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John Lennon’s hopeless humanist hymn, “Imagine”, is the wrong song for the Olympics

This weeks Christian Today article. 

John Lennon’s hopeless humanist hymn, “Imagine”, is the wrong song for the Olympics

John Lennon playing a baby grand piano in a white mansion for his “Imagine” video(Photo: Youtube/johnlennon)

It happened again. First it was the Olympics in 1996, then the Winter Olympics in 2006, then back to the Olympics in 2012, then the Winters in 2018; and this year the Olympic opening ceremony did it again. They sang John Lennon’s “Imagine”. It seems as though this has become the secular humanist hymn for our times, the godless prayer that must be uttered on any occasion – sometimes even by Christian clergy.

It is an appropriate anthem/prayer because it reflects the hubris, hypocrisy and hopelessness of secular humanistic values.


Ten years ago, as I was recovering from a serious illness, I received hundreds of cards from all over the world. I couldn’t reply to them all, but one I had to respond to was from a couple of proud atheists who told me that despite our differences they were praying for me! To whom?

When we pray “Imagine” we are praying to ourselves. We are saying that we are the ‘Bob the Builder’ of the universe. We can fix it. All we have to do is imagine. John Lennon was an intelligent man. He didn’t write emotional guff. At the time of “Imagine”, he was going through his revolutionary socialist, Mao T-shirt-wearing phase.

He knew the teachings of Marcuse, the progressive philosopher who argued that the first step to change is to imagine it. Yoko Ono was a devotee of this kind of thinking. John and Yoko sang “Happy Xmas War Is Over” – “if you want it”. That’s the way to end war apparently – to want it, imagine it. That kind of fanciful thinking is now deeply ingrained in our culture. I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky.

A few years ago my daughter returned from her primary school and informed me she was in trouble with the teacher. Why? The teacher had asked them all to close their eyes, to think pink, and to imagine that Saddam Hussein and George Bush were together in the same room. This would bring peace. My daughter got in trouble because when the teacher asked her – ‘what can you see?’, she replied ‘nothing, my eyes are closed!’. I was so proud of her!

In the beginning God spoke and the universe came into being. Today our delusion is to imagine that our imagination will change reality. It will – but only in our heads.

The other aspect of this hubris is that a secular elite are imposing a godless world on a world where 90 per cent of people are religious. As Rebecca McLaughlin in Confronting Christianity puts it: “Today, we must wake up to the fact that Lennon’s dream was a fantasy. What is worse, it was a fantasy fuelled by white Western bias and grounded on the assumption that the world would follow where Western Europe led.”


The hypocrisy is breathtaking. They sing “imagine there’s no countries” as the anthem of a competition that is based on countries! If their imagination came true, the Olympics would not exist.

Elvis Costello hit the nail on the head when he observed in his brilliant song, “The Other Side of Summer”, “Was it a millionaire who said imagine no possessions?”.

Even the video of Lennon recording ”Imagine’ has him singing it at his baby grand piano in his white mansion. As a Lennon fan, I visited the Lennon shrine near the Dakota building in Manhattan, where he was shot. Singing “imagine no possessions” while living in a grand apartment in one of the most expensive areas in the world, is a fitting image for a hypocritical society. Rich celebrities sing “imagine no possessions”. The poor don’t have to imagine.


Lennon wants us to imagine that there is nothing to kill or die for. It’s a neat soundbite, but as the book of Ecclesiastes reminds us ‘it’s meaningless vanity”. Would you not be prepared to die for your children? Is there anything to live for, if there is nothing to die for? Martin Luther King declared: “There are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for. And I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” A life without something worth dying for is a hopeless life.

As is an imagined world with no heaven. It’s almost beyond parody that some people sing this hopeless song at a time of mourning. My father died a couple of weeks ago. It is a distressing and hard time – especially when you are at the other side of the globe. I had hoped to see him again in this life, but this was not to be. However I am certain that I will see him again. The hope expressed in the funeral was sure and certain. We grieve and mourn, but not as those with no hope. If I followed Lennon’s imagination I would be in despair.

“Imagine” is a song about hope that is hopeless. There is no hope. There is no meaning. There is no community. People won’t live together in peace because there is nothing to base it on except the radical narcissistic, nihilistic individualism that characterises those who are at the top of the tree in our celebrity culture.

The Biblical Solution

The biblical vision is the direct opposite of the hubristic, hypocritical, hopelessness of “Imagine”. Through Christ we are offered humility, honesty and hope. And it’s reality, not fantasy – from the One who is The Way, The Truth and The Life.

When the Olympics come to Brisbane in 2032 I hope and pray that they will have found a different song. I can suggest one. It’s a 3,000-year-old song from the Middle East – which is for the whole world; not a 50-year-old Western cultural imperialist fantasy.

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

“Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100).

Imagine this ringing out!

May the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea! (Habakkuk 2:14)

Quantum 157 – The One for Intelligent Listeners – including the Olympics, Californian madness and Hatun Tush

Would Jesus Wear A Mask?  – CT



  1. The song is , of course , a dismal Marxian dirge .

    Where did the Irish Catholic Lennon discover his platitudinal lyrics ?

    Lennon doubtless found the relationship between Christianity and Marxism is a complete puzzle.

    Perhaps JL liked Jesus’s ideas, but wished for Marx to meet Jesus in Tikkan Olam Hebrew Heaven.

  2. This dovetails really nicely with what I just posted over on your “David Bowie” page, even down to mentioning the Psalms as a substitute for the atheistic/occult elements of rock music.

    Anyway, I don’t know how accurate this is given some of it comes from Fox News but it is worth reading:

    I had heard before the allegation that Yoko had dabbled in the occult. While US televangelists are dubious at best, if they’d been the path that led Lennon to Christ, they’d have done a wonderful service. It may have only been a passing fad in his drug-addled state of mind but if only Lennon had embraced Christ and been led to salvation, how different things would gave been for him.

    At the very least the stories, if true, show he found no happiness in the fame, money, success and atheistic worldview he promoted in Imagine.

    God bless.

  3. It requires no special critical acumen to discern the Marxoid malice in drivel like ” the last shall be first.”

    I remember seeing a photograph of John Lennon and his female Japanese controller waiting in an Amsterdam hotel bedroom for a chambermaid to remake their bed so that the two posturing revolutionaries could continue their bed – bound protest against the exploitation of workers.

      1. Matthew 20 : 16 references the extreme disadvantage of being rich in the matter of stratospheric post – mortem residence.

  4. “Today our delusion is to imagine that our imagination will change reality. It will – but only in our heads.” Well, the thought that came to my mind wiht the exercise your daughter was asked to perform with imagining Hussein and Bush in the same room and this bringing peace was delusional. Furthermore Jesus himself said that he didn’t come to bring peace but a sword. So while world peace is a praiseworthy aim, there is reality in the paradox that in order to have peace we must train for war.

    And that is the reality of the dynamic we face in the world. You mention Martin Luther King – him advocating love was criticised by Malcom X as being tantamount to being an “uncle Tom” in his view. And of course he was assassinated just as prophets were stoned in the Jerusalem that Jesus wept over, longing to gather the people there as a mother hen gathers her chicks but they would not let him.

    What people need to realise that well wishing the world into peace while being a “nice” thing is platitudinous. Love without power sounds nice but is ineffectual. On the other hand power without love is chaotic and destructive. The best for of power is love because love demands justice and the best form of justice is love because love corrects anything that is not love. Truth is freeing and love never fails.

    Human history shows that there is a limit to what can be achieved by humanitarian measures and failure to learn from the past leads to repeating past mistakes. Only divine love will bring about peace that the world needs but this is something we can all play a part in. Imagination will have it’s place in that to stave off a meaningless nihilistic approach to life and to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And it is the child -like imagination that Jesus encouraged wiht the kingdom of heaven belonging to little children and the need to be likewise to inherit it. But there is also the reassurance that there is the happy ending for all who love God and are called according to his purposes.

    Perhaps that is what we can “imagine” and play our part in?

  5. The Idealism of Berkeley is at the centre of Christian belief! It was ridiculed in the Times a few days back, with a false caricature; but God as a sort of cosmic glue or matrix , in which minds-materials-souls exist, is in essence the message of the Bible: especially the opening line!

  6. God knew I would be reading this at such a time as this. My Mother just passed. Her funeral is yet to be. She was “on the fence” as far as Christianity went for most her life and this song was her anthem. She wanted me to play it at her funeral. I was a Beatle fan but that song though moving was everything you stated in your article here.
    I am praying no one plays it.
    I am a Christian. And repeatedly told her about Gods love and Jesus.
    And in a loving touch from God , she came to know God in these last few weeks of her life. For in the background on our last phone call after she handed the phone to my step dad… I said as usual…We are praying here Mom. And she musters up a “I believe…did you heart that Barbara…I believe!.”
    The next day she passed and I was in shock, it wasn’t expected so soon. And that hit me like a ton of bricks.
    So yeah, thank you for this article.
    Perfect timing.

  7. It’s always comfortable, middle-class snobs, academics or super-rich celebrities who claim that the human race can all get along in perfect harmony without God. I can only assume such people willingly blind themselves to the reality that they are among a very small number of privileged elites whose every need is met by those working for little or no money around the world.

    When someone promises utopia, always ask what they themselves are prepared to sacrifice to make it happen. Jesus sacrificed his life. These people, not so much.

  8. There is a companion song to add to the humanist repertoire – “I did it my way”. At least Sinatra’s song had some musical credence unlike Lennon’s dirge.

    Great post again mate.

  9. Brilliant analysis … there’s one thing I’d like to offer about the phrase “war is over if you want it”. The birth of Jesus- and anything to do with Jesus – is both a declaration of war on Satan and a declaration of peace for all … but receiving Christ and coming to Jesus to claim that peace is something we individuals have to do ourselves – and can only do it if we want it. So the question is, how badly do we want true Peace? Only when we want it enough to follow Him and renounce the world will we see that Peace.

  10. “In the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremonies, there was the sad spectacle of a children’s choir singing the John Lennon song, “Imagine.” While some just think of the song as “pretty” the radical atheist/globalist words are a direct attack on things central to the existence of any civilization. Lennon imagines, with approval, a world without God, religion, or country. In effect no piety, no loyalties, and nothing worth dying for. He also dismissed the idea of heaven, hell, and more than implies that religion, faith and God are the source of violence, greed and disunity.” (Monsignor Charles Pope.)
    But Mgr Pope has some surprising quotations from Lennon.

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