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The Gospel According to the Beatles Hardcover – 3 Aug 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster/John Knox Press; First Edition edition (3 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664229832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664229832
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 243,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Steve Turner is a British rock journalist and author of more than thirty books, including The Man Called Cash, Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Beloved Song, and A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song. He lives in London.

Inside This Book

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Gospel-euaggelion in New Testament Greek-literally means "good message" or "good tidings." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ayd on 13 Jan. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are thousands of books on the Beatles. Can there really be anything else to say? This books proves that there is. An excellent thesis on what most Beatle fans think anyway but perhaps haven't consolidated into words. This book should be considered a big hitter along with Macdonalds 'Revolution in the Head' and Lewison's 'Chronicle' as the definitive work on the Beatles myth.

Derek Taylor described the Beatles story as 'The 20th Century's greatest romance' and he was right. We're all now familiar with that story, but what does it mean? Can there be any meaning drawn from the intensely weird story of four ordinary lads from Liverpool and what happened to them? Any Beatle fan will tell you that this rich tapestry has all sorts of hints into self realisation. This book excellently goes through it all to reveal the meaning and significance.

This is not to say that the Beatles myth is a religion or that they are 'bigger than Jesus' but to say that their human story is so compelling and their success so massive that lessons can be learnt. It could be that for the religious reader the fact has to be faced that the Beatles success was so huge and their influence so great that such a feat couldn't be accomplished if 'God' (whatever he is as a person or God as a thing whatever it is) wasn't with them.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
An Entertaining Read with a Rock 'n' Roll Heart 24 Sept. 2006
By Robert Rosen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"The Gospel According to the Beatles" is a first-rate piece of work: accurate, comprehensive, well written, evenhanded, and (dare I say) scholarly--a fresh and entertaining perspective on an old story that I never get tired of reading. It even has at least one new revelation: John Lennon corresponded with Oral Roberts--a fact I wish I'd known when I was writing "Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon," which, like this book, discusses Lennon's brief conversion to Christianity.

Steve Turner, it's also worth noting, painstakingly pieces together all the details of the "bigger than Jesus" incident in a way that I've never seen reported.

Though I've noticed "The Gospel According to the Beatles" is shelved in the Christianity section of my local B&N, I found it to be a book with a rock 'n' roll heart that anybody seeking new insight into perhaps the greatest cultural phenomenon of the 20th century will enjoy.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
In Depth Analysis of the Fab Four Belief System 1 Aug. 2007
By Beatlefansincethen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
First off, I agree with one reviewer's very clever send up of the 'Publisher's Weekly' review of this book. Has anyone else noticed how stupid those 'Publisher's Weekly' reviews are? They always seem to miss the point, and it always seems that the reviewer didn't actually read the book in question, but either skimmed it,or asked someone else to read it and tell them what it was about..."Plodding"?..."doesn't really say what the gospel according to the Beatles really is?"....What??? If you can read all 200 or so, of this book's pages and still ask what the gospel according to the Beatles is, then you must be cross eyed.

This extremely interesting work starts off with an overview of who the Beatles really were. Through their songs they conveyed their inner most beliefs and thoughts, whether they intended to or not. Each chapter is named after a famous Beatle song, and the book tells in chronological order, how the boys from Liverpool evolved in their thinking, with each new experience, and phase of musical and personal developement, as the 60's unfolded. This book is about religion...The Beatles' religious beliefs that is, and how these beliefs changed as the boys grew and changed. It starts out with the chapter called, 'You Can't Do That' which is a very thorough account of John's controversial Jesus remark and the furor that it caused. But this is not just another retelling. Turner researched this very carefully and the facts he has unturned will really surprise you. You will for the first time, find out what really happened behind the scenes to turn an innocent remark made to a friend, into a major, fiasco that not only changed the course of the Beatles' career but the careers of many others. You will hear about Tommy Charles the Alabama DJ, Art Unger the editor of Datebook Magazine, and other people who played a pivotal roll in the media circus that followed. This was my favorite chapter. Trust me, you will never again, see this incident in the same light. After this chapter the story "goes back, back back" to Liverpool, and you will read about the different religious backgrounds of the four musicians. Again, a lot of very new info. is disclosed. As Turner remarks in the prologue, so much has been written about John Lennon.... "the games he played in the street" or "the drawings he made for Aunt Mimi", his rebellousness,losing his mother twice, beating up Bob Wooler at a certain so and so's 21st birthday party,Yoko, Yoko, Yoko, blah blah blah,...but nothing has ever been written about his extensive religious background. Yes that's right...extensive. From the time he was very young the kid practically lived in church. He was in the choir, bible studies, church youth group,etc. He studied his catecism and made his confirmation. So by the time he was 25, he was in a very good position to give his oppinions on Christianity, good or bad. In other words, he wasn't just an arrogant pop star shooting off his mouth. The guy new his Bible. He knew about Jesus'life. He knew about the apostles. Turner makes a very good point in this chapter. He says, only someone who had been immersed in the teachings of Christianity could turn around and be so blasphemous in his drawings and writing. Someone like Paul McCartney, who was not raised in the church would never be this irreverent, because he didn't care enough to be. He had nothing to rebel against because it was never forced on him. In reading about their various religious backgrounds, I most identified with Paul and George. Both were baptised Catholics with devoutly Catholic mothers but because of their blue collar, agnostic fathers, the church became of diminished importance as they grew older. This really resonated with me. All readers will find themselves identifying with at least one of these guys, as you read this. Ringo, who's mom was Protestant, had even less religion than Paul or George.

Each chapter thereafter, traces the changes they experienced, from "post-Christian,existentialist, agnostics", to Hinduism, Buddism, Zen Buddism, Christianity (John and George), to fully Christian,existentialist, agnostics. Except for George of course. Everyone knows the extent of his love for his God, and how he arrived there. This is facinatingly detailed in the book. I have a new respect for George Harrison after reading about his remarkable journey. But that leads me to another point. All four Beatles were on a constant journey. Always learning and growing. Some of the things they found out weren't right, so they moved on until they found what they were looking for. For Paul, it was fundamentalist vegetarianism, based on a respect for the lives of all living beings, home, family,and a return to the values that he learned from his down to earth dad. After going through the pain of alcoholism, Ringo has the sense that there is something bigger and greater, and for the first time in his life he knows what people mean when they refer to "God". And John?...He was still searching when his life was cut short by... a "Christian".

I've read so many books about the Beatles, I thought I knew everything about them, but I learned once again that you can't know everything about these guys. No matter how much you read about and research them, there will always be something you didn't hit upon. Always a new perspective that was unexplored. You will enjoy this book. I learned so much.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Believe it or not...a Beatles book that isn't redundant 2 Nov. 2007
By Brian W. Fairbanks - Published on
Format: Hardcover
When I saw a book titled "The Gospel According to the Beatles," I groaned. My snap judgment, based on nothing but the title, was that it was the work of an apostate Christian who found that his own watered-down interpretations of Scripture were reflected in the music of the Fab Four. It turns out that the author, rock journalist Steve Turner (who also wrote "A Hard Day's Write," an excellent song-by-song history of the Liverpudlian quartet's canon), is a Christian. His goal is not to find Christian messages where there are none, but to examine the spiritual beliefs, most of which are in opposition to the Bible, that the Beatles expressed in song. And the Beatles, though kicking off their musical journey with innocuous but irresistible ditties like "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You," were unique among "pop" groups in that their music consistently expressed profound, if often misguided (to those who believe the Bible), philosophical and religious ideas.

As Turner quotes Paul McCartney as saying in 2004, "There'd never been anything like the Beatles, who were about music but also about something more far-reaching."

That "something more far-reaching" was awakened by the Beatles' experimentation with drugs. They started by popping the pills that provided the pep necessary for their pre-fame marathon stage performances in Hamburg, then progressed to marijuana, widely cited as influencing the mood of their 1965 album "Rubber Soul." But it was LSD that played the central role in transforming their music and led to the "spiritual" element that began to seep into their songs, beginning, most notably, with "Tomorrow Never Knows," the closing number on 1966's "Revolver" that its author, John Lennon, later referred to as having emerged from his "`Tibetan Book of the Dead' period." Far more than pills or marijuana, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) was not simply a means of altering a mood, but a way to alter one's consciousness.

"God isn't in a pill," Lennon said, "but LSD explained the mystery of life. It was a religious experience."

Some of the Beatles' greatest works, such as the "Sgt. Pepper" album, which included the disturbing masterpiece "A Day in the Life," may not have been possible without the influence of LSD, but though Lennon was correct in describing the drug as a "religious experience," the spiritual being whose presence is revealed through LSD is not the God of the Bible but His chief foe, Lucifer, the fallen angel whose rebellion was triggered by his desire to "be like God." This same kind of thinking is reflected in George Harrison's statement that "Everybody is potentially divine. It's just a matter of self-realization before it will all happen."

There's no questioning the Beatles' genius as composers and artists, but their influence beyond music was often pernicious. Their experimentation with LSD and later exploration of Transcendental Meditation helped lead the world away from the truth of the Bible and the need for salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to philosophies based in the occult.

Turner's book is unique among the many hundreds (thousands?) of volumes written about the Beatles in that he offers insight into the religious ideas that shaped their youths. Although George Harrison was the Beatle famous for his religious beliefs, it's not surprising that the most intriguing passages concern John Lennon, the founder of the group and one of the 20th century's most fascinating public figures. Few biographers of John Lennon note that he was raised, more or less, as a Christian. This upbringing explains his lifelong obsession with Jesus Christ. When Lennon wasn't mocking Jesus, as he did in the cartoons he drew in his youth (such as one depicting Jesus on the cross with a pair of bedroom slippers at the base), he identified with Him (as in the chorus of "The Ballad of John and Yoko"). Then there was his famous 1966 remark that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus ("Christianity will go..It will vanish and shrink").

It is therefore surprising to learn that, in 1972, Lennon wrote a desperate letter to evangelist Oral Roberts to inquire about Christianity ("Is it phoney? Can He love me?") in an attempt to escape the hell of drug abuse. According to several previous biographers who had access to Lennon's personal diaries, or were employed in the Dakota during his five year withdrawal from the public eye, Lennon professed to be "born again" in 1977 but faced intense opposition to his new found beliefs from Yoko Ono who saw her husband's embrace of Jesus as a threat to her control of his life. Before long, Lennon was once again living a life dictated by astrologers, mystics, and other practitioners of the occult. But Jesus, and the Bible, were never far from his thoughts, as many of the interviews he gave shortly before his 1980 murder indicate. As he told Barbara Graustark of Newsweek, "Some of [Christ's parables] are only making sense to me now, after a whole life of sitting in church or school." It's anybody's guess what Lennon actually believed before Mark David Chapman ended his life on December 8, 1980.

At this point, it's hard to believe that anyone could possibly offer fresh insights into the Beatles phenomenon or their brilliant body of work, but Turner succeeds in making "The Gospel According to the Beatles" a necessary addition to the bookshelf of anyone who admires or is simply fascinated by the Fab Four.

Brian W. Fairbanks
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Think For Yourself 3 Dec. 2006
By BeatleBangs1964 - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is yet another excellent book about the Beatles by Steve Turner. While hard core Beatle fans will be familiar with a lot of the material in this book, it is the fresh writing style and Turner's analytical view of John Lennon's infamous comment in 1966 about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus. That oft-quoted comment was taken out of context and John retracted it shortly thereafter. Lennon explained what he meant and the full quote and context have been provided in many other books. Sadly, that one comment hounded John for the rest of his life.

In addition to being the World's Best Band, the Beatles were pioneers - they experimented with music; reflected the then current issues through their music and clothing; they affected fashion, e.g. moptops, suits and later, psychedelic outfits. They were able to appeal to as well as secure the confidence of the independent thinkers; George Harrison's 1965 "Think For Yourself" is a nod to this very philosophy.

As for a personal philosophy, that is a topic open for speculation. Each Beatle was unique and distinct and very much an individual. This book takes a deeper look at each Beatle and by describing his behavior and responses, attempts to carve out what appeared to be the philosophy of each Beatle.

All in all, an excellent work. This is one the Beatle Literati highly recommend.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Well researched and very interesting. 7 Jun. 2007
By D. S. Tubach - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is look at The Beatles spirituality from a Christian perspective. Taylor has done his homework with research from primary sources. He draws from ample Beatle interviews and quotes from others around them that shed light on their own spiritual journeys. SPECIAL HIGHLIGTS include:All four of the Beatles formative years in Liverpool and their encounter with religion, an exploration and good background study on the furor surrounding the "more popular than Jesus" incident and John's brief experience with Jesus in 1977. Taylor quotes from 2 letters that show a correspondence that took place between Oral Roberts and John. If you love The Beatles and you want to understand them from a spiritual angle-Read the book.

Doug T
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