Their stories are as old as time but worth repeating in this present age where so many seem to think they are too smart for God, religion and all of His love and grace. I must admit that being a fan of contemporary music and literature, I threw the stories of Jack Kerouac, John Lennon and Bob Marley’s late in life embrace of faith and tradition into my book without giving it much thought. However, I am surprised to find that so many who have read or perused my just released book, The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn have stated that they were not familiar with these stories and found them very revealing. Perhaps it is because our rebellious society has lionized figures who want to throw out God or just leave him as far distant as possible. Yet all three men realized that the traditional values, in which they were raised and the love of God they were once shown, was too important to forever jettison.
In the late 1960s while too many people were leaving God behind and burning American flags, Jack Kerouac had reengaged with his Catholic faith and was going to anti –American protests for the sole purpose of saving flags that were about to be burned. Kerouac also let everyone who would listen know that the sexual experimentation that was being openly promoted in some quarters would be the country’s downfall. He noted that he engaged in just about every sexual situation imaginable and it left him empty and near the emotional abyss. As too many Catholics intellectuals were embracing theologians who were literally embracing heresy, Kerouac was embracing a very traditional view of the Faith. He famously stated, “I don’t want to be known as a beat poet anymore, I want to be known as a Catholic.”
The revelations made just a couple of years ago that John Lennon lamented that he couldn’t vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980 (because he was a British citizen) seemed to shock many and it was quickly buried by the mainstream media. However, years earlier other reports surfaced that Lennon had spent the last few years of his life reading religious books and watching religious programming. It seems the 1977 worldwide television release of Jesus of Nazareth had a tremendous effect on the former Beatle. Lennon’s former assistant reported that Lennon got into a shouting match with the assistant’s father who was a Socialist. Lennon told him that Big Government didn’t work and faith was the key to happiness not the government.
Bob Marley has been lionized by the drug culture and the counter culture in general for his supposed links to habitually drug use and Rastafarianism. Interestingly, Marley let it be known later in life that he never thought of himself as part of either. Marley spent his final days embracing traditional religion at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and taking part in Divine Liturgy and religious devotions.
The interesting tie in to all three men concerns the fact that though this material is hardly kept under lock and key, one might assume it to be for when have you ever heard this part of their story told? Yet, this was their final chapter and the one they seemed to want be remembered for, and yet how many know of it? Perhaps, it is up to us to remind those cultural hipsters that all three men returned to their roots and attempted to let others know that much of what they supposedly represented was not what it appeared.