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.

On John Dehlin

John Dehlin recently posted speculation on why Kate Kelly was excommunicated and he is still a member of the Church. For those who don’t wish to read the entire thing, he bookends his speculations with these paragraphs:

Because people continue to ask…..I can only speculate as to why Kate Kelly was excommunicated and I have not been (to date) — but I do have a few theories (Kate and others — I certainly welcome your feedback here…since most of this is speculation)…

If you forced me to speculate….my guess is that a disciplinary court will be held for me within the next 1-12 months…and that they have only been delaying because of some of the reasons mentioned above. In other words…the delay is due to their desire to protect themselves and their power, and to minimize the possible collateral damage to the church…and not for any other reasons….and certainly not because they are operating in accordance with God’s will.

I could be wrong…but that’s my impression.

I responded, but I see my comment is still “awaiting moderation.” Therefore I post it here, since I can (complete with typos and grammar errors). I’ll be interested to see if my comment ever makes it out of John’s moderation queue. Continue reading

From Whom Do We Learn History?

Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, Young Draughtsman Copying an Academy studyThis week I’ve been intrigued regarding the question of whom we look to for our history. This was prompted in no small part by the vigorous discussion with DQ, someone apparently in the Utah area who simply doesn’t believe what I am saying about Emma working with Joseph to uncover the identity of those seducing women circa 1842. DQ’s argument is that my version of events isn’t credible unless a bona fide historian concurs with what I’m saying.

The interesting thing I’ve come across is a large cadre of researchers, many not official historians, who have concurred with the idea that one can believe William Law and John C. Bennett, but one cannot believe Joseph and Emma Smith.

These are researchers who, in attempting to construct a coherent history, have been forced to discard information that doesn’t fit. Continue reading

Another Approach to Addressing Gender Concerns

Taylor_wivesIn light of the recent discussions about Joseph Smith having many wives and the gender issues survey, I think it’s not inappropriate to bring up the impact beliefs about polygamy have had on the way men and women behave towards one another in the Church.

One thing that I have found quite striking in my discussions with Mormon men about Joseph’s polygamy is the large number who cannot wrap their minds around a Joseph who might have remained physically faithful to Emma, or at the very least didn’t go to bed with every woman he could corner into having sex.

When I talk about this to non-Mormons, they get the implications of the small number of children and the fact the DNA data fails to prove any of the children were engendered by Joseph. They get the idea that there wasn’t effective birth control in 1840.

But Mormon men, in particular, are very invested in a Joseph who was sexual in his plural marriages. Why? Why is my hypothesis on this point treated with derision by some Mormon males who have studied polygamy? What does the “traditional” view of Joseph do for them that they are so invested in protecting it? Continue reading

Seeing Joseph Smith

People always have the weirdest images of Joseph Smith added to their posts or dominating the covers of their books. I decided to go looking to see if I could find a picture that made me relatively happy.

In doing so, I tumbled across Kim Marshall’s blog, discussing a 2nd generation unedited photographic print copied from the original daguerreotype of Joseph Smith from 1840-1844. She clearly marks the images on her website as copyrighted, but the painting at the head of this post is obviously based on that original daguerreotype.

[Update – I now agree with those who assert that Kim Marshall’s photographic print is a photo of the painting, though a much nicer photo of the painting than the “photo” Joseph’s son submitted to the Library of Congress, the one with weirdly chopped off hair that is often used in articles talking about Joseph by those outside the faith. I don’t doubt Kim Marshall’s sincerity. However, for a fun tour of what one can do with photoshop, check out these images of Rowan Atkinson suggesting a lifespan extending centuries.] Continue reading

Racial Strife – reflections on the Norfolk 17 and Virginia’s campaign of Massive Resistance

imageLast night our family attended a high school production of a new play, A Line in the Sand by Chris Hanna. The play tells the story of the Norfolk 17, black children who had petitioned to attend their neighborhood high schools in accordance with the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

The State of Virginia decided to close the schools rather than admit black students. For months the children’s lives became polarized as the legal battles raged and individuals had to face the consequences of the resulting brinksmanship.

As with all high school productions, there was much to congratulate and much that could have been improved. The students had been encouraged to research the history of the situation, and the play had begun with comments from the perspective of the immediate aftermath of the black students being admitted to the white schools. In these brief statements, we were told that one of the students had been stabbed on her way to class, that she lay bleeding, while no one went to her aid. Unaware that this was not part of Chris Hanna’s original script, the members of my family waited in dread for the final scene which we presumed would show this confrontation. Continue reading