Culture

Judeo-Christian Themes in the Smashing Pumpkins' Oceania, Part 7: Repentance

U-Turn

Welcome back to my series on Judeo-Christian themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ 2012 release Oceania. I can’t believe we’re just over halfway through the album! If you’re just joining me, I hope you’ll seek out my other posts in the series.

Last week we looked at Track 6, “One Diamond, One Heart,” and the concept of God’s unfailing love. Now we’ll move on to Track 7 – “Pinwheels.” The song starts out in an unusual way – nearly half the song is an instrumental intro, driven by a synth and guitar riff. Nearly three minutes in, Corgan begins strumming an acoustic guitar and singing a love song. In the chorus, he sings:

Floating away I think I’ll stay, as refused
Floating away I think I’ll stay blue, black
Floating away I think I’ll change next to you
Finding a way to make the loss seem new
‘Cause you don’t deserve me, but I deserve you

Clearly, the lover to whom Corgan sings is above someone like him. She doesn’t deserve to have to put up with a man who is bruised and in need of change. If we look at these line in a more metaphorical sense, they suggest someone who wants to turn from his ways and start anew. In Biblical terms, this act is called repentance.

We can find plenty of scriptures about repentance in the Bible – in fact, you could say the book’s entire narrative is the story of fallen mankind turning from sin and back to God. In the Old Testament, God’s chosen people turned away and then back to Him over and over again. God spoke frequently on the need to repent:

21 But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. 22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. (Ezekiel 18:21-22)

…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 44:22)

Even King David, whom God called “a man after my own heart,” publicly wrote of his repentance from adultery and murder:

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. (Psalm 51:10-13)

In the New Testament, John the Baptist called his followers to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2) when he prepared the way for Jesus. Jesus used those exact words at the start of His ministry as well. He told the woman who was caught in adultery, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).

In the first sermon after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Peter told the Jews, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38), and other apostles preached repentance as well. Even in the book of Revelation, Jesus calls sinners to turn back to God: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” (Revelation 3:19).

We’ve all seen those cheesy church signs and bumper stickers that read, “God allows U-turns.” Corny as it sounds, that’s exactly what repentance is – a complete change in the direction of our lives by turning away from our sin and turning toward God. He promises forgiveness and spiritual healing for all of us who come to Him and say, “I think I’ll change next to you.”