Two new books on John Lennon claim that the ex-Beatle experienced a brief period as a born-again Christian during the 1970s. While living the life of a virtual recluse in New York's Dakota Building, Lennon became an avid viewer of American TV evangelists and, at some point during 1977, declared that he had been saved. Robert Rosen in Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon (published in June by Soft Skull Press) cites Billy Graham as the main influence, whereas Geoffrey Giuliano in Lennon in America (published in June by Cooper Square Press) mentions both Graham and Pat Robertson. Both agree that the period, during which Lennon peppered his everyday conversation with
"Praise the Lord" and "Thank you, Jesus," was brief. Giuliano says it lasted for "a matter of months." Rosen suggests it was "about two weeks."
Both writers have based their information on sources close to Lennon and on the singer's personal diaries, which circulated shortly after his death and were then retrieved by his widow, Yoko Ono. The existence of the diaries has been known for some time, but so far no writer has divulged their contents. Because of legal problems, neither Rosen nor Giuliano has been able to quote directly from the diaries, but both have drawn on the information.
"One day [Lennon] had an epiphany—he allowed himself to be touched by the love of Jesus Christ, and it drove him to tears of joy and ecstacy," writes Rosen, a New York journalist briefly employed by Ono.
"He drew a picture of a crucifix; he was born again, and the experience was such a kick that he had to share it with Yoko."
Giuliano, who has written extensively about the Beatles, pinpoints the conversion to a Palm Sunday and says that Lennon was so moved by a series about ...