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.

Oh, How Lovely!

Two centuries ago a young man went to a grove near his home to plead with God for guidance.

Ten years later, this young man published a book of scripture from ancient peoples who had lived in the Western Hemisphere and have believed in the Judeo-Christian God in ways surprisingly resonant with long-forgotten teachings of early Church fathers.

Twenty years later, the now-mature man would reiterate the necessity of baptism, 1 declaring that this salvific ordinance could and must be performed on behalf of all God’s children who had died without having received this ordinance. 2

Oh, how lovely God’s love for us, that He would make it possible for all His children to return, no matter how much His good news was forgotten or misunderstood or denied us in this life!

Notes:

  1. Joseph Smith addressed the need for baptism during the Spring 1840 General Conference, citing Jesus’s teachings to Nicodemus.
  2. The concept that individuals could perform proxy ordinances on behalf of deceased loved ones was first articulated at the August 1840 funeral of Seymour Brunson.

Review: Joseph Spencer Theological Introduction to 1st Nephi

Last month the Neal A. Maxwell Institute started publishing a series of brief Theological Introductions to segments of the Book of Mormon, each written by a different author. To date, the introductions to 1st Nephi and 2nd Nephi are available. Unfortunately, publishing these in February and March almost guarantees that most folks won’t care until January 2024.

However for those of us who can never get enough about the Book of Mormon, these little volumes promise to open our eyes to treasures we’d never noticed before.

Professor Spencer’s theological introduction to 1st Nephi has much to offer any reader. Given the dependence of subsequent Book of Mormon writers on the theology and culture associated with Nephi, this volume is definitely worth picking up both in its own right and to inform our Book of Mormon studies for the rest of 2020.

One challenge, however, is that those of us who can never get enough about the Book of Mormon may already have more information than the average Book of Mormon reader these volumes appear to target. Even so, I think almost all readers will find numerous insights that expand their horizons.

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Covenant

Today we will partake of the emblems of the sacrament in our homes, whether administered by a family member ordained to appropriate priesthood office or someone ministering to our homes.

I thought of the second stanza of a poem my husband wrote for friends who married in the temple and were sealed into the New and Everlasting Covenant:

Grant us the firm, enduring faith
to meet commitment’s need:
To face affliction side by side;
To seek the spirit’s constant guide
’Til heart and mind are purified,
Of every evil freed.

May your Sabbath be a blessing to you and your household.

Spring has been cancelled

Not really, of course. But the Church announced that the public has been invited to watch 2020 General Conference from home. Church meetings worldwide are suspended until further notice. Many universities have cancelled in-person instruction and will conduct the rest of their semesters via remote instruction.

Summer events such as the June conference of the Mormon History Association may be cancelled, depending on the COVID-19 precautions recommended as weather warms. [Current expectation is that COVID-19 will *not* be slowed by the advent of warm, humid weather.]

Even those of us without a tradition of spring cleaning are purchasing the products that get rid of 99.99% of viruses and wiping down surfaces that many hands touch. I and others have been offering outstretched elbows to bump in lieu of the traditional hand shake.

A few years ago a bad flu season blew through, and I switched our household from using common cloth towels for hand drying to paper towels – reportedly more hygienic than common air dryers. It’s a switch which I am glad to maintain in the face of this season’s challenge.

This isn’t the worst disaster. Even the worst projections I’ve seen for COVID-19 pale in comparison to the numbers who died from the Spanish Influenza a century ago.

But this is the disaster of our day. What tips do you have for how to adjust to the social distancing we’re all having an opportunity to practice?

What We Know that Ain’t So

South High (now Salt Lake Community College)

This past Sunday I spent several enjoyable hours reviewing video from a 2015 trip to Edinburgh. Grandpa Stout, as we know him, was born in the fabled city.

We spent a day away from the tourist attractions to retrace the haunts of his youth before post-war economics forced the extended Stout family to leave Scotland’s verdant hills for Zion’s mountains.

Through a series of timely miracles, three generations of extended family arrived in Salt Lake, taking up residence in a basement apartment. Grandmother, Grandfather, Mother and Father, two teenaged sons, and Mother’s two spinster sisters. When a home on the other side of South High went on sale, Brother Stout went to a local bank, seeking a loan. But as a new immigrant, he lacked any collateral (“What is ‘collateral’?” he asked.)

A capstone miracle occurred as the Stouts were leaving the interview with the loan officer. The Bank Manager came in and noticed the Stouts. “Why, Brother and Sister Stout! I haven’t seen you in years!” The Manager had been a missionary in Edinburgh. After a bit of talk, the Bank Manager learned the reason for their visit.

“Why, I’d be happy to co-sign the loan for Mr. Stout,” the Bank Manager told the loan officer.

So the several members of the extended Stout family relocated from the basement apartment in a ward that had welcomed them with open arms to a lovely little home two blocks away, in a new ward and new stake. And here’s where the confusion began.

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