I realize that most Late Empire Americans don’t literally believe in angels – celestial beings that predate the Earth’s creation, minions of the Creator, avian humanoids who play harps and warble hosannas.
Of course, some Christians literally believe the story of Gabriel’s Annunciation, literally believe insemination had come via the Holy Spirit, a Dove delivering via ear the Holy DNA, and I sincerely envy them.
I love the concept of Angels, thrill to see them aloft in Renaissance paintings, violating anachronistic Newtonian laws. When I was with Judy Birdsong at her bedside in her very last moments, I chanted, “May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” over and over until it was over.
Nevertheless, questions arise: how are angels spawned, or begot, or ushered into being? Fully formed with pubic hair? Perfect fingernails never in need of clipping?
Or do angels grow like children, appearing post-fetal in an opening lotus bloom via asexual birth?
Do they, without lacking mothers and fathers, learn to fly via instinct?
You’d think angels would be the happiest of happy beings, winged Bodhisattvas, egoless, ennui an impossibility.
Not in Paradise Lost. Angels have not only personalities but hierarchal social status.
Nor do they seem all that happy in 15th Century painter Jean Fouquet’s Madonna and Child.
I’m not arrogant to declare there”s not an afterlife. In fact, I’m a fan of the concept. However, if there is an existence beyond this Vale of Tears, I bet it’s not all that anthropomorphic.
In other words, unimaginable, to which I can only say, “Praise God.”
2 thoughts on “On Angels and the Afterlife”
Who, other than ancient scribes, hopeless romantic poets, and feckless fantasizers, believes angels must be anthropomorphic? And why should they be?
An existence beyond this Vale of Tears unimaginable? Without a doubt. Only a fool would think he could even begin to understand the Mind of God and what he has ordained.
Agreed, Sherman. I was just talking about this today with my students.