Music: The Forgotten Language of the Heart (Part 2: The Mind and Heart)
If you missed Part 1, you can find it here: http://maidensmission.zionvision.com/music-the-forgotten-language-of-the-heart/ Part 1 coves the history of music standards in the LDS Church with statements on rock music (soft and hard) and dancing.
D&C 8:2 The Mind and Heart
God communicates with His children in two ways according to scripture. When the Lord taught Oliver Cowdery how to receive revelation, he was perfectly instructed:
I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. (D&C 8:2)
We should ask ourselves, what is the language of the mind? With some reflection, it becomes apparent that the conveying medium of the mind is words. For many of us, English is the medium we use to describe the workings of the mind or that we employ to impart intellectual concepts. All written and spoken languages, mathematics, computer languages, etc. could be considered languages of the mind.
This begs the question, what then is the language of the heart?
What is the heart? The heart is feeling and emotion. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines the heart as “the seat of the affections and passions.”
Elder Gene R. Cook once recounted a conversation he had with rock super-star Mick Jagger. During the conversation, Jagger admitted. “Our music is calculated to drive the kids to sex.” Elder Cook remembered: “He [Mick Jagger] told me the importance, in his view, of freeing up the youth. He felt that they ought to be able to do whatever they wanted in spite of their parents. He said that parents were inhibiting them too much and controlling things and they ought not to be doing that. It was truly astounding to me. He told me that he was thankful the family, as an entity, was being destroyed. And I gathered from what he was saying that he was doing his best to help that along.”
This story only confirmed what I had already been feeling. The lyrics were powerful, yes. But the more subtle foe, the enemy more dangerous because it had not been fully recognized, was the corruption of the music itself. I believe that every feeling, every emotion that can be felt by man, can be expressed through music. This is true for every good and righteous emotion, but it is equally true for every sinful emotion and feeling. Music is not amoral any more than language is amoral. Music is the language of the heart. I began to see, to some degree, the true power of music. It can raise one to the highest heaven or sink one to the lowest hell.
I realized more and more that all rock music, soft, pop, hard, etc. promoted the natural man to a greater or lesser degree. Was this music the adversary’s counterfeit to spiritual communication with the heart?
Ezra Taft Benson re-stated the following in October 1971:
A letter from a concerned father about the evil effects of some popular music is one of many. I quote from this well-informed teacher of youth:
‘Music creates atmosphere. Atmosphere creates environment. Environment influences behavior. What are the mechanics of this process?
Rhythm is the most physical element in music. It is the only element in music that can exist in bodily movement without benefit of sound. A mind dulled by drugs or alcohol can still respond to the beat.
Loudness adds to muddling the mind. Sound magnified to the threshold of pain is of such physical violence as to block the higher processes of thought and reason. (And turning down the volume of this destructive music does not remove the other evils.) …
Repetition to the extreme is another primitive rock device. …
Gyrations, a twin to rock rhythm, are such that even clean hands and a pure heart cannot misinterpret their insinuations …
Darkness [and dimmed lights] is another facet of the rock scene. It is a black mass that deadens the conscience in a mask of anonymity. Identity lost in darkness shrinks from the normal feelings of responsibility.
Strobe lights split the darkness in blinding shafts that reduce resistance like the lights of an interrogator’s third degree or the swinging pendulum of the hypnotist who would control your behavior. …
The whole psychedelic design [this father continues] is a swinging door to drugs, sex, rebellion, and Godlessness. Combined with the screaming obscenities of the lyrics, this mesmerizing music has borne the fruit of filth. Leaders of the rock society readily proclaim their degeneracy.
And the most diabolical deceit of this infamy is that it denies evil to be an absolute. Our religion is one of absolutes and cannot be rationalized into a relativistic philosophy of the ‘liberal Mormons.’ We cannot safely rationalize away righteousness.
What could be more misguided than fear that ‘if rock music were not endorsed by our leaders, we may lose many young people.’ (MIA music committee.) [Note that Elder Benson here corrects or chastises the leaders of one of the general auxiliaries of the Church] Even now we are losing them to the songs of Satan, drugs, sex, riot, and apostasy. We could be well reminded by a message from the Mormon Miracle pageant: ‘Moroni knew that you cannot compromise with evil. If you do, evil always wins.’ (Richard Nibley, excerpts from letter.) . . .
And now a music scholar points to ‘a new direction in the rock-drug culture [which is] hailed by many ministers and the music industry as a silver lining in the clouds of gold. Religious rock is climbing up the ‘Top Ten’ charts. The growing resistance to the rock-drug scene is being diverted by this wholesome-appearing retreat from the new morality. But a review of religious rock materials unmasks an insidiously disguised anti-Christ. By reducing revealed religion to mythology, rock assumes the mantle of righteousness while rejecting the reality of sin. Without sin the new morality can continue in its Godless revel behind the pretense of religious robes. By reversing the roles of Jesus and Judas, one fast-selling album fits perfectly the warning of Isaiah [Isa. 5:20]: ‘Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.’ (Richard Nibley) (“Satan’s Thrust – Youth”, President Ezra Taft Benson, October 1971)
Why then do we find music that clearly violates the instruction of the leadership of the Church permeating nearly every part of our current Church activities and programs? Many have asked this question and been troubled by the irony. Thankfully, President Ezra Taft Benson, who I am sure struggled with this issue himself, gave this timeless counsel.
Sometimes, from behind the pulpit, in our classrooms, in our council meetings, and in our Church publications, we hear, read, or witness things that do not square with the truth. . . . Now, do not let this serve as an excuse for your own wrongdoing. The Lord is letting the wheat and the tares mature before He fully purges the Church. He is also testing you to see if you will be misled. The devil is trying to deceive the very elect.
Let me give you a crucial key to help you avoid being deceived. It is this-learn to keep your eye on the prophet. He is the Lord’s mouthpiece and the only man who can speak for the Lord today. Let his inspired counsel take precedence. Let his inspired words be a basis for evaluating the counsel of all lesser authorities. Then live close to the Spirit so you may know the truth of all things. (Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 134 and An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 317)
The words of our inspired prophets are clear. Music is not amoral. There is good music and there is bad music. Many of the musical elements we have come to accept and embrace, such as the off beat (otherwise known as the back beat or rock beat), repetition, gyrations, loudness, etc.) are destructive. These compromises are a leading cause in the loss of a chosen generation of youth. Why? Music is the language of the heart with an ability to communicate every emotion of which we are capable.