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Random Thoughts About Angels

I don’t believe in angels. To be honest, I don’t believe in much that is taught by the fundamentalist Christians, and that includes angels. I don’t believe in Heaven and Hell, I don’t believe in Satan or some weird war going on between spiritual beings, and I don’t believe in the God of Abraham.


I don't believe in angels, but today we are talking about them.
Angel Statue

It may surprise you to know that at one point in my life I attended a Southern Baptist church. I’m not exactly sure why I started going in the first place, but I think maybe it was to learn the truth about extreme religious organizations.

 

I think I decided I was done with the church not long after I started going. It all happened when I was participating in Awana and they made me go outside in the hot afternoon for physical education. I never liked P.E. to begin with, and there was no way I was going to do it in this heat at a voluntary program. When I tried to go back into the air conditioned church, a chaperone named Dusty stepped on my toes and ground them into the asphalt, telling me to go play. I did not. Instead, I waited until he wasn’t looking and slipped away.

 

I told Mom and Dad what Dusty, a grown man, had done to the foot of a ten-year-old kid. Mom acted as numbly as she usually did. Dad simply said, “Oh, did he do that?” and didn’t seem to care, but I had enough at that point. It wasn’t long after this that I stopped going to Awana, refused to go to Sunday school, and even stopped participating in the choir. I stopped going to church altogether after that.

 

I mention this church because it was where something strange happened to one of the congregation, and it directly involves a belief in angels. According to several members of the church, they believed that everyone had a personal angel of their own, a “guardian angel” as it were. We were taught this in Sunday school and children’s church, and you could see that the people saying it truly believed.

 

One of my friends at the church was a seven-year-old kid I will call Jackson, because that is not his real name. He was not the strongest kid around. Jackson was always a scrawny kid who was catching every bug that came down the pipe, and he always had it badly. I’d heard he had several congenital conditions, including a illness that was slowly making him blind.

 

One day Jackson got a flu that was going around. I’d had the same flu and was pretty sick, but not nearly as sick as Jackson. He became delirious with a fever that skyrocketed to 106 degrees and sent him to the emergency room. The doctors were able to lower his fever and sent him home, but he remained terribly sick and bedridden.

 

Poor Jackson’s mother was exhausted by the end. She stayed up all day and night with her son, spending a good deal of time praying at his bedside. One night she fell asleep from complete exhaustion, and when she awoke, there was a strange child standing beside Jackson’s bed. She said the child glowed with a strange whitish-yellow light.

 

As Jackson’s mother watched in awe, the child turned to smile at her and then disappeared into thin air. It was shortly after this that Jackson woke up and started to get better. By the next day, he was up and around, and a day after that he was playing again.

 

She swore up and down that the child was Jackson’s guardian angel, but I have my doubts. For one thing, she was very exhausted and admitted that she had fallen asleep. It was entirely possible that she dreamed the whole thing and that Jackson got better coincidentally.

 

My thoughts were already pretty cynical at that age, and this is what I believed had happened. I also had to question why, if Jackson’s guardian angel truly existed, it had let him get so sick in the first place. Why didn’t the angel heal his progressive blindness? But, of course, nobody wanted to answer these questions. I was told just to have faith, as if this was the only possible answer. It was not enough for me.

 

I remember once, after he got involved with the church, Dad gave me this long-winded talk about prayer. He decided his example was me praying for a candy bar, which is something I’d never do. In that boring lecture, he went over all the things that I could do to pray to Jesus for a candy bar. I narrowed my eyes and waited for him to finish.

 

“But why would I need to pray for a candy bar when I can buy one myself?” I asked.

 

“Maybe you don’t have money,” he said.

 

“I always have money,” I replied. “You guys give me an allowance every week, and I save it for stuff like candy bars and toys.”

 

Dad sort of stumbled after that. It was the same way he stumbled when I asked him if Jackson’s guardian angel had been a dream of his mother. And the same way he stumbled during a conversation about what Heaven was like.

 

I remember Dad describing that in Heaven I could have everything I wanted. I asked if I could have a giant room colored in purple and black.

 

“Well, those colors are kind of dark for Heaven,” he said.

 

“But that’s what I want,” I said. “If I can’t have what I want, it’s not really Heaven, is it?”

 

This was the abrupt end of our conversation. He sort of stammered out an answer and then made himself scarce. I think these were the beginnings of his own doubts about the church, but they didn’t really manifest for another few years.

 

I can recall the progress of his Christianity. It started when I asked to go to the church, where I guess the pastor really spoke to Dad, because he jumped in head first. Suddenly all he talked about was religion. He held Bible study at home and got me this thing called a “survival kit” to study the Bible. He wore a “colors of faith” bracelet, wore Christian themed t-shirts, and listened to music that was aimed at teenagers. We tuned in every Friday night for “Fire By Nite,” a Christian show also aimed at teenagers.

 

In the summer of 1992, things changed for Dad when the Christian Coalition came to visit the church.  They passed out pamphlets with the list of “approved” candidates, all Republican, of course. Several veiled threats were hurled at the congregation, then plans were made to bus everyone to the polls to vote for these “candidates of God.” That was enough for Dad to leave.

 

But his Christian faith continued. He joined a Pentecostal church, where he only got worse. He grew more abusive to the family, trying to maintain that patriarchal dominance that he was too stupid to accomplish without being a monster. He also kept a devotional journal of his “journey of faith.”

 

I found that journal once many years later, after he had died, and of course I had to crack it open and read it. What I found was horrifying. On one page, he prayed for Mom because she went to play Dungeons and Dragons with some of her work friends, and I remember that they got into a huge fight about it beforehand. In another several pages, he was plotting Mom’s “salvation.” Then, of course, there was him getting upset because we wanted to move back to the “demonic” West. I put that book down and was very happy that I never went to that church.

 

Then there was the time that country gospel group came to the church. Bob and Jeannie, they were called. Their music became the one genre of music that I continue to hate to this day. I can recall the song where Jeannie said that she “started living when I started giving to God.” So… You weren’t alive until you started giving your money to the church. Uh-huh.

 

After we moved west again, Dad just went around insisting that Jesus was his savior. He no longer wore the shirts or bracelets, and he stopped listening to the music. Doubt started to creep into the man’s heart when he got involved in network marketing and he talked about having an alliance with his Christian businessmen one night.

 

“I’m not Christian,” I called, as I walked by. “That’s just his thing.”

 

In 1996, after seven years of Christianity, Dad finally gave up the ghost. The Holy Ghost, that is. He transformed from a Christian to a Wiccan and started hating on Christians. This was no more attractive to me than the Christian thing, especially because he converted just for the sake of hating Christians.

 

Why am I talking about him again? Well, I do it because I wanted to go through the typical journey of a Born Again Christian. I’ve seen so many of them go through these stages: radical Christian, Christian out of touch with reality, desperately clinging Christian, and then another religion that hates Christians. None of it is balanced.

 

I honestly don’t think Dad ever settled on what his faith should’ve been. He died a Buddhist, but I think if he had lived, he would’ve switched to hardline atheism (which I also don’t like).

 

What is my own faith? To be honest, I don’t have one. Most of them are based on blind faith, which is something I can’t subscribe to. If I can’t see something for myself, it’s hard for me to believe in it. I certainly am not going to believe in it just because. The reason I can’t be a straight atheist, though, is because I have seen some things that contradict their beliefs, too. I guess the closest I come is agnostic, if we really need to put a label on it.

 

I don’t believe that time is linear, for one thing. There are too many strange things that have happened to me to say otherwise. Take a look around and tell me that time is strictly linear when things that you always remember aren’t there anymore. Is it really a burp of the brain?

 

Yes, I’ve seen some strange things that I have yet to explain, but angels are not among them. I’d have to believe in Heaven and Hell before I believe in angels and demons, and, as I said elsewhere in this article,  I don’t. Heaven and Hell are two things that make no sense, given the limited knowledge we have of the workings of the universe. It’s kind of like those atheists who think that we simply cease to exist at death. This doesn’t follow the laws of physics and energy, either, but I don’t believe we go on as the people we are today. Energy goes on. It’s complicated, way too complicated to explain here.

 

What can I say about Christianity, atheism, and all the other belief systems? Well, I think you should look at them carefully. If they are based on fear, they are probably not the best system. Neither is a system based on arrogance and/or hatred. If you are seeing these in the belief system you are following, it’s probably time to find another one.

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