to someone’s strongly held belief or opinion it usually means that the person using the label cannot convince the labelee of the rectitude of the labeler´s position or belief. In other words, he uses the term in frustration, because his arguments have failed to convince. It is his version of “Oh yeah?” It is silly, offensive, and disrespectful of others´ beliefs. It does nothing to further the user’s cause or argument, and serves only to further alienate him from the allegedly brainwashed person. It is nothing more than childish name-calling.
This a label that, although often used in a derogatory manner, is not inherently offensive in any way. In fact, it’s a title I could get behind! It’s a badge I can wear proudly.
This is another great title, with an interesting history, although many who use the term may not know it. In the book, “Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith”, Smith tells a wonderful story from his early life.
Smith served as a missionary in the Hawaiian Islands from the time he was 15 years old until he turned 19. He writes of an experience he had on his way home to Utah in 1857, which demonstrated his integrity:
It must be said that the feeling against the "Mormons," first, on account of the exaggerated reports of the Mountain Meadows massacre, and secondly, because of the coming of Johnston's army to Utah, was exceedingly bitter on the coast. As an illustration: While they were in Los Angeles, a man, William Wall by name, came near being hung because he had confessed he was a "Mormon." A mob of men had passed sentence on him, and had prepared every detail to hang him. It was only through the wise counsel of a man among them, whose better judgment prevailed, that he was not hung. This man pointed out to the mob that here was a man who had not been near Utah when the massacre took place, a man who had no sympathy with it, who could in no way be counted as a criminal. Why should he suffer? And so Wall was finally discharged and given time to get out of the country. It was under such conditions, and such prevailing sentiment, that President Smith, then a lad of nineteen, found himself on his journey home, and on his trip to San Bernardino.
With another man, and a mail carrier, he took passage in a mail wagon. They traveled all night, and at daylight stopped near a ranch for breakfast. The passenger and the mail carrier began to prepare breakfast, while Joseph went a short distance from camp to look after the horses. just while the carrier was frying eggs, a wagon load of drunken men from Monte came in view, on their road to San Bernardino to kill the "Mormons," as they boasted.
The oaths and foul language which they uttered, between their shooting, and the swinging of their pistols, were almost indescribable and unendurable. Only the West in its palmiest frontier days could produce anything like its equal. They were all cursing the "Mormons," and uttering boasts of what they would do when they met them. They got out at the ranch, and one of them, tumbling around, caught sight of the mail wagon, and made his way towards it. The passenger and the mail carrier, fearing for their safety, had retired behind the chaparral, leaving all the baggage and supplies, including the frying eggs, exposed and unprotected.
Just as the drunken man approached, President Smith came in view on his way to the camp, too late to hide, for he had been seen. The ruffian was swinging his weapon, and uttering the most blood-curdling oaths and threats ever heard against the "Mormons." "I dared not run," says President Smith, "though I trembled for fear which I dared not show. I therefore walked right up to the camp fire and arrived there just a minute or two before the drunken desperado, who came directly toward me, and, swinging his revolver in my face, with an oath cried out: 'Are you a - - - - - - - - 'Mormon?"'
President Smith looked him straight in the eyes, and answered with emphasis: "Yes, siree; dyed in the wool; true blue, through and through." (Bold italics added)
The desperado's arms both dropped by his sides, as if paralyzed, his pistol in one hand, and he said in a subdued and maudlin voice, offering his hand: "Well, you are the - - - - - - pleasantest man I ever met! Shake. I am glad to see a fellow stand for his convictions." Then he turned and made his way to the ranch house. Later in the day, on seeing President Smith, he only pulled his slouch hat over his eyes, and said not a word. (Gospel Doctrine, page 518)
This young 19-year old, who would one day become an apostle and prophet of the Lord, and the 6th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints showed some pretty incredible integrity, even at the peril of his life. I hope that I can, in my own small way stand with him, and say as I am sure he would if he were alive today, “Yes, I confess, I am a TBM!