JOHN LENNON & YOKO ONO: DOUBLE FANTASY STRIPPED DOWN - Remastered Review
"10:10 2020" - TOMORROW IN FITZROY - 11.10.2020

JOHN LENNON, JESUS AND ME

Lennon

October 9. It’s always the day before my birthday! In recent times I celebrate the birth of Uganda, a nation that I have given my heart to. Uganda is 364 days younger than me. Since I was 15 it has also been John Lennon’s birthday… and his son Sean’s. This year Lennon would have been 83.

If John Lennon was alive today. I often ponder that. What would he be singing about? What would he think about America, Trump, Black Lives Matter, Coronavirus, the environment, social media, Israel/Palestine? Would he and Yoko have made it another 40 years together? At least Sean and Julian would have their dad.

Who knows? As Sean Ono Lennon said, in a recent radio special that he hosted, his dad was always changing. 40 years of changes is hard to imagine, to use a word synonymous with the man!

Let me instead surmise John Lennon’s place in my life. It is complicated. 

Lennon in my teens was literally a Christ figure. The Beatles hit my summer of 1976 with a transformational force. I swapped a few  old singles for 4 old Beatles records, Please Please Me, A Hard Days Night, Beatles For Sale and Help! It changed my life in every possible way. 44 years later and they are still my go to band. I have every record, I read every book and wear every t-shirt!

It was more than musical. I was 15 and my life was ready for a few questions. I was ready to start observing the world and dreaming of how it could be. The Beatles in general and, in the first few years, Lennon in particular opened up the world for me. All You Need Is Love to Give Peace A Chance and Power To The People. Something was forming in my soul.

I remember a Balloon Debate at School. I was a debater. No idea where that came from. I was the footballer and golfer who was into The Beatles. The debating society didn’t seem that cool but I was in the middle of it from my first year at Ballymena Academy. All my preaching skills started right there. 

Balloon debates were great fun. About six or eight of us were in a balloon that needed to discard seven of its passengers to avoid a crash and we had to give the audience a reason to vote for us to remain. One year I choose John Lennon’s idea of a Utopian state as my argument to be kept in. Don’t think I got ONE vote. It was vacuous. 

It wasn’t losing that debate but within a year I was following Jesus. When I look back it seems obvious to me that Jesus was a spiritual John Lennon. I replaced one for the other. Malcolm and Alwyn, Christian singers of the time said, “I used to worship John Lennon and he’s dead, now I worship Jesus and he’s alive!” It's a tad cold and harsh but for me too John Lennon was first and then along came Jesus. 

For me Jesus was asking all the same questions as John Lennon but where Lennon had no substance to the imagining, Jesus did. Jesus was not only critiquing but he had this power to make change both inside me and across a wider society. That is the radical Jesus I have followed ever since.

Of course that changed my view of the world and John Lennon. I was now looking at Lennon through Jesus glasses! Over the next couple of decades I started seeing all the flaws and Lennon’s ability amidst his humour and charisma to make fun of the afflicted, hurt people and leave a wife, a son and three best friends behind for his own selfish ideas. There were many other things that disturbed me.

He was still a Beatle and therefore I was still reading books about him and would have phases in his music but I had lost my love for his work.

Then Ray Connolly’s biography gave me a new perspective and my Jesus glasses began to see him as “a sheep without a shepherd”. I began to understand his frailties. He was rejected by his parents and then he lost his mother in a car accident. My pastoral heart began to see his brokenness. I understood his foibles. I could reset my views on his work.

The bottom line is that if John had had been given an untainted picture of Jesus I think he would have loved him. Forgive us for the bad PR we do for the radical Nazerene. Jesus was imagining a new world too. 

What Lennon wanted to put right in the world and in his own life and love was exactly why Jesus came to earth as a baby, taught us to imagine everything afresh, died in the centre of injustice and was raised to give a resurrection power for change, ascending to a place of purpose. 

As I always say John imagined no heaven, it really is easy if we try. Jesus imagined there actually was a heaven and asks us to join him on bringing those imaginings "on earth as it is in heaven. Maybe not quite so easy!

So, thank you John Lennon for the music, the ideas, the imaginings and pointing me towards Jesus. I believe that without your questions and ideals I would never have found Jesus at all. So thank you.  

Comments

Jørgen Lasgaard, 8660 Skanderborg, Denmark

I have a story like yours. The first solo album of John Lennon opened up my heart for Jesus when he sang God is a concept by which we measure our pain. I was 19. Two years later I started study of theology and looking for Jesus under the trash. Thank U for your brilliant books

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