Author Eileen Fleming remembers John Lennon

BoomerCafé is not a religious website. And what you’re about to read from central Florida author Eileen Fleming is not a religious piece. Unless you consider the legacy of the Beatles a religion. Which as she points out, in a way, it is.

The struggle is in the mind. We must bury our own monsters and stop condemning people. We are all Christ and Hitler. We want Christ to win. We’re trying to make Christ’s message contemporary. What would he have done if he had advertisements, records, films, TV and newspapers! Christ made miracles to tell his message. Well, the miracle today is communications, so let’s use it.

The words of John Lennon.

John Lennon

John Lennon

I was nine years old in 1963 and overcome on Thanksgiving Day with images of President Kennedy’s assassination. But it was his little John-John who broke my heart apart during the funeral motorcade. Who could ever forget how he saluted as his father’s casket passed by, his knees exposed on a cold Washington day.

But the gloom was gone by the evening of February 9th the next year, when the Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Their presence, their personalities, and their music raised the collective conscience of my baby boomer generation. Our beliefs and attitudes rapidly changed.

But not long after that, in 1966, the Beatles became embroiled in a religious controversy and my life again changed.

Author Eileen Fleming with her memory of John Lennon, "Give me some truth."

Author Eileen Fleming with her treasured memory of John Lennon, “Give me some truth.”

Although John Lennon made his remark in March that year, it was not until July—while in the back seat of a gold 1964 Ford Galaxy with two of my three brothers and our folks up front— that I heard on the radio that John Lennon had said that The Beatles “were more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first; rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.”

Just at that moment we entered New York City’s Holland Tunnel and the radio cut out. My Pop nearly had a stroke at the wheel when I blurted out, “John is so right! My friends and I know every lyric to every Beatles song there is, but nobody ever quotes Jesus. And if Jesus is supposed to be on the side of the poor, why doesn’t the church sell all their art work and Pope jewelry and go and feed them?”

[Writer Eileen Fleming’s new book – Wabi Sabi Body ETERNAL SPIRIT – is now available at Amazon.com]

A few months later, immediately after the family ritual of Saturday afternoon confession, I knelt at the altar as always and began to mindlessly repeat the same old prayers, which were the same as the prescribed penance had always been.

In the middle of the three ritual Our Fathers and ten ritual Hail Marys, it hit me like a light! Those words I uttered never changed anything, and I got up and turned my back on the church as I walked out the doors of St. Bernard’s in Levittown, Long Island, convinced I was doomed for hell, for I had failed at Confession!

I never doubted there was a God, but as John Lennon said and I still believe, “What people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong … You’re just left with yourself all the time, whatever you do anyway. You’ve got to get down to your own God in your own temple. It’s all down to you, mate … All we are saying is, Give peace a chance … All you need is love … Imagine all the people living life in peace.”

What Lennon also said is what I think to this very day: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one …”

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