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.

Nauvoo Untold Stories – 2017 Highlights

The first weekend in February is when Nauvoo hosts two events.

One is the Saturday recreation of the 1846 exodus, when the Mormons fleeing Illinois traveled down Parley Street to the Mississippi. The annual celebration starts in the Family Living Center (with food), then all march out to the landing in the cold. Nice words are said, then folks return to their parked cars and head home. It’s definitely something worth doing at least once.

In recent years, the Nauvoo Untold Stories Symposium is held Friday and Saturday, with evening presentations on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It’s a great mix of folk history and cherishing the lore of the main religious and ethnic groups that have passed through Nauvoo. This year featured exploration of DNA, the Smith burial grounds, German cookies, Joseph Smith’s plans to escape Carthage, and other good stuff. Continue reading

The Purpose of Prayer

Albrecht Dürer - Praying Hands, 1508 - Google Art ProjectA few days ago John S. Harvey sent the M* editors a question regarding the purpose of prayer. John particularly wondered what the M* community thinks about praying for the leaders of countries throughout the world.

I’m curious *what* we should pray for?  I assume God has a plan in mind and that my asking him to change any aspect of that plan isn’t going to change the plan.  And likewise if I happen to pray in ways that are consistent with His plan I don’t think it would increase the efficacy of the plan in any way.  I assume that God is already trying to prompt leaders to do what is right (obviously many don’t).

If I pray that hearts will be changed/softened that sounds nice, but wouldn’t God already be trying to get them to do what is right?  I know we have been commanded to pray that the opportunities for missionary work around the world will increase.  And so I do that.

“At the end of the day I’m left with the question of what should I be praying for with respect to leaders of countries throughout the world?  It seems like almost any prayer is either asking for the leader’s agency to be taken away, or for God’s plan to be changed given that God would already be trying to get them to do what is right already.”

John said that praying for Church leaders is different for him. “In the case of Church leaders much of what I am praying for is to bring my will into harmony with God’s will and for the leaders to be able to understand and accomplish God’s will.  That seems to be a very different set of motivations than any of the leader’s of countries I can think of.”

What think ye? How do you envision that prayers for world leaders work?

Knit Hearts of the Past

Nauvoo has long captivated me. But it wasn’t until 2015 that I decided I wanted to move there someday.

As of this week I am the delighted owner of a brick home on Mulholland Street, within easy walking distance of the Nauvoo temple and all the businesses in town.

The home has curb appeal and the “built in 1850” note suggested historical significance. It’s been fun tracing the history of the original families to build the home as it now is. And in what was a family living in a mostly Catholic Nauvoo, I found an unexpected tie to Mormonism. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

2017 rang in quietly at my home. We watched a DVD someone got for Christmas. Five minutes before midnight, we shifted to TV.

We opened a couple of bottles of Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice and poured it into cobalt blue goblets in preparation for the countdown. Then it was 3, 2, 1… And we all hugged and kissed as appropriate.

This was the baby’s first New Year celebration, but she’s always up for consuming food and drink. So she eagerly downed a tablespoon of white grape juice, her emerging teeth clinking on the glass.

A minute or so later, the juice came back up, with a bit more from other adventures in eating. Her father, duly decorated, went down to shower and clean both of them up. Then they fell asleep. And baby’s mother snapped a photo of her sleeping loved ones.

In a prior age this moment would have been remembered only briefly, possibly forgotten the next morning. But now we have a photograph. And now there is IMGUR.

“At our New Year’s Party, A girl drank too much, puked on my husband, and then fell asleep with him… Best night of my year!”

To the baby mother’s initial delight, the post started getting traction. Then IMGUR told her it was officially viral (at 300 likes). Then she started getting Facebook comments from friends who asked, “Is that your husband and baby on the front page of IMGUR?!?!?!?”

Less than a day after going live, the post has over 10,000 likes. And the author is both delighted and a bit anxious, because her IMGUR persona is a bit more outré than even the persona her friends knew in college.

May your New Year be delightful. May you have those around you to love and cherish. May you find deep truths that fill your soul with joy and peace. And may you live a life that in reflection brings a smile to your face.

Dubious Anniversary

Joseph Smith Red Brick Store in Nauvoo175 years ago Brigham Young reportedly attempted to convince Martha Brotherton to be his “wife.” The conversation between Martha and Brigham Young reportedly occurred in the Red Brick Store (pictured above). The exact date is not know, but the conversation almost certainly occurred in the latter half of December 1841.

Many have presumed that the conversation was a “legitimate” proposal that Martha become Brigham’s plural wife within the context of Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding Celestial Marriage and the New and Everlasting Covenant. After all, Martha claimed that Joseph Smith was one of the three men who spoke with her that day, urging her to accept Brigham’s proposal.

However it should be remembered that Martha placed Joseph Smith at the scene in an affidavit written at the express invitation of Dr. John C. Bennett, who was attempting to tarnish Joseph Smith’s reputation. From the contemporary journal of a faithful Mormon, it appears Joseph Smith felt Brigham’s attempt to coerce Martha Brotherton was a transgression so serious that Joseph feared Brigham would be struck down and die. 1 As discussed in my post Saul, Alma the Younger, and the tale of Martha Brotherton, it is plausible that Martha’s account was largely based on actual events. However the third man participating in the conversations Martha described was likely an unwitting Hyrum Smith, rather than Joseph Smith.

Continue reading


  1. Clayton, William, journal entry of June 23, 1843. See An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, George D. Smith editor, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, UT, 1995, p. 108.