Rock and Roll Chops and Veils of Forgetfulness

July 5, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 5:54 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices,Rock 'n' Roll

I’ve been planning to report on how my gig in San Diego went, but I was sort of looking for an angle. When Jeffrey Giliam questioned the reason we have to go through a veil of forgetfulness when we come to earth in the comments of another post I decided I might try to kill two birds with one stone.

What I didn’t say in my post announcing the gig is that the rehearsal I went to two weeks before the gig did not go well. I had hardly picked up my sax in the 16 months since we moved and I had not done much aggressive singing in that time either. As a result my chops were very rusty. At our rehearsal I blew my voice out before we even got to Jet’s Are You Gonna Be My Girl. My sax chops were embarrassing to me and I wore out quickly on it too. I left the rehearsal a bit worried… Was I too musically out of shape to pull this off?

So in the intervening two weeks I pulled out the horn and sang through all of my songs several times. I started feeling a little more confident but you never know if you are ready until you hit the stage and try busting it out for 4 hours straight.

Happily I discovered that in the moment of truth that it all came back — the voice, the horn, everything. It was a good overall gig for me and I even broke out a screaming version of the Jet song (which we had planned to cut because of my failure at rehearsal). Sure, I could be better (on the sax especially) if I practiced a lot more regularly but I think I was at least at the level I was at in my last gig in February if 2004.

What is the moral of this rock and roll story? Well for one it is that it is a lot easier to re-learn something than it is to learn it the first time. It seems to me that most things are like the proverbial “riding a bike”. Once you learn it you can regain that skill quickly again even when you forget how in the meantime (assuming no dramatic injuries or something, of course).

What does this have to do with the veil we went through between this life and our pre-mortal life? Simply that whatever skills and character traits we developed there are going to come back to us quickly and naturally here. The skills and character traits we have never yet developed throughout the eternities past will take a great deal more work and effort for us to develop. The first time we learn something is always the hardest time.

So if there are certain things that just come naturally to you (especially desirable spiritual traits) I suspect that is because it is a lot easier to regain your chops on those old skills for you than it is for those of us that are still learning how to do it the first time. You probably learned those traits and skills in the eternities past and just needed to relearn them here. But if other traits and skills are hard to come by for you, the beauty of this life is that with hard work we can acquire all sorts of wonderful new traits and talents and intelligence. Why is that such a good thing? Because these traits and skills are the only things we get to take with us.

18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come
(D&C 130:18-19)

Maybe the old saying “you can’t take it with you” ought to have an asterisk… I know I am very pleased I will be able to take my hard-earned skills at rockin’ out to the other side.

(BTW – I put up MP3s of all of the songs for my former band Noisepie at the band Web site. More on that later.)

9 Comments »

  1. Geoff, what a great explaination. I’ve always considered what we learned in the pre-mortal life to be very important. In fact I sometimes feel they may be more important than earth life experiences. I have never considered what I learned in the pre-mortal life as transferring to this life in quite this way. It is logical and best of all it feels good!

    Thanks for the insight.

    Comment by don — July 6, 2005 @ 10:32 am

  2. Thanks Don.

    (BTW — I’ve decided that you are really good at giving compliments. Did you bring that with you or learn that here?)

    Comment by Geoff J — July 6, 2005 @ 11:55 am

  3. How about this for a reason:

    In our MMP’s we do gather a lot of knowledge and the like, but this is not as important as intelligence. (BTW, the section is 130 not 121 for the verses cited.) Anybody with a decent memory (and apparently spirits do have good memories) can merely gather facts, including God. But He needs to do a lot more with it. He needs to synthesize this information into a workable predictive theory.

    E. O. Wilson put it this way:

    Professional-bent students should be helped to understand that in the twenty-first century the world will not be run by those who possess mere information alone. Thanks to science and technology, access to factual knowledge of all kinds is rising exponentially while dropping in unit cost. It is destined to become global and democratic. Soon it will be available everywhere on television and computer screens. What then? The answer is clear: synthesis. We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.

    This is a quote from his “Consilience” which could basically be titled what each person must learn in order to become a God. The knowledge of God is based more on His ability to synthesize information than gather it. It is through synthesis that He can predict the future and plan accordingly. It is through synthesis that real creativity is generated.

    Thus the purpose of each life is to progress spiritually by becoming more intelligent. And what better way to get better at this than be starting from scratch at every birth? Thus the veil becomes an actual blessing for us.

    This may have something to say about the purpose of life as well. It is not necessarily to gather correct knowledge. If God only wanted that He could simply reveal everything Himself. Instead it is to think for ourselves, speculate and synthesize our knowledge to the best of our abilities. This is pretty much the opposite of the typical Mormon position: “that hasn’t been revealed yet.” The point of this life is to practicie using our intelligence, not mindless obedience, in order to facilitate creativity and learning.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — July 6, 2005 @ 2:49 pm

  4. I just got my wife an iPod. I went to the BYU Speeches page and downloaded a couple score of discourses, one of which was On Ways of Knowing by Truman Madsen. He talks about the themes of your post in an epistemilogical framework. Interesting.

    Comment by J. Stapley — July 6, 2005 @ 3:06 pm

  5. …and BTW, cool tunes! Thank you.

    Comment by J. Stapley — July 6, 2005 @ 5:21 pm

  6. Jeffrey: The knowledge of God is based more on His ability to synthesize information than gather it. It is through synthesis that He can predict the future and plan accordingly. It is through synthesis that real creativity is generated.

    Wow. That is some good stuff. I’m still trying to let this one sink in. I think you are really on to something here, though.

    Instead it is to think for ourselves, speculate and synthesize our knowledge to the best of our abilities. This is pretty much the opposite of the typical Mormon position: “that hasn’t been revealed yet.” The point of this life is to practicie using our intelligence… in order to facilitate creativity and learning.

    Of course I like this quote of yours. It is an endorsement of my (and also your) blog. I think it fits well with my point in this post about developing character traits or skills rather than gathering simple facts or knowledge in this life. I think that those fundamental character traits are the important type of intelligence discussed in section 130.

    I am increasing convinced that the Celestial kingdom is not a place but rather a state of being. We are here to become celestial beings not to get a ticket into the celestial theme park. I probably ought to put up a post on that subject…

    Comment by Geoff J — July 7, 2005 @ 4:14 pm

  7. Thanks for the great link, J. Did you notice that many of the quotes in that talk came from 19th century MMP believers? Certainly Madsen knew that factoid… I thought that was an interesting backdrop to his choice of subject and quotes.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 7, 2005 @ 4:41 pm

  8. There you are. I thought my comment, which I thought was somewhat ground breaking (in a very limited sense) was about to go completely unnoticed. I’m going to have to dedicate a few posts to really investigating what this actually does for our doctrines concerning the purpose of life and our freedom of enquiry and speculation.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — July 7, 2005 @ 5:14 pm

  9. BTW, I too have noticed the somewhat intimate relationship our two blogs have with one another, if only in content. We seem almost to be posting in response to one another half of the time. Since this is the case, I will reward you (yeah right) with a well earned, yet rarely granted link in my side bar.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — July 7, 2005 @ 5:17 pm

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