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.

Jan 2021 versus Jun 1844

I remember a day when I realized how much confusion could have been avoided had Joseph Smith lived longer. I pulled the covers over my head and wept great wracking sobs.

When the news started rolling out about the attack on the U.S. Capitol, it was obvious to me that there were parallels between the mob of January 2021 in Washington, DC, and the mob of June 1844 in Carthage, IL.

  • The 1844 press had agitated for overthrow of a legitimately elected rule, with the Expositor laying the groundwork for suspicion and the Warsaw Signal actively calling for violence, “War and extermination is inevitable! Citizens ARISE ONE and ALL!!!-Can you stand by, and suffer such INFERNAL DEVILS! to ROB men of their property and RIGHTS, without avenging them. We have no time for comment, every man will make his own. LET IT BE MADE WITH POWDER AND BALL!!!” 1
  • The Carthage Greys were posted to protect Joseph Smith, but they were instructed to avoid loading their guns and rifles.
  • The individuals attacking gathered a distance from Carthage and whipped themselves into a “righteous” anger before attacking, based on reports under oath by those who were at that gathering.
  • Many individuals attacking had painted their faces (though it doesn’t seem the folks who attacked on Jan 2021 intended to hide their identities).
  • Some of those attacking were harmed during the attack.

Luckily, no elected officials were shot on 6 January 2021. In this, the attack of June 1844 achieved a higher degree of lethality, at least on the part of the intended victims.

I hadn’t bothered posting anything about this earlier because it seemed to me a comparison that didn’t need to be pointed out. However someone I care about, who is active on social media, indicated that they had not seen any comments comparing Jan 2021 to Jun 1844.

So with this, I consider that lack of comment on the obvious to be rectified.

Notes:

  1. Thomas Sharp, Editorial, Warsaw Signal, June 11, 1844, at http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/IL/sign1844.htm#0611 on 11 Jan 2021.

Slaying Dragons

I have written from time to time about my quest to save a family member who had become a victim of scams. I called this family member “Riley,” since that’s a nice, gender-neutral, name.

Alas, my mother has died (and I’ve told you who she is). You are left with the possibility that I was describing a distant relative (and some of you would therefore be right to wonder why I was butting into someone else’s business) or that I was describing my father.

“Riley” is my dad.

I bother writing this now because I spent the last two days in yet another hearing, where Dad incurred tens of thousands more dollars worth of legal effort in his quest to free himself from the protection we were able to provide for him. The funny thing is that all the legal costs are being borne by his estate. We children show up and testify. I’ve gotten really good at writing pro se filings. But no one else is losing a cent (aside from toner, paper, and stamps). With COVID, none of us even had to stir from our couches.

I sometimes see my life as slaying dragons. Some of the dragons are small, like the tiny dragons of disorder in my home. Other dragons are large, like the threats against which it is my job to help ensure the United States maintains undersea superiority. M* readers have witnessed my battles trying to slay the twin dragons of 1) defamation against Joseph Smith over plural marriage and 2) adulation for the supposed patriarchal and woman-hating system some believers claim is Joseph’s legacy.

But when it became clear my father now believed African women were willing to share gold mines and $100Ms in offshore assets for fake marriage documents and every cent in his possession, I realized I was facing one of the most difficult dragons of all.

Dad is every whit as smart as I am. Like a tiger, he lashed out in ways intended to cause great wounds. Even now, protected, he is pleased to insist that I and my siblings acted to protect him only because we covet his money. Though we are barred from knowing anything about his will, he is pleased to tell us that he has disinherited us. Given that estimates of the value of Dad’s real property exceed $50M, that would hurt.

If it was money we cared about.

I guess I see my dad as being like Scrooge McDuck. He glories in his wealth. The scam worked on Dad because he thought he suddenly had a line on wealth beyond his previous dreams. Initially, we know, he intended the vast wealth the scammers promised to be ours.

But the way these scams go is predictable. First, every scrap of available money is siphoned out of the victim. In Dad’s case, that was $1.2M. Then, the real property is sold because of defaulted mortgages or unpaid taxes. The funds from these sales of real property go to the owner – land transformed to cash. Had Dad been unprotected and still under thrall, all that cash would have been wired to the scammers. The gold and promised wealth is imaginary.

Dad would have ended with his lifetime of investment, sacrifice, and luck dissipated. He would have been left with only income from his pension (still more than many have). And he would have had the love of his many children and grandchildren. But had he ever awoken to the truth, it would have been truly pitiable.

In Dad’s case, we were able to get him protected just as mortgage companies were acting to foreclose. Despite the substantial cash he’d lost, Dad didn’t lose any of the real property he’d spent his lifetime accumulating.

I hope in some future day to meet my Dad beyond the veil, freed from the lies that cloud his vision today. I hope that in that day he will realize that I was fighting to save him from a fate he would have found horrific.

For now, I must be content with a job well done, if unthanked by the beloved father whose dear treasure we have saved.

Thriving in the Storm

If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear. 1

So often, we think of preparedness in terms of food storage or standing in holy places. But today a friend forwarded a link to an article in the political journal, American Affairs. Natalie Gochnour’s article, “Utah’s Economic Exceptionalism,” picks up where Megan McArdle left off in her 2017 Bloomberg article “How Utah Keeps the American Dream Alive.”

Economic health is often assessed in terms of a monthly index produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, that combines four indicators of state economic health.

The economic index for the US and the vast majority of her states and territories has declined since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. For the US as a whole, the index has declined by 5.2 percent. Utah’s index has improved by 5.9 percent – notably the only US state to show an increase.

I’ve seen the cooperation and mutual care Ms. Gochnour describes on a smaller scale, within the family of my birth. I have eight siblings, and we have very different outlooks on life. Yet we share the hope that we will be family in the future, when we gather with our mother beyond the veil. This has caused us to work together in circumstances where other families have been torn apart. There is no index of thriving that measures the joy and peace our shared hope provides us, compared to peers who lack this shared hope. But in stressful circumstances affecting all of us, professionals exposed to a wide sample of families undergoing similar stress have commented on our mutual support and unity.

We can prepare by acquiring stores of food and supplies. We can also prepare by building trust and goodwill. By loving others as ourselves. By respecting one another and doing good to all.

Notes:

  1. D&C 38:30

Giving Thanks

Gratitude is universally endorsed as a desirable activity.

The Old Testament verses on gratitude focus on giving thanks to God. So that is likely implicit in Paul’s advice to the Thessalonians to:

Rejoice evermore…. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1

Elder Uchtdorf highlighted gratitude in his recent Quick Start Guide to Life. The Yale University course on Wellness emphasizes gratitude as a key activity to support wellness. Every professional seeking to help individuals achieve greater happiness or fulfillment includes gratitude as a part of their prescription.

One suggestion that I have recently adopted is to write five things you are grateful for in your journal at the end of the day. It’s a particularly pleasant way to capture the events of the day.

Armistice Day

Whether called by its original name or by something else (Remembrance Day in Britain, Veterans Day in America), today is a day to be thankful for the peace that ended World War I. Having had the privilege of being in London during Remembrance Day in the past, it was striking to see the profusion of stylized poppies everywhere.

John McCrae had been a professor at McGill University in Montreal before the war. He wrote his famous poem, In Flanders Fields, after learning of the death of a former student who had become a soldier. McCrae, a military medic himself, would also die before the war ended. But his poem lived on, testament to the love and life of those whose graves were now marked by crosses in fields full of poppies.

Thanksgiving

For those of us living in the United States, we are also coming up on the annual celebration of thanks, held on the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving, here in America, is redolent with tradition, food, and family.

Alas, this year it is not wise to gather with those outside your immediate household. Independent of whether people feel like social distancing and masks are their favorite things, the fact is that many locations (notably Utah) are at or fast approaching full capacity in their hospitals.

Continue reading

Notes:

  1. KJV, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. The NIV renders this advice as “give thanks in all circumstances.”

Urban v. Rural

Pundits may talk about the differences between cities and countryside, but there are few places that exemplify that divide better than Virginia in 2020.

One of the reasons this city/country difference is so obvious in Virginia is because so many of the towns are designated as such in Virginia, where most the rest of the country is satisfied to count votes by county. As can be seen in the map above (from https://www.cnn.com/election/2020/results/president), the Virginia detailed map shows numerous dots of blue (democratic/liberal candidate leading) in what are otherwise red (republican/conservative candidate leading) counties. Almost all the dots that aren’t blue are for towns with less than 5000 people. 1

While the US presidential election will eventually be determined one way or the other, 2 it is worth discussing the differences between cities (or urban areas) versus the countryside (or rural areas). It’s been several years now since the majority of all humanity can now be found in urban settings, where all previous history involved a majority of humanity living in rural settings.

Rather than demonizing the “other” side, what are needs across rural and urban communities that we can agree on? Inasmuch as forces beyond our control are moving the world towards urbanization, how can we meet the needs of children of God in urban settings?

Notes:

  1. The sole exception is Bristol, population ~30,000, which is on the border with the eastern portion Tennessee, which is voting strongly Republican.
  2. Either way, the democratic/liberal candidate will be able to claim to have won a majority of the popular vote.