Angels are very popular in our culture, as attested by a wealth of books about them (just see Sylvia Browne’s work), by movies (most recently Hancock), television series, and by myriad representations of angels in serious art and in the minutiae of our lives: figurines, jewelry, decals, name tags, key chains, clip art, and so on. Angel information abounds on the internet. When I needed to know the names of Satan’s angels (for my current novel), I found those names and others in one swift surfing, so many names, actually, that I had to narrow the list with closer research—I didn’t want any outright fabrication, only information that is part of our common mythology.
As a child, I believed angels were all around us, and suspected some of them were very weak, like Clarence in A Wonderful Life, or maybe very small. I may have confused them with fairies for a while, which isn’t a bad conflation. After I learned that Blake had seen (surely it wasn’t just a vision) a tree filled with angels, the smaller sized angels seemly more and more likely—it would be difficult to have a tree filled with large persons. If they could be small, weak, flawed, even fragile, I could understand why they might not always be successful. They might be worn down by too great a task, or too long a recalcitrant charge. I stayed hopeful about their presence and their nature.
As an adult, I’ve wondered why angels aren’t central to conversations among my friends, and aren’t central in the church sermons, lessons, and testimonials I’ve heard. I’ve asked friends about it, and have learned that though they might believe in angels (not all of them so believe) they find that belief very personal, not quite safe in some circles. Belief in angels places one outside an intellectual circle, into the fringe element. Belief in angels is akin to belief in faith healing, speaking in tongues, séances, Tarot cards, palm reading, magic, witchcraft. So it may be that to keep angels somewhat pure, unsullied by association with other beliefs, maybe closer to God, some people don’t talk about them. They protect them. They guard the angels. I recently asked my mother if she still believed in angels. She said yes, certainly. I asked if she had seen any. She said yes, but she hadn’t known it at the time.