Yesterday I taught Lesson 23 “Seek Learning, Even by Study and Also by Faith” in my ward’s gospel doctrine class. This is a new calling for me and only my second week teaching so it was a little shaky in places, but overall went well. It helped that it’s a topic that falls within my (rather extensive) stable of hobbyhorses. I ended the class with the following (possibly erroneous) claim:
We only take three (positive) things with us to the next life:
- The Christ-like attributes we have developed
- The relationships we have forged
- The knowledge/wisdom we have gained
I’m wondering now what that means for our creative work. Certainly, in whatever ways our creative work feed into (or detract from) the list above, it has an impact on the next life. But what about the work itself? What, especially, if it’s writing, which can transcend the limitations of the temporal and physical confinement of our mortal existence? I mean: all the stories are somewhere in our heads (with other versions in the heads of our readers).
We are told in Alma 5 that if we don’t repent, we will at the final judgement have “a perfect remembrance of all [our] wickedness”. If that’s possible, is it also possible that we will be able to access the memory of all of our stories?
I’m not actually looking for an answer. I don’t think it’s something we can know. But I suspect that we take our stories with us into the next life. And I’m wondering what that means for the work we do here and now.
10 thoughts on “Do we take our creative work with us when we die?”
To this we could add the question of whether or not it will be easier to produce creative work in the millennium. I’d like to think that Nephi Anderson’s vision of the artist in the millennium is possible.
As Latter-day Saints, we believe that the hereafter is a studio of the gods. It is the ultimate creative experience. Perhaps what creative work we do here–at least creative literary work–will be a kind of oral tradition there, as the works of Homer were for the Greeks. I don’t know if there will be libraries as we know them in the C.K., but it could be that godly omniscience provides its bearers with a kind of Kindle of the Mind: the brain, having acquired a full knowledge of things, has full access to all that has been written and thought in the world. Creative work, in this sense, will be shared communally, perhaps after it has been freely consecrated to the general pool of knowledge.
I like that, Scott. Some of my works may pollute the pool, but perhaps I will need to repent of it. Or perhaps I can find a way to sanctify it.
I think we will be surprised what does and does not pollute the pool. Maybe with higher intelligence comes a better understanding of what is and what is not “appropriate,” to use a Mormon colloquialism.
Right. What will artists do if they can’t take the easy route of cheap and easy inappropriateness? It’ll be a purifying process for both the artist and the reader/viewer/listener.
I also wonder if the Celestial Kingdom will have a banned books list–and, if so, what will be on it.
There’s no banned books list, just a “very sad books” list. Because when the trial of this life is done, what once might have been tempting is just tragic.
And kinda silly.
When I think about my own work, the most significant moments seem to be when my writing becomes part of a relationship with others. Stories are one of the main materials relationships are forged out of.
“There’s no banned books list, just a ‘very sad books’ list. Because when the trial of this life is done, what once might have been tempting is just tragic.”
And this way agency is preserved.
Here’s something once said on the AML List I’ve never forgotten:
“Art is that over which beings with perfect knowledge can still have divergent viewpoints.” (D. Michael Martindale)