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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…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

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…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

—- Imagine, John Lennon


Forty-one years ago today — October 11, 1971 — Imagine was released in the U.S.  It has since become one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved songs the world over.

How often can we say that we hear something very different, something that is new, fresh, different, unique, and that has nothing to do with the advancement of technology or science?

But for some of you I suspect, the song is, well, a bit problematic.

I’m thinking of those of you that are Beatles fans or John Lennon devotees but also men and women of faith …

Because, through a simple set of words, put together with a simple set of notes, and sang by a simple single voice, it expresses a worldview that challenges like no other.

Athieism … communism … and when we add John’s idealism and political activism into the mix …

Oh boy.

I wonder if you can enjoy the song as art, putting aside the ideology it espouses.

According to Yoko Ono, who controls the rights to John Lennon’s music, the most frequent request she gets comes from musicians who want to record this song but change the “No religion, too” line – a request she reportedly has always denied.

But that didn’t stop Cee Lo Green last New Years Eve, who just before the ball dropped sang the song and changed the lyric to “Nothing to kill or die for, and all religion’s true.”

Cee Lo immediately responded to the backlash (justifiable, IMHO) by claiming peaceful intent.  Well… okay.   I can’t help but suspect that Cee Lo took the easy, politically correct route.  Imagine that.

*     *     *     *     *

There’s one sentiment in the song though that I think Lennon just plain got wrong, though I suspect it wouldn’t be the sentiment that would top most people’s list of wrongs in the song —

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try

I don’t think so!

I think it is very, very, very, very hard to even imagine a break away from convention.  To believe the unbelievable.  To imagine the unimaginable.

And when great minds do, it is very, very, very, very hard to get others to follow.

Ask Copernicus.  Or Galileo.

Who could have imagined that the earth really does revolve around the sun?  I mean, every single day we see it rise in the east and set in the west …

*     *     *     *     *

There’s one sentiment in the song that I think Lennon got exactly right.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one

Imagine that.

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