Judeo-Christian Themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ Oceania, Part 13: Freedom
Well, here we are at the end of our series exploring Judeo-Christian ideas and themes in the Smashing Pumpkins' 2012 album Oceania. I hope you've enjoyed reading these posts as much as I've enjoyed writing them, Throughout this series, we've dug into the concepts of the seeker, the sacred Name of God, wisdom, unfaithfulness, hope, unfailing love, repentance, the way, faith, contentment, and the parable of the Lost Son. Last week, we delved into Track 12, "Inkless," and the notion of being in the presence of God.
This week to close out the series, we're looking at the album's 13th and closing cut, "Wildflower." This song has a subdued, hymnlike quality - vocals and strings dominate, along with a lead guitar line. The image of a wildflower itself conjures up ideas of a certain type of freedom, and the lyrics suggest freedom in their own way as well:
I trim the wick so fine
To carry forth your light
What will leave will leave
Wildflower in the wilderness outside
Take your chance with love and laughter
And every word I write, yeah
Of course, the concept of freedom shows up throughout the Bible. The Old Testament book of Exodus tells how God gave the Israelites literal physical freedom from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. Centuries later, God allowed other nations to subdue Israel and take His chosen people into exile as discipline for their disobedience and turning away from Him. However, He released them from exile and paved the way for their return to the land He promised them.
Many verses in the Psalms speak of God's deliverance:
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:8)
From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people. (Psalm 32:8)
In the New Testament, Jesus Himself provides the greatest example of freedom. His sacrifice for the sins of the world - in fulfillment of the Jewish system of sacrifices - brought about spiritual freedom, just like God's deliverance during the Exodus brought physical freedom. In fact, he noted that only He holds the key to freedom from sin in John 8:34-36:
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
The apostles, in their letters to believers, wrote of the freedom that stems from a committed relationship with the Messiah. In Galatians 5:1, Paul writes that, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free," but a few verses later, he cautions that our freedom does not equal a license to revel in sin:
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)
Paul also writes in 2 Corinthians 3:17 that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." This freedom is not just for life here on earth - it is eternal! In Romans 8:1-2, Paul reminds God's people that:
...there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
My prayer as we make our way to the end of the album - and the end of the series - is that everyone will find this freedom in Jesus. As I said at the beginning of this post, I hope you've enjoyed reading this series as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Merry Christmas!