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.

Death Cleaning: A Uniquely Mormon Issue

“To hunt for misplaced things is never an effective use of your time.” – Magnusson

In 2011 Marie Kondo gave us The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing as a bright young woman who had spent her short life being organized. At the time it is not clear she had to share a household with an uncooperative spouse. Children did not come into her life until years after she told us there was a magical way to be organized.

Where Marie Kondo speaks from idealistic youth, Margareta Magnusson talks to us from her age, “between eighty and one hundred,” a matriarch whose grandchildren are now adults.

In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, Magnusson tells us that the Swedes have a word for dealing with the life possessions of a person when they are no longer around. And though the point is to be considerate of the burden others may bear upon your passing, it doesn’t hurt that your life is easier when everything has a place and you don’t retain things you no longer need.

Magnusson is an artist, and the book is illustrated with her delightful drawings such as a favorite dog, a treasured wok, a day skiing in a bikini, and a basket of blossoms like the ones her mother-in-law introduced to Sweden from Japan in her Mt. Fuji gift shop.

As Magnusson told of her three formative “death cleaning” instances, I realized I have experienced similar requirements to “death clean.” But in some circumstances, as a helpful member of my congregation, the time allotted to accomplish the task was hours rather than the weeks Magnusson had. Continue reading

Reviewing The Last Jedi

Someone got busy and used bots to drag down the audience rating for the most recent Star Wars film. Alt right folks are claiming credit, suggesting that men should rule rather than women.

It’s not clear that the Alt right folks actually did the deed.

If you like sci-fi and are looking for something to do this weekend the Last Jedi is worthy of consideration.

But if you leave the theatre wondering why you don’t quite feel satisfied, click through to read my analysis. Warning, my analysis contains spoilers. Continue reading

LDS Perspectives on the Bible and Documentary Hypothesis

December 13, 2017: The Documentary Hypothesis with Cory Crawford

[Transcript]

Dr. Crawford talks about the reason Julius Wellhausen proposed the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch or Torah) was a compilation of multiple sources due to the contradictions between the text and itself. Wellhausen in his documentary hypothesis identified four sources: a source that focused on God as Jehovah (J), another that focused on God as Elohim (E), a Priestly source that was aware of both the J and E sources, and the Deuteronomists (D). Though other explanations for the Pentateuch have arisen, no modern scholars adhere to the prior assumption that the Pentateuch consisted of five books written by Moses, himself. It is believed the J, E, P, & D sources were combined into the current Torah format circa 1000-500 B.C.

Though not explicitly discussed in this interview, it is interesting to consider the Book of Mormon narrative that portrays a Torah variant being contained in the brass plates in the custody of Laban. It is also interesting to consider the Book of Mormon explanation for itself as originally an edited compilation of multiple documents, including parallel accounts (e.g., the narrative reported to be in the lost 116 pages versus the narrative contained in the small plates of Nephi).

Dr. Cory Crawford holds a PhD from Harvard in Near Eastern languages and civilizations and currently teaches Classics and World Religions at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Dr. Crawford wrote “Competing Histories in the Hebrew Bible and in the Latter-day Saint Tradition” in Standing Apart: Mormon Historical Consciousness and the Concept of Apostasy.

Recent related LDS Perspectives podcasts include Dr. Barlow’s An Introduction to Higher Biblical Criticism with Philip Barlow (aired Dec 6, 2017), Julie M. Smith on Mark’s Human Portrait of Jesus (aired Oct 25, 2017), and Benjamin Spackman’s Misunderstanding the Bible. Julie Smith, in particular, gives us insight into the purpose and raw power of the original “gospel” upon which Matthew and Luke built their more well-known narratives. After Christmas, LDS Perspectives will be airing another podcast with Benjamin Spackman, discussing the different creation accounts (and incidentally suggesting why the current Torah/Pentateuch ought to be understood as arising during the Babylonian captivity, after the timeframe when Lehi and his family would have separated from the mainstream Israelite population).

Of Sirens and Judgment

Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891, John William Waterhouse

In Western mythology, Sirens were beings who lured humans to fatal folly by their seductive singing.

Last year in Believing Lies, I wrote of a relative, “Riley,” who had fallen prey to modern Sirens promising affection and gold. At that time I was taking legal action to obtain guardianship and conservatorship of “Riley.” I spent the majority of that post talking about how people come to believe obvious lies.

Six months ago in On Dementia and Traitors, I wrote of how Riley had traveled from the east to a western state. I spent the rest of that post talking about how perceptions of dementia and traitorous acts affect people.

My hope in my battle to protect Riley had been to get Riley evaluated by an expert who could provide unimpeachable guidance on what Riley needed. When Riley took themself to the west, they were put under emergency and then temporary guardianship and it was stipulated that Riley would undergo a capacity assessment by an expert. The expert specified was Dr. Lichtenberg of Wayne State University, Director of both the Institute of Gerontology and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute and the Founding Director of the Wayne State University Lifespan Alliance. Dr. Lichtenberg is a national expert on financial capacity of elderly persons, having completed thousands of evaluations generally and nearly 200 capacity evaluations. Continue reading

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