Thursday, January 08, 2009
Angel Girl Talk
I think I may have mentioned that my mother, who is about to turn 88, has a huge collection of angels. As a child she was deprived of ever having a doll, so she always had a fascination with pretty dolls. She still can't abide 'ugly' toys, so it's just as well she doesn't get out so much to see what's on the market these days. At any rate, my theory is that she really couldn't get away with having dolls as an adult, so she went into the angel collection thing. Her home is dripping with angels. She still has two rules about what angels make the cut:
1. They have to be pretty.
2. If they are not pretty, they have to be very unusual. She has, for example, a little wooden one made of carved spools.
Even that one is obviously a girl. I never really thought about it before, but I believe they are all girls, those angels. I didn't think about it at all until I got this question a few days ago:
I have a question for you. I once had someone tell me that it is against church theology to portray angels as female because there are no instances of angels appearing to man as female, only male. Like God, he said, they are to be referred in the masculine. Is this true? And if so...why? What's the big deal? Angels are spirits with no gender, so does it really matter if they are male or female?
We've heard lots of things about angels. Most of those things are speculative. We know there are angels. We know they work for God and live in heaven and interact with us here on earth. Here's what the Catholic Church officially says about angels.
You may notice not word one about gender or portrayal, so whoever told you that was...speculating. If it is against the Church theology to portray angels as female, then the Catholic cemeteries have a lot of unpleasant work ahead of them asking families to remove these things.
I'll bet the angel on top of your tree is a girl angel.
... because there are no instances of angels appearing to man as female, only male.
Except in Zachariah 5:9 where two winged women come out of the sky and haul off some evil in a box. Unless there is yet another type of being in heaven heretofore unmentioned, they had to have been angels. Otherwise we'll have to believe that there are all male angels in heaven and, inexplicably, two winged women.
I'll be more than happy to pile on the angel gender speculation. Do angels have a gender? The ones listed by name do, unless someone misspelled Gabriel's name and left off two "l's" and and "e". Are there female angels? At least two.
Aren't angels supposed to be genderless because Jesus mentioned that we won't have sex in heaven because we'll all be like the angels? No, that just means we won't have sex in heaven. (Which is why when people ask me, "Isn't it difficult to be celibate?", I reply, "No, it is just like being in heaven.")
Perhaps it just seems as though the angels are all male because we always use masculine pronouns to describe them. That could be simply because it used to be proper and excepted grammar, and understood as such, that when talking in a general way about any group, we would use only masculine pronouns, as in "if your child isn't eating his dinner, don't offer him french fries instead." These days we laboriously say, " his or her dinner, don't offer him or her french fries instead."
We also offer french fries instead.
Oh! and lest I forget yet another 'nuns make things up' chestnut, the old nuns used to tell us that everyone's guardian angel was of the opposite gender. Girls had boy angels and boys had girl angels. They didn't just pipe up with that one because they felt like it. The old nuns liked the idea that with a guardian angel of the opposite sex watching you all the time, you would be less likely to sin in private, if you catch my drift. You have to hand it to the old nuns for staying on top of things that way.
Speaking of things that should not be depicted in art.....I noticed this over there on my google adsense thing. I have no control over what they put on there, except to be very careful about what I put in there for 'tags'. Sometimes something catches my eye. Virgin Mary checks. I had to look.
Maybe if you only use the Mary checks to give money to the Catholic Charities. I'm not sure I can stand to see Mary going to the Gap.
Nice artwork, though.