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st. peter’s cathedral

November 15, 2011

I was transfixed the first time I heard “St. Peter’s Cathedral” by Death Cab for Cutie. I wasn’t sure why, and even as I write this, I’m at a loss to what was initially captivating. I suppose that’s the way with music. It sometimes just meets you. No perceivable reason, it simply takes you to another welcomed dimension.

I listened a few more times. I continued to be mesmerized but with each listen, a palpable discomfort emerged. The sacred was being redefined. I was being told about faith and God. And what was this message? What was I being told?

St. Peter’s Cathedral built of granite but ever fearful of the answer
When the candle in the tunnel is flickering in sputters and fading faster
It’s only then that you will know what lies above or down below
Or if these fictions only prove how much you’ve really got to lose
At St. Peter’s Cathedral there is stained glass, there’s a steeple that is reaching Up towards the heavens such ambition never failing to amaze me
It’s either quite a master plan or just chemicals that help us understand
That when our hearts stop ticking this is the end

I have listened to this song dozens of times, resulting in a myriad of thoughts and emotions. I have been angry. Sometimes sad. Other times, confused. I want more information. Why are these conclusions drawn? From where are they are drawn? It seems I am listening to, what my friend calls, nihilism with a smile.

God is creator of all things. His fingerprint is everywhere. I’ve been taught that when thinking critically about anything – a person’s belief system, a piece of art, etc – it is important to identify what is beautiful. That which is good. It is a form of love.

Though containing a message I disagree with, “St. Peter’s Cathedral is a beautiful worship song. It even sounds like a worship song. Gibbard needs to extol something and he does. With passion and beauty, he gives glory to his convictions and it can be a wonderful but troubling experience for us listeners. There is no clearer example of this than the ending chorus when Gibbard repeats 15 times “There is nothing past this” as if to convince us, or possibly himself, it’s true.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. unfinished1 permalink
    November 15, 2011 5:28 pm

    Great post, Michael – Thanks for this… mike k

    • November 18, 2011 9:04 am

      Thanks Mike! Have you heard the song? What do you think?

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