Here we are in Week 8 of my series looking at Judeo-Christian themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ brilliant 2012 album Oceania. Check out the previous posts if you want to catch up.
Track 8 on Oceania is the title track, and it’s more of a challenge musically or lyrically than any of the previous songs. “Oceania” is a nine-minute opus that shifts time signatures and tempos reminiscent of progressive rock. I’ll confess that I had a difficult time figuring out the lyrics and finding something worth writing about – until my mind stuck on the last few lines. You can’t really call it a stanza or verse, since the song doesn’t have a traditional structure, but in these lyrics Corgan tries to convince another person to:
Try the way
Skirt the cliffs of your illusion
Find the faith of me
My mistake as the last remaining soldier
Was to take the place of you
Love the way
Love the way and learn
Try the way
Cast off your indecision
Corgan sounds as though he’s found something truly life-changing and wants to share it with the woman to whom he’s singing.
In the Bible, God makes clear that there are two distinct ways to live: the way that brings life (His way) and the way that brings destruction. In Deuteronomy, He tells the Israelites through Moses:
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)
The prophet Jeremiah reiterates the choice: “This is what the Lord says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death” (Jeremiah 21:8).
In the New Testament, Jesus refers to Himself as the Way:
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
He instructs his followers to choose the way that leads to life, even though they will find themselves in the minority for doing so:
13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Even though God gives us a choice which way to follow, He also makes it clear that only one way leads to life. I hope and pray that as many people as possible will choose God’s way.
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