Imagine (Part 2) The Olympics

It’s kinda bizarre to consider how the song Imagine, by John Lennon, can advocate “no religion” and still be thought of as a religious or “spiritual” song. The tune is played on church bells, performed by church choirs, and is believed by some to speak about a “spiritual brotherhood” of man. It's kinda bizarre that avowed atheists can embrace it as they imagine a world where God is dead and there is no resurrection of the man named Jesus Christ. In a sense the song has universal appeal; it even evokes a sort of religious spirit to it, as it about spiritual things, but then again, not really. It’s about there being no heaven or hell. It bizarre, but it’s perhaps one reason why the song was selected to be highlighted at a 2006 major world event…the Olympics.

The Olympic Games

Legend is that Hercules, the son of the Greek God Zeus, ruler of all the “gods” is the one who established the first Olympic Games sometime around 776 BC in the valley of Olympia, Greece. One should keep in mind that this was more than a sport. It was a religion and going to the games was a religious experience for the people.

The Olympic games were considered the highest expression of Hellenistic religion and ritual but more than that they were raw. They were savage. Sometimes only the fittest would survive. The one who was the strongest, the fastest and the swiftest, would be the one whom the gods would bestow their favors... fertility, fame and of course, fortune.

The games were full of ritual and pageantry and both religious and political beliefs and practices were deeply entwined in the production of the event. It generated revenue for the temples and their prostitutes, as people traveled to watch the games and be part of the ceremonies to the multiplicity of gods and goddesses which were worshipped. There was revenue and notoriety to be gained the hosting government as well, not to mention the local butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, and other various business entrepreneurs, as hordes of athletes and athletic devotees made pilgrimage to attend.

The official games were played every four years like clockwork through the centuries until Emperor Theodosius abolished the games in 394 AD, citing that he believed the nudity and violence, as well as the bloody religious sacrifices that were integral to the games were immoral, (this of course based upon the Christianizing of the Greek and Roman world by the apostles in the previous centuries. Then, for the next 1500 years the Olympics were ancient history, buried beneath the ever changing landscape of the earth, that is, at least until 1875. In 1875, the ruins of the famous Olympic events were excavated and a Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was inspired. He began his lifelong pursuit, that of rekindling the long-lost Olympic flame.

Coubertin not only spent his personal fortune, but his life to making his dream of reinstating the Olympics. He believed that healthy competition would instill quality character in young people. He also believed that people having a national pride and patriotism would help promote a sort of universal ethics, something that he believed would promote peace between the nations of the world. Coubertin is not only known as the man who made his dream become reality, but he is known as the father of Olympism, a “philosophy of life” that uses sports to teach “the balance of body, will and mind.”

It was April 5, 1896, when the first World Olympic Games since 394 were held in Athens, but it didn’t happen without difficulty. Not everyone or every country was willing to participate in or to help fund the games. One of the reasons was the pagan origins of the games, another is the sheer difficulty in promoting friendly games between warring nations. Just the same, over time the idea of using sports and sporting events to unite a diverse world seems to be catching on.

In the Olympics, winning is everything. An athlete has to be not only the best that they can be, but they must be better than all of the rest of the competition. In the process, some competitors have been willing to compromise integrity for the win. Many athletes have fallen into the use of drugs that dangle promise as they follow personal dreams of winning the highly coveted titles of glory and fame, not to mention the subsequent financial opportunities. With so much financial opportunity, the games become more than merely "games.' When winning becomes everything, then countries and spectators have had their ethical issues too.

Just like in the olden days of Athens, part of the planning process for the Olympics involves calling an “Olympic Truce,” and it is no easy task. This involves not just getting nations, but getting criminals to halt the crime and convincing terrorists to take a respite so people can get together. In the past, Olympic games have had to be canceled due to World Wars I and II. It is common for the games to be used as political targets.

At the Olympics in Munich, Germany, 1972, a band of terrorists called Black September attacked an Olympic weightlifting team and took several of them hostage. The watching world was stunned as terrorists beat one with the butt of a gun on international television. Rescue attempts failed and eleven members of the kidnapped group were murdered.

The games continued although the competition was suspended briefly due to the hostage-taking, and later Olympic memorial services were held and televised. The Olympic flag itself was flown half-mast in honor of those who had died. It's interesting to note that as the flags of participating countries were lowered, ten participating nations balked at this, having no desire to honor those that died. Instead of allowing their flags to be lowered, they demanded to raise their country’s flags. They did, and the games continued.

In Atlanta Georgia, USA 1996, a pipe bomb explosion from an abandoned back, killed two and injured over a hundred people in Centennial Olympic Park. Eric Robert Rudolph, who was subsequently tracked down and arrested for the crime, pleaded guilty. In his statements, he attempted to justify his actions, saying he deplored his country's (USA) “sanctioning of abortion on demand.” and their sponsoring of the Olympics which celebrated what he called, the values of global socialism, as “perfectly expressed in the song Imagine by John Lennon,” (Rudolph’s statement; Wikipedia)

When it became known that Rudolph was involved in other politically motivated crimes, the media labeled him a "Christian Terrorist." Apparently he appeared religious, either that or the media wanted him to seem that way. He was not a Christian terrorist however, for not only is that an oxymoronic term, but Rudolph himself in letters, (as reported by USA Today) says he is not a “sinner in need of salvation” and makes claims to reading Nietzsche, not the Bible.

Rudolph was serving four terms of life imprisonment for his crimes when Lennon’s famous song, Imagine, was played for the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics held in Turino, Italy.

(more on the next post.. Imagine Part 3)


There is a popular song, called “Imagine” by John Lennon that has been around since 1971. It’s one of those songs that the world, especially Americans, knows and loves. The original song has not only graced our phonographs, tapedecks, CD players and public airwaves for decades, but has been reproduced in many forms. It is even played by symphony orchestras and marching bands as well as sung as a lullaby for sleepy children. The song lyrics tell the listener that a wonderful world of unity and peace can be attained by all humanity if we would only try to picture the reality of such a place somewhere it in our minds- that is, if only we would “Imagine.”

At first glance, (if “glancing” is what one does with ears and eardrums,) the simple song is merely a sweet, soft, melody that spreads a message of brotherly love and peace on earth, goodwill to men. The sweet gentle whispers are so pleasing to the ear, that it’s quite hard to imagine that the words of such a song could in any way be amiss. The listener is taken away into a sort of tranquility, one which speaks of a lofty, desirable and even likable goal, a good and noble pursuit... that of peace on earth. However the lyrics deserve a second look, an investigation of detail. Even things seen with the eyes are not always what they seem to be at first glance, when you take the time to look a little deeper.

If you have ears to hear, then you will understand how it is that such lyrics discredit gospel of Jesus Christ and in particular the biblical doctrine of heaven and of hell. The lyrical loathing for biblical truth is quite conspicuous. More disheartening is that the lyrics invite the listening person to completely dismiss the reality of God, no matter their religion. The suggestion is that humans need only to imagine the world to be much different than they do, and then it will all magically change.

This is remarkable.

It's remarkable because the longing of the human heart is peace and sanity in a world of chaos and crisis and crime. It's the song of a world seeking peace and unity of heart mind and spirit, yet the offered solution, if one listens to Lennon's lyrics, is atheism. It's remarkable because some churches, and many people who would profess to be Christian, sing and really like this song.

John Lennon, of the famed rock band the Beatles, shared the cry of his own human heart with the world in his music, and this song was no exception. Lennon’s heart cry was, “Make love, not war!” “Love is the answer.” Love and peace was a major philosophy of the Beatles' music. Popular in the 1960’s while the Vietnam War was taking place on the other side of the world, the band was asked once in an interview, “Do you plan to record any anti-war songs?” It was John Lennon who spoke out for the group and said, “All our songs are anti-war.”

PEACE. LOVE. PEACE. LOVE. All you need is love.....
Love is all you need.

It is rather ironic that while promoting peace and love on planet Earth these four men had major disagreements and often found themselves challenged to love, even one another. They gave a lot of lip service and musical notations to an idealized world of love, they but in reality they could not even get along between themselves. They certainly had fame and fortune, but tragically they lacked the very thing they sang about in their song... peace and love... in the personal dealings, they had with each other, in their relationships as friends.

The macrocosm of George, Paul, John and Ringo, known to the world as The Beatles, was a lot like the rest of humanity. They did a lot of things quite well together, even appreciated one another's individual talents and abilities. they gave of themselves and took freely what each had to lend to being a group, but they were, just the same as every other person on the plant, human, and being human they had their share of disagreements.

The Beatles didn’t always get along. They had differing opinions about which songs to include and not include on albums, how to arrange the songs, and even about whom would get the credit for a melody or a lyric. They had disappointments and failures. It’s rather ironic that despite their wisdom for the world about love, peace and unity, their own disagreements became irreconcilable. The Beatles broke up.

The first sign of the break up was in 1968. George Harrison released an independent album. Then in 1969, Paul McCartney announced that the Beatles would never work together again.
The world was shocked. The Beatles had come to a point when they decided that they couldn’t love, or live in peace with one another any longer.

Fans hoped for a reunion or even reconciliation between band members for years, but it never happened. The band dissolved with the stroke of a pen. As the ink dried on the page, finalizing the dissolution of the once recognized partnership between them, the Beatles Era ended; and from then on, the four band members remained solo.

There were a lot of things that may have contributed to their falling apart, but one thing that was a key element was the 1967 death of mutual friend and band manager, Brian Epstein, who died of a drug overdose.

At the time of Brian’s death, the band was studying spirituality under the tutelage of a Maharishi whose influence could be seen in their personal lives and in their music. The Maharishi’s flowery solution to the heavy burden they carried about the death of their beloved friend, was simply “to smile” and “be happy” about it, something very hard for them to do, for their souls were unsettled and deeply grieved by Brian’s death. They love him and were at a deep spiritual loss.

Consumed with their own lives and problems, and now each carrying the heavy burden of sadness and caught up in looking to the eastern spirituality of their guru for answers to all their questions about life, and death was too much. They could not simply "smile and be happy" when they were so sad, so deep inside. There was no reserve within them to find the strength or reason to continue pressing on as they had been, especially now without Brian. Helpless and weak, looking for answers and finding nothing but grief and turmoil, being told to "just be happy," there was no longer any glue to hold them together. They fell apart.

John Lennon, who wrote the song Imagine, was not a complete stranger to Christian thoughts and practice. He is often quoted as saying, “the Beatles have more influence over youth than Christ.” In a 1969 interview, Lennon even said he was, “one of Christ’s biggest fans.” Jesus however, was not simply, like Lennon, a Rock Star. Lennon may have heard of Christ Jesus, much like the rest of the world, but he never really knew him, and if he did, he kept him at a distance, for in the crisis of it all Lennon turned elsewhere to find the peace of mind and heart he so desired.

After the death of Brian, it was Lennon who most expressed his disappointment with the so called "wisdom" of the Maharishi that the band had learned spirituality from for years. He and his wife Yoko Ono, ventured forth onto another spiritual journey looking to quell the pain.

There was a pain that afflicted John quite deeply. It was more than disagreements with friends, more than the death of someone he really loved. It was a lot of things together, and things on top of things as well. It would seem from all that everyone has to write and say about John Lennon's history and his life, that the main reason for John's pain was his parents divorce. More specifically the intense feelings he held within himself regarding his father's abandonment of little John, when he was only five.

John now decided that the guru master Maharishi spoke utter nonsense, but he was still searching for answers, so he and Yoko began delving into something called “Primal Scream Therapy” with it’s developers, Arthur and Vivian Janov. John seems to have felt it promised the release he now needed and he believed it would help him deal with the pain.

Lennon discussed this “primal scream therapy” and the reasons he did it with radio celebrity Howard Stern in a 1970 radio interview. He commented, “… as the years go by the pain doesn’t go away, the pain of living, you have to kill yourself to survive. This (Primal Therapy) allows you to live and survive without killing yourself.” He elaborated, “I had to do it to really kill off all the religious myths.”

John believed that he was somehow now, “facing up to reality instead of always looking for some kind of heaven."

A year later in 1971, Lennon released "Imagine. "

To Imagine

By definition, to "imagine" means simply to form a mental image of something.... anything, in your mind. It means, “to think,” “to expect,” “to believe,” “to suppose,” to daydream", or “to fantasize.” All you have to do to "imagine" is visualize a concept or thought.

When a person is imagining something, they can essentially imagine anything they want to. It can be good things or bad things, it can be something real and possible or something outlandish and totally make-believe. It can even be something utterly ridiculous or obscene. Whatever it is, it belongs to the person and supposedly exists in their own private realm of existence, at least until the thought it shared.

The beauty of the human imagination is that it can hold anything, literally ANYTHING, a person chooses to think of! With this in mind, it might be easy to conclude that thought and imagination is somehow, ‘only in the mind,’ and therefore it is of little or no importance to a real and tangible world, but it is worth considering that the opposite might in fact be the truth of the matter. After all, we do commonly understand that even some of the most extravagantly fanciful fantasies of mankind throughout human history have somehow come to fruition in reality. In fact, some of the greatest human inventions, some of the most inspiring tales had their origin in the mind, or more precisely, the human imagination.

Seemingly obscure and secret, a private and personal place, what is in the imagination of a person tends to bubble up to the surface from time to time. It is as if a person is like a spring or a brook, and from the waters within a man or woman out flows the creativity that wells up within their minds. It bubbles up and out from somewhere deep inside and over flows out of a person in the form of an idea. That thing at work inside, can be seen at work outside, though outside of what we think of and marvel over as creative genius, it remains somewhat a mystery.

It is mysterious indeed, but it does exist; and while we perhaps think that it only exists somewhere far away from earth in space and time, we know it is very much a part of a person in the here and now. It is a little like a personal garden where thoughts and feelings are cultivated and from the soil of the imagination, things emerge. Sometimes they emerge into the world at large.

Whether it’s a child playing with toys, or an adult manipulating symbols on a screen or mulling over the items in the closed refrigerator that one might cook with or eat, people of all shapes and size and age imagine things everyday. We imagine incredible feats of human engineering, like buildings, bridges, tools, and machines we imagine our ideas for artistic endeavors like paintings, stories, songs, music and films. Men and women, both children and adults, even madman and genius alike can and do, harness this unique and wonderful power... imagination.

So what is this mysterious power? Is it something that evolved? Is it something that one can learn or develop, something to be increased with patient practice or is it simply a matter of being human? Do other living things upon this planet... imagine?

Whatever you believe about the source of the imagination, one thing people can agree upon is that mankind, with his power to think, imagine and create, is quite unique on this planet. Some would even agree that humans are unique in the entire galaxy, perhaps even in the universal world. In the struggle to understand who we (humans) are, where we (human beings) came from and where is it that we (all of us both collectively and individually) are going, (even after death) there are many speculations, formulations and ideas. Within this mix, many people insist that human life is about much more than being a cog in a cosmic machine, they believe that people should be more, much more than a robotic entity performing repetitive functions. Humans have the power to imagine.

David, of biblical heritage, prayed...

"But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.

O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own. I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.

of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee: And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision. "

David said to all the congregation, "Now bless the LORD your God."

And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshiped the LORD, and the king.

1 Chronicles 29: 16-20

One Nation Under God

There is a nation under God. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
There is a nation rising, and it's rising is like the rising of the morning sun.

It is nation of people, people from every tongue and tribe. It is a nation of people who are called to be God's own purchased possession, purchased and cleansed of sin by faith, faith in the One who gave them life. His name is Jesus Christ. They are His people, people washed by the blood of the Lamb.

They are people of the Spirit, but not the spirit of the world.
These are they who are born of flesh and reborn into the Spirit, led of the Spirit, people born of the spirit of God.

Can you imagine such a nation?

It's a nation without borders where all the people are as one. (John 17:11, 21,22) It stretches from the foundation of the earth itself (John 17:24) to the boundless realms of heaven far above the sky. (Psalm 50:6; 97:6; 102:25; 136:5)

Together the people of this holy nation are like a temple unto God, a temple built without human plans, or human origin; a temple not built with humans hands, but somewhere deep beneath the heart. With one heart, one mind and soul, the people of this are one people, a royal priesthood, and together with the hosts of heaven they sing praise and thanksgiving to their creator, God and king. The Lord Jesus Christ, they call him; Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

They are His holy people.
They marvel at his wonders. They give glory to his name.

Washed of sin and completely, they stand forever redeemed. They are His purchased possession. They are secure and safe from all harm. They stand forever, forever in his hand. They are a royal nation, a holy nation, immovable and strong, incorruptible, and this will withstand the test of even time. The gates of hell cannot prevail, for Jesus Christ has built his church. (Matthew 16:18) It stands forever. Like the sand that is the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, it cannot prevail, but merely pass over.

Storms may strike, clouds and waves may come and go, night may fall, and even death may overtake the body, but no evil can prevail.
Death had no sting,
sin has no victory.
Jesus Christ is King and he has paid the price for sin. His people are redeemed.

They stand in awe, redeemed forever.


They are sealed, by the Holy Spirit, the very breath of God.

They rest, trust, hope, in Him, waiting for a new day to begin. They are his children.

Children of a promise, the children of the King, legitimate heirs; children of a faithful father.

They are sons and daughters of a kinsmen redeemer, the one who is the rightful owner of the earth, the one who rules and reigns forever from on high. God.

Like Abraham, they believe,
and rightly reason
that God is perfect in all his ways,
capable of anything,
even of raising the dead to life.

Like the apostles, they follow Jesus.
They listen.
They watch.
They trust.
They pray.

They follow in the footsteps of Jesus. They follow Paul as he follows Christ himself.
They trust in God, and in his Holy Word,
not man or mammon,
and they wait
for deliverance…
which they with their own eyes will one day see
for God, they know, is faithful... and true.

Like those before them
who have walked the narrow road and traveled through the valley of the shadow of death,
they do not walk alone.

Jesus died for them. in their place. They are one with Him, at one with him.


They have a shepherd who loves them, who laid down his own life and took it up again,
and they believe that one-day,
in but the twinkling of an eye,
at the sound of the last trumpet,
He will return
and they will meet Him in the clouds.
Then the whole nation will be raised…
they will be forever free.
There is a nation rising.

One nation, under God, indivisible... with liberty and justice for all.