Bear with me while I talk about music for a minute, then I’ll get to the meat – promise.
Years ago, when I was a college boy, a friend invited me to a fireside about music. The place was crowded with young adults – word had gotten out that the speaker had an excellent presentation about the dangers of music, and that Devil Rock n Roll.
I was happy to go. I was a big music fan and knew that there was a lot of music out there that was dangerous for the mind and the spirit. (That has changed – it is worse now.)
The presenter was good, and very passionate about the subject matter. He had a slide show that followed his talk – with slides, mind you, no PowerPoint existed yet.
We moved quickly through the predictable stuff – backwards masking on Beatles albums, satanic messages in Led Zepellin, etc. Stuff I had heard of before.
Then he put two albums on his screen that caught me off guard. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, and Rush, 2112.
I sat up and took notice. He told us how both of these albums contained satanic messages and how the symbols on the covers were occult symbols.
What? I was a big enough rock fan to know that he was completely wrong.
A) Pink Floyd’s album art was a picture of Newton’s Prism – as in Sir Isaac Newton.
B) The pentacle/pentagram on 2112 is a reference to an Ayn Rand story.
And neither album is remotely satanic, occult, or anything but terrific. In fact, anyone who knows Rush knows that their lyrics are not only clean, but brilliant. And classic.
At that point in the fireside, I sat back and listened, knowing that this well-intentioned brother didn’t know what he was talking about. Sure, he was passionate in his cause, but his passion was not supported by the facts.
Years later, Rush released an album called Presto. In the title track there is a lyric that stuck with me since 1989.
Can’t you see
My temperature is rising
I radiate more heat than light.
Heat vs. Light.
A concept I have thought about for years. What is the difference between radiating heat vs. radiating light? Which do I radiate? How are they different?
The best way I can describe my perception of the two is by using two different words.
Heat vs. Light
Passion vs Enlightenment.
The man at the fireside was definitely passionate about his beliefs, but he wasn’t enlightened.
How often do we see this in our lives? Passionate people making a case for what they feel is vitally important – yet completely wrong about what they espouse. We see it in our conversations, in the media, in politics, and a lot on Facebook. People can get very worked up about things that aren’t even real or true.
Our society has adopted the culture that heat is more important than light – or that passion supersedes enlightenment. (Don’t believe me? Turn on any debate-style news program)
But that is backwards.
The idea is to get enlightened first, then get passionate about it.
But that enlightenment is something that cannot be forced upon someone else. It has to be learned and understood – and the harder we try to open the brain of the person we are arguing with,and pour in our viewpoint, the more we move from productive enlightenment, to unproductive passion.
Ini the movie Amadeus, Mozart desperately attempts – almost begging – to convince the Emperor to allow his opera to be performed. The Emperor cooly suggests to him, “You are passionate Mozart, but you do not persuade.”
I remember in the mission field, a good bible bash was always exhilarating, but ultimately unsatisfying. No matter how passionately I tried to disprove someone else’s beliefs, no progress would be made.
Yes, it was wrong, and I would encourage anyone to distance themselves from that way of thinking. Better yet, I’ll let Elder Robert D. Hales enlighten you:
“Paul reminded the Corinthians that his preaching was “not with the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). Because that power resides in the Spirit of the Lord, we must never become contentious when we are discussing our faith. As almost every missionary learns, Bible bashing always drives the Spirit away. The Savior has said, “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me.” (3 Nephi 11:29) (Link to Conference talk here)
I have seen conversations in real life, and online that have descended from an attempt to enlighten to an all out war. Just last night I had a rather intense discussion with a good friend that other people interpreted as a “fight.” If that was how they saw it, then I was in the wrong, and was radiating more heat than light.
We all do it – we argue “in the heat of passion.” But that is where it gets difficult – how do we disagree, or try and help someone understand a different point of view, without chasing the Spirit away?
Because we know that the Spirit hates contention. Here is a quote by Elder Richard G. Scott that I found fascinating:
“The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape, while eating a jalapeño pepper. Both flavors are present, but one overpowers the other. In like manner, strong emotions overcome the delicate promptings of the Holy Spirit.” (Link to Conference talk here.)
The Holy Ghost can be overcome by strong emotions and passion?
About a year ago, I wrote a series of posts making the case that anger is never justifiable. I would like to thank Elder Scott for his support. (Here are the links to the Anger series: One, two, three, & four.)
The influence of the Holy Ghost is not only important in the process of enlightenment, it is vital as well.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.” (D&C 11:13)
That is the role of the Holy Ghost, to enlighten our minds – right? Neither should be limit His influence to just “churchy” stuff. ‘And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5)
–Yes, this topic has the potential to turn into a gigantic post, so I will cut to the chase…
What I am taking away as I write this is the following: If I am trying to “enlighten” someone, and I start getting worked up about it – then the Spirit has left me, and I am making the case by myself.
My passions and emotions get in the way of carrying the Spirit, and communicating spirit to spirit with other people.
So the point of arguing with someone is….?
Help me out here…..
I can’t figure it out – but I do it all the time. I argue with people, I use emotion, passion, manipulation to “enlighten” those who aren’t as “enlightened” as I am. Is that going to stick?
Dave Barry said this:
“I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of respect, they don’t even invite me.”
One last thought: Walk into a cold, dark room. Turn on a space heater and a light.
Which makes the quickest impact?
Which uses less energy?
Some things I need to work on:
• Enlightenment is spiritual, and voluntary. I can’t force people to think like I do – even when I am right.
• If I find myself resorting to passion, or emotion when trying to persuade, I have already lost the battle.
• I need to make sure that the things I share with the world are based on light, not heat. There is a lot of false information out there that people passionately espouse to be true. I must rely on the gift of discernment through the Holy Ghost to help me see what is what.
• I need to recognize when I am radiating more heat than light.
• Sometimes, I need to just smile…and walk away.