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 contends Joseph was under commandment to restore plural marriage and taught the acceptability of plural marriage. But Meg suggests Joseph may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

Eliza and Missouri

Eliza R. Snow, circa 1850BYU-I professor Andrea Radke-Moss has come forward with an account that Eliza R. Snow was gang-raped by eight Missouri men.

The original account was recorded in the 1930s by Alice Merrill [Horne] (b. 1868), grand-daughter of Bathsheba Wilson Bigler [Smith] (b. 1822) apparently based on discussions of former times shared in the 1880s, when Alice was a teen or pre-teen.

Alice’s account is given significant credence because Bathsheba was particularly close to Eliza R. Snow. Though Bathsheba didn’t ascend to the presidency of the Relief Society until the death of Eliza Snow, she had been the youngest member of the Relief Society at the first meeting, where Eliza R. Snow was installed as secretary.

The Reported Event

According to the story in the Salt Lake Tribune, Eliza was raped in Missouri circa 1838 by 8 men. Andrea Radke-Moss asserted that due to the rape, Eliza was subsequently infertile.

Why I Hesitate to Wholly Accept this Account as Reported Continue reading

An End to the ARC

RP_CoverThis week the Advanced Review Copy of Reluctant Polygamist will disappear from Amazon.com.

Publication of the official release of Reluctant Polygamist will occur April 6, 2016. It may be possible to accommodate significant changes if you contact me by March 26. Cover quotes received by that date can be included in the book.

My name is listed as author, and I accept full responsibility for the contents. But you have had an enormous influence on how the story emerged as well as the topics I eventually decided to cover beyond my original proposed agenda.

If you would like me to come talk in your neck of the woods, email me. I’ll see what I can arrange, as I would love to interact directly with people on this topic.

Thesis

Reluctant Polygamist discusses the evidence supporting a new view of Joseph Smith’s final years and the subsequent interactions regarding polygamy amongst the various religious traditions that emerged from Joseph Smith’s religious legacy. Reluctant Polygamist builds on the Faithful Joseph series I posted here at M* from December 2013 to August 2014.

Bottom Line Up Front: Joseph Smith was a great-hearted man attempting his best to teach and live Celestial Marriage, which he believed was a command from God. Simultaneously he was fighting a frightening and pervasive heresy based on illicit and promiscuous sex, attempting to save as many as possible.

Elder Ballard on Church Education

A friend briefed me on Elder Ballard’s address at the annual “An Evening with a General Authority” this past Sunday. The address was particularly aimed at Seminary and Institute teachers in the Church Educational System (CES).

I enjoyed the quotes that were reported in the Deseret News article reporting the address:

“As Church education moves forward in the 21st century, each of you needs to consider any changes you should make in the way you prepare to teach, how you teach and what you teach if you are to build unwavering faith in the lives of our precious youth,” Elder Ballard said. “Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and a teacher responded, ‘Don’t worry about it!’ Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue. Gone are the days when students were protected from people who attacked the Church.” Continue reading

The Widow’s Testimony: Catherine Laur Fuller Warren

Fuller

This past weekend I was at Nauvoo for the Untold Stories Symposium. My topic was Catherine Laur Fuller Warren and her testimony against Dr. John C. Bennett. The audio below was recorded live, with minor edits to make it shorter (30 minutes vs. longer) and less blooper-filled. The powerpoint file for the presentation is also attached.

The Widow’s Testimony – powerpoint file

This, I felt, was the core of the new paradigm I have explored in my Faithful Joseph series. This is the previously untold history that is key to understanding everything else that happened in Nauvoo.

The trip to Nauvoo provided some interesting insights: Continue reading

Book Review: The Polygamist King – James J. Strang

I was fascinated to learn celebrated journalist John J. Miller 1 had written a Kindle Single on the subject of James J. Strang.

I was thrilled that John Miller was willing to do a Q&A with me for your benefit.

For those not familiar with James J. Strang, he was the 1844 convert who claimed to be Joseph Smith’s chosen successor.

Strang started by renouncing polygamy and spiritual wifery at a time when Brigham Young and Heber Kimball were continuing Joseph Smith’s secret teachings regarding the possibility of plural wives in Celestial marriage. Ironically, men known to have participated in illicit intercourse and spiritual wifery under the leadership of John C. Bennett and William Smith would become Strangites. Strang came to Nauvoo right around the time William Law and Austin Cowles were becoming lethally disaffected with Mormonism. He was baptized in the month when Law and Cowles were gathering conspirators with the intent of murdering Joseph Smith. As many who actively conspired against Joseph allied themselves with Strang (including my ancestor, Austin Cowles), I have come to regard membership in Strang’s sect as a highly suspicious sign.

A few years after Strang put himself at the front of a post-martyrdom Mormon sect claiming to renounce polygamy, Strang began gallivanting around the country with “Charles J. Douglas,” a 19-year-old woman whose real name was Elvira Eliza Field. Ms. Field would dress in men’s clothing to permit her to accompany the man she regarded as her husband. Strang’s original wife, never more than lukewarm about her husband’s association with Mormonism, left him. Strang married three more plural wives. All four of his plural wives were pregnant in 1856 when matters came to a head.

By 1856 tension between Strang and those who opposed him resulted in his shooting. Strang lingered for weeks before dying, never conferring on another the keys to his Strangite kingdom. In Strang’s case, he had actually had himself coronated king, hence the title of John Miller’s book.

Meg: I enjoyed this slim volume immensely. What brought you to write about James Strang?
Continue reading

Notes:

  1. John J. Miller writes for National Review, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications. The Chronicle of Higher Education has called him “one of the best literary journalists in the country.”

Tools for a Happy 2016 – Money Management

Savings graphSaving money was the topic of our ward’s last 5th Sunday discussion.

Fun as it was to come up with a perpetual planner, that was a mere lark compared to the really cool tool I worked on during the holiday break. The problem was developing a template to plan and manage family finances and scheduling.

Just like there are lots of tools for performing tactical management of money, I was looking for something that would help us get a strategic approach to money. To some people this comes naturally. To many couples, this is no big deal. Some families already have systems to live well within their means.

We, on the other hand, find the financial aspect of life to be somewhat of a challenge, in part because we have lacked a tool that helped us have a common understanding of our spending and obligations.

A few years ago I had set things up so the bills would get paid with a minimal amount of effort on the part of my husband and myself. The holy grail was a tool that would help us easily visualize the year’s finances in advance so it would be easy to stay on budget even when the bank account showed lots of money “just sitting there.”
Continue reading