Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Angels, Art, and Aliens

Back to " 'I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.'." Last week I posted about God having created everything that's visible and invisible. Any one creature can't be both, and I've been over that before.

This week I'm going over some of the same ground, but going in a different direction:
"The Scriptural expression 'heaven and earth' means all that exists, creation in its entirety. It also indicates the bond, deep within creation, that both unites heaven and earth and distinguishes the one from the other: 'the earth' is the world of men, while 'heaven' or 'the heavens' can designate both the firmament and God's own 'place'-'our Father in heaven' and consequently the 'heaven' too which is eschatological glory. Finally, 'heaven' refers to the saints and the 'place' of the spiritual creatures, the angels, who surround God.186..."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 326) [emphasis mine]
What this paragraph doesn't mean is that God looks like Burt Lancaster or Charleton Heston in their roles as Moses.

Maybe some of the billion or so Catholics living today may think that God is a white male of above-average height with silvery pompadour hair: but that's not what the Church teaches.

I'm getting off-topic.

Astronauts, Angels, and Getting a Grip

It also doesn't mean that Christianity is wrong because the International Space Station crews haven't seen any angels.

Heaven:
  • Isn't
    • That pastel cloudscape we see in cartoons
    • Someplace we can fly to
  • Is
    • Eternal life with God
Like I've said before, I'm just "some guy with a blog." Here's something from a more authoritative source:
"HEAVEN: Eternal life with God; communion of life and love with the Trinity and all the blessed. Heaven is the state of supreme and definitive happiness, the goal of the deepest longings of humanity (1023). "
(Catechism, Glossary)
There's a pretty good discussion of Heaven in Catechism, 1023-1029.

Angels

One more bit from the Catechism:
"The profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) affirms that God 'from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then (deinde) the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body.'187"
(Catechism, 327)
Angels are people, but they're not human. Not even close:
"ANGEL: A spiritual, personal, and immortal creature, with intelligence and free will, who glorifies God without ceasing and who serves God as a messenger of his saving plan (329-331). See Guardian Angels."

"GUARDIAN ANGELS: Angels assigned to protect and intercede for each person (336). See Angel."
(Catechism, Glossary)
There's more about angels in Catechism, 329-336.

Art

Angels don't look like those wimpy dudettes with wings you see in paintings. I like religious art, by the way: even some of the sappily sentimental stuff you sometimes see in card and gift shops. And that's another topic.

Angles don't 'look like' anything, since they have no bodies. They're purely spiritual creatures. (Catechism, 330) Gnosticism notwithstanding, being purely spiritual isn't necessarily the same as being purely good. Satan is a case in point, and that's yet another topic. (October 31, 2011)

Aliens

About a half-century ago, I ran into folks who seemed to believe that angels were space aliens. Or that space aliens are angels. There's something about the idea that humanity isn't alone in the universe that brings out the silly side in folks. (Apathetic Lemming of the North (September 24, 2010))

I don't 'believe in flying saucers.' I don't think that inexplicably benevolent space aliens are going to solve all our problems.

But I don't think that there aren't any people around except us and angels: fallen and otherwise. (September 23, 2010, April 19, 2010, November 12, 2009)

The question of whether or not there were physical worlds other than the one we're standing on came up about eight centuries back. Then as now, some folks really didn't like the idea that we might not be alone.

Some of them said that God couldn't have made more than one world like ours. Apparently the 'just us' chaps assumed that there weren't other worlds because Aristotle said so. I'm simplifying the situation a bit, of course.

That's when the bishop of Paris issued Proposition 27/219 of 1277. As far as I know, it hasn't been rescinded: so, as a practicing Catholic, I'm forbidden to claim that God can't make other worlds. Even if Aristotle wouldn't like it.

And that's yet again another topic.

Sort-of-related posts:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

Part of the date is missing: "yet another topic. (Monday, October )"

Stutter: "issued Proposition Proposition 27/219 of 1277."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

Brigid,

Fixed, and thanks!

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.