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Hi I'm Mark

I'm a husband and a father, a student and an educator, a magician and a cancer survivor. I'm a skeptic and I'm a Mormon!

About Me

I've always been fascinated by knowledge and learning. The human mind is an amazingly intricate and beautiful thing. It's only been within the last few decades that neurologists and cognitive psychologists have been able to discover how and why we think, decide, and believe. Our brains have evolved to deal with the world in ways that no other animal even comes close to, and for the most part we find great meaning in life. Nevertheless, we make mistakes. More often than not, these mistakes create suffering for ourselves and for others. I consider it both an obligation and a joy to educate others and reduce this suffering. Why do we often feel so certain that what we believe to be true really is? How do we deal with our blind spots and biases? How can we effectively teach and learn from those who disagree? Currently, I'm pursuing these and other questions in my master's program in Educational Psychology. I am also a husband and a father of two wonderful children. I find great meaning and joy within my family relationships, and have great optimism for the next generation. I am a musician, a magician, and a cancer survivor. I enjoy board games, yoga, and reading. Life is short, life is hard, and life is beautiful. As the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes, "I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion." Reality is here and now. All other things are only appendages to it.

Why I am a Mormon

To me, this question is similar to "why am I an American?" I was born in the U.S., learned to speak English, and adopted an American culture. As a citizen, I vote, pay my taxes, and receive certain benefits. Aside from my mission to Bolivia, I've lived here all my life. It's my home. While I was in Bolivia, I realized the U.S. had many strengths and virtues not found in many other countries. Certainly America is not perfect. Americans disagree on political and economic issues. Our leaders are not infallible. Yet we also share core principles and ideals that unite us and improve our lives. In fact, we welcome and celebrate our cultural diversity and heritage. Similarly, I was born into a Mormon family, with Mormon values and traditions. I learned to speak the religious language of Mormonism. As a Mormon, I participate in church callings and try to live in a Christlike way. I am blessed and served by other members, whether it's receiving help when our family moves, or receiving meals when I'm undergoing chemotherapy. I try to give back to others as well. Mormonism is my home. Certainly the Mormon church is not perfect. Though it may not seem so to an outsider, members disagree on many issues--political, historical, and doctrinal. Our leaders are wonderful but imperfect. Yet we also share core principles and ideals that unite us and improve our lives. We too welcome diversity in culture and belief. Our founder, Joseph Smith, taught that "one of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from where it may." Mormons believe in modern revelation: we don't already have all the answers to life's questions, but we can receive more as we humbly seek them out. For me, and for many Mormons, this includes embracing science. It includes eastern meditation, philosophy, and art. As our former President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "bring all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to it." I believe we can. That's why I'm a Mormon.

How I live my faith

Like other religions, Mormonism is primarily focused on social relationships. One of the greatest and most widely recognized strengths of Mormonism is its doctrine that our mortal relationships may, through a divine plan, continue forever. "Families can be together forever," teaches one popular Mormon hymn. We read in the Doctrine and Covenants (part of the Mormon canon) that "that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there" (130:2). When Mormons become baptized, they covenant not only to obey God's commandments, but also to "bear one another's burdens...mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:8-9). Whatever the reality of the afterlife may be, Mormonism successfully encourages its members to forge lasting friendships and to strengthen families. Perhaps because of my background and interests in education, I typically teach children in my local congregations. I love it! The Book of Mormon teaches us to become "as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love," and the description is apt. Children realize they don't already know the answers to all of life's questions, and we have fun exploring these questions together. And yes, I learn just as much from them as they do from me. I have also served a two-year mission in Bolivia. It was a humbling privilege to bring smiles to people whose third-world sorrows are scarcely imaginable by those of us in developed nations. I know that Mormonism, like many other religions, can bring peace and joy to individuals and families.