The Vatican media organ, L’Osservatore Romano, observed the feast of Saint Cecilia, virgin, martyr, and patron of music by observing that the Beatles are okay with them. I wonder if the favorite John Lennon quote hit home with anybody:
Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink … Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.
Shrinking church … believers who don’t get the real Jesus: complaints that sound a lot like what some people say these days, right?
How many people know that the “White Album” isn’t really titled that? It was released forty years ago, with white cover, yes, but just titled The Beatles.
I dated a woman in college who thought “Mother Nature’s Son” was a John Denver song. JD covered it, yes. But it was authentic Paul.
George Martin, Beatles producer, disagreed with the two-disc decision. He thought some songs should have been culled from the effort and a really good single disk produced.
Have a bit of fun: match the song titles with women’s names with the actual subjects:
“Dear Prudence,” “Martha, My Dear,” “Julia,” “Sexy Sadie”
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Ringo’s first wife Maureen, Jane Asher (Paul’s pre-Linda love), John’s mom, Paul’s sheepdog, Mia Farrow’s sister. Note: one song has two possible interpretations, and one interpretation is just thrown in to deceive.
Which of the following people did not appear on the album: George’s wife Pattie, Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, Linda Eastman, George Martin.
To avoid controversy on their Smell The Glove release, the band Spinal Tap were talked/tricked into ditching the original cover (so fetchingly described by Fran Drescher) and releasing it instead with a pitch black album sleeve. (Language advisory on the last link there.)
Those sentiments have been expressed in about every century of the Christian era. They may be accurate in a limited way (ecclesia semper reformanda and all that), but in the more literal and conventional sense they’ve proven regularly and spectacularly inaccurate.
I did think it was a spectacular bit of ignorance passing as journalism this weekend to see the robotic repetition of the newswire headline about the Vatican “forgiving” John Lennon. A journalist friend of mine sent it to me for my comment on Sunday morning, without having checked to see how accurate the headline was (hint: very not).
The culture mavens at the Vatican might want to have read Steven Turner’s THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE BEATLES before giving their tacit endorsement of all things Beatles.
Now, that said, they were, are and will be evermore the Band above all other Bands, save for the Choirs of Angels and Saints!
With regard to Lennon’s ’66 (42 years ago!) Jesus comments, I can’t believe this is still an issue. With the highest respect, where was the wrong-doing in pointing out that the Church was less important to the fans than the Beatles were? That’s what he was saying. McCartney followed up the comments more recently, reinforcing the idea that it was absurd that the Church was apparently lagging behind a pop group in terms of popularity among Beatles fans. But, that’s certainly nothing to do with Lennon, or his band.
Lennon’s comments were not blasphemy, or the ‘boasts of a young man coming to grips with fame’, it was an observation, pure and simple. There was no ego involved at all. It is mystifying to me that the Church still apparently doesn’t get that. Of course, they only recently ‘forgave’ Galileo for suggesting that the earth actually revolves around the sun, and not the other way around. It’s interesting to me that the Church have successfully made their own shortsightedness into an act of retroactive ‘forgiveness’ somehow in both examples.
Thanks for the post, and for considering my comments.
Thanks for visiting, Rob. Good comments on John. He certainly knew the distinction and probably didn’t realize the extent of the backlash, especially in the US.
Thanks again for having me, Todd. This issue is kind of a pet peeve of mine, since it paints everyone in such a bad light, including the Church.
The Vatican piece is not accusing Lennon of wrong doing. This addled idea is coming from the newswire mashup of the piece. The Vatican was engaging in a cultural appreciation piece – its new editor is much more committed to engaging popular culture than previous editors.
At the time, the Lennon comments were not widely understood as a mere observation, but were equivocal and capable of many understandings. (And, if they were a matter of mere observation, they were factually incorrect even then.)
This is not an instance of the Vatican not getting it.
As human beings, many of us fall into hearing something in communication we want to hear, but isn’t really there.
John’s comments came from his own skewed view from the inside of Beatlemania looking out. Christianity, especially the British variants, had never known the insanely wild acclaim the Beatles experienced in the 60’s. Would some Christians wish that fervor extended to Jesus? Perhaps so.
I find it interesting that for all the anti-Catholic bias some conservatives moan about, there are elements in secular culture that want to paint the Church in a good light–perhaps this was one of them.
I was soooo happy to hear that John Lennon was forgiven that I recorded this song