McCartney and the Gospel
I've been reading the Gospel According to the Beatles and it's been interesting. There are some detailed looks at the life philosophy as articulated by the Beatles in interviews and in their song lyrics.
There's a range of side stories and personal interactions that ended up influencing the Beatles and their ways of viewing the world. And the historical and cultural and religious context from which the Beatles emerged is explored, including their upbringing as children.
But there were some disappointments in the book. There was a reliance on the common stock characters of the four men. George as eastern religion fan, John as anarchistic, Paul and Ringo as agnostic. And that ended up affecting the coverage in the book.
John and George dealt with recognizable religious forms so the book spent a large amount of coverage on them, their interests, their biographies, and the music they wrote including their post Beatles career. Paul and Ringo were largely absent from such coverage.
Paul's humanism, the belief that God was another word for good (Liverpool Oratorio), that there's possibilities in human life (C'mon People), that a positive approach will allow us to seize such possibilities (Mamunia), were all largely unexplored in this book.
Apparently the word Mamunia is Arabic for safe haven. Those are the sort of tidbits worth covering as much as discussing Harrison's My Sweet Lord. But the inability to recognize humanism as having that kind of significance doesn't just affect the book but most books.
I'm a theist so most folks wouldn't let me be labeled as a humanist, but there are certain values that the old humanists from the 20s and 30s had, the kind which were evident in post Christian Europe in the 50s when McCartney grew up, that I identify with.
I suspect this kind of humanism shares with the liberal Protestant tradition a number of traits, that the dogmatism of fundamentalism and the new atheism don't share. But here's the challenge. It was from that context that most of the baby boomers fled from.
What I end up connecting with is the very thing that was rebelled against in the 60s as boring, as not spiritually connecting, as not having the answers. Some wanted the true answers, others went for eclectic spiritualities. From mega churches to anything not western.
It raises questions. The sort of humane values of liberal protestantism and religious humanism for most children of the 60s failed to answer basic religious needs. Can those values be upheld in a manner that does so for the next generation? Or are we like Paul's work, not religiously recognizable today?