Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Review: Imagine

Imagine. John Lennon. Illustrated by Jean Jullien. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us, only sky. Imagine all the people living for today.

Premise/plot: This picture book shares the lyrics of John Lennon's song, "Imagine" with a new generation. The illustrations are by Jean Jullien. His illustrations feature birds flocking together in search of peace.

My thoughts: I'll be completely honest. I hate the song Imagine. I loathe it. If hell has an anthem, I bet it would be Imagine. (You might think hell's anthem would have to be punk or rock or something hard or harsh on the ears--something openly rebellious. But remember Satan is the father of lies and that there is no truth in him. John 8:44. Furthermore, 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. The beautiful melody aids in the deception.) 

The premise of Imagine is theologically flawed and spiritually dangerous. That premise is that deep down man is GOOD. If man is "bad" it's because of "external" notions that he's brainwashed with by society. Notions such as good and evil, right and wrong, just and unjust, truth and lies, mine and yours, us and them. Strip away these external notions of absolutes and what you're left with is a purer, cleaner, ultimately GOOD man.

Lennon's premise is at odds with the Bible Genesis to Revelation. I could list hundreds if not thousands of "proofs" that this is so. I won't. I'll limit it to two. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

Saying something is true, doesn't make it true in reality. Therein lies the danger. You can say 2+2=5 because I want it to be 5 and not 4. But that doesn't make it so. You can argue it many different ways. I feel oppressed by the idea that 2+2=4. I feel free and liberated when I say 2+2=3 or 2+2=5 or 2+2=18. I don't want anyone telling me that 2+2=4 is the only true answer. Why can't 2+2=7 be just as true as 2+2=4? Why isn't 7 just as good a number as 4? Who are you to say that 7 ISN'T as good as 4? You do math your way, I'll do math my way. After all what difference does it make?! Live and let live, right?!?!

When you mess around with absolutes, when you build your life on false truths, chances are that your mistakes will only multiply and escalate. It's rare to be wrong about just one little thing. (2+2=5) After all, if 2+2=5, then what does 2+3 equal? Your whole world can be built around false premises and false foundations.

I could pick apart just about any line in the lyric. But I'll focus on this one: Imagine all the people living for today. We don't have to imagine what that looks like. We don't. We can see that in Genesis. We can see that in Exodus. We can see that in Judges. We can see that in 1 and 2 Kings. We can see that in Old Testament and New. We can see that in the here and now. Open your eyes. Look around you. The world is full of people who live LIFE FOR TODAY. The struggle is do you see people NOT living life for today? Do you see people living life in light of eternity? It is rare to see someone really willing to live life with heaven in mind. How many are really anxious and excited about living holy lives that are pleasing to God? That is something that would take imagination. Everyone living as he or she sees fit in his or her own eyes--that takes zero imagination.

One more word. This song proclaims to be all about peace. But I challenge that notion of peace. There is no peace so long as we are at war with God. There is no peace apart from Christ. True peace can be found in no other--established in no other.

Imagine ultimately reminds me of the book of Jeremiah. In his day, there were prophets--even priests--saying PEACE, PEACE, ALL IS WELL, ALL IS GOOD. BLESSINGS FOR EVERYONE. But these false words of hope were condemned by the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah 6:14 reads, "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace."

Read Jeremiah 23, for example. Here is Jeremiah 23:17, "They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’"

Text: 0 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 3 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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