WaPo’s On Faith page features the quiet Beatle in this post. Does the author overstate George Harrison’s influence on religion and spirituality in the West?
But his greatest legacy may be the way his decades-long spiritual quest shaped the ways the West looks at God, gurus and life.
Do you suppose it burns some bishops to think that they are less popular than the Beatles? There’s a certain irony in John Lennon’s 1966 remark, given the pullback from a generous Catholic spirituality, headed by some of our very own bishops.
A bit of background from the pages of history:
Harrison discovered Eastern religion through his love for Eastern music, which was sparked when The Byrds’ David Crosby and Roger McGuinn introduced him to the work of Ravi Shankar, the renowned sitar musician who would become a lifelong friend and mentor.
Harrison added sitar lines to the Beatles’ 1965 hit “Norwegian Wood.” When he traveled to Bombay the next year to study with Shankar, he was moved by the Indian people’s spirituality.
“The difference over here is that their religion is every second and every minute of their lives,” said Harrison, who like Paul McCartney was raised in Liverpool’s devout but grim Roman Catholic community.
Catholics again: “devout, but grim.” What is it with this? Haven’t people read James Martin lately? Robert Barron? Wasn’t there anything good to come of pre-conciliar Catholicism? I know I don’t have the highest opinion of Catholic liturgy prior to fifty years ago, but jeez. Not everything was Evelyn Wood-inspired Low Masses muttered in side chapels, was it?
Back to a Catholicism of narrow horizons, but you sure have to like the pom-poms those bishops are trotting out for these decisions. Is it any wonder that seekers like George Harrison would be intrigued by religious people living their faith “every second and every minute of their lives”?
Given that sort of witness, would you think that the Lord’s prescription of the greatest commandment would be foreign to frowny-faces:
You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27)
Catholicism faces a significant harvest. This project leaves many Catholics an affinity for a certain positive entitlement, regardless of how much of their all they invest in the labor. But frankly, I don’t see it. Bishops Olmsted, Morlino, and their ilk seem content to lick Prada shoes, and rake sand in an empty desert, calling it a day’s work. And hoping for a ticket to an imaginary diocese already lost to an unforgiving world.
Really what believers are called to do is give and live and love with our all. We’re not admonished to hold back because we might make a mistake.