I read this article without knowing who the author was and then very surprised
to find out it was Daniel Peterson. Daniel Peterson is a very smart individual
and surprised he could not connect the concepts and words together that are
common sense to most people that know the lyrics. "Living for today" is
clearly meant on how people view the world today and not specifically a 24 hour
period which Peterson believes. Phrases like "Being a christian today"
and "How people think about today's world" come to mind. People
make a lot of bad choices based on a belief of what will happen in the after
life. Lennon clearly meant it this way since he talked about no heaven and no
hell right before he said "living for today".Living for
today means making decisions and choices that affect people right now and at
this time in the world. You have anti-mormons shouting at conference goers
because they think they are going to hell and you have people bombing themselves
along with others because of their belief of what will happen in the after life.
Bad choices people make because they do not "live for today".
As a Senior citizen that listened to the Beatles and the song "Imagine"
a favorite....at my age today, I found the lyrics strange and bland. Because, it
has been my experience that people like John Lennon and celebrities world round
don't truly understand what they are promoting....but you see, they have
tons of cash at their disposal, so to be "in" with whatever happens to
be the crowd of today is the thing to do. John was an avowed communist because
he never clearly saw the destruction of the human spirit in countries around the
world that felt they knew best how man should live: their way! Freedom takes
such a wrenching responsibility when you don't have the assets of these
folk but, it gives the individual a deep abiding love for man....John grew up
hard and didn't "work" for his money...his voice, his lyrics did it
for him and he, of all people should have seen the difference and could not.
What does that say about the man?
I tire quickly of people who see themselves as the ones with the only right
perspective. For example, we lost nearly 60,000 Americans, butchered countless
Asians, and spent hundreds of billions in Viet Nam, and got absolutely nothing
to show for it. Now we're spending hundreds of billions we don't have
to squabble with the neanderthal peasants on the other side of the planet, and
we don't really even know why we're there anymore. John Lennon was a
musical genius, but he didn't really know much about economics or
government. Just like today's celebrities, people expect more than is
really there. I think he was well-meaning when he wrote the song, and was a
pretty decent guy in most ways--but I too think it was bad choice for closing
"Nothing to kill or die for" Really, Mr. Lennon? Not even
the right to sing those lyrics in public?
As often happens, I look at some of these comments and wonder whether
they've read the same article I did.Peterson never said that
everybody has to believe exactly what he does, didn't "paint a happy
face on the abuses of religion," didn't attack John Lennon personally,
didn't argue that good effects of religion prove there's a God . . .
It is a beautiful song. I just don't think most people carefully listen to
the words. I know I didn't for a long time, then I did. Wow! How could such
a beautiful song preach such a depressing message? But it does. I
was stunned when this song was played at a memorial of the 9/11 victims. I
wondered again, is anyone listening to the words?
You would have to have a wild imagination to think that 'above us is only
sky'.Hubble telescope photos have revealed so much more.Then
there is the hidden from earths view center of our own galaxy.Lennon was
not just closed minded but was being led by a dogmatic belief system of the
elite London bankers who want to own and control the whole earth with their
chains of darkness.In fact the lyric 'I'm not the only
one' is referring directly to this banking dynasty.
Let's paint a happy face on the abuses of religion over the centuries and
then attack a song choice made in an event in another country and diss the
singer 32 years after his death. Yeah, that's constructive. Why, everyone
simply must have the same views as Petersen. Why, we need to judge the man,
even though Petersen might be advised to go back and re-read President
Uchtdorf's talk in the last conference. This article really bugs me.
Thinkman--nice ideas. Live a good life, that's what my non-religious
parents did and it's good enough for me. I admire those who believe,
annoyed by those who say they know. They are only kidding themselves.
Steve Carrell (Barry) in "Dinner for Schmucks" had an opinon about this
sing, too.Barry: In the words of John Lennon, "you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not." Tim: ...the only one. Barry: The only what? Tim: No, that's the lyric: "You may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." Barry: Oh, OK Tim.
Oh my... "Imagine" if all the people in this discussion could just get
along! This is a wonderful illustration of just why John felt he had to write
the song. I'm sorry, it just makes me smile.
I agree with Tyler D. For the author to devote a chunk of this article pointing
out the benefits of long-term goals and hard work is hilarious. Totally missed
the mark on that.
RE:Lqqk, Mother Mary and let it be was a song for the legalization of
"mary"juana. How about another possibility, Let it be,"
The words are those of Mary's fiat(not a sports car) to the angel Gabriel
in Luke 1:38: "Let it be done unto me according to thy word."The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will
overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.(Luke
1:35) Paul McCartney, who was Irish on both sides of his family, and
George Harrison, who had a devoutly Catholic mother, were baptized in the Church
and raised as Catholics. Though Catholicism didn't take with any Beatle. Catholic culture and Marian images permeate a number of Beatles
songs.Lady Madonna, children at your feet, Wonder how you manage to make
ends meet.Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no one
will hear, No one comes near.Lennon was baptized,in an
Anglican/Episcopalian church. When time he was a teenager, Lennon was banned
from the parish church his family attended for laughing out loud at a sermon.
John Lennon challenges us to look at reality devoid of what people refer to as
religion and patriotism. Where religion would burn people at the stake for
saying the earth revolves around the sun as it has in the past, John would have
us look within and imagine a better way, where people are allowed to believe
differently.Where patriotism would whip us into a frenzy and have us
kill others without just cause as it too often does, John Lennon offers a
different and a higher vision.The civil rights heros of the
1960's were widely thought of as unpatriotic because they went against the
national culture at the time. Yet because they dared to imagine and then pursue
a better way, they were able to make their vision a national reality and we all
benefit from this higher and better vision.Jesus said the kingdom of
God is within us. John at some levels must have recognized this when he
admonished us in the song Imagine, to when necessary throw off the shakles of so
called patriotism, religion and culture and imagine a better way and then dare
to pursue it.
Holy cow, for a college professor this guy is certainly not the sharpest tool in
the shed. When John writes "living for today" he is clearly talking
about NOT living for some mythic afterlife, which taken to it's silly
extreme leads people fly planes into buildings.
I always liked the song musically, and there is a positive aspect to the peace
and brotherly love theme, but you can't really think his message left any
room for God when he wants us to imagine no heaven, no hell, no religion, and
"above us only sky."The hippie philosophy was always a
little misguided -- not in the call for peace -- but that the call for peace was
always directed at the DEFENDER OF LIBERTY rather than the AGGRESSOR. There was
(and still is by some) a warped idea that if WE would just back down and bury
our weapons then the world would turn into tranquil paradise.Nope.
Not going to happen. At least not until a sizable portion of the wicked are
removed from the planet.
Atheists like to blame religion for many wrongs in the world. More than once I
have heard Scandinavia cited as a largely atheistic society with a very low
crime rate, supposedly proving this point. It is good to set the record
straight about the horror that atheistic societies have done.Hatred,
greed, lust, and power have often used religious ideals to masquerade as service
to God. Like old-time cowboys dressed up like Native Americans, evil likes it
best to use the name of God to spread its horror in the world. Right on, that the ideal society we all hope for, like countries without
borders and caring for each other the way we care for ourselves---this is a
memory of heaven, where the brotherhood of man is mentored through the
Fatherhood of God.
Believing in Santa Claus also makes children "nice" and compliant... but
that does not mean Santa is real.Once again, Daniel Peterson shows
that he is way in over his head in dealing with philosophical issues.
Paul's mother was named Mary. The Beatles did a few songs about drugs but
I never heard Let it Be was one of them. I'm with Daniel
Peterson on Imagine (getting back to the article). Huge Beatles fan as a kid -
and still am - and John was my favorite. But I didn't think Imagine was
one of his better songs and it always struck me as a communist anthem - no
heaven, no hell, no religion, no possessions. But I'm happy to hear it
resonates with so many on this thread. My wife adores the song as well. All
you Need is Love is better anthem for world peace in my opinion, even though it
can be said to have some silly lyrics as well. Doesn't matter. Art
doesn't need to make sense, only stir you in some way.
Dr. Peterson comments: Still, "Imagine" is a silly song, and, surely, to
at least a substantial proportion of those who watched and participated in the
Olympics, it's a potentially offensive one.Given that
"Imagine" is one of the top ranked singles of all time which has been
played and sung almost equally with national anthems according to Jimmy Carter
(who has visited 125 countries), it seems an appropriate song for the end of a
world event. It is neither silly nor potentially offensive unless of course you
are looking for some devious meaning to the lyrics. Perhaps Dr. Peterson should
ask David Archuleta (LDS Church member) why he chose this song for his American
Idol finale. Could it be that the younger generation doesn't feel it is
"silly" at all? Could it be that the song actually inspires belief in
world peace and harmony among the many ideologies trying to coexist on planet
killpack:Mother Mary and let it be was a song for the legalization of
If that's how you define knowledge, that is fine. You are entitled to that
definition. I define it a different way. To me, there is little difference
between knowledge and belief. You say that I know there is a keyboard in front
of me. Really? How do I know that? How do I know it isn't an illusion. I
know, because I believe it, given my experience with keyboards. I have faith
that given what I have been taught about keyboards, this thing in front of me
must indeed be a keyboard. Could it be an illusion? Of course it could, however
improbable. How do I know there is a God? I know, because, like the keyboard, I
believe. I have faith He is there, given my experience. I've seen things
happen, firsthand, that are only explained by His existence. To me, I don't
know this keyboard is in front of me, that it isn't some kind of illusion,
any more than I know that God lives. That is how I define knowledge, and I am
entitled to that, as you are entitled to your own definition of what it is.
@ThinkmanYou assume that something can only be KNOWN if it can be
universally known. That isn't even remotely true. For example I happen to
know lots of things that you don't. I know that I have a blue mouse. You
can choose whether or not you beleive me, but you can't know until you see
it. Same goes with God and/or religion. If I happen to have come to a
knowledge of God that doesn't mean you have or even that you can by my
telling you that I have. You only come to know something through your own
efforts. Seeing isn't the only way you can come to know something. I
can't hear the color blue, and I can't see music, but I know they both
exist. Most people come to a knowledge of the existence of God because they
FEEL His influence in their lives.
Re: bald man running, consider the setting. The first two verses are a war
protest song, like many in the 60's. True, Did you ever consider the effect
Lennon had on the american military in Vietnam?In March 1969,
Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, stayed in bed for two weeks to protest the
Vietnam war, Seeing that was depressing for me and other patriotic American
military. One month later I left with others for Vietnam. One later
I was discharged at Travis AFB and when we arrived at the S.F. airport we were
spit on and harassed by the Weather Underground, Bernadine Dohrn, Wife of Bill
Ayers(Obama friend). Their biggest sign was “Imagine there is no
USA.”Somehow most of Vietnam era students who are todays college
professors(Peterson)and my cousin who also avoided Vietnam service.
@ThinkmanYou don't KNOW what anyone else does or doesn't
KNOW, you only BELIEVE you KNOW.
killpack,You KNOW you have a keyboard of some sort that you typed
your comments to me.You may BELIEVE I will read your comment but you
don't and won't KNOW until and if DesNews accepts this comment from
me and then you read with your own eyes this comment.You won't
KNOW that there is an afterlife or a God or supreme being or beings until you
die or see God or a/the supreme being.I choose to live by the creed
I stated in my first comment and find the joy and fulfilment in life because I
choose to. I choose to be happy by first my attitude and feelings and second by
my actions. You can choose to be happy by how you live whether that includes
believing in a religion and living its tenets or not. I choose to
not be controlled by others' views or constraints. Therefore, I am happy.
For you and others, you may need to have a religion or others dictate for you
how to live your life. I wish you the best in that lifestyle.
Thinkman, I think it very noble of you to be motivated to live a full life,
regardless of what happens afterward. Unfortunately, some people, myself
included, cannot live that way. Some of us have an unhealthy love for drugs,
alcohol, etc. that we simply could not beat without a belief in a better life
after death. Sure, it would be nice if I could, like you, just do the right
thing and live life to the full, just because. For some of us, however, this
life just isn't that cool without Jesus and salvation from the horrible
things of this world. That much I know with 100% certainty. Can I, or anyone,
know there is a God? You have asserted that it isn't possible. But how do
you 'know' that? Did you read it in a book? Did someone tell you? Or
is it just a belief, as some people believe in God. Do I know there is a God?
How would you know I didn't? I certaintly believe in God and consider that
the same as knowing. Either way, it's all the same to me.
Whether there is a God or not I do not know, nor does anyone.I
believe in God or a supreme being. There has to be more than just this mortal
estate. I hope there is. But if not, I will live each day that I have breath
to the fullest and live with no regrets. I will treat others with kindess,
courtesy and strive for excellence in all I do. I will be a devoted, caring and
loving husband and father.Then, when I die, I will let nature take
its course as I have no control over what lies beyond death. I want
peace and have a thirst for knowledge and to seek and gain wisdom and truth. I
don't need to follow a religion for my happiness or for my placement in
station after I die. Again, I don't know if I will continue to live in
some form after my physical body dies. I hope I will, but I nor ANYONE knows if
there is a life of any form after death.
Maybe I'm not the only LDS "hippie" out here after all--even if
I'm not a native Californian! It's too bad so much of what was said
was said in a drug/alcohol-induced state, since without that it would have been
more credible. And we lost some great talent to that, as well. Imagine will join
my playlist entitled "Free That Pore Ol' Hippie!" as a hats-off to
my youth and continued idealism. I really hope that the spirit of that time, and
the desire to make a more hopeful tomorrow, never becomes something lost to us.
@TolstoyThat "kid" has a name: Daniel Gene-Vincent Sorensen. He
was born in Provo, on September 22, 1981. He has two Uncles and one Aunt living
in Utah. He was killed on Nov 7, 2007. The murder was happened in Canton, Mi.
and was so heinous the trial was broadcast on Court TV. His 17 year old, self
professed atheist, killer was found guilty and is now doing life without parole.
Tolstoy, I recognize that "Christians" have been responsible for the
killing of millions of innocents throughout history. My point is that MANY of
the Atheists I've talked to or have read their writings seem to think that
getting rid of Christianity would make the world a nice rosy place to live. My
point is that Atheism is not the Nice, Sweet, Perfect World Lennon wanted
everyone to think it would be. People can be evil regardless of personal
beliefs. So yes Christians kill but so do Atheists.
Everyone, even John Lennon, has a religion, or some way to live, that he or she
follows. For some it is sex, drugs and rock n roll; for others it is putting on
Sunday clothes and paying respects to God in a church house. To say the world
would be a better place without different ways of living is silly, because it is
impossible. Sure it would be nice if we were all united, but so would a lot of
other impossibilities. A more realistic and practical dream would be to live
free from oppression, religious or otherwise. Sure, some of you are probably
thinking, 'that was John Lennon's point; without religion that
wouldn't exist in the first place.' No doubt it was. However,
it's impossible. I will never see 100% eye to eye with every person I come
across. Nor will any of you. We all need to accept that. And live with it,
peacefully, without infringing upon the liberties of others. I like Paul's
words of wisdom better, or rather, Mother Mary's: let it be.
People -- consider the setting. The first two verses are a war protest song,
like many in the 60's. He's not debating or postulating about whether
or not there is a God or a heaven or hell, he's pining the fact that these
ideals are used to justify war over and over again in our human history. If
there were no disagreements about who goes to heaven or hell, or who lives in
what country so we must fight them, etc., there would be no war, and the
"world would live as one." The third verse is an anti-poverty,
pro-"United Order" (if you must), rant against social injustice. Stop
looking for ways to be offended by it and you'll see it's really a
rather beautiful sentiment all the way around. And this coming from a
card-carrying LDS God-fearing dude (just for full disclosure).
When I was younger and thought I knew so much, I, too, thought this was an
atheist song. But now that I am older, and able to get some perspective on it,
it occurs to me that it is not an atheist song. It doesn't say we should
leave out God. The Scriptures don't mention specific religions, either.
John Lennon and the Church both talk about living for today, and if we plan to
make it to the Celestial Kingdom, we certainly can't put things off until
tomorrow, can we? As for heaven or hell, I'm sure he was doing the best he
could with the knowledge he had. But then, so was a 14-year-old boy who
couldn't decide what to think, when all the adults around him were confused
about things of faith. So he just went to the Scriptures, and followed the
Savior's invitation. Who knows, maybe John got a personal invitation after
his untimely death?
If you walk by the "Medicinal Herb" shops in California and here this
song blaring on their speakers and watch the pot smokers lazily wander the
street you see the nirvana Lennon was singing about.
@MarkJohnsonSo of course an atheist kills a kid you know so atheism is
bad. I don't suppose you apply that same overly simplistic logic to
Christianity thanks to the thousands of avoid Christians that have killed other
peoples sons and daughters right?
As someone who didn't have the fullness of the gospel, Lennon could only
see the great destruction that has been done for millenia in the name of
religion. In that vein, I can see how his view of a world without all these
excuses to kill could only be an improvement and the only real chance for peace.
Sure, we feel otherwise - that "religion" that is truly based on Faith
in God should bring peace, not destroy it. That dreams should inspire men to be
better. That countries should be a source of pride and home. But far too often
these things are the outward show of inward pride which destroys all. Whether or not I agree with the exact wording of the song, I definitely agree
with Lennon's ultimate message - can't we all just get along? Please?
The only place to find an affirmative answer today is, sadly, in our
Many thanks to the author, I agree with him. I have been wondering for years if
anyone else heard the problem with this song as I did. I have taken it the way
Daniel Peterson has. On the other hand, like with any song or poem, the listener
can understand it the way he hears it. I'm just grateful I'm not
The Son of a very close friend had his life taken by an atheist. Enough
On Monday, the first news story I read about the closing ceremonies described
"Imagine" as the highlight. I agree completely. What a beautiful
song.Far from being an "atheist anthem," "Imagine"
is better seen as John Lennon taking a stand for "God is love." I
thought it was the perfect music to reflect the unity among nations and athletes
at the closing ceremonies.As far as "living for today,"
Lennon was right. "Living for today" is a Good Samaritan philosophy,
where the Good Samaritan tended to the immediate needs of an injured man, while
the more "religious" types passed him by, perhaps because their minds
were focused on something a lot farther down the road.
Some of the most serious sin is what separates us, especially in violence, one
from another in the name of religious belief or unbelief. I'm troubled by
the ways people of faith are portrayed and ridiculed nowadays in media. So much
intolerence and prejudice, such lack of godly love, kindness, and patience
alienate and polarize us. I fear where this is leading....
I am sure that most of us 'imagine' a better world, but the path to
that realization should never be confused with anarchy. And to oppose the
oppression of a government is not anarchy, in my terms, anarchy is attempting to
live without restraints; without consideration and responsibility for one's
own actions.President Spencer W. Kimball once lectured a group of
businessmen at a retreat in Idaho. He explained that the only way to become
better and truly successful was to come to know and understand Christ better -
for he alone accomplished greatness on his own merits without degrading
others.Granted, a lot of evil has been perpetrated throughout
history in the name of religion, but that does not condemn religion, only those
who try to corrupt it for their own selfish gains. That was never Christ's
message and he promised to cast all of those off who tried to commit sin in his
When I look at the world today and see all the hate that is justified by
religion and violence that is done in the name of nationalism I can understand a
songwriter asking us a question to imagine what things would be like if we
didn't have these things. It seems somewhat like the same
question that was asked by a young boy in 1820 when he saw so much dissension
around him and wanted to know what the true religion was. I also
think it was an appropriate song to play at the closing ceremonies of the
Olympics where the world had just come together for 2 weeks and we all joyed in
the stories of athletes from all over the world and the challenges they had to
face to get there and the personal victories they had even if they didn't
win a medal. When I saw the woman running with her veil on, I
understood what John Lennon was asking.
I was never a Beatles or John Lennon's fan for that matter. However,
"Imagine" as a song is a masterpiece.Of course, we can put
it down as hippie philosophy. But it doesn't change the spirit of the song
as something in which most human beings believe and hope for. Not so called
Christians, or Muslims, or Hindues, or any other label, just human beings living
in peace. No heaven and no hell. Why Christians want to go to
Heaven? interest? Why they try to avoid hell? fear? If that is the case, we have
interest and fear as motivators for behavior. John Lennon sounds way more
enlightened than that.Personally and as most people who have been
part of religion and walk away from it, I love God and humanity, we don't
need man made organizations. No religion and no God are two
different things. I will continue dreaming of a world without countries and
without religion. I will keep on living for the day, making every day the best
day I can make for me and those around me.
He said "no religion" he didn't say no God nor did he reject a
belief in God. I see this song totally differently than an atheist song. He
spoke (as did Jesus) of loving one another and taking care of each other. Would
that happen? Probably not. But "Imagine" if it did. No heaven and no
hell... we wouldn't need them as we would all live together in spirit
peacefully. He is imagining the world as I would like to see it. God did not set
the world up that way and I accept that... but especially in this contentious
election year I would like to "Imagine" we could all just get along.
Sadly that doesn't happen.
I believe Mr. Peterson reads far too much into the lyrics, and errs when calling
Imagine an "atheist anthem".I agree with elarue that it was
an idealistic expression in a turbulent time, wishing for the absence of
injustice committed in the name of religion, nationalism, race or social
status.Ultimately, what is the United Order? Certainly, it invokes
religion, but more than religion, Charity, the pure love of Christ. I believe "no religion" speaks to the divisiveness of organized
religion railing against organized religion. If he had known about the LDS
Church, and the principle we espouse of "allowing all men the same
privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may", he may have
adjusted his lyrics. But then again, from an outside perspective at the time,
we were oppressive toward Blacks, right?Idealistic? Perhaps. But
Christ himself suffered all with the hope that ALL would come unto Him. All
inclusive. All partakers of the blessings of eternity, joint heirs with Christ.
For starters, I like to imagine a world without religious apologetics. Because,
you know, its easy if you try.@antodavI always thought it was
common knowledge that John and Paul were the creative force behind the Beatles,
and to a slightly lesser extent George, and Ringo...well sorry Ringo.
I can (ahem) "imagine" that John Lennon was not unlike millions of
others who look around and see much of what is posed to them as
"religion" as repressive to many, distasteful, and extremely
hypocritical. I happen to have found a religion that I know is not that way.
But, I know many who haven't had the same options, religiously speaking, as
I have had offered to me. It doesn't upset me to hear what is on
someone's mind. It doesn't threaten me. I think he just wanted a
peaceful existence of some sort. That is actually a noble intent. If Lennon
feels that way about religion and what he understood to be "heaven", it
doesn't upset me. I feel differently. But I am sure if I am given the
chance, I would love to just talk to the guy (civilly) and see what was on his
mind and why. He might let me share too.
@elarue, please ask your spouse, as a former Russian citizen, what life was like
living in the kind of society John Lennon wished to create, which is what
existed there prior to 1990. Then get back to me about how great his "hippie
I for one, love the song. As an American citizen married to a Russian citizen,
imaginging "there's no countries" is something that resonates very
deeply with me. And while as a member of the church, I disagree with the
sentiment about imagining "no religion," I would love to imagine a world
without the bad behavior committed in religion's name, even by those who
share the same religion that I do. Honestly, the world would be much better off
if we had more "hippie idealism."
At least somebody finally psychoanalyzes this song deeply and realizes how
atrocious its message is, instead of just getting swept up in the melody and its
stupid hippie idealism…besides me…although it's still far too
kind to John Lennon. Paul McCartney and George Harrison were the real talent
behind the Beatles.