About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the LDS church for over four decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation, and is working on a midrashic treatment of the events in Nauvoo associated with early polygamy.

Families Can Be Together Forever

imageI enjoy the tumblr feed at Just Say Amen Already (JSAA). The author is K, a Jewish convert who lives in New York City. K has a great sense of humor, handy when you are a single female Mormon professional who happens to be a Democrat.

I browsed JSAA a few weeks ago after hearing my son-in-law’s father had died. K’s witty tumblr feed was a comfort. I clicked through to K’s blog posts and read K’s comments on Families Will Be Together Forever.

As a single Mormon woman who is the only member of her family, K took issue with this song, with a line by line critique. I get where she’s coming from. I mean, some of us do live the dream. But when I was getting beaten by my first husband or my dad, the words “[my family] is so good to me” didn’t accurately describe the situation. I am aware of other actual situations that are stark exceptions to the ideal of the good family, like a friend who was murdered by her husband, or another friend whose mother was a prostitute who abandoned her children.

How might it be possible to modify the song ever so slightly so it conveys the original sense of hope and admonition, but rings true to all members of the Church, particularly those whose lives don’t fit the ideal Mormon model for whatever reason? Continue reading

Exodus?

From Cacciata dei progenitori dall'Eden by Masaccio

From Cacciata dei progenitori dall’Eden by Masaccio

There had been a promise that multitudes, distressed by the harsh punishment inflicted on Kate Kelly, would resign from Mormonism on Pioneer Day.

Has this happened? It seemed like some wished to stage a mass exodus that would be worthy of news coverage.

Such things do happen. A man I desperately loved in college later left the Church with his wife over the matter of David Wright.

On the other hand, I wonder at the optics of large masses leaving a Church when others are trying to say they are so pained by being forced from the Church.

Fifty Years in the Wilderness

[This post is part of a series on Joseph Smith's Polygamy. To read from the beginning or link to previously published posts, go to A Faithful Joseph.]

Jubilee Celebration – Picture of the 1847 Pioneers at Temple Square – July 24, 1897

The Mormon exodus and pioneer period tends to be well understood by Mormons. However as we typically don’t focus on the history of polygamy as part of that history, I feel it is useful to trace the impact of polygamy in the pioneer history between Brigham Young’s departure from Nauvoo until we see the Mormon Church denounce new plural marriages in 1890 (and again in 1904).

For purposes of this discussion, the Fifty Years I presume we agree that Mormons were in the wilderness stretch from their exodus from Nauvoo and the state of Illinois (starting 4 February 1846) to Utah’s admission as a state of the United States (January 4, 1896).
Continue reading

A Privileged Mormon Woman Defects

Bubbles

[My darling husband has finally read this post, and I am updating it based on some of his comments. One of his suggested edits was the title, which used to read "A Mormon Princess Defects." Though he mostly liked this post, there were a few areas where he felt I had written in a manner that invited misunderstanding. I have also invited Christine's daughter, Emily, to send me her edit of how she believes this post should have read, given my opinion but her knowledge of the hearts of Christine and Malcolm. This post will remain my work, and Emily's edit, if she submits it, will be a separate post.]

If you are familiar with me and Millennial Star, you know that we are always sorry when someone decides to constructively desert their faith in Mormonism. Some of my colleagues express this sorrow by attacking.

I express this sorrow by performing analysis, as I did with the discussions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) posted by those supporting/requesting/demanding female ordination.

I don’t typically listen to John Dehlin’s podcasts, but I have been wondering what was happening with him, in the wake of the recent excommunication of Kate Kelly. And so I browsed to his Facebook page and looked at the chatter going on over there.

This is how I came to listen to John Dehlin’s recent four-part podcast covering roughly six hours of conversation with Christine Jeppson Clark. Christine is a long-time friend of John’s, and her father is the now-deceased general authority, Malcolm Jeppson.

There are four points of interest here for me, as Christine describes her father’s involvement in coordinating discipline for individuals suspected of apostasy and her path out of the Church:

  1. An expanded view of how Church discipline is both local and yet under supervision.
  2. The importance of schema in interpreting our past and our present.
  3. The danger of living in fear and isolation, taught incorrect “truths.”
  4. How blessed I have been, by contrast.

I see Christine’s decision to depart from the faith of her childhood as a natural consequence of various factors, but I don’t take her actions as a legitimate critique of the Mormon faith. T 1 to paraphrase Baruch Spinoza:

“What Christine says about Mormonism tells us more about Christine than about Mormonism”. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Obviously Christine is acting based on what she legitimately believes. I merely feel that the defection of any high profile member of a group is not necessarily a valid reason for deciding a group or movement is wrong. If that were the legitimate criterion for determining a movement or goverment was wrong, then there is no right in this world.

For Eternity and Time

[This post is part of a series on Joseph Smith's Polygamy. To read from the beginning or link to previously published posts, go to A Faithful Joseph.]

Jonathan and Elvira

Jonathan Holmes and Elvira Annie Cowles [Holmes Smith] circa 1870, just prior to Elvira’s death

As the Nauvoo temple neared completion, the non-Mormons in Illinois tore down all pretense of civil protection for the people in Nauvoo.

First to go was the Nauvoo city charter, which had authorized creation of the Nauvoo legion. Lacking a charter, Nauvoo couldn’t even maintain a police force to protect against petty crime. 1

The next threat was the beginning of the “wolf hunts” that had been threatened in 1844, a euphemism for attacks on outlying Mormon settlements and dwellings. In the months before the temple was completed, the wolf hunt mobs burned over 100 homes. 2

There was an arrest warrant out for Brigham Young. Word came that federal troops were advancing on Nauvoo, coming up the Mississippi River. 3 It was a time of severe tension, and Brigham knew he would be responsible for moving his people west.

Brigham was faced with the question of what to do with women whose husbands had died. The women wished to be sealed to their beloved, departed spouses. But what man could be counted on to marry and care for a woman who was eternally sealed to another man?

And so Brigham apparently made a policy decision. If a woman wished to be sealed to a deceased spouse for eternity, she could–so long as the man standing proxy agreed to marry the woman for time. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, p. 65.
  2. Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, pp. 36, 70.
  3. Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy. Also documented at the Library of Congress, from research performed by Stephen Stathis circa 1978.