Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned. As with many of my sins, this one boils down to pride, and also as with many of my sins, I've only come to recognize this in myself because it bothers me so much in others.
There are a few blogs in Outer Blogness (the ex-Mormon blogosphere) that I follow regularly and a few I check in on now and then. The ones I enjoy more and thus follow regularly don't identify themselves so much by their ex-Mormonness and lack the bitter and condescending tone that so many ex-Mormon bloggers take toward Mormondom. I don't tend to think of myself as ex-Mormon so much as a guy who used to be Mormon, and I tend to gravitate toward people of like minds. In even the least bitter and condescending of these blogs, though--including my own, I'm realizing--the occasional post sneaks in wherein the author sets up the brainwashed, backwards-thinking Mormon straw man in order to make him or herself look oh-so-enlightened in comparison. "Thank Humanism I don't buy into those ridiculous beliefs anymore."
Everyone, of course, is going to find his or her own convictions and value system to be the best, the most logical, but I think there's a problem when we (I) become so convinced by our (my) own way of thinking that we (I) discard other ways of thinking as nonsense. If Mormonism or Buddhism or Catholicism were nonsense, then you would not find as many intelligent people believing them as you do. Rather than dismissing belief systems that don't make sense to us, we'd do better to try to understand why people adhere to them. You'd think those of us who used to be believers ourselves would have an easier time of understanding those who still are, but I think the reality is just the opposite--we see our own path leading away from belief as a logical progression, and thus can't help seeing believers as being somewhere behind us on that path. The problem is that we're (a) projecting our own life's experience onto another person it may not apply to and (b) assuming we're at some kind of destination point where we can objectively look back and see the world through an unfiltered lens.
If this sounds more like the same soapbox I'm always on than some new revelation, that's because it is. For all my talk about respecting people who are different from me, it's all too often little more than lip service. As one example, in a post a few weeks ago I made a passing comment about how bigotry is the reason same-sex marriage has been made illegal in so many states, as if that were an accepted fact. Now, I do believe that in most cases people are opposed to same-sex marriage because of ignorant bigotry, but the way I phrased it didn't acknowledge the many people who base their opposition to same-sex marriage in reasons that--though I disagree with them--are not bigotry. It's easier for me to point a finger at the bigoted straw man than to acknowledge the complexity of the real world, and doing so served my rhetorical purpose at the time, but it's not fair to the people who are opposed to same-sex marriage but aren't bigots, which I imagine describes some of the people who read this blog. I apologize for being so condescending.
I don't mean to blow my sin out of proportion. Despite my shortcomings, I believe that I, just like my ex-Mormon, Mormon, and completely-unrelated-t0-Mormondom co-bloggers, am making a sincere effort. But I also think it's valuable for us to recognize where our efforts fall short, in order to do better.
As penitence I will do my best to treat everyone and their beliefs with respect, and to recognize and apologize for any lapses that I'll surely make. I'd invite you to point out instances where I don't show enough respect for others' beliefs, but only if you promise to do so very gently and kindly; Blogger knows I don't handle criticism well.
I am sorry for this and many other sins of my past and present life.