"Imagine" a Love so Real

As John Lennon’s birthday recently passed, a few articles have floated my way via email. Chuck Colson’s piece wondering if Lennon was an unwitting prophet, while including Beatles titles within his text was a fun read.

Mark Shea, who dislikes the song “Imagine” published a lengthy response to an “Imagine” lover was also interesting and fun.

My own thoughts on “Imagine” are currently up at Patheos, and while I don’t know if they’re fun, I hope you’ll find them interesting – I look at it from the perspective of love, social duty and the greatest deconstruction of all:

Social duty helps to structure society, but is not love. It cannot replace love. But when love has begun to feel theoretical, rather than experiential, social duty can seem like the reasonable facsimile.

It is easy to imagine love; in our imaginations love can be anything we want it to be. The reality of love is much more difficult; it is risky to let in, terrifying to release into the trust and care of others. If we are not learning love from our families, we will not learn it through social deconstruction. Primal scream therapies and blanket-suffocating “rebirthing therapies” — celebrated as breakthrough treatments in the past — did not manage to fix what has been broken.

There is only one effective deconstruction and it is born out of love; it is before our eyes daily, in the Divine Liturgy and the Sacrifice of the Mass, in the Holy Eucharist and the Crucifix, where we see the ultimate Agent of Deconstruction rendering all things, all times, all peoples, all pain, all deceit, all betrayal, all poverty, all shame, all hate to himself, whereupon they were defeated.

The means of victory — his own body — is broken and shared among us, and all things are resurrected, made new, in a love of such depths and surety it cannot be humanly comprehended.

You can read it all here.

Also, don’t miss Pat Gohn, and God, outside the box.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Anne B.

    I always hated that song. Glad to see Mark Shea smack it down.

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  • pam

    Someone tried to use the words to “Imagine” without paying royalties (I can’t remember who it was) and Yoko Ono sued (as is her right.) I guess Yoko Ono had trouble imagining a world without possesions.

  • Elaine S.

    Although I couldn’t disagree more with the lyrics of “Imagine,” I can’t help but like it anyway, probably because of the melody. Plus, I see it as expressing the longing we all have for an un-fallen world.

    If there were no original sin, there would be “no hell below us” (because no one would go there), there would be no need for countries or governments; and there might not even be any need for “religion” in the sense of consciously having to adhere to a moral code (being good would come naturally). Then there would truly be “nothing to kill or die for”.

    Of course, where Lennon went wrong is in thinking that such a world could be created by purely human effort. But ultimately I think he was trying to “Imagine” a world without sin, even if he himself didn’t realize it.

  • Margaret

    Here is what John Lennon’s colleague, Paul McCartney had to say about this:

    “Somebody said to me, ”But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.” That’s a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say, ”Now, let’s write a swimming pool.””

  • http://breadhere.blogspot.com Fran Rossi Szypylczyn

    I happened upon this and left a comment over at Patheos, but will repost it here. Few are likely to agree with me, but so be it.

    From Patheos:
    Interestingly enough, I heard Imagine last night and heard it in an different way. I had no idea that you had this post up over here, I found it when I stopped by The Anchoress today.

    For what it is worth, when I heard it last night, what I heard was an image of the Kingdom we hope for. There won’t be heaven up above because we will be in it. At least that is one interpretation that hit me about 12 hours ago.

    The context for me was that a Catholic friend posted it a few weeks back and took some real grief for it.

    Elizabeth, I hear what you are saying about the nihilism, but I’m not sure that I can agree. Isn’t hope, at some level at least, about (pardon my use of the word) imagining such things? I could be wrong, just my two cents.

    The song is in general neither fish nor fowl to me. I like it well enough but I have not attached much thought or feeling to it over the years.

    Normally I would not have even commented, but given the timing of my thought and the discovery of this post, has me doing so.

    [An interesting perspective, Fran. Perhaps I have been so long thinking of the nihilism that I missed the heavenly vibe! :-) -admin]

  • http://minoroutside.blogspot.com cminor

    While taking different approaches, you and Mr. Shea have succeeded in thoroughly addressing what is wrong with the song “Imagine” and the worldview it promotes.

    Though I’m with you in that it is a pretty, and catchy, tune. Deliberately so, no doubt.

  • http://minoroutside.blogspot.com cminor

    @ Margaret:
    Don’t forget that retroactively-popular Tea Party anthem, “Tax Man!” No possessions, my eye.

  • http://paragraphfarmer.blogspot.com/ Patrick

    From February of this year, but applicable still:

  • Joseph

    I never understood how Catholics, or any other religious people, could hold the song in such high esteem, apart for the melody. What part of “Imagine there’s no Heaven…” do they not understand?