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.

Weinstein: A Parallel

Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Harvey Weinstein attend EIF’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund Honors Melissa Etheridge at SAKS FIFTH AVENUE’s “Unforgettable Evening” at Regent Beverly Wilshire on March 1, 2006 in Beverly Hills, CA. Billy Farrell/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Many will have heard about emerging reports that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has raped, molested, and otherwise abused females for decades. Weinstein prominence was such that he had been granted a lifetime membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, by which he had been awarded a best-picture Oscar for Shakespeare in Love in 1999.

Weinstein’s reported modus operandi was distinctive. Weinstein would claim he had an important opportunity to discuss with a female actor. When the woman arrived in his room, Weinstein, inappropriate clad (or unclad), would proceed to demand sexual favors. If the favors were not immediately forthcoming, Weinstein would threaten to destroy the woman’s career and/or take liberties by force. Any attempts made by the women to retaliate were quashed by various means.

One of those decrying Weinstein for the reported abuse is Tom Hanks, who has been a Vice President in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 2005.

Now imagine that instead of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences we were talking about the Nauvoo-era Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Instead of Tom Hanks, we have Joseph Smith as a ranking leader in the organization. Instead of Harvey Weinstein as an important member of the leadership, we have Dr. John Bennett.

Scandal Honored Leader Reprobate (per leader)
Hollywood 2017 Tom Hanks Harvey Weinstein
Mormonism 1842 Joseph Smith Dr. Bennett

Continue reading

Blind Spots

Sarah Elizabeth Holmes (right) was a tiny child in Nauvoo when her mother died.

As I was piecing together the history of my ancestors, I read accounts of how Sarah’s mother died as a result of mob violence, which is how Sarah eventually became the step-daughter of my ancestor, Elvira Cowles.

Todd Compton, in writing about Elvira Cowles, related that the death of Sarah’s mother, Marietta Carter Holmes, had reportedly resulted from a mob driving Marietta out of her cabin. 1 The records associated with Sarah Holmes at the Nauvoo Land and Records office tell of a mob attack during a heavy storm, leaving a burned cabin in its wake. Marietta died in August 1840. Her infant daughter died a month later.

This past weekend I was in Nauvoo. During a discussion of violence, I mentioned the tale of Marietta Carter Holmes being attacked by a mob in her cabin. The Holmes cabin where Marietta likely lived at the time of her death was located two blocks from Joseph Smith’s home.

To my surprise, Joseph Johnstun (whose historical probity I adore), claimed the tale was bunk, that the woman’s skirts had caught fire and caused the conflagration that destroyed the cabin.

While the story of a mob attacking Marietta Carter Holmes isn’t core to my thesis regarding Joseph Smith’s activities regarding plural marriage, it is a story I have repeated multiple times. To have someone I respect as much as Joseph Johnstun refer to the story as bovine excrement took me aback. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Todd Compton, “Elvira Annie Cowles” in <em>In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith</em>, Signature Books,1997, p. 546. Todd relates the tradition that Marietta was driven from her cabin in Missouri, reportedly causing Marietta’s death.

Rejoicing to the End: A Civil Example

Sarkis Tatigian was a 17-year-old immigrant when he enlisted in the Navy during World War II.

That was 75 years ago today. He still works for the Navy.

“Mr. T” has largely focused on getting federal monies to small businesses, the Mom and Pop shops of the United States. To date, he has overseen more than $100 billion dollars in contracts awarded to these small businesses.

While I haven’t worked directly with Mr. Tatigian, my contracts have been reviewed by him. There are days when he is on the same shuttle taking folks from work to the metro station. I often see his distinctive form in the halls.

It is common for scholars to denigrate the recollections of elderly people, suggesting that the lateness of their record on their lived experience renders the information unreliable. Surely, it is presumed, the ravages of old age have degraded these people’s understanding of what *actually* happened.

But to hear from those who interact directly with Mr. Tatigian, his mind is sharp and his recollection of the clauses and policies that promote small business is precise. Those who now lead recall their “education” by Mr. T in contracting, mind-illuminating encounters that occurred decades ago, when Mr. T had already been a public servant for over 50 years. Accolades streamed in from senators, admirals, and even the President and his wife.

Mr. T returned to work a mere 5 weeks after quadruple bypass surgery. When a sniper opened fire in the building where we worked in 2013, he spryly escaped through a back door.

Today’s celebration was not a retirement, but a demarcation of yet another anniversary in the service of an outstanding individual. Mr. T has already surpassed the recognized “longest career of a civil servant,” held by now-retired Hardy William Cash for his 63 year career. It’s possible Mr. T could surpass the record for “the longest time an individual has worked for the same company,” held by Thomas Stoddard for his 80 years working at Speakman Company.

For many of us, “enduring to the end” is seen as a white-knuckle enterprise, gritting one’s teeth. But though Mr. T has “endured” in his career, there is no sense that he is biding time or gritting it out. There is no sense that he anticipates a time when he can set down this work and “relax.”

Churchill once said, “Fortune’s favored children belong to the second class [those whose work and pleasure are one]. Their life is a natural harmony.”

To Mr. T, one of Fortune’s favored children. May we strive to find a useful life where work and pleasure can be one, in whatever sphere our effort may occur.