Jul 21, 2010

The Gospel is like a diverse music collection.

I have to apologize that it's been so long since my last update. The Gospel has been like all sorts of things in the past couple months, but I keep forgetting to write down the bizarre metaphors I hear. Also, life has been busy this summer and I haven't been blogging very consistently, until recently when I saw a film that blew my mind and I had to talk about it.

However, one metaphor from church has stood out to me. This was a few weeks ago. We were talking about continued revelation and how in Latter-Day Saint theology, we believe in an open canon (as opposed to the closed canon we see in most mainstream Christianity). This means that we believe the Bible to be the word of God, but we also believe that God had more to say, to other people (the Book of Mormon), and also in more recent times (the Doctrine and Covenants, etc).

A man raised his hand to comment and briefly shared with us his thoughts on how the Bible is like classical music, and "it's wonderful, but who wants to listen to classical all day? There is so much more variety available now." A few of the guys sitting around me cringed at the implications of this statement, which made me glad I wasn't the only one.

He stopped just barely short of naming specific genres and attributing them to specific canonical works or to dispensations, but I am sure he has the whole system mapped out in his mind. Let's step into his mind, Inception-style. He probably thinks something like this...

Classical music: Okay, this is the boring old stuff with all the violins, right? Totally Old Testament. Often slow and repetitive, with occasional bursts of violent crescendo. To fully appreciate it, it requires a really nerdy attention to detail and understanding of historical context - not to mention a long attention span. Also, classical music, like the Old Testament, sets precedence for basically everything else that follows it, but is widely ignored for so doing, and is considered outdated.

60's rock music:
This is the New Testament. Shorter than the Old, more to-the-point, and the style is almost completely different. Plus, it's all about peace and love and whatnot. Not to mention that both 60's rock and the New Testament endeavor to answer all sorts of age-old questions - like the meaning of happiness.

Progressive Rock:
A frenetic, inherently groundbreaking, and undefinable style, progressive rock is kind of like the Book of Mormon. It is defined by the fact that it takes conventional rock music and moves it - progresses it - in a new direction. Prog-rock and the Book of Mormon have got a little bit of everything: sometimes chaotic and intense, sometimes soulful and haunting, sometimes inspirational and empowering. Since the Book was written by many different authors with very different stories, it's like an ultimate mix-tape of progressive greats: some chapters remind me of Pink Floyd, some of Radiohead, some of The Mars Volta. You name it, it's in there.

This is the music that makes your car's subwoofer go BOOM, and it's very awesome, but when you show it to your friends, they're only impressed for a few moments before you lose their attention. "There are no words," they say with a shrug; "I just don't get it." And that's kind of like the Pearl of Great Price. It's not easily accessible by any means, but there's depth and brilliance in there that, when paid attention to, can blow your mind.

Country Music:
Some people can't stand this stuff. It feels repetitive and useless to them, because they're city folk and can't really relate to the cultural contexts from which it springs. But every now and then, a song will get famous that they'll say, "okay, fine I hate all country EXCEPT for that one song about feelin' like a woman." And this is why country music is like the Doctrine and Covenants. Most people don't read it cover-to-cover because it bores them, but there are a few passages that everyone knows and loves. Speaking of things everyone loves...

Pop Music: This is a genre defined by the masses. Pop songs play on Top 40 charts and everyone knows them, regardless of personal tastes, because let's face it, they're usually undeniably catchy. It's hard not to sing along. Thus pop music is just like General Conference: it's easy to understand and relate to, and most people love it. Of course, now and then a critical listener will bemoan what they call superficiality: they wish that General Authorities would start talking about more theologically and intellectually challenging subjects, and that "Party in the U.S.A." would stop playing on the radio. But one thing we can't forget is that pop music needs to be simple and accessible to appeal to the masses, just like the General Authorities need to keep their topics simple and accessible when speaking to a worldwide audience. That's why we call them General Authorities. Also, just because something is catchy doesn't mean it's without merit: Eminem and Rhianna's duet "Love The Way You Lie" is incredibly well-written and it's topping the charts. Maybe, because it's rap, it's more hard-hitting and brutal than most popular music, but hey, everyone needs a Bruce R. McConkie sermon once in a while, right?


Joey said...


Anonymous said...

thank you for this. a well thought out and frighteningly true metaphor.

digitalwei said...

Christopher, you keep us thinking in new ways as allweis. Keep it up!

Miss Taylor said...

Dear Chris, Your blog is as ridiculous as ever :)