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Hi I'm Daniel

I grew up in Wisconsin. I like novels, marathons, folk guitar, and ice cream. I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I grew up in a large family. My dad was in the army for a while, and even after, we moved around quite a bit. I've visited or lived in most of the 50 states. I've also traveled to a number of countries in Europe and South America. I am married and have 7 children. 6 are adopted. My wife and I met in high school. I take karate classes with one of my sons. I like music and drama, but I don't have a lot of free time for those activities right now. I studied Spanish and linguistics in college, and I have an MBA. I work at a small software startup.

Why I am a Mormon

I was raised in a Mormon home. My parents are good people who set an excellent example for me. I respected them and had no doubt that our faith was an source of peace and stability through life's ups and downs. Still, I felt a need to find out for myself if what they talked about was really true. I attended a pentecostal service with one of my friends. I attended a Catholic parochial school. I read the Bible all the way through at age 14. I later read the Book of Mormon. I prayed sincerely to know how God felt about the doctrines I had learned. My answer came over time, as a series of impressions to my heart--layer upon layer of love, warmth, and light. My core simply resonated. I feel like C.S. Lewis, who said that he believed in Christianity "as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." The truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ help all of life to have meaning.

How I live my faith

I teach a Sunday School class every other week. This year the course of study is the Old Testament, and I've recently prepared lessons about Moses, the Exodus, Samson, David and Goliath, and the Psalms. I'm looking forward to Isaiah. I also visit a couple families in our congregation to make sure that they are doing okay, and to encourage them to do some basic things like have family prayer, read the scriptures, and so forth. Sometimes we get chances to participate in service projects. I've canned peaches and pruned orchards to provide food for those who need it. There is a state school for physically and mentally disabled adults near our home, and sometimes we volunteer there--working on the grounds, pushing wheelchairs for week night "dances", and accompanying people to church services.

What do Mormons believe is the purpose of life?

Life is a learning and growing experience. We need to learn to love and trust God, and to make the kind of choices that help us and others be happy. If we follow Him, that will be the outcome. This does not mean that life is easy. Circumstances, and our own immaturity, can lead to heartache. Because God respects our individual agency, He allows us to make choices--and He does not make exceptions when those choices hurt others. He will not manipulate us or force us into obedience. But the trials of mortality will end. Eventually we can return to live with God, and He will wipe away all tears. Show more Show less

What is the role of the husband and the wife in the family?

The first and most important role of a husband or wife is to be a friend, confidante, and cheerleader for their spouse. Everyone needs someone to help them through life's challenges. If children are part of the family, then each spouse has important responsibilities as a parent as well. Fathers are primarily responsible to provide for the physical necessities of life. Mothers are especially charged with nurturing. However, both spouses are obligated to help one another with these roles, and to adapt to family circumstances in the ways that best provide physical and spiritual needs in the home. Husbands are supposed to be leaders in the best and purest sense of the word--by serving, by being kind, by being the first to volunteer for onerous tasks and hard work. They are not supposed to "lay down the law" or control the lives of their wife or children. A wife is not subservient to her husband. She is an equal partner, entitled to respect, independence, and her own life. Show more Show less

Why is it important for us to take care of our bodies? Why are our bodies called temples of God in the Bible?

Suppose a dear friend gave you a magnificent home as a gift. What would you want that home to look like when your friend came to visit? Would you let it be shabby, dirty, broken, and dark? Or would you want to have the lawn mowed, the rooms clean, the sunshine and fresh air breathing life and cheer into it? Our bodies are a gift from God. How we treat them says something about our attitude toward the Giver of the gift. We are taught to be clean, to dress modestly, to avoid drugs and alcohol, and not to abuse or deface our bodies. When we do this, the spirit inside our bodies can respond more purely to the influence of God's Spirit, and we are happier people. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons believe in the Bible?

I believe the Bible because I've read it, prayed about it, and felt repeated confirmations of its truth in my heart. The Bible is the inspired word of God. It is beautiful, and it is a treasure. I first read it cover to cover as a teenager. I am particularly touched by Psalms 22 and 23, Isaiah 53, and the last few chapters of John. The Bible's record of Christ's earthly ministry and atonement is priceless. I am grateful that it was preserved by the Lord to give the world direction and guidance. The early Christians did not have the Bible in its modern form--it was still being written. They were thrilled to receive new letters of direction from Peter, Paul, and other apostles, and had no concerns about such inspired writing diminishing or devaluing the scriptures they already knew. I accept the Book of Mormon in much the same way. It is another testament of Jesus Christ--not because the Old and New Testaments are inadequate or flawed, but because there can never been too much testifying of the Lord's kindness and love. Show more Show less

Why are only some Mormons allowed into temples? Is there something secret going on in Mormon Temples? What goes on in Mormon Temples?

Temples are places dedicated to sacred things. They are different from churches in the same way that the temple of Solomon was different from ordinary synagogues in ancient Israel. In those times, the Jewish people only entered the temple after personal purification, and only after making meaningful personal sacrifice. Some parts of the temple, such as the "Holy of Holies", could only be entered by a priest who had performed certain sacrifices and prayers. It was inappropriate then to treat such a place as casual or ordinary. It is inappropriate now. Ordinances--ceremonies such as baptisms and marriages where we make promises with God--are performed in the temple. These ceremonies are dignified, uplifting, and beautiful. There is nothing scandalous in them. Show more Show less

Who chooses the Mormon prophet?

God does. Besides the prophet, the church is governed by a quorum--a group or council--of twelve apostles. When there is a vacancy in the quorum of the twelve apostles due to death of a member, the rest of the quorum chooses a replacement in the same way it was done anciently see the book of Acts in the New Testament. Men cannot volunteer to be apostles, nor can they decide on their own that they've been called. Apostles are called from all walks of life--teachers, airline pilots, engineers, publishers, business men. But like Peter who left his nets, once they are called as an apostle, the work of the church becomes their full time pursuit until the day of their death. When the prophet dies, he is replaced by the most senior apostle from the Quorum of the Twelve. In recent years, this man has been serving as an apostle for three or four decades before becoming the prophet. During that time the Lord has a chance to tutor and mold him to be an effective servant. Because God controls lifespan, He ultimately controls who becomes the next prophet by allowing His chosen leader to live until it is time to serve. There is no politicking, no speculation, and no contention about it. Show more Show less

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

One night when I was 15, I was saying a routine prayer when I had a very important spiritual experience. Without any particular warning I was flooded with a profound sensation of love and peace that literally took my breath away. This was not an emotional frenzy brought on by urgent effort or hoping--it was simple, gentle, and certain as anything I have ever felt. I knew Someone was listening, that He knew me, that He cared about what I was saying, that He loved me. Some people say that the only way to know something is to prove it. I wholeheartedly recommend the scientific method, but there is another kind of knowledge that is just as valid. How do you *know* that being kind to someone is a good thing? How do you *know* that dishonesty is wrong, or that your mother loves you? The answer is that your spirit, or your heart, or your soul, resonates when it encounters spiritual truth. And mine resonated that night. I know. Show more Show less

What are Mormon church services like? Are visitors allowed at church meetings? Can I attend church?

Mormon church services usually take place on Sunday during a 3-hour block in the morning. Anyone is welcome to attend, with or without an invitation, and in many places I've been, visitors are relatively common. Services consist of 3 separate meetings. The first is typically "sacrament meeting", where the entire congregation meets to sing hymns, hear some talks or sermons, and most importantly, receive the sacrament. Mormon sacrament consists of bread and water, which is blessed and passed to the congregation by young men. The sacrament is a time to think about the course of my life, and whether I am truly following Christ as I've promised to do. Sometimes sacrament meetings are imperfect--kids are noisy, or I lose focus during a talk. But the hymns are always wonderful, and I get a lot out of the sacrament ordinance itself, if I come in the right frame of mind. This is the meeting I value the most. The second hour is for Sunday School classes, which focus on reading and analyzing the scriptures, and which are organized by age group. Most adults meet together, although in many congregations there is a special class for adults who want an introduction to our doctrine. Children under the age of 12 go to a variation of Sunday School called "Primary", where singing time and other activities help manage wiggles. During the last two hours--beginning as soon as sacrament meeting finishes--there is a nursery for children between about 18 months and 3 years of age. The final hour allows men and women to consider gospel topics from their differing perspectives. Women meet together. I haven't ever been to the women's meeting, but I understand that they have great lessons about motherhood, compassionate service, developing individual talents, spirituality, and so forth. The men cover similar topics, but tend to approach the subject from the standpoint of priesthood duties. Both groups receive assignments for service. Teenagers are split into classes by both age and gender during this hour as well. Show more Show less

Why do Mormon missionaries proselyte?

I served a mission in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. I talked to people from all walks of life. Some already believed in God. Some did not. My purpose was to invite everyone to come to Christ by making formal covenants--promises--with Him, and by keeping those promises. When we agree to turn our life over to Christ, He can change our hearts and make us better and happier people. We can reflect His light into the dark corners of our lives and hearts, and do a better job of serving Him by blessing others. That is a message everyone needs to hear--even Mormons! Show more Show less

Why was a Restoration of the Gospel needed? Haven’t we always had the Bible?

The Bible is beautiful and powerful. It is true. Sadly, it is often misunderstood. Many serious students of religion and scripture came to the conclusion that Christian religion as practiced in their day was no longer in full harmony with the doctrine and organization that Christ established. This is why Calvin, Luther, and others led the protestant reformation. Reformers accomplished much. Most notably, they made translations of the Bible into familiar languages and spread copies of the scriptures to the masses. However, they did not achieve a consensus on key points of doctrine, and they lacked the authority to act in an official capacity on God's behalf. A spokesman was needed--someone who could tell people not what he thought about a passage of scripture, but what God needed us to understand--someone who derived authority not from a university or congress of theologians, but from an official appointment by the Lord. In ancient times, this role was filled by men like Moses, Isaiah, and Peter. We call them prophets. Joseph Smith was called by God to be a prophet in our day. He told the world what God wanted us to hear. Since his day, other men have filled the same role. If you're curious about what a prophet might say, study recent addresses in general conference on lds.org. You will discover inspiration and simple, clear instructions that lead you to God. Show more Show less

Why do some call Mormonism a cult?

I've always been a little puzzled by this. I think that idea is mostly driven by misunderstanding. Some claim that we're a cult because we worship Joseph Smith. Not true. I have been a member of the church and participated fully in its meetings, functions, and cultural events throughout my life, and I can honestly say that I've never worshipped Joseph Smith or been the slightest bit confused about his place in our theology. He was a man, not a god. He was fallible, and he pointed that out to his followers frequently. I have never prayed to him or through him--the idea is ridiculous, and nobody would be more offended by such a notion than Joseph himself. I have sung hymns praising Joseph, but those hymns praise him as someone who pointed men to Christ, who performed an important work at great personal sacrifice. Joseph's dying words were a humble prayer to God, not a claim of glory for himself. Another possible source of the "cult" label might be our strong cultural norms. It is true that we are vigorously encouraged to serve as missionaries, pay tithing, attend the temple, and so forth. Critics have claimed that these norms amount to brainwashing. That is simply false. I am obedient not because I am unable to consider alternatives clearly, but because I've thoughtfully identified which life choices will help me be happiest. A final reason why this label might be offered is that those who are not members of the church perceive our temple worship as secretive. It is true that we do not discuss every detail of our temples with the public, but our goal is respect and reserve, not exclusivity. We open the temples to everyone before they are dedicated. It is only after they begin their sacred function that we become reticent. Every religion has holy experiences that they prefer to reserve for the faithful. Our motives and intentions are no different in this respect. Show more Show less

In whom should we have faith?

Jesus Christ is the only one who can save us from our sins, from physical death, and from our own failures, sorrows, and inadequacies. Our faith must be in Him, and Him alone. Show more Show less

Do Mormons practice polygamy?

No. Mormons discontinued polygamy in the late 1800s. Anybody who has such a lifestyle today is violating strict church laws and is immediately and unconditionally excommunicated. Sometimes in news stories about polygamists the adjective "mormon" is used, as in "mormon fundamentalist" and so forth. This is unfortunate. Such people are not members of our church. Their doctrine diverged from ours long ago. Their culture and beliefs are drastically different from ours. Show more Show less

What is Mormonism? OR What do Mormons believe?

"Mormon" is a nickname for members of our church. Although I don't mind it, I tend to think of what I believe as "the gospel", not "mormonism." The gospel means the good news--and that's a perfect description of our beliefs. We believe in a Heavenly Father who loves us and who sent us to earth to have important experiences. He knew we would make mistakes, and so He also sent His son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins and make forgiveness possible. Christ also overcame death so that each of us will be resurrected--have a tangible, immortal body. Immortality is a free gift to everyone, even people who make bad choices in life. However, the opportunity to be deeply happy and to live with God is only realized for those who accept Christ. We accept Christ by believing in Him, trusting Him, asking Him to help us, doing our best to obey and follow Him--and persevering in this throughout our lives. An important part of life is the experience of loving, serving, and learning from others in family relationships. One of God's greatest blessings is the chance to be with our families forever. Again, this is possible through Christ's atonement, for those who are willing to accept Him completely. Show more Show less