No one’s ever accused me of being one. They are associated with good and light, but also with destruction and retribution. One supposedly sits on your shoulder and serves as your conscience. Today we are talking about angels.
Photo by Marek Studzinski
Only 4 angels are named in the standard Christian Bible.
The two main angels mentioned are Gabriel and Michael. However, Lucifer is also an angel, although a fallen one. Another fallen angel mentioned, who shows up in the Book of Revelation, is Abaddon. Other versions of the Bible mention far more angels. The Jewish apocrypha, for example, mention up to 12 archangels.
Lucifer existed in pre-Christian mythology.
That’s right, Lucifer is older than Christianity. The ancient Romans used it as a name for Venus, and the name means “light bringer.” Lucifer in the Roman tradition was said to herald the dawn and bring order to the heavens. It was only Christians who made him evil.
Americans still believe in angels.
According to a 2011 poll, 77% of Americans still believe in angels. Of those, 88% are Christians and 94% of those Christians are Evangelical. The poll states that women are more likely to believe in angels than men, and so are people over the age of 30.
An associate of the author swears she saw an angel.
A church associate that I once knew was one of those women over 30. She was the mother of my friend Jeffrey, who had a lot of health problems. Once he caught a terrible sickness which raised his temperature to 106 and put him in bed for two weeks. His mother was exhausted by taking care of him and worrying about his health, so, being the good Christian she was, she stopped to pray for his healing. She says she went into his room and saw a strange child standing beside Jeffrey’s bed. The next day his fever finally broke. She believes the child was Jeffrey’s guardian angel, though whether she actually saw him or just suffered an exhaustion-induced hallucination is hard to determine.
Los Angeles is called the “city of angels.”
The actual name of the city is up for debate. One source claims that the name of the city is Nuestra Senora La Reina de los Angeles. Others believe the city’s name is El Pueblo de la Reyna de los Angeles. There are eight other possibilities as well.
Angels are said to have many powers.
Christian tradition describes angels as having super-human knowledge, wisdom, and strength. Fantasy fandom is more specific about angel powers. Angels are said to possess abilities of transformation, ESP, energy manipulation, invulnerability, flight, telekinesis, and teleportation, among other things.
The Hell’s Angels is a famous motorcycle gang.
Founded in 1948, this club became notorious especially in the 1960s for their violent antics. They began in California but now have branches all over the world and have even incorporated in the United States and Canada. They actually have their own website now! They consider themselves an organized motorcycle club, but police agencies refer to them as an organized crime syndicate.
A lot of songs have the word “angel” in their titles.
I’ve found lists of well over 100 songs with this word in the title somewhere. Among some of the famous songs are “Teen Angel,” “Angel of Harlem,” “Angel” (by Sarah McLachlan), “Blue Angel,” “Send Me an Angel,” and “How Do You Talk to an Angel.” This only scratches the surface of the list.
Angels aren’t always good.
They can be downright violent, actually. In Christian and Jewish mythology, the Angel of the Lord usually only shows up when things are about to get real nasty. Angels often appear in the Bible to hurt someone or destroy entire cities. In one story, a man was rendered mute for not believing the words of the angel Gabriel. Some stories say the antics of angels led to the flood of Noah’s time. An angel with a nasty sword also is said guard the Garden of Eden from trespassers.
Angels also appear outside of Christianity.
Of course there are angels mentioned in Jewish and Islamic traditions, but creatures resembling angels are found in other religions as well. You can find these celestial beings in the tales of ancient Middle Eastern religions, Hinduism, and Buddhism. They also appear in Old Norse mythology.
When I was a child, I would imagine an angel on the ceiling with outstretched arms facing the front of the main chapel in my church. One day this angel disappeared and immediately afterward the church began spouting political doctrine instead of spirituality. That was the day I realized that Christianity could not give me what I wanted, so I left. I’m not sure what that angel symbolized, but clearly it had disappeared from that church.
CBS News- www.cbsnews.com
Los Angeles Almanac- www.laalmanac.com
Cold Case Christianity- www.coldcasechristianity.com
The Hell’s Angels- www.hells-angels.com
The Daily Beast- www.dailybeast.com