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Hi I'm Michael

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

About Me

My wife and I are the parents of four grown children and enjoy our empty nest quite a bit. We also have eight grandkids keeping us on our toes. We are native Californians and think Utah is a great place to visit...for a few days. :-D I'm a high-tech entrepreneur with an engineering degree and 20 years of global business experience in the computer software industry. I am a political moderate and have been a registered independent for over a decade. My loves include music, literature, teaching, and the dispassionate, respectful, and intelligent argumentation of important issues.

Why I am a Mormon

Several factors comprise my choice to be "Mormon", including heritage, intellectual study and analysis, and spiritual understanding and fulfillment. My mother's family first joined the Church in mid-19th century England. Even though my mother married outside of her faith, she made sure that I was raised in it and participated in church activities regularly. I will be forever grateful to her for that. The shared faith, vision, and sacrifices Mormons have make me feel that we are more than a church-- we are a people. I like that. Even with that upbringing, my faith became subject to my own intellectual testing as I matured. That testing has focused relentlessly on the doctrines of the Church, and not its people, nor its traditions, nor even its prominent leaders, whom I sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators whenever they act in their official capacities. To my scrutiny, the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make profound sense while answering all of life's most significant questions. The pieces of life's biggest picture all fit together for me as "a Mormon". I am "a Mormon" because God has taught and confirmed to my mind and spirit that His hand is in it, and that this is what He wants me to do to fulfill my potential and experience the joy that is the object of my existence. He has done so not in a single, blinding moment of heavenly vision, but over many years filled with uncounted, quiet, but unmistakable messages from His still, small voice that reach deep into my soul. Finally, and most importantly, I am "Mormon" because I choose to be. As Ezra Taft Benson said, "Every man eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there he must make his stand." After all the evidence given to or acquired by me, the choice is still mine to make--for God will force no man to heaven. I choose to be "Mormon" to the bone, and I could not be happier.

How I live my faith

After many years of serving in prominent leadership and teaching positions in my ward and stake, including service as Bishop, I now enjoy teaching a Sunday School class. I could not agree more completely with President Gordon B. Hinckley, who once said, "No man in his right mind aspires to ecclesiastical office in this Church." Living my faith is a very personal matter, and its most important external evidences are simple things--consideration, tolerance, kindness, and small acts of service for others. The best measure of how well I live my faith is, simply put, the quality of my character. I love, respect, care for, and serve my family. I am there for my friends when they need me. I give back to the community in which we live. I serve in my church in any capacity to which I am called. I fully and frankly answer sincere questions about my faith from anyone of goodwill. I exert myself in the deliberate study of my faith, seeking a fundamental understanding of its doctrines that can come no other way. Borrowing from Hugh Nibley and David O. McKay, I would summarize as follows: "I am here on earth to believe, to act according to my belief, to repent, and to forgive. The greatest aspiration I can pursue is to develop my character to resemble that of Jesus Christ, who is my Lord and my Savior."

Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?

In a word, no. For Mormons, “worship” is a very strong word, which applies to actions and attitudes that are reserved for Deity only. To worship any mortal man, including Joseph Smith, would be a sin in the Mormon church. Nevertheless, Mormons generally love, respect, and honor Joseph Smith for his accomplishments and dedication as the “founding father” of the Church. As a Mormon, I feel toward Joseph Smith as an American might feel toward George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. All three men made great personal sacrifices in noble causes for the benefit of succeeding generations. For me, the only difference is that I believe Joseph Smith’s actions will benefit me beyond mortality. The motivation for the feelings most Mormons have toward Joseph Smith may be summarized by a scripture from section 135 of the book, ‘Doctrine & Covenants”: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/135?lang=eng Show more Show less

What is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' attitude regarding homosexuality and same sex marriage?

For Mormons, marriage is not defined by current politics or social policy; rather, it is defined and decreed by God as an institution and a holy relationship intended to survive beyond this mortal life into eternity. I think the important fundamental principles that apply to the questions of homosexuality and "same-sex marriage" are: 1) A person is more than their desires. Words like "heterosexual", "homosexual, "straight" or "gay" are adjectives, not nouns. 2) God approves of sexual relations only between a man and a woman who have been legally and lawfully married. This simple standard applies to everyone, equally, regardless of their situation or personal desires. 3) Modern prophets teach that having feelings of sexual attraction to anyone of either gender is no sin. Acting on those feelings by engaging in sexual relations outside of a legal marriage is a sin. Any Church member whose behavior conforms to this standard may fully and freely participate without limitation in the Church. 4) Church leaders have repeatedly instructed Church members to treat other people with tolerance, respect, and love, regardless of their sexual preferences or other characteristics. For a detailed explanation of the Church's attitude toward homosexuality and "same-sex marriage", please visit the following link: http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/same-gender-attraction Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe concerning the doctrine of grace?

Mormons absolutely believe in the doctrine of grace, defined as salvation through the merciful gifts of God. Some of God's grace is unconditional, given freely to all people regardless of personal understanding, worthiness, or merit. Such grace includes salvation from physical death (1 Corinthians 15:22). Spiritual salvation through the grace of God is necessarily conditional. God will force his grace on no one; we must seek it. Mormons believe that God's grace comes to those who are humble (1 Peter 5:5) and obedient to God's laws (Romans 1:5). God requires a consistent, purposeful attempt to obey His laws as a condition of receiving His grace. For this reason, Mormons believe that salvation by grace is a process rather than an event. The doctrine that salvation by the grace of God is possible only because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is a central pillar of the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind, and that without His infinite Atonement no salvation would be possible. Modern prophets have spoken many times about grace, salvation, and the Atonement, and you may search their words here: http://lds.org/conference/display/0,5234,23-1,00.html In my opinion, the book, "Believing Christ", by Stephen E. Robinson, does an excellent job of explaining the relationship between grace, works, and the Atonement in simple, everyday language that most people can understand easily. Show more Show less

What are some things that tell to you there is a God?

My belief that God exists is based on intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual evidences. My engineering degree has given me a basic understanding of nature's workings. All I sense and understand in the universe around me is full of purpose, intent and order; even the apparently random aspects of our world all occur under natural laws that appear to be inviolable. To my mind, the universe is chock full of evidence that it is the product of a purposeful intelligence of amazing breadth, depth, and power. At the same time, I see poignant beauty in our world; beauty which apparently exists for no other reason than to warm the soul and bring happiness. A flower, a mountain, a sunrise over the ocean--man can only aspire to create such beauty. Yet, an intelligence far beyond man's has already created it. If death brings nothing more than oblivion, then I can see no point to all of the organization and beauty of the universe. Much more importantly, I can see no point to our lives, and I believe that our lives are vastly more important than the universe that surrounds us. Life IS the point--the universe is merely the stage upon which it happens. Before one can reach out to God, one must allow the possibility that He exists. But even those who are angry with God are, by definition, allowing the possibility that He exists. Suspending disbelief long enough to connect with God is the best way to obtain evidence of His existence. I think anyone can do this, and everyone should. Show more Show less

Why do some call Mormonism a cult?

A "cult" is generally defined as a small group, out of the mainstream, the members of which venerate a single leader who maintains control over the thoughts and actions of the group by the exercise of personal charismatic power. The stated views or practices of a cult are often viewed as unorthodox, extreme, or simply false. To what degree does the Mormon Church fit this definition? The Mormon Church is anything but small. It counts nearly 14 million members in over 150 countries, and is the fourth largest religious denomination in the United States. There is nothing small, secretive, or "out of the mainstream" about the Mormon Church. If Mormons were held in thrall only by the personal charisma of a single leader, the Church would, as its detractors predicted, not have survived the death of Joseph Smith, its "founding father", in 1844. But survive it did, and thrive it did--Mormons never worshiped Joseph Smith. Are the beliefs and practices of the Mormon Church unorthodox, extreme, or false? As a lifelong member of the Church, I have never once felt that I was being asked to believe or do anything unorthodox, extreme, or false. I have never once felt any degree of coercion. On the contrary, I have felt nothing but respect for individual belief according to the dictates of conscience. When asked about his approach to governing the Church in Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph Smith replied, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves." Show more Show less

Does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endorse political parties?

In a word, no. Neither does the Church endorse any specific candidate or political platform in any election. This is official Church policy and has been for a very long time. The Church does "reserve the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church." You can visit this web page to see the Church's official policy on political neutrality, which is read aloud in Sunday services throughout the Church once each year: www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/political-neutrality If you would like more information about the political demographic among Mormons, I suggest the recent polling work done by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, as summarized here: http://pewforum.org/Christian/Mormon/A-Portrait-of-Mormons-in-the-US--Social-and-Political-Views.aspx#ideology Show more Show less

What is the Church’s position on abortion?

The sanctity of human life compels the Church to strenuously oppose elective abortion performed for personal or social convenience. After careful and serious consideration, any one of the following special circumstances may potentially justify an abortion: 1) The pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. 2) A competent physician determines that the pregnancy places the life or health of the mother is in serious danger. 3) A competent physician determines that the fetus has serious defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. The Church has not taken a position on legislation regarding abortion, nor on public demonstrations concerning this issue. The Church opposes the use of violence by proponents on either side of this (and any other) political or social issue. The Church, through its LDS Family Services organization, provides licensed child-placement services-including infant adoption, designated adoption, and special needs adoption. More information is available here: https://www.itsaboutlove.org/ial/ct/eng/site/adopting-families/ Show more Show less

What does Mormonism teach regarding baptism?

Mormons adopt both the mode and meaning of the ordinance of baptism from the Savior's example and teachings, e.g. Matthew 3:13-17. When applied in the context of a religious ordinance, the original Greek word "baptizo" means to immerse in water, which is why John the Baptist baptized in a river (Jordan) instead of pouring a bit of water from a cup. When John questioned Jesus' need for baptism at all, the Savior answered that even He had to be baptized to demonstrate His obedience to His Father and to give all people an example to follow. The ordinance of baptism is rich with symbolism. Our immersion in water may represent the "burial" of a past life of sin; our emergence from the water may represent the beginning of a new life washed clean of sin and focused on a new relationship with God. Mormons believe that baptism brings us forgiveness of past sins, and obliges us to revere Jesus Christ as our Savior, to always remember Him and keep His commandments, and to serve one another with true charity. Mormons believe that infants and small children have no need of baptism unless and until they develop a sufficient sense of right and wrong and the ability to act contrary to what they know is right. Church policy precludes anyone younger than eight years of age from receiving baptism. Church doctrine teaches that any child who passes away before reaching the age of accountability has no need of baptism, and receives all of God's merciful blessings in the heavens. Show more Show less

What are some of the ways that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helps those around the world?

Since 1985, the Mormon Church has delivered more than $1.2 billion in aid in 187 countries around the world. This aid is delivered to anyone in need, without regard for any religious affiliation they may or may not have. The aid is paid for by voluntary contributions from Church members. Much of this aid has been in the form of emergency supplies when disaster strikes. The Church is noted for its fast-response capabilities, and contributed significantly to emergency relief efforts after the recent earthquakes in Chile and Haiti, the Pacific Tsunami, and hurricane Katrina. In addition to disaster response, the Church operates ongoing programs around the world to deliver wheelchairs, vision treatment, neonatal care, measles vaccinations, and clean water projects. For more information on the Church's humanitarian services, please visit the following website: http://www.lds.org/humanitarianservices/0,19749,6208,00.html For a complete list of the Church's humanitarian activities by region, you may use the interactive world map located here: http://www.providentliving.org/project/0,13501,4607-1-2009,00.html Show more Show less

What is the Mormon lifestyle like? How do Mormons live?

The term, "the Mormon lifestyle", is a bit misleading. With 14 million members speaking over 166 languages around the world, most of the aspects of "lifestyle" among Mormons are heavily influenced by the respective cultures in which we live. There is no single, stereotypical "Mormon lifestyle". When it comes to the activities, habits, attitudes, tastes, material wealth, and other aspects that normally constitute a "lifestyle", each Mormon's situation is unique. The bell curve applies as relentlessly to Mormons as it does to everyone else. The one aspect that, ideally, would be common to the lifestyles of all Mormons is the persistent, daily attempt to adhere to a common moral code, which consists of the commandments of God and the laws of the land in which we reside. Doing so typically results in a life which is family-centered and full of service freely given to others in the Church and community. Such external evidences indicate an internal adherence to the two great commandments: loving God with all our heart, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Show more Show less