The music of the gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost. It brings a change of heart.
I love the anecdotal story of the doctor and the medicine man and dancing. The conclusion, I think is poignant:
Then the doctor asked, “Could you teach me to dance?”
The old man’s response has for many years caused me much reflection. “I can teach you to dance,” he said, “but you have to hear the music.”
I think a lot of the talks at the April 2015 General Conference about marriage and family as rebuttals to the Homosexual Marriage issue could be summed up as old men, unwilling to hear the other side’s music. It’s a great metaphor for not just going through the motions, but actually comprehending the depth of the action.
I’ve been engaged in martial arts for a number of years. When one learns martial arts, one first learns the rough motions, then learns to make them smoother, but at some point the hum and rhythm of what one is doing snaps and one can “hear the music” of the move. I’ve learned enough to know that this happens over and over again as one learns more martial arts. Moments of sudden deeper realization of the underlying intent of moves are astounding and important. I think this concept is incredibly important and I’m happy to hear it in General Conference.
So often LDS leaders encourage individuals to just go through the motions or try to discourage a deeper understanding by asking “Is that pertinent to your salvation?” on questions people have. These thought-stopping actions prevent people from “hearing the music” to the dance.
The other thing that is relevant with martial arts is trust of the teacher. If you trust the Sifu, Lao Sher, or Master then one can get to hear the music. If teachers are not trusted, one is not going to be able to hear the music even if it is there. Many of the questions people have involve trust of leadership in the church and that is very pertinent to hearing the music. If your Kung Fu or Karate teacher is molesting female students, you may not want to “hear” his or her music.
In section 8 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord taught Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, “Yea, behold, 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” (verse 2).
The issue with this idea of being “music for a dance” is that this same set of instructions can be shown to convince people of things that are not true.
The dance steps of the gospel are the things we do; the music of the gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost.
Is it? Can we prove that the Holy Ghost is responsible for “the music”? For example, if a person who truly believes feels they should kill a person, would we accept that they were guided by the “music of the Gospel”? Nephi did in cutting off Laban’s head, but so did Ron and Dan Lafferty (Under the Banner of Heaven). Was it different music?
When Apostles publish talks that are filled with logical fallacies or bigotted comments about race or sexual orientation, is that the “Music of the Gospel”? Many talks discuss how hard it is to tell emotional impact from the Holy Ghost, so how can one be sure?
And what about HeartSell(TM), the method the LDS church trademarked for manipulating individuals emotions that it was selling to other churches. You might notice that link goes to an Archive.org page, because after I published about Heartsell(TM) on this blog and on Reddit, the page was edited to its current version removing much of the questionable content.
If your church has a method to sell you false music, and they will sell it to other churches, it’s going to be hard to trust the leadership enough to not just go through the motions. The LDS faith needs to commit to not playing the notes on the organ at the conference center that cannot be heard, only felt. They need to remove the use of subliminal messaging in their videos. They need to be honest about the impact of telling a lie frequently to one’s self and how that can impact a testimony.
Otherwise, one could very well never “hear the music” of the gospel or perhaps, hear a different music that might push one away from the LDS Church that was true music unimpacted by deceptive music imposed upon members.