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.

Striker: History of a Definition

Ladies tailors strikers

[Textile Workers in 1909 embodying the 4th definition of “striker”]

This past June/July, I spent a couple of weeks hanging out over at another LDS-themed website. I had been induced to visit this other site because I became aware my name was being used in vain.

I learned a few useful things as a result of that interaction, because some of those participating in that forum had knowledge I did not yet have. They didn’t cause me to question any of my primary theses regarding Nauvoo events, but they did make me wonder about my use of the term “striker” to describe the seducers who were telling women it was acceptable to participate in illicit intercourse. The strident critics on that other site claimed I was entirely wrong in the use of this one word. They pulled up various citations from the mid 1800s that indicated “striker” was a term that seemed to convey the idea of political activism. So I was planning to remove the term “striker” from a future update of my book, Reluctant Polygamist.

Luckily, I hadn’t gotten around to excising “striker” from my book. It turns out the term means what I thought it meant, and the word would have been even more upsetting and pertinent than I realized. Continue reading

Pearson’s Ghost of Eternal Polygamy: Review

GhostCarol Lynn Pearson, who describes herself as one of the “wise-woman elders” of Mormonism, has written a book documenting how the specter of eternal polygamy pains those who have embraced Mormonism.

For many Mormons as old as me, Carol Lynn Pearson was *the* Mormon poet. Her poetic voice was clear and inspiring in her initial books of her poetry, widely quoted in Mormon circles. Her life appeared to be unusually graced until her beloved husband came out as gay. Pearson’s book about her husband was published in 1986, after her former husband died from complications related to AIDS.

Pearson started as precocious and innocent girl believing the promises of 1970s Mormonism and has arrived at the status of elderly and wounded woman, crying out to God and us listeners with her stories of how entitled polygamous patriarchy harms everyone, but particularly the female members of the Mormon tribe.

As a reviewer, I am simultaneously irritated with Pearson while applauding her clarity in pointing out the damage stupid beliefs about eternal polygamy can cause.

I am irritated because she sees Mormon plural marriage through a lens I no longer see as valid, a lens through which she describes Joseph Smith “taking” 30-40 wives, including some with legal husbands and at least one as young as fourteen. I would have rendered that phrase that Joseph Smith covenanted with ~40 women, including some with legal husbands and one woman who may have been as young as thirteen. But I would have pointed out that in every case that has been examined, the few children borne by these women during this time have been positively confirmed to be the biological children of the legal husband (with no confident reports that any otherwise unmarried women conceived at all). And I point out the vast sexual heresy that engulfed Nauvoo in 1841-1842, to which I posit Joseph was responding to by entering into covenants with associated teachings, covenants that appear to have been asexual for the most part.

Yet I applaud Pearson because the pain she describes is the very reason why I feel it is so critical to unearth the forgotten sins of our past, the truths it appears our pioneer forebears had righteously buried in full repentance before their Lord, Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Seer Stones: Meg’s Review

Seer StonesMichael Hubbard MacKay and Nicholas J. Frederick give us a delightful volume discussing Joseph Smith’s seer stones, exploring a portion of Mormon history that was excised along with the mortal practice of plural marriage among the Saints.

Here’s the gist:

Joseph and seemingly most of his colleagues used stones to see things that were otherwise hidden. This included his age peers, respectable members of the local community, and noted Protestant church leaders. When Mormon missionaries traveled to England, they found individuals in England who were similarly using stones to see hidden things. See pp. 158-159.

The Bible has a tradition of prophets seeing things in various miraculous ways, such as visions and dreams. But the ways God used to convey his wisdom also included such methods as writing on walls. The authors include a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn of Belshazzar’s Feast (1636), where writing appeared on the wall of the temple and was interpreted by the prophet Daniel (p. 119). The Bible also includes discussion of items used for divination or to see hidden things (the Urim and Thummim, the white stone John mentions in Revelation). Continue reading

Modern Temple Open Houses: Fort Collins

imageI was delighted to learn that the Fort Collins temple was holding an open house while we would be traveling through Colorado. Thank you M*!

It’s been a while since I’d gone through a temple open house. I think the most recent experience for me was the open house for the Nauvoo temple over a decade ago. Things are mostly the same, but slightly different. And I had delightful experiences talking with those not of our faith during my visit to Fort Collins. Continue reading

The Redemption of the Endowment

France Paris Notre-Dame-Adam and EveThis past Saturday I attended the temple with my husband. This was the first time I’d experienced the endowment ceremony since coming to believe that Hyrum Smith, rather than Joseph Smith, may have been the third man Martha Brotherton described in her 1842 affidavit.

In my post earlier this summer suggesting Hyrum was implicated in promoting illicit intercourse, I described honored figures of the past who had fallen into transgression, only to repent and become the greatest. I mentioned Saul of Tarsus, Alma the Younger, and Moses’ brother Aaron.

I completely overlooked Adam and Eve, the iconic figures who transgressed and yet were then promised the salvation of Christ could redeem them.

For those not familiar with the endowment, let me repeat Glen M. Leonard’s description. The endowment:

[set] forth a pattern or figurative model for life. The teachings began with a recital of the creation of the earth and its preparation to host life. The story carried the familiar ring of the Genesis account, echoed as well in Joseph Smith’s revealed book of Moses and book of Abraham. The disobedience and expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden set the stage for an explanation of Christ’s atonement for that original transgression and for the sins of the entire human family. Also included was a recital of man’s tendency to stray from the truth through apostasy and the need for apostolic authority to administer authoritative ordinances and teach true gospel principles. Participants were reminded that in addition to the Savior’s redemptive gift they must be obedient to God’s commandments to obtain a celestial glory. Within the context of these gospel instructions, the initiates made covenants of personal virtue and benevolence and of commitment to the church. They agreed to devote their talents and means to spread the gospel, to strengthen the church, and to prepare the earth for the return of Jesus Christ. 1

I have previously made reference to the commitment to personal virtue, the requirement that the endowed individual refrain from sex with anyone other than a legal spouse. 2 What I had failed to understand was the power of the creation narrative for those affected by the heresy of illicit intercourse. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Leonard, Glen M., Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, A People of Promise, (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 2002), 258-259, cited by Devery S. Anderson, The Anointed Quorum in Nauvoo, 1842-45, Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Fall 2003), pp. 137-138, available 22 Aug 2016 at https://archive.org/stream/AnointedQuorum/Anointed%20Quorum_djvu.txt
  2. I am not certain what the wording of the original endowment was, but I am certain that it did not allow for random liaisons of temporary duration, which was the hallmark of Bennett’s illicit intercourse or “spiritual wifery” heresy.