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.

Lying

A few years ago a young person I know took the ACT and scored a 34. Or 35. I don’t remember.

To those who may not know, that’s a high score. And in the case of my young friend, the score was a reasonable representation of their academic acumen. This young friend reported this score as part of their application to the only school they wished to attend: BYU.

I remember talking with this friend about other possibilities: Stanford, MIT, Harvard. This young person would just shrug their shoulders.

I heard that when they submitted their combined BYU/BYU-I application, they were accepted by BYU-I within hours. It took BYU considerably longer to tender an offer.

This episode came to mind as I read about the college cheating scandal, where dozens of individuals, several of them famous people, paid tens of thousands of dollars for professionals to take entrance exams on behalf of their college-bound children. One woman paid $50,000 and in turn was able to provide her son a 35 on the ACT to use in his college applications.

In another story that caught my eye, fentanyl is now killing enough people that America’s life expectancy is on the decline. The stories related to that headline are filled with those who have lied. In this case, their lying is associated with thousands upon thousands of deaths.

In a third story, Venezuela is tumbling into fatal disarray. The root cause: fraud and corruption (fancy words for lying).

Exodus 20 doesn’t actually include, “Thou shalt not lie,” as one of the commandments. We are warned against two similar sins: stealing and bearing false witness against a neighbor. Leviticus 19 explores the various deceits that are related to unrighteousness that are to be avoided (Leviticus 19:11 specifically mentions lying). Suffice it to say that anyone raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition has learned from their infancy that lying and deceit are bad.

On the other hand, I have in my day been entrusted with sacred or personal or state secrets. My failure to shout these secrets from the housetops does not constitute lying. Or, at least, were I to disclose such secrets in public, I would lose my friends, affiliation with my faith, my job, and my liberty.

There are those facts which need to remain hidden in order that the world may be healed. This is the purview of holy individuals, friends, and nation states.

Then there are those facts which were created in order to rend the fabric of the world for the unholy benefit of the few. These must be exposed. This is the purview of honest individuals (whistleblowers), law enforcement, and the United Nations.

I would offer a third category: facts which were hidden to heal the world of the past, but which need to be revealed in the present so that a proper understanding of the past can be had for the benefit and healing of the present world. This is the purview of historians.

Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal or kill or bear false witness. Obedience to these things is not childish, nor does it matter if surveys suggest modern folks don’t care as much. The outrage against the college cheaters is proof that modern folks do indeed care very much.

Let Us Eat Cake

King Cake purchased from Rouses in Houma, LA, from Wikipedia

This morning my boss sent out an e-mail, inviting us to partake of the King Cake he had in his office. The e-mail reminded me that it’s Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) today and that I had no idea what a King Cake is.

Turns out the King Cake tradition (which started about 300 years ago in France) honors the Kings who came to worship the infant Jesus. The three colors often sprinkled on modern King Cakes represent justice (purple), faith, (green), and power (gold).

Properly done, a group will come together each week between Christmas and the Tuesday before the beginning of Ash Wednesday to partake of this reminder of Christ’s birth. The cake usually contains a favor (originally a bean, la fève) within, and whoever gets the piece of cake with the favor bakes the cake for the next week. Since many folks purchase King Cake for Mardi Gras, the favor in modern cakes is usually a tiny plastic baby on top of the cake, since there is no need to determine who gets the privilege/task of baking the cake for the upcoming week.

While some Mardi Gras traditions are not consistent with the commandments, the King Cake tradition can be a way to brighten the cold, dark days between Christmas and spring. I know my family will welcome a Christ-focused food tradition to weeks that have previously been void of any “fun.”

Please Warm Up: A Metaphor

This weekend we traveled to Philadelphia, planning a grand day of fun events. Since it takes a few hours to get to Philly from DC, we drove up and spent the night.

My sweet, autistic daughter took a shower the next morning, and we heard her talking quietly, muttering, “Please, warm up…. please warm up…”

In an instant I knew what had happened. The hotel shower is new to her, so she had set it the way she sets our home shower. But that position wasn’t enough to make the water warm.

My daughter thought she just had to wait for the water to warm up, not realizing that she needed to do something. We were able to make it so her shower was warm, and life was good.

But this little incident got me thinking about the times when we wait patiently but unhappily, hoping things will get better, yet not taking action to make them better.

Continue reading

Welcoming Dr. Jacob Hess

Millennial Star is pleased to welcome Jacob Hess, PhD as the newest M* permablogger.

Dr. Hess is a mental health professional who is passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has been blogging at his website Unthinkable.cc for several years.

Dr. Hess lives in the Cache Valley Region of Utah with his family.