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Jan 01 2012

The petty cowardice of Christianity

They simply cannot tolerate the idea that other people think differently than they do, and so they play the most petty, trivial games. Cee-lo Green sang Lennon’s Imagine at New Year’s, and he just had to change the words “no religion too” to “all religion is true” — not just changing the meaning, but changing it to something that makes no sense at all.

It’s only a pop song, but it’s the same sentiment that led the Church to hammer the penises off of classical sculpture; that inspired Islam to blow up Buddhas; that has sects fighting over who owns which piece of rock in Jerusalem; that leads cults to burn books and records. They must pretend that dissent not only does not exist at all, but never existed any where at any time.

At this time of year, there are choirs singing great pieces of Christian music everywhere, and there are atheists raising their voices to sing the St Matthew Passion or Messiah — and you don’t hear them demanding that the Vox Christi be silenced or mention of God be expurgated.

Why? Because we can celebrate the music without having to pretend that Bach and Handel were atheists. Because we aren’t afraid.

But Christians are. I regard them with the contempt I reserve for all superstitious cowards.

150 comments

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  1. 1
    Andy Groves

    I may as well be the first of many to point out that the subject of Cee-Lo’s first hit seems appropriate here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc0mxOXbWIU&ob=av2e

  2. 2
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    The sad truth for believers is that they require not just that everyone believe in something absurd, but that everyone believe in the same absurdity. If not, then the hollowness of their belief is exposed.

  3. 3
    scottjordan

    Man, John Lennon must be spinning in his grave faster than a millisecond pulsar. Forget you, Cee-Lo!!

  4. 4
    jamessweet

    The entire point of that song is that it dares people to question their most basic assumptions about how a society can function. (“Imagine there’s no countries”?? Why does Cee Lo hate America, huh?!?!?!!!) It’s supposed to make you feel uncomfortable.

    If Cee Lo wanted to turn it into a warm fuzzy group hug, he should have gone all the way and sang it like this:

    Imagine dogs go to heaven
    And kitties too, why not?
    Hell is only for Hitler
    Any maybe for Pol Pot

    Imagine all the people not thinking much today

    Imagine we helped some countries
    Marginally improve
    Nothing too hard or controversial
    (Don’t knock their religion, dude!)

    Imagine all the people with UN troops keeping the peace

    You, you may say I’m a coward
    But I’m just an average joe
    I hope some day you’ll just give up
    And we’ll preserve the status quo

    Imagine more possessions
    For those of us who lack
    We’ll keep the greed, just not the hunger
    And a progressive income tax

    Imagine all the people with slightly less income inequality

    You, you may say I’m a coward
    But I’m just an average joe
    I hope some day you’ll just give up
    And we’ll preserve the status quo

  5. 5
    Glen Davidson

    Ick.

    I don’t know that it’s the same sentiment that caused Islamists to blow up Buddhas, though, maybe more like justification of anything done in the name of religion.

    All religion true? Even that held by the 9-11 bombers? As imbecilic as it is wrong.

    Glen Davidson

  6. 6
    jamesredekop

    George Hrab recounted a similar incident on the Geologic Podcast. I can’t remember if it was George or someone writing in, but whoever it was had been asked to perform “Imagine” at a wedding, but to change “Imagine no religion” to “Imagine one religion”.

  7. 7
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ jamessweet:

    That was brilliant, man!

  8. 8
    richardcarter

    I agree, it is pretty unforgivable to change the words of a song like that. Which makes me a huge hypocrite. I used to make a point of changing the words of the psalms we were forced to sing in our school chapel, long before most of your readers were born. My aim (in which I was frequently successful) was to make stuff come out of my friend Dave Adams’s nose.

  9. 9
    carbonbasedlifeform

    Don’t try to pretend that atheists have not done similar things. Does the term “Cristero War” ring any bells? How about the Red Terror of the Spanish Civil War. Enver Hoxha’s banning of all religion in Albania, where mere possession of a Quran or a Bible could get you a ten-year prison sentence is another example.

    I am not supporting what religious leaders have done, but there have been atheists who have been just as bad.

  10. 10
    humanape

    But Christians are. I regard them with the contempt I reserve for all superstitious cowards.

    Superstitious coward is a good definition of anyone who believes in a magical heaven.

  11. 11
    vexorian

    What a way to start the year. Imagine all religion is true, including Satanists and Raelians…

  12. 12
    frankb

    Which makes me a huge hypocrite.

    Wrong, you were forced to sing psalmes as a kid which is very different than these other situations. I bet you only sang it loud enough for only your friend Dave to hear, right. You’re cool.

  13. 13
    Glen Davidson

    Don’t try to pretend that atheists have not done similar things.

    Don’t try to pretend that you understand what’s being discussed, moron.

    Glen Davidson

  14. 14
    Pierce R. Butler

    jamessweet’s on a hot Imagine lyrics streak this year: see also here.

  15. 15
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ carbonbasedlifeform:

    Don’t try to pretend that atheists have not done similar things.

    Enver Hoxha, the Spanish War, Mexican insurgents… How about comparing with what atheists do in time of peace, in democratic countries, eh? Apples to oranges and all that.

  16. 16
    frankb

    How many songs out there are people inclined to change the words to? Not many. That is a tribute to John Lennon. John is irritating small minded people years after his death. Long live John Lennon.

  17. 17
    Anri

    Don’t try to pretend that atheists have not done similar things. Does the term “Cristero War” ring any bells? How about the Red Terror of the Spanish Civil War. Enver Hoxha’s banning of all religion in Albania, where mere possession of a Quran or a Bible could get you a ten-year prison sentence is another example.

    Um, yes, religious oppression in bad.

    That’s… kinda what the post was, yanno, about.

    Also: please list which one of those particular things is still going on currently in large developed nations, all around the world.
    Yeah, I thought so.

  18. 18
    jamessweet

    @carbonbasedlifeform:

    Others have pointed out that you are not making a fair apples-to-apples comparison, but I think you are missing the point for another reason: Imagine doesn’t just dare the listener to imagine no religion, it dares you to imagine no possessions, to even imagine no countries. And all of those atrocities you mentioned were committed by states, I believe.

    Lennon’s song is a challenge to the listener to question her most basic assumptions about what is necessary for functioning society. Instead of saying, “Let’s fix these institutions”, he says, “Imagine we didn’t even have these institutions in the first place… what then?”

    That is why Cee Lo’s word change is so crappy. This song is not supposed to be a softball. It is supposed to go to the core of how we think about living together as humans. Instead, Cee Lo just wants us to close our eyes and think of puppies and warm blankets.

  19. 19
    axilet

    Huh. Mediacorp played an excerpt of the Times Square celebration this morning plus a bit of Imagine, and I was wondering just how the ‘no religions’ bit would be received. Should have known they’d have the tremendous balls to just change the lyrics, and like PZ says it makes (a)no bloody sense at all and (b)implies that all gods are real, which is just as heretical as there being zero gods.

    And yeah, either just leave the song as is, or don’t sing it at all. Assholes.

  20. 20
    joed

    jesus fuckin’ H. christ not “Imagine”. Is nothing sacred any longer.
    actually, about 10 years ago, i heard some christian idiots sing the same lines. i thought at the time that Yoko Ono might get involved.
    the fear of the christian these days is palpable itsn’t it! they got no place to hide except for their own company. they may get more violent before they disband and try to fade into …
    can’t think of a better song to have christians mangle and try to distort.

  21. 21
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    My aim (in which I was frequently successful) was to make stuff come out of my friend Dave Adams’s nose.

    That’s a perfectly valid reason I approve of.

    ++++

    How about the Red Terror of the Spanish Civil War.

    You mean when the terrible red hordes attacked the peaceful, democratically elected fascist catholic government, murdered men women and children for being peasants and then installed a regime that over decades stole thousands of children from religious parents in order to give them to godless folks?

  22. 22
    Glen Davidson

    The one thing I don’t get, from PZ’s post to comments, is that there is anything inherently wrong with changing words in a song. Improvisation is wrong? The words are sacred?

    All I’d say is if you’re changing the words, make some sense and don’t do it just to pander.

    Glen Davidson

  23. 23
    carbonbasedlifeform

    Don’t try to pretend that you understand what’s being discussed, moron.

    I do understand what’s being discussed, asshole. PZ said

    it’s the same sentiment that led the Church to hammer the penises off of classical sculpture; that inspired Islam to blow up Buddhas; that has sects fighting over who owns which piece of rock in Jerusalem; that leads cults to burn books and records. They must pretend that dissent not only does not exist at all, but never existed any where at any time.

    we aren’t afraid. But Christians are. I regard them with the contempt I reserve for all superstitious cowards.

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space said

    The sad truth for believers is that they require not just that everyone believe in something absurd, but that everyone believe in the same absurdity.

    And more of the same in subsequent posts. In other words, we are the true and noble atheists, who would never persecute others who believe differently. I am just reminding you that our hands aren’t clean either.

  24. 24
    carbonbasedlifeform

    Oh, and the Red Terror of the Spanish Civil War was when atheists killed bishops, priests, nuns and laity because they were Catholics. Don’t try to pretend I am supporting the fascists, who were just as bad. But don’t claim that Spanish atheists were cute and cuddly towards those they disagreed with on religious grounds. “Accommodationist” is not a term to apply to the Spanish Republicans.

    I notice that you did not mention the Mexican or Albanian persecution of believers. I suspect this is because they are indefensible.

  25. 25
    raven

    It’s just one of some xians common rituals.

    Some xians never, ever miss a chance to demonstrate their total intellectual and moral bankruptcy.

    My prediction for 2012. The fundies will continue to base their religion on hate, lies, hypocrisy, and ignorance. And General Franco will stay dead.

  26. 26
    Robin Raianiemi

    A few weeks ago, I was overhearing the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on the speaker system at the Target store. When the line “Make the yuletide gay” came up, the singer substituted “It’s the yultide way!”. Seriously. Petty homophobia.

  27. 27
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ carbonbasedlifeform:

    I notice that you did not mention the Mexican or Albanian persecution of believers. I suspect this is because they are indefensible.

    Gee, what a incredible discovery! Religious oppression is bad? Who’d have thunk it?

    Except that, yeah, as anri pointed out upthread, that’s what the OP was about: the silencing of different opinions, of different faiths. Or, as in the case of Lennon’s song, the lack of religious faith. Duh.

  28. 28
    raven

    “The petty cowardice of Christianity”

    Well they do have reasons to be afraid.

    The graveyard of the gods is almost full. There are thousands of gods in there, Zeus, Mithras, Odin, Ahura Mazda, Kim Jong Il, Ronald Reagan, Thor, Marduk etc..

    And the xian gods have been on a downhill slide for a while now.

  29. 29
    Glen Davidson

    I do understand what’s being discussed, asshole.

    Sure you do, dumbfuck. Other than PZ’s bluster, which I hardly think is the point, who the fuck do you think he means by “we”?
    Shithead.

    He wasn’t discussing every fucking idiot who ever hated/disbelieved God, idiot-boy. He was saying “we” as in humanists. God you’re dumb!

    So you blunder along, proving yet again that you’re a moron who just lashes out without any intelligence or understanding.

    Glen Davidson

  30. 30
    zachofalltrades

    That Cee-lo Green is some kind of idiot…

    First, you just don’t cover Imagine (or Beatles songs – I’m lookin’ at you, Bieber). Covers of Imagine NEVER work out well. They invariably sound like crap.

    Second… I don’t care how much of a pussy you are Cee-lo, you do not change the lyric that everybody seems to have trouble with to “and all religion’s true”. John said no religion, and he damn well meant it! Besides that though, they CAN’T all be true you moron, they’re mutually exclusive!

    Not that I’ve ever been much of a fan, but I actively hate that guy now.

  31. 31
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ raven:

    And Cthulhu. Don’t forget mighty Cthulhu and His unspeakable co-deities!

  32. 32
    raven

    carbon based moron:

    I notice that you did not mention the Mexican or Albanian persecution of believers. I suspect this is because they are indefensible.

    PZ Myers also didn’t mention the impending collision of our galaxy with the Andromeda one or where socks disappear to when we do the laundry.

    There is a simple reason for this. Pay attention, because it is so complicated, you probably won’t understand it.

    Those were not the subjects of his post!!! The concept of what a “subject” is requires years of study and high IQ’s so the aptly named carbon based moron won’t get it.

  33. 33
    Ingdigo Jump

    And more of the same in subsequent posts. In other words, we are the true and noble atheists, who would never persecute others who believe differently. I am just reminding you that our hands aren’t clean either.

    Um yeah. I don’t want to persecute others. This isn’t so profound point your making or some gotcha, you’re accusing people of horrendous crimes and personality flaws because…What? It makes you feel better to imagine that everyone is as awful a person as you?

  34. 34
    Ingdigo Jump

    Hey LM, you want to get in here? That way at least Carbon Based is arguing with someone actually making something CLOSE to the point he thinks they are.

  35. 35
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    carbonbased assclam,…well except, I haven’t heard anyone here advocate communism, and certainly not as practiced in Albania. I haven’t heard anyone call for xtianity or any other religion to be banned. Ridicule will do nicely.

    Your pretense that atheists form a monolithic conspiracy is as pathetic as it is absurd. Marxist metaphysics is almost as absurd as talking snakes and virgin births. Do you really have so little intelligence or integrity that you must argue only against straw men?

  36. 36
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Re covers of “Imagine”: how about the one by Playing For Change? Now that’s giving it justice:

  37. 37
    anteprepro

    Hmmm. So, we imagine no hell, no heaven, no countries, no possessions, but imagine all religions. Yeah, we totally buy that those are the original lyrics Cee-lo. And it totally makes sense that religion is true when there is no heaven or hell and we are living for today. Good job, guy.

    (If you’re going to change lyrics to a song that only has 19 separate lines of lyrics to sing, maybe you shouldn’t pretend to be singing the original or just choose a different fucking song. Especially if the lyric ruins the pattern and the message of the entire fucking song. Why all of these religionauts decide that they love this song so much that they want to sing it but also change the entire meaning of it simply baffles me).

  38. 38
    Psych-Oh

    I find it fascinating that religion has become such a “protected” topic over the last few years. I don’t remember this sort of word changing in the past (except in cases where a “mild” word was substituted for a “curse” word… like in C-Lo’s F.U.). The less the general public cares about religiosity, the stronger the protest, huh?

    A temp at our office once told me that she changed the words to “I Kissed a Girl” to “I Kissed a Boy” in front of her young daughters. Let’s just say, she didn’t last long in our office.

  39. 39
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    OK, though, one sin I have seen from some atheists–and even some non-xtians–is changing the lyrics of xmas carols. I don’t have to believe to sing the carols any more than I have to believe in Puff the Magic Dragon to sing that song (which I don’t).

    Thank you all for not doing this.

  40. 40
    Mobius

    “All religion is true”???

    Isn’t that…like…impossible?

    Yeah, makes no sense at all.

  41. 41
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Also, I guess Cee-Lo’s approach is a lot more positive than that of fellow xtian Mark David Chapman.

  42. 42
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ a_ray #39:

    Well, changing the lyrics of Christmas carols go a long way in Christian tradition, too. In fact, in many countries, from the Middle Ages onwards, it was an established practice for proselytisers to take profane songs and turn them into religious anthems by putting godly lyrics to popular tunes. Many a drinking song has been turned into a Christmas carol that way!

  43. 43
    Randomfactor

    “All religion is true”??? Isn’t that…like…impossible?

    I don’t know, man. I didn’t do it.

  44. 44
    saguhh00

    @ carbonbasedlifeform

    [Oh, and the Red Terror of the Spanish Civil War was when atheists killed bishops, priests, nuns and laity because they were Catholics. Don’t try to pretend I am supporting the fascists, who were just as bad. But don’t claim that Spanish atheists were cute and cuddly towards those they disagreed with on religious grounds. “Accommodationist” is not a term to apply to the Spanish Republicans.

    I notice that you did not mention the Mexican or Albanian persecution of believers. I suspect this is because they are indefensible.]

    Victor Hoxha didn’t kill people because of atheism, he killed people because they disagreed with him. If he had only persecuted theists, he wouldn’t have killed atheists, but he killed any atheist who disagreed with him. the same thing applies to the other movements you mentioned.

  45. 45
    Artor

    The flaming and name-calling against carbonbasedlifeform is uncalled for. He has a valid point that some atheists in history have acted as badly as fanatical religionists have. The point he misses is that we recognize and condemn those actions as wrong. We don’t circle the wagons and claim that because Stalin’s murders were done by atheists, they were really okay. Atheists do not have a creed that must be enforced upon heretics.

  46. 46
    Fukuda

    Oh, and the Red Terror of the Spanish Civil War was when atheists killed bishops, priests, nuns and laity because they were Catholics. Don’t try to pretend I am supporting the fascists, who were just as bad.

    What. Atheists per se didn’t go around killing clergy, armed crackpot revolutionaries did. They didn’t just kill clergy by the way, they mainly killed other rival atheist crackpot revolutionaries(and civilians).

    Please don’t go around smearing all spanish atheists of that time just because armed anarchists and communists went around killing people, as repugnant as that was.

    But don’t claim that Spanish atheists were cute and cuddly towards those they disagreed with on religious grounds.

    A lot of spanish atheists living on republican ground fled to France and neighboring countries well before the end of the war.. Wonder why? They were being persecuted by other atheists.

    Maybe atheism itself wasn’t the reason behind the killing of not just clergy, but other atheists?

    “Accommodationist” is not a term to apply to the Spanish Republicans.

    No one is really turned into an accommodationist when the church is calling a “holy crusade” on you, but there’s a huge stretch between not being an accommodationist and killing clergy, don’t you think?

  47. 47
    Randomfactor

    Many a drinking song has been turned into a Christmas carol that way!

    …or into a national anthem.

  48. 48
    Part-Time Insomniac

    If my very Catholic parents didn’t change the station whenever “Imagine” came on, and never so much as batted an eye, why the fuck can’t more people do the same? Are they just that afraid of what that song makes people think about?

  49. 49
    raven

    But don’t claim that Spanish atheists were cute and cuddly towards those they disagreed with on religious grounds.

    Thanks for the fractured fairy tale version of history.

    Now do the ones for the Spanish Inquisition, the Albigensian genocide, the witch hunts, the crusades, the Reformation wars, New World genocides, and slaughters of European pagans.

    By any measure, the xians are the world leaders in body counts. Much of the spread of xianity is simply because they never hesitated to kill anyone in their way.

    Hitchens: Xianity lost its best tool when it stopped burning people at the stake. (They didn’t stop, they were forced to stop it by normal people who were appalled.)

  50. 50
    Martin, heading for geezerhood

    Glen:
    I think that, in a public performance, the lyrics of a copyrighted song can only be changed with the approval of the copyright holder.

    I hope Yoko Ono successfully sues the living shit out of Cee-lo and NBC.

  51. 51
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ Artor:

    True, but the reductio ab Stalini is an even worse argument than that. The atrocities of Stalin, Mao, Hoxha and their ilk were not motivated by a desire to enforce atheism per se, but by a desire to establish a Marxist-leninist totalitarian state of which atheism was only one dimension. It’s a misrepresentation to pretend, like some religious apologists who are either ignorant or dishonest, that all forms of atheism lead to totalitarianism.

    In the current atheist movement, even advocates for the extinction of religion, like Richard Dawkins, don’t call for making worship illegal. They just say that if we take away the privileged status of religions, they will fade in importance because more people will feel free to get away from them.

  52. 52
    Ashley F. Miller

    1. Do we know that Cee Lo is Christian? The change sounds more Unitarian silliness than Jesus silliness.

    2. The lyrics actually are perfectly in line with the ridiculousness of what Lennon was trying to say. Lennon, on the lyrics, “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.” http://ashleyfmiller.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/imagine-not-an-atheist-song/

  53. 53
    robro

    OK, that’s it. Cee Lo must return all his Grammy’s and spend a week in deep integrative therapy with Yoko.

    Also, he can never, ever sing “Crazy” again because he’s not crazy, just stupid.

  54. 54
    chigau (違う)

    ashleymiller

    2. The lyrics actually are perfectly in line with the ridiculousness of what Lennon was trying to say. Lennon, on the lyrics, “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.”

    citation needed

  55. 55
    scottjordan

    One thing I hate is when a company takes a classic song that I love, and rewrites its lyrics in order to turn it into a cheesy ad jingle.

    There’s a company here in Australia called “The Good Guys” that has totally ruined the Beach Boys song “Good Vibrations” for me. I can’t listen to the original song, let alone the ad jingle, without turning the radio off.

  56. 56
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    ashleymiller:
    Ask and ye shall receive. According to the Fount of All Knowlege, Cee-Lo started out in his church:

    Both of his parents were ordained ministers and he started his music career in his church.

    No word about which denomination or what he practices now, however.

  57. 57
    victortanner

    I’m not really upset at Cee-lo on a philosophical level: I don’t really view him as a deep thinker. But, as a performer, why would he pick a song he didn’t feel he could perform without changing? Especially such a significant lyric? Bad song choice on his part. Peter Gabriel performed the song at the Olympic opener and didn’t change the lyrics.

  58. 58
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    We don’t circle the wagons and claim that because Stalin’s murders were done by atheists, they were really okay. Atheists do not have a creed that must be enforced upon heretics.

    Who the fuck are you reading? No one made that argument. No, carbonbased didn’t have a “valid point.” That was completely, utterly beside the point of the conversation – it was just pure trollery.

    Did someone leave their Stedmanator on last night? Please turn it off before it spawns any more.

  59. 59
    some bastard on the net

    Dammit, I actually like some of Cee-Lo’s work, and then I wake up in the new year to see this shit get pulled!

  60. 60
  61. 61
    Aquaria

    I notice that you did not mention the Mexican or Albanian persecution of believers. I suspect this is because they are indefensible.

    I noticed that you didn’t mention the centuries of oppression from the Catholic church upon an entire country that made the backlash in Mexico an inevitability.

  62. 62
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Irene Delse,
    What I object to about changing xmas tree lyrics is that it fetishizes even the words, “God”, “Jesus”, “Christ”…

    It does no good to throw off the folk myth of religion if we are to give its totems power over us even in our freedom.

  63. 63
    chigau (違う)

    ashleymiller
    too bad about page 213.
    Seriously. Is that what you consider providing a citation looks like?

  64. 64
    resistingthemilieu

    Reading this made me feel so much better today. Thanks.

  65. 65
    Anthony K

    Seriously. Is that what you consider providing a citation looks like?

    What? What do you want? The part where John Lennon says “Imagine” is pretty much The Secret is clear enough.

  66. 66
    Anthony K

    I found a German book with a little more of the transcript, Chigau.

    “The World Church called me once and asked, “Can we use the lyrics to ‘Imagine’ and just change it to ‘Imagine one religion’? That showed they didn’t understand it at all. It would defeat the whole purpose of the song, the whole idea.”

    So, one religion is not like car keys in the same way no religion is, I guess.

    Why do people interview musicians again?

  67. 67
    Anri

    True, but the reductio ab Stalini is an even worse argument than that. The atrocities of Stalin, Mao, Hoxha and their ilk were not motivated by a desire to enforce atheism per se, but by a desire to establish a Marxist-leninist totalitarian state of which atheism was only one dimension. It’s a misrepresentation to pretend, like some religious apologists who are either ignorant or dishonest, that all forms of atheism lead to totalitarianism.

    And in any case, it doesn’t matter even if the killings at the hands of oppressive totalitarian dictatorships were the result of, or the attempt to, enforce atheism.

    Because (and I’ll try to go slow for those still missing this point after all these years) humanists oppose these types of governments. Humanists and atheists are not synonymous, of course, but I suspect you’ll find most atheists here to be humanists as well, and to find the two concepts heavily intertwined.

    To put it another way to anyone using this argument: find the folks here that support totalitarian governments, and argue that atheist totalitarian governments are bad to them. (Protip – part one is going to be difficult.)

    - – -

    I also have real trouble seeing the argument that changing a lyric from ‘no religion’ to ‘all religion’ is somehow keeping in the original intent of the lyric. That would be like rewriting the Bill of Rights to forbid freedom of speech, assembly, religion and so forth, and then stating you haven’t really changed anything.
    Perhaps non-coincidentally, religious folks tend to do that,too.

  68. 68
    Rip Steakface

    God damn it. “Fuck You” is the only pop song from the past 20 years that I’ve liked at all (metal head who listens to jazz, reporting in), and then Cee-lo Green decides to do something as fucking stupid as this.

    Take heed of your own hit, Cee-lo.

  69. 69
    alexandra14c

    I don’t see how almost anyone in this debate is actually on the same topic of PZ’s post.

    Isn’t this about the modification or destruction of works of art? Not persecution in general?

  70. 70
    SallyStrange

    Imagine all religions are true?

    No thanks. I can just read a Neil Gaiman novel. No need for imagining.

  71. 71
    chigau (違う)

    Why do people interview musicians again?

    How can you know what the words to a song really mean if you don’t get more words to tell you what the words mean?
    Know what I mean?

  72. 72
    lylelaw

    Cee-lo had to do a few different versions of his pop hit, but as far as i can tell, that was something he agreed to in advance in order to maximize its success, I think it was a poor decision on his part to take such a classic song as ‘Imagine’ and alter it just so he could dodge a few grumpy religionists who would then scream ‘how dare you sing that song!’

    He wasn’t doing a parody, which would pretty much be the only time I can imagine it would be appropriate to do such things. for example:

    “Goin’ on up to see what’s in the sky;
    That’s what I wanna do before I die!
    ‘Fore I die and they lay me to rest,
    wanna put my theory to the test!”

  73. 73
    sinned34

    So when I’m singing the Canadian national anthem and I change “God keep our land glorious and free” to “we keep our land keep our land glorious and free”, is that equally pathetic?

  74. 74
    thewhollynone

    Martin at #50, my thought exactly. Sue! Can a performer just change lyrics legally? I can understand if a singer just makes a mistake which has no consequences for the meaning of the poetry, but this instance was apparently a deliberate alteration of the meaning, pandering to a huge national TV audience for propaganda purposes. Seems to me that Lennon is entitled to have his own propaganda quoted verbatim, unless his heirs and copyright holders agreed to this change, but I am not an entertainment lawyer, so what do I know.

  75. 75
    timgueguen

    People have been screwing aorund with the lyrics to “Imagine” forever. I saw a school choir on Saskatoon TV at least 20 years ago who sang “Imagine we’re in heaven.” I don’t remember if other lyrics were changed, but it wouldn’t surprise me

  76. 76
    SallyStrange

    So when I’m singing the Canadian national anthem and I change “God keep our land glorious and free” to “we keep our land keep our land glorious and free”, is that equally pathetic?

    Well, since there is no god, there’s really no functional difference between the meaning of either phrase. So no. Not equally pathetic.

  77. 77
    raven

    So when I’m singing the Canadian national anthem and I change “God keep our land glorious and free” to “we keep our land keep our land glorious and free”, is that equally pathetic?

    Ooh, this is a tough one.

    1. Do you do that on national TV in front of tens of millions of people?

    2. Is that illegal because of copyrite issues?

    3. Do you do that because you are afraid an angry Invisible Sky Monster is going to send you to hell forever?

    If so, then yes, of course it is equally pathetic.

  78. 78
    demonhype

    alexandra14c @69:

    True. But the thread kind of got hijacked very quickly by a troll. Happens pretty often, unfortunately. You get an interesting subject going, then someone comes in with “oh, so you think that it would be better if everyone was atheist, well then there would be concentration camps EVERYWHERE ’cause atheists are a MILLION TIMES WORSE!!!1!!!” Or some variant.

    That said, I still remember my alto part from Hallelujah and sing along when I hear it. I don’t feel the need to eradicate all that “for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” or anything like that, because it’s old religious music.

    Of course, I’ve been finding out that a lot of composers from that time were doubters, but writing musical celebrations of doubt and free-thought were a good way to get killed back then. Even then, I don’t feel the need to change the lyrics as they were written. Maybe it’s because I’m not quivering in my boots that if someone hears about how “the lord god omnipotent reigneth” it might cause an explosion of Christian conversions or I might get ambushed by the Spanish Inquisition (which no one ever expects).

    Perhaps the distinction is in the fact that, despite the omnipresence of Christianity and the violent suppression of anything else over several centuries, free thought was never stamped out even with their best suppressive efforts and is growing bigger than ever today. And we know it, so we don’t have to worry–as was quoted above from Hitchens, they lost their best conversion tool when they stopped being able to burn people at the stake. But many believers still want to believe that their religion was spread and maintained over those centuries by the “power of the message” and love and kindness and such, and totally not by the edge of a sword or the threat of torture or a fiery death, and so think if they continue to saturate our already Christian-saturated society with even more Christianity, even to the point of dishonestly saturating atheist messages and creative work with Christianity and make sure no one hears anything that might contradict, challenge or otherwise make people think outside the Jesus-box, that somehow they can return to their mythical Golden Age that existed only in their minds, when everyone was a Christian and danced around a happy maypole loving one another and never doing anything violent or oppressive.

  79. 79
    David Marjanović

    I am not supporting what religious leaders have done, but there have been atheists who have been just as bad.

    Define “religion”. Albania had the personality cult of Enver Hoxha as its state religion.

    I am just reminding you that our hands aren’t clean either.

    Who is “we”? I’m not a communist, and the Spanish “anarchists” were very strange authoritarians that I don’t identify with either.

    The graveyard of the gods is almost full. There are thousands of gods in there, Zeus, Mithras, Odin, Ahura Mazda, Kim Jong Il, Ronald Reagan, Thor, Marduk etc..

    I think I should steal this. :-)

    And Cthulhu. Don’t forget mighty Cthulhu and His unspeakable co-deities!

    They’re most emphatically not dead. When the Stars are Right, they shall wake up to eat you next-to-last. They will cross the Godzilla Threshold.

    In fact, in many countries, from the Middle Ages onwards, it was an established practice for proselytisers to take profane songs and turn them into religious anthems by putting godly lyrics to popular tunes. Many a drinking song has been turned into a Christmas carol that way!

    And many a love song turned, much later, into a communist hymn. My dad can still sing Communist party! Fragrant flower!.

    Victor Hoxha

    Enver.

    Besides, c would be pronounced [ts] in Albanian anyway.

  80. 80
    crocswsocks

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO… I LIKED CEE-LO… NO…

  81. 81
    joed

    @60 ashleymiller
    page 213 has Lennon discarding all religion and mystical thought. and no religion.
    At least that’s the way i remember the book.
    ashley can you help me here with a real citation, or even some idea of where you got your info.
    what Lennon is saying about someone else you seem to ascribing to Lennon himself.

  82. 82
    Lycanthrope

    Glen Davidson @22:

    The one thing I don’t get, from PZ’s post to comments, is that there is anything inherently wrong with changing words in a song. Improvisation is wrong? The words are sacred?

    It’s not that there is anything inherently wrong with changing words in a song. Parodies and derivative works are okay. But there is something very wrong with changing a line to mean its exact opposite, and pretending you’re still singing the original version anyway.

  83. 83
    Anthony K

    First, you just don’t cover Imagine (or Beatles songs – I’m lookin’ at you, Bieber).

    Why not? They’re just songs, for fuck’s sake. Lots of covers suck, and others don’t. The Beatles were mods, not gods.

    Second… I don’t care how much of a pussy you are Cee-lo

    Let’s not do that. Find a term other than ‘pussy’.

    John said no religion, and he damn well meant it!

    Did he? Read Ashley Miller’s link in comment #60. Lennon wasn’t a glorious atheist thinker, he was a New Agey flake, no more insightful than an run-of-the-mill gap year backpacker in Goa.

    So when I’m singing the Canadian national anthem and I change “God keep our land glorious and free” to “we keep our land keep our land glorious and free”, is that equally pathetic?

    I get around this by not singing national anthems, ever. You might as well invoke Yahweh for all the power an incantation before the first puck is dropped has.

  84. 84
    Anthony K

    page 213 has Lennon discarding all religion and mystical thought. and no religion.

    Really? From page 212:

    Dick Gregory gave Yoko and me a little kind of prayer book. It is in the Christian idiom, but you can apply it anywhere. It is the concept of positive prayer. If you want to get a car, get the car keys. Get it? “Imagine” is saying that. 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.

    Doesn’t sound very “discarding all religion and mystical thought. and no religion.” to me.

  85. 85
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    when atheists killed bishops, priests, nuns and laity because they were Catholics.

    Please don’t go around smearing all spanish atheists of that time just because armed anarchists and communists went around killing people, as repugnant as that was.

    Who is “we”? I’m not a communist, and the Spanish “anarchists” were very strange authoritarians that I don’t identify with either.

    Oh, for the love of…

    Since when is some idiot’s comment on a thread accepted as accurate history? Even for people who know next to nothing about Spanish history, the fact that Franco’s victory meant the start of a confessional dictatorship with the support of the Church and the imprisonment and murder of thousands and thousands of people should be enough of a hint about the truth of the claim that this was a question of killing people en masse “because they were Catholics.”

    Craziness.

  86. 86
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Banning religions in some places is a way to kill any authority but the state’s and to ensure that people don’t have anything that would give them the courage to defy the government. It’s about power and control more than religion. It’s about taking away religious freedom. John Lennon, I think, was writing about people discovering for themselves that they don’t need religion nor patriotism nor wealth.

  87. 87
    A. Noyd

    If all religions were true, I don’t think I’d want to have ever been born. Because it wouldn’t only be the happy-fun-feel-good, everyone-goes-to-heaven, vapid New-Agey spiritual blather religions. It would be the authoritarian, kill-the-infidels, fire-and-brimstone, genital-mutilating, hide-the-women, kiddy-diddling religions, too. And the gods behind them–the gods that drown planets and torture people for eternity–would be real as well. Pleasant.

  88. 88
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Banning religion and enforcing a religion are two sides of the same coin–it still gives control to the outside authority and is the opposite of freedom of religion. In the same way, mandatory motherhood and mandatory abortion are two sides of the same coin–it still gives control to outside authority and is the opposite of freedom of choice.

  89. 89
    kengranderson

    And for another humanist song perverted into being pro-magical thinking, compare the original ‘Wake Up Everybody’ by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes with the mumbo-jumbo that Common added to the recent remake.

  90. 90
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Edward Current has a nice video about how he’s going to do Pascal’s Wager better and believe in all religions just to be safe.

  91. 91
    Kel

    I don’t get the offence at music with religious or non-religious lyrics or themes. The music is as it is.

  92. 92
    ChristineRose

    The only way I can read “All religions true” and have it make any sense is “All religions change so that they agree with my religion.”

  93. 93
    otrame

    Actually, I know someone who sang it beautifully, though admittedly it was on a TV show. Quantum Leap. Sam (Scot Bakula) sang the song to his little sister, and she freaked out because she could tell it was too good for her 16 year old brother to have made up.

  94. 94
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    Glen Davidson @4: The kind of mentality that would turn Lennon Lyrics into evangelic diarrhea would think that only his religion is The One True Religion and all the rest is cult activity. When he says ‘all religion’ I think it’s a fair assumption to mean ‘my religion.’

    Kanye, Tebow, Cee-lo…giving 2 syllable names a bad reputation.

  95. 95
    kennypo65

    Hey Cee-lo, First what the fuck kind of name is that? It ain’t the one you mother gave you, I’ll bet a kidney on it. You are a no talent hack. You haven’t the balls that Lennon had, and you had no right to mutilate his words to suit your own agenda (it’s pronounced ah jen da. I assume you are a moron, because I won’t lose money on that bet.) You will one day die and be a footnote at best, Lennon will be remembered for centuries.

  96. 96
    Inaji

    Oh goody, a fanboi. :eyeroll:

  97. 97
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Hey Cee-lo, First what the fuck kind of name is that?

    Assumed names are so uncommon. Richard Starkey would never be able to get away with that in The Beatles.

    You are a no talent hack.

    Actually, Cee-Lo is quite talented. But that has nothing to do with changing lyrics.

    You haven’t the balls that Lennon had, and you had no right to mutilate his words to suit your own agenda

    Because all that Lennon did was good and right. Except that Baby You’re A Rich Man was a petulant whine about his manager. And he also disowned Run For Your Life.

    You will one day die and be a footnote at best, Lennon will be remembered for centuries.

    You have no way of knowing this. The song writers and composers who are remembered centuries after their deaths were not necessarily the most popular ones of their time period.

    You sound like a youtube music troll.

  98. 98
    Kel

    You sound like a youtube music troll.

    The best kind of music troll!

  99. 99
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Here is a sick little counterpoint to Cee-Lo taking very silly liberties with a song. A GOP Indiana state senator wants performances of the Star Spangled Banner to follow a guideline.

    One wonders if Marvin Gaye would be unacceptable.

  100. 100
    feralboy12

    I don’t know who or what Cee-Lo is, I just think if he wants different lyrics, he should write his own damn song.

  101. 101
    Rey Fox

    Hey Cee-lo, First what the fuck kind of name is that? It ain’t the one you mother gave you, I’ll bet a kidney on it.

    Oh brother. You’re not gonna rag on Ringo for that, are you?

  102. 102
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Feralboy12, Cee-Lo has been writing songs for a long time, going back to his time with the Goodie Mob in the nineties. You have heard at least two of his songs, Fuck You (Which I have been saying to Cee-Lo over this.) and this inescapable but great song.

  103. 103
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Rey Fox, my joke must have been too subtle for you.

  104. 104
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Ah, thanks SC. I’m surprised it took so long for someone to point out that the bishops, priests, nuns and laity were not killed just “because they were Catholics” as some kind of unreasoned religious persecution. Almost everyone in Spain was a Catholic at the time. Probably 99% of the killers were raised Catholic.

    The priests etc were killed because of their hierarchy’s political actions. The church was explicitly on Franco’s side at the start of the civil war. And throughout it, and on through the duration of the fascist regime. When a church adamantly refuses church-state separation, it can’t also be held blameless for the state’s actions.

  105. 105
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    There was a reason why Luis Buñuel had to leave Spain. He would have been killed by Franco’s forces for his anti-Catholic works.

  106. 106
    SallyStrange

    It took til today for me to realize that I had Cee-Lo Green confused with Skee-Lo, the dude responsible for Schoolhouse Rocks’ song about sentence structure.

  107. 107
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Ya borked the link, SallyStrange.

    Forty years after the fact, I still have most of those ditties lodged in my skull. Who knew that expansion could be so catchy?

    Oh, elbow room, elbow room,
    Got to, got to get us some elbow room.
    It’s the west or bust,
    In God we trust.
    There’s a new land out there…

    Whatdidyaknow, this could proof that the US is a christian country.

  108. 108
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Also, Skee-Lo was not responsible for the song. It was a cover from a tribute album. It was marketed to people of my age group but I avoided like an illness, though there were acts that I liked on it.

  109. 109
    feralboy12

    Conjunction junction, what’s your function?
    Hookin’ up words…

    janine:
    Actually, no, I haven’t heard two songs by Cee-Lo; I stopped paying attention to popular music some time in the late 1980′s. The combination of Milli Vanilli winning the Grammy and being too busy analyzing Bach concertos in college led me in a different direction.
    Not to disparage all these kids, mind you. I’m sure some are talented but aiming at an audience that doesn’t include me. Popular music passed me by, I guess. It’s not that I don’t understand it; from a musical standpoint I understand most of it instantly, which for me is boring. But I don’t like to comment on it much, because I end up sounding like my mother about 45 years ago. “He’s not singing, he’s just yelling.”
    Young people: it will happen to you, too.

  110. 110
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    “all religions are true”?
    Given that every religion, deep in its ugly little heart, is sure that it is the only actual religion and that it is damn well going to make sure of it by killing all those that don’t agree, I think there might be one of those logic errors in there somewhere. Not, of course, that that would even slow down a religion.

  111. 111
    Fukuda

    Ah, thanks SC. I’m surprised it took so long for someone to point out that the bishops, priests, nuns and laity were not killed just “because they were Catholics” as some kind of unreasoned religious persecution. Almost everyone in Spain was a Catholic at the time. Probably 99% of the killers were raised Catholic.

    Yes, the catholic church controlled all education and society in Spain back then. They helped the local landlords in their racket of the poor and they also fought against unions and this was causing lots of tension way before the civil war. Angry mobs burnt churches and killed some clergy in 1909 during the tragic week in Barcelona, more than 30 years before the civil war.

    There was a lot of animosity against the catholic church, but it was mainly fueled by people’s rage… Not by atheistic thought, these people didn’t exactly need intellectual reasons to burn churches and dance with nun skeletons. The clergy was the symbol to be destroyed, not catholics.

    Context is important when discussing history…

  112. 112
    SallyStrange

    Ah dang, sorry about the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj4H3Ioxs6s

    There was also “I wish I was a little bit taller,” which I always found amusing.

  113. 113
    imthegenieicandoanything

    Of course 99% and more of religion is cowardice but, although the cowardice of others might make me shake my head sadly or even wince, like seeing the razor drawn across the eye in “Un Chien Andalou,” but finally it is rarely any of my business.

    What is unfortunate is the inevitable bullying that cowardice is the foundation of, as numbers of cowards allow their fears, founded and unfounded, as surely as properly-mixed cement solidifies, and how it almost inevitably escalates.

    Xians are all, without exception, failed human beings (though by no means irretrievably lost) who seek victums to sarifice to their horrid, blood-soaked graven image, and almost all the rest are unwilling to stand against their “brethren” out of a less severe but equally cruel cowardice, which seeks to feel regret for their inaction, so bitter and sweet is regret to them.

    Muslims are the asme, but more often have utter ignorance to clothe their cowardice in. Hindus seem no better, and Buddhists only have the excuse of not being a state religion, though in Sri Lanka it comes off very little better (Muslims or Christians would have long since exterminated the HIndus, after all.)

    “Religion” is now only an error, even in the gentlest mind.

  114. 114
    John Morales

    [meta]

    janine, I’m another who’d never heard of this specimen until this came up. I’ve certainly not heard either of these (um) songs.

    (Google is my friend)

  115. 115
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    janine:
    Actually, no, I haven’t heard two songs by Cee-Lo; I stopped paying attention to popular music some time in the late 1980′s. The combination of Milli Vanilli winning the Grammy and being too busy analyzing Bach concertos in college led me in a different direction.

    I thought that the lack of pop hits that I link to shows that I am also not playing much attention to popular music, sticking to the outskirts and the fringes. I was not disappointed by Milli Vanilli winning a Granny because I did not care. But I did think it was funny when Jethro Tull won a metal Grammy.

  116. 116
    Randomfactor

    Feralboy12, Cee-Lo has been writing songs for a long time,

    But not, reportedly, “Fuck You.”

    http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/08/guess_who_wrote_cee-los_awesom.html

  117. 117
    Rey Fox

    janine: No, I just didn’t see your post before I made mine. Think I had my browser parked on this page for a while.

  118. 118
    Inaji

    Put me down as another one who’s never heard of Cee-Lo before today. Our radio reception is lousy, I rarely listen to sat radio and can’t afford to stream music over the net, so I haven’t heard of most people these days.

  119. 119
    Chris Booth

    At this time of year, there are choirs singing great pieces of Christian music everywhere, and there are atheists raising their voices to sing the St Matthew Passion or Messiah — and you don’t hear them demanding that the Vox Christi be silenced or mention of God be expurgated.

    Why? Because we can celebrate the music without having to pretend that Bach and Handel were atheists. Because we aren’t afraid.

    But Christians are.

    They are afraid. They have reason to be. Its called projection: They project their own “moral compass” on us, and assume we are as they in terms of morals.

    We are not.

    We are better.

    Because we are not dominated by “morals”, but by ethics. Their “morality” is nothing more than doing-what-I-want-while-rationalizing-and-feeling-all-yummy-and-selfrighteous-inside-about-it-and-excoriating-you-for-your-own-urges. Ethics is trying to do right because it is right, not because its what the hive wants today to maintain hegemony. And it is not ethical [for instance] to burn people alive for not being members of the same superstition-club, however “moral” it was, is, and (if they have their collective ways) will be.

    They are afraid. They think we will behave the way they always have, do, and want to in the future. They are afraid. Because they know themselves.

  120. 120
    sinned34

    Well, since there is no god, there’s really no functional difference between the meaning of either phrase. So no. Not equally pathetic.

    Yeah, but I’m still changing the words of a song so as to express a statement I agree with. It does annoy me that the national anthem of my country refers to a generic religiosity that not all of us share. So does that mean I am just as pathetic as Cee-Lo?

  121. 121
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Sinned34, assuming that you are from the US, you might want to check the link I provided at #99.

  122. 122
    Inaji

    sinned:

    So does that mean I am just as pathetic as Cee-Lo?

    Oh ffs, what’s your point already? Who cares if you substitute for god when singing in a crowd? It’s not as though you were giving a public performance and decided to change someone else’s lyrics.

  123. 123
    'Tis Himself

    feralboy 12 #109

    I end up sounding like my mother about 45 years ago. “He’s not singing, he’s just yelling.”
    Young people: it will happen to you, too.

    Not me, man. I’m really getting into to Mozart and Haydn. And that Beethoven guy? His music is to die for.

  124. 124
    carlie

    Forty years after the fact, I still have most of those ditties lodged in my skull. Who knew that expansion could be so catchy?

    Heck, I can still sing the preamble to the constitution. Booyah.

  125. 125
    robster

    People knobbled by christianity are scared. Scared because, even though they’re exhibiting extreme stupidity, they really do know, deep down that the childish nonsense they believe in is, well, nonsense. Anybody with more than two functioning brain cells knows this. Some believers I suspect have at least two brain cells and are able to determine the silliness that religion offers. When in a mob, the religious after talking about the weather, spend the rest of their time together trying to confirm each others version of the belief system. It’s constant and quite entertaining because every excuse is empty and irrational. It’s all they talk about because they’re scared.

  126. 126
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Not me, man. I’m really getting into to Mozart and Haydn. And that Beethoven guy? His music is to die for.

    Could I suggest trying WFMT.com for classical music (we still have a NFP non-public radio FM music channel here in southern Chiwaukee). They get weird with folk or brazilian music weekend nights.

  127. 127
    'Tis Himself

    Heck, I can still sing the preamble to the constitution. Booyah.

    Me too.

    Plus I know what an interjection is.

  128. 128
    Stacy

    The graveyard of the gods is almost full. There are thousands of gods in there, Zeus, Mithras, Odin, Ahura Mazda, Kim Jong Il, Ronald Reagan, Thor, Marduk etc..

    And Cthulhu. Don’t forget mighty Cthulhu and His unspeakable co-deities!

    Cthulhu is not dead. He’s sleeping. *points at Irene* Infidel!

    Did he? Read Ashley Miller’s link in comment #60. Lennon wasn’t a glorious atheist thinker, he was a New Agey flake, no more insightful than an run-of-the-mill gap year backpacker in Goa.

    Too harsh, Brownian. Yeah, that particular notion of his was flaky, and like a lot of people in the 60s and 70s, he explored the World of Woo. But he had plenty of good ideas and insights as well. For example, his journey from man-who-abused-women to thoughtful feminist who was willing to walk the walk by being a househusband is impressive.

    Xians are all, without exception, failed human beings (though by no means irretrievably lost) who seek victums to sarifice to their horrid, blood-soaked graven image

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. Utter hyperbolic bullshit. Can we not do this? Please?

  129. 129
    Stacy

    Speaking of religious totalitarianism, PZ once posted this terrific video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_BCNio07gU

    set to Cee Lo’s Crazy (performed by his duo Gnarls Barkley). It’s by Israeli filmmaker Vania Heymann.

  130. 130
    Ingdigo Jump

    Cthulhu is not dead. He’s sleeping. *points at Irene* Infidel!

    That which is not truly living cannot truly die. And that which is not dead can eternal lie

  131. 131
    epikt

    janine says:

    You have no way of knowing this. The song writers and composers who are remembered centuries after their deaths were not necessarily the most popular ones of their time period.

    The Joachim Raff effect, I think it’s called.

  132. 132
    davidd

    it’s the same sentiment that led the Church to hammer the penises off of classical sculpture; that inspired Islam to blow up Buddhas; that has sects fighting over who owns which piece of rock in Jerusalem; that leads cults to burn books and records.

    It hardly seems fair to compare a non-destructive act—changing the lyrics you are actually singing—to such destructive acts of vandalism, even by saying it’s the same “sentiment”.

  133. 133
    sinned34

    Sinned34, assuming that you are from the US, you might want to check the link I provided at #99.

    The link didn’t work for me, so I googled it and found what I think you were talking about. Good to see the Republicans focusing on creating jobs like they promised they would. I’m Canadian though, and although that Indiana bill doesn’t affect me, our Conservative government has been attempting to import American-style politics up here, and stupid faux patriotism like that would be right up their alley.

    Oh ffs, what’s your point already? Who cares if you substitute for god when singing in a crowd? It’s not as though you were giving a public performance and decided to change someone else’s lyrics.

    My point was that I do the same thing, at least when it comes to singing the Canadian national anthem. However, like you patiently pointed out, I don’t get up to lead people in the anthem and change it. If I was asked to sing the anthem in front of a group of people, I’d leave the original lyrics alone.

    However, now I’m a little self-conscious about it. Maybe PZ is right and I’m just not secure enough in my atheism, or maybe I’m justified because mentioning god in the national anthem is essentially a government endorsement of religion?

  134. 134
    John Morales

    davidd,

    It hardly seems fair to compare a non-destructive act—changing the lyrics you are actually singing—to such destructive acts of vandalism, even by saying it’s the same “sentiment”.

    There is no comparison between the various acts; there’s only the claim that their motivating sentiment is the same.

  135. 135
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    re. 133: I have been saying ‘Please keep our land, glorious and free’ for a couple years. I would get this perverse pleasure from doing a Sinatra and singing it My Way and watching the heads explode in the audience. At least only half as many heads would be exploding there as compared to if you left out the godbothering from the US Pledge of allegiance…something about god making wooden furniture shiny or something. I’m not a fan of anthems or pledges anyway…at least until there’s versions of each upholding an obligation to people (not gods) everywhere, not just within one nation’s borders.

  136. 136
    scaryduck

    Oh, Cee-Lo. A new name for my Get To Fuck list.

  137. 137
    scaryduck

    Having watched the entire performance, our man Cee-Lo also sang “Imagine ALL possessions”.

  138. 138
    jakewildstrom

    I was in a public school children’s chorus back in the early 90s. As a secular institution, we had rules about what lyrical content we could sing (which was at least in intent a good thing, since you don’t really want institutionalized religion promulgated by the songs sung at a state elementary school). They were cryptic, complicated, convoluted rules with arbitrary taboo words, as far as I could tell. “God” and “Lord” were OK, anything not in English was OK, even “Mary” was OK, but, say “Jesus” and “Saviour” were unacceptable. Mostly we stuck to songs which didn’t give us problems (lots of German and Latin religious music, and plenty of secular music), but on occasion we’d have to screw with lyrics. Usually we could tweak slightly (e.g. “Lord Jesus be his guide” in “God Bless the Master” became “His God will be his guide”), but I still remember us having to butcher “The Holly and the Ivy” (“The holly bears a blossom as white as lily flower/And Mary bore the little child on Christmas Day in the morn”. Yes, I know it doesn’t rhyme).

    Probably would’ve been better not to sing that one at all. Or choose our verses more carefully. Our (extremely talented) choirmistress later moved from the public school system to a non-scholastic children’s ensemble, so that’s less of a problem for her song selection now.

  139. 139
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Actually, given that it was a fundamentalist xtian motivated by his perception of the singer’s anti-christian sentiment that gunned down Lennon, this particular substitution is in quite poor taste.

  140. 140
    carbonbasedlifeform

    Gee, what a incredible discovery! Religious oppression is bad? Who’d have thunk it?

    Except that, yeah, as anri pointed out upthread, that’s what the OP was about: the silencing of different opinions, of different faiths. Or, as in the case of Lennon’s song, the lack of religious faith. Duh.

    That is my point. While history is replete with examples of believers repressing those whose opinions differ, there are also examples of atheists doing exactly the same thing.

  141. 141
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Well, lookee what just popped into my fb news feed: Cee Lo Green Outrages John Lennon Fans By Changing Lyrics to ‘Imagine’.

    It amuses me that Rolling Stone is a day behind Pharyngula and Camels With Hammers.

  142. 142
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Audley

    Not surprising really. RS is concerned with the music/entertainment world’s response to it. They obviously would have to wait until the song was done before they could see how fans would react because most fans are probably not atheists and wouldn’t have been up on the atheistic specific news.

  143. 143
    gravityisjustatheory

    Personally I always thought that bit of Imagine was rather strange.

    The rest of the song is all about “Imagine what it would be like if X didn’t exist”, where X is something that blatently does exist (like e.g. countries) that we are asked to imagine a world without.

    So to then ask “Imagine there’s no Heaven” etc implies that there is a heaven, but we would be better off without it. (Which, in the case of some concepts of heaven is probably true, but it’s a strange sentiment none-the-less.

    If all religions were true, I don’t think I’d want to have ever been born. Because it wouldn’t only be the happy-fun-feel-good, everyone-goes-to-heaven, vapid New-Agey spiritual blather religions. It would be the authoritarian, kill-the-infidels, fire-and-brimstone, genital-mutilating, hide-the-women, kiddy-diddling religions, too. And the gods behind them–the gods that drown planets and torture people for eternity–would be real as well.

    But if all gods existed, including (explicitly) fictional ones, then Zeus, YHWH, Quatzelcoatl, etc would probably have to go and hide in a corner and cry, while The Immortal God-Emperor of Mankind battles the Great Old Ones for control of the galaxy. (Which, to be fair, would still be a world you wouldn’t want to be born in. But at least it would mean humans might have a bit more of a chance. And we would have an atheist god to not worship).

  144. 144
    anteprepro

    So to then ask “Imagine there’s no Heaven” etc implies that there is a heaven, but we would be better off without it.

    I always thought of it as “Try to act as if there is no heaven or hell”, since the “it’s easy if you try” slightly defuses the implication that there actually is a heaven (by explicitly saying that it is easy to imagine that there isn’t one) and the verse ends with “imagine all the people living for today”, suggesting that lack of belief in an afterlife will allow people to better appreciate mortal life (just as he suggests that lack of countries/religions will lead to peace and no possessions will mean a brotherhood of man sharing the world). I almost think that you are right: It doesn’t necessarily imply that Heaven is real, but it implies that whether or not it is real, we would be better off acting as if it wasn’t.

  145. 145
    tkreacher

    carbonbasedlifeform #140 and the entire thread in general:

    Listen, you dumbass. One major difference you’re missing in your stupid crusade of stupidly trying to make a stupid point is that none of that has ever been done in the name of atheism. Atheism was no more responsible for any of that than a-toothfairyism or a-astrology.

    Atrocities have been committed by atheists, but not because of some atheist ideology or dogma or whatever the fuck it is you are trying to equate with “atheism”.

    There have been regimes, authorities, dictators, totalitarians – whatever – that have held no belief in gods who had propped up some other ideology to separate and dehumanize people and to take or hold power. Or who have elevated a Dear Leader or a State to the exact level of godhood as religions do gods.

    The atrocities committed in the name of religion and fostered by religious indoctrination and by the magical thinking and the tribalism elements and the promises of religions and and and and… do come directly from religion and from theism.

    A set of beliefs and ideologies and dogmas and instructions and supposed punishments and rewards and and and DOES NOT EQUAL a LACK OF ALL OF THAT.

    Stop equivocating this point. It is stupid. It is annoying. It is misleading. And I am not drunk enough to tolerate it without a little too much neck vein exposure.

    Thanks.

  146. 146
    truthspeaker

    carbonbasedlifeform says:
    1 January 2012 at 10:19 am

    Oh, and the Red Terror of the Spanish Civil War was when atheists killed bishops, priests, nuns and laity because they were Catholics had helped the Fascists.

    Fixed that for you.

  147. 147
    tonyhaze

    The days when religious people were never confronted about their beliefs, are over. Thanks to Twitter & other media, people like CeeLo are learning that there are many non-believers out here, & all over the world.
    There are also a lot of us who have no respect for a man wearing dead animals for glamour.
    Tony
    San Francisco, CA

  148. 148
  149. 149
    markr1957

    What makes the word change so fucking DUMB is the mere suggestions that ALL religions even COULD be true. Most religions are very specific in stating that they are the one and only true religion/god/story, making it logically impossible for them to all be true. That’s what makes this change so fucking stoooooooopid, and it’s what makes defending this change in any way even dumber.

  150. 150
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    Hey Cee-lo, First what the fuck kind of name is that? It ain’t the one you mother gave you, I’ll bet a kidney on it.

    Why the fuck should somebody’s mother get to decide what name they use to identify themselves for the rest of their lives? Hell, if it wasn’t a pain in the ass I’d have changed mine long ago. That’s my dad’s fault, though. Though why my mother allowed it is a good question.

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