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Hi I'm Travis

I'm from California and am a JAG lawyer. I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I'm a lawyer in the US Air Force (judge advocate). I live in Virginia with my wife and son. I speak Spanish and German, and in my spare time I enjoy reading, working out, painting, and playing the organ, piano, and guitar.

Why I am a Mormon

Most fields of inquiry—politics, the natural sciences, even philosophy—propose answers to questions about how things are. Some answer the normative questions about how things ought to be. Religious faith goes beyond that—it answers the "why" questions, which have to do with ultimate purpose and meaning. Religious faith offers to help individuals understand the meaning of their personal lives by teaching them the purpose and meaning of existence on a universal level, and then showing them where they fit in. I am a Mormon because Mormonism does that in a way that speaks to me both intellectually and spiritually. In other words, I feel its truth in my mind and in my heart: It teaches that family is not a mere social construct, but an eternal principle that connects all human beings as members of God's eternal family. It teaches me that I existed in spirit before this life, that mortal life is part of a greater journey of eternal progression, and that because of our inherent weakness as humans, we all must rely on Jesus Christ in order to reach our eternal goals. It helps me look beyond the mundanity of daily life to understand my place in a greater plan.

How I live my faith

In the past, I've often served as the organist for my local church. It's a way to express my faith as I help set the mood for the services. I believe that music plays a very important part in worship, and when the organist chooses a reverent and subdued registration or a brighter and more expressive one, it should match the message of the song as well as the topic of the sermons. Music is itself a form a worship and a way to express our faith. Providing Spanish interpretation at church services is another way I like to serve. Even if some of the Spanish speakers listening are good English speakers and could understand without an interpreter, somehow it's much easier to connect when you're listening in your native language. It's a way to help out that serves the double purpose of helping me keep my Spanish sharp.

What do Mormons believe about family?

Travis
Everyone knows that Mormons are family-oriented, but it goes deeper than that. The family is actually a crucial part of Mormon theology. We believe that God puts us in families because that's the fundamental social structure of heaven. It's not just that family life is a great way to learn patience and love and understanding so that we can become better individuals. God's ultimate plan for human beings is not to save us as individuals it's to save us as families. Our ultimate potential is found in our relationships—with God our Father, with Jesus Christ, and also with each other. All Christians agree that Jesus Christ offers us the chance to be forgiven of our sins and to be resurrected after we die. We add that on top of that, Jesus Christ also offers us the chance to be married for eternity and to live with our families in heaven. Even our relationship with God is a family relationship. We regard him not just as our Creator, but as the Father of all spirits. We mean that literally. In the body, we have our mortal parents. But our immortal spirits are the children of God. Jesus Christ is the Son of God both in the body and the spirit. Because he is our Savior, we also worship him as our God. In God's very family-centered plan, there is a place for everyone. Those who don't have families during their mortal lives will have the opportunities in the afterlife that they never had here. Show more Show less

How does the Church finance its operations?

Travis
Like most denominations, the LDS Church believes in the Biblical principle of paying tithing—10% of one’s increase. But unlike most denominations, tithing money doesn’t pay the salary for any church leaders. In Mormonism, there is no professional clergy, so church leaders have regular careers in addition to their church duties. The leaders pay tithing on what they earn like everyone else. Everyone has a responsibility in their local congregation, and everyone is personally invested in the community effort of making the congregation run. That frees up the tithing money to be used exclusively for the church's operations: building chapels, printing materials, supporting missions, etc. The funds are centrally collected and then redistributed across the world according to need—which means that the Mormon church can build chapels and support programs in impoverished countries where the church members there could never pay for it themselves. It does a lot to eliminate wealth discrepancies. There are two other sources of financing: Once a month, Mormons fast for two meals and pay the money they saved by not eating into a local fund to help feed the poor. Second, the Mormon church owns taxable business investments that provide funds for humanitarian and other ventures. Because it's all done on a volunteer basis, everyone who contributes does so because they believe in the church and its mission, and so no one's motivated by financial gain. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons perform baptisms for the dead?

Travis
The basic concept of "baptism for the dead" is this: Jesus taught that everyone must be baptized to go to heaven (John 3:5). But most people live and die without being baptized, often due to no fault of their own. Therefore, (living) members of Christ's church can be baptized on behalf of those who died without being baptized (see 1 Cor. 15:29). After death but before final judgment, they will have the chance to accept these baptisms or reject them. Consequently, we can't assume any particular person accepted. Church membership statistics only count living members. Although I cannot understand why, some people find this practice offensive. They do not believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has divine power, yet they feel that baptism for the dead has somehow harmed them or their relatives. Despite (what I see as) the logical inconsistency inherent in such objections, the Church has decided to avoid giving offense by asking its members to only do baptisms for their own relatives. Occasionally someone does a baptism for a late celebrity or a Holocaust survivor, and controversy ensues. The Church does what it can to weed those out, but it doesn't have the resources to check every name submitted, so it must rely on its members to follow the rules. The purpose of baptisms for the dead is to give those who died without baptism the chance to accept the Gospel, not to force it on them. In many denominations, the unbaptized are simply regarded as damned. Show more Show less