About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) 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.

First Man: Discussion with Singer and Hansen

My family was excited to see the film about Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. But as we emerged from the theatre in October, my husband commented:

“That wasn’t a feel good movie. That was a feel nothing movie.”

Despite the technical excellence of the film, I agreed that the overwhelming sense was of loss and isolation. Not being intimately familiar with Neil Armstrong, I chalked things up to 2018-era existential angst.

Yesterday I was given the chance to attend a screening of First Man at the National Air and Space Museum, with Q&A following the film with Armstrong biographer, Dr. James Hansen, and Academy Award-winning screen-writer of First Man, Josh Singer. Jeffrey Kluger, the author whose book inspired the film Apollo 13, rounded out the panel.

If you are a fan of history and space and film, First Man: The Annotated Screenplay is a fantastic look into all three topics.

Whether watching First Man for the first time or considering a return, here are a few things you really should know to properly understand the brilliance of the film created by Singer and director Damien Chazelle 1 based on Hansen’s book. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Damien Chazelle won an Academy Award for La La Land and was the driving force behind transforming Hansen’s biography into a film.

Thoughts about #Exvangelicals

Image from the 12/01/2018 CBS special “Deconstructing my Religion”

On Saturday CBS aired “Deconstructing my Religion,” a special on the #Exvangelical movement. Exvangelicals are a set of diverse folks who have left Evangelical Christianity and wish to highlight the problems with that particular culture. 1 Because it is easy to misread Exvangelical as Evangelical, I will refer to former Evangelicals as Xvangelicals in this post.

It was an interesting watch for me, since members of the Church of Jesus Christ have had their own struggle with former members of the faith who have raised strikingly similar critiques. Perhaps because of the similarities, it was obvious to this viewer that CBS’s focus on Xvangelicals was because Evangelical Christians are reportedly the only religious community where Donald Trump is still supported by a majority of adherents.

For better or worse, former members of the Church of Jesus Christ can’t accuse members as a group of embracing President Trump with uncritical enthusiasm.

The culture associated with the Church of Jesus Christ resembles Evangelical Christianity in many ways, but there are key differences. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. CBS has an app where you can view past broadcasts, which is where I saw this show.

Changing How We Refer to Ourselves

Former and proposed logos for the Church of Jesus Christ choir in the DC Area

This past August, President Nelson asked us to embrace the formal name of the Church. 1

We’ve now had several months to adapt to this change in our individual interactions. With the advent of the Christmas concert season, we’re formally seeing how these changes are being embraced by musical groups that used to include “Mormon” in their titles.

Last night the renamed Washington DC Temple Choir performed for hundreds of dignitaries, including the Ambassador of Paraguay and Elder Holland. Though the website and official logo have yet to reflect the change, the local choir has begun the shift to distance themselves from the “Mormon” moniker which has been used in the past.

I’d be interested to hear of:

  1. New names for groups where “Mormon” used to be part of the name
  2. Instances where you have been pleased with how adaptation to President Nelson’s request has opened dialogue
  3. Situations where you used to use the term “Mormon” and have yet to find a satisfying alternative

Notes:

  1. See the M* post of 8/17/2018, “Christians formerly known as Mormons.”

Days of Thanksgiving, Days of Fasting

John Alden House in Duxbury, Massachusetts, photo by Pete Forsyth, 15 Mar 2009

I recall as a child visiting a monument to the 1620 Pilgrims. I had no clear idea what was going on, other than that my mother was looking on the stone for names of ancestors who came across on the Mayflower.

I was a half-Asian kid who was abused at school for being other. Neighbors chased my brother home one time, attempting to “kill” the embroidered eagle on the jacket he’d received from our Chinese grandparents. The most memorable abuse left me a blubbering mess. The girls had taunted me all the way home with names I didn’t even understand, flipping my skirt up to expose me below the waist.

So it was odd to realize that I was family to those religious refugees we Americans look to each November.

Rejecting Religious Ceremony

The religious protesters we know as Pilgrims were Puritan Separatists who rejected the excess of both Catholicism and the Church of England. As we genealogists know, they refused to allow their children to be baptized in the Churches they considered to be corrupt. They did not agree that marriage was a religious sacrament. Therefore the generation who became Pilgrims is incredibly difficult to trace in England. They were the broken link, from a pedigree standpoint.

Days of Fasting, Days of Thanksgiving

The Catholic Church had accumulated canonized Saints for centuries. The year was effectually littered with Holy Days.

One of the primary Protestant reactions to their perception of Catholic excess was to eliminate Holy Days that were not focused on the Lord, Jesus. Continue reading

Truth versus Myth

Original color transparency of FDR taken at 1944 Official Campaign Portrait session by Leon A. Perskie, Hyde Park, New York, August 21, 1944. Gift of Beatrice Perskie Foxman and Dr. Stanley B. Foxman. August 21, 1944

There are times when we believe things that aren’t quite correct.

One example of this is how most citizens of the United States thought Franklin Delano Roosevelt could walk during his years as president. The press knew the President couldn’t walk, but did not “expose” this physical weakness of President Roosevelt.

Sometimes circumstances have been mis-remembered so long and so persistently that the truth has been obscured. Sometimes the mis-remembered story becomes myth.

One such myth is related to the formation of the Church of Christ in 1830. Many believe the formation of the Church occurred on April 6, 1830 in the Fayette home of the Whitmer family. It is remembered that there were six formal members, though nearly 30 people were remembered as attending the meeting in the Whitmer home.

Alas, it appears this myth isn’t fully consistent with fact. Continue reading