Chat With a Mormon Online
I am an orchestra conductor and higher education administrator. I love to travel, and love a good meal accompanied by stimulating conversation. I speak Cantonese and Mandarin, and can at least ask for directions in Italian. I am married to a violinist and we have a little boy.
I am a Mormon because I know Jesus Christ died for my sins. I am a Mormon because I know Joseph Smith saw and spoke with Jesus Christ. I am a Mormon because the Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ. And I know all of these things through the Holy Ghost. It's a sensation that cannot be faked, or duplicated in any way, but you "feel" the Spirit telling you what is true and what is false. In the Old Testament this sensation is referred to as the "still, small voice." If you've ever seen the Robert Zemeckis film "Contact," you will have an idea of what I'm talking about. Jodie Foster's character had experienced certain things that could not be scientifically verified, but she knew she experienced them. I know that's Hollywood, just a movie. Joseph Smith said it better than I could. While his experiences were very different than mine, his sentiments echo my own: "However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise. "So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true."
Joseph Smith was a man of good moral character, who had a sense of humor and a very humble faith in his Heavenly Father. He is a spiritual Rorschach test--your opinion of him will likely be shaped by your relationship to God. But I know that he did in fact see and speak with our Heavenly Father, and our Savior Jesus Christ. I also know that he strove his entire adult life to love and serve those around him, and to teach them true and correct principles as revealed to him by the Lord.
I work in a college admissions office. I don't believe test scores are the best indicators of an applicant's strengths--it's just one snapshot. Perhaps the student was sick the morning of the test. Perhaps her parents got into a huge fight that morning while driving her to the test center. Perhaps the air conditioning in the room was broken, making it hard to concentrate. (There are also studies showing socioeconomic bias in standardized tests). What's harder to explain away, though, is a transcript. There it is, a four-year record of every course taken. And in my experience, the transcript is a very good indicator of how someone's lived their life. Lots of little tiny decisions start to add up, over the course of those four years, into shaping your life. Study habits, attention to detail, and the work ethic. You can't run from your transcript. Now this is just college admissions--hardly a life and death sort of thing (though some like to make it out as that). But these same principles apply to our lives. Every day we must make decisions, small decisions, that shape our ultimate character, and worldview. The Gospel helps us make right decisions, and shows us ways to grow and improve, regardless of our stage in life.
I'm involved with both the Boy Scout Troop chartered by my ward, as well as the church's own young men's organization. I do my best to help these boys learn more about their options in life, and to help them develop self-confidence, and faith in both themselves and in the Lord. The teenage years are rough for everyone--I well remember I had my ups and downs during that time. Young people begin to assert their own individuality, and they rightly begin to question their upbringing. I feel my role is to help guide young men through this difficult time, so they can learn to make wise decisions on their own.