Judeo-Christian Themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ Oceania, Part 4: The Unfaithful Lover


Welcome back to our series on Judeo-Christian themes and values in the Smashing Pumpkins' 2012 album Oceania. If you haven't been following this series, here's a quick recap, along with links to the prior posts. We've looked at the concept of the seeker of God in "Panopticon," at the Sacred Name of God in "Quasar," and at the idea of sharing wisdom in "The Celestials" (and of course I was on vacation last week).

This week, we're checking out track 4, "Violet Rays." This track doesn't rock as much as the prior songs -- in fact, it's downright subdued by comparison. Over a 6/8 time signature and a haunting beat, Corgan sings from the point of view of a lover with a wandering eye and heart.

Faithless moors

Pulling up your oars

From rivers I have crossed

In magic no heart’s lost

And I’ll leave with anyone this night

And I’ll kiss anyone tonight

Am I the only one you see?

Raised from the path of revelry

Spells fall frail

Webs catching sail

In eternal eternities

Divine purpose catching free

And I’ll leave with anyone this night

And I’ll kiss anyone tonight

Clearly, this person is looking to cheat or has cheated -- or both. I've read suggestions that Corgan wrote this song about a girlfriend who cheated on him, but he has apparently refused to confirm or deny.

Interestingly enough, the Bible employs the metaphor of the unfaithful lover to describe God's people -- particularly the nation of Israel -- as they wander and stray from Him.

In Deuteronomy 30, as the Israelites are on the verge of taking the Promised Land, God warns the nation of the consequences of both faithfulness and unfaithfuness to Him:

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.

In the book that bears his name, Hosea received an unusual command from the Lord: marry the prostitute Gomer and welcome her back into his arms when she strays from her husband. The lesson? That God's people wander and choose to be unfaithful to God, but he welcomes them back again. See Hosea 11:

7 My people are determined to turn from me. Even though they call me God Most High, I will by no means exalt them.

8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. 9 I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man— the Holy One among you. I will not come against their cities. 10 They will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. 11 They will come from Egypt, trembling like sparrows, from Assyria, fluttering like doves. I will settle them in their homes,” declares the Lord.

In the New Testament, Jesus saves a woman caught in adultery from being stoned by the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, and he forgives her, provided she repent of her sins. See John 8:

10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Other Biblical accounts, like the parables of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7), express the notion of a God who welcomes back the unfaithful who choose to be faithful again.

The lover to whom Corgan sings in "Violet Rays" is like God, taking the unfaithful back over and over:

Does love matter when love's the actor

For what you are after is me

Babe, don’t leave me, please believe me

‘Cause I’m so easy to know

Those who love the God of the Bible can take comfort knowing that God takes us back when we turn back to Him, no matter how many times we wander off. Corgan captures this idea well in "Violet Rays."