Saturday, July 26, 2008


I have a soft spot for that song, ever since my son sang it during a show at school one year. He was supposed to sing it again in the final show of the year, but suffered an asthma attack. That is what put an end to his singing career. Before that, I'd enrolled him in a choral. That lasted one day - asthma made him cough, and I made the double mistake of putting his (evil) twin in the class too. At the end of the day, the teacher informed me she didn't think the boys were quite choral material. His second grade teacher loved his voice, and because he could sing in English, coached him to sing 'Imagine' by John Lennon. It was quite touching, and I have an old film somewhere of it. So imagine my surprise when I read this:

"A Church of England school dropped John Lennon's song Imagine from a concert because it was not felt to be "an appropriate song to perform publicly", it emerged yesterday.
Pupils at St Leonard's primary school in Exeter were planning to perform Imagine at a recent concert but it was replaced by another song after a teacher expressed concern.
Headteacher Geoff Williams said: "We are a church school and we believe God is the foundation of all we do. As such we did not feel that Imagine was an appropriate song to perform publicly." The lyrics of the song begin: "Imagine there's no heaven." "

I do see their point. I suppose it's far too much to ask a believer to 'imagine' there's no heaven, (and no religion too, as the song goes). But I think it might be a good exercise. After all, why not imagine there is no heaven? It might lead to some interesting conclusions.

Imagine there's no heaven:

I must try and make my stay on earth as wonderful as possible.

I must try and keep the earth in as pristine and perfect shape as possible.

My life is what I make of it here and now. If I'm terribly good, I won't go to heaven, because there isn't a heaven, and if I'm terribly bad, I won't go to hell because there isn't a hell.

When I die, I die, and the only thing that is left will be others' memories of me. (That rather argues toward being good - it's so much nicer to have good memories of someone than bad.)

I think, that for all his posturing, Bush doesn't really believe in heaven. Anyway, the way I see it, there's no way he'd get in even if it did exist.

If there is no heaven (and therefor no hell) - then our earth is both our heaven and hell. If we see it like that, and we know that we can change our environment, we have to accept the fact that it's up to us to create paradise here on earth.

It's a lot easier to make hell. (Pollution, crime, poverty, war, Foxx News...)

It's hard to create a paradise, but if all the people who believed in heaven realized that this is what they're going to get, and there ain't no more, then maybe there'd be more of an effort to clean up the earth.

Some people would argue that not having that 'punishment slash reward' hanging over people's heads wil make them choose the dark side.

I say that's pretty pessimistic, and that people are basically good.

What do you say?


Charles Gramlich said...

Ouch, you've hit a tender spot for me. I'm afraid that I believe that a lot of people, not all, are basically bad. Although I'm not very religious myself, I do suspect that the breakdown in organized religions has been one factor in rising crime rates.

I could easily see some folks saying, oh, if there is no heaven or hell, then I'm gonna get everything I can while I'm here and not worry about who I might hurt.

I think you like and trust people more than I do. I sure hope you are right. And I do know there are a lot of good people too. I'm grateful for them.

pjd said...

I tend to believe that people are basically good, but stupid. Even Bush: I think he really believes in his heart that he's doing good, that he's taking the right course to make the world a better place. He's just wrong about the methods and, I would argue, about his ultimate vision of what makes the world "better."

Terrorists believe in Heaven. They think they are guaranteed a spot in the Hole Hereafter because they kill infidels. It all depends on what you think it takes to get in.

I agree with you, though. The Golden Rule is the most logical course for people who don't think much about an afterlife.

I met a Syracuse professor once, Arthur Brooks, who wrote a lot about things like compassionate conservatism and such. He told me about his next book, which is about he research into happiness. One of his indisputable conclusions (from scientific research) was that people who are generous are happier people. I found that a fascinating concept and hope some day to read his recent book, Gross National Happiness.

Sam said...

Oh thanks for your input guys!

Charles, I think that general crime rates are falling, not rising (if you look at statistics) but murder is still about the same. My father, who worked with the health department, told me that most murders are commited in a passionate rage and are commited between family members and people who know each other.
My take on the matter is that even with the death penalty, which is as horrible as you can get - and with the knowledge that murder is the BIG sin, most people who commit murder not only believe in god (or they do it because of their god) but they don't take into account the heaven/hell or death penalty factor when they act.

Sam said...

PJ - thanks for the link. I'll go check it out.
Giving generously is the key to happiness? That's an interesting idea!