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 that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

To the Hebrews

One of the delights of moving to home-focused, Church-supported study is implicit permission to take your own studies far beyond the level that is appropriate for a general audience meeting for less than an hour in Sunday School.

On April 16, BYU Studies will be releasing a much-anticipated commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, which was the subject of an entire online conference broadcast on March 6, 2021. 1

When I was provided an advance copy for review, I didn’t understand why a commentary on 13 chapters in the New Testament could justify a book that runs nearly 900 pages. But gamely I dove in.

The Gem Painted in Pauline Authorship

The Epistle to the Hebrews is commonly attributed to Paul. But the early fathers noted that the Greek of this epistle is more elegant and refined than Paul’s rather blunt language. It is as if one were to read something written by Neal A. Maxwell and be told it was the work of Bruce R. McConkie.

This beautiful and powerful early epistle clearly could not be entirely attributed to Paul. At best, it was an epistle that someone with a better command of Greek could have written based on the teachings of Paul, himself.

For hundreds of years, Christian leaders struggled to find a way to canonize this precious document. There were those who argued it had to be Paul, despite the wholly different nature of Greek usage. Eventually those who didn’t agree the author was Paul felt it was more worthy to include the Epistle to the Hebrews than to allow this gem to be excluded because its unknown author could not be known to be an apostle.

[The unknown author of the Epistle to the Hebrews refers to himself as a man, so no spinning feminist theories about this one.]

Why read (buy, study, delight in) this Commentary?

The Epistle to the Hebrews was written to children of converts, pleading for them to remain true to Christ. All of us who have embraced the baptism of Christ benefit from the author’s plea to reject today’s faithless ones, embrace Christ, and unite with the faithful from the beginning of time.

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Notes:

  1. The BYU Hebrews Commentary Conference is available on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXbAVRWvW61YxGGxH2xqj1MulRbjefwqs.

Inoculation

In a couple of months, those of us in the Western world will be able to get vaccinated for COVID any time we want. But for now, it’s been a matter of hope and waiting, scheming and plotting.

I live in a relatively high-tech county. Vaccination sign-ups started in January. Over time they started sending e-mails to those who had registered, letting them know they were on the list. If I could go back in time, I wish they would have done something even better, so I had a nuanced sense of where my loved one(s) stood in line and how rapidly the queue was being worked down.

Today was the appointment for one of my people, someone who had worn us out with random questions about whether or not they would inject a microchip into their head, and other such nonsense.

Fifteen minutes before the appointment, their phone pinged, giving them a chance to let the “system” know they were in the enormous parking lot of the county building. Then two minutes before the appointment, the phone pinged again, letting them know it was time to walk into the building.

There were about 10 stations where people could go and check in with helpful humans. Once checked in, they were directed to a queue where numerous rooms were manned with 20-30 nurses apiece and a helpful person who let folks know when nurses were available. If you’ve ever gone through passport control, it was a bit like that, except not nearly as crowded.

Once sitting with the nurse, information was verified. My person got the Pfizer vaccine, and was assured that the week of April 3rd they’d get a follow-up text letting them sign up for the second dose at any of the locations available at that time (e.g., no longer limited to the cavernous government building).

The shot was no big deal. My person was heartily relieved that it was just in the arm and didn’t even hurt much.

Then, as is typical for a flu vaccine, for example, my person was asked to wait. Their phone texted them 15 minutes after the nurse had administered the shot. Then there were arrows directing them out of the county building, like exiting an airport, able to see those coming in across the lobby. Happy people were staged throughout the process to ensure everyone had the help they needed. They congratulated my person as they exited.

May you and yours who qualify to receive vaccination be able to get inoculated soon! May your experience be as good (or better) than the experience my person reported.

Murder Among the Mormons

The Netflix documentary about the 1985 bombings in Salt Lake City is being widely promoted and watched.

The documentary is broken into three parts, initially immersing the viewer in the confusion that reigned in the 1980s regarding Mormon history, fomented in part by documents that suggested the Church’s narrative was hagiographic and, frankly, false.

[The idea that an angel appeared to Joseph Smith strains the credulity of the average non-Member. Cut in excerpts from Church videos circa 1980 and toss in the so-called Salamander Letter, and it’s understandable why many watching the first episode could come away with a less-than positive view of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.]

The bombings, of course, were the work by Mark Hofmann, a man who was eventually revealed to be a forger of many documents, including the Salamander Letter. His forgeries were so good that even the FBI declared them authentic, and this after he had become a suspect for the bombing deaths of Steve Christensen and Kathy Sheets.

Having watched and re-watched the series, I have recommendations regarding how you might wish to experience the documentary.

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Racism circa 1000 AD

At times it is useful to reflect on how similar our troubles are to troubles our forebears suffered. When we can’t see our way to the bright future for which we yearn, it can be helpful to see how our forebears brought about their bright future, which we take for granted.

In 1000 AD there was no England.

Instead, the term used was Angelcynn, kin of the Angles, the Germanic peoples who hundreds of years earlier had conquered much of the territory of the island the Romans had called Brittania.

The problem was that by 1000 AD a large swath of the island of Brittania was occupied by Danes or people of Danish descent. 1 They had their own approach to law. They looked like Scandinavians, with blonde hair and fair skin.

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Notes:

  1. This area was called the Danelaw and covered much of modern England north of London.

Peril of the Neophyte

This past week I got an e-mail from a Dan Judd, suggesting he had documents I would be very interested to hear about.

Now, this sort of approach always intrigues me, as I am always interested in documents about plural marriage in Nauvoo. But I was afraid this Dan Judd might be one of several who have tried to convince me of Denver Snuffer’s interpretation of (not) plural marriage in Nauvoo.

Still, I e-mailed Mr. Judd and sat back, waiting to hear more.

Dan Judd wrote, saying he thought I would be interested in what he had to say because he thought we might have worked together during his engineering career, back before he joined the Church in 2013. But I still didn’t recognize the name. 1

Dan had two interesting claims. And I found him to be an earnest fellow. But I’m not sure either of his claims are correct.

First, Dan claims that his ancestors rescued 116 sheets from someone who had stolen them. These pages were passed down through the generations. Dan and others have seen the pages, but at this time the pages are in a safe place, known only to Dan.

Second, Dan claims the family stories identify the man who rescued the plates as Lamoni Judd, an Indian who was adopted by Zadoc Judd in the 1850s. The family legend is that Lamoni married Alice Fredericka Smith, grand-daughter of Joseph Smith Jr.

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Notes:

  1. The Dan Judd talking to me was not Daniel K. Judd, a counselor in the General Sunday School Presidency some years ago.