Hello and Happy Saturday!
I wish to thank Marie Liane Rioux for her very interesting and informative interview. Thanks so much for sharing with us Marie!
Today we have a new interview so please welcome Thom. Thom is a Mormon and I know you'll enjoy his interview as well!
Here Is Thom's Introduction:
About me. I am 24, living in Japan with my newly wed wife. We are very happy. I am stationed here as a member of the U.S. Air Force. I work as an engine mechanic. It's a very fulfilling job, and hope to do the same when I get out. I spend most of my time either learning to play the drums, and soon the piano, or reading articles on the web. Mostly about religion, science and human relations. I also write articles of my own on my blog. Not many people read it, but it's nice to put my ideas out there, and see what the random person thinks who happens upon them. Oh, also, I am a heavy reader of Manga and watcher of Anime. A lot of people automatically categorize these two mediums as childish and not worth their time, but there are several very good ones, and many lessons can be learned from them. They are not as childish as most think. Not even close. Other than that, I'm just a regular nerd/guy/whatever you want to call it :)
1) What religion do you practice
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, LDS.
2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I was raised in this religion.
3) Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox, conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
Haha, this is a good question. Not really. Either you’re an active member, or you’re not. Well, I guess you could say there are degrees of observance. But only two. People who drink caffeinated beverages, and people who don’t. It’s a matter of interpretation. One of our rules is that you cannot drink coffee or tea. But it does not specify as to why. Some, “Orthodox” members extend this to all caffeinated beverages, as caffeine is the main part of most coffee’s and tea’s. And the others do not extend it. And our leaders have never taken part in the argument, instead leaving it all up to us.
4) Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox, conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
In consistence with the above statement, I am not “Orthodox”. I drink several caffeinated drinks, Dr. Pepper, Mt. Dew. I enjoy these, and don’t see any problem with drinking them.
5) What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
For LDS, there are kind of two afterlife’s. The first is when you die. If you lived a good life, are of the LDS faith, and did all the things required of you, you will go to spirit paradise. Everyone else will go to spirit prison. Now, in this spirit prison, it is not a “prison”, more of a school. Spirits from paradise will go to prison to teach the spirits there. And all who accept the message, and accept Jesus Christ as their savior, so on and so forth, will leave prison and go to paradise. There is a lot more to all of this, but that’s the gist of it. Until the millennium or end of days etc, all spirits will go to one of these two places. At the millennium, at one point or another, all spirits will be resurrected, given immortal bodies of flesh and bone, and then will go before God tobe judged according to their works. Depending on their judgment, they will go to one of three kingdoms of glory. The Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, the Telestial Kingdom, in descending order. There is a fourth place, Outer Darkness, but the possibility of going to outer darkness is infinitesimal, so I wouldn’t worry about that.
6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
Yes, in my opinion, everyone will make into “paradise” per se, because all three of the kingdoms mentioned are kingdoms of glory.
7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
I wouldn’t say that my religion is a good “fit” for me. I would say that I am still in it because of the experiences I’ve had in it, personal experiences I’ve had with God and the Holy Spirit. For me, I have to have concrete proof that something is right. When someone says, “I like this because it fits me” or “I like this because I am comfortable”, I feel like they are wasting their time. Just because it fits you, or it is comfortable, does not mean it is right. It has to be what is right, something that will bring you to your full potential, something that will pull you out of your comfort zone and push into growth. To “fit in” and “be comfortable” is to stagnate.
8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
We celebrate Easter and Christmas as holy days, marking the birth and resurrection of our savior, but for a LDS specific holiday, we celebrate Pioneer Day, the 24th of July, marking the first entrance of LDS members into the Utah valley.
9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Yes. I have many friends who are not of my faith, and we are great friends.
10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Yes, I would, if they requested it of me. I think we should all be open minded enough to want to experience other’s beliefs, with experience comes understanding, and friendship and love. Sounds corny, but that’s what it is.
11) What are your thoughts on the Burqa, and Shariah Law?
I see the Burqa as a religious garment, and should be treated as such. If you believe you should wear it, then wear it with pride, and people should not discriminate against those who do. We have our own garments, and they are of great significance to us. As to Sharia law, I really cannot say much. I do not know very much about Islam, I’m sorry.
12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, imam etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
No. And I feel that that is the right thing because that is what has been revealed to us as the correct way. I wish I could give a better answer, but I do not know the full explanation as to why that is the way it is, and I don’t want to give a false answer.
13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
…..Yes and no. We have three meetings in succession each Sunday. The first hour is Sacrament meeting, where we all meet as a congregation, the next hour we separate, all males who hold the priesthood go to priesthood meeting, all the females of age go to Relief Society, and all female teenagers go to Young Womens, and the male teenagers go to Young Mens, and the children go to primary. The last hour is Sunday School, where each respective age group is combined. All the adults in one class, and the teenagers in one etc. But, during any one of these meetings, one could go to any of the others if they wished, there are no rules saying “You will go to this meeting”. That’s just the way it’s handled. The order is also different from area to area, that is not set out either.
14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
It does not have a large effect in day to day living, other than because of it I try to live and treat others well.
15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
That would disappoint me, but I would fully respect and support my child. No one should ever make important decisions just to please or appease others.
16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? i.e. who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
I would have to point to our prophet and general authorities. They speak for us, and I agree with them wholeheartedly. They are prophets, seers and revelators, receiving God's word for us.
18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
Yes. All of it, the beliefs and practices in this life, the rewards and life after this one, being able to be with my wife and family. Wonderful.
21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
No. When you die you will go to the spirit kingdom, into its respective area for you, and will wait there until the Judgment day.