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.

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.

Collecting the Sorrowful

[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.]

William Weeks drawing of Nauvoo TempleBefore Joseph’s death in the summer of 1844, over a hundred men and women had entered into plural marriages. However except for six of these couples, 1there is no indication that any of these plural marriages had been consummated.

For months after Joseph’s death, the matter of plural marriage took a back seat to succession concerns. But by September 1844, Brigham Young and the apostles had established with the majority of Joseph’s followers that they were Joseph’s rightful successors. They continued work toward completing the Nauvoo temple and began to marry the plural widows Joseph had left behind. To the chagrin of Emma Smith, the apostles gave the go ahead for men with plural wives to engage in sexual relations with these wives. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. As already discussed multiple times, no child borne to a wife of Joseph Smith can be proven to have been engendered by Smith, based on DNA analysis. The six couples where a plural wife appears to have conceived before Joseph’s death are: William Clayton & Margaret Moon (Daniel born Feb 18, 1844); William Fleshaw & Charlotte Walters (Katherine born November 28, 1845); Heber C. Kimball & Sarah Peak Noon (Henry born ca. 1844, his younger sister Sarah born July 1, 1845); Joseph B. Noble & Sarah B. Alley (George born February 2, 1844); Theodore Turley & Mary Clift (Ephraim born February 11, 1845); and Lorenzo Dow Young & Harriet P. Wheeler Decker (John born September 5, 1844), from Bergera, Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841-44, available online at http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V38N03_13.pdf, retrieved 7 Jul 2014.

Aphorisms, Schema, and teaching our Children

A sister of mine who has many minor children wants to create a copy book for her children.

She is looking for aphorisms that will shape her children into wise men and women. She is looking to shape her children’s schema, the way they perceive and remember the reality of their lives. If you’re not sure what an aphorism is, here’s an awesome quote I found on the internet:

An aphorism is a short pithy statement that states a truth and smacks you with a reality punch… A good aphorism is only the tip of the iceberg and underneath its logic is a ton of philosophical meaning. It is the big truth in capsulated form and its power is in its ability to be retained in our consciousness and the affect it has on our thinking. 1

This jogged my memory. Months before Bruce Nielson recruited me to blog here at M*, I had come across the “Great BCC Aphorism Contest.” Not being familiar with BCC, I decided to toss off a few aphorisms, original to me that day, for example: Continue reading

Notes:

  1. The Jesus Style of Communication – Aphorisms and Parables at Radical Grace, available online at http://donmilam.com/2013/02/the-jesus-style-of-communication-aphorisms-and-parables-2/, retrieved 3 July 2014.