Saturday, September 17, 2011

Imagine God and Country

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try…

It was the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and we were at church. The service was moving and memorable. Then the minister announced that the next song would be John Lennon’s Imagine, and added that he was very glad it was chosen. I wondered why?

In the book Lennon in America, by Geoffrey Giuliano, Lennon himself explained that Imagine was “anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic, but because it's sugar-coated, it's accepted.” Imagine is commonly referred to as the “atheist’s anthem.” So why sing such a song in church? Why, especially, on a day of national sorrow? Have we somehow misplaced our moral compasses?

The next day I read about a research study by eminent Notre Dame sociology professor Christian Smith. The study asked about the moral lives of young people 18 - 23 years of age, and the results are depressing. (“If it Feels Right,” David Brooks, New York Times, 9/12/11)

When asked about wrong or evil, they could generally agree that rape and murder are wrong. But, aside from these extreme cases, moral thinking didn’t enter the picture, even when considering things like drunken driving, cheating in school or cheating on a partner. The default position is that moral choices are just a matter of individual taste. The study revealed an atmosphere of extreme moral individualism -- of moral relativism and nonjudgmentalism.

Imagine all the people
Living for today

When there is no God or Heaven, living for today seems like a reasonable ethics.

For decades, thinkers in many disciplines have warned about the erosion of a shared moral framework. Alaisdair MacIntyre argues that the disintegration began during the Enlightenment with the rejection of Aristotle’s teleological idea -- that human life had a proper end, and that human beings could not reach this natural end without preparation. Throughout history, society has served to provide this preparation through the family, the church, school and the state. The group was seen to be the essential moral unit. Religion defined rules and practices, families imposed moral discipline and schools supported the families. Now, however, we are told that it does not matter what we believe as long as we follow our hearts -- the individual as the essential moral unit.

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

The founders of our great country firmly believed that God was the foundation of virtue and that “respect for His authority, mediated by the authority of parents, was the foundation of godly character.” The public schools were established with the goal of reinforcing this parental obligation to mold moral citizens.

Somehow, through machinations known only to the intellectual soul, the “Men in Black” decided that religion needed to be banished from the public square. Thus teachers were left toothless in their battle with the child’s instinctive willfulness. Now there are movements afoot to banish the Pledge of Allegiance from the schools as well. Heaven help us if the courts get to decide.

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

Imagine, indeed! Every time the sharing all the world crowd has taken control of a society or nation the result has been violence and widespread destitution. The forces that are trying to transform this country into a Lennonesque utopia must be resisted, or we will inherit the culture we deserve, and it won’t be pretty.


Barzun, Jacques, The Culture We Deserve
Bloom, Allan, The Closing of the American Mind
Bork, Robert, Slouching Toward Gomorrah
Himmelfarb, Gertrude, The De-Moralization of Society
Hunter, James, The Death of Character
Levin, Mark, Men in Black
MacIntyre, Alasdair, After Virtue


Anonymous Ray said...

No Heaven, no countries, no religion, no posessions, no greed or hunger. Living for today. Ahh, Utopia.

Sharing the fruits of whose labor?

Sounds like utter chaos to me. I've never liked that song. Of course I live in Realville.

Is your minister on some of that medical marijuana?

Another great post Bill.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved it. Will print it out and give to Jewel. She's been dying to know more about Lennon's song lyrics. Must remember print those out for her too...


3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BRAVO Bill!!!!!! IMAGINE!!!! WOW could not stop reading!!!! Every post was Wonderful!!! Thank you so much for being there. I am going to forward to some friends back east if is ok. Some are Libs but they need to read this, Not only Imagine but all of it.BRAVO!!!!!!


3:19 PM  

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