Viva la Vida: A second take on the meaning of the lyrics

In October 2008, almost exactly a year ago, I posted an essay about a popular Coldplay song titled Viva la Vida. My interpretation of the meaning of the song, is not only my most popular blog post (eliciting in excess of 5000 views), it also generated a heap of comments which lead to some very interesting discussions, and alternate proposals for what the song means.

On the whole, I agreed with the comments that suggested that the song could have multiple meanings. I however still maintain that the less obvious ones could be closer to the meaning that Chris Martin intended; but it’s unlikely that we’re ever going to find out. But that should not stop us from speculating further.

Strangely enough, while on the road today between business meetings, I heard the song played on a radio station; and it hit me like a ton of bricks, that my first attempt at extracting meaning from the song could indeed be wrong; but not entirely so. While my first impression speaks of god and religion in general, I am now convinced that Chris Martin was actually much more specific about which supernatural entity and the religion itself, as you will see from my explanation below.

The first verse:

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sweep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own
I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:
“Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”
One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of sand, pillars of sand

Consider that the song is being sung from the perspective of someone who was considered a king; a person who had supernatural powers and could command seas to rise when he gave the word. Imagine this person who by virtue of his sovereign status, owned the streets of a certain city, sweeping his detractors aside as he advocated a certain doctrine which made his followers sing his praises, while instilling fear in the eyes of the former. Consider this person, having lost that power and now feels alone. Consider that for a long time this doctrine sustained a key belief system; but which has now been exposed as standing on unsound pillars. Now consider that this person is the biblical Jesus Christ, the city is Jerusalem and the doctrine is Christianity.

The second verse:

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
Once you know there was never, never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world
(Ohhh)

Confirmation of the city and the era in the first verse is evidenced, in the context of biblical teachings, by the mention of Jerusalem and Roman Cavalry. The mirror, sword, shield and missionaries could have multiple meanings within the context of my interpretation, but for the purposes of this interpretation, they are biblical metaphors for Christ’s followers (missionaries) who fought (sword and shield) to spread the doctrine by imitating (mirror) their Master. The last two lines are a metaphor for the biblical troubled times (never an honest word) in which Jesus ruled over the world.

The third verse:

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in.
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People could not believe what I’d become
Revolutionaries Wait For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

The first four lines of this verse reflect the biblical narrative of Christ storming into a temple (wild wind blew down the doors) to disrupt the “unholy” activities being perpetrated there. People were shocked (could not believe what I’d become) when Jesus brought down the temple (shattered windows and the sound of drums). The fifth line is a biblical metaphor for the Romans (revolutionaries) wanting to kill him (Wait for my head), with an added reference to John the Baptist (head on a silver plate). The cryptic last two lines of this verse reveal that Jesus laments his lonely job as a leader (who would ever want to be king), while his actions are being controlled (puppet on a string) by someone else (ostensibly Christ’s biblical father, god).

The fourth verse:

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world
(Ohhhhh Ohhh Ohhh)

Not much different from the second verse except for 6th line. In the context of the biblical teachings, Christ reveals that as the son of god, he does not have to account for his entrance into heaven (I know Saint Peter won’t call my name), as other mortals have to.

The last verse:

Hear Jerusalem bells are ringings
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
I know Saint Peter will call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world
Oooooh Oooooh Oooooh

As with my original interpretation, the apparent contradiction in the 6th line, with the fourth verse is easily explainable. This being the last verse, the metaphor Saint Peter will [now] call [Christ’s] name, reveals the end of the road for Christianity, when Christ is relegated to a mere mortal and has to account for himself at the Pearly Gates. A clever metaphor for the decline of a doctrine and its purported teacher, as evidenced in the world today by the shift towards atheism, secularism, agnosticism, humanism and even new-age spirituality.

I don’t know why I didn’t see this before; it makes a lot more sense than my previous interpretation. Chris Martin is surely a genius…

 

 

 

 

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86 thoughts on “Viva la Vida: A second take on the meaning of the lyrics

  1. Dear Lenny,

    Bravo for your effort to interpret a great song like Viva la Vida! Alas, however, I think you got it wrong. Of course interpretations have a big subjective element, but some things can be made quite clear. I admire you boldness in presenting your interpretation (i.e. that the narrator/singer is Christ), so please allow my bold objections to it.

    The most obvious mistake you are making is in relation to the line “revolutionaries wait for my head on a silver plate.” The “revolutionaries” could not possibly be the Romans, as you suggest — the Romans were the Rulers who suppressed revolutionaries!!! And the Baptist’s head on a silver plate was demanded not by revolutionaries (Baptist himself was a kind of revolutionary), but by the King’s lover!!!

    Another obvious mistake is the phrase “that was when I ruled the world”. Christ, as God, never stopped ruling the world; and there was never a historical period when Christ (in person or through his ideals) actually ruled the world.

    Greetings from Greece, sharing with you love for the song,

    Stavros

    • Ah Stavros, with a beautiful bold Greek name like that, your bold objections are most welcome.

      But alas, you have objected in vain. Allow me to boldly explain:

      In good poetry, behind every literal expression there is a hidden meaning too. So you see, literally “revolutionaries” would seem to point to the Christians, but Chris Martin uses it to great effect to actually mean the “revolutionaries” who are opposed to the spread of Christianity, and by extension religion. Thus the qualifier to that line also makes perfect sense: those opposed to Christianity are waiting literally for the head of Christ; figuratively (metaphorically) meaning the demise of Chist and by extension, Christianity. So the revolutionaries are indeed the Romans who in the modern world today are represented by Atheists, Skeptics, Agnostics etc.

      Christ may have not literally ruled the world, but the phrase is a metaphor for when he (Christ and by extension, Christianity) was powerful (a time when Christianity commanded or actually demanded reverence), but is now losing that power to the onslaught of critical thinking and secularism.

      The whole song is one big metaphor for the end of Christianity, and by extension, religion. That’s what makes it so amazing. You don’t see writing like that every day. Chris Martin rocks!

      Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my interpretation.

  2. Ah the lyrics of a song to live and die by. The intonations of this song sugest Living the Life “Viva La Vida” In a strictly biblical sense there are two paths or two lives. One is holy and saintly and the other is worldly. The song is for us all who live the life of this world. When that Satan or consiousness infects our thinking to believe that we are so important as to be rulers of the world then never an honest word is spoken. It is simply a song about a man, any man or even all men who loose heir way, thinking they are kings of their own domain, neglecting the life of the holy and then realising this to sing in the final verse yes St Peter WILL call my name.

    • Yes, that’s perhaps another way of looking at it. But I seriously don’t think that Chris would have meant for it to be that simplistic.

      In all honesty, hasn’t religion been one of the main driving forces behind man’s need to conquer the world and claim dominion for himself and his ideologies? Hasn’t conquering been about forcing a particular man’s/nations/sect’s (take your pick from many others) ideology down everyone else’s throat; and hasn’t the main ideolgy been their particular brand of religion? And haven’t these very people lost their way because power drove them “mad”?

      And isn’t it disingenuous to suggest that a life without religion (worldly as you put it) can be less pure, less beautiful, or less just than one of piety, as so many non-religious people have demonstrated since time immemorial.

  3. Dear Lenny,

    Referring to the Romans as “revolutionaries” is too far fetched, by any account! They were the Status Quo, the Establishment, the System.This is not a metaphor, it is a distortion/ignorance/confusion of basic facts. Moreover, Christianity (“when I ruled the world”) did not, in any sense, rule the world, until after the decline of Rome.

    The puzzle gets bigger when the rule of Christianity (when I ruled the world) is conflated with “never an honest word”, with “rolling the dice”, with striking “fear in enemies’ eyes” etc — hardly christian values…

    Another thing you ignore/not comment on is the verse “for some reason I can’t explain”! You seem to know why Christ thinks Peter won’t (or will) call his name, but … Christ himself doesn’t know why!!!

    Also, you seem to ignore that it was not only the “wild wind” the “blew the doors to let me in”, but “the wicked and wild wind” — was Christ wicked, or did he see himself as such? No!

    I think the song has NOTHING to do with religion, Christ, etc. Surely, having been raised in a christian culture, it is expectable that the poet occasionally uses biblical imagery or metaphors, but he is not referring to the bible. Just as when Neil Young sings about a “heart of gold” he is not referring at all to his golddigger ancestors, even if they played an important role in identifying something very valuable with that metal.

    Lastly, Christ never saw himself as a “puppet on a string”, nor did he ever consider anyone else a puppet. For better or worse chistianity is not about predestination or kismet but about free will. Christ did have misgivings about his sacrifice, but he was driven but a sense of duty — very unlike a puppet.

    Your general “religious” interpretation would stand if, and only if, we assume Chris Martin to be extremely ignorant of christian doctrine and human history, yet curiously choosing to borrow metaphors from things he ignores.

    I agree more with Cruz — the song being about anyone who becomes aware of the vacuousness of his arrogance and “success”.

    Even Bolder,

    Stavros

    • Hi Stavros,

      Do I detect a tinge of irritation in your response? Am I imagining it?

      But, yes you are correct about the Romans and Christianity not being established at that instance in time. I should have worded my response better. The “Revolutionaries” were opposed to Jesus Christ and by implication the doctrine he was preaching, which later became formalised as Christianity. Historically, Mithraism was one of the more dominant religions at the time, but the Romans were not entirely partial to it. The term revolutionary is used in hindsight. It was once considered revolutionary to oppose religion (perhaps not so much these days). Poetic license! What would be revolutionary, is religion disappearing entirely within the next 20 years, but that is not going to happen.

      The reference to “rolling the dice” does seem odd, but it’s easily explainable in the context of the power that Christ is implying that he once had: it’s a statement of arrogance; like the power to decide a persons fate by the flippant toss of a coin, or a roll of the dice. Make more sense now? The other references you mention are off course not related to Chritsianity or Christ, but the opponents of Christ.Incidently, there is no mention of “striking” fear in the song, but the actual words are “feel” the fear, which is a big difference.

      “Christ himself doesn’t know why!!!” In the bibical context, any reason Christ would ask “father why have you forsaken me?” I mean he is supposed to be god; he is supposed to know, shouldn’t he? In the same vein, why would a god who created man, not know that his creation would sin? All knowing? Omni-what? Perhaps Chris Martin was just pointing out that Christ was just an ordinary person after all, not godly.

      “Lastly, Christ never saw himself as a “puppet on a string”, nor did he ever consider anyone else a puppet” You speak with such conviction. How do you know this? Did Christ himself tell you?

      I certainly don’t assume that Chris Martin is ignorant; on the contrary I think he is much cleverer than most people could imagine.

      I have provided an interpretation of what I believe the song represents, but instead of exploring critically, you have assumed that this is another baseless attack on your religion, and decided to become defensive, hostile even. But, I suppose I cannot blame you…

  4. Dear Lenny,

    For one thing, I congratulate you on your diligent response. You made a valiant effort to respond to my points rather than blowing me away.

    I am not at all irritated at your interpretation, and not in the least “offended” religiously — I am not religious! I just happened to spend a lot of time myself searching for this great song’s elusive meaning, and have come up against some walls or traps — pieces of the puzzle that do not fit in with the rest. I hope to show you some of the dead-ends you seem to be going to yourself, so we can make headway to a better understanding.

    Your interpretation that the person “singing” in the song is “Christ” did enter my mind as well. It is a plausible hypothesis — many artists have used “christ-figures” in their novels, poems, etc. However, on closer reading/hearing the song I realised that he can’t possibly be referring to Christ (unless he is an ignoramus who aspires to teach us great things without doing his basic homework, something I do not belive of C.M.).

    Why? 1) He is referring to someone who had spectacular secular power, of which Christ had practically none 2) Christ never lost any power he ever had (no “castles” — except his power to breathe when he gave himself up for crucifixion 3) Being a “puppet on a string” is a derogatory role that Christ would not have ascribed to himself (he may have regretted the pain involved in his “sacrifice” but it is coutner-character to consider himself as a soulless puppet of his “father” — I surmise all that from what we know of Christ, surely didn’t hear him speak myself!). 4) It’s implausible that Christ would ponder whether Peter (his disciple…) would call his name. For what? Did Christ doubt that he would go to heaven? Besides, Peter became a “saint” (as he is referred by the singer) well after Christ’s trials and tribulations were over… 5) Christ is no way “sweeping streets” he used “to own”. 6) By all accounts, if we are to refer to Christ et al. in political lingo, we would refer to his as a revolutionary who overthrew (or died trying) the powers that be; he was not threatened by revolutionaries, let alone “roman revolutionaries”. Christ was never threatened by anyone who “opposed religion” (I doubt that at the time there were any powerful anti-religious forces in the area); let’s face the obvious: the “head on a silver plate” that any Revolutionaries (appropriately named) want is that of a Ruler or a Tyrant (not a wannabe-ruler, not an imaginary-ruler, not a spiritual guru etc), precisely because they perceive him as ruling by the sword.

    Respectfully, and ultimately more humbly than you think,

    Stavros

    The song, as far as I can tell (there are a couple of holes in my interpretation too!) is referring to a secular (too secular to be mistaken for a spiritual type like Christ) Ruler who did not come to power nicely (“the old King is dead, long live the King”), helped by the “wicked and the wild” winds, and who falls from grace. Not only is he relegated now to a lowly role (sweeping streets), but he has to acknowledge that the period of his rule was not worthy — a reign based on dishonesty, built on rotten foundations (pillars of salt and sand). He is hearing religious rituals (bells, choirs) for the end of days (or perhaps the end of his days!), yet he knows he is not going to be among the “chosen ones” (Chris Martin explained the phrase “I know St. Peter won’t call my name” in an interview: he was a strange kid in school who felt that he somehow could not earn the favor of the teachers). And, above all, he concedes and laments that during the (brief?) period he ruled the world, there was never an honest word. In fact, it seems that the world became better after his fall — “never an honest word — BUT that was WHEN I ruled the world”, i.e. not now, not any more.

    Sorry if I sounded “hostile.” I didn’t mean to. I get aroused with arguments, not with people. In fact I love people who are willing to argue — forcefully, yet respectfully, willing to admit to their shortcomings of their own arguments. clarity.

    • Hello again Stavros,

      Perhaps I was hasty in accusing you of being defensive. However, I’m having a real problem discerning what your beliefs are exactly. You say you are not religious, but I sense that you are a theist, perhaps even believing in the Christ story. I’ve come across people before who claim to believe in god, but not within the framework of religion. That could be possible, but is certainly unusual, and interesting.

      Getting back to the song: I think perhaps I have left too many things to be taken for granted. I don’t believe that a Christ figure ever existed (not in the way he is described in the bible, at any rate). And I also believe that CM is in agreement with this belief.

      Therefore, when he uses the “mythical” Jesus in his song to lament his own downfall, he is doing it mockingly; sort of in jest. He just uses the characteristics/accomplishments attributed to the Christ figure by the bible writers, to achieve this effect. CM certainly does not think that a Christ figure actually existed and was a powerful king, or whatever else is claimed in the bible. He is actually refuting these biblical claims, quite ingeniously. I think it is quite brilliant. But perhaps I’m not explaining myself very well.

      There are so many levels to this song, and I believe I know what CM had on his mind; I believe I have got it (almost) right, but am making a hash of explaining. But, I do appreciate your responses and willingness to debate.

      • Wait, sorry, but are you saying that Jesus didn’t exist? If so, I don’t think it is really worth arguing with you if you deny an obvious fact. Sorry if you aren’t saying that.

        • Why does god exsits?
          It’s in the bible!
          Why is the bible true?
          It’s the word of god!
          Why does god exsits?
          It’s in the bible!
          Why is the bible true?
          It’s the word of god!

          See where we are going now?

          It isn’t an obvious fatc, you have never met god and you will certaintly not meet him in life. You are making yourself belive it’s an obviouse fact. Facts don’t have to be true to be a fact, they have to be checkable, you have to be able to see if it’s true and even that isn’t possible with religion.

  5. I think there is too much in depth analysis for a song that is simplistic to the point where it becomes nonsensical. While there are many biblical refs in the words, i do believe that it is meant as a throw away song. If you wish to religously analyse a song then why not look at the lyrics of The temple of the King by rainbow writer ritchie blackmore. now here is a song that portrays a religous vision…

    r

    cc

    • Hi Carlos,

      I don’t “religiously” analyse every song I hear; just some of them that catch my attention. Sometimes it’s not even necessary to analyse because the meaning is pretty straight-forward’ eg. Imagine by John Lennon. I’m just intrigued by the poetry in certain songs, and this one by Chris Martin is somewhat special.

      However, I will give Ritchie Blackmore a listen and let you know what I think.

  6. Well, well. Ideally, one’s interpretation of a song (“what it is intended to mean”) should be independent of one’s beliefs. At any rate, I am not religious, nor a theist. My “corrections” about Christ do not stem from my (dis)beliefs, but are based on the historical-literary references on him. Even those who “believe” in him, the Bible etc, have not attributed to him any secular powers found in the song; there is no record that “seas would rise when he gave the word” (excetp the “walking on water” stint), no mention of Christ’s “castles”, no “the old king is dead” or “long live the king” bits. Only when he was executed by the Romans was he mockingly called “King of the Jews”. Christ did refer to the Kingdom of Heavens — but he never “fell” from any such kingdom. On the contrary, his believers say he went there to rule eternally on the honored side of his Father (not as a puppet).

    And similarly you add “He just uses the characteristics/accomplishments attributed to the Christ figure by the bible writers, to achieve this effect.” But Lenny, he is NOT using those characteristics attributed to the Christ figure by the bible writers — that’s my BONE! He is using characteristics attributed by the bible writers to OTHER figures (Herod, King David, the Ceasar, etc), or characteristics attributed by OTHER writers to OTHER figures (Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan, Napoleon, etc). That’s why I can’t believe he is referring to Christ. Possibly he is not referring to ONE historical figure, but he is a constructing a mosaic from various figures. After all CM is a writer/performer songs — I doubt he tried to pack into a single pop song a revision of history, a treatise on (or against) religion, and a morality tale. If he did, I wish he was a bit clearer so we don’t have to spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out what he meant.

    Incidentally, that was one of my first moments of atheistic awakening: if god existed and cared for us, I wondered, wouldn’t he have made sure that each human was informed in person what god expected of him/her? If a so-called omnipotent god cannot even communicate his wishes directly with me, I reject he is omnipotent, I reject he …is!

    So if CM is referring to Christ, he is referring to a wholly new personality, with attributes that have nothing to do with those attributed to Christ until now, by his believers and non-believers alike (I don’k know of any account of Christ as a military-type leader). “I used to rule the world” is a phrase that simply doesn’t fit to any heretofore narrative (real or manufactured) about Christ.

    You say, “CM certainly does not think that a Christ figure actually existed and was a powerful king, or whatever else is claimed in the bible. He is actually refuting these biblical claims, quite ingeniously.” The bible does not make any such claims about Christ (neither powerful, nor a king), so what is CM refuting ingeniously? He is neither upholding the biblical view of Christ, nor refuting it. He is not referring to Christ. Unless you are suggesting that CM is advancing a brand new version of Christ: that he was a powerful king once, with castles and all, who ruled with dishonesty and deception, causing the ire of revolutionary (Romans?) who eventually overthrew him, and then he realized that he was actually a puppet on a string etc… Fine story, but what’s that have to do with Christ? Why is it an accurate historical account and not another bs myth?

    • Hi Stavros,

      Now that we’ve cleared up your religious persuasion, or lack of it, I think we are about to prove that non-believers can disagree among themselves; and can actually have divergent views. So, I look forward to continuing this exploration of the song.

      I have noted your disagreements with my explanation, and I think I know how to answer you, but I do not have the time tonight, because I need to elaborate much more than I have previously. The key to it is deconstruction….however more tommorrow night, when I have more time. I’m really sorry to keep you waiting…

    • Hello again,

      Before I continue, I need to come clean on why I did not find time last night to continue the discussion: I had set aside the time the watch my favorite soccer team, Arsenal play in the Champions League. Supporting Arsenal is the closest I’ll ever come to worshipping anything.

      OK, back to the song and my interpretation:

      CM is basically deconstructing the Christ myth. His references are in some cases biblical (to establish the period or era) and in other cases derived from interpretations of the biblical stories. The derivations are what the church, clergy and ordinary people have “added” to the biblical stories to creat a supernatural aura around around the Christ figure. Call them embellishments, if you will.

      When I said there were so many different levels to the song, I meant that CM uses a mixture both literal and figurative/metaphorical phrases (for want of a better word), togther with a great deal of poetic licence to compose his deconstruction of the myth.

      So, keeping all this in mind, the references to “King”, “seas would rise”, “streets I used to own”, etc. are not menat to be taken as literal references from the bible, but rather as a reference to the “supernatural” power that the Christ figure was supposed to have or accredited to him.

      Continuing in a similar vein, the other phrases you have a problem with, can be accounted for. The song is meant to convey the decline in faith over the years. Secularism is on the rise and people are slowly letting go of their beliefs, which would if left to its natural conclusion, mean the end of religion (as we know it today). I’m not discounting that belief may take another form different from religion.

      CM just wrote his deconstruction of religion from the angle of one of the victim of man’s loss of faith (ie. The Christ figure, and Christianity), who laments this abandonment by man.

      I hope this is making more sense. However, if not, then I think we need to agree to disagree and leave the matter there, because I cannot fins another way to make my explanation simpler than this.

      And let me conclude by saying that your interpretation is not wrong, and certainly could be one of many wjich are in fact, correct. which would make the song even more remarkable. I just think my interpretation digs beyond the obvious, and allows for more free thinking.

  7. well articulated Lenny and perhaps without knowing the writers mind, comes close to what the song intends to convey.

    CC

  8. Dear Lenny,

    I understand you are getting a bit tired of endlessly explaining your interpretation of the song. Fine, I won’t go on it forever.

    You are an obviously smart, educated and daring mind who has come up with an imaginative interpretation of the song. But the compliments stop here, my friend! I respectfully disagree that your interpretation goes “deeper” or that it allows for more free thinking; don’t flatter yourself! I am afraid it just takes (unwarranted) liberties with the song to fit it into your set agenda. Of course, I happen to share some of that agenda (I oppose religious thinking), but… the ends do not justify the means. Here are my … closing arguments: 1) There is no indication whatsoever that CM gives a hoot about deconstructing Christ — if you provide me with such indication I would be willing to change my mind (the “era” references you suggest are not convincing: “Jerusalem bells” have existed before, during, and after Christ; “Roman cavalry quoirs” also predate and follow Christ; tons of people, and many leaders other than Christ have pondered on whether the Heaven’s gatekeeper (St. Peter) would call their names….And clearly, it would be out of character for Christ to be waiting for St. Peter’s nod or calling to enter Heaven (an earlier point of mine which you overlooked). 2) “Never an honest word.. .but that was when I ruled the world”: that means that there was dishonesty during Chris’s rule but there is honest after his fall? 3) Although you are right that some kingly references to Christ could be meant metaphorically, the biggest puzzle remains his purported “fall”… Where do you (or CM) see the “end of religion”? I am afraid this is wishful thinking. Religion is still quite alive, with fundamentalists having a big influence (see the War on Terror, see the Intelligent-Designers pressing for school curricula, see the avowed faith of Obama, etc).

    Being an atheist requires one to be hard-headed through and through, unwilling to “buy” anything, even if it appears as “alternative”, “revolutionary” etc, before submitting it to a thorough criticism.

    It’s been real,

    Stavros

    • Hi Stavros,

      You’re obvioulsy passionate about your (un)belief, so it would be unfair of me to simply brush you off without one final response; and at the risk of starting a whole new argument.

      If you agree that a song is art, then you won’t find it too hard to agree with this also: interpretation of the arts is mostly subjective (one can be objective about certain things wthin art too, but mostly interpretation and appreciation is dependent on personal taste, moods, emotions etc.). My interpretation is therefore subjective. I understand where you have a problem with this: you object to my interpretation being warped to “fit in” with my own world-view, and yoor objection is obviously 100% correct. I agree that subjectivity and skepticism should be the base priciples of critical thought. No problems there’ I’m with you 100% on that.

      However, while I concede that my interpretation is subjective and to a large extent tainted by my own world-view, I was also led to interpret the song the way I did, by CM himself, by the way he responded to interviews, as I quoted in my previous interpretative post of October last year (submitted here for your ease of reference):

      When asked by Q magazine about what he meant by the line “I know Saint Peter won’t call my name” Chris Martin replied: “It’s about… You’re not on the list. I was a naughty boy. It’s always fascinated me that idea of finishing your life and then being analyzed on it. And this idea runs throughout most religions. That’s why people blow up buildings. Because they think they’re going to get lots of virgins. I always feel like saying, just join a band. That is the most frightening thing you could possibly say to somebody. Eternal damnation. I know about this stuff because I studied it. I was into it all. I know it. It’s still mildly terrifying to me. And this is serious.”

      At some point Chris has stated that he is not sure about the existence of God and has also been quoted as saying “I’m always trying to work out what ‘He’ or ‘She’ is,” also saying “I don’t know if it’s Allah or Jesus or Mohammed or Zeus. But I’d go for Zeus.”

      These responses point in some part to CM’s repugnance with the concept of religion. That’s my interpretation, at any length. And so you see, I interpreted the song as an imaginative way of CM confirming this repugnance.

      Now with reference to the following objection:

      And clearly, it would be out of character for Christ to be waiting for St. Peter’s nod or calling to enter Heaven (an earlier point of mine which you overlooked). 2) “Never an honest word.. .but that was when I ruled the world”: that means that there was dishonesty during Chris’s rule but there is honest after his fall?

      In the context of the song (not in the context of scripture) the St. Peter inference means that since Christ’s influence was waning he was being given the nod by St. Peter to concede defeat and retire to heaven for eternity (again, my subjective interpretation). W.R.T. “never an honest word” I did not say anywhere in my interpretation that there was now magically honesty after the “fall” of Jesus. Again this is just a reference within the song to the era in which Jesus supposedly “reigned” and the reason supposedly for his tenure on earth: to pay for the wickedness and dishonesty of the people at the time.

      And this objection:

      3) Although you are right that some kingly references to Christ could be meant metaphorically, the biggest puzzle remains his purported “fall”… Where do you (or CM) see the “end of religion”? I am afraid this is wishful thinking. Religion is still quite alive, with fundamentalists having a big influence (see the War on Terror, see the Intelligent-Designers pressing for school curricula, see the avowed faith of Obama, etc).

      I did not say that religion was at an end. I said that religion was tending towards that eventuality – you and I won’t experience it our lifetimes, but at some stage it’s bound to happen. May be wishful thinking now, but I am optimistic about the future. Again, the whole point of the song is about the (slow) death of religious belief; something which the religious (and in the song, Jesus himself who represents them) laments.

      Finally:

      Being an atheist requires one to be hard-headed through and through, unwilling to “buy” anything, even if it appears as “alternative”, “revolutionary” etc, before submitting it to a thorough criticism.

      I used to be “hard headed” about atheism for a while myself, but I eventually found that being accomodating is more beneficial. I have found that the religious just dig in their heels and become more “hard headed” themselves, the more we atheists try to convince them of their “folly.” We have to live with “them” for a very long time, before religiosity eventually dies of its own accord, so it will probably be easier on our health to be kind and accomodating.

      So, until CM himself tells me that I’m barking up the wrong tree, I will continue to “flatter” myself. I sincerely enjoyed this debate with you. I hope you will find another post of mine on this blog which you will criticise just as well. I look forward to it; it can only enhance my knowledge.

  9. Brave Lenny,

    I appreciate your willingness to respond. You are a great guy, capable of taking criticism with a gusto. We can let it go, for now at least. I’ll keep in mind your interpretation (that it’s about Christ) and you keep in mind mine (that it’s about any guy who realises the fickleness of his “glory days”) and see what the passage of time may do… I may have used the term “hard-headed” wrongly; I didn’t mean that we should be rude to religious guys (you are right that they will simply dig in their heels), but that we should be critical of all, including those who are basically on our side, if their argumentation has holes in it.

    I owe you one such point of self-criticism that I have reserved for last: I may question your interpretation, right from the first line of the song (“I used to rule the world” doesn’t fit w/ Christ, literally or metaphorically!), but my interpretation has an equally big hole in it; it cannot make sense of the title! Maybe the problem is with our (my) own limations in understanding a great artist, or, alternatively, the problem lies with the artist himself: very talented but not immune to self-absorbed b.s.

    It’s been real!

    • Ah Stavros,

      Thank you for the wonderful discourse. Off course I will keep in mind your own interpretation, and will make a point of acknowledging it on this site, if you are proved right.

      As atheists we have nothing to fear, except fear itself (sounds old, I know). Criticism is our strength, whether we impart it or receive it ourselves. We can only learn from it…and that is my purpose in life.

  10. Sorry, but no. I think this is just about revolutionarys in general, possibly the crusades (but thats a stretch).

    I’m curious though, what makes you think there is no god? I’ve never been able to comprehend that, but then I’ve never been able to ask anyone thats not of questionable inteligence.

    • Hi John,

      Sure, You’re entitled to your opinion.

      You’ve never been able to ask anyone that’s not of questionable intelligence? Obviously you don’t think I have a questionable intelligence, because you’ve just asked!!!

      I’ve never been able to comprehend how the religious always state how they won’t do something, and then go right ahead and do it anyway.

      To answer your question: Think about it, you yourself are one of countless reasons why there couldn’t possibly be a god. No supernatural (all-seeing, all-knowing) entity worth his/her/it’s salt, would screw up this badly.

      • Ah, a most difficult to condtradict athiest belief, but God “screwed up this badly” to have the glory of (some) human beings worshipping him out of free will, rather than “the rocks themselves praising him” (not direct, but generally accurate quote)
        However this can never fully be understood

  11. I don’t believe that is the case. Personally, I believe god doesn’t intervene in human affairs, or that he controlls what we do, say, and think. If that were so, we would be nothing more than the play things of a child. I think that our lives here are just a test. If we live out our lives and do good, we go to heaven. If we do evil, we go to hell.

    • Hi John,

      So tell me how is it possible that a non-interfering god has given mankind a set of written instructions (so-called holy books) on how to live their lives. Unless you don’t believe in the holy books off course!

      But then, how can a divine entity test us, without interfering.The very act of testing constitutes an act of interference.

      • The problem is a small flaw in John’s logic:
        God is not non-interfering, but non-controlling
        God allows free will, but gives guidelines that you are supposed to follow, and may (obviously) choose not to (at a price)
        I WOULD BE GLAD TO DISCUSS RELIGION WITH YOU, you seem quite proficient in the topic and that is one of the things I can appreciate at their atheists: an purely intellectual standpoint (yes I am the same person that is 14 and a junior below)

  12. I would like to say…
    Thank you for opening my eyes to the possible religious (or anti-religious) meanings of this song, my view was restricted to a relation to napoleon or some other emperor/king
    Your intellect, logic, and rationality are truly commendable, i apreciate your great reasoning skills
    Religion and Christianity need to be seperated more distinctly as religion is the belief in god or something more beyond this life (and this world), whereas Christianity is the belief in one true God and his son Jesus whom he sent to rescue mankind from its sins (if you cannot already tell I am a Christian, but unlike others I enjoy taking an athiestic point of view and seeing how the logic is behind it; in your case i find it difficult to find any flaws and i do not believe my theological knowledge and intellect can match yours (I am only fourteen and a junior in high school))
    I would like to say that some issues people have with Christianity come from those who claim things in its name, or claim to be Christian and do terrible things, and other misleading points; other issues come from some professed Christians jerky attitude toward athiests, as you cannot yell an athiest off his/her beliefs
    I have a big point that SCIENCE DOES NOT CONTRADICT RELIGION EXCEPT IN WHETHER OR NOT GOD EXISTS!!! Science supplements religion in every other way, describing the universe that God created.

    • Hi anonymous2,

      By your definition then, Christianity would be more dishonest than religion, by claiming that it heralds the “one true god” in defiance of all the claims by all the religions that they have found the “one true god.” Neither you nor the others have any proof that they have found the “one true god” nor do they have any evidence of any gods whatsoever. Your religious texts does not constitute corroborating evidence.

      I can live with people making false claims about their belief systems; that’s not the problem. I have an issue with the belief system itself [Christianity in your case] which is fundamentally flawed in almost every facet, and makes claims that are totally at loggerheads with rationality and reason. It gets worse. Not only does it make these unfounded claims, it requires it’s adherents to believe unquestioningly through faith, through the threat of an eternal damnation.

      Science makes no claims about the existence of god. Whoever told you this is a bare-faced liar. Science is not concerned with the existence of gods or monsters. Science merely provides a set of rules which tests the claims of believers in gods and monsters. So far, the believers have been found wanting.

      Have you considered how the concept of “free will” is at odds with the concept of omniscience, as gods are described as being. What good is free will if the gods who grant it to you know exactly what you are going to do with it., Kind of like a cheap trick, no?

      I think you’re an honest to goodness good Christian. I however believe that you’ve been duped like everyone else. Dig deeper and discover the world that has been denied to you…

      • Technically (according to my beliefs), you could hold to believing the central theology (which would still be ridiculous to you) and forget everything else, still going to heaven
        However, if you did this, you probably didn’t believe in that either… and so on and so forth
        I myself have not figured out the free will/omnicience issue, but i believe this person has: see:
        http://yalb.wordpress.com/2007/06/14/free-will-vs-omniscience/
        I do not believe that i could sway you an any of your beliefs, and do not feel compelled to do so, so I won’t
        I do however believe that you too can “Dig deeper and discover the world that has been denied to you” as “you have been duped” by your own mind
        Skepticism is an interesting topic, but I don’t have much knowledge about the topic, so my discussions most likely end here

        Adieu, and happy blogging
        Anonymous (the fourteen-year-old junior)

        • Hi anonymous 14-year-old,

          I’ll give you this much; you’re unlike other 14-year olds who are too busy playing video games etc. Your interest in these matters is highly comendable. Good on ya.

          Let me assure you that I am indeed digging deeper, voluntarily so. That is why I know what I know. People have tried to dupe me through the information I have dug up, but my mind has not let me down, by discerning rubbish from reality. Perhaps you’ll allow yourself this same freedom, if you’re not too tied to your dogma’s…

      • Also this is a comment from that website:
        I disagree. I don’t believe that the universe must be deterministic in order to be “determined”. Determinism is the notion that if one knew everything there was to know about the current state of the universe than one could “do the math” and calculate how everything would turn out in the future. It could very well be that this is not the case and yet the future indeed all of time could be “viewed” from outside of time as something that already has happened.

        It is not that there is only one possible choice, it is simply that we have already made the choice we just haven’t experienced it yet. This may not be the way it is, but it is possible. The entire history and future of the universe could be laid out like a video tape. The present is simply where the tape happens to be playing.

        If something existed outside of time (ie the tape) they could just look at the tape beyond the present moment and see what decisions we would make. This would only interfere with our free will if they told us about it.

        (Hey this seems a little like the movie series “The Matrix”)

  13. wow maybe you should create a page directly for religious/athiest discussion, you could get even more hits and better discussions (if you want that)
    forgive me if you do have something like that, i have not searched around

  14. By the way, you should check over your original page (if you haven’t already done that) and you could collectively respond to my commonts on this page if you wish, it would make my life easier

    • Hi,

      I’ve tried to answer all your questions and comments. I hope I’ve covered them all. Unfortunately I couldn’t provide one comprehensive response as I had to follow the threads they were posted in.

      I do believe that the religion/atheism discussions are getting a bit old. I’m more interested in Skepticism these days, although religious beliefs does feature quite strongly there.

      Thanks

      Cheers,

      Lenny

  15. I just want to mention I am very new to weblog and honestly enjoyed your page. More than likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You certainly come with exceptional articles. Kudos for sharing your web site.

  16. Christopher Martin means “Warrior for Christ” … he is a lapsed Catholic, whose lyrical genius is deeply influenced by his faith, a faith that resides still in his soul. His baptism into the one, true, holy, apostolic and universal Church which has outlasted every dynasty for 20 centuries, is reflected in the grace by which he lives his life, as one who neither drinks nor smokes, and takes stands to promote kindness to animals, to oppose war, to promote fair wages, and the like. Chris Martin, like many lapsed Catholics has supported pro-abortion candidates like John Kerry, and Barack Obama whose support for partial birth abortion is tantamount to the very infanticide which Christ himself escaped during the time of King Herod. Unknowingly, Chris Martin’s most successful song ever, the number one song in 2009, which seems on various levels to speak of the fall of an earthly king from the past, or even a heavenly king as you have posited, is in fact a prophetic anthem which will soon be sung by The One, The Messiah, The Annointed One, Barack Obama, whose fall from power will be the source of his deepest lament.
    Viva La Vida
    Coldplay

    I used to rule the world (Obama of course has been ruler of the most powerful nation in the world, the world’s only superpower, and has assumed by self-appointment a messianic role as a universal leader, with his address to the middle east and a crowd of 200,000 in Egypt early in his presidency)
    Seas would rise when I gave the word (This evokes the very words Obama used in his acceptance speech at the Democrat convention when he implied that he would halt the rise of the seas)
    Now in the morning I sleep alone (On the morning after his defeat, he will be the last in the White House to rise, steeped in the depression of his fall from power … look at what happened to Al Gore after he lost …or it may predict his removal from office and the unraveling of his family life and marriage as a result of an ignominous fall from grace forced out due to some scandal or legal proceeding or expected charge)
    Sweep the streets I used to own (This is metaphorical and symbolizes that from Wall Street to Main Street, he will be no more than a common dustman, a street sweeper, his name a source of derision and disgust)

    I used to roll the dice (Famously, Obama speaks often of doubling down, using metaphors from gambling as a way to arrogantly show off his authority … but not anymore)
    Feel the fear in my enemies eyes (Arrogant bullies thrive on the fear they generate which they can see and feel in their victim’s eyes … he used to feel that fear, and feed off it, but not now)
    Listen as the crowd would sing:
    “Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!” (Not only did Obama kill Martin Luther King’s true vision of a post racial world, he upset that vision, and created racial division during his reign, and like Elvis himself, he became a rock star, a NEW KING … these were the cries of adulation he heard, but no more …)

    One minute I held the key
    Next the walls were closed on me
    And I discovered that my castles stand
    Upon pillars of salt, and pillars of sand (Imagine having the key, not just to the city, but to the world, and then being removed from office on the basis of fraud, and being arrested and jailed, the jailer’s keys ironically clanking as the doors to the cell are shut, and the walls of the cell begin to close in on the shamed and fallen leader … imagine that the castle he attained (The White House) was all based on deception and deceit, a sham, a fraud, and the pillars of his presidency fell as though they were made of salt or sand)

    I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing (Obama’s mistreatment of Israel and refusal to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu would be returned by joyous bells from Jerusalem the moment he is defeated or removed from office … )
    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing (Here Chris is cleverly referencing simply Roman Catholic choirs, because the Romans had neither a cavalry nor a choir, and it is evident that Obama’s war against religious liberty, targeted chiefly against Catholics, would be met with joyous singing from Catholics the moment he is defeated or removed from office)
    Be my mirror my sword and shield (Despite all my pride, all my strength, and all my defenses …)
    My missionaries in a foreign field ( … Despite the armies I have commanded abroad … and despite even my foreign policy experts I’ve sent to the Middle East … )
    For some reason I can not explain
    once you’re gone there was never, never an honest word (For a reason I can’t explain, once I attained this great power, I could not speak an honest word … [for power corrupts, and the absolute power I strived to attain, absolutely corrupted me … and I could not tell the truth]
    That was when I ruled the world
    (Ohhh)

    It was the wicked and wild wind
    Blew down the doors to let me in. (The wicked and wild wind of irrational exuberance and the madness of the crowds, and of evil influences, and of the rock star frenzy that took hold, as well as the wind of evil forces swept me into power and I took the White House through deceit and overwhelming power)
    Shattered windows and the sound of drums (But once I arrived, the transparency I promised I could not keep, for honesty I knew no longer, and soon, those who marched to the sound of my drums could hear the beat no longer, as independents and democrats fled from supporting me)
    People could not believe what I’d become (Those who voted for me on the hope that I was a post racial, transparent, competent, honest, and transformational American who had their best interest at heart soon learned I was divisive, thin-skinned, deceitful, dictatorial, incompetent, dishonest, and filled with anti-American ideals, including socialism, and totalitiarianism, and anti-colonialism, and deeply sympathetic to Islam more than Christianity … and to creating dependency rather than opportunity …)
    Revolutionaries Wait
    For my head on a silver plate (The Tea Party is waiting … with a silver tea pot and silver service plate, and they want my head …)
    Just a puppet on a lonely string (George Soros funded my election, and I was a puppet to the powerful and wealthy without whom I could never have earned the office on merit alone … but those who pulled the strings to get me elected have abandoned me in my defeat)
    Oh who would ever want to be king? (The lament of one who has fallen from grace …)

    I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field
    For some reason I can not explain
    I know Saint Peter won’t call my name (Chris Martin knows Catholic doctrine. The damned go to Hell, and their names are not called to enter the Pearly Gates. Obama knows it too, and laments though he really isn’t sure he can explain why … meaning, he knows he has been damned to Hell for eternity but doesn’t understand that it is his unrepentent sin that would keep him from entering Heaven)
    Never an honest word
    And that was when I ruled the world
    (Ohhhhh Ohhh Ohhh)

    Hear Jerusalem bells are ringings (Christianity suddenly is awakened in the apostate sinner Obama’s mind, and he realizes that he is not the Messiah, but imagines for a moment, what if he were Christ, what would he hear … what would the ringing bells signify? what joy, what achievement, what promise?)
    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing (And Obama remembers the Roman soldier at the foot of the cross who converted after Christ’s death, and this leads him to imagine as a megalomaniac that he is not unlike Constantine the Great who had all his men use the sign of the cross to win at Milvian Bridge, and they sang in victory, and then, Obama recalls, the emperor even converted to Christianity, and was saved, despite his sins … Obama begins to find cause for hope)
    Be my mirror my sword and shield (Obama channels the very journey of Constantine toward Rome, when the sun shone in the sky like a mirror as he approached the city, and by the symbol of Jesus Christ, the Chi Rho, the Christian God became Constantine’s sword, and the sign marked on the shield of all of his men … and in that sign, he conquered,IHS in hoc signo vince … but in that sign, Constantine the Great conquered not just his opponent who held Rome, but ultimately the sin which had held him captive … by the sign of the cross Obama ultimately converts to the Roman Catholic Church, just as Constantine did, and will be saved)
    My missionaries in a foreign field (And Obama channels Christ and realizes that the most powerful armed forces ever controlled by him or anyone are nothing in comparison to Christ’s missionaries across the world
    For some reason I can not explain
    I know Saint Peter will call my name (and then, as a result of his exposure to Catholic doctrine as a young boy in Indonesia, and because he sat in the pews with Reverand Jeremiah Wright for 20 years and listened to the Black Liberation Theology message, which despite its heresies contains core Christian teachings that are correct regarding the promise of forgivness and salvation, Obama converts to Catholicism, confesses his sins, receives absolution, and realizes for the first time ever, the real reason for hope, and the only means for change … Jesus Christ … and in that instance he knows that St. Peter WILL call his name and welcome him into eternal glory with God forever and ever.
    Never an honest word
    But that was when I ruled the world (As hope takes hold, a little guilt creeps in, and he remembers when he spoke never an honest word … but then he recalls with gratitude that its behind him, saying “that was when I ruled the world” … and no longer is it a lament, but a sigh of relie. For all the sin and corruption that he once knew when he ruled the world has given way to a redeemed soul, and a humble place spent happily with the God forever.
    Those who declare that the Roman Catholic Church and those who follow Christ are masters of false hopes and an idle and useless philosophy destined for the trash bin should take heed: God will NOT be mocked. Christ promised Peter the Gates of Hell would NEVEr prevail against the Church. The Church has outlasted every dynasty, and cannot fail. It alone, through Jesus Christ, and by the Magisterium and teachings of Holy Mother Church, could offer a wretch like Obama the hope of eternal life. Chris Martin knows this, as it’s in his core. He has offered a prophetic image of what will happen in the coming election, and more importantly, what is possible for each and everyone of us who are in slavery to sin. We are made all to be saints. We are pilgrims passing through this land to Heaven. We can enjoy the miracle of a eternal happiness if we will but open our hearts to the prompting of the Holy Ghost. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost as it is now, has been, and will be, forever and ever. Amen.

    • Hi Jack,

      Your take on the lyrics is interesting in itself, but the anti-Obama vitriolic leads one to discern that it is fatally flawed. The song was released in June 2008. Obama was elected president in November 2008, and inaugurated in January 2009. How could the song possibly be about his term of office. Are you seriously expecting me to believe that Chris Martin was not only a great composer, but a psychic to boot (assuming off course your interpretation of Obama’s presidency as being disastrous, is true)?

      “Those who declare that the Roman Catholic Church and those who follow Christ are masters of false hopes and an idle and useless philosophy destined for the trash bin should take heed: God will NOT be mocked.” Really? The whole sordid idea of a Catholic God (or any God for that matter) is deserving of nothing but derision and mockery. And you don’t have to take my word for it.

      Are you a Republican?

  17. The above could have been edited somewhat to clarify a few points, so I will do that now. The early Roman Empire didn’t have a calvary. Later, Roman legions did. The title of the song lends itself to the conclusion I reached, and the point of my article, which is this: Chris Martin released a prophetic song about a man who would soon assume the American presidency and then fall from grace. This historical figure (Obama) would “rule the world,” or so it would seem, and then be defeated or removed from his position of power. At first, he would lament what he’d lost, not understanding why he changed when he acquired power, and why people said he had changed, then learning that it was his sin, a sin other great leaders in history turned from and learned from. Certain he was a man condemned for eternity, he sentences himself to Hell, but then as he imagines the greatness he once had, he thinks of a great Roman Emperor who turned to Christ … in doing so,Obama finds for himself the hope and change he promised to others, but could never deliver … he finds it as Constantine did, in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus Obama goes from death to life, eternal life. As the title and upbeat tempo of the song suggess, the ultimate point of the story is “Hurray for Life! Long Live Life.” Viva La Virda. Hurray for, and Long Live ETERNAL Life!

    I wish to emphasize however that my dedication to the teachings of Jesus as guarded for 20 centuries by the Holy Roman Catholic Church is not because I’m deluded, or unable to free myself from the trappings of dogma or cult forced upon me, for I have examined carefully all the world religions, and as the great Doctor Scott Peck, M.D., author of “A Road Less Travelled” concluded himself after a similar journey, “Christianity is the single religious set of principles which is defensible, and supported by the great weight of the evidence, and resonates most clearly with the fullness of the truth.” Many other religions and philosophies contribute greatly to understanding universal and beneficial principles which offer mankind a path for good order and peace and prosperity, but sadly, some are hate idealogies, or culted schemes gone awry which seek to destroy freedom, peace, and prosperity.

    Without straying from the point of my post, though, I’ll refocus my attention to my belief that Chris Martin and his band are instruments of the Holy Ghost, and have written a song which unwittingly and prophetically imagines Obama’s defeat or removal from office which could ultimately lead to the hopeful outcome of his salvation. The song contains a hopeful vision, that one who once ruled the world and lost it all has found something far greater by his love for and obedience to the same Jesus Christ who saved the Emperor Constantine seventeen centuries ago. “Hurray for Life. Long Live Life!” What life exactly is Chris Martin celebrating? The life of lament for a fallen leader? Or eternal life … the prize which Martin knows from his Catholic faith and by the Holy Ghost are beyond the earthly glories of ruling this world.

    May all who read this find Viva la Virda within the bosom of Holy Mother Church, for she is awaiting your arrival, and promises comfort, tenderness, forgiveness, happiness, and hope … as well as change you can really believe in.

  18. Hi Lenny,
    I love the sinner, but hate the sin; it is the essence of the message Jesus taught, which the Catholic (meaning universal) Christian Church has defended, and helped to spread, often inadequately, and with the fraility of a divine institution run by fallible men and women.

    I feel deep compassion toward Barack Obama, his being abandoned by his father, and then ultimately his mother, raised by his grandparents, confused about his racial identity, deeply imprinted with the failed political idealogies of those closest to him, including especially the hollow and aimless and futile systems of socialism, communism, and Liberation Theology.

    Historians will argue for many years about what he accomplished and didn’t, what his flaws and virtues were, and I believe it’s clear that the man has many fine qualities … yet I am critical of most of his policies, think he has proved to be a disappointment to many, and clearly isn’t transparent about his past, his associations, or his current administration … He really isn’t an honest man (and yes, less so than most politicians) and I do believe lying is sinful … It seems he has a messianic complex (at least in his public persona), is deeply racially divisive, carries strains of his father’s anti-colonialism, believes in Liberation Theology which my Church has condemned as a heretical and contrary to the Gospel, and he really just isn’t a good executive, because he really had no training to be one … The vitriole you sense is for me deeply held, but not for him, only for his his sins and flawed leadership … It’s clear that he does not understand that no nation ever has survived that kills its unborn or overextends itself financially with debt,and so, what I expect is that we must elect leaders who will do the opposite, because good virtue is good policy.

    If I didn’t love the sinner then you must know that I would not have imagined an interpretation that is ultimately hopeful and compassionate toward the eternal soul and destiny of Barack Obama … my interpretation imagined his redemption by the truth of Jesus from one amazing statement: “I am the truth, the way, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.”

    This is the “Hurray for life” implicit in the title … I mean what else would Viva La Vida mean? Hurray for the life of a fallen leader? I tried to offer an intepretation that includes all aspects of the lyrics, and the song’s title … and of course, I realize it is subjective, but hopefully some might say, “Yes, that’s a defensible interpretation …”

    As you rightly mention, the song was released before Barack was elected, and from interviews I’ve read, I don’t think Chris Martin had Obama in mind … but my belief is that the Holy Ghost may have used this brilliant lyricist and lapsed Catholic to write a prophetic anthem that is both the deepest expression of Obama’s lament for his fall from grace, and the ultimate expression of his joy in being saved and restored to grace …

    The song is mesmerizing and hopeful and it’s so cool to hear crowds sing the refrain! I love hearing concert goers spontaneously start up or join in the “Ohh-Ohhh-Ohhh” if ever there was a cigarette lighter moment that’s it! But what I note too is that in my interpretation the protagonist’s conversion and salvation happen after the “ohhh-ohhh-ohhh” chorus … after that chorus the speaker says he is sure that St. Peter WILL call his name … as if he has had his ahha moment, and is expressing great joy at his epiphany! Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh.

    I draw this hopeful final ending from the easily missed portion of the lyrics in which at first the protagonist says/sings that he is sure St. Peter WON’T call his name (won’t make it to Heaven) … this is that depth of sorrow every sinner goes through when he realizes he has fallen and missed the mark, and that it is because of his wrongful acts, his sin … But then, in an abrupt change, he is sure St. Peter WILL call his name … this change is hard to define aside from a conversion of some sort that would allow St. Peter to welcome him to Heaven.

    And I believe the reason he can’t explain it, is who can possibly explain the depth of God’s mercy to send His very Son to die for us … a man fully human, but for sin, and fully God … Whether it’s the sentiment from songs like Amazing Grace, or other such songs, the believer is speechless and can’t explain the joy that salvation is possible even for a “wretch like me”.

    It’s hard not to be sympathetic toward the singer as he laments his fall from grace … the bitter irony that he is sweeping the very streets he once owned … and of course, we could recount many individuals from Bernie Madoff to Gary Hart to John Edwards who might sing such a song … But for me, the song seems especially to resonate with the very themes and hallmarks of Obama’s presidency … the rising seas … the messianac “king of the world” outlook … the racial division he has introduced which is so opposed to the dream of Martin Luther King …

    Time will tell whether one day Barack Obama will sing this song … whether he will be like Constantine, who at the end of his reign as a Great Emperor finally had an epiphany and was led to salvation by Christ — the ultimate mirror, sword, and shield.

    As a rule, if I’m having a gentleman’s debate, I wouldn’t ask for someone to provide to me their religious or political self identification or labels … I find such labels may not be fully expressive of another’s belief system, and besides, I trust others to reveal themselves by what they say and how they live.

    You may speculate on my religious and political beliefs, and it wouldn’t be difficult to guess correctly, but you might be surprised to learn the breadth of views I hold that don’t fit within the label so assigned.

    Also, my hair is dark, but that may not tell you everything that’s true about my appearance, or who I am, or what truths I think I’ve discovered, or am still discovering.

    I thank you for engaging with me, and at least we can agree on this — it’s a powerful song, so unlike many we hear, with rich lyrics capable of profound interpretations … I wish you a good evening. Jack

    • Hi again Jack,

      Yes, I certainly do agree that the song os powerful with cool lyrics that are open to interpretation. And…

      “You may speculate on my religious and political beliefs, and it wouldn’t be difficult to guess correctly, but you might be surprised to learn the breadth of views I hold that don’t fit within the label so assigned.”

      That’s also true…yet…

      You have labelled Obama a sinner. And your religion labels me a sinner too. Pray tell what sin I have committed. What is sin anyway? And why do I have to spend a lifetime atoning for it? Who determines this? Some archaic text in a so-called holy book?

      Fallibility is forgiveable. Believing without evidence is not.

  19. Hi Lenny,

    Thanks for your note. I believe that those who ask questions in good faith are indeed searching for the truth, a truth that resonates, that appeals to one’s sense of wholeness, and truth, and THAT is a prompting in itself that is Divine, and comes from the Holy Spirit, and it is energizing your very eternal soul! Searching Lenny is how we find …

    To ask a question in earnest, waiting sincerely for the answer, to consider the answer, and then ask in earnest again, and again, and again, can only lead, I have found, to the way, the truth, and the life …

    Not all of our questions can be answered in this life … nor even all our yearnings … but we can find the peace that passes all understanding, and an assurance about our ultimate destiny.

    Barack isn’t unique in being called a sinner, as we are all sinners who through our fallen nature and free will fall short of the Glory of God’s perfect Love and design. But I cannot condemn you, or anyone, for only God can judge the condition of another’s soul. Can I discern sin, understand it, define it, call it out, work to repel it in myself, and in the world … I can, but not entirely of my own invention or determination. My faith helps me, for I rely upon the wisdom of the many Church fathers who’ve considered such topics down through the centuries.

    The Catholic Catechism is available online, and I commend it to you for a good read. In it, this summary can be found regarding your question what is sin:
    IN BRIEF
    1870 “God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all” (Rom 11:32).
    1871 Sin is an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law (St. Augustine, Faust 22:PL 42, 418). It is an offense against God. It rises up against God in a disobedience contrary to the obedience of Christ.
    1872 Sin is an act contrary to reason. It wounds man’s nature and injures human solidarity.
    1873 The root of all sins lies in man’s heart. The kinds and the gravity of sins are determined principally by their objects.
    1874 To choose deliberately – that is, both knowing it and willing it – something gravely contrary to the divine law and to the ultimate end of man is to commit a mortal sin. This destroys in us the charity without which eternal beatitude is impossible. Unrepented, it brings eternal death.
    1875 Venial sin constitutes a moral disorder that is reparable by charity, which it allows to subsist in us.
    1876 The repetition of sins – even venial ones – engenders vices, among which are the capital sins.

    Of course this is rudimentary, and only scratches the surface. I recommend the words of St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Athanasius, and many others. I leave you with the words of St. Patrick written in his Confessio in the early 5th century … he wrote this late in his life, well after he became Bishop and the Apostle of Ireland, and I include portions which I thought you’ might enjoy …

    “I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a presbyter, of the settlement of Bannaven Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts, nor were we obedient to our presbyters who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought down on us the fury of his being and scattered us among many nations, even to the ends of the earth, where I, in my smallness, am now to be found among foreigners.

    And there the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son.

    Therefore, indeed, I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favours and graces has the Lord deigned to bestow on me in the land of my captivity. For after chastisement from God, and recognizing him, our way to repay him is to exalt him and confess his wonders before every nation under heaven:

    For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe. And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds. And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us in abundance, the gift and pledge of immortality, which makes the believers and the obedient into sons of God and co-heirs of Christ who is revealed, and we worship one God in the Trinity of holy name.

    He himself said through the prophet: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me [Psalm 50:15].” And again: “It is right to reveal and publish abroad the works of God.”

    I am imperfect in many things, nevertheless I want my brethren and kinsfolk to know my nature so that they may be able to perceive my soul’s desire.

    I am not ignorant of what is said of my Lord in the Psalm: “You destroy those who speak a lie [Psalm 5:6].” And again: “A lying mouth deals death to the soul.” And likewise the Lord says in the Gospel: “On the day of judgment men shall render account for every idle word they utter [Matthew 12:36].”

    So it is that I should mightily fear, with terror and trembling, this judgment on the day when no one shall be able to steal away or hide, but each and all shall render account for even our smallest sins before the judgment seat of Christ the Lord.

    And therefore for some time I have thought of writing, but I have hesitated until now, for truly, I feared to expose myself to the criticism of men, because I have not studied like others, who have assimilated both Law and the Holy Scriptures equally and have never changed their idiom since their infancy, but instead were always learning it increasingly, to perfection, while my idiom and language have been translated into a foreign tongue. So it is easy to prove from a sample of my writing, my ability in rhetoric and the extent of my preparation and knowledge, for as it is said, “wisdom shall be recognized in speech, and in understanding, and in knowledge and in the learning of truth.”

    But why make excuses close to the truth, especially when now I am presuming to try to grasp in my old age what I did not gain in my youth because my sins prevented me from making what I had read my own? But who will believe me, even though I should say it again? A young man, almost a beardless boy, I was taken captive before I knew what I should desire and what I should shun. So, consequently, today I feel ashamed and I am mightily afraid to expose my ignorance, because, [I am not] eloquent, with a small vocabulary, I am unable to explain as the spirit is eager to do and as the soul and the mind indicate…

    I am, then, first of all, countrified, an exile, evidently unlearned, one who is not able to see into the future, but I know for certain, that before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in deep mire, and he that is mighty came and in his mercy raised me up and, indeed, lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall. And from there I ought to shout out in gratitude to the Lord for his great favours in this world and for ever, that the mind of man cannot measure.

    Therefore be amazed, you great and small who fear God, and you men of God, eloquent speakers, listen and contemplate. Who was it summoned me, a fool, from the midst of those who appear wise and learned in the law and powerful in rhetoric and in all things? Me, truly wretched in this world, he inspired before others that I could be– if I would– such a one who, with fear and reverence, and faithfully, without complaint, would come to the people to whom the love of Christ brought me and gave me in my lifetime, if I should be worthy, to serve them truly and with humility.

    … But after I reached Hibernia I used to pasture the flock each day and I used to pray many times a day. More and more did the love of God, and my fear of him and faith increase, and my spirit was moved so that in a day [I said] from one up to a hundred prayers, and in the night a like number; besides I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time.

    And it was there of course that one night in my sleep I heard a voice saying to me: “You do well to fast: soon you will depart for your home country.” And again, a very short time later, there was a voice prophesying: “Behold, your ship is ready.” And it was not close by, but, as it happened, two hundred miles away, where I had never been nor knew any person. And shortly thereafter I turned about and fled from the man with whom I had been for six years, and I came, by the power of God who directed my route to advantage (and I was afraid of nothing), until I reached that ship.

    And on the same day that I arrived, the ship was setting out from the place, and I said that I had not the wherewithal to sail with them; and the steersman was displeased and replied in anger, sharply: “By no means attempt to go with us.” Hearing this I left them to go to the hut where I was staying, and on the way I began to pray, and before the prayer was finished I heard one of them shouting loudly after me: “Come quickly because the men are calling you.” And immediately I went back to them and they started to say to me: “Come, because we are admitting you out of good faith; make friendship with us in any way you wish.”

    … And after three days we reached land, and for twenty-eight days journeyed through uninhabited country, and the food ran out and hunger overtook them; and one day the steersman began saying: “Why is it, Christian? You say your God is great and all-powerful; then why can you not pray for us? For we may perish of hunger; it is unlikely indeed that we shall ever see another human being.” In fact, I said to them, confidently: “Be converted by faith with all your heart to my Lord God, because nothing is impossible for him, so that today he will send food for you on your road, until you be sated, because everywhere he abounds.” And with God’s help this came to pass; and behold, a herd of swine appeared on the road before our eyes, and they slew many of them, and remained there for two nights, and they were full of their meat and well restored, for many of them had fainted and would otherwise have been left half dead by the wayside. And after this they gave the utmost thanks to God, and I was esteemed in their eyes, and from that day they had food abundantly. They discovered wild honey, besides, and they offered a share to me, and one of them said: “It is a sacrifice.” Thanks be to God, I tasted none of it.

    The very same night while I was sleeping Satan attacked me violently, as I will remember as long as I shall be in this body; and there fell on top of me as it were, a huge rock, and not one of my members had any force. But from whence did it come to me, ignorant in the spirit, to call upon Elijah? And meanwhile I saw the sun rising in the sky, and while I was crying out “Elijah, Elijah” with all my might, lo, the brilliance of that sun fell upon me and immediately shook me free of all the weight; and I believe that I was aided by Christ my Lord, and that his Spirit then was crying out for me, and I hope that it will be so in the day of my affliction, just as it says in the Gospel: “In that hour”, the Lord declares, “it is not you who speaks but the Spirit of your Father speaking in you [Matthew 10:20].”

    And after a few years I was again in Britain with my parents, and they welcomed me as a son, and asked me, in faith, that after the great tribulations I had endured I should not go any where else away from them. And, of course, there, in a vision of the night, I saw a man whose name was Victoricus coming as if from Hibernia with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter: “The Voice of the Hibernians”, and as I was reading the beginning of the letter I seemed at that moment to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: “We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.” And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke. Thanks be to God, because after so many years the Lord bestowed on them according to their cry.

    … For the sun we see rises each day for us at [his] command, but it will never reign, neither will its splendor last, but all who worship it will come wretchedly to punishment. We, on the other hand, shall not die, who believe in and worship the true sun, Christ, who will never die, no more shall he die who has done Christ’s will, but will abide for ever just as Christ abides for ever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty and with the Holy Spirit before the beginning of time and now and for ever and ever. Amen.

    Behold over and over again I would briefly set out the words of my confession. I testify in truthfulness and gladness of heart before God and his holy angels that I never had any reason, except the Gospel and his promises, ever to have returned to that nation from which I had previously escaped with difficulty.

    But I entreat those who believe in and fear God, whoever deigns to examine or receive this document composed by the obviously unlearned sinner Patrick in Hibernia, that nobody shall ever ascribe to my ignorance any trivial thing that I achieved or may have expounded that was pleasing to God, but accept and truly believe that it would have been the gift of God. And this is my confession before I die.
    —-

    This legend is offered through the Catholic Enclyopedia which includes its historical sources.

    St. Patrick Converts Ethne and Fedelm, Daughters of the King of Connaught

    On the occasion of his first visit to Rathcrogan, the royal seat of the kings of Connaught, situated near Tulsk, in the County of Roscommon, a remarkable incident occurred, recorded in many of the authentic narratives of the saint’s life. Close by the clear fountain of Clebach, not far from the royal abode, Patrick and his venerable companions had pitched their tents and at early dawn were chanting the praises of the Most High, when the two daughters of the Irish monarch — Ethne, the fair, and Fedelm, the ruddy — came thither, as was their wont, to bathe. Astonished at the vision that presented itself to them, the royal maidens cried out:

    “Who are ye, and whence do ye come? Are ye phantoms, or fairies, or friendly mortals?”

    St. Patrick said to them: “It were better you would adore and worship the one true God, whom we announce to you, than that you would satisfy your curiosity by such vain questions.”

    And then Ethne broke forth into the questions:

    “Who is God?”
    “And where is God?”
    “Where is His dwelling?”
    “Has He sons and daughters?”
    “Is He rich in silver and gold?”
    “Is He everlasting? is He beautiful?”
    “Are His daughters dear and lovely to the men of this world?”
    “Is He on the heavens or on earth?”
    “In the sea, in rivers, in mountains, in valleys?”
    “Make Him known to us. How is He to be seen?”
    “How is He to be loved? How is He to be found?”
    “Is it in youth or is it in old age that He may be found?”

    But St. Patrick, filled with the Holy Ghost, made answer:

    “God, whom we announce to you, is the Ruler of all things.”
    “The God of heaven and earth, of the sea and the rivers.”
    “The God of the sun, and the moon, and all the stars.”
    “The God of the high mountains and of the low-lying valleys.”
    “The God who is above heaven, and in heaven, and under heaven.”
    “His dwelling is in heaven and earth, and the sea, and all therein.”
    “He gives breath to all.”
    “He gives life to all.”
    “He is over all.”
    “He upholds all.”
    “He gives light to the sun.”
    “He imparts splendour to the moon.”
    “He has made wells in the dry land, and islands in the ocean.”
    “He has appointed the stars to serve the greater lights.”
    “His Son is co-eternal and co-equal with Himself.”
    “The Son is not younger than the Father.”
    “And the Father is not older than the Son.”
    “And the Holy Ghost proceeds from them.”
    “The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are undivided.”
    “But I desire by Faith to unite you to the Heavenly King, as you are daughters of an earthly king.”

    The maidens, as if with one voice and one heart, said: “Teach us most carefully how we may believe in the Heavenly King; show us how we may behold Him face to face, and we will do whatsoever you shall say to us.”

    And when he had instructed them he said to them: “Do you believe that by baptism you put off the sin inherited from the first parents.”

    They answered: “We believe.”

    “Do you believe in penance after sin?”

    “We believe.”

    “Do you believe in life after death?” Do you believe in resurrection on the Day of Judgement?”

    “We believe.”

    “Do you believe in the unity of the Church?”

    “We believe.”

    Then they were baptized, and were clothed in white garments. And they besought that they might behold the face of Christ. And the saint said to them: “You cannot see the face of Christ unless you taste death, and unless you receive the Sacrifice.” They answered: “Give us the Sacrifice, so that we may be able to behold our Spouse.” And the ancient narrative adds: “when they received the Eucharist of God, they slept in death, and they were placed upon a couch, arrayed in their white baptismal robes.”

    • Hey Jack,

      This sermon? I guess I asked for it….

      “…as we are all sinners who through our fallen nature and free will fall short of the Glory of God’s perfect Love and design.” Ha! Should have guessed that it would be that old nugget again. So we are all sinners “…because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree….” [Here’s the full quote which is derived from a definition of Christianity which never fails to put a smile on my face: “The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree…”]

      “My faith helps me, for I rely upon the wisdom of the many Church fathers who’ve considered such topics down through the centuries.” The “wisdom” of the many church fathers have brought untold misery and suffering to billions of people through the centuries. This, not even an apologist such as yourself can deny. Thank god I have neither need nor use for faith.

      “God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.” That makes no sense whatsoever. What kind of a lunatic self-indulgent berk is this god, anyway? So I’m consigned to disobedience so that some freak all-powerfull deity can feel good about himself when he takes pity on me? As Dawkins righfully surmised “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

      I’m afraid Jack, that neither your god, nor any one else’s version of god makes any impression on me. You’ll have to provide proof of his existence, and even if you do, what with his abysmal record, I’ll have to actively loathe such a creature. And notice that I say He/Him, because as George Carlin once remarked, “no women can fuck up this badly.”

  20. Hi Lenny,

    Thank you for offering a portrait of God that is indeed perfectly accurate in all its disappointing detail and description from the point of view of a mind demanding evidence of that which it can never fully grasp. When you can tell me what’s on the other side of the end of the universe, or what was here before the Universe began, or what human love and compassion are, when they cannot be held in the palm of one’s hand, when you can explain documented and unexplained miracuous healings which defy medical explanation, or why no one ever has reproduced an exact copy of the Shroud of Turin, when you can explain to me why all human beings across every continent and race have an inborn instinct and awareness of the presence of a Divine Creator, including yourself when you were very young, and when you can see with your heart, rather than your eyes, and know the depth of a reality that bears no physical proof, and when you can explain why to those with faith no explanation is necessary, and to those without faith, no explanation is possible, when you can see sin for the reality of its disobedience to God’s will and surrender long enough to grasp the fact that you did not make this Universe, and there is no way you can presume to know why God does the things he does, when you can explain why near-death survivors almost all explain the same phenomenon of life after death, and can explain things which they could not possibly have heard or seen in rooms distant from their own corpse, when you can open your heart to the miracle that life and this universe is, and stand in awe of the God who made it, however quiet He may seem until you know Him … then you will be ready to see things without cynicism and skepticism and bitterness … knowing that cynics know the price of everything and the value of nothing, perhaps you’ll choose not to be a cynic, but to ask God to help you accept that He loves you, that you are not God and cannot know Him perfectly, or understand why the world is the way it is, but are delighted to be in it, and part of the mystery, and WANT to know one day as much as you can, and know, too, the glory of being in His favor by your love for him … when all of this attends your heart, you may see things differently … but I’m no trained apologist, and am but a pilgrim who passed you by and offered a path to consider … look for my friend Dr. Kevin Vost, pHD, and his best-selling book about atheism, for he was one for 20 years … I’m told it may turn on a light you haven’t seen … and listen for Patrick Kaufin on Catholic Radio, Ave Maria Radio, or anything written by Patrick Madrid … these are truly fine men I think you would respect and actually like very much, great intellects, with kind souls, and they could offer some thoughts which I am surely not equipped to so. In the meantime, I supposed it’s true, we can choose to view the world in ways that confirm what we wish to believe is true, and our differing views of the meaning of Coldplay’s lyrics are the perfect example of that. Objectively, I think my interpretation holds up a little better than yours, but it is subjective. Maybe one day, when Obama loses the election and leaves office, the lyrics will resonate as having been remarkably prophetic in their application to his poltical life, and maybe, with a well-spring of hope, I will hear not just Obama, but you, say Viva La Vida! Hurray for Life! Everlasting Life! and maybe by God’s grace, both you and he will want to hear St. Peter call your name … Truly, I pray and hope it will be true. God Bless You, Lenny, Jack

    • Hi Jack,

      We may not have all the answers now, but that doesn’t mean we will never have them… perhaps not in our lifetimes, but science is making great strides every single hour of every single day. To just accept that “god-did-it” in the absence of evidence is a cop-out of the highest order and a slight on the ingenuity of the human race… no, insult to the human species.

      “…why all human beings across every continent and race have an inborn instinct and awareness of the presence of a Divine Creator, including yourself when you were very young, and when you can see with your heart, rather than your eyes, and know the depth of a reality that bears no physical proof, and when you can explain why to those with faith no explanation is necessary,…” That’s one mighty big assumption there, Jack. Scientific studies posit that people “feel” such things because of a hang-over of evolution. It explains why there is no universal god that everyone accross the world recognises. People who have been indoctrinated in a particular type of religious dogma tend to reject the dogma’s of others. All babies are atheist, until they’re corrupted by partisan adults.

      I’ve no doubt the authors etc. you mention have “kind souls,” but that does not confer on them knowledge, nor does it make them authorities in a subject that demands scrutiny, not blind faith.

  21. … and perhaps the saddest discovery I’ve made is that Coldplay’s official lyrics do not change the refrain at the end … our fallen king of the world continues to lament that he WON’T hear St. Peter call his name … many sites suggest the refrain changes in the last stanza, but apparently not the offical lyrics. It is too bad, for the Christian faith teaches that no sin is unforgiveable when truly repented … redemption is but one humble request away and yet some condemn themselves more fiercely and finally even than God does … still some seem determined not to take the hand of friendship offered by God, preferring to be condemned for all time, when they hold the key to their freedom in their pocket … although I can’t comprehend the why or logic of the Christian story of man, sin, and the path to salvation, I believe it will all make sense in the next life, and I’ll look back and say, “ohh, I see now … it was just that simple, huh? All I needed to do was accept the simple Catechism’s lesson … “Why did God make me?” … “To know, love, and serve God in this life so I may be happy with Him forever in the next.” No wonder Jesus asked us to have the simple faith of a child …

    • Ah Jack, Jack, Jack,

      “…redemption is but one humble request away and yet some condemn themselves more fiercely and finally even than God does … still some seem determined not to take the hand of friendship offered by God, preferring to be condemned for all time, when they hold the key to their freedom in their pocket … although I can’t comprehend the why or logic of the Christian story of man, sin, and the path to salvation, I believe it will all make sense in the next life,…”

      As I’ve mentioned before, even if there were to be evidence for the existence of this god, I’m quite prepared to be “condemned for all time” as you say. One must have standards and ethics, Jack…

  22. Quoting from the above link:
    Bassist Guy Berryman explained to Q magazine July 2008 about this song that features lyrics about cavalries, missionaries and kings: “It’s a story about a king who’s lost his kingdom, and all the album’s artwork is based on the idea of revolutionaries and guerrillas. There’s this slightly anti-authoritarian viewpoint that’s crept into some of the lyrics and it’s some of the payoff between being surrounded by governments on one side, but also we’re human beings with emotions and we’re all going to die and the stupidity of what we have to put up with every day. Hence the album title.”

    Q magazine asked Chris Martin about the lyric on this song “I know Saint Peter won’t call my name.” The Coldplay lead singer replied: “It’s about… You’re not on the list. I was a naughty boy. It’s always fascinated me that idea of finishing your life and then being analyzed on it. And it’s that runs through most religions. That’s why people blow up buildings. Because they think they’re going to get lots of virgins. I always feel like saying, Just join a band (cackles head off). That is the most frightening thing you could possibly say to somebody. Eternal damnation. I know about this stuff because I studied it. I was into it all. I know it. It’s still mildly terrifying to me. And this is serious.”

    Drummer Will Champion told Q magazine February 2008 that many of the tracks on the album share a theme of “trying to remember what’s important in your life, rather than being carried away by the trappings of other things.”

    Chris Martin spoke to MTV News about this song: “I think everything we’re trying to do at the moment is about not starting again so much as breaking down what we’ve built up before and trying to build something different and hopefully better, or worse in a good way. And this song is one of our favorites, because none of us are doing anything on it that we’ve ever done before. But we really enjoy playing it. The longer you go on as a band, the harder it is to surprise yourself.”

    Chris Martin told The London Times November 28, 2008, he saw this song about a deposed dictator reduced to “sweep[ing] the streets I used to own” as being “really positive.” He explained that he saw it as “more like a turning-over-a-new-leaf kind of song.” Martin added that its like I’ve messed up, “and I don’t mind being punished, but I can get redemption.”

    … There you go: the song is an allegory of Martin’s self-discovery.

    • Hi K T

      [He explained that he saw it as “more like a turning-over-a-new-leaf kind of song.” Martin added that its like I’ve messed up, “and I don’t mind being punished, but I can get redemption.”]

      Suitably vague to also be left to interpretation, yes? But self-discovery is spot on.

  23. I think that “Revolutionaries wait for my head on a silver plate” refers to modern day atheists waiting for a major flaw or issue in religion, as opposed to Romans.

    Also your lyrics say “pillars of sand, pillars of sand” when I think it is salt for the first one, not sand

  24. I have really enjoyed reading your post on this song. Here is my post on this same song.

    Chris Martin was brought up as an evangelical Christian but he left the faith once he left his childhood home. However, there are been some actions in his life in the last few years that demonstrate that he still is grappling with his childhood Chistian beliefs. This is the third part of a series I am starting on this subject. Today we will look at how the Bible has influenced the lyrics of Viva La Vida.

    On June 23, 2012 my son Wilson and I got to attend a Coldplay Concert in Dallas. It was great. Viva La Vida was one of our favorite songs that did that night.

    Here is an article I wrote a couple of years ago about Chris Martin’s view of hell. He says he does not believe in it but for some reason he writes a song that teaches that it exists:
    Belief of Eternal Punishment in Grammy Winning Song
    By Everette Hatcher

    Chris Martin of the rock group Coldplay wrote the song Viva La Vida, and the song just won both the grammy for the “Song of the Year” and “Best Pop Performance by a duo or Group with Vocals.”

    In this song, Martin is discussing an evil king that has been disposed. “I used to rule the world…Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes…there was never an honest word and that was when I ruled the world, It was the wicked and wild wind, Blew down the doors to let me in, Shattered windows and the sound of drums, People couldn’t believe what I’d become…For some reason I can’t explain, I know Saint Peter won’t call my name, Never an honest word, But that was when I ruled the world.”

    Q Magazine asked Chris Martin about the lyric in this song “I know Saint Peter won’t call my name.” Martin replied, “It’s about…You’re not on the list. I was a naughty boy. Its always fascinated me that idea of finishing your life and then being analyzed on it…That is the most frightening thing you could possibly say to somebody. Eternal damnation. I know about this stuff because I studied it. I was into it all. I know it. It’s mildly terrifying to me. And this is serious.”

    I have been following the career of Chris Martin for the last decade. He grew up in a Christian home that believed in Heaven and Hell, but made it clear several years ago that he actually resents those who hold to those same religious dogmatic views he did as a youth. Yet it seems his view on the possibility of an afterlife has changed again.

    Chris Martin is a big Woody Allen movie fan like I am and no other movie better demonstrates the need for an afterlife than Allen’s 1989 film Crimes and Misdemeanors. It is about a eye doctor who hires a killer to murder his mistress because she continually threatens to blow the whistle on his past questionable, probably illegal, business activities. Afterward he is haunted by guilt. His Jewish father had taught him that God sees all and will surely punish the evildoer.
    But the doctor’s crime is never discovered. Later in the film, Judah reflects on the conversation his father had with Judah’s unbelieving Aunt May during a Jewish Sedar dinner many years ago:

    “Come on Sol, open your eyes. Six million Jews burned to death by the Nazi’s, and they got away with it because might makes right,” says Aunt May.

    Sol replies, “May, how did they get away with it?”

    Judah asks, “If a man kills, then what?”

    Sol responds to his son, “Then in one way or another he will be punished.”

    Aunt May comments, “I say if he can do it and get away with it and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he is home free.”

    Judah’s final conclusion was that might did make right. He observed that one day, because of this conclusion, he woke up and the cloud of guilt was gone. He was, as his aunt said, “home free.”

    The basic question Woody Allen is presenting to his own agnostic humanistic worldview is: If you really believe there is no God there to punish you in an afterlife, then why not murder if you can get away with it? The secular humanist worldview that modern man has adopted does not work in the real world that God has created. God “has planted eternity in the human heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This is a direct result of our God-given conscience. The apostle Paul said it best in Romans 1:19, “For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God has shown it to them” (Amplified Version).

    It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” The Humanist, May/June 1997, pp.38-39). Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-givne conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism. Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (The Humanist, September/October 1997, p. 2.). Humanists don’t really have an intellectual basis for saying that Hitler was wrong, but their God-given conscience tells them that they are wrong on this issue.

    Evidently Chris Martin who said he resented dogmatic religious views a few years ago, has now written a grammy winning song that pictures an evil king being punished in an afterlife. Could it be that his God-given conscience prompted him to put that line in? Or do men like Hitler get off home free as Woody Allen suggested in Crimes and Misdemeanors?

    • Hi Everette,

      “If you really believe there is no God there to punish you in an afterlife, then why not murder if you can get away with it?”

      That’s pretty strange reasoning. Let me demonstrate in another way:

      Would you kill someone if a god asked you to? Either you would say yes, because you have absolute faith and trust in this god, which would ultimately make you a sociopath. Or you would prefer not to, which would imply that your sense of morality is independent of god and religion. Which is is then?

  25. Pingback: Chris Martin of Coldplay unknowingly lives out his childhood Christian beliefs (Part 3 of notes from June 23, 2012 Dallas Coldplay Concert, Martin left Christianity because of teaching on hell then he writes bestselling song that teaches hell exists) | Th

  26. Hi Lenny,

    This is about the Roman Catholic Church (personified), only she use Saint Peter -even St Peter won’t his name. Evident in Roman Calvary, Revolutions are everything that is against the Catholic Church who used to rule the world, with missionaries all over, but now “sweeping the streets” as in status dropped. Does the time line of this song correspond to the scandal of the Roman Catholic church? what do you think?

    I was cautious about singing the song if it were to be against Christ, But now since it isn’t and it actually is about the Catholic Church System – not a problem.

    • Hi DOOWAP,

      The RCC has been in scandal since its inception. What’s the difference between Roman Catholicism and Christianity, because you seem to imply there is?

      • didn’t know you replied. I thought I lost my email. As a student of religion (all including Buddhism and other isms, RCC is definitely different from Christianity,Remember Martin Luther and the Reformation?
        RCC Is religion, while Christianity,,,,check out Calvary Chapel.com and you
        may have a better idea.

  27. Pingback: “Without God in the picture is there any relief for those who have been oppressed?” | The Daily Hatch

  28. Pingback: Debating with Ark Times Bloggers on “The Meaning of Life” Part 4 “Without God in the picture is there any relief for those who have been oppressed?” | The Daily Hatch

  29. I truly love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you make this
    site yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my own personal blog and
    would love to find out where you got this from or what the
    theme is named. Many thanks!

  30. I think the song is great. It’s powerful, strong, and it’s inspirational. And, of course, catchy. I’m not religious, so I have no idea what you’re talking about. I mean, I know who Jesus is, but that’s the extent of my religious knowledge. In my words, Viva la Vida is about a king who pretty much lost his kingdom. He was once great and powerful, and now he is neglected and looked down upon. He was once a good person, now he is the lowest of the low, the worst of the worst. He was once feared, now he is shunned. The rest of it, as you said, is complete and utterly religious.

  31. “My mirrors, my sword…” It’s interesting to note that mirrors was used to somehow “conquer” the natives in the “new world” as was the sword, so to speak. (I agree with most of your interpretation)

  32. It makes a lot more sense? This one is even stupider than your last one! You should read the Genius website’s interpretation because you’ll never be one. (by that I mean genius if you didn’t get that) The song never says “I know Saint Peter will call my name”. It says “won’t” every time. And when Jesus overturned the tables that was a RIGHTEOUS anger, not some rage. So “People couldn’t believe what I’d become” would make no sense, because He didn’t become anything. And Christianity will never fall, people like you will fall because they’re too stupid to accept the truth. And don’t reply, I don’t want ANOTHER meaningless debate if you’re not willing to listen.

  33. I wrote the song for Chris Martin, write after reading the Holy Bible my favorite novel, my second favorite being the great gatsby… It was my interpretation of the Holy Bible, live life because a gloomy gus isn’t the way to enter into a new adventure. Being a famous role model, which I am, I intentionally have the ability to change the world for the better. The song sung by someone else gives me goosebumps still today. Thank you Chris Martin.

  34. I believe you are right, but the song may have many meanings. I have always believed that it was sung in the perspective of the Jewish defenders of the city of Jerusalem. They are hearing the bells of the city, as well as the Roman army, their oppressors. The pillars of salt and sand refer to the eventual loss in the war, and the destruction of Jerusalem. Missionaries in a foreign field refers to the jewish soldiers that attacked Masada, and slaughtered the Romans there.

  35. A very good take on the lyrics. I’ve always considered the song to be a metaphor for fame, but I’ve never heard another second such an opinion. If you truly peruse the lyrics, it does appear to be a metaphor for fame.

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