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.

The Beaver Skin Hat: How Joseph Interpreted the Plates


Popular styles of beaver hats circa 1830

[In homage to Bruce Nielson, I am dictating this post using Dragon dictation.]

Don Bradley wrote an intriguing paper titled Piercing the Veil: Temple Worship in the Lost 116 Pages. In the final section, Bradley discusses a lost story about how the interpreters, or Urim and Thummim, were found.

According to Fayette Lapham, Joseph Smith related some of the stories that were contained in the book of Mormon prior to publication. In one of these stories, the Liahona led the travelers to a curious set of implements. Unable to determine what these implements were, the man who found them (presumably the high priest of that time), took them into the tabernacle and present them to the Lord. The Lord tells the man  to cover his head with skins. Once he had done so, the high priest was able to see the spiritual. And according to the story, after this point Liahona stopped working. Continue reading

Why I am not Persuaded Joseph Smith had Sex with Plural Wives

NoSexSorry I haven’t yet followed through with my promised series on the ladies some have indicated were Joseph Smith’s wives. For those who haven’t noticed, a series of articles about Joseph Smith and polygamy have been featured over at Meridian Magazine in Ralph Hancock’s Expand Section.

About a week ago, a two-part interview between myself and Ralph Hancock was posted.

One fun result of the Meridian articles is that all members of my family found out I can spell polygamy. My youngest brother (the kind of smart guy who gets a perfect score on the SAT) replied:

I stayed up all night reading your faithful Joseph posts (didn’t get all the way through though). Is really great stuff.

I don’t know how to say this. It’s like watching Ancient Aliens on the history channel or a 9/11 conspiracy documentary, but not silly. I understand why people would fight against it as it seems like it’s revising history to suit a particular world view, but it casts reasonable doubt on the improper nature of Joseph Smith’s practices related to polygamy.

A lot of people recently have been staying up all night reading my Faithful Joseph posts. So far, they’ve been universally pleased to have lost some sleep while gaining a plausible explanation for why Joseph might have done what we know he did. Continue reading

The Plural Wives of Nauvoo

Eliza Snow circa 1852, photograph attributed to Marsena CannonAs I sat around contemplating what I might do in 2015, it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually spoken of all the various women who are alleged to have married Joseph Smith in the depth that might be desired.

Those who do not know these women are content to portray them as individuals of questionable morality and intelligence.

The truth is very different from this cartoonish portrayal.

In the mean time, let me recap the premise of my 2014 Faithful Joseph series, namely that it appears likely that Joseph Smith had sexual relations with few, if indeed any, of his plural wives. His outreach to “marry” women was apparently frequently prompted by a desire to teach them true doctrines regarding marriage, given the prevalence of scheming men teaching that women should enjoy sexuality (with the schemers) independent of legal marriage in so-called spiritual wifery, and that Joseph had taught this was acceptable. Continue reading

The Compassionate Mormon: Drinking as though Water Matters

Total Water Footprint consists of green water, blue water, and gray water Drought and lack of clean water kills 50 million people per year. This is by far more than the number of individuals killed by all other forms of “natural disaster.”

While we can’t ship our water directly to those in need, we can ship goods that would require water affected locations don’t have. We can also create demand for products that use less water, making it possible for individuals to make economic decisions that allow them to use water more wisely.

The power of the consumer “vote” is unquestioned. Every bite you eat and drop you drink shapes the world your brothers and sisters are forced to live in.

In celebration of an awesome batch of soy milk, I would love to share some options for drinking that are both water-wise and suited for food storage. Continue reading

Give the Gift of Salvation

imageI got a cute e-mail from Family Search this morning. Did I know, they asked, that one of my ancestors is mentioned in the Joseph Smith Papers?

Before opening the e-mail, I considered who they might be talking about. Perhaps it was Jonathan Holmes, who helped secretly bury Joseph’s remains after his death, then helped Emma bury Joseph’s body in February 1845. It could have been Elvira Annie Cowles [Holmes], who was governess in the Smith household, treasurer of the Relief Society, and eventually one of Joseph’s plural wives. Joseph Leland Heywood, a successful merchant from Quincy Illinois, spent one day with Joseph Smith in December 1842, agreeing to be baptized in the frozen river that very night. Or it could have talked about the Bells, Scottish converts who helped build the temple, or the DeLongs, converts who arrived in Nauvoo the day the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were returned from Carthage. Or it could have mentioned John Taylor, who was shot at Carthage jail along with Joseph and Hyrum.

But no. Continue reading