I have always had a great affection for the music and person of George Harrison. When I was a boy learning to play guitar, it was his songs that I would practice over and over. I guess I was drawn to his music because of the unique blend of sounds he used from both western and eastern instruments. But more importantly, he freely and frequently sang about a relationship with God and the spiritual world that seemed so attractive to me.
This is not a blog post defending Harrison’s theology. If you are familiar with his religious views at all you know he was far from an orthodox Christian. But it wasn’t the specifics of his theology that appealed to me. It was the fact that for Harrison there was no separation in his life between that which was material and that which was spiritual. He spoke as freely about God as his contemporaries did about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. Even though he had several hits focused on ordinary subjects, an examination of his body of work provides evidence that the subjects of God, spirituality, and peace were always the main thing.
I wish more people were like Harrison, especially Christians. I would always say to those in RCIA that what I love about the Catholic faith is that the natural and supernatural are one reality. Harrison sang that we are “living in a material world,” and he understood that we have both a material and spiritual component. Where he missed the mark is that we do not escape the material world completely, for as Christians, we believe in the resurrection of the body. We are more than mere spirits. However, his eyes saw the world as more complex than just what was obvious. For Christians, Catholic in particular, this should be similar to how we see the world. Although the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, it is not the only miracle that we encounter each week.
Most importantly, if our faith is important to us, it is something that will come up in our conversations. Our friends and acquaintances often times know about our hobbies, family, and passions. That fact that so many of us choose to never talk about faith is almost absurd. George Harrison spoke about his beliefs all the time and you can bet that the environment of the music industry was no sanctuary for a religious person.
My hope and prayer for 2016 is that more people of good will choose to liberate their discussions of faith from solely worship services and bring that into the mainstream of their lives. We live in a world now where the most radical elements of religion are speaking loud and clear, spreading perversion and hate. There need to be voices of peace and love that are louder and more persuasive. We need to feel as comfortable talking about our faith as we do sports and politics. Then, and perhaps only then, can we sing hopefully with brother George, “Give me love, give me love, give me peace on earth.”