Imagine: Not an Atheist Song

How could you ever be angry at that?

Cee Lo Green changed a line in Imagine from “no religion too” to “all religions true” and the atheists and BeatlesFreaks are pissed. The sacred line about “no religion” was changed in a song about everybody getting along to be about everyone getting along in a slightly different way, and so people naturally are not going to get along about it…

What Cee Lo did is way more respectful and less cowardly than the way most people just cut the line entirely.  And the way Cee Lo changed the line is actually completely in sync with Lennon’s intentions.  He wasn’t trying to say there shouldn’t be anything religious, he was saying that all religions should get along.  Lennon, on the lyrics, “If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion—not without religion, but without this ‘my God is bigger than your God’ thing—then it can be true.

Compare MLK’s dedication to the worldview expressed in “Imagine.” The song doesn’t advocate any action, it doesn’t detail any specific problems or solutions it just sort of drifts along and says, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if things were great?” Not every song needs to be a treatise on geopolitics but shouldn’t a “meaningful” song actually mean something?

We’re talking about a guy who was unbelievably wealthy who brought the nonsense of eastern mysticism to millions of people singing about no religion and no possessions. I call bullshit.

I agree that the sentiment of the line is stupid, but the fact of the matter is that it is exactly what Lennon was trying to say, because Lennon was a namby pamby, non-committal, everyone is equally good sort of person, apparently just like Cee Lo Green.

About ashleyfmiller

I write, give occasional speeches, and am currently getting my PhD in Mass Communications from South Carolina. Before going back to school, I worked in Los Angeles in reality tv, web series, and film.

Posted on January 1, 2012, in atheism, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. If you really think John Lennon wanted all religions to get along, you really need to do more research on him.

    Just sayin’

  2. A quick listen to Lennon’s “God” should get things straightened out for you.

  3. Are you seriously saying changing the words of the song makes it closer the artist’s intention? He has said on numerous occations he didnt believe in any religion.

  4. God is a concept
    By which we measure
    Our pain
    I’ll say it again
    God is a concept
    By which we measure
    Our pain

    I don’t believe in magic
    I don’t believe in I-ching
    I don’t believe in Bible
    I don’t believe in tarot
    I don’t believe in Hitler
    I don’t believe in Jesus
    I don’t believe in Kennedy
    I don’t believe in Buddha
    I don’t believe in Mantra
    I don’t believe in Gita
    I don’t believe in Yoga
    I don’t believe in kings
    I don’t believe in Elvis
    I don’t believe in Zimmerman
    I don’t believe in Beatles
    I just believe in me
    Yoko and me
    And that’s reality

    The dream is over
    What can I say?
    The dream is over
    I was the Dreamweaver
    But now I’m reborn
    I was the Walrus
    But now I’m John
    And so dear friends
    You’ll just have to carry on
    The dream is over

    ^^The word of John Lennon. I’m not sure how much clearer he could have been, as these are concepts he repeatedly returned to in his music. Perhaps he didn’t think everyone should be an atheist, but he certainly wasn’t promoting “all religions [as] true.”

  5. I’m not that fussed about it, but the two sentiments seem pretty distinct to me. I’m pretty sure that had Lennon intended to say ”all religions true” he was wordsmith enough to come up with that himself, or a similar line.

    He didn’t; he came up with ”and no religion too” and I’m also pretty sure that he was socially aware enough that he knew that would be an unpopular sentiment in most circles. (If nothing else, the ”bigger than Jesus” flap would have clued him in.) He chose atheism, not pantheism, and on purpose.

    It’s perfectly fair to scoff at how seriously people have taken it, but it’s disingenuous to suggest that the lines are equivalent; if they are, why did Cee Lo feel the need to change Lennon’s lyric?

    • Not equivalent, just not some sort of violation against everything Lennon stood for.

      • Well, I can go along with that.

        There’s no doubt that Lennon was an atheist, and I’d certainly say that he intended the line to promote an atheist viewpoint, but he wasn’t a hater of religious belief per se (as opposed to organized religion) and I doubt he’d have been more than mildly annoyed at the change, if that.

        He’d probably have smacked the hell out of Herman Cain for “Imagine No Pizza” though. Now _that_ was disrespectful! And painful to the ear.

  6. “Anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic, but because it is sugarcoated it is accepted … Now I understand what you have to do. Put your political message across with a little honey.”
    ― John Lennon (talking about Imagine)

  1. Pingback: » Imagine quarkscrew

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