Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Imagine no religion: John Lennon, the occult, and post-Christian culture

Carl Eric Scott, "Carl’s Rock Songbook, No. 106, John Lennon, 'Imagine No Religion'" (National Review, May 21, 2015), offers a read, as one correspondent suggests, that is "long, hard to read, and perhaps brilliant." Really. This is a pretty amazing tour-de-force for an online article. In it you learn about John Lennon's brief flirtation with Christianity, his re-immersion into the occult with Yoko Ono, and a whole lot more, all the while accompanied by the thoughtful musings of the author. Like this:
Such a thesis would still predict the more intellectual types abandoning religion as the world modernizes, but would also predict that the less educated masses remain “religious,” by serially entertaining diverse spiritual teachings, as in the days of the pre-Christian Roman Empire. This eclecticism could show up on surveys as a wide belief in “religion,” but this would be misleading if thought about in the old way. For the heretical religiosity of the many would join the secularism of the elite upon precisely one point: defensive opposition to the truth-claims of orthodox Biblical religion, and to the slightest hints of government, corporate, or associational respect being given them. Additionally, this adjusted thesis would regard it as perfectly predictable that the “Great Disruptions” of the 60s and their aftermath, and particularly in the area of sexual relations, would provoke a counter-reactive revival of traditional Judeo-Christian faith for a generation or so. However, the newer generations of those who lost connection with orthodox religion would find ways to live without it, and, to more practically live with the new personal freedom. The latter pattern would be in marked contrast to the wild experiments undertaken by the original revolutionary generation. So in the aggregate sense, the population would return to the overall modern trajectory of decreasing belief in Biblical religion after the 80s/90s plateau, or apparent reversal. It was also predictable that the new personal freedom would license and encourage a greater exploration of religions and religious practices that had never been collectively authoritative—either by law or by common opinion–in America and Europe. The champions of my posited adjusted secularization thesis would admit that the new personal freedom has lead to a lot of “bad religion” of the individualistic and crudely-thinking sort that Douthat describes, but would claim that much of this is pretty harmless and unserious.


Amateur Brain Surgeon


Alert observers have noted that a few particularly dogmatic progressives, such as Frank Bruni of the New York Times, have recently endorsed the idea that Christians “must be made to take homosexuality off the sin list.”

The famous AntiChristic sodomite is just echoing Bonnie and Clyde who demanded the law take bank robbery off its crime list.

Seriously, what is one to make of these subversive and salacious sodomites who have liberated their own selves from the Universal Objective Moral Code while demanding everyone else adhere to all of it?

If they can claim their status as sexual deviants means they no longer have to adhere to the universal objective moral code (UOMC) , by what moral right can them claim that ABS can not discriminate against them?

When sexual deviants exempted themselves from the Universal Objective Moral Code, they forfeited all rights to demand others adhere to any other part of that UOMC; only sissies take these persons seriously.

Pertinacious Papist


Well put. Who are we to decide that 'X' must be "taken off the sin list"? I think that list has been pretty well engraved into the legacy of our Judeo-Christian history, not to mention into the two stone tablets of Moses. Thanks!

Robert Allen


The photograph of Lennon on that album cover ought to be put in the dictionary next to joyless. A very serious man indeed. In contrast to:

“Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!” Belloc

Pertinacious Papist


Dr. Allen, I've often thought since my youth that the older John Lennon got, the more ideological and depressed (and depressing) he got. Even his ebullient fascination with the ashrams of India and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi anticipated all that. His intellectual curiosity itself was perhaps admirable to a point, and the author of this piece does his best, I think, to offer a sympathetic view of him, also to a point. But in the end, he's just one more paper thin, etiolated lost soul.