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Hi I'm Burke

I'm a software tester and a seeker of truth. I'm a Latter-day Saint, or Mormon.

About Me

I am a seeker of truth, of that which enlivens the soul, of that which stimulates the intellect. I graduated college in humanities but I am an engineer at heart. I enjoy music, language, literature, art, science, technology, nature, cuisine, and so forth. In life and according to the fable, I identify more with the tortoise than the hare. I married my sweetheart, my best friend, in the temple, and we have one son. After renting a couple places, we bought a home (i.e. we are in bondage to home loan debt [thanks to the powers that shouldn't be (but that's the way it is in our increasingly imperfect world)]). While I have previously lived and prefer to live close to my job, many factors about where we live do help to compensate for having to commute. I work in SQA, or software quality assurance. I enjoy mountain biking; listening to music, especially certain genres of jazz, fusion, progressive rock, and classical; playing acoustic drums; reading, mainly non-fiction, particularly religious and scientific works; and as a computer techie, I take opportunities to help people with their computer problems.

Why I am a Mormon

The short answer to why I am a Mormon is because of my testimony; the long answer is how I obtained my testimony. When I was a child, I had experiences that prepared me to join the Church. I chose to be baptized when I felt ready. But in my early teens, due to fear and pride, I took a hiatus from my faith. In my early 20s, my beliefs were challenged by "New Age" concepts. It all began with the film adaptation of an autobiography wherein the author is introduced to a fascinating book that is purportedly history about Atlantis and concerns Christ, Eastern thought, and Mt. Shasta, which I had lived near. I obtained and read this book. In it, a claim that Christians who believe the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, or Mormons, are "deluded" perplexed me, for I knew otherwise, and this seemed to contradict the thrust of the book. These incongruities ignited in me a search for truth. I searched New Age literature but I found only confusion and darkness. I also searched the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other LDS scripture, but I discerned in them light and truth, which touched my soul. I discussed these things with family, old friends, and new friends, and others online. I prayed to know what was true and my prayers were answered. I learned by the Holy Ghost that deception exists as well as absolute truth and that the scriptures are true. My search reconfirmed that I already had what I was searching for, so I returned to my faith and have never looked back.

How I live my faith

My faith is my way of life, not merely a tradition under a label. I strive to give my all in living it. I actively seek to be and to do better. I take opportunities to help others however I may. I share with others my understanding and experiences, and I also observe and listen to others, hoping to learn from them. I served a full-time two-year mission at age 24 in a portion of Canada to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. In attending and participating in the Church and its activities, I have served in a variety of callings, or volunteer service positions. This was especially true in and for a while after college, when I moved much more often. Now, in living and serving among families, there is a new range of opportunities to serve. The gospel of Christ and His Church has continually provided me an abundance of enriching experiences, the fruits having come only by living the faith and living by faith.

Why do some call Mormonism a cult?

Common usage of the word "cult" labels a group of worshipers and their worship system as sinister. Those who misunderstand Mormonism call it a "cult" to evoke fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Mormonism is the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored through The Prophet Joseph Smith. The Gospel includes covenants to obey the commandments of God. Covenants are made through sacred ordinances, ceremonies, or rites, such as baptism, which symbolize the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Some may call Mormonism a "cult" because Gospel ordinances are received by only those who are faithful, worthy, and prepared. Consider that Jesus explained parables not to the multitude but to His closest disciples, who asked him "Why speakest thou unto [the multitude] in parables? He answered and said unto [His disciples], Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to [the multitude] it is not given" (Matt. 13:10-11). Each person understands Gospel truths not all at once but "precept upon precept" (Isa. 28:10). Those who honestly want to learn about Mormonism will not give in to fear tactics, which may be used by a family member, a friend, an ecclesiastical leader, a professor, or media sources. Honest seekers will go to the source--to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its authorities, its scriptures, its faithful members, its worship services. Ultimately, they will do something, living Gospel principles and praying to know the truth for themselves. Show more Show less

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

The cosmos. The universe is governed by law, yet the elements are naturally in a state of chaos. To create, God commands the elements to organize and they obey. This is how order emerges from chaos, from the elements to the vast creations of space as well as to life. Traditions. As the family tree of languages points to a common origin, so do similarities in religious traditions point to a common origin in the Gospel because prophets have taught the Gospel from the beginning. Although apostasy eventually occurs, nuggets of truth have remained in traditions all over the world. Those with a knowledge of the Gospel whenever it has been restored throughout history, such as through the Prophet Joseph Smith, can recognize truths from prior dispensations in surviving traditions. Witnesses. Ministrations from God are for our salvation and are confirmed by two or three witnesses or more, establishing testimony. Some examples: 1. The Godhead comprises three witnesses, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost. 2. The Holy Ghost manifests truth to two witnesses, the mind and the heart. 3. God the Father and The Holy Ghost witnessed the baptism of Jesus, The Son, by John the Baptist. 4. The Father and The Son visited Joseph Smith in his First Vision. 5. Four visitations of the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith were four witnesses of the same message. 6. Joseph Smith, Three Witnesses, and Eight Witnesses testify of the Book of Mormon. Show more Show less

Why did your church previously practice plural marriage (polygamy)?

Marriage is ordained of God. His standard is monogamy between one man and one woman unless He commands otherwise. God has commanded men throughout history, including in Bible times, to receive plural wives. The term polygamy is commonly used to describe plural marriage, but the term polygyny is more accurate. A husband is married to more than one wife through the direction of the prophet and the authority of the priesthood. We are to receive every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, who is the prophet, the president of the Church, the senior apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth. The prophet receives revelation from God for the Church and for the world. In this way is every doctrine and practice of the Church established by revelation, including marriage. Although the Lord revealed the doctrine of plural wives to Joseph Smith early on and commanded him to live it, Joseph delayed. The Lord commanded Joseph to live this law, as well as a minority of others, or else face dire consequences. This law was lived more extensively after the Saints gathered to Utah. In 1890, the Lord revealed to President Wilford Woodruff that this law was no longer to be taught, or else dire consequences would result in the Church. The institution of this law through Joseph Smith and the later discontinuance through Wilford Woodruff was challenging to some but the faithful followed the prophet. Show more Show less

Are Mormons Christians?

That Jesus Christ is the core of all we believe, do, and are is evident from the name of the Church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is His Church and we are followers of His Gospel in the latter days, prior to His Second Coming. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is central to the Gospel and the Church. The Atonement is His suffering for sin and death in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross of Calvary, as well as His resurrection to a perfected and glorified body. If we keep the commandments of God with faith in the Atonement, we can return to the presence of God. We believe the testaments of Jesus Christ in scripture, which includes the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other ancient and modern scriptures. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Creator, the Savior and Redeemer from sin and death, the Judge of all. We strive to live Christ-like lives by following His teachings as recorded in scripture and testified by His authorized servants. However, some people consider that to be a Christian requires believing in a creed, or a statement of belief that does not align with scripture. Creeds were created centuries after the apostles of the New Testament were martyred, priesthood authority had been taken, and The Church of Jesus Christ was gone. But in our day, the Restoration of the Gospel through The Prophet Joseph Smith has brought us living prophets and apostles, as in New Testament times, who teach the Gospel in its purity. Show more Show less

Who chooses the Mormon prophet?

Jesus Christ is the head of His Church. He chooses His Prophets and Apostles. The Prophet is the chief Apostle and the president of the Church. Peter was the Prophet in New Testament times. Joseph Smith was the first Prophet in our day. At the death of the Prophet, the next senior Apostle becomes his successor. The Apostles of New Testament times were martyred, and with them, the apostolic authority required to lead the Church was taken from the earth. In our day, this authority was restored to Joseph Smith. After the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young became the Prophet. From Joseph Smith to Brigham Young and to each successive president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an unbroken chain of authority from Jesus Christ. Show more Show less

Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?

We worship God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not worship Joseph Smith, but we do revere him. This is because it was through Joseph Smith that God restored the gospel in our day. We likewise revere all of God's prophets and apostles, their teachings, and their exemplary lives. While all prophets deserve great respect, there is in every era a prophet or prophets who the people of God have particular regard. These include the heads of dispensations, or periods when the gospel is dispensed anew, or restored. A restoration occurs after a period of apostasy, or rebellion, including when the prophets or apostles are killed. The heads of dispensations include Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and Joseph Smith, who is the head of our dispensation, the last dispensation before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ chose Peter and other apostles to lead His Church in New Testament times. This is why Peter and his fellow apostles are also highly regarded. However, when these apostles were martyred, there was nobody remaining who had the authority to lead The Church of Jesus Christ. That is, until God began a new dispensation and chose apostles again. To begin a new dispensation, Jesus Christ restored His Church through Joseph Smith. However, Joseph Smith was also martyred, as were many prophets and apostles anciently. But this time, other apostles remained, beginning with Brigham Young, who had the authority to lead the Church. Show more Show less

Where did Mormonism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints begin?

To understand the origin of Mormonism requires an understanding that we lived before we were born and that God calls prophets to teach His children how to return to Him through the Son of God. In our pre-Earth life, God chose Jesus Christ to be our Redeemer. Throughout history, God has chosen prophets and apostles to teach His laws, the gospel of Christ. While some people believe the prophets and are faithful, many rebel, reject the gospel, or kill the prophets. In time, God calls prophets again to restore the gospel. In New Testament times, the prophecies about eminent rebellion in the Church were fulfilled. Then, without authority, churches with only partially correct teachings emerged. In 1820, a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith knew that God did not author the confusion evident among religions. Joseph knew there could be only one church authorized by God, so he went to a grove near his home to pray to know which church was right. In answer to Joseph's prayer, God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. The risen Lord told Joseph that His Church was no longer on earth. God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet, to translate the Book of Mormon, and to restore The Church of Jesus Christ in these, the latter days, prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Today, the gospel is also known as Mormonism because of the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon confirms and corrects previous understanding of the gospel. Show more Show less

Are there restrictions based on race or color concerning who can join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have the priesthood?

God wants all of His children to return to Him and to become like Him. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints welcomes all people and all worthy males may receive the priesthood. All people are of the same race, children of God, who has commanded us to love one another. However, some people choose to treat others based on differences, such as skin color or national heritage. God's dealings with His children are according to His perfect love. But some people wonder whether God has been partial throughout history as to whom He has authorized or restricted the conferral of His priesthood. God chooses according to His perfect knowledge who He wants to have His priesthood. From Adam until Moses, the priesthood was conferred from father to son. But Cannan, son of Ham, disqualified his descendants from the priesthood. Moses conferred priesthood authority upon Aaron but this priesthood was restricted to the Levites. Jesus Christ conferred the priesthood upon His Apostles but teaching the gospel was restricted to Israelites. Then Peter received the revelation to teach all nations. After the Restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith, all worthy males received the priesthood. Starting in 1852, black males of African descent, understood as descendants of Canaan, were restricted from the priesthood. Then, on June 1, 1978, Spencer W. Kimball received the revelation that all worthy males may receive the priesthood (See http://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood). Show more Show less

Can you tell me about Mormon customs: how you dress for church, what holidays you celebrate, etc.?

Customs of members of the Church include attending church every Sunday, serving in volunteer church callings, participating in church-related activities, observing holidays, and celebrating family events and achievements, such as birthdays, marriages, anniversaries, and graduations. Because of the Church's health law, the "Word of Wisdom," harmful or addictive substances such as alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco are not part of their lifestyle and celebrations. On Sunday, they worship the Lord by attending church wearing their "Sunday best," strengthening their relationships with God and family, serving others, and doing other meaningful activities. Sunday is their Sabbath, or day of rest from all other pursuits, such as shopping, recreation, entertainment, and employment where possible. Church members regard the birth, life, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ as the most important events of history, so they focus on Christ at Christmas and Easter. During Christmas, they give gifts, spend time with family, and reflect on the events surrounding the birth of Christ. However, they regard Jesus' birth not as having occurred on any traditional "Christmas Day," but in the spring, sometime in March or April. Monday night is "Family Home Evening," a time they spend with family, teaching each other the gospel and having fun together. Members of the Church also invite friends to events, shake hands or hug when greeting, and refer to each other as "brother" or "sister." Show more Show less

Why is authority to perform a baptism important?

God wants all of His children to return to Him, so He chooses prophets and apostles and confers upon them His priesthood, or the authority to act in His name. Priesthood holders perform ordinances through which we covenant with God. Through these covenants, God offers us blessings that are otherwise not available. We must remain faithful to our covenants to merit the blessings. The greatest blessing God offers His children is returning to His presence. Baptism is the first priesthood ordinance we receive, the first covenant we make, toward returning to God. Priesthood ordinances are performed exactly as He has revealed them to His prophets. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, baptism is performed by immersion, as it was anciently. The English word 'baptize' comes from a Greek word meaning 'to immerse.' God has not authorized any other form of baptism. John the Baptist went to a certain body of water to baptize "because there was much water there" (John 3:23). God's house is a house of order. Those who do not have the priesthood may sincerely desire to help others return to God, but desire alone does not give them authority to act in His name. While God is pleased with our good desires and when we help others, He recognizes baptisms and other priesthood ordinances performed only by those who are authorized to perform them. Show more Show less

Why don’t women hold the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How do Mormon women lead in the Church?

Through His prophets, the Lord directs His Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Men and women have different yet complementary roles in the Church. Although men hold the priesthood, women also lead, teach, and serve in many capacities. The Relief Society, organized by the Prophet Joseph Smith to help those in need, consists solely of women, and has become perhaps the largest organization of women on earth. The organization of the Relief Society is patterned after priesthood quorums, in that there are presidencies, instructors, and other service positions, from the general to every local level. Regardless of where or how they serve, men and women serve together in furthering the work of the Lord. Women and men receive the same priesthood ordinances, through which they covenant with God. In the temple, men administer all priesthood ordinances, but women also administer some ordinances of the priesthood to women, even though priesthood is not conferred upon them. Also in the temple, a husband and wife covenant together with God in marriage. The highest degree of salvation in the Kingdom of God, exaltation, is available only to a husband and wife. Holding the priesthood is not what saves, but keeping covenants. Women are therefore integral to the priesthood. Show more Show less