The music you listen to can rot your brain, make you stupider and kill your soul.

One of my philosophy profs, a former Marine DI, told us that if everything that goes into our brains has no or little relation to reality, then we can’t expect to produce good and rational results.  We will be, in fact, insane.  In Latin we would say purgamentum init, exit purgamentum.

Remember what Bp. Aquila of Fargo recently said about Catholic pro-abortion politicians?  Refresh your memory here.

Via Stella Borealis and Courageous Priest and ultimately EWTN comes this about the music you put into your head and heart.

Madrid,Spain,Aug 20,2011 / 07:51 am (EWTN News) -Bishop Samuel Aquila used one of his World Youth Day catecheses to urge young people to scrub “evil” music from their iPods.

Bishop Samuel AquilaBishop Samuel Aquila

“You need to look at the music you listen to and the words. Don’t fool yourself. It impacts upon you,” said the Bishop of Fargo, North Dakota,at his World Youth Day catechesis session on Aug. 19.

“There is good music out there that you can listen to,but there is also a lot of trash. And it is simply evil. It is the evil because it distorts the gift of human sexuality,the gift of sexual intimacy,the gift of human life.”

Bishop Aquila was talking to several hundred English-speaking pilgrims in the parish church of Virgen del Mar in the Madrid suburb of San Blas.

He told the youngsters how he was recently visiting a friend with two teenage sons who wanted to show him the music they had downloaded onto their cell phones. The title of one particular song grabbed the bishop’s attention.

“A few days later I read the lyrics of that song,and very honestly I was horrified,” he said. “The words used objectified women” and the woman the featured in the song “was very simply a toy for men and their sexual pleasure.”

Bishop Aquila said he’d then asked the two boys if they “would want your sisters’ boyfriends to treat them as the woman is being treated in that song?” That question “stopped the conversation completely,as these boys would defend their sisters to the hilt.”

He concluded by explaining to the young pilgrims that while the witness of a bishop can be effective,it was more important for young people to witness to each other when it comes to ditching “evil” music.

“Be not afraid to get rid of that sort of music from your iPods or your iPads or your iPhones or wherever you put that kind of music. And don’t be afraid to shut it off because it can play constantly in your head. Give witness to that.”

This morning’s catechesis session was only one of 220 being given in 27 languages all around Madrid.

The reaction to Bishop Aquila’s talk seemed overwhelmingly positive.

“I think that it’s important for the youth to hear what he said about music,because that sort of music is all over the place,it’s infected many levels,even young kids are listening to this stuff,” said 17-year-old Sean Palmer from Philadelphia.

“So it’s important that Catholics lead the charge and show the world what music is right and what music should be avoided because it affects our subconscious in ways we sometimes don’t realize,” Palmer said.

His friend,17-year-old Andrew Parrish also from Philadelphia,agreed,saying that “music is really language and it can be used to express beautiful things or things that aren’t so beautiful.” He added,“it was important to hear that message from Bishop Aquila because you don’t hear it that often.”

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  1. Brent S says:

    Well, if Roman Catholics are to lead the way in what music is right and wrong to listen to in their everyday lives, shouldn’t they first evaluate how the music they’re singing at Mass is forming them?

    Yes, it’s wonderful that H.E. gave this talk to the pilgrims. But, the most important thing in life is the Liturgy. All else flows from it.

    How can we expect children and young adults to change their listening habits in the secular world when heresy runs rampant in the music at Mass?

  2. Gregg the Obscure says:

    His excellency gets it: if Christ doesn’t impact every facet of our lives, we’re not following Him. I fervently hope that Bp. Aquila returns home to Denver very soon.

    I absolutely concur that the music used at Mass matters even more than the music played in the car. The day is coming (though it can’t come soon enough) when universalist drivel from Haugen et al. is kicked aside.

  3. afanco says:

    I see I went to the wrong catecheses. One of the ones I went to we were encouraged by a bishop whom I shall not name (honestly I forgot his name anyway) to be “nice” to spread the gospel to our friends. Please, I passed out of 2nd grade religion. Also “don’t pray unless you are going to do something about it.” (Sorry cloistered religious, you’re apparently wasting your time.)

    Then there was the beyond inane music for the mass saved only by Panis Angelicus as a meditation.

    I’ll plan more carefully if I go to Rio.

  4. JohnMa says:

    Can we please get his Excellency a promotion? I hear Denver needs an Archbishop. The man speaks the truth, whether it comes to music, abortion, health care, or politicians who lead the flock astray. His cathedral hosts a TLM every Sunday. What more could we ask for from a Bishop?

  5. KAS says:

    This is the second time I have been impressed with Bishop Aquila. It would indeed be a wonderful thing for him to be the Bishop in Denver. It is a delight when I read of a Bishop BEING a Bishop and really teaching. It is a great thing!!

  6. Robert_H says:

    Amen! In my (homeschooling) household, we always (and only) have the local public/classical radio station on the radio. Blue Lake public radio rocks! And they stream over the internets.

  7. shin says:

    “it was important to hear that message from Bishop Aquila because you don’t hear it that often.”

    Is what stays with me…

    This is basic stuff.

  8. digdigby says:

    I like to listen to traditional songs sung by home-schooled seriously Catholic young people:

  9. ejcmartin says:

    My boys are still young (5&9) so we can still have some control over what they hear. The other day they ended up playing with a portable CD player we have fiddling with radio. Fortunately the station they came upon was playing Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto. They loved it and wanted to turn it up loud. If only I could get the music turned off at every shop and mall it would be great.

  10. Katharine B. says:

    What? I thought only the SSPX were so rigoristic.. (not really.)

    I’m not a fan of his pastoral approach; why not just call it as it is — sewage from the bowels of Satan leading souls straight hell.

    But, I’m glad someone said something.

  11. JonPatrick says:

    I’m about to leave for the local supermarket (to try to beat the pre-hurricane rush and buy my case of water and 27 loaves of bread LOL) where they have about 5 songs in their music feed over the PA. One that seems to always play has lyrics of “you and me together yeah yeah” and that appears to be the totality of the lyrics for that song. Even when the music today is not outright offensive it is so banal. After a similar sermon by our priest about a year ago, and thinking about the music which I was getting tired of anyway, I pretty much banished rock from my car radio. Well I do occasionally “cheat” and listed to the 50’s station, but that usually doesn’t last for very long.

  12. MarkJ says:

    Satan has gotten his music into almost every walk of public life in the West, from malls, to grocery stores, to restaurants, to doctor’s offices, to personal music players, and in almost every car driving down the highways. We need to start fighting back by speaking up everytime we go somewhere and hear lyrics that are offensive and which pose a danger to our spiritual well-being. Why has it become so acceptable to push sex through music in public places frequented by families? Because we have let it happen! If we stop being silent about this affront to our dignity, we can start to regain some silence in the public square, and make room for God to speak to the hearts of His children. This is a major front in the battle for souls…

  13. Christina says:

    I absolutely agree that the songs we sing at Mass are very important. They fill our minds during our highest form of worship! But, I would take 50 more years of Haugen if it meant the end of songs like “California Girls” (my current least favorite; do NOT google it, please). Ugh. In his defense, Haugen has never attained to that blatant wickedness.

  14. joecct77 says:

    “We are one in the Spirit
    We are one in the Lord….”

    Dr. McCoy: “His brain is gone!”

  15. MarkJ says:

    Purgatory for me would undoubtedly include the ubiquitous “Celtic Alleluia”…

  16. 1. Most music at Mass in most parishes isn’t heretical. To those of you who actually do get heresy’s greatest hits in your four-hymn sandwich, I’m very sympathetic; but it’s not actually on topic. This is about leisuretime music choices. Most of us got no choice about what we hear at Mass, unless we possess hearing aids which can be turned off.

    2. Banal pop music is not evil. It is banal. Anyone who is not against us is for us, at least to that extent.

    3. The poster above is referring to “California Girls” by Katy Perry and Snoop Doggy Dog, not to the song of the same name (but totally different lyrics and music) by the Beach Boys. But the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic parody video (“Equestria Girls”) is hilarious and totally clean.

    4. There are a lot worse songs out there than “California Girls”, alas.

    5. Classical music stations are not always going to be a “safe choice”, folks. Especially if your kids know Italian, French, or German, or if there are “interesting” contemporary choral selections. Not to make you paranoid; just to make you informed.

    6. There are plenty of good music groups out there in all styles, singing and playing all different kinds of music. Support them; don’t hide from all new music. There are a lot of music blogs out there who will give you pointers to music you would like, for example. Share good groups that you find.

  17. Oh, and my final point was that, if an objectionable song gets into your brain, you can combat it by writing a parody. Some parodies build on other songs, but some just conquer and destroyyyyy them. “Equestria Girls” is a fairly gentle parody, but it’s at least 200% better than the original, especially with the fan shoutout to the bronies in the extended version. :)

  18. Dalmiro says:

    That’s absolutely true. Most nowadays youth are trapped in non-virtuous music. If music doesn’t leads us to sanctity, then it’s not good for us. Here in Argentina people listens reggaeton, cumbia, rock, etc. all very bad music.

    In traditional catholic youth groups they do not listen to that kind of music, but folklore is promoted: folklore is a kind of music originaly from our country. It’s a very healthy and well music, that promotes true values and helps the children and teens love their country.

  19. Margaret says:

    THANK YOU, ‘Banshee! You spared my sleep-deprived brain the impossibility of trying to articulate what you just did. I was scrolling through the combox waiting for someone to decry the eeeeevils of the Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” I think there can (judiciously) be room for rock/pop music in a Christian’s musical world.

    And seriously– watch out for the opera, folks. Murder, adultery, insanity, cross-dressing… :)

  20. digdigby says:

    Joie de vivre! Zorba’s Dance! Carmina Burana! Smashing ouzo glasses in the fireplace! What a load of crap I fell for.

  21. JaneC says:

    I wholeheartedly concur with digdigby’s recommendation of the band L’Angelus. They are good Catholics and really talented musicians. All their music is very family-friendly, even when they sing songs by other composers–I heard them sing “Brown-Eyed Girl” at a concert, and they re-wrote an objectionable line.

    I’ve never listened to much current popular music, but I’ve slowly purged a lot of the older, objectionable stuff in my playlists. But I can’t get rid of the opera or lieder or pastourelles for professional reasons.

  22. MarkJ says:

    @Banshee: “2. Banal pop music is not evil. It is banal. Anyone who is not against us is for us, at least to that extent.”

    I don’t agree… banal pop music piped into stores and other public places non-stop is a spiritual detriment to employees and anyone else who has their brains invaded by it for entended periods of time. It has the effect of blocking out all meaningful spiritual communications that should be part of a healthy Catholic mindset throughout any given day, even if the words are “banal”.

  23. torch621 says:

    Does this mean I have to wipe every song I have off my iPod? (has mostly classic rock and European power metal)

  24. Jacob says:

    Honest question: Is it stupider or more stupid?

  25. eulogos says:

    This seems to be just about the words. In the words of Ed Sanders of the Fugs ( not very well known 60’s group) “When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake.” They were quoting Plato, of course, and announcing their intent to shake the walls of the city. Raucous, cacaphonous music with a pounding beat is harmful no matter what words are put to it.
    In my opinion.
    Susan Peterson

  26. germangreek says:


    English grammatically, it’s “more stupid”. People prefer “stupider” in the context because it sounds, well, stupider. The wonders of self-reference.

  27. Mrs. Bear says:

    I think that us older folks also have to set an example.
    We reminisce by listening to 60’s, 70’s and 80’s radio stations. The young are listening to this music “of their parents.”
    If young people notice our love of this type of music and we don’t give a second thought to the lyrics we need to step up to the plate and show our own resolve by turning off the dial.
    I usually have the classical station on and my husband will listen to the “classic” radio station.
    I have commented on more than one occasion that a particular song is not just inappropriate for any age but also degrading and harmful to the soul.
    So a young person could shut it down but lets see the older generations follow suit.

  28. samgr says:

    Funny you should mention the Fugs, Eulogos, since I was just thinking about Fug Tuli Kupferberg, who died about a year ago. Ed said that he and Tuli were working on a new album, 40-plus years after the group broke up. Tuli’s kids seem to have grown up to be upstanding citizens, by NYC standards anyway. I”ll say a prayer for the repose of his soul, and for his widow and the three kids.

  29. ContraMundum says:

    … But Father!!! You don’t want us going back into some Catholic ghetto, do you?? What about aggiornamento?!!!

  30. Banjo pickin girl says:

    actually, it’s stoopiter.

  31. Banjo pickin girl says:

    And I loved the Fugs! (blush)

  32. Central Valley says:

    Very good comments from the good bishop. He needs to return to California and be appointed to the See of Fresno.

  33. torch621 says:

    I ask again, does this mean I must delete all my tracks from my iPod? I like some rock.

  34. fxkelli says:

    I wish we would hear more of this commentary. It’s great to see our spiritual leaders engage the real evils of our time. Much better that time spent in internecine conflicts within the body of Christ.

  35. Luvadoxi says:

    I just can’t agree with some of this. If youth have a firm love for Jesus and good Church and family life (a big if, I grant you that), the Holy Spirit within does baptise even questionable music. I remember seeing Christ in even songs about Hare Krishna–remember that one “My Sweet Lord”? And personally, I love the Rolling Stones and “Sympathy for the Devil”–that’s *exactly* the way the evil one thinks and behaves. Folks, it’s theater–we aren’t Puritans. Also, since I’m on my little soap box, I deplore most Gather music–when I converted to the Catholic faith from good solid Protestant hymns I was just appalled (still am). And some of the music is totally heretical (Sing a New Church into Being). But I love, love, love the Celtic Alleluia, as well as the Gloria from the Mass of Light. They raise my heart to God, and I associate them with the joy of my first Easter Vigil. Again, tastes differ. But we are not Puritans!

  36. Luvadoxi says:

    Going to rot my brain now with Meatloaf’s “Bat out of Hell.” And remember, we built this city on rock and roll!

  37. digdigby says:

    Mrs. Bear-
    ” We reminisce by listening to 60?s, 70?s and 80?s radio stations. The young are listening to this music “of their parents.”
    I listened to R & B, my friends in high school and I used to go to the black clubs in E. St. Louis and see some of the legends in their prime. Listen to black love songs of the period – so tender, so adult and mature (Jerry Butler, Percy Sledge, Gene Chandler, The Drifters etc. etc.) as opposed to “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” and the crude narcissistic garbage of drug-addled self-centered white rock. It all ended in Heavy Metal, Hip Hop, gangsta and other horrors.

  38. patriciaicon says:

    Logged in as patriciaicon. Log out? I use patriciaicon as my login name. Is that not OK? Patricia from St. Louis, MO

  39. bookworm says:

    I love singers who sing from the heart with genuine emotion and get you right in the gut — as opposed to just showing off their playing skills or trying to follow the trend of the moment. The list for me (far from complete) includes Sam Cooke, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash (his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” is extremely moving), Patsy Cline (“Sweet Dreams,” “Faded Love”), Loretta Lynn (“Coal Miner’s Daughter,”, and Janis Joplin (“Me and Bobby McGee”).

    It’s one thing for a singer to realistically describe or give voice to the struggles, sorrows and failings of their life or what it’s like to be down and out (as the old-time R & B, folk and country singers did, and some rock singers do); it’s another thing entirely for them to glamorize or glorify a self-indulgent lifestyle. I instinctively enjoy the first kind of song and dislike the second kind.

  40. torch621 says:

    Most of the stuff I listen to has a fantasy/epic theme or a historical one.

  41. catholicmidwest says:

    I’d agree, and I’d expand it to situation comedies with constant innuendo, as well. Once you hear that sort of thing so many times that you start failing to reject it, then it can get into your subconscious and become part of who you are and how you automatically react. Very bad.

  42. Kelly says:

    You need to discern that yourself.
    We have an obligation to avoid occasions of sin, some music is (or can be) an occasion of sin. Therefore we have an obligation to avoid some music.

  43. JP Borberg says:

    I see a lot of the music like ‘rock’, ‘metal’, ‘hip hop’, ‘pop’, etc to be contemporary culture’s equivalent to folk music. It’s the music that expresses the interests and sentiments of the people.

    Too bad the interests and sentiments of our culture are not at all theocentric. What the bishop seems be condemning is the music that revels in the baseness of our culture. There are many examples though of modern musicians who can vividly, and at times even beautifully, portray the sentiments our culture provokes, and there are many whose sentiment, I believe, are entirely appropriate.

    As a result my friends think most of my music is quite depressing. I find it helps me cope with living in the world.

  44. A Catholic Mom says:

    There is music from the Catholic “Weird Al”, Nick Alexander that my kids just love. He takes catchy pop songs and rewords them to help educate, catechise and entertain at the same time. We always listen to These 40 Days (sung to the tune of King of Pain by The Police) right before Lent. We bought one of his CD’s and he sent a nice note along.

  45. irishgirl says:

    I got ‘kicked out’ of the WiFi at the local B&N, so I have to start over again….sigh…
    When I do listen to music on my radio, it’s usually classical or ‘oldies’ (yeah, I know—but it brings back memories of my growing-up years).
    But the ‘muzak’ that’s in most stores drives me crazy! Especially during Advent, when they play so-called ‘Christmas music’! I have to avoid some places like the plague until after December 25! I don’t know where they find some of this stuff, it’s so stupid or tasteless! Can’t they have something uplifting, like some nice choral music? Sheesh…..
    That said, I give a shout-out to Bishop Aquila for again ‘telling it like it is’! [another great song from my childhood]

  46. BethanieRyan says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this article. If we all paid more attention to what music we listened to, we’d be disgusted. Many popular songs do preach immorality and violence. They fly in the face of human dignity and respect. Take for example one of the top songs right now, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” by Katy Perry, a former Christian singer for crying out loud. The singer doesn’t know who she’s slept with, she’s hungover, her car has been towed and she’s pretty sure she broke the law. But it’s okay, she thinks she had fun. And, sadly, this is definitely *not* the worst thing I’ve heard on the radio.

  47. Imrahil says:

    I do generally pay attention to the music, but disgust? And do they preach immorality, or do they only glamorize it? This is a difference.

    It is intrinsically bad (though it may extrinsically) to give expression to the thoughts of a sinner, who has been created by God, and has immediate impetûs even for his sins in natural conditions called good by God. (Sinful love, for instance, is doubtlessly truly sin, and doubtlessly truly love.)

    Now the Bishop is right. But I fear that the necessity his words imply could be overlooked: the necessity of a solution either in moral theology (yes, with all casuistry available) or positive law (that is, an Index Canticorum Prohibitorum).

    Now I see nothing objectionable in Katy Perry implicitly (by desperately asserting the contrary) admitting that fun doesn’t excuse any reckless behaviour; or in “I can’t get no satisfaction”, or also a song that seriously and with the effort of an honest man is anti-religious (Grönemeyer’s “A Piece of Heaven”).

    But what is disgusting is John Lennon’s “Imagine”; what is disgusting is when Xavier Naidoo tries a Christian song (!) and, after a “forgive my sins when I see thee” [and no earlier] lapsus, can’t escape repeating the Pope-doesn’t-allow-condoms-is-a-murderer fable, what is disgusting is if a French singer considers it a chief insult to the now-President of France to attest “un peu de gout d’Église” in the politics of his followers. Etc.

    On a side note, once upon a time there was in Germany a man who circumpoemized Martial to make him express religious themes. When hearing about this in a lecture, I whispered “That can obviously come only into a Protestant mind”, got the answer “wanted to say just that now”, and then the lecturer said the same thing without hearing us.

  48. Imrahil says:

    2nd paragraph: It is not intrinsically bad etc.

  49. Picking music is one of those things that most people can deal with, by ordinary prudence; but it’s a good thing for priests, parents, etc. to remind people to use that prudence.

  50. Sacristymaiden says:

    Woohoo! Go bishop!

  51. anncon says:

    Listening to this “music” (I call it distortion) is just the beginning. A family member has been involved in music scene internationally for 12 years. Loss of Faith, no belief in any God or afterlife, no idea that what he is facilitating through his God-given talents is spreading evil throughout the world. We pray daily that something will open his eyes, especially his soul, to Truth, Love, Goodness, and Beauty. Please pray for all involved in this industry. One of the ancient Greek philosophers said that to change the culture, you first change the music.

  52. benedetta says:

    Agree with Suburbanbanshee. We are supposed to actively participate, aren’t we? That means exercising free will. That means choosing and evaluating what is promoted or on offer and declining that which is unhealthy. And teaching young people to make their own choices based on their own values. It is ok to say you don’t like a song and it is really ok to say why you have placed it in the garbage category. Do you want the suits who decide what goes on heavy rotation to choose for you and your children (and this often even little kids) or do you want your kids to be empowered to make their own choices, for themselves.

    The marketing of this stuff and the inability of some parents to encourage their children to exercise their own discernment, based on what the child themselves values, let alone higher order values or virtues, one can already see its sad effects. The sexualization of children and targeting of little girls for instance, it is going on with a vengeance. Teaching them to evaluate themselves against non-real engineered images, teaching them to believe their dignity hinges on trying to enslave others to their sexuality, that if they are not showing their bodies that they have no power, etc. And for boys it is pretty sad too, a lot of music teaches them to objectify and exploit women. When was the last time music executive decided that messages encouraging young people to respect themselves and others would be a great sell?

    Since anti-Catholicism is in and fashionable a lot of stuff (and this has been for decades now) is either openly blasphemous or just entices people to target the Church with bigotry.

    And kids loading their ipods with what the American suits in the music business deem money makers really unfortunately has the effect of deterring them from looking into, just about anything else, when in reality there is a limitless universe of music out there as alternative. Part of the marketing consumerist designed pop culture (as opposed to grassroots culture) is that it wants people to buy and feel that there is nothing else or that if one chooses something else one is, well, in the ghetto or not worthy or human affirmation. Pretty rancid really.

    What young people need to do is exercise their free will. If in exercising their free will they say, yes but I really really do like and want to have on my ipod this Katy Perry song, as long as it is not blasphemous and encouraging them to do things which are unhealthy, at least they have not just been cowed into it because it’s being heavily marketed and people who aren’t thinking are buying and pressuring others to do the same at risk of getting the mean/bully exclusion and you are uncool treatment. That is really not a good enough reason to make a purchase or invest thought and energy in something in and of itself. It’s as simple as having a conversation with a child, what do you make of this, and, in many cases one can show what it is and a child who has been encouraged to think for themselves will immediately say, here is my sense of it and will even identify, more readily than many adults even, the issues and bring their own values to bear in deciding what to make of it. Children should not be taught to fear or be closed off, but they should have a healthy “fear of the Lord” and all that entails, have some value set that informs their choices (secularists even point out the issues of marketing and sexualizing of children by big entertainment and media with data showing how so much is inherently unhealthy…see the advocacy and success at national level in England) and develop a way to make choices themselves, knowing what is good and helpful and what is destructive.

    This Bishop seems very wise and I am impressed that he understands what young people themselves say they need clarification and support with, from the Church, and is utilizing his leadership to contribute meaningfully to encourage young people in healthy and good lives.

  53. bookworm says:

    “what is disgusting is John Lennon’s ‘Imagine'”

    Well, this may sound strange or even heretical to some of you, but while I don’t AGREE with this song, and would find it highly inappropriate for use at any public function, I don’t find it “disgusting” at all. I see it as Lennon’s misguided attempt to envision an un-fallen world — if man had never fallen, if there were no original sin and we were all in perfect harmony with God’s will, there really would be “nothing to kill or die for”; in fact death as we know it (separation of soul from body) wouldn’t even exist. There would be “no hell below us” (except for the fallen angels). There would still be heaven, of course; but perhaps heaven and earth would be so closely united that there would SEEM to be little or no difference. I suspect there would also be “no religion” in the sense we normally think of — doing God’s will and worshipping Him would be done naturally, by instinct, and we wouldn’t have to consciously think about it or discipline ourselves to do it. People would probably live much like the early Christians in a community where there were “no possessions” and no need to cling to them. Perhaps there would also be “no countries” either. Of course where Lennon went wrong was in thinking this could be achieved purely by human effort; but even so, I think his longing for something better than this world comes through in the melody particularly.

  54. benedetta says:

    bookworm, That is a very good analysis and overall an example of the way that reason may be brought to bear. Although I will say that the Lennon song, Imagine and a lot of other things have been hijacked by agendas which target destruction of the Church and for a lot of people having heard anti-Catholic things, either openly hating or things which presume hatred, having been thus conditioned, will only see in the song an attack on religion and the Church in particular and see it as an anthem which supports atheism and destruction of religion and the Church. It takes a certain level of knowledge about the Church and religion itself, including experiential and other knowledge, in the first place, to be able to sort through the words and images of that song. If one relies on stereotype and misinformation (and unfortunately a great deal of the time the mainstream media even when it seems to be trying to be objective and understand gets it very wrong) about the Church and religion generally and sees all through that lens without having made an honest respectful inquiry in the first place, for one’s self, not just accepting what is promoted, then, it will be pretty much impossible to see that song as essentially neutral and not an attack on organized religion generally. Reason is on the side of faith and ignorance supports chaos. But I will say that a kid who has a basic understanding of faith even in childlike terms can easily analyze with reason and come to the exact conclusions you have.

    Still Imagine was written decades ago. Now Lennon clearly was a supporter of nonviolence, he would never support such things as the occult or anarchy. He seemed to get that peace required a few things in order to work.

    But even decades ago clearly there was a lot of other popular music which explicitly celebrated and was informed by the occult or hatred.

    Whereas certain composers dedicate and asked that God bless their work, as a matter of historical record.

    So it does matter in terms of making a responsible decision, whether one wishes to support humanity or not and go that way in an active sense. It matters for the composer and it matters for the listener, that their words and art have effect.

    And many have pointed out that if it was bad decades ago, it is that much worse now, the pop culture offerings, in terms of messages of hatred and destruction, in terms of encouraging young people to do things thoughtlessly which may harm their own health or others’.

  55. Luvadoxi says:

    An interesting view on “Imagine”–I’ll have to consider that; that was one song that has offended me, but looked at in another way, it’s simply the longing for a world where people are kind to each other. Somewhere I read that John Lennon didn’t really mean his “we’re greater than Jesus” remark seriously–he was actually ridiculing the very idea that people make such idols out of pop stars. So sometimes there’s another way to look at things, and too often I’m guilty of rash judgment. That being said, I also need to revisit my earlier emotional responses about loving rock and roll, etc. I’m afraid the world has gotten darker in entertainment since the glory days of rock and roll (or maybe not–maybe I just see more clearly; either that, or I’m really getting old!)….maybe I need to rethink just blindly going along with music. I’ve always been more a fan of the rhythm and music than the words, which I usually can’t understand anyway!

  56. BrianMaher says:

    If anyone would like an example of a young singer (who is Catholic), sings like an angel and publicly says the person she looks up to the most is the Pope, check this out…

  57. Imrahil says:

    Dear @bookworm,

    you convinced me on John Lennon and, as I’m seriously wishing to see something good whereever possible, thank you very much for it… I wasn’t scolding the Beatles but only giving an example of what is bad as opposed to many other things that an over-zealousness in morality might hold bad; the more grateful I am if a can appreciate even this song, though I still don’t agree with it.

    And always remember that you can go into a rock n roll pub and wish for Johnny Cash: The Man Comes Around without earning any ennerved looks, and as for “Valley’s deep and the Mountain’s so high”, you might even hear it without asking in a metal bar. (Not kidding.)

  58. Supertradmum says:

    “Imagine” was played at two funerals in Iowa this past year. Ugh. And, being a good Aristotelian, I think that one cannot separate form and content. Words and the music can be both diabolical, or peaceful, but cannot be separated. This is why I hate it when old hymns are “updated” to newer tunes, which are always inferior. As to different genres of music, one must delineate, and look at the origins of the music as well as the present day usage.

  59. Imrahil says:

    @benedetta: By the way I don’t see in anarchy the ultimate evil. We can philosophically and theologically (and by plain common sense) prove that anarchy is wrong; but it remains sympathetic. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn would point out, with some pride, that the only thinkable alternative for a Catholic is anarchy; that anarchy shares flag and colors with ultramontanism (i. e. black); that the only appeal Communism could ever make to Catholics was by appearing anarchist (which it was not, being second only to the Nazis in totalitarianism).

    After all, an anarchist is someone too much drunk with the idea that we serve God alone. And it might well be said that to be each under the ultimate jurisdiction of our own supreme-court (to wit, conscience) has something that might seem anarchical, even if our well-informed conscience tells us among other things also that a) this being a part of our belief, infallible decisions of the Magisteriums in morals are true, b) that in not demanding sin, the State (with room for exceptions) can appeal to our obedience.

  60. Imrahil says:

    Of course, Imagine is inacceptible for funerals. Also, surfing songs would be inacceptible for memorials of Tsunami victims.

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