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Zion Is Art...The Artist's Creative Pose

Updated: Mar 16

 

“Let Zion in her beauty rise; Her light begins to shine.” —Hymns, no. 41


All things denote there is a God (Alma 30:44). This is true for the mira­cles created on earth—from the wind, water, trees, birds, to the galax­ies and the rotations of the heavens—and it is true for our efforts to mirror God’s creations. The arts were foreordained to draw us to Zion. Enoch himself was the first “great artificer” pointing others skyward with art. (The First Book of the Secrets of Enoch, Chpt. I verse 1, in The Forgotten Books of Eden, translated by Rutherford H. Platt Jr., 1926.) Anything that invites us to honor our divine heritage or communicates divine purpose is art. This can include the traditional forms of art—music, dance, painting, literature, architecture—or the non-traditional—science, invention, and medicine. All of these speak of creation.

 

As children of the Creators, we all yearn to make, create, invent, manifest good, and be a part of God’s creation. Participating in the act of creation, even if flawed, awakens us. It allows us to connect with our heavenly parents and follow their lead. By embracing our own creative thoughts, hopes, and passions, we are receiving His word and are reminded of our true selves. This is one way we can shake off the dust of the Fall, thin the veil, and receive Christ in our lives. The act of creation itself can awaken us to our relationship with Christ and allow us to hear His song of redemption and creative love within us.

 

I have often envisioned the revelation of creation as someone standing on a high mountain, arms outstretched, fingers reaching, yearning to connect with heaven—awaiting a shaft of heavenly light like a bolt of inspirational lightning to course through them and con­nect heaven and earth. This is the pure creator’s pose—humbly yet faithfully reaching for heaven.

 

 

What are we reaching for? Truth, light, virtue – spiritual energy itself. Our hearts long for the beauty of heaven – of before. We sense and know that we can receive something more than what is here below. Spirit is matter with substance, existence, and weight. It is as real as anything we can pick up and feel today, only finer. It continues to exist even after death. We cannot see it now because it is too pure for our natural eyes. But we can feel it with our hearts, the creative seats of our souls, which serve as a divine connection point between the temporal and spiritual worlds.

 

This harmony between spiritual and physical matter is the power to enjoy and control both sides of existence, like being able to perceive and understand both sides of the same coin. In our Western mindset, it is very common to discount miracles, and spiritual realities. But as we awake to the reality that we are dual beings, spirit and flesh, learning to unify our hearts and minds, we will be complete. Once we are restored in Christ, our physical bodies will receive the extended enjoyment of the physical body we now possess, only quickened by the timeless spiritual powers previously known to us before we came to Earth.

 

Through Christ, we can be quickened, in both flesh and spirit – free to move across the universe with ease like lightning; capable of visiting any event in history or into the future to enjoy the full beauty of Christ’s creations and come to know Him better (John 17:3 – for eternal life is knowing God and His son Jesus Christ). As we purify our hearts and join Christ in His creations, the Lord will help our hearts, the creative seats of our souls, become creative thrones. We will be able to travel on the spiritual light still radiating in the universe, and visit where He walked in Jerusalem, peer into the beauty of the Garden of Eden, or witness the glory of the dawn of Creation, “like the light of the morning,” and “see it as it existed spiritually, for it was created first spiritually and spiritually it remains.” (Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses 14:227, 231a–231b, “Our Present Life, Etc.” (citing Moses 3:5); see also D&C 131:7).

 

We can also begin to see what has been created spiritually that we have yet to manifest, and peer into the future like the prophets of old and today. We can grab hold of that spiritual matter through obedi­ence to and partnership with Christ and bring it into existence physi­cally—like reeling in lightning from the heavens to the earth through a rod of meekness. When such creations are manifest, they land with thunderous clarity and vibrate with eternal truth, witnessing of God’s purpose and love to all.

 

Artistic creations remind us that God reigns, that He created the earth for our growth, and that He has paved our path home with His own blood—yearning for us to receive of His height and glory. As we learn to obey His celestial laws—the chief law being loving God and loving others as ourselves in unity—we awaken, as if struck and purified by celestial lightning that fills our system with light. (D&C 105:1–3) When filled with this light and love, we can channel the power to create in His name and electrify others with the grandeur, power, and glory of God.

 

To truly create, we must bow to the truth that all things lovely, noble, of good report, or praiseworthy spring from our heavenly par­ents of all creation and their Son, the Creator of the earth. True art points us to Him, to heaven, to home. When we engage in creation with Him, we become conduits of the Spirit and reveal, manifest, and uncover His glory and our own. We reveal our premortal gifts each of us was born to manifest to help gather Zion in Christ.

 

In opposition to this transcendent glory is the celestial coun­terfeit of the World (aka Babylon) the whore sacrificed on the altar of the father of lies. Those who offer their gifts to self-glorify, to detract from Christ, and to tread His creations under foot. The fallen world peddles these false creations. Satan convinces many to sell their creative forces for Babylon’s broken imitations, neatly wrapped in the brass and glitter of Hollywood and Broadway and the spectacles of worldly performance. But, we are not meant for telestial brass; we are meant for celestial gold.

 

We create to awaken others to heaven above, not entice them to wallow in the fallen dust of earth below. Any of us who have sought fulfillment on the world’s stages of vanity will one day remember we all were made for celestial theaters of creation, and that the emotion, drama, and applause we seek in the stories of Babylon are tinkling brass compared to the golden songs of Zion.

 

John Taylor taught we are meant to build “cities fit to be caught up—that when Zion descends from above Zion will also ascend from beneath…” (citing D&C 84:99) He declared, “Zion’s people will excel in literature, in science… the arts and in manufactures… as never… before… [until] when the Lord's purposes are carried out, we shall have the most magnificent buildings, the most pleasant and beautiful gardens, the most healthy and the most intellectual people”

 

Imagine that future world full of art, science, literature, architecture, theater, and music so glorious, so brilliant, it is almost blinding. This is Zion. This is our home. Such a future was seen by ancient prophets from Adam, Enoch, Seth, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Paul, John, and Joseph Smith. It exists spiritually and it will manifest physically as we turn our hearts and minds to heaven and as we listen to the angels inviting us to join in the dance of creation.

 

Taylor further prophesied that the coming Zion would capture up the finest gifts and talents of the world. Namely, “if there is anything great, noble, dignified, exalted, anything pure or holy, or virtuous, or lovely, anything that is calculated to exalt or ennoble the human mind, to dignify and elevate the people, it will be found among the people of the Saints of the Most High God.” (John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses 10:147b (citing Joseph Smith Translation, Gen. 9:21; Moses 7:27) emphasis added). He declared that Zion would require arts, sciences, and manufactur­ers gleaned from the wisdom of the world but inspired by the wisdom of heaven such that Zion will be filled with such glory, light, and lift until they will be “caught up” when Christ returns with Enoch’s Zion above. Id.

 

Hold this potential in your mind’s eye. Your Zion-worthy cre­ations await. They already exist spiritually, and as we build Zion in our hearts, in our families, and in our communities here and now, our communal obedience to celestial law will create such radiance and joy that we will be unable to stop ourselves from rising to meet Enoch’s city above as it appears in the heavens with Christ. Together, we will build Zions after the order of Enoch’s Zion, as we “answer to the Zion within” us. (Joseph Young, “Enoch and His City,” p. 12, Sen. Salt Lake City Utah, Printed at the Deseret News Steam Printing Establishment, 1878.)  This foreordained potential rests inside each of us, wait­ing to be unlocked and set free.

 

This was not new to John Taylor. Joseph Smith taught “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object… The time is soon coming, when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 160–61.) Similarly, Brigham Young taught, “We have no business here other than to build up and establish the Zion of God . . . after that pattern and order by which Enoch built up and perfected the former-day Zion, which was taken away to heaven. Zion “will come back again, andas Enoch prepared his people to be worthy of translation, so we, through our faithfulness, must prepare ourselves to meet Zion from above when it shall return to earth, and to abide the brightness and glory of its coming.” (Brigham Young, DBY, 443 (citing Moses 7:69)).

 

In other words, Zion is the only potential path to peace.

 

Christ will use Zion to “unite the Heavenly Priesthood with the Earthly” and bring about His great purposes and establish eternal peace. (Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith p. 514-515). This will occur until Zion will “bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the Earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family.” No wonder the devil rages against Zion, and darkens hearts until they fail, and pursue hatred and war. Soft hearts can hear Christ, and pure hearts come from following Christ.

 

Likewise, it is hearts that create all art, and it is united and pure hearts that have and will create Zion. This path to Zion began in Enoch’s heart. Then, with faith and repentance on Christ, it rose in the hearts of others—others who built a community, where the people eventually were of “one heart and one mind [with] no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18). These included those “who love[d] the Lord their God and their neighbor as themselves.” (Mark 12:30–31). They became one in mind, united as the “pure in heart.” (D&C 97:21).

 

The unity of hearts and minds in Enoch’s Zion enabled the creatin of a city fit for Heaven. Their unity allowed the continual presence of Christ until it became philosophically impossible for them to stay on this earth. They were imbued with the spirit so richly and deeply they created heaven all around them until they were caught up to the presence of their maker. Superficially, Joseph Smith taught that Enoch, his “people, the city, and the foundations of the Earth on which it stood, had partaken of so much of the immortal elements, bestowed upon them by God through the teachings of Enoch, that it became philosophically impossible for them to remain any longer on the Earth.” (Enoch and His City by Joseph Young, p. 12, Sen. Salt Lake City Utah, Printed at the Deseret News Steam Printing Establishment, 1878).

 

Since the rise of Enoch’s Zion, later Zions have been gathering and rising and continue to do so like blossoms of purity coalescing and then extending sky­ward. (John Taylor, “The Work of God, Etc.,” Journal of Discourses 23:235, noting “there have been Zions before.”). The Lord has been harvesting souls from the earth, lifting the righteous into His heavens in communal joy as each community blooms as flowers fit for heaven. What creation inside you is crying out to be created, so it might blossom skyward? What gifts were you given to add to the glory of Zion and fill you with joy?  Such gifts contain foreordained power, and are designed to point our eyes, ears, and hearts to God and remind us of the unity of Zion here below.

 

In other words, true art fosters unity and awakens our divine senses; especially when the art was created spiritually before it was manifest physically.  History is full of such examples of artists pointing to a collective before. Such manifestations of light and beauty call us to Christ and His Zion. Here are just a few choice examples:

 

Michelangelo, the master whose sculptures and paintings have inspired other artists for centuries, acknowledged that things were created spiritually before they manifest physically. He is recorded as saying “I saw the angel in the marble and carved, until I set him free. The sculpture is already complete within the marble block before I start my work. It is already there. I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” Fueled by his ability to make foreordained masterpieces come to life, he later said, “Many believe—and I believe—that I have been designated for this work by God.”

 


Florence Peterson Hansen, a prolific sculptor known for life-size creations, after being devastated by four miscarriages, focused her creative aching into the “clay babies” she molded with her fingers. She felt the gift of sculpting rise-up inside her as if inspired by the Lord himself. “I have never had anything come so easy.” She explained. “Every artist knows when it happens to them because it just takes place before you.” (Phone interview with Chad Hansen regarding Florence Petersen Hansen, October 20, 2020.)  

 




George Fredric Handel himself noted that when he wrote “Handel’s Messiah,” it was as if he were possessed from something he had created before. He is quoted as saying, “Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it, I know not. God knows.” (Dana Taylor https://supernalliving.com/2012/12/24/legend-of-the-angelic-inspiration-of-handels-messiah/ ).  A prior stroke had paralyzed his right hand, and he had blurred vision. He could only barely play a keyboard or conduct musicians. Yet, caught up in an urgent need to make manifest those creative forces within, he talked of having visions and is quoted as saying, “I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God Himself seated on His throne, with his Company of Angels.” With this vision, despite the difficulties of age and disability, in only twenty-four days (id.) he composed a fully orchestrated testimony singing of the prophecies of Christ’s coming, His life, and His eventual triumph over evil and death.

 



John Philip Sousa had a similar experience with the Stars and Stripes, which he wrote while at sea. He stated, “Suddenly, I began to sense a rhythmic beat of a band playing within my brain. Throughout the whole tense voyage, that imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes, echoing and re-echoing the most distinct melody. . . . When we reached shore, I set down the measures that my brain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed” as if the music had already been written. (“Marching Along,” Recollections of Men, Women and Music, January 1, 1928)  

 


Winston Churchill, who used speech and literature to inspire the world to defend freedom against the tyranny of Hitler, also recog­nized a foreordained purpose and used his talents to rally others to truth. On May 10, 1940, the day Germany invaded Western Europe and Churchill assumed control of the English forces, he wrote, “As I went to bed at about three a.m., I was conscious of a profound feel­ing of relief. At last, I had authority to give direction over this whole sea, and I felt as though I were walking with destiny, that my past life had been but a preparation for this hour, for this trial . . . I was sure I would not fail.” (Sterling W. Sill, “Motivations,” BYU address, https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/sterling-w-sill/motivations/).

 



Yongsung Kim, a current-day artist, paints beautiful paintings of Christ walking on water. I met him in 2019 at Swiss Days in Midway, Utah. While I was there, a woman said to me, “Can you believe he paints all these pictures of Christ, and he’s actually an atheist?” I was startled. I had heard the opposite, that he believed Christ taught him to paint, which is one of the many reasons I was so drawn to his paintings. After I disagreed, she said, “Well, why don’t you ask him.” With that challenge, I did.

 

In the bustle of the Midway Swiss Days Fair, I asked him about God’s involvement in his art. After he understood my request from his translator, he grabbed me by the shirt and stared intently into my eyes, as if searching for some­thing. Then, without waiting for his translator he said, “God shows me to paint each painting. Each one.” It was a marvelous experience, and now I know firsthand he also believes in Christ, and trusts Christ has a foreordained path of creation in which he can follow Christ’s lead and rejoice. Some have criticized Yongsung’s paintings of Christ for showing too much emotion but staring back into his eyes as he testified to me of his belief in Christ, I felt he too had felt a portion of Christ’s own joy and sorrow.


I believe Yongsung hears Christ’s voice and paints the divine whisperings to his soul to manifest art already he had cre­ated spiritually. Our own personal restoration will involve us being restored to the gifts we developed before, including those we were prevented from sorrow that Christ feels. I believe Yongsung hears Christ’s voice and paints the divine whisperings to manifest art already cre­ated spiritually.



Many other artists sense the divinity within themselves of prior creation. I felt much of this book had already been written, and I struggled to receive it from the heavens. Likewise, author Alan Bradley, who wrote “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie,” noted he “discovered characters” while writing them. (Bradley, “Introduction,” The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery.)  One author referred to this creative state as a “higher realm.” (Steven Pressfield, War of Art, p. 103)


Another author noted he believed our intentions create the real­ity that we experience. These words came as he described his creative journey to write a book about physics, although he had never stud­ied physics and had no apparent mathematical aptitude. Despite his lack of prior experience, he knew his book “Dancing Woo Li Masters” would be published and well received. He wrote, “I did not need to have faith in these things. I knew them. I could see them.” (Gary Zukav, “Introduction,” Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics, p. xxvii).

 

Pure art gives thanks for and points to our foreordained and coming glory. When pursued to awaken souls, art is a celestial conduit that pierces the veil. It sings to our hearts, ears, and eyes of divine purpose, reminding us of our time with our heavenly parents, their plans for us, and the promise of the Atonement of their Son, Jesus Christ.

 

The scriptures often speak of how an experience is so profound that it cannot be spoken of or described with words of man. Such will be the song, art, dance, speech, and beauty of Zion. Zion’s art transcends simple letters as symbols of emotion and truth. When empowered by the spirit of God within us, such art speaks to us, gracing all our senses, awakening our eyes, ears, and hearts to the creative harmony of eternity.

 

One day through Christ’s Atonement we will be bathed in the glory and light of truth so fully that we will be able to hear the songs of Zion vibrating in our hearts, minds, and souls. It will be the per­fect day when we are finally filled with light purified, edified, lifted home to our heavenly parents, and to eternal fire. (D&C 50:24). Despite our trials in life, we will look back fondly on this earth life as a “minor fall,” necessary for “a major lift,” and sing hallelujah as we enjoy a full personal resonating restoration in Christ. (Leonard Cohen, “Hallelujah,” song, Passport Records, 1984).  


Our own personal restoration will involve us being restored to the gifts we developed before, including those we were prevented from enjoying because of sin and darkness here below. This restoration will be an awakening in the Atonement of Jesus Christ to the callings, talents, and missions we accepted and cherished before coming to earth. It occurs as we discover the relationships we had before, and the promises we made to help each other return home—as Zion.

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