At the age of 12, in the summer of 1966, inspired by John Lennon’s honesty, I tuned out the Catholic Church.
Up until I was about six years old, every Sunday morning was spent in a glass-encased room at St. Bernard’s one holy Roman Catholic Church, in Levittown, Long Island. The glass-encased room was called, and literally was, the Cry Room. Growing up with television, it was natural for me to stand up close against the soundproof glass and watch the show on the other side. Every so often, I’d hear the priest’s voice filter through the loudspeaker above my head. But it was all Latin to me: and back then, it really was!
I see myself now, just as I was then, surrounded by squirming kids and uptight adults, engulfed by the sounds of crying and whining, and I truly believed that was church. Once my younger brothers had grown, I got to be in the main room and the show lost its mystery to me, for the Latin had been changed to English and quickly became routine.
When I was 9, in 1963, three life altering events occurred. By Thanksgiving that year, I was overfilled with images of JFK being shot and John-John during that motorcade. He was just a little guy in a short coat with his knees exposed who saluted as his father’s casket rode by and many of America’s other children also bid goodbye to childhood.
But, three months later, the gloom was gone, for the Beatles appeared on a Sunday night in my living room, and the world as I had known it changed again.
In the summer of ’66, it was reported that John Lennon made a comment to a friend and reporter that the Beatles were more popular with my generation than Jesus was. I agreed with him, for my friends and I knew every lyric to every Beatles song, but nobody ever quoted Jesus.
Lennon made me think about my own hypocrisy, and that led me to drop the institutional church. In the month of July on a Saturday afternoon, immediately after the ritual of weekly confession; I knelt at the altar and mindlessly repeated the same old prayers as the week prior. But on that particular day in '66, in the middle of the three Our Fathers and ten Hail Mary's, it hit me like a light. Those words that I uttered never changed anything, and I got up and walked out, convinced I was doomed for hell, for I had failed at Confession!
I never doubted there was a God, but as John said and I believed, “that 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…Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
Lennon said and sang, “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. 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...Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”
William Blake penned, “Imagination is evidence of the Divine.”
On October 9, 2005, I wrote on my BLOG:
John Lennon would have been 65 at exactly 6:35 PM today........On 3/7/04 inside of 216 North Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida "When I'm 64" the traveling Lennon Art for Sale Show to benefit Instant Karma Adopt-A-Classroom; helping teachers, helping Children show cased the Love and Art of John for Yoko and Sean.
216 [2+1+6=9] North Park Avenue had previously been a Victoria's Secret and in the far end where bras had once hung had now become a temporary shrine of unending love of a father for his son. The drawings upon the walls had been created out of play between John and Sean. Yoko had lightly tinged them pastel and turned them into a book called Real Love.
I was captivated by one in particular titled "Sheep Meadowing" in which sheep had levitated into the sky and had morphed into clouds above the heads of sheep meadowing. After a time of timelessness cogitating upon those sheep, I reluctantly pulled my head back through the clouds to continue on to the second Gathering of Women for Peace, where sisters of every color and creed gathered in harmony at the Mosque in East Orlando. We came together to imagine what Peace in the World would look like and what we could do to make it happen.
All day long in my inner ear I did hear "Revolution 9" from the White Album tuned in so very clear and with a few new lyrics:
Number 9 Number 9 Number 9.... Let all who are little come in here, Wisdom has built her house; come eat her food and drink her wine and walk in the ways of understanding [Proverbs 9]...I'm so very small I'm so very small, already within the heart of every atom yet extend Beyond the Universe and connect every mother and child....Number 9 Number 9 Number 9.......
...Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends...I believe that as soon as people want peace in the world they can have it. The only trouble is they are not aware they can get it.-John Lennon
PS-A print of SHEEP MEDOWING hangs above my bathtub.