This article originally appeared in the November 4, 1988 issue of Christianity Today.
You know it ain't easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me.
John Lennon, "The Ballad of John and Yoko"
Just call it "The Last Temptation of John Lennon." A new biography (The Lives of John Lennon), depicting the ex-Beatle as a drug-crazed, sex-obsessed introvert, has caused a media-grabbing stir among rock 'n' rollers and baby boomers alike. No one less than one-time partner Paul McCartney says the book is full of lies. And a recent poll revealed that 97 percent of those questioned "have their doubts about the book."
Talk of a "bio boycott" is in the air: A symbol-perhaps the symbol-of the sixties is being threatened. And with it, the legacy of a generation that promised the world peace, love, and community-qualities, according to Tom Morganthau of Newsweek, "that have sadly proven as ephemeral as flower power."
Lennon was, perhaps, the last, best hope for a now middle-aged generation wanting the assurance that it did not demonstrate in vain; that its youthful idealisms really do have a place in the real world-venereal disease and drug addiction notwithstanding. A fallen hero, a martyr (Lennon was murdered in December 1980), Lennon died-or so public perception goes with his idealism intact, his vision for peace in focus. Now we are told his life was programmed to self-destruct.
In our more common-sensical moments, age and AIDS tell us it could be no other way; Lennon simply lived out the consequences of a self-indulgent ideology. Says Morganthau: "The boomers are losing the hubris of youth in the big-little struggles of daily life: children must be fed and taught, bills and taxes must be paid. ...1
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