Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hurts Like Heaven

New Coldplay albums are events in my life.
I await their release with the anticipation of a Cup Final. 
I relish those first plays, over and over again, absorbing myself in the world that Coldplay has created.  
Every time I wonder, will this album connect with me, move me, stir me, like the last?

The question of whether Coldplay are depressing or uplifting seems to divide popular opinion. At first glance, the first single off Mylo Xyloto couldn't have a more depressing title. And yet 'Every Teardrop is a Waterfall' is a fun, upbeat, up-tempo track, with lyrics which journey through different kinds of joy. We begin with a joy where you 'turn the music up', 'shut the world outside' and 'feel your heart start beating to your favourite song.' It's an escapist kind of joy, dancing away 'until Monday morning feels another life'.
But then Monday morning kicks in: 
'Maybe I'm in the black,
Maybe I'm on my knees,
Maybe I'm in the gap between the two trapezes,
But my heart is beating and my pulses start
Cathedrals in my heart.'
Now Coldplay are describing a joy that is no longer escapist, but is rooted within, or comes out of, or is in spite of the realities of life.
'Every siren is a symphony'.
Are Coldplay really suggesting that joy and suffering are interlinked? 
'From underneath the rubble sing a rebel song'. 
Can joy come out of suffering?

Ideas of joy and suffering are fused together in the title of Mylo Xyloto's opening song, 'Hurts Like Heaven'.
The phrase jolts us, doesn't it? Stops us in our tracks. 
I mean, hurts like heaven?!? What does it mean?
Is it simply ridiculous, contradictory - an impossibility?
Or is it profound, deep - maybe even true? 
Is it simply harmless, meaningless - just a nice piece of alliteration?
Or is it false, heretical - maybe even blasphemous?

Does heaven hurt?
Is it possible to hurt like heaven? 

In the early stages of the Biblical narrative a scene is described where the earth was so filled with suffering, injustice and wickedness, God 'was grieved' and 'his heart was filled with pain' (Gen 6:6). Then as the story continues, particularly throughout the prophets, a picture is painted of a God whose heart breaks at the continuing bloodshed, corruption and oppression rife throughout human society.
God had a desire - God has a desire - for so so so so so much more than this.  

When we see scenes of great suffering and injustice in the world today, when the images connect with us, stir us, move us, we are sharing in the heartbreak of the Creator. To put it another way, when we open our eyes to see the world as God sees it, it hurts.
Or in the words of Coldplay, 'When you use your heart as a weapon it hurts like heaven.' 

Because, like the girl in Mylo Xyloto's second single, God is dreaming of 'para-para-paradise.' 
A paradise where there are no more tears...
no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev. 21:4).
A paradise where joy has triumphed over suffering.
But until that day comes...
Every teardrop will continue to fall like a waterfall.

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