"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,"
The 'anthem' of today, John Lennon's "Imagine." Many see it as a wonderful
song of hope and human ideals. I see it as a sad, fatalistic view of life.
Imagine there's no Heaven, no hell. Imagine everyone living just for
today. In some ways it can be seen as a beautiful thought. Mankind not
working and living together for a reward or to avoid punishment. But what of
those who see no reward or punishment? To live for today could mean
something entirely different.
Imagine the person who has no basis to live for another, but only for
himself. Nothing to restrain him, nothing for him to attain as a goal. It's
this life and nothing else. One lives then dies and goes into oblivion.
"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."
No country with it's laws to live by, no religion to act as a light, a
yeast, to help us to grow. Would this 'utopian' vision bring peace? Or
anarchy? And if anarchy, then there would, of course, be no peace. Our
homes would cease to be places of warmth and love, but fortresses. Aren't
there ideals, beliefs worthy enough to die for? Are we calling the
sacrifices of Christ, the martyr's, etc., a waste? Did our fathers die in
vain on the beaches of Normandy? Iwo Jima? Was it for a lie?
No nations, no religion, no Heaven no hell. What would John Lennon's
"utopia' be based on? Mankind's innate goodness? Where has this innate
goodness been displayed?
"But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a
man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication,
theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man" (Matthew 15:
Left to our own devices, we've all but destroyed the family, the institution
of marriage. We've set up a sort of war between the genders. We've given
the world Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Saddam Hussien, Napolean Bonaparte.
Each of these men, among others, is a poster child for a world without
religion, no Heaven, no hell. Just self determination and self will.
With a world without Heaven, without hell, without religion, in short,
without God, we get a world where the main focus is on personal desires and
wants. The teaching of daily picking up your cross and following Him, the
teaching of dying to yourself, dies. It's replaced with the teaching "Eat,
drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." Personal happiness replaces the
need for the greater good. How many families have been destroyed because one
person needed 'personal happiness?' How many of them are truly happy?
How many have killed their unborn children with a distorted notion of
personal happiness and self determination? How many have found themselves in
a hopeless state by being told they can't change, can't better themselves.
"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"
Here, Lennon almost, unknowingly, rebuts himself. Look at history, look
at those who have advanced this ideal of a brotherhood of man? They were men
and women of faith, with a belief in Heaven and hell. They were men and
women guided by their religion, not removed from it.
St. Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, Mother Teresa are only some of those we know
of; there are many, many others who we don't know. Here, Lennon, without
even realizing it, put's in few lines, all of Christian teaching.
We are called to be poor in spirit. Seeing our possessions, not our own,
but given to us by God for His greater glory. To feed the hungry, to care
for the poor. A true brotherhood of man. If God is our Father, then we are
truly brothers and sisters in Him.
"But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to
become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the
flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1: 12-13).
"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not
receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received
the spirit of sonship. When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' (as in Dad) it is the
Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,
provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him"
(Romans 8:14-17, ref Galatians 4: 4-7).
As His sons and daughters, we go into the world as healers, caretakers,
etc. Some go purely, wishing only to do God's will, to do what is pleasing
to Him as loving sons and daughters. Others go for fear of punishment. But
those who don't love or fear the Lord, don't go at all.
"And He said, 'There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them
said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.'
And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son
gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he
squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a
great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went
and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into
his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the
swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he
said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare,
but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will
say to him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; I am no
longer worthy to be called your son' " (Luke 15: 11-19).
What would become of the person who felt he had no father to return to?
What would keep him from taking what he wanted and felt he needed? And no
doubt, felt was owed him?
Many of the ills in our world today, past, present, and no doubt future,
are from the notion that there is no hell below us, and above us is only sky.
And though the words sound enticing, though they seem idyllic, they are
the path to doom and destruction.
"...they cannot see the true light, our Lord Jesus Christ. They indulge
their vices and sins and follow their evil longings and desires, without a
thought for the promises they made. In body they are slaves of the world and
the desires of their lower nature...in spirit they are the slaves of the
devil. They have been led astray by him...They lack spiritual insight because
the Son of God does not dwell in them..." (Letter to the Faithful, St. Francis
of Assisi, Omnibus of Sources, pg. 97).
"These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm; for them the nether
gloom of darkness has been reserved. For, uttering loud boasts of folly,
they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped
from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves
are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is
enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world
through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again
entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them
than the first" (2 Peter 2:17-20).
The wheat cannot grow, nor can the fruit tree bear fruit without light.
Nor can they feed the hungry without good soil to grow in.
Without the light of Christ, without God, without religion, we don't become
free, but become salves. We don't grow and flourish, but die and decay.
Imagine a world without heaven, hell, and religion? A world based on the
goodwill and 'innate' goodness of mankind?
"Thus says the LORD: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh
his arm, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the
desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched
places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land'" (Jeremiah 17: 5-6).
But a world with a Heaven and hell? A world were God is the Lord and
His ways are standard we live by?
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He
is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and
does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not
anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit" (Ibid
John Lennon ended his song saying that he might be called a dreamer. If
we truly think about it though, his 'vision' would be a nightmare.
Pax Christi, Pat