I woke up seeing stars up in the sky,
a blanket brightly twinkling above.
But I could only guess just where I lie,
and knew no better from what place I fell.
And for a moment I was lost in stars,
and felt the vastness I'd been cast against.
What was it that I had rebelled against?
What got me tossed from beyond vaulted skies?
Was it that I tried counting all the stars?
Or that I turned my focus from above?
Can I return some day from whence I fell?
Or is it best to stay right where I lie?
You may think I tell myself perfect lies,
that I'm angry with those I've sinned against.
But I'm not sure my exile was a fall,
and I'm not sure I lived beyond the sky.
What of the freedom not seen far above?
What of the beauty seen amid the stars?
For now, I reside in the field of stars.
Where passersby told stories full of lies,
and I have no love for the far above.
It's just a place that I once raged against.
They preach earth and water and endless skies,
but not a thing is here that never fell.
It's all matter that spiraled as it fell
that formed this platform amid blazing stars.
A vacuum beyond mountain, sea, and sky.
But I remember that's the greatest lie -
the one that I had always railed against.
That meaning lie in words like "far above."
That word is laden with judgment: "above."
And where's the gravity by which I fell?
Can puny bodies be so pulled against
where exist so many colossal stars?
So many obstacles between us lie,
and so much nothing before reaching sky.
There's no "above," only a field of stars.
And no one fell; that's just a peoples' lie.
Nothing stands against me - no endless sky.
This book offers an overview of angels in the Abrahamic religious traditions (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.) [It does take a quick dip into angel-like beings from other religious traditions – e.g. Hindu and Parsi – but generally comes down on the side of it doing a disservice to everybody to equate such beings across mythological traditions – with the possible exception of the New Age angel which is predominantly an offshoot from Abrahamic mythology.] The book considers the evolution of theological thinking on angels: how they’ve been portrayed in art; what they are [made of;] what their purposes are (i.e. messengers, healers, guardians, warriors, etc.;) and, occasionally, how they play into popular culture.
I took away a great deal from this book. For example, I learned about the differences between the djinn of Islam mythology and demons of Judeo-Christian mythology, and the theological underpinnings of this difference (i.e. Muslims do not believe angels have free will, and thus angels can’t be fallen, and so the djinn are a separate entity altogether [rather than being fallen angels.]) I found the book to be readable, interesting, and balanced in its approach to the topic. If you’re looking to learn more about how angels (and related beings, e.g. fallen angels / demons) have been treated by thinkers of various ages, without getting deep into the minutiae, this is a fine book to consider.
This brief guide examines the shifting landscape of thought about Christianity’s Devil. Over the centuries, the Devil has been considered a person, a fallen angel, a metaphor or abstraction, a voice, and a literary device. Satan’s stock has risen and fallen, up with the Dark Ages, down with the Enlightenment, and, on the verge of outright demise, reconsidered when the mid-20th century brought such horrors that the human mind couldn’t cope with them sans supernatural explanations. At the same time, the power of the Devil waxed and waned in the face of philosophical challenges. There’s the Devil so strong he can give God a run for the money, a Devil reduced to whispering in ears, and a Devil who’s practically irrelevant – having no power whatsoever beyond making for an entertaining plot device.
I thought this book did a laudable job of showing the Devil through the light of history, philosophy, art, and literature. It offers a great deal of food for thought about how the Devil has been viewed over time, and what factors influenced these changes in perception. If you’re interested in the role the Devil has played in theological thinking over time, this book does a fine job of shining a light on the subject.