July 14, 2008

"If I can turn the focus on the Beatles on to Christ's message, then that's what we're here to do."

Said John Lennon — in a newly discovered interview from 1969. He was asked about saying that the Beatles had gotten bigger than Jesus Christ:
“It’s just an expression, meaning the Beatles seem to me to have more influence over youth than Christ,” he said.

“Now I wasn’t saying that was a good idea, ’cos I’m one of Christ’s biggest fans. And if I can turn the focus on the Beatles on to Christ’s message, then that’s what we are here to do.”...

“If the Beatles get on the side of Christ, which they always were, and let people know that, then maybe the churches won’t be full, but there’ll be a lot of Christians dancing in the dance halls,” he said....

“Whatever they celebrate, God and Christ, I don’t think it matters as long as they’re aware of him and his message.”

Lennon... said his dislike of institutional religion had been shaped as a 14-year-old when a “ludicrous” vicar banned him from church after he and his friends were “having the giggles”.

He added: “I wasn’t convinced of the vicar’s sincerity anyway.”
So "Imagine no religion" really means: Imagine life without that humorless vicar.

19 comments:

sonicfrog said...

Well, this is going to piss off a lot of atheists. They just lost Lennon as a card carrying member. But hey, the Christians lost Einstein earlier this year, so I guess it's a wash.

Paddy O. said...

Add Lennon to my list of people too good for the church they experienced during their era.

He reminds me a lot of Bono here.

I'm heartened that movements in the present church (especially the emerging and missional movements) are very much something I think Lennon would resonate with. The church, then, just didn't have room for someone like Lennon, or for most artists/musicians who were really seeking a spirituality and a participation in the holistic mission of God to this world.

Though, I can't help think that Lennon said something flippant in the spur of the moment and then later tried to give meaning to it.

FoBWgal said...

“Whatever they celebrate, God and Christ, I don’t think it matters as long as they’re aware of him and his message.”

John's hit the nail on the head. Religion, 'The Church', vicars, and such, serve a purpose, but are often seen putting themselves before the message.

sean said...

Lots of Christians (maybe starting with Jesus) would join saying, "Imagine a world without rule-bound Pharisaism, but full of the Good News of God's transforming love." If that is what John Lennon meant, then his message wasn't inconsistent with Christian belief.

Memphis Aggie said...

I never saw any outward evidence of Lennon's Christianity. Further the text of Imagine disavows Heaven (and thus any Christian God) as well as the carrying of a personal cross in the Christian sense because there'd be "nothing to kill or die for".

Bono by contrast is overtly and unambiguously Christian.

I would chalk up his comment to Lennon trying to being polite and the common notion that Christ, if not the Son of Man, was a great teacher. Hence you can be a "fan" without being a Christian. Or course maybe he lost his faith somewhere between this quote and Imagine. Hard to know really.

Mr. Humphrey Throttlemeyer said...

Some people are much too enlightened for God.

And, the Bible is just grandiose platitudes, anyway.

ricpic said...

Lennon was the anti-Christ.

Paddy O. said...

I think you're probably right, Memphis.

Though, Bono's own faith crisis was able to land back in faith partially, I think, because of the changing church of this era. There was a place for his spirituality, and an acceptance of the fact his avowed Christianity doesn't exactly have a neat little box to fit in.

Lennon was around when there were much more rigid lines of in and out, and when there wasn't a strong realization of Christian mysticism or practical helps.

john said...

.... and no religion too


(run away screaming again
eithereithereithereithereither)

Thanks for letting me get that out. Back to work now.

Skeptical said...

And, the Bible is just grandiose platitudes, anyway.

That reminds me of the person who criticizes Shakespeare by saying that his work is nice, but "So many quotes!"

Ann Althouse said...

Skeptical said... "''And, the Bible is just grandiose platitudes, anyway.' That reminds me of the person who criticizes Shakespeare by saying that his work is nice, but "So many quotes!""

One time I saw a production of "Hamlet" where the audience kept laughing inappropriately, I think because of the clichés.

SteveR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SteveR said...

Well they did sing "All You Need is Love" which is arguably a more Christian message than "Imagine" is anti-Christian. But I always took Imagine to be more about religion than Christianity anyway.

To the extent he saw there being a difference, he was just expressing something fundamental to my (and many others') belief in a personal relationship with Christ, having nothing to do with some dude with a collar.

paul a'barge said...

Well dang.

I'm a freakin' card carrying political Conservative and a Christian and I have to say that not a day goes by that I don't miss John Lennon.

There is just no doubt that he and his music changed so many of us. And, like change it was mostly for the good.

I just put Revolver and Rubber Soul on my IPod. I think I'm gonna go sit on the front porch and listen to him again.

blake said...

God is a concept
By which we measure our pain

I'll say it again

God is a concept
By which we measure our pain

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in Tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in Mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in Yoga
I don't believe in Kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles

I just believe in me
Yoko and me
That's reality

The dream is over
What can I say?
the dream is Over
Yesterday
I was the Dreamweaver
But now I'm reborn
I was the Walrus
But now I'm John
and so dear friends
you'll just have to carry on
The dream is over

blake said...

And may I say that I love that you can get that song as a ring-tone.

"Express your iconoclastic nature with this primal scream ring tone...."

El Presidente said...

Any chance that these words were scripted for him by some PR guy to try to beat back the controversy over his "bigger than Jesus" comment?

Ann, you say "I think because of the clichés." like that is a bad thing. I doubt they were clichés when he wrote them, they became cliché because of him.

Ann Althouse said...

"I doubt they were clichés when he wrote them, they became cliché because of him."

Yeah, that's my point. Forgot my sledgehammer.

El Presidente said...

Sorry, sometimes I forget how smart you are.