Book Review: The Reluctant Polygamist, by Meg Stout

Note: This is a book review of The Reluctant Polygamist, by Meg Stout. This book will be released within the next few weeks.  Meg has posted an offer for a limited autographed edition at a discount.

RP Cover

As a historian, I frequently find intriguing stories told by others with interesting interpretations of the data.  When there is much quality data available, most scholars will tend to agree on the interpretation of that data.

Sadly for us, the issue of polygamy in the early Church (Kirtland and Nauvoo) was often shrouded in secrecy and mystery. Most discussions regarding it were not written down until decades later, often in second, third or even fourth hand accounts. Even then, many of the accounts were filled with suppositions or only half-told hints, leaving modern historians to attempt to fill in the blank spaces. Continue reading

Reluctant Polygamist Limited Edition

RP_CoverReluctant Polygamist, the book that grew out of the Faithful Joseph series posted here in 2014, will be available via later this week. The Amazon price will be $14.95 + S/H.

To kick this off, I am offering a limited edition of autographed, numbered copies for $10 each, to cover costs and handling. The offer is only valid through Monday, April 11, at 11:59 pm MDT, or until 500 books have been requested, whichever occurs earlier.

Each limited edition comes with a personalized pdf excerpt (sent via mail), the signed book, and certificate.

The first twenty-five copies will be raffled off among those signing up by Saturday, April 9, at 11:59 pm MDT. The winners of the raffle will not be invoiced for their copies.

To sign up for the autographed limited edition, click on the SurveyMonkey logo or paste this URL into your browser:

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Drawing Closer to God and Eliminating our Sense of Spiritual Entitlement #ldsconf

This conference has been an absolute delight. So many sermons have stood out to me with clarity and power. One of my absolute favorites was delivered by Elder Dale G. Renlund at the conclusion of the Saturday Morning Session.

There are three themes from Elder Renlund’s talk that stood out to me and that I want to write about briefly. First, the relationship between distance and spiritual entitlement. Second, how our desire to sin is reduced as we draw closer to the Savior. And third, the role that sacred ordinances play in the process of drawing closer to God.

Distance and Entitlement

Elder Renlund spoke about the relationship between our distance from our father in heaven and our sense of spiritual entitlement. He noted, that the more distant we are from our Father in Heaven, the more likely we are to voice grievances and to see unfairness in our circumstances in life. At first glance, this seems wholly contradictory. Surely, those who are closer to God would be those who feel entitled to blessings for their obedience.

But when we consider examples in the scriptures and in our own lives, Elder Renlund’s teaching ring’s true. He used the story of Nephi and Laman and Lemuel, but we can find many other instances in the scriptures where those who were unfaithful also felt particularly entitled to blessing and protection from Heavenly Father. For instance, the people in the days of Isaiah and Lehi felt that because they were “chosen” they were entitled to God’s protection. They felt this was the case irrespective of their spiritual standing or willingness to live righteously. Christ also strongly condemned those hypocritical Pharisees who made long prayers as a sign of righteousness, but devoured the widows mite and were distant from God. In our day, Joseph Smith was warned of those in the world who “draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

In contrast, there are many examples of the righteous bearing indignity with long-suffering. From Job to Joseph Smith, the scriptures are replete with such exemplars who understood and did not murmur. And of course, we can consider as Elder Renlund did, the matchless example of the Savior who suffered without cause and yet bore his suffering for our sake. Self-righteousness and entitlement truly are inversely correlated with our relationship to God.

Our Desire to Sin 

Just as entitlement and Self-righteousness dissipate as we draw closer to God, so too does our desire and disposition to Sin. When we are distant from God, we are likely to expect him to excuse us in our sins. For after all, we think we deserve mercy and grace. And we see our selves as righteous and deserving of salvation.  But as we realize the price that our redeemer paid to redeem us of our sins, we cease to think of grace as cheap or cost free. We realize that when we sin, we add to the burden borne by the Savior in Gethsemane. We realize also that we are hopelessly in need of redeeming grace. Without God’s mercy, we are truly reprobate and the worst of sinners. This recognition pushes us to repentance and true change. We no longer take for granted the many drops of blood which were shed for us.

The Role of Ordinances

Elder Renlund spoke of ordinances, particularly the sacrament, as the vehicles by which we can draw closer to the savior and gain a greater appreciation for his redemptive sacrifice.

I loved his example of the sacrament being administered personally for a woman who the deacons had accidentally forgotten. One of the most tender experiences on my mission came as we would weekly go to the home of an elderly sister in her 90’s and administer the sacrament to her. She was one of the most humble and faithful individuals I have ever met. And each week, she would radiate such joy and gratitude as we brought her the emblems of the Lord’s supper. From her, I learned so much about the sacred importance of the sacrament. Each week, that ordinance is an opportunity to remember our savior and to improve ourselves through his grace and through the power of the Holy Ghost.

The other ordinances of the Gospel are likewise essential. I have especially felt the healing and sanctifying power of the holy temple. Every time I go to the temple, I feel my nature incrementally improved and feel myself drawing nearer to God. I am grateful for the ability to go frequently to the temple and to again and again participate in those sacred ordinances. And I am grateful to weekly partake of the sacrament and reflect on the atonement of the savior. These ordinances point me to Christ and draw me closer to God.

Cross-posted on Symphonyofdsisent

General Conference: Sunday morning session

Pres. Eyring conducts.
Pres. Monson presides.

Choir sings: “The Morning Breaks.”

Invocation: Anthony D. Perkins of the Seventy

Choir sings: “I Will Follow God’s Plan.”

President Monson.

Four new temples: Quito, Ecuador; Harare, Zimbabwe; Belem, Brazil; Lima, Peru.

Now 150 temples.

Choices we make determine our destiny. Alice in Wonderland. She comes to two paths. She is confronted by the cat. Which path? That depends where you want to go. Unlike Alice, we know where we want to go, and it does matter. May we choose to build up great faith, defense against the designs of the adversary.

Sometimes we still make foolish choices. Repentance allows us to return to the path. Make the right choice.

Choir sings: “Sunshine in Your Heart.”

Bonnie L. Oscarson, YW General President
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