Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0133, July 31, 2017


Half & Half


Copyright 2017 by S.W. Paul Wyszkowski

     The word "angel" comes from Greek "angelos" which, in Greek, means "messenger, bearer of news". In English the meaning of "angel" is fraught with baggage accrued from ancient traditions, mythology, theological theory, pop religion and careless use. Generally, angels are believed to be sentient creatures similar to us in powers of reasoning but incorporeal and created separately from us as purely celestial beings (hence the symbolic wings). There are also visions of angels as mighty powers, beyond human understanding in their awesomeness and glory. But a popular myth holds that upon death we ourselves become angels - homo sapiens as sort of angel larva, death marking the metamorphosis from human to angelic existence.

     As a chronic rationalist, I have developed (with assistance from Prickles, our resident angelologist and a proud hedgehog not addicted to rationalism) my own hypothesis about angels, one that squares (in my mind, at least) with current cosmological, anthropological and psychological theories.

     As usual, I insist on starting with definitions. In the angelological literature there are references to many kinds of angels (cherubim, serafim, dominions, thrones, arch, guardian, guiding, fallen, etc.) but none of them fit my definition of an angel. As I see it, angels are something like a Platonic ideal of fully evolved, mature humanity. Were perfection possible (which it is not) the evolutionary destiny of the human race would be full-fledged angelhood. Starting with humanity's (actually, the universe's) potential for evolving high level of consciousness and capacity for joy, I define angelhood as the fullest possible realization of that potential. This includes deepest possible (though still imperfect) understanding of what, most likely, is the optimum action under given circumstances - the angelic wisdom.

     Returning to reality, or, rather, our perception of it (which is all we can know of it) we can confidently state that, in general. we are nowhere near anything like full angelhood and never will be. We can't even begin to imagine what that would be like. Nevertheless, we are animals with undeniably angelic tendencies. I am generously assuming, for purposes of argument, that our nature is about half animal and half angelic. This is our blessing and our curse.

     How do we deal with our dual and, therefore, often conflicted nature? There are three main paths. There are those of us who are rooted in their animality and resent and reject interference from the annoying angelic impulses. There are those who are exhilarated by the prospect of angelhood and despise their animality as a drag and an obstacle. There is also a minority who try to come to terms with both aspects of their nature and arrive at some practical balance that does not deny or despise either and appreciates both. Typically we combine all three approaches with one dominating, shifting our views several times over a lifetime. As for failure to develop one's angelic nature as fully as possible, it is, simply and justly, its own punishment though not always recognized as such.

     "As a bona fide animal," says Prickles, "I'm glad I don't have those problems." Don't be so sure, Prickles. If you ask me, you too have been infected with angelicality. "If I have," she says, "it's of the hedgehog variety. You humans would not understand." And she trots off.

Comments to
(The Ed will post and may respond to selected comments, if any)