Judeo-Christian Themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ Oceania, Part 5: Hope From Despair

flowers-in-snow

Welcome to Week 5 of my exploration of Judeo-Christian ideas in the Smashing Pumpkin' album Oceania. It's hard to believe we're already up to Track 5: "My Love Is Winter."

You can probably guess the tone of the song from its title. For centuries, writers have used the winter season as a metaphor for despair and gloom, and it's no wonder - short cold days, long colder nights, treeless landscapes. So chances are a song with winter in its title isn't going to bring much warmth and happiness.

"My Love Is Winter" fits the winter metaphor nicely, at least in places. A minor key melody, combined with cold, detached synthesizer riffs set a certain tone throughout. The lyrics detail a relationship that seems to have dried up like the leaves on the trees:

Lonely draw

Sides grow dimmer

Spellbound all

I waste the hour

My love is winter

My love is lost

Silent fog

Let's pass and wither

From the cold that saws me flat

My love is winter

My love is lost

However, the lyrics of the chorus take a turn for the better, suggesting that love isn't really lost:

There is love enough for the both of us

There is more than prayers made to be with you

The refrain repeats several times at the end, closing the song on a more hopeful (though still minor-key) note:

There is love enough for the both of us

There is love enough

There is love

There is love enough for the both of us

There is love enough

There is love

The notion of despair turning into hope runs throughout the Bible. Many of the Psalms start out on unhappy notes before turning toward hopefulness. For example, take a look at the beginning and the end of Psalm 69:

1 Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. 2 I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. 3 I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. 4 Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.

5 You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you.

6 Lord, the LordAlmighty, may those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me; God of Israel, may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me.

[...]

30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves. 32 The poor will see and be glad— you who seek God, may your hearts live! 33 The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people.

34 Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them, 35 for God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. Then people will settle there and possess it; 36 the children of his servants will inherit it, and those who love his name will dwell there.

hope

Of course, the ultimate story of hope rising from despair is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. After his arrest, torture, and crucifixion, Jesus' disciples felt devoid of hope, alone in their sorrow. But on the third day after Jesus' death, He brought hope, as we see in Matthew 28:

1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

After the cold winter comes the warm spring. After the dark night comes a bright morning. Hope is a powerful, resonant thing, especially when it rises from despair. God has shown those who trust in Him time and time again the power - and the necessity - of hope.