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.

Inspiring Stories

In 1957 then-Senator John (Jack) Kennedy published Profiles in Courage, biographies highlighting integrity and bravery which inspired a nation.

Some two years later, a boy named Huan Nguyen was born in Vietnam, a land that had been torn by war for many years. When Huan was still a child, Huan and his entire family were gunned down by Communist guerillas in their home outside Saigon. Huan stayed with his mother for hours until she died from her wounds. Huan himself had been shot in the skull, arm, and thigh. Yet Huan, alone of his family of eight, managed to survive. Following the death of his immediate family, Huan was taken in by his uncle, a Colonel in the Republic of Vietnam Air Force.

In 1975 Huan and his uncle were among the thousands who fled Saigon and were taken in by America. Huan remembers arriving at Camp Asam in Guam, watching as US Navy sailors and Marines toiled in the hot sun setting up tents and a chow hall, caring for Huan and his fellow refugees with respect.

Huan said, “I thought to myself how lucky I am to be in a place like America.”

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General Conference! Oct 2019

It’s starting! We’ll use this space to make observations and accept comments! The short notes below are to help you remember which addresses you might have particularly loved, with links taking you to the Church website content. Or click here to go to the Church website General Conference page..

Note that if clicking links on a device with the Gospel Liibrary app, it will try to open the app. Press and hold the link to ensure it brings up the proper webpage (I usually select “open in new tab”).

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Reflections on a bad tooth

Tooth pain this past month has prompted reflections on why those disaffected with the Church can’t perceive good or appreciate positive changes.

This month one of my molars started hurting. Badly. The dentist referred me to an endodontist for a root canal. But it turned out only one of the three roots could be “canaled.” So my dentist referred me to an oral surgeon for tooth extraction.

By the time I sat in the oral surgeon’s chair, the infection had been causing pain for over two weeks. He numbed me up, but the local anaesthetic wasn’t able to reach the infected tooth. Several more attempts were made to stop the pain locally before they put me under nitrous oxide, an anaesthetic that affects the entire body.

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Cheerful Givers

St. Margaret at Queensferry by William Brassey Hole (1899)

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “…God loveth a cheerful giver.” 1

God loves all of us all the time. Yet when we don’t give or give grudgingly, God may not delight in us, though we be loved.

When it comes to giving cheerfully, I typically think of the person for whom I was named, St. Margaret. Margaret was Queen of Scotland, mother to eight children, and my ancestor 2. Though St. Margaret lived nearly 1000 years ago, the deeds of her life were preserved by means of her daughter, who insisted that Margaret’s confessor create a written record by which the daughter could remember the mother she had not known well.

The life the confessor captured is an epitome of the giving Christian. Margaret would feed hundreds of orphans each day of the two Lenten periods she observed each year (before Easter and before Christmas). As Margaret visited the inhabitants of her country, she would give away all that she had. And she encouraged those around her to give similarly.

In Church today, one friend described how those actions we may see as sacrifices can later be seen as investments. By cheerfully giving and serving, we create a better world, both for ourselves and for those around us.

As King David wrote, The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof…. 3 Everything we have is God’s, by that view. The only thing we have of ourselves is our free will. If we willingly, gladly, give to God and His children, then we have given the only gift we have to give.

Who are your examples, when you think of Paul’s admonition to give cheerfully?

Notes:

  1. 2 Cor. 9:7
  2. According to the genealogies others have researched,
  3. Psalm 24:1

Proof versus Conjecture: the Golden State Killer

Detail of cover to Michelle McNamara’s 2018 book about the Golden State Killer

In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of robberies, dozens of rapes, and numerous murders were committed by an individual Michelle McNamara dubbed the Golden State Killer.

The individual had been known by other names: the Visalia Ransacker (1973-1976), the East Area Rapist (EAR, 1976-1979) and the Original Night Stalker (ONS, 1979-1986). DNA from the crime scenes could not be analyzed until the DNA profiling theory of 1985 was adopted in the affected California jurisdictions.

Ms. McNamara died in 2016 of a combination of an undiagnosed heart defect and prescription drugs for sleeplessness, anxiety, and pain. Colleagues finished the book, which was published in February 2018. Neither Ms. McNamara nor those who completed the book knew who the Golden State Killer was. The many DNA clues that linked the crimes to one another did not match any DNA profiles on the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

As I read Ms. McNamara’s book, I knew who police arrested in April 2018. Therefore it was almost painful to read the portion of the book where Ms. McNamara and her colleagues talked about the the times they had been certain they had found the killer, only to learn time and again that DNA exonerated the suspect.

Of this, Ms. McNamara wrote:

“We return to the past, armed with more information and cutting edge innovations. But there are hazards in having so much wizardry at hand. The feast of data means there are more circumstances to bend and connect. You’re tempted to build your villain with the abundance of pieces. It’s understandable. We’re pattern seekers, all of us. We glimpse the rough outline of what we seek and we get snagged on it, sometimes remaining stuck we we could get free and move on.”

No matter how much a suspect seemed to resemble the profile of the killer, they were not the killer if the DNA didn’t match. In this case, a simple test was possible, a test that time and again failed to validate the plausible conjecture in which people were so vested.

Why is this germane to the audience that reads Millennial Star? I think it is germane because there are many who have become convinced of a seemingly plausible conjecture regarding Church history. They have glimpsed a rough outline and have gotten entirely snagged on it. They have been unable to move on and seek to snag others with their discontent.

Unfortunately, determining the validity of conjectures regarding Church history is not as simple as performing a single DNA test. Entire theories are based on the thinnest of evidence, with dozens of books and hundreds/thousands of online repeaters voicing the conjecture as though it were incontrovertible fact.

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