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.

Oliver Cowdery and the New and Everlasting Covenant

Olivercowdery-smOliver Cowdery was at Joseph Smith’s side for nearly a decade at the beginning of the restoration.

They started their association working together on the Book of Mormon starting in May 1829. Within days they reportedly received the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist so they would have the proper authority to baptize one another.

Oliver Cowdery was also involved in the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood. 1

Oliver Cowdery would marry in 1832, becoming husband to Elizabeth Ann Whitmer. This made Oliver brother-in-law to all the witnesses of the Book of Mormon other than Joseph Smith’s relatives and Martin Harris. 2

Oliver Cowdery was at Joseph’s side on April 3, 1836, when the two reported receiving a glorious vision of Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias, and Elijah.

Elijah’s return had been foretold for millennia. The prophet Malachi had prophesied Elijah would return before the great and dreadful day of the Lord, to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children. Jewish Passover seders continue to set a place for Elijah, sending a child to the door to see if Elijah is come.

The visit of Malachi is described in D&C 110:

“Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—

“To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—

“Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.”

It was apparently in the spring of 1836 that Joseph Smith covenanted with Fanny Alger. 3 If this occurred, the obvious officiant would have been Oliver Cowdery. Continue reading


  1. Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood was originally associated with a June 3, 1831, conference of the Church. Later it was asserted that the Melchizedek Priesthood must have been restored in association with a vision of Peter, James, and John near the Susquehanna in 1829. Whether near the Susquehanna in 1829 or in Kirtland in June 1831, Oliver Cowdery was present.
  2. Elizabeth’s brothers were David, one of the three witnesses, and Christian, Jacob, Peter Jr., and John, all of whom were among the eight witnesses. Hiram Page was Elizabeth’s brother-in-law through marriage to her sister, Catherine.
  3. See Bradley, Don, “Weighing the Case of Fanny Alger,” The Persistence of Polygamy, Volume I, pp. 14-58.

Improvement and Progression (and another edition of a book)

Last year I published the sixth edition of Reluctant Polygamist, and declared that I was done.

I figured that people had had three years to e-mail me and tell me I was wrong. What possibly could arise from the woodwork to cause me to face updating the index yet again?

And then I read Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A House Full of Females. And Joseph Johnstun told me why Marietta Holmes could not have been killed as a direct result of mob attack. And a Taylor relative explained which great-grandchild of John Taylor had gotten involved in post-polygamy plural marriage. And Andrew Ehat told me about the account of Oliver Cowdery urging Joseph to practice plurality, apparently during translation of the Book of Mormon. And Johnny Stephenson made a fuss about Law’s river-side brick “house” not being his actual residence (though Law did own the big brick building on the river).

And other things.

None of this changes the core premise, that Joseph Smith was an honorable leader who used covenants to protect and save his people. But it eventually became worth updating the text.

This draft of the 7th edition of Reluctant Polygamist has the final text, with significant changes noted by being in blue text (added names are highlighted, darn the need to make the index correct…). This is a gift to you who have followed me since 2013, so you can see the changes without having to read the entire thing all over again.

You’ll know I’m really, truly, never going to come back to this when the audio book is released. So I think I’m good to promise that this version really is the final time I’ll update the book.

This Bud’s for You – Nauvoo’s Budweiser Sign

If you travel Mulholland Street in Nauvoo, you will see a large Budweiser sign near the Mormon temple.

At the 2018 Untold Stories Symposium, I was delighted to learn more about this surprising landmark.

The sign dates to the early 1950s, as can be determined by the early form of the red bow, the distinctive font, and the title “King of Beers” rather than “King of Bottled Beers.”

Locals tell that the sign came about from a deal cut by Nauvoo’s Mayor. Each fall Nauvoo hosts a Grape Festival, a fantastic event which brings people from all over the region. The mayor asked Budweiser to send the iconic Clydesdales to participate in the Grape Festival Parade for a certain number of years. In exchange, the Mayor arranged for a large brick wall to host the painted sign. Budweiser’s artists traveled to Nauvoo to create the sign according to exacting standards.

For over sixty years the sign has greeted Nauvoo’s predominantly Catholic and German residents. It has become a core element of Nauvoo’s identity.

Enter the Mormon return to Nauvoo, culminating in the reconstruction of the Nauvoo temple. Continue reading

Finding the Lost 116 Pages

I adore Don Bradley. His scholarship is precise, his efforts are extensive, and he has been generous to me personally. Don is currently completing his Master’s Degree at USU.

Today’s LDS Perspectives podcast allows us to hear from Don Bradley regarding his work on Joseph Smith’s translation efforts and what we can know about the contents of the lost 116 pages (or more accurately, the lost pages that contained information corresponding to the first 116 pages in the original Book of Mormon as published).

I’ll come back later and expand this post to include pretty pictures and stuff, but for now, go to LDS Perspectives and listen to Don.


The Book of Abraham with John Gee

Kurt Manwaring and respected Egyptologist John Gee sat down to talk about the Book of Abraham in an interview posted on Kurt’s website today. Kurt has allowed us to cross post a portion of that interview here at M*.

John Gee is author of An Introduction to the Book of Abraham. Gee is Mormon and shares his thoughts and experiences regarding the intersection of faith and scholarship. (Image of John Gee courtesy of BYU Religious Studies Center)

Kurt Manwaring: Welcome. Before we begin, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you first got interested in Egyptology?

John Gee: I had never heard of Egyptology until I got to college. My freshman year, my brother and I stumbled across a book in the bookstore on learning hieroglyphs. There were two copies and so we each got one. I read it and got interested in the subject. He read it and went into something more useful.

Kurt Manwaring: What role did your Mormon faith play during the pursuit of your doctorate at Yale? Did it ever cause problems or open doors?

John Gee: In certain cases, being a faithful Latter-day Saint opened doors. More often it has caused problems.

For example, when I first got to Yale, it took me a while but I finally found a place to stay. After about a week, the fellow who owned the apartment, one of the Yale faculty, found out I was a Latter-day Saint and kicked me out for that reason.

A couple of weeks later I got a letter. Just before going to Yale I had participated at an international conference. My paper was decently received but the letter was from the editors of the proceedings volume rejecting my paper on the grounds that I was a member of the Church.

Such attitudes are still prevalent in academia and I still encounter them with some frequency.

Years ago, Elder [Neal A.] Maxwell warned that “the Saints—meaning you and I—must not make the mistake of assuming the existence of any truce between the forces of Satan and God. To believe so, . . . is a very great delusion, and a very common one.”

Given my own experience and Elder Maxwell’s warning, I do not think this kind of thing is going to go away.

Kurt Manwaring: Did you work with Hugh Nibley? How would you describe him to those today who do not know who he is? Continue reading