But I’ve seen again and again, including at the Olympics and one very poignant nationally televised 9/11memorial featuring Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood and Neil Young, where we mourned our deepest hurt, that we turned to Lennon’s “Imagine” to speak for the inner spirit.
We are a secular people and if, as President Obama did this weekend, we see Easter as a celebration of the “family of man,” then John Lennon might as well be its avatar. Because although pioneering Jungian psychiatrist Barbara Hannah, correctly in my opinion, saw the “one world” family-of-man thing as a childish and narcissistic delusion — add to that imperial and potentially totalitarian — it was only in recent times we came to see ourselves collectively as “mankind” (or “humankind,” which is even more insipid). In the “family of man” everything, the sacred, the mythic, the primal, the cosmic and the divine, is nationalized, federalized, stripped bare of its essence and sent forth as agitational propaganda to political purpose. For a politician to speak of Easter this way is blasphemy. But Lennon was not a politician.
Lennon would be better than Marx. Better than Mao, whom he very publicly denounced. Better than Bill Clinton or Al Gore or Michael Jackson or Barack Obama or any of a ghoulish host of global conquistadors (and what is enough to gag a horse, the self-proclaimed “world elders”) and modern-day Klaatus conceived by the Universe to speak to the whole of “mankind.”
But this Easter, I’m concerned about the Catholic Church. The traditional world religions seem to be falling apart. Maybe religion wasn’t meant to conquer the world. Maybe nothing is. As the archbishop of Canterbury said, the child predator scandal is vast and threatens even the character of Ireland. And in Western Europe and even in Quebec’s oldest of North American churches, the congregations are thin and elderly. The only people who seem to go to church up here in the north are politicians.
My family lines are RC and C of E. The Catholics have mostly turned Buddhist or to science, and the stone churches of the Boston Irish are now art studios. C of E has long been secularized and has substituted sociology for the sacred, but the RC side says it always was like that.
And there are 1,600 mosques today in Germany and almost as many in France, but they are politicized as well, and some of them violently obsessed.
The only real religious people I talk to today are Southerners — old wooden-church Baptists — and Israeli Jews. Both peoples with a sense of place. (A place in nature, a “natural state” as in Tolstoy.) Invariably they are considered “right-wing” here in the Northeast, where religion is viewed as something like a hat.
But I see a future growing with them, possibly a future together. I see a future here as well among us New England Buddhists and hippies, who follow the gospel of Lao Tzu and Black Elk as we find it and the “no religion” religion proclaimed by Lennon in “Imagine.” It was, after all, the Christ who said to go alone to the Father and not listen to the rabbis, the “elders” or any of the others in getting there. I see a future in this here, but it looks like a different future than the other.
Visit Mr. Quigley's website at http://quigleyblog.blogspot.com.