George Harrison: Lost and without a shepherd

George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Directed by Martin Scorsese
HBO, 2011, 208 minutes, available on Netflix

I was driving to work this past week, listening to (c)hristian radio, and Greg Laurie (not recommended) mentioned he had recently watched “Living in the Material World,” a documentary about ex-Beatle, George Harrison, on Netflix. So I set aside some time to watch this 3.5 hour documentary.

My five older sisters were big fans of the Beatles and I grew up with their music playing constantly from the family phonograph from 1964 until 1970 when they disbanded. Harrison (1943-2001) was the shy, quiet Beatle who eventually embraced Hinduism (particularly the Hare Krishna sect) with a passion. See my earlier post on Harrison and his influential Hare Krishna song, “My Sweet Lord,” here.

Scorsese’s documentary is an interesting and entertaining look at Harrison’s journey. He was brought up in a Roman Catholic family (as was fellow-Beatle, Paul McCartney), but finding no fulfillment in that impersonal, ritualistic religion, he got mixed up in Eastern “spirituality” through the music of Ravi Shankar. Of course, he didn’t find any real fulfillment in Krishna Consciousness either and regularly fell back into substance abuse and marital infidelity. After having been run ragged by the Beatles’ celebrity steamroller, Harrison sought “spiritual peace” and meaning in all the wrong places.

I enjoyed the many archived photos and videos of the “Fab Four,” along with the interview clips from Harrison, Pattie Boyd, Eric Clapton, George Martin, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, and Ringo Starr, along with many others.* But in the the end, this is a sad story of an unbeliever desperately trying to find spiritual meaning outside of Jesus Christ.

“I was brought up in the kind of Catholic situation up until I was about eleven years old, which was that God is this thing that we’re never going to see, we’re never going to meet, but you still have to believe in what we say. It’s like this blind faith in something that they can’t show you.” – George Harrison

The impersonal and ritualistic religion that Harrison grew up in was/is not Christianity. But you CAN know God through salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit!

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” – John 17:3

“When (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:36-38

*I learned from this documentary that Harrison was a major financial backer of Monty Python, the British comedy ensemble. There are times when Christians can be overly dour and humorless, but I found the clips of Monty Python’s satire of Jesus’ crucifixion and a mocking reference to His sermon on the mount in this documentary to be repulsive. It’s understandable why ex-Catholic and passionate Hindu, Harrison, would have found this anti-Christian humor attractive. It’s also obvious why Monty Python never filmed a skit goofing on backer Harrison’s Hare Krishnas with their shaved-heads and saffron robes, chanting incessantly and begging for money at airports.

16 thoughts on “George Harrison: Lost and without a shepherd

    1. Thank you! Yes, Harrison was symbolic of the many young people in the West in the 60s and 70s who saw no credibility in institutionalized (c)hristianity. But with his great fame and influence, he was able to single-handedly establish a beachhead for Eastern “‘spirituality.”

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  1. Wow, I loved the Beatles growing up, I’ll have to check this out brother, thank you! My mom was into heavy metal so my form of ‘rebellion’ was alternative rock. It’s heartbreaking to see someone with a platform that large denigrate our Lord and Savior, and turn towards false gods. I really enjoyed LivingWaters movie about the Beatles, it’s chalk full of the Gospel which is the best way to make a movie!

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      1. It sure does, brother! I’m grateful for that challenge, I’m not much of a people person. Just making phone calls makes me nervous, so talking to people in person is really difficult for me. But with the lost like Harrison in mind, I can overcome that fear…so many lost and I have the way. Like having the world greatest map, and keeping it to myself!

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      2. Thanks for sharing. I’m also an introvert. I was always embarrassed about that and even ashamed until I took a college class later in life in which the professor, a self-professed introvert, taught how introverts and extroverts are “wired” differently and we should be no more ashamed or proud of our personality than the color of our hair. An extrovert could NEVER sit at a keyboard and compose a post for a blog every day, but I can, with pleasure, and I can use that gift for God’s glory. My wife is an extrovert and she can easily proclaim the Gospel to anyone in any circumstance, but she couldn’t do what I do. But I do look for opportunities to give out the Gospel to family, friends, and acquaintances. I’m certainly not like Ray Comfort but I’ll keep at it.

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      3. You’re quite welcome, sister! That professor’s lesson was quite an eye-opener for me. Rather than being envious of others’ gifts, I could serve the Lord with the gifts He gave to me.

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  2. I appreciate knowing more history of the Beatles whose music I never liked that much. It was too depressing. The name reminds me a little of Kafka’s metamorphosis, where a man becomes a bug. But then, that’s another story. I feel sorry for those band members!

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    1. Thanks! I liked the Beatles quite a bit because their music was played constantly in our house, but, desiring to blaze my own trail, I became a devoted fan of the less-popular Byrds. I like to reference secular entertainment once in awhile to show that the Holy Spirit can use even that to draw people to the Savior.


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