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Friday, 24 July 2015

The "Imagine" Reality Check: Introduction

   Today I'm beginning a new series of posts I'm calling "The 'Imagine' Reality Check." John Lennon of The Beatles fame voiced the following in his solo offering entitled "Imagine":

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
(emphasis mine)

   This thought that our world would be better off without religion, and more specifically without Christianity, has been echoed by academics and men on the street since the song was released in 1971.  Religious wars, the atrocities of the Crusades and the abuse of Native children at church-run residential schools easily come to mind as negative by-products of religion.  I readily admit that the track record of all those who have carried the name Christian is not stellar.
   Nevertheless, I strongly believe that the positive legacy of Christianity in Europe, North America and beyond reaches farther and wider than most people realize.  Over the coming weeks, I will attempt to show that the kinds of things ALL people value and consider "givens" in Western culture would simply disappear if the late John Lennon's vision were to become a reality.


   Every culture has a way of dealing with those who break its fundamental rules.  The institutional form common in most nations is prison.  In my next post, I will demonstrate that the current system of humane prisons in North America and Western Europe is a direct legacy guided by two prominent individuals inspired by a Christian world view.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Harriette,
    Your post and plans have got me thinking. A few years ago our family visited the site of Lennon's memorial in Central Park. It's basically a rounded mosaic of paving stones, about 1.5 m in diameter, with the word "Imagine" in the centre. People don't walk on it but place flowers on it and sit quietly. I was never a Beatles fan but I did enjoy the quiet time to imagine while sitting there.
    I have a book you might wish to use for your research; it's called "A History of Christianity" by Owen Chadwick. There are many carefully documented accounts of the blessings the church has contributed to millions of people throughout history, and also many accounts of pain and torment and inequality. While it is biased in parts I think it's mostly quiet straightforward, also interesting. I'm finally at the 1970's; Lennon's time; and I am sure that he was aware of the horrible suffering many people went through in Asia, Russia and Central America, when religion was forcibly banned by dictatorships. No religion, as the book shows, meant no teachings, no compassion, no organized education or care for the vulnerable in society. Anyway, that's just a tip of the iceberg of information there. Here's a link if you want to think about it; I can drop off the book tomorrow if you want. https://books.google.ca/books/about/A_History_of_Christianity.html?id=GDBhPQAACAAJ&redir_esc=y

    Another title is a strange little non-fiction story called "Blue Like Jazz;" I bet you've at least heard of it. Krista Herfst lend me her copy; it's like an easy read novel and also has been made into a movie. The book is set in hedonistic university campuses in California in I think the 1980's. If I was compelled to write a comparitive study I might compare it to Hesse's "Siddhartha" as it's one man's search for meaning by living his life in unbridled manners. SPOILER ALERT: The beautiful part is that at the end, the college is hosting a crazy lawless weekend of debauchery. The author, as a joke against Christianity, sets up a confession booth and outfits himself as a priest. What happens is, he begins talking with people who come into the booth (some drunk, etc.), and as the priest, confesses to these disenfranchised and lost souls, the sins the Church has committed in their own past, and which have hurt them. He apologizes and begs forgiveness on behalf of the Church. It's very interesting and made me think of possibilities for true healing in religion/spiritual/personal/family relationships.
    Anyway, thanks for posting and enjoy your research. I look forward to your upcoming progress on the topic.