About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the LDS church for 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. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

When People Leave Because of Lies

Lot and his family fled Gomorrah based on a belief that it was a rotten place that God would destroy.

Various moderns have fled the LDS Church because they believe it is a rotten place (though it’s not always clear they think there is a God who cares to exact revenge on the Church, often taking up that task themselves).

One of the stories the disaffected love to tell is how rotten Joseph Smith was, portraying him as an abusive sexual addict. Given today’s headlines, one can only imagine such disaffected folks consider Joseph in the same class as abusers such as Harvey Weinstein and Dr. Larry Nassar.

(If you don’t know who Weinstein and Nassar are, you are possibly living in a cave and probably aren’t reading this anyway.)

The most effective arrow in this quiver has been the story spun around Josephine Lyon, daughter of Sylvia Sessions Lyon.

But I assert that the detractors have their story wrong. Now that I’ve had a chance to visit the Special Collections at the Family History Library, my conjecture has flesh. Continue reading

If You Missed the Broadcast and News Conference

Conjecture may now cease.

Click to View the Broadcast and News Conference. If the video indicates it is 2:41:57 long, you’ll want to drag the slider to about 0:53:00 to skip to the beginning of the Broadcast. Similarly, you’ll then want to drag the slider to about 1:53:00 to skip to the beginning of the News Conference.

The Quorum of the Apostles met and unanimously agreed to reorganize the First Presidency. President Russell M. Nelson was selected to be the President of the Church and was set apart on January 14.

President Nelson’s counselors are Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Henry B. Eyring. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf has returned to his place in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and has reportedly already been loaded up with awesome assignments for which he is uniquely qualified.

During the News Conference, the first question out of the block was how the new presidency will come down on LGBT issues. The response reflected the Presidency’s intent to support God’s commandments.

Peggy Fletcher Stack asked about the presidency’s composition (now all white men from America) and specifically indicated an interest in how women would be represented. The answer discussed how it is not possible to reflect all nations and attributes in a group, added to the fact that it is the leadership in all the world that really matters. Critics will likely hone in on the focus on the discussion of women as mothers, while neglecting to point out that the first row of leaders listening to the press conference was filled with women.

Another question asked about the challenges Millennials are having with Church history. The members of the Presidency talked about how all but Christ have made mistakes, and emphasizing the transparency associated with the Joseph Smith Papers Project. They also said that the Millennials they associate with are doing great, while emphasizing that when these young folk marry, they will be uniquely strengthened. “For neither is the man without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord.”

A question came in from overseas asking about the calamities in different nations. The Presidency expressed their concern about the difficulties that have hit, talking about certain difficulties that are ongoing at this moment.

There’s a famous scene in the movie, The Incredibles, where a young boy is asked what he’s waiting for. The boy says:

“I don’t know. Something amazing, I guess.”

Some of us were wondering if we would see something that would surprise us, and in that sense, there was nothing amazing. But I loved that there was a pre-News Conference Broadcast for members, and I loved that we are reminded of the stability of an orderly progression. In hindsight, I am amazed that we have had the privilege of several years of care from Elder Uchtdorf long before we might have expected to see him in such a senior position. This gave us the chance to see the maturation of an apostle from relatively new to seasoned. And I am jealous of those who will get to more directly benefit from his unique gifts for the next several years.

The Quorum of the Apostles and the First Presidency did not delay announcement of today’s news by attempting to conflate today’s announcement with the calling of the two apostles needed to fill out the Quorum of Apostles. Easter weekend will be General Conference, and we can anticipate that new apostles will be announced at that time.

David Grua on The Missouri War and Liberty Jail Letters

LDS Perspectives will be switching to bi-weekly podcasts in 2018. In this inaugural podcast for 2018, Dr. Grua talks about the conflicts in Missouri during the 1830s, which Dr. Grua indicates is well known in American history as an unusually violent decade throughout the nation.

Website link
There is no online transcript for this episode.

Dr. David Grua talks about February 1838–August 1839. This was a tumultuous period in the life of Joseph Smith and the history of the church, marked by internal dissent, the abandonment of Kirtland, Ohio, as church headquarters, the outbreak of violence with anti-Mormons in Missouri, the emergence of the Danite Society, the Missouri–Mormon War, Governor Lilburn W. Boggs’s infamous “extermination order,” Joseph Smith’s imprisonment in Liberty, Missouri, and the exodus and relocation of the Saints to Illinois.

Dr. Grua estimates Missourians killed roughly 40 Mormons during this era. While there was violence on the part of both Mormons and non-Mormons, the Northern (e.g., Mormon) style of violence was against property and considered personal injury sacrosanct. The Southern (e.g., non-Mormon) style of violence included murder and rape in addition to destruction of property.

This was also a time characterized by spiritual outpourings and revelation, with the Prophet dictating D&C 115–120, writing the letters that included D&C 121–123, and delivering several doctrinally-rich discourses to the Twelve Apostles as they prepared for their mission to England. Taunalyn and David review this history in detail and the documents published in the volume.
David also discusses his “Joseph Smith’s Missouri Prison Letters and the Mormon Textual Community,” an essay that will be published in Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Major Early Sources in February 2018 from Oxford University Press.

David W. Grua holds a Ph.D. in American History from Texas Christian University and an M.A. and B.A. from Brigham Young University. He is the author of Surviving Wounded Knee: The Lakotas and the Politics of Memory (Oxford, 2016) and was awarded the Robert M. Utley Prize from the Western History Association.

Counseling Together: A Personal Finances Review

This past year I had the privilege of being called as Self Reliance specialist in my ward, something of a replacement for what used to be the Ward Employment Specialist. But when I was called, no one could tell me what, exactly, this new calling was supposed to be.

I am not a patient person, so the wait to see this new program get rolled out officially in my Stake was excruciating. Finally we had our initial event, where the idea that God wants to help us was rolled out. There are four workshops: Better Job, Starting/Growing Your Own Business, Getting an Education, and Personal Finances.

I’m within a decade or so of retirement, and I have a good job as an employee. So when I was given the My Path booklet and assessed my needs, it was pretty clear I needed to attend the Personal Finances workshop. Meanwhile I got assigned to facilitate the Better Job workshop. The workshops nominally occurs over a twelve week period, with weekly group sessions that last 1-2 hours.

An awesome thing about doing this workshop within an official LDS setting is that you can get a certificate from LDS Business College for the effort. But the materials are all available online for free, so you could do this workshop with a group of friends without waiting for an official LDS setting to occur near you.


We thought a workshop on personal finances would start off with budgeting and savings advice. Instead the workshop starts off talking about faith.

The second surprise (for me) was that I was really opened up to new ideas that I hadn’t seen elsewhere. In particular, I and my spouse for the first time really sat down to talk money in a productive way. Other participants in our workshop reported the same phenomenon.

A third surprise, as we started recording and discussing our expenditures, was where the money was going, and how that compared with our income. Our biggest “problems” were somewhat surprising, and we discovered that there were deep emotional issues attached to those problems.

A fourth surprise was how we moved from being a bit ashamed that we “needed” a Personal Finances workshop to being openly happy to tell people we were doing this super cool thing that was making our lives better and more peaceful. Continue reading

Thomas Spencer Monson passed away January 2, 2018

President Thomas S. Monson passed away of natural causes on January 2, 2018. He had celebrated his 90th birthday in August 2017.

Thomas Monson became an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1963 at the age of 36. He became President of the Church in February 2008. His ministry was characterized by love of people, a love which often broke down seemingly insurmountable barriers. For example, he was the driving force behind the agreement of East Germany to allow a LDS temple to be built behind the Iron Curtain, as so many Mormons from East Germany were seeking to travel to Europe to attend temples in non-Communist Europe.

As an apostle, Thomas Monson would often tell stories from his tenure as bishop in Salt Lake City, where his large Ward included many widows. His care for those relying on him as bishop gave us a window into what it meant to care for the widow and the fatherless, yet President Monson would tell the stories with self-deprecation, always amazed at the goodness of the people he served and often admitting his own failures to strictly heed every prompting.

As a senior apostle and Church president, Thomas Monson would often talk of his childhood, where he portrayed himself as an unruly and problematic child. His addresses were often centered around amusing stories of how he had been lovingly corrected in his youth.

One particularly memorable story was told in April 2013, of a time when he and a friend decided to clear a field by burning the grass, apparently thinking the flames would magically extinguish themselves once the task was complete. Though the story was amusing, the clear warning was that when we attempt to take shortcuts to get to a desired end, things can get out of control. It does not seem coincidental that the Ordain Women organization was founded the following month, eventually leading to the excommunication of its founder, Kate Kelly. Around the same time Kelly was excommunicated, long-time activist John Dehlin was also excommunicated. Dehlin had for years prior to 2013 been suggesting that Thomas Monson was not fit to preside due to increasing dementia associated with his advancing age. Dehlin had also been providing guidance to people on how to transition out of the Mormon faith.

After I learned of Dehlin’s comments, I watched for how President Monson comported himself. I was frankly amazed at how well an allegedly impaired man was able to carry out the public duties of his office. And I became extremely grateful that Joseph Smith appears to have created a leadership  structure prior to his death 1 whereby many individuals together hold the keys, in support of the one individual at the head of the Church who has the right to preside (see D&C 24). Continue reading


  1. Precise details of the leadership structure were not made public at that time, which Wilford Woodruff’s journal suggests was marked by death threats against Joseph and his presumed successor, Hyrum Smith. Various individuals other than the senior apostle attempted to claim they were the proper successor. Hence my use of the term “appears.”