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The All Pervasive Toxic Atmosphere of Religious Intolerance and Bigotry Experienced by John Lennon - Comments

Feuerbach's Avatar Comment 1 by Feuerbach

Amen.

Tue, 09 Nov 2010 04:51:10 UTC | #544479

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 2 by Alternative Carpark

Liverpool was a cess-pit of religious intolerance and bigotry in the 1950s and 60s

Now it's just a cess-pit?

Tue, 09 Nov 2010 04:54:53 UTC | #544481

biorays's Avatar Comment 3 by biorays

What an interesting article. It's an intriguing triangle, this Ireland - Liverpool - Glasgow preserved feudery. I often recall wondering whether the Bible were; an adopted friends versus enemies paradoxical fiction useful for proclaiming whichever side one was on as absolute victors - in the end - so to speak. Just as with Israel and Palestine it's become a 'fight to the imaginary next life fiasco'. All sense is lost under such consciousness. Rational emotions tend to be subdued. Tribal feelings and war like mindsets dominate. And into the fray is added everyday footballing rivalry - which comes with a win, win mentality. Thankfully some still harbour thoughts of the 'beautiful game' where to play for free would be a privilege indeed - the arts in the heart and the rivalry secondary- the love of playing overrides any hatred of the opposition as kudos is granted any who posses the art. But then the lack of success breeds resentment and fighting. The 'mass desire' is for victory and the 'old consciousness' is then easily grafted into the present public domain. Indoctrination is infused into the 'feeling' of the follower. Loyalty grips the mindset as worth more than reason or rational explanation. The individual feels the heat of the accident of its birth. Here 'religion' feels rife and 'god' its exclamation of victory. The lone person is lost in the minds surrounding itself. It becomes part of the tapestry of past generations infected with the delusion of the illusion of eventual success - conjured in the mind of the individual that they be on the winning side. This becomes all that matters - rivalry and loyalty as if virtuous for its own sake. Everyone caught along with a feeling that somehow they, by chance, were born to be on the side of success and that to relinquish the fight is to betray oneself, ones roots, ones essence and ones point of life. One needs an enemy for this sort of 'orgasm' of lifestyle and I often wonder if the subliminal consciousness in humans harbours such desire as the sole fuel to all the dogma and irrational expressions it preserves in order to protect the thrill of the feud?

The real fued is within - thoughts versus emotions - ideas versus feelings - and whichever supplies its host with the most rewarding combination seems destined to prevail. Will there be a time when humans are beyond it? Is there a replacement for it? It's a tough call and each are so bound up with 'friuts of the feud' that it often passes unrecognised as such.

And so to rationality and reason - we have indeed inherited and are born to confusion. My worry is how so often, those in power propagate an even more complex confusion of mind and emotion - conjured as a deceptive fiction of some sort as if it were a temporary 'best fit' for whatever socio geographical economic class one were born into. Like the erasure of the rainforests, most humans seem 'farmed' by the worlds collective powers, for short term benefits and solutions in spite of the warning signs that collectively pollution and 'global warming' is afoot. An analogous irony indeed:-)

I often consider the powerful ensnared by their own lifetimes - reduced to the prison of preserving their own position and so forced into continuing the dogma of all history. The inevitable vortex which posits power in a self destructive cycle - the decay that is democracy!

I'm wondering - does science hold the new politics? We can but 'Imagine".

Tue, 09 Nov 2010 07:12:46 UTC | #544503

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 4 by hungarianelephant

Question 2.

Given that Liverpool is not now a hotbed of religious intolerance and bigotry to anything like the same extent, what happened?

Tue, 09 Nov 2010 08:58:59 UTC | #544519

karelstoffel's Avatar Comment 5 by karelstoffel

no idea what's happend, but liverpool the hotbed of religious intolerance and bigotry indeed.

Tue, 09 Nov 2010 10:27:54 UTC | #544548

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 6 by aquilacane

My father was from the Liverpool area. Can't tell you what religion his parents were, no idea. My parents and grandparents never spoke of religion. Now that I think about it, my grandfather only ever said "god bless" at bedtime. Probably out of habit.

Tue, 09 Nov 2010 16:23:52 UTC | #544687

Stonyground's Avatar Comment 7 by Stonyground

I think that some of what happened was that people have very slowly and gradually taken religion less and less seriously. Our more enlightened thinkers were predicting the imminent demise of Christianity in the nineteenth century, it has proved itself to have rather more inertia than expected but is still in fairly rapid decline. I find it a little odd that those that are involved in the latest ruckus within the Church of England seem to be oblivious of how utterly irrelevant they are.

Tue, 09 Nov 2010 18:25:31 UTC | #544776

Atropa's Avatar Comment 8 by Atropa

Sadly, not as irrelevant as one might hope. The Church of England looks like a basket case but some of the others are going great guns. The RCs seem to be making something of a comeback because of the influx of Poles to the UK and the Happy Clappies have full houses every Sunday. I can't decide whether Blair converting to Rome is a good or bad thing, from my atheist perspective. They deserve each other, of course. The sight of David Cameron fawning over Ratzinger (a head of state my arse) really turned my stomach.

Wed, 10 Nov 2010 10:53:40 UTC | #545130

hades pussercats's Avatar Comment 9 by hades pussercats

Of course, Lennon's background influenced his songwriting-- why wouldn't it? At the same time, that doesn't mean that Yoko Ono and her works, and the discussions thay had together, didn't also affect his songwriting and choice of subject matter. This paper seems to be putting some effort into establishing Liverpool horrors as the sole source of Lennon's inventiveness. I think that effort is misplaced, and betrays a (to me) sadly out-of-date resentment of Yoko Ono. Still, the description of Liverpudlian life at the time Lennon was there was interesting, and telling.

Thu, 11 Nov 2010 20:20:34 UTC | #545967

green and dying's Avatar Comment 10 by green and dying

It seems to me like this is a tribal thing rather than a religious thing. None of this is about anything supernatural. What doesn't help, though, is the existing assumption that a child belongs to the religion of its parents. It's very useful to take advantage of this if you want to keep the tribes separate.

In Northern Ireland, it's also been assumed that certain political views come along with which religious tribe you are born into. People didn't challenge it as much as they should have, because it was already accepted that a child would have the same religion as its parents.

None of this is actually supernatural, though. I wouldn't call it "religious intolerance," to me that suggests intolerance originating from specific religious (supernatural) doctrines.

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 17:32:20 UTC | #547850

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 11 by phil rimmer

Imagine is a beautiful song wishing for world unity through the abolition of things that divide us. A decade ago it was always described as an anti-war song. Now only part of its message is coopted for the (still admirable) task of wishing for a secular world, with the anti-national sentiments quietly forgotten.

Given this very partial reading of the song, Dr Lewis then does a very partial job in scraping together barely relevant annecdotes to prove his thesis, that Liverpool was Belfast in all but location and name. It wasn't. It so astonishingly wasn't. Given the much richer mix of races in Liverpool, including West Indian, and the largest Chinese community in the UK outside of London living remarkably peaceably together, it might well have formed his idea that different peoples can indeed get along. Just prior to writing his song The Troubles in Ireland took a big turn for the ugly with the advent of the Provisional IRA promising and delivering real acts of violence on the streets of Belfast. This is more likely to have been in Lennon's head watching his TV set in London and penning his anti-religious line in '70 or '71.

Dr Lewis's collection of annecdotes from others relate to mainly working class experiences in areas far from young Lennon's comfy middle class home and school.

This is unworthy of RDFRS.

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 21:05:53 UTC | #547955

ukvillafan's Avatar Comment 12 by ukvillafan

Comment 11 by phil rimmer :

Imagine is a beautiful song wishing for world unity through the abolition of things that divide us. A decade ago it was always described as an anti-war song. Now only part of its message is coopted for the (still admirable) task of wishing for a secular world, with the anti-national sentiments quietly forgotten. Given this very partial reading of the song, Dr Lewis then does a very partial job in scraping together barely relevant annecdotes to prove his thesis, that Liverpool was Belfast in all but location and name. It wasn't. It so astonishingly wasn't. Given the much richer mix of races in Liverpool, including West Indian, and the largest Chinese community in the UK outside of London living remarkably peaceably together, it might well have formed his idea that different peoples can indeed get along. Just prior to writing his song The Troubles in Ireland took a big turn for the ugly with the advent of the Provisional IRA promising and delivering real acts of violence on the streets of Belfast. This is more likely to have been in Lennon's head watching his TV set in London and penning his anti-religious line in '70 or '71.

Dr Lewis's collection of annecdotes from others relate to mainly working class experiences in areas far from young Lennon's comfy middle class home and school. This is unworthy of RDFRS.

Liverpool as a centre of tolerance? Give me a break. Don't swallow this Scouse "the world is out to get us" victim propaganda.

I started work there in 1997. I went on my lunch break around the city centre on my first day. I was stunned by what I saw, or rather, what I didn't see - a black face. The city might have a diverse racial mix (though I'd guess somewhat more limited than Birmingham or Manchester) but for the most part, the city centre was off-limits to members of ethnic groups. They didn't visit the centre and they certainly were not employed in the city centre retail businesses. The Chinese community might be relatively well-integrated but that's about it.

Things have changed in the last few years, but this is mostly down to Liverpool being a dispersal centre for asylum seekers.

And Liverpool still has an Orange march - which disrupts the centre of the city and is completely the outward sign of religious hatred and intolerance - and don't let some misty-eyed protestant apologist convince you otherwise.

Tue, 16 Nov 2010 18:53:49 UTC | #548418

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 13 by phil rimmer

Lennon's experience of Liverpool would have been somewhat different in the 1950's and sixties. I think an annecdote about an absence of black faces in 1997 is a bit of a stretch. Some of the best music to be had in those early decades in Liverpool was from the informal West Indian basement clubs set up in the grand but delapidated houses along Princess Road / Avenue. Incredibly friendly places. Never a problem for a young white teen like me walking in there or indeed around the whole area. The black folk living there didn't feel oppressed or particularly discriminated against at first, only poor. Toxteth was nice once, but things certainly started to turn sour after '68 and the infamous "River's of Blood" speech. Then Toxteth's inhabitants, like black communities everywhere began to wake up to the fact that dicrimination might actually be the reason they were still poor. I lived in the area whilst a student at Liverpool University from 1970. My landlady, quite the grand dame, spoke fondly of her "new" neighbours and how it was nice to see the old place picking up again after its post war neglect. Of course, it all went horribly and forseeably wrong in the Toxteth riots in 1981. The feel though, in the fifties and sixties was surprisingly benign.

I repeat that Lennon's experience would have been dominated by his middleclass home and school experience. I know what it was like because through the fifties and sixties I lived 300 metres away from him and went to his school, Quarry Bank. I could spiel a litany of annecdotes about the peaceful and positive coexistence with Catholic neighbours, the Catholic School at the end of the road (St Francis Xaviers), a hundred metres up from Strawberry Fields, the high (secular) Jewish intake at Quarry Bank from neighbouring Childwall, but I won't unless you make me. The amazing thing is that given the high Irish contingent from over the water (but none in the school or in leafy Menlove Avenue where he lived) so little grief actually occurred.

So again, this is a dreadful and inadequate bit of social research. It brings no actual evidence to support its claim apart from the most circumstantial, different-place-different-time kind of stuff. The song, pro peace, anti nationalism, anti capitalism, anti religion would have been fueled by the high profile events happening at the time and immediately previous, Vietnam, the 1970 Provos, the '68 Social Revolution, the '67 Arab-Israeli War, the shocking Tory win in 1970 on the back of Enoch Powell (worth 2.5m votes allegedly) and the worst jobless figures since 1940, etc. etc.

Liverpool was no haven (except where we lived, which was comparatively well-to-do). There was much poverty and crime, but the title of this piece describes somewhere unrecognizable to me.

Tue, 16 Nov 2010 22:14:33 UTC | #548526

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 14 by Steve Zara

Imagine is a beautiful song wishing for world unity through the abolition of things that divide us.

I know few will agree, but I found it a dreary dirge of a song, with a naive out-of-date hippy mentality ("imagine all the people living for the day").

Tue, 16 Nov 2010 22:41:47 UTC | #548537

green and dying's Avatar Comment 15 by green and dying

Comment 14 by Steve Zara :

I know few will agree, but I found it a dreary dirge of a song, with a naive out-of-date hippy mentality ("imagine all the people living for the day").

It's a pop song, not a manifesto! I find it pleasant to listen to, so it serves its purpose.

Wed, 17 Nov 2010 00:40:03 UTC | #548585

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 16 by Laurie Fraser

I know few will agree, but I found it a dreary dirge of a song, with a naive out-of-date hippy mentality ("imagine all the people living for the day").

Bloody Zara's been at the curmudgeon pills again!

Mon, 22 Nov 2010 07:33:37 UTC | #551318

mixmastergaz's Avatar Comment 17 by mixmastergaz

I've no idea how it happened, but the scousers I live and work with seem to me to be a pretty secular bunch.

Don't get me wrong - they're not outspoken atheists. Mainly, people just show little or no interest in religion (unless you think of football as a religion - in which case this is the holy land and I'm the village atheist).

My partner teaches in a "Catholic" school. She tells me that few of the students practise their parents' faith (few of the parents, or the other staff at the school for that matter).

However, we do have not one but two cathedrals here, and most people self-identify as Catholic or Protestant (and then quickly add something like "but I'm not religious" - go figure).

Older colleagues tell me that it wasn't always like this, and religious colleagues yearn for a time when religious observance was more commonplace. We do still have Orange marches and the like, but most people one speaks with regard them as nutters, or "plastic Irish" (i.e. they have a rose-tinted view of Ireland because their parents, or more probably their grand-parents came to Liverpool from Ireland). I think the so-called 'plastic Irish' may account for some of the religious bigotry the article claims in years gone by, but I get the feeling that this has been exaggerated by the article's author.

Hungarian Elephant asked how we got from there to here - but I'm not sure Liverpool was ever there.

I said that most scousers will self-identify as Catholic or Protestant. But the first thing they'll say is "I'm a scouser", and it's clearly much more important to them than religion.

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 17:05:11 UTC | #553117

Gerit Upyeh's Avatar Comment 18 by Gerit Upyeh

Certainly a cracking song - John was guilty of plastic-paddy ditties which showed him up to be someone who sometimes wrote songs just from a gut feeling, without really thinking about how ridiculous the content was. I think that was why he was so good. Songs should be about a feeling - all reason should be given second place to poetic license.

That goes for song writing and poems but NOT forum posts.

Wed, 08 Dec 2010 21:40:38 UTC | #560371