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.

The American Dream – Utah Mormon Style

Megan McArdle went to Utah seeking answers. How is it that Utah has upward mobility approaching the most progressive nations in the world? She attempted to answer in an article published yesterday in Bloomberg:

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-03-28/how-utah-keeps-the-american-dream-alive

What is Upward Mobility?

If you are born in the bottom 25% of the population, how likely is it that you’ll pull yourself up into the top 25% of the population?

Denmark leads the world with a documented upward mobility a bit over 11%.

In Salt Lake City, upward mobility is just under 11%, the highest in the United States. By comparison, Charlotte, North Carolina, has upward mobility of only 4%.

Factors

Money Can’t Buy Dreams: Utah doesn’t spend to achieve this mobility. It’s spending on education per pupil is dead last in the nation.

Welfare, Mormon-style: But Utah government is able to lean on the many Mormons in the community. The Mormon welfare system comes in for astonished praise: Help them out, but get them to a point where they can help themselves.

Mercy: Regardling the dire poor, McArdle talks about how Utah prioritizes getting people in housing, “Housing First.” This can rankle with people who believe the poor deserve their plight, but in Mormon-dominated Utah, mercy tends to take precedent over justice.

Regarding others as Equals: In Utah the poor and the rich are in the same communities. The geographically-based Mormon congregations come in for a good part of this egalitarianism. In Utah people tend to see each other as equals. Children get to know those in the upper 25% of the economic pecking order, having a chance to have these folks as mentors and role models. McArdle suggests Utah’s racial sameness contributes to the lack of distrust and animosity seen on other communities.

Marriage: Finally, McArdle points out that marriage matters. Children raised by married parents fare better, putting them in a position to aspire to the upper middle class in their later lives. Even when there are single parents, children in a community where the majority of children have married parents do better, despite the unmarried state of their own parent(s).

Summary

McArdle worries that these factors that make Utah such a dreamy place aren’t easily replicated without Mormonism. But she hopes that some aspects of what makes Utah a place where every child can dream of aspire economic prosperity could be an example for other communities, if only to see that upward mobility is possible.

#LDSconf General Conference – Mar 25, ’17, Women’s Session

President Bonnie L. Oscarson [Young Woman General President] will be conducting this meeting.

President Oscarson: We are grateful to be gathered in the Conference Center. We hope you feel of our love for you. The First Presidency, adivisors, and the presidencies and boards for the Relief Society, Young Women’s Organization, and Primary are present on the stand.

The music will be provided by Relief Society sisters from Brigham Young University

Choir: Come, O, Thou King of Kings

Opening Prayer:

Choir: I Feel My Savior’s Love

Continue reading

Review: Beauty and the Beast

Following on Disney’s 2015 live-action Cinderella, we now have a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, which opened on March 17, 2017.

For those who are not familiar with Disney’s treatment of the story, it is worthwhile seeing the animated version before seeing the live-action film. While the live-action film is not slavishly faithful to the earlier animated film, it is fun to see how certain iconic scenes were rendered with real people. Alternately, one can review the details of the original story, though this could lead to dissatisfaction with the way the story has changed for our modern time. [spoilers] Continue reading

Review: Worth the Wrestle by Sheri Dew

Sheri Dew is an inspiration to many, particularly we ladies who wonder how to navigate a Church whose culture seems to value achievements other than the ones we have attained.

In this new book, Worth the Wrestle, Sheri Dew speaks of the need we so often have to truly wrestle to know God and His will for us. Sheri Dew is often asked questions as a prominent Mormon woman, one whose unmarried and childless status invites questions married mothers might not be asked:

  • How do I know if I’m receiving revelation?
  • Will the Lord forgive me after what I’ve done?
  • Why can’t we seem to get ahead financially even though we faithfully pay our tithing?
  • What if the Church’s position on gay marriage bothers me?
  • Will I be able to provide for my family?
  • Why can’t I find ‘the one’?

Sheri writes, “May I answer these questions, and any questions you may have, by posing a different question: Are you willing to engage in the wrestle? In an ongoing spiritual wrestle?” Continue reading

Review: Dime Novel Mormons

Ardis Parshall and Michael (Mike) Austin give us Dime Novel Mormonsa new delight in The Mormon Image in Literature series, published by Greg Kofford Books.

I’ve been head down in other things, but when I’ve come up for air, it’s been refreshing to contemplate the forgotten art of “books” that could be purchased for mere pennies. “Dime novels,” as they were called even when even less expensive, were sweeping adventures. They were something like comic books without pictures, making reading accessible to everyone. They were the Instagram of their day.

Not all dime novels featured Mormons. In fact, Ardis and Mike indicate the number of dime novels that included Mormons as characters probably made up less than 0.1% of all dime novels published. However these dime novels presented Mormonism to those who had no other concept of Mormons and their beliefs and practices.

The tropes we see in the dime novels included in this volume were repeated in other, more prestigious, forms of entertainment.

  • Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, features malevolent Mormons abducting a fair maiden who then dies of despair. Continue reading