Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: John Lennon was wrong, but right at the same time’

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Published: Thursday, Aug. 16 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

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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.


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."


@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 idealism" was.

Pleasant Grove, UT

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.

Full-on double rainbow
Bluffdale, UT

For starters, I like to imagine a world without religious apologetics. Because, you know, its easy if you try.

I 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.

Allen, TX

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. Just Imagine.....

Susan in VA
Alexandria, VA

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.

Leesburg, VA

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.

Eureka, UT

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.

Medical Lake, Washington

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 name.

Raeann Peck
Salt Lake City, UT

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....

Steve C. Warren

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.


The Son of a very close friend had his life taken by an atheist. Enough said!!!!!

Salt Lake City, UT

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 alone.


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 Imagination.

salt lake, UT

So 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?

Provo, UT

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.

Sacramento, CA

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?

bald man running

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).

Sandy, UT

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.

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