Monday, 14 September 2009

thick and ordinary

Interesting piece on The Telegraph blog today about John Lennon by Michael Deacon. Deacon highlights some of the overlooked comments made by Lennon in his ‘We’re more popular than Jesus now’ interview with Maureen Cleave for the London Evening Standard in 1966. It was the Jesus comment that caujohn_lennonght the headlines at the time, but Deacon draws attention to other remarks which might cause more of a stir today than they did over 40 years ago. In particular Deacon notes Lennon’s remarks about foreign people being ugly; not much evidence of the famous Lennon wit there.

On what Lennon had to say about Christianity, Deacon comments: ‘The Christian-baiting (”Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary”) would, I suspect, be largely overlooked or condoned..’

Here is Lennon’s comment about Christianity in full:

'Christianity will go,' he said. 'It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first-rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.'

Lennon’s observation that the disciples were ‘thick and ordinary’ is actually a very perceptive theological insight, not an insult. The truth is that the picture of the disciples given to us in the Gospels is that they were ‘thick and ordinary’. Jesus spent his time amongst the ordinary people of his day and he was sneered at and ridiculed because of the people he associated with. The disciples were not very good at observing the religious niceties; many of them came from the region around Galilee and were looked down on by the elite in Jerusalem; some of them had disreputable occupations; they continually misunderstood Jesus, argued with each other and made mistakes; they doubted and questioned what Jesus was up to and their motives were sometimes suspect. Jesus knew all this about his followers and yet he chose them to be his disciples. That is part of the Good News that Jesus came to share; the Kingdom of God is for the weak, the foolish, the despised and the ignored.

As for Lennon’s prophecy that Christianity will ‘vanish and shrink’ (sic), time will tell, but I suspect it will prove to be as accurate as his observation that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

Thanks to Pete Banks for reminding me of Philip Norman's book John Lennon: The Life which has been reviewed by Nick Baines.


BanksyBoy said...

Excellent post: 'Lennon’s observation that the disciples were ‘thick and ordinary’ is actually a very perceptive theological insight, not an insult' ... spot on Canon!

Just reading Philip Norman's book on Lennon who writes of the unusual relationship John had with Maureen who was his 'favourite journalist'. Highly recommended.

Philip Ritchie said...

Thanks Pete, did you see Nick Baines' post on Norman's book posted at ?

BanksyBoy said...

I did indeed, in fact, Bishop Nick's post is what prompted me to get the book! Have you read his own 'Finding Faith' title?

Philip Ritchie said...

Haven't got round to reading 'Finding Faith' yet. I went to +Nick's sessions at Spring Harvest earlier this year and they were very stimulating.