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.

Untold Stories – Nauvoo, Log Cabins, and Cthulhu

imageWhen we visit Nauvoo, our home away from home is the Van Fleet cabin, one of the authentic log cabins off Mulholland Street, a few blocks east of the Nauvoo temple.

I love to stay in this home, where dozens of people lived over the years, a cabin where Butch Cassidy was welcomed as a friend. As late as 1924 babies were being born in this small cabin that had neither electricity nor running water. Now it has both and all the comforts of a modern hotel room. Yet as I lay back and look at the worm-carved ridge beam, I am still powerfully reminded of a time in the past.

This adds extra depth to what my husband and I are learning this weekend at the Untold Stories symposium at the Community of Christ Joseph Smith Historic Site here at Nauvoo, where historians and members of the two major sects that grew up out of Joseph’s teachings happily work together to learn about the past. Continue reading

Guest Post: Addiction, Alypius and the Gladiators

This is a guest post by Reid Litchfield

Alypius 1 was a life-long friend of Augustine of Hippo, one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. Both were born in the 4th century in Numidia (current Algeria) which was part of Roman North Africa.  They were converted to Christianity together while studying in Milan. Though revered as a Saint of the Catholic Church, there was a time in his life when Alypius seemed hopelessly enslaved to an addiction of the most unlikely sort.  Augustine describes the plight of his friend better than I could ever hope to.

He had gone on to Rome before me to study law . . . and there he was carried away again with an incredible passion for the gladiatorial shows.

For, although he had been utterly opposed to such spectacles and detested them, one day he met by chance a company of his acquaintances and fellow students returning from dinner; and, with a friendly violence, they drew him, resisting and objecting vehemently, into the amphitheater, on a day of those cruel and murderous shows. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. He is also referred to as Saint Alypius of Thasgate

Paradoxical Patriarchy

This is a guest post by Lucinda Hancock

I am a wife and the mother of eight wonderful children, and with each passing year I become more alarmed at the societal problems they will inherit. Considering how to prepare them, I’ve realized they need to understand their own nature and to discern which choices lead to which outcomes. I want my sons to become worthy men, particularly in treating women with respect. I want my daughters to know how to balance the desire for self-giving with the desire for self-respect.

I am among many women who are coming to understand that feminism has its problems. But the difficulty is in finding an alternative that ensures women are cared for and protected from men who are likely to demean and misuse them. Women need to have high standards for sexual relationships because of the physical and emotional demands of having children, and men generally don’t consider the price women pay in such a pursuit. Relationship negotiations between women and men affect the larger society, and currently, dishonest men have counterfeited the standards for masculine behavior, causing inflation in expectations of what men will promise on the one hand and debased expectations of what men deliver on the other. This has led to an atmosphere of disillusionment among women regarding their relationships with men.

This disillusionment has been useful to feminism. Before I questioned feminism, I would have put feminism and male chauvinism on opposite sides of a spectrum. Male chauvinists assert that the masculine perspective is superior in every respect, and I believed feminists asserted the superiority of the feminine perspective. Yet I found that, in practice, feminism holds women to a standard which rejects the vital importance of femininity, judging women instead based on measures more apt for assessing genderless, and even masculine, performance. Chauvinistic men have successfully made women feel that having children is mainly a personal feminine benefit, and therefore not deserving more of society’s special attention than any other personal interest. Feminists contribute to this idea by asserting that mothers don’t need men, pushing women further from demanding the help they need from men in doing the hard work of building relationships and families, and society itself.

Feminism, like chauvinism, works against the truly feminine interests of most women. The question is what is on the opposite side? What ideology serves the interests of the feminine perspective? The unexpected answer is patriarchy. Continue reading

The Beaver Skin Hat: How Joseph Interpreted the Plates

image

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