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 has a particular interest in events in the LDS community associated with "polygamy" between 1840 and 1845.

Zina Diantha Huntington Young: Exploring a Confusing Legacy

Zina Huntington 1840After book group this Tuesday, one of my friends mentioned she’d been reading about the various presidents of Relief Society. Knowing of my interest in early Mormon polygamy, my friend said she wanted to talk with me sometime about Zina Diantha Huntington [Jacobs Smith Young], who served as General Relief Society President after the death of Eliza R. Snow.

Zina was one of the first women to covenant with Joseph Smith, one of the few who was told Joseph had only acted because an angel threatened him with a sword. According to other accounts, the angel had appeared to Joseph repeatedly since 1834, but it would only be in 1841 that the angel implied lethal force might occur if obedience to the commandment was not forthcoming.

Following the 1844 death of Joseph Smith, Zina would undergo a uniquely unusual marital shift, leaving the ostensibly faithful/believing father of her children to become the conjugal wife of Brigham Young.

Here is my explanation for why a married and pregnant Zina entered into a covenant marriage with Joseph Smith, and why after Joseph’s death she abandoned her believing husband to become one of the many conjugal wives of Brigham Young. Continue reading

Priesthood and Family Executive Councils

3PresidentsAs Deseret News’ Tad Walch reported yesterday, “Church leaders changed the name of the faith’s Priesthood Executive Council to the Priesthood and Family Executive Council.” Click here to read the full article.

It was during the presidency of Spencer W. Kimball when the leadership of the Church formally aligned themselves with the three-fold mission of the Church:

Proclaim the Gospel
Strengthen the Members
Redeem the Dead

The three presidents of the Church’s organizations headed by women have been invited to be permanent members of the the Executive Councils aligned with this three-fold mission.

The Relief Society General President, Sister Linda K. Burton (right), becomes a permanent member of the renamed Priesthood and Family Executive Council.

The General Young Women’s President, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson (center), joins the Missionary Executive Council.

The General Primary President, Sister Rosemary Wixom (left), joins the Temple and Family History Executive Council.

The women who have served in these positions have often been ad hoc participants in these councils in the past, but the formalization of their membership in these councils and broadening the focus beyond “priesthood” is highly significant. This move does not merely add three women to the highest Church councils, but serves as an initial step towards integrating tens of thousands of women into Church leadership throughout congregations in all the world. Continue reading

Review: The Book of Mormon as History

This is a guest post from Pat Chiu, a life-long Mormon and mother of ten children. Pat has spent several decades engaging the “controversies” regarding Mormonism from an intellectually rigorous and faithful manner. She has post-graduate training in anthropology and is a member of the board of Utah Valley Artist Guild. Her hobbies include carpentry and writing.

Book of Mormon as History coverBrant A. Gardner, Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History, published by Greg Kofford Books on 6 August 2015.

Gardner writes, ‘Of the myriad possible ways to read the Book of Mormon I choose to read and tell it both in history and as history.’ He finds this enhances its value as a sacred work of scripture.

Dr. Gardner provides copious endnotes and an inclusive bibliography providing information both from his critics and those who have helped him reach his conclusions.

Along with scholars and general authorities such as Neal A. Maxwell, Gardner feels that naïve enthusiasts who espouse and promulgate various theories about its origin and settings (my words), including spurious parallels, have done more damage to accepting the authenticity of The Book of Mormon than have sceptical scholars such as Michael Coe.

Among the factors Gardner examines are climate, geography, linguistics, ancient myths and geophysics including volcanic eruptions, all of which contribute to Gardner’s finding that the Book of Mormon is a historical work. He incorporated much that is available in his six volume work Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon. In The Book of Mormon as History, Dr. Gardner adds additional material and ‘compacts the history so that a reader can get a feel for the real setting behind the Book of Mormon in a chronological framework.’ Continue reading

Fair Mormon Day 2 – The Rest of the Story

For Day 2 of the 2015 Fair Mormon Conference, the following presentations were scheduled. Those that are hyperlinked and marked with a star are covered today. Others may be covered in a few days when the streaming video is made available after the conference.

* Michael R. Otterson – Correcting The Record: Brother Otterson is with the LDS Church Public Affairs office.

* Stephen Webb – Why Mormon Materialism Matters: Steven Webb is a Catholic theologian and author of Mormon Christianity.

* Laura Hales – Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding: Laura Hales become immersed in the matter of polygamy when she recently married Brian C. Hales.

Lynne Wilson – Christ’s Emancipation of Women in the New Testament from their Cultural Background and Baggage

* Cassandra Hedelius – A house of order, a house of God: Recycled challenges to the legitimacy of the church: Cassandra Hedelius is part of the Fair Mormon team and reacts to the gnostics who claim they’ve learned secret truths that indicate the Church has gone off the rails.

* Paul Reeve – From Not White Enough, to Too White: Rethinking the Mormon Racial Story: Paul gives a fascinating description of why early Mormons might have wanted to counteract the image that they were a new and dangerously multi-cultural and degenerate race.

* Dan Peterson – The Reasonable Leap into Light: A Barebones Secular Argument for the Gospel: Dan Peterson shares an outline for the argument that we are not merely random bits of cosmic goo, indicating that it is completely rational to belief in the divine.
Continue reading

The Family of Joseph and Emma

imageSix months ago now, I visited Nauvoo for the Untold Stories Conference, held in Nauvoo the first weekend of February each year. While there, one woman told me I just had to meet her friend, Kimberly Jo Smith, great-great-grand-daughter of Joseph Smith.

This weekend I finally got a chance to spend time with Kimberly Jo and her son Bryan (together on the right, posing with a recent convert after a fireside). They travel around the country giving firesides to help people understand Emma and the circumstances she faced after the death of Joseph. They talk about their own experiences finding the gospel. But most of all, they talk about the misunderstandings that cause hard feelings, and how we can overcome those hard feelings if we listen to the Holy Ghost and choose to love rather than hate. Continue reading