It seems when John Lennon sang “Imagine” (aka. The Worst Song of All Time) he was talking about …
In an article titled “One nation Under God and a lot of stress,” Alyce M. McKenzie, professor of homiletics at the Perkins School of Theology, was quite taken with her son's description of life in
, where he'd studied for a semester. She furnished a laundry list of admirable aspects of Danish society – mostly the usual stuff American liberals cite to illustrate Copenhagen Europe's superiority:
…riding a bike or walking just about everywhere, having lights that go on and off automatically, recycling all glass bottles, drinking tap water, being able to let your baby in its stroller bask in the sun a bit while you go in and pick up a few groceries for tonight's meal, beautiful public spaces, green parks where people enjoy leisure time, high-speed and clean trains [what is with the liberal obsession with trains?], not being obsessed with work to the point that family and leisure are devalued, and, by all accounts, a happiness factor that exceeds ours.
And – big bonus for a liberal trapped by “the convenience oriented, car-driven culture in suburban
That's cat nip to liberals who dream of being swathed in bubble wrap and bike helmets by the nanny state. And for McKenzie, “This started me wondering why, in the Bible belt, my own life doesn't have as much hygge as the Danes.” Her answer: the Danes aren't burdened with all that God baggage.
She quoted approvingly from a 2008 book by Phil Zuckerman called "Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Tell us about Contentment." Zuckerman, McKenzie wrote, “seeks to account for the fact that
Zuckerman found that in marginalizing religion, as most of the rest of
So the secular paradise Lennon sang about – “Imagine there's no heaven … No hell below us … Imagine all the people Living for today” – turns out to have been blonde, blue-eyed and rather more prosaic than the song's whispy, dope-addled strains hint at.
On the other hand, it does go with the song's plodding lifelessness. Marxism (and make no mistake, “Imagine” is an ode to the old dialectic materialism) is predicated on a denial of human nature. Nothing is more human than inquiring into the meaning of life and death, of man's relationship to the universe – all the Big Questions that sound clichéd because they have been central to human existence for as long as there've been humans. It's wonderful that the Danes love their families and friends and take time to hug the earth and sort their garbage. But McKenzie never questions whether, in banishing the questions that religion always has helped humans answer, they're not a little less … human.
McKenzie wrote of herself that, “I spend just about all my time thinking about the meaning of life and the significance of the Bible and better ways to share the good news of Jesus Christ. I derive meaning, joy and purpose from my faith.” Therefore, it's odd that she's untroubled by the notion of an entire society that has willfully gone deaf to the good news she loves so much.
But there's a simple answer. As a Christian whose profession is homiletics, McKenzie has, perhaps out of habit, dragged God into otherwise standard-issue liberal griping about modern American society; too big, too hectic, too competitive, too individualistic. That's it. Not spiritual, not even particularly thoughtful.
Her son, she wrote, just three days home from
No word on whether his hygge has to come at the expense of his religion.