On January 10, 2016, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of the album Blackstar, music legend David Bowie died from liver cancer. Tony Visconti, David Bowie’s long-term producer and friend said, “His death was no different from his life–a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift.”
Since his death, fans and media have tried to piece together the cryptic messages in the album. One connection is that “Black Star” was the name of a little-known Elvis song about death. “When a man sees his black star,” Presley sings, “he knows his time has come.” Bowie was a known Presley fan, also shared the same birthday as him.
There are some indications that before he died David Bowie had a spiritual breakthrough. While fighting the cancer Bowie said to someone, “On the battlefield, there are no atheists.” Bowie’s wife Iman tweeted a few days before his passing: “The struggle is real, but so is God.”
David Bowie showed us how music can stir the soul, even in the face of death. However, he didn’t help us much with what happens when you die. In the song Blackstar, he refers to a place called the “Villa of Ormen”. “Ormen” means “serpent” in Norwegian, and is a creature mentioned in the writings of the occultist Aleister Crowley (who Bowie admired earlier in life). No one is really sure why Bowie mentions this place, but it seems to be figurative of where he saw himself going after he died.
Putting death in your own terms isn’t illegal, but is uncertain. If there is life after death, where do you go? Who will be there? These are questions that need to be looked at. The Bible doesn’t talk about Blackstars or “Ormen,” but it does say that God knows the moment of our death, and that there will be a seamless transition after death.
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)
Heaven is a place prepared for people who know Jesus as Lord. Heaven is not the default destination of every person. Fortunately, this hasn’t been put in cryptic or veiled terms. It’s as simple as, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” I hope David Bowie knew this.