Well not really!
For those who haven’t kept up to date with his ramblings, Banana-man has decided to write a new book titled “The Beatles: God and the Bible” (sounds really exciting). Now i know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover but in this case i can infer at least that stylistically there could be much carried over from an earlier screed titled “Hitler: God and the Bible” (which I’m not going to review unless someone mysteriously sends me it as a Christmas present) in that Comfort’s using “Historical Character X” only to disseminate his own evangelical nonsense regardless of whether or not said evangelical nonsense has anything to do with said Historical character. With the latter book i mentioned, as you all may remember, he turned it’s intellectual comments into a short 33 min video which i proved the case to be. In that video he basically equated abortion to the Holocaust and added in to the mix that Hitler was not a christian by using quotations of dubious origin. Because that obviously helps his evangelical message. But even if we somehow accept that Hitler was Anti-christian anyways it would still remain the case that the comparison of the Holocaust to Abortion (which was the main point of that film) is silly, especially in the context of what the Nazis actually did with regards to the subject as i pointed out.
I mention all of this because Ray Comfort’s made a brand new movie, based upon his latest evangelical work which i guess in the spirit of the last one, i have to review right?
Here it is in all it’s Christian Glory
So what do we have here?
We have something that stylistically speaking is an almost carbon-copy of 180. In both cases we have Ray talking to a cherry-picked conglomerate of idiots (and this time one of which believes Lennon to be the 14th President of the USA) spliced with Ray “talking” about historical character. Let’s deal with those segments first as i did with 180. The first of which deals with the contextualization of Lennon’s line that the line that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus”:
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I am right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first– rock and roll or christianity. Jesus was alright, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.” – Lennon, as quoted in Maureen Cleave, “How Does A Beatle Live?” London Evening Standard, March 4th 1966.
Let’s listen to Ray’s contextualization:
Could it be that [the context for these words] john’s words were motivated by the spiritual climate in the UK of the time? Generally speaking traditional services in 1960’s England were a little dull, with dry hymms, monotone priests and ministers who preached lifeless sermons to a group of sad elderly people. They often sat in a cold stone building, appropriately surrounded by a graveyard. So there you have Christianity from the perspective from a young and vibrant John Lennon. It was dying if not dead and Jesus was simply an interesting, but historical figure that had little relevance with contemporary British youth who were going wild over the beatles. And seeing that the average British teenager was about as interested in British Christianity as a toddler was in Shakespeare written in Pig Latin.
This of course, supported by the following:
Q: “Some teenagers have repeated your statements– ‘I like the Beatles more than Jesus Christ.’ What do you think about that?”
JOHN: “Well, originally I was pointing out that fact in reference to England– that we meant more to kids than Jesus did, or religion, at that time. I wasn’t knocking it or putting it down, I was just saying it as a fact. And it’s sort of… It is true, ‘specially more for England than here. I’m not saying that we’re better, or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing or whatever it is, you know. I just said what I said and it was wrong, or was taken wrong. And now it’s all this.” – Source
So to the untrained eye, all might seem convincing. Yes in context it does indeed imply that Lennon was talking about the state of Christianity versus the Beatles own popularity, but it’s what Ray doesn’t show that’s the most telling. Comparing the state of popularity between two characters (or groups or whatever) is not necessarily the same as an analysis into Lennon’s own views on Religion. Ray is obviously spinning all the above to imply that Lennon was, at the height of Beatlemania, a Christian, albeit one who is regretting one of his statements being taken out of context. So let’s Compare Ray’s spin to what the Beatles actually thought of themselves, at the time. The following comes from an interview they gave in the February 1965 issue of Playboy:
PLAYBOY: “You guys seem to be pretty irreverent characters. Are any of you churchgoers?”
PAUL: “Not particularly. But we’re not antireligious. We probably seem antireligious because of the fact that none of us believe in God.”
JOHN: “If you say you don’t believe in God, everybody assumes you’re antireligious, and you probably think that’s what we mean by that. We’re not quite sure ‘what’ we are, but I know that we’re more agnostic than atheistic.”
PLAYBOY: “Are you speaking for the group, or just for yourself.”
JOHN: “For the group.”
GEORGE: “John’s our official religious spokesman.”
PAUL: “We all feel roughly the same. We’re all agnostics.”
JOHN: “Most people are, anyway.”
RINGO: “It’s better to admit it than to be a hypocrite.”
JOHN: “The only thing we’ve got against religion is the hypocritical side of it, which I can’t stand. Like the clergy is always moaning about people being poor, while they themselves are all going around with millions of quid worth of robes on. That’s the stuff I can’t stand.”
PAUL: “A new bronze door stuck on the Vatican.”
RINGO: “Must have cost a mighty penny.”
PAUL: “But believe it or not, we’re not anti-Christ.”
RINGO: “Just anti-Pope and anti-christian.”
PAUL: “But you know, in America…”
GEORGE: “They were more shocked by us saying we were agnostics.”
JOHN: “Then they went potty; they couldn’t take it. Same as in Australia, where they couldn’t stand us not liking sports.”
PAUL: “In America, they’re fanatical about God. I know somebody over there who said he was an atheist. The papers nearly refused to print it because it was such shocking news that somebody could actually be an atheist… yeah… and admit it.”
RINGO: “He speaks for all of us.”
So in actuality the Beatles were, at the time, open Agnostics who even though they held a good opinion of Christ himself (A view more common than you would think amongst non Christians) they were opposed to the organized religions of the day. Ray than proceeds to quote a chap called “Steve Turner” who wrote a book called “The Gospel according to the Beatles”. The thing is that this “Steve Turner” actually agrees with me that, at the time the Beatles were agnostic. His thesis is i must stress that the Beatles later converted to having belief in God after experiencing LSD. You can decide on that one because I’m not going to bother disputing it here.
So back to the interviews with the idiots, and the question of how Lennon died, “Plane crash” seems to be the most popular idea although this is nonsense, Ray reminds us he was murdered. This adds nothing meaty to the film, except only to set up the next segment of interviews where Ray asks “Where is Lennon now?” before asking a set of dodgy moral questions so biased to the “wrong option” it becomes almost expected a majority regardless of a personal belief in God would indeed answer, “yes i would indeed rob a bank and murder so-and-so” (Wait, didn’t he also ask in 180 if it was A-Ok to murder Hitler? hmmm) The conclusion being that “if there is no god there is no morality” or as Ray puts it:
“Notice how in these cases what it was that separated those who would commit murder from those who wouldn’t, it was a god given belief in Moral accountability. When a nation loses that restraint, that guiding conviction, it will become lawless and ultimately spin out of control,”
Even though so-far we’ve been given no clue as to what the beliefs of those who said they would murder actually are, oh and belief in God doesn’t preclude one from stealing which is also immoral. I have in mind in particular the one who says “I’m not gonna kill nobody but I’ll be Robin Hood”, so much for godly morality on that front huh? Talk about Ray shooting himself in the foot by including that clip in the film.
Ray continues with what he thinks is the cause for all this moral degeneracy:
“There is nothing that get’s rid of Moral accountability, like Atheistic Evolution, the belief that there is No god and that we’re the descendants of Primates.”
And this explains Mr Robin Hood wannabe how? Also belief in God does not preclude one from committing grievous acts of Murder as even the most superficial glance of History will show. I’m skipping all his ranting and raving over “where everything came from” because that’s another one of Ray’s slippery tricks to his audience so i can get to this, Ray Comfort, proclaiming Lennon to be a Creationist with this quote (obviously) from Lennon:
“I don’t believe in the evolution of fish to monkeys to men. Why aren’t monkeys changing into men now? It’s absolute garbage. They set up these idols and then they knock them down. It keeps all the old professors happy in the university. It gives them something to do. Everything they told me as a kid has already been disproved by the same type of “experts” who made them up in the first place.”
Now let’s see what Ray Comfort conveniently omits out:
“Nor do I think we came from monkeys, by the way… That’s another piece of garbage. What the hell’s it based on? We couldn’t’ve come from anything–fish, maybe, but not monkeys. I don’t believe in the evolution of fish to monkeys to men. Why aren’t monkeys changing into men now? It’s absolute garbage. It’s absolutely irrational garbage, as mad as the ones who believe the world was made only four thousand years ago, the fundamentalists. That and the monkey thing are both as insane as the apes standing up suddenly. The early men are always drawn like apes, right? Because that fits in the theory we have been living with since Darwin. I don’t buy that monkey business. [Singing] “Too much monkey business…” [Laughing] I don’t buy it. I’ve got no basis for it and no theory to offer, I just don’t buy it. Something other than that. Something simpler. I don’t buy anything other than “It always was and ever shall be.” I can’t conceive of anything less or more. The other theories change all the time. They set up these idols and then they knock them down. It keeps all the old professors happy in the university. It gives them something to do. I don’t know if there’s any harm in it except they ram it down everybody’s throat. Everything they told me as a kid has already been disproved by the same type of “experts” who made them up in the first place. There.” – source
Quote-mining a Creationist? How Novel even for Ray’s standards. So according to Lennon, “Evolution” was about as silly as the very young Earth Creationism and fundamentalist Christianity Ray peddles in his films and ministries. Yea no wonder Ray doesn’t want you to Know that side of Lennon whilst at the same time he (or his ministry) makes money off him. Also isn’t the logical fallacy of appealing to someone who isn’t scientifically literate quite evident here? Anyways let’s continue because we’re only halfway through this movie and after more questions, this time about singing and Ray reminding us that we over-estimate how ethical we are just like how we overrate our singing capabilities, this brings us to arguably his favorite set of questions of all; “Are you a good person”/”Do you think you’ll go to heaven”/”Have you ever told a lie”/”Have you ever taken Gods name in Vain”? which I’m skipping because as you probably guessed if you read my review of 180 that I’m completely not interested in answering his trick questions. So let’s cut to Ray talking about Lennon again:
“Not many people know John Lennon once made a commitment to Christ. But his motive was for happiness. He said “The point is this, I want happiness. I don’t want to keep on with drugs. Explain to me what Christianity can do for me.” Those who come for Happiness, rather than to repent are soon disillusioned.”
So there we have it, Lennon was a Christian according to Ray, but not a “true” Christian according to Ray. If you want a nice little example of the No true Scotsman fallacy, there you go, A fallacy he repeats after another segment we see after a rather amusing argument with a very shouty Buddhist lady:
“Tragically John Lennon was the victim of a Gospel that promises that God has a wonderful plan with a problem-free life of happiness. Literally Millions have had false conversions because of this Un-Biblical Gospel and have fallen away and become bitter or disillusioned. But many stay within the Church as false converts and will be sorted out on Judgement day. Those who preach a wonderful plan with a promise of a happy problem-free life are not being faithful to the scriptures (Because Ray isn’t either by this logic) and are filling our churches with false converts.”
So let’s go to his final rant about Lennon:
An Atheist once said that “Imagine” is an Anthem for Atheism, but think about it for a moment; If i said “Imagine no New York. It’s easy if you try.” I’m saying that New York is a real place, but let’s imagine or pretend it isn’t. So the song is acknowledging the existence of Heaven or hell as real places.
Word play is interesting, In all the cases of Heaven, Hell and New York what we are actually doing is acknowledging the existence of these places only in an Anti-realist sense (if i can use that phrase), in all three cases we conceive of them or what they might be like only in our minds. Only New York is the which can be verified to actually exist.
In his interview with Playboy magazine; John explained what “imagine” is all about. He said “It is the concept of positive prayer. If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion – not without religion but without this my-God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing – then it can be true.”
So we don’t get an “Atheist anthem” but we do nonetheless get an apparently secular one even if the song may have been drawn from “Christian idiom” as anyone who looks at the full quote may observe. It should be noted that the word “religion” here is ill-defined by Lennon.
I’ll stop at this and conclude, the format is the same as 180 and it’s a nauseating feast of evangelism as well as historical vandalism. Never mind the revisionism I’ve highlighted here as well as the slightly inconsistent “Lennon is a christian but not a true christian” narrative that flows through the film. Ray has obviously found a formula for his movies, a formula that can fit over just about any historical figure one can think of and it doesn’t bode well, not least for me anyway.