When I'm on facebook these days — and I'm on much more than I should be — I hang out a bit on the Feminist Mormon Housewives page… with occasional forays onto The Mormon Hub and Mormon Liberals pages, too. (Yeah, fine, I'm still a junkie that way.) Unsurprisingly, I come across quite a few people who are grappling with their faith, trying to reconcile all of the same kinds of things that Mr Mo and I tried for years to reconcile about the church and logic and morality and all… until we finally couldn't stand the cognitive dissonance anymore and stopped going.

We are nonetheless still Members of Record. But just before Christmas, while I was whiling away the time on facebook, a message window popped up from a dear old friend of mine from Pittsburgh days, and lo! She wanted me to read her letter of resignation — having decided that as of 2014, she was not going to be mormon anymore.

Though I was a little surprised at the "out of the blue"-ness of the experience, I wasn't particularly surprised at her decision. — On the contrary, I'm kind of surprised that it hadn't happened earlier. Moreover, I'm a little surprised that she would be the one to leave first, given that her family has treated her… decently, despite her apostasy and all, whereas her husband's family (parents — or at least father in particular, I mean) have been just beastly towards him.

Old Friend and I chatted a little bit and I told her that I am waiting until my folks (and possibly my in-laws, too) shuffle off their mortal coils before I take that final step — one that codifies my complete disaffection, as it were. (And note: disaffection does not, and probably never will, equate to a lack of interest in Things Mormon. But my basic relationship to the church has long since shifted to a place that formal resignation will not materially affect… and I suspect I may wait for a dramatic moment to resign as a gesture of protest over yet some other new major outrageous thing LDS, Inc., does in the political arena. God knows, however, that there have been plenty of such moments over the past several years that have more than merited my resignation!)

Anyway, I am waiting. Given longevity, I may have a while to wait (and that's fine with me: I love my folks and wish them long life and good health, despite all of our serious political and religious differences). But I sure understand the impulse to officially sever all ties to the institution.

… Which brings me to the "Ugly American" part of this post. I talked to another friend of mine last night, my job broker, who has only recently discovered that she was baptized mormon… but obviously her family was never, ever active. Further, her family (parents, sibs, etc.) seem to be about as emotionally dysfunctional as it is possible to be, and she has had to cut ties with them for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is saving her own sanity. This said, the last family tie to get cut loose happened over Christmas, and involved a cousin's family living temporarily in SW Germany. Turns out that this family is openly mormon and very conservative; and yet despite knowing this, my friend voluntarily walked into a nest of criticism and judgment and sexism and condescension and just the very worst of mormon-ness (or any hypocritical pharisaical religiosity) as can be. My friend's son was confused by their (mostly the husband's) bad behavior, asking her, "Aren't they supposed to be Christians?"

Ick. But to top it off, the cousin's husband was a complete arschloch as an American expat: dissing Germany and Germans and showing nothing but contempt for the country. That attitude was prevalent in the all-American mormon xmas party to which my friend was invited (and ended up being judged and pitied by The Righteous): America is the Promised Land, which means that all other lands are inferior and the inhabitants thereof are not as worthy, etc.

…Which put me in mind of the mormon lady in Grenoble. She was the Relief Society president of the English-speaking branch during the time when I almost met her — we talked on the phone a couple of times, she left a couple of paper plates of overly-sweet cookies hanging from my gate, but we never met face to face. More important than her church position, however, was her position as president of Open House, an association for English-speaking expats. When I showed up in Grenoble, I had my choice — I could join Open House or AVF (Accueil des Villes Françaises— the French welcome wagon)… probably could have joined both, I guess, but I decided against Open House very quickly, as the members I met outside the Hydropower Elementary School (oh, just do the damned translation yourselves, people! — trying to preserve a tiny bit of anonymity here!) — anyway, the Open House moms stood around and bitched about Life in France. Constantly.

So I joined AVF. Turns out that the Relief Society/Open House president absolutely hated living in France. She lived there for upwards of seven years (maybe longer) and hated every minute of it, couldn't wait to go "home." And her hatred thereof certainly contributed to the piss-poor attitude of the members of Open House that I met during my early days in Meylan. (The leadership of Open House changed when this sour woman left, of course, and now I hear Open House is much better about helping its members integrate into local life, instead of insulating them from it and their French neighbors.)

Ugly Americanism is not at all unique to mormons, of course, and there are plenty of mormons who live abroad and get integrated nicely and all (and sometimes do so without having any real kind of proselytizing goal in mind, imagine that!)… but given the rabid conservatism that is rampant among such a large percentage of active members of the mormon church, and given that "America is the Best at Everything, facts be damned" is a central right-wing tenet… well, little wonder at the shameful and closed-minded and completely ungracious behavior that my job broker (and child) witnessed at Christmas.

Job broker, by the way, wants me to tell her when I finally do "sign out"… and she'll do so at the same time.