Imagine…All Religion is True?by jason on Jan. 06, 2012, under Armageddon, Art & Culture, Christian Self-Righteous Arrogance, Christianity, Clarity, Critical Thinking, Faith, Fundamentalism, God & Bible, Language, Logic, Reason, Religion, Sanity, Terrorism, That's Life!, Willful Ignorance
Here’s the latest from Jim Wilson:
I saw Cee Lo Green perform John Lennon’s Imagine at Times Square this new year (not live, but on YouTube), and was not surprised that many of my fellow atheists as well as many religious people were upset at his changing of one of the lyrics. The original lyric, of course was “Imagine… and no religion too.” That line was changed to “and all religion is true”. Here are my thoughts:
First off, I like Cee Lo and nearly all of his music and I have for years. He has a great voice, comes up with original songs and generally has a message that many people should hear, despite that it occasionally has religion mixed in with it. I liked his work as a solo artist, including a certain piece he turned into a mockery of Fox News on the Colbert Report: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/365067/november-09-2010/cee-lo-green as well as his work Gnarls Barkley and especially his work with Goodie MOB (whose name means “the Good die Mostly Over Bullsh*t). Their album Soul Food, especially, managed to combine soulfulness and a overall positive message with gangster rap in a sound that uniquely represented the streets of Atlanta Georgia. Their music documented street life rather than glorifying it, and gave a rather realistic look at poverty, crime and drugs. Many of these songs criticized things like shallow materialism, irresponsibility and using drugs instead of facing one’s own problems and bettering one’s self, though it was presented from voices that knew what they were talking about and admittedly dabbled in some of these vices themselves.
I’m happy to see Cee Lo still topping charts and appearing at high profile events like bringing in the New Years Eve ceremony. I think he brings way more to the table and has much more to say than the vast majority of pop stars. That said, I do have issue with his cover of Imagine. For one, I don’t think covering John Lennon’s solo work or the Beatles (or led Zeppelin and much of the Beach Boys work for that matter) is generally conducive to improving or even complementing the original. In short, I say if it’s not broken don’t fix it. Also, I figure if you are going to cover a song, you should do a less well known song. There are so many wonderful pieces that don’t get much play, and it is great to expose an audience to something they haven’t heard before.
I take issue with altered lyrics. Cee Lo’s message was not the message that Lennon wrote the song to convey. He said no religion, and he meant it. The change very much contradicts the spirit of the song. The rewrite seems to be in the spirit of inclusiveness. It has the fatal flaw of proposing something impossible and horrendous. Simply put, all religions cannot be true because they make many mutually exclusive claims. Many religious groups believe that they alone are God’s chosen people or that one particular god or particular version of a god is exclusively the only one. This is why religions tend to be exclusive and divisive.
Furthermore, I don’t want all religion to be true. For example, I am very happy the hate-filled vengeful version of the Christian God promoted by the Westboro baptist church (AKA the “God Hates America” people) is not real. I am also glad that the Space Aliens of Scientology and the murderous God of the Taliban does not exist. The prospect of all these being simultaneously existing or being different incarnations of the same being is not an appealing concept the more one thinks about it.