Thursday 19 July 2007

Speaking of angels

“We don’t get to the end of being baffled and amazed [by the universe]. I sometimes think that this is the importance of talking about angels in Christian teaching. Odd as it may sound, thinking about these mysterious agents of God’s purpose, who belong to a different order of being, can be at least a powerful symbol for all those dimensions of the universe about which we have no real idea…. We’re so used to trivializing angels – they are often reduced to Christmas decorations, fairy godmothers almost…. But in the Bible angels are often rather terrifying beings occasionally sweeping across the field of our vision…. Now whether or not you feel inclined to believe literally in angels – and a lot of modern Christians have a few problems with them – it’s worth thinking of them as at the very least a sort of shorthand description of everything that’s ‘round the corner’ of our perception and understanding in the universe – including the universal song of praise that surrounds us always.”

—Rowan Williams, Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Louisville: WJKP, 2007), pp. 51-52.


Stewart said...

A couple of years ago we chose 'rumours of angels' as the theme for Crossover, a youth festival in Scotland. In the lead up we had more discussion than we have ever had about the theme. People were fascinated by angels, what they are like, what they are for and where they came from. I get the feeling that people are much more likely to believe in angels in these days of postmodernity. Perhaps we should follow Rowan's lead and talk about them a little more?

Bruce Yabsley said...

RW is even capable of making a sensible statement about angels! I am most impressed: there seems to be no end to the wonder of this guy.

(However, based on stewart's description, I am sure I would have thorougly disliked this festival where angels were all the talk, had I been present. But I have not qualified as "youth" for some time now, so it's not clear why anyone else should care.)

scott said...

A very Barth-like comment. Thanks for sharing, Ben. I highly recommend to anyone intereste din the topic Barth's treatment of angelology in CD III/3.


Anonymous said...

A welcome counterblast to the angel-faddism of some forms of populist spirituality which is focussed on an entirely emotionalised self (cf. self-esteem). In this particular culture angels function merely as as celestial nannies, flatterers, and wish-granters - a far cry from Isaiah 6!

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