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.

Review: Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women’s Local Impact

imageNeylan McBaine’s book about how much we can do to maximize women’s roles in the service of God came out in August 2014, but it only recently came to my attention.

It is interesting to read Neylan’s book in light of having so recently lived through this past year, with the launch of the Ordain Women discussions/conversations and the excommunication of Kate Kelly. Neylan makes it clear that she is not agitating for changes that aren’t already possible within the current structure of the Church. From something she wrote recently, it seems some have criticized her for going beyond the mark.

Due to my own study of this matter, I was a bit disappointed to see a book so uniquely focused on the issue of women. This comes because I have studied the effect ordaining women has had on other denominations. So while Neylan isn’t agitating for female ordination, I was a bit cautious reading of some innovations that take away from the opportunity for men to have space to feel safe at Church. Also, frankly, it appears to me that the great challenge for the Church is retaining men, particularly retaining men from outside America. However we don’t want to lose anyone, male or female.

Neylan brings much that is wonderful to the fore. She does point out painful circumstances some women and those who love women have experienced. However she also shares how at times individuals, both men and women, have adjusted their stewardships to more richly bless all in the congregation.

I have lived a life where I have enjoyed the leadership of many single Relief Society Presidents over the decades, have often had the chance to participate in ward councils (even when not even in a presidency of Relief Society, Primary, or Young Women), had the responsibility to provide bread for the sacrament, and have had chances to participate alongside “the men,” as when members of our stake spent the extended Thanksgiving weekend mucking out the still-sodden homes flooded by Hurricane Sandy.

Even so, I have had my moments of banging my head against stupid (as I perceived it at the time). I enjoyed many of the innovations and insights Neylan discussed throughout the book.
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imageThe Church has started using direct e-mail to send messages to the members of the Church. If you have an e-mail associated with your LDS Account, you should have gotten the first of these e-mails this morning.

I really like this move. As is standard practice (and required by law in many places), the e-mail allows those who don’t wish to receive such direct communication to unsubscribe.

I enjoy the fact that when there is something important, I can be told immediately, rather than having to wait until Sunday services to hear a message read from the pulpit. This also gives me the chance to have an archive, so I can review anything of interest, rather than attempting to remember.

This first e-mail contained a link to the short video “He is the Gift,” which I have watched before and thoroughly enjoyed. It also included an invitation to attend the First Presidency Christmas Devotional this Sunday. Continue reading

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