January 10, 2000
volume 11, no. 6

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    Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat, who hails from Cleveland - the home of the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame - dissects the words of a 1971 Beatles' song by self-proclaimed guru John Lennon called "Imagine." In 1980, after Lennon had been gunned down in New York City by a crazed fanatic, fans of Lennon and the Beatles had to realize the error of his ways and that his utopian song did not fulfill dreams as Lennon had conveyed, but was only an extension of an existential nightmare. Pat exposes the fallacies of Lennon's words, pointing out the only words with substance are the Word - Jesus Christ for He alone has the words of Eternal Life. While Lennon once proclaimed that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, he had to realize nothing lasts forever except Jesus. We can only pray that through the Mercy of God, Lennon has realized his grave miscalculation and will be allowed to imagine eternity in the presence of the Beatific Vision. We don't have to imagine how that will be for all of us, for Our Lord has shown us the way and through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, has given us the vehicle to reach that Utopia, better known as Heaven. That is the gist of Pat's column today, Imagine For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives   If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at


    "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: 18-20).

    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 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 7-8).

    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


January 10, 2000
volume 10, no. 6

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