I was listening to one of my favorite albums last week and heard echoes of Ecclesiastes. Death Cab for Cutie seemed to be reading Solomon’s notes when they wrote much of their album, Plans. One of my favorite songs on that album is a dark love song about holding on to each other till the bitter end:
Love of mine
Someday you will die
But I’ll be close behind
I’ll follow you into the dark
No blinding light,
Or tunnels to gates of white,
Just our hands clasped so tight
Waiting for the hint of a spark
If heaven and hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the “No”s on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark
~ From I Will Follow You Into The Dark, by Death Cab for Cutie
A recent article in Christianity Today calls this a doomed romanticism:
The message of the song (and the album) is that life is short and difficult with no ultimate meaning, but if we can just huddle together, we may find some cure for our loneliness and despair. There is no heaven or hell, just the body heat of another mortal to keep us warm.
I hear Ecclesiastes in many of the songs from Death Cab’s album, Plans, where the above song is found. I like the way it confronts me with the harsh possibility that this life is all we have. I need to have that possibility shoved in my face every now and again, just to provide some strengthening tension for the sinews of my faith.
Read Ecclesiastes 4 and consider the similarities to I Will Follow You Into The Dark:
The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.
Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Yes, the two passages are headed in completely different directions. However, it makes me wonder if Death Cab’s “doomed romanticism” would benefit from following Solomon on his dark journey, to see if there are other possibilities beyond nihilism.