Owing to the fact that I am LDS - meaning I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - and having a testimony, by the Holy Spirit, that this church is true, is the living Christ's living church, and that there is no way to return to our God but by the principles and ordinances administered therein, I would exhort any who come to this page to investigate these claims for yourselves. Below are links to resources I think you'll find helpful in this. The sources are all produced by either the church or its members. You may wonder whether you can get an accurate picture of things this way, but consider this: would I be able to get an accurate sense of who you are, as a person, if I enquired about you to those who hate you? Most non-Mormon writings about the Mormon church are written by those who are actively seeking its demise - either by professional clergy who wish to maintain their paid profession, selling a vague semblance or feel-good version of the Word to allay the guilt of the hearer, or ex-members with an axe to grind. If you have training in critical reading and are willing and able to put their claims to the test of rigorous scholarship, then by all means, read their work. However, doing so will bring you no nearer to the truth contained in what I link to below. Only reading, studying, pondering, the exercise of a particle of faith, and prayer with real intent (meaning that you will act if given an answer from God) will ultimately convince you that the below is true and from God Himself.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
- Our scriptures - The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine & Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price
- General Conference (going back to 1971, where we hear twice yearly from our Prophet and Apostles and others)
- More general conference (going all the way back to 1899)
- Bible Videos
- Our current magazines
- Our various historical magazines and newspapers
- Adult study courses (mainly for college-aged students)
- Journal of Discourses - Talks as recorded by stenographers during the early years of the church
- Writings of Joseph Smith
- Church History Library
- Encyclopedia of Mormonism
- Scripture citation index - find where any scripture was referenced by a church leader from several sources of talks
- Scholarly papers and publications
- Study Resources from the BYU Studies web site - be sure to click on 'Study Resources'
- BYU's Religious Studies ... and ... their library (older books have complete content online)
- GospelDoctrine.com - a collection of commentary by a church member which focuses on quotations from church leaders [note the resources link for further resources]
- A list of interesting topics and references compiled by a BYU professor. Of particular note are the topics of Calling and Election, Evolution, Constitution.
One of the claims of our church which many find incredible is our claim of divine authority, meaning that our church is actually run by Jesus Christ, Himself, and that he has delegated his priesthood to the prophet/president of our church. The prophet, in turn, delegates and ordains others. All of us can trace a 'line of authority' directly to the Savior. I am presently ordained to the office of "Elder".
- Ryan C. Constantine was ordained an Elder in November 22, 1992 by Brad W. Constantine
- Brad W. Constantine was ordained a High Priest September 17, 1978 by Evan Max Blair
- Evan Max Blair was ordained a High Priest July 10, 1955 by Elmo Raymond Smith
- Elmo Raymond Smith was ordained a High Priest September 26, 1943 by Nicholas G. Smith
- Nicholas G. Smith was ordained a High Priest August 1, 1921 by Rudger Clawson
- Rudger Clawson was ordained an Apostle October 10, 1898 by Lorenzo Snow
- Lorenzo Snow was ordained an Apostle February 12, 1849 by Heber C. Kimball
- Heber C. Kimball was ordained an Apostle February 14, 1835 under the hands of The Three Witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris
- The Three Witnesses were called by revelation to choose the Twelve Apostles and on February 14, 1835, were "blessed by the laying on of hands of the Presidency." Joseph Smith Jr., Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, to ordain the Twelve Apostles. (History of the Church, Vol 2, pp 187-188)
- Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdery received the Melchizedek Priesthood in 1829 under the hands of Peter, James and John
- Peter, James and John were ordained Apostles by the Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:16)
Find attached a few talks that I gave recently.
Considering the slow and methodical erosion of the liberties granted to us and ensured by the U.S. Constitution by its neglect and intentional misinterpretation and misrepresentation, it behooves every good citizen to learn the principles upon which the Constitution is framed and the circumstances which lead to its creation and those which threaten its very existence. The following are some good links to explore.
- Library of Congress
- Hillsdale College Online Classes (free) - really awesome courses!
- Constitution Reader
- Hillsdale College YouTube Videos
- National Center for Constitutional Studies
- Online Library of Liberty
For several years now, I have been interested in, and have been studying various topics related to self-sufficiency. Among them has been food - growing, storing, and preparing it. In terms of growing food, I have been most impressed with the topic or methodology of what is called Permaculture. I would encourage you to look into it as it can be done on any scale, from small urban backyards (and even apartment balconies) to hundreds of acres of farmland. The methods are all-natural and attempt to mimic processes found in forests and other ecologies, but at a more accelerated rate and with more deliberate plant selection to maximize diversity, sustainability, and yield. In a large enough yard, plants and small animals work together with the outputs of one item providing the inputs that another needs. In this way, a permaculture garden or farm can almost totally become a closed system. This saves money, time, and resources and especially with an unstable economy like we have today, just makes sense. If every yard in America replaced their ornamental greenery for useful, organic, non-gmo plants, food prices would be low, our nutrition would be sky-high, and the nation would spend far less on transporting foods around the world. Additionally, we would each enjoy a bit more freedom and independence in that we would have skills that are largely unknown and unused today, and also that if or when a crisis were to shut down transportation locally or nationally, we would not have suffer for a reliance on the supermarket.
Check these resources out:
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoff_Lawton - he makes excellent videos
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holzer_Permaculture - Sepp also has some amazing videos
There are a lot of books available, but I will list a few I think most useful to the suburban gardener:
- Gaia's Garden
- Mini-Farming Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre
- Great Garden Companions
- Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control
I feel that Gaia's Garden is a really good, concise treatment of Permaculture and any other books you read should be checked against the methods found in this volume. For example, the other three books I list are not strictly permaculture-oriented, so if there are contradictions, you should go with the permaculture way. Note, however, that permaculture is not one method of doing things, but more of a way to look at things, and decide what to do. Permaculture practitioners may disagree from time to time and you will need to decide between several methods or techniques based on your own situation. If you can, locate a local permaculture group that knows your climate and the plants and methods that work best.
One last comment: permaculture is designed to be used anywhere in any climate. It has made good efforts at reclaiming lands lost to desertification. Lush, green gardens have been built in Arizona, New Mexico, Jordan, other parts of the Middle East, Africa, etc. Each site has unique challenges, but most challenges offer unique design opportunities and successes.
What are you waiting for?
It has come to my attention that most of those who use computers are unaware that there are many, many free programs that are comparable to those you pay good money for. There are several kinds of free software. Some are watered-down versions of commercial software. Others are just-as-good-as-commercial. Some are lame. Some are developed by a single individual, some by a closed group or company. Others are created by a large and vibrant community that you too could join. Below are examples of both 'free' and 'free and open (open source)' programs.
I use many open source programs.
- Instead of Microsoft Office, I use LibreOffice.
- Instead of Microsoft Media Center, I use MediaPortal.
- Instead of Photoshop, I use GIMP.
- I also use Scribus.
- For file compression and archiving, I use 7-zip.
- For video and audio playback I use both VLC and Media Player Classic.
- For my web sites, I use Drupal.
- For quick text document editing when I don't need LibreOffice, I use Notepad++.
- To split and merge PDFs, I use PDF Split and Merge.
- For software development, I use Eclipse.
- For software versioning, I use Mercurial and TortoiseHg.
Free, but not open source.
- For comic and PDF reading on my PC, I use Comic Rack.
- For searching my PC, I use WinGrep.
- For screen shots, I use Screen Hunter.
- To print almost ANYTHING as a PDF, I use Bullzip's PDF Printer.
- To make Windows act like I want it to, I use Emerge Desktop and RocketDock.
- To manage my multi-monitor setup at work, I use Display Fusion.