And No Religion, Too?
When I was a child, John Lennon’s song “Imagine” was very popular. He is asking people to imagine Utopia, a world in which all is well with everyone, a planet engulfed in world peace. It’s the kind of world that Christian’s anticipate in the restored earth—only without Christians.
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.
Can I attempt to translate with my own verse?
Imagine all that exists doesn’t;
And all that doesn’t does.
Imagine all that was wasn’t,
And all that wasn’t was.
That’s some imagination, but I really don’t see the point. And I’ve always wondered if Lennon had in mind a world without the Eastern religion that he practiced, or just other religions?
This kind of sloppy sentiment seems to have regained popularity. I recently saw Brad Pitt being interviewed. Some people in New Orleans are wearing T-shirts that say “Brad Pitt for Mayor.” Asked about this, Pitt replied, “I don’t have a chance. I’m running on the gay marriage, no religion, legalization and taxation of marijuana platform.”
Can I just ask what Pitt dislikes about religion? Is it all those nasty people moved by their faith to contribute to rebuilding the Gulf Coast? While I was there (doing my part in Jesus’ name), I encountered a local man who was furious with the news coverage. He was seething with frustration and anger toward governmental agencies who, like Hurricane Katrina, blew in, blew out, and did a whole lot of damage in between. He pointed to a man in a yellow ball cap, and said, “You want to know who’s rebuilding this place? It’s those churches. They came before the storm hit, they stayed while it was here, and they haven’t left since. That’s the real story that no one seems to be talking about.” Does Pitt really want no religion, or does that drivel just sound cool?
Last night I was channel-surfing when I noticed that Jesse Jackson had a program on one of the religious networks. I know curiosity killed the cat and all that, but I just couldn’t help myself. I had to watch. Jackson was leading a panel discussion on race relations that included two university officials. One said that one of the most difficult aspects of her job was to work for social equity while still balancing First Amendment rights. Puzzled by what she meant, Jackson asked her to give an example. She explained that the university wanted to encourage students to speak openly about issues such as race relations and sexual orientation, but from time to time, there were “those religious students” who want to “take advantage” of the tolerant environment and “proselytize” other students, which “should not be allowed because it leads to violence.” Everyone around the table nodded blithely, so I guess that made sense to them.
Can I just point out the lunacy, not to mention the sheer hypocrisy, of encouraging students to speak about anything and everything except their faith? Would it ever dawn on any of these mushy intellectuals that the First Amendment doesn’t need to be “balanced” but simply enforced? After all, it’s that pesky First Amendment that guarantees both freedom of speech and religion. Would it even occur to them that if you “allow” speech on some subject but not on others, you have no freedom of speech?
This thought that religion leads to violence seems to be en vogue. Can I make it through a single week without hearing someone blather on about religion being the cause of war?
Can I just point out that the United States has never, not one time in her history, been moved to war by religion, but that every war we have fought has been over politics? Can I note that there are and have been nations whose policies either banned or severely hampered religion, and those have been the most oppressive, brutal regimes in modern history? Can’t you just outlaw politics and leave my religion alone?
Religion is putting into practice what one believes. That’s why you don’t “believe” a religion, you “practice” a religion. Do you really think it’s possible to make people act in a way that doesn’t accord with their beliefs? Would that be Utopia? Or hell?