Work Title: The Gospel According to the Beatles
Work Author(s): Steve Turner
Westminster John Knox Press
30 b/w photographs, 256 pages, Hardcover $19.95
Reviewer: Melanie Seibert
"We're more popular than Jesus now." John Lennon's infamous remark in January of 1966 set off an enormous controversy when it was reported in the United States. In fact, the comment is still repeated as evidence of Lennon's hubris and godlessness. What prompted the Beatle to say such a thing, and was it really indicative of all the Beatles' attitudes toward Christianity?
In this book, the author uses Lennon's remark as the starting point for his analysis of the Beatles' spiritual and philosophical outlooks. A poet and music journalist in England for more than thirty years, Turner's previous books include A Man Called Cash the authorized biography of Johnny Cash), and A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind the Songs of the Beatles. Here, he interviews friends and associates of the band members, even uncovering unpublished correspondence and memoirs to obtain clues about the Beatles' ideas about life and God.
Turner takes eleven chapters, each titled after a Beatles song, to investigate the spiritual principles and life events that informed the music of the Fab Four. He delves into each Beatle's religious background, including the philosophical influences of their parents and other key family members; examines the foursome's involvement in Eastern religion, including their short-lived association with the guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; and details their use of marijuana and LSD in attempts to reach higher levels of consciousness. Turner even chronicles Lennon's ill-fated "born-again" phase.
The last, and arguably most interesting, chapter finds Turner reflecting on the Beatles' influence over his own life, including...