The recognized image of an angel differs throughout the world. Although the smiling blonde-haired beauty with flowing gowns, a halo of gold, and gossamer wings is a common image, it’s not the standard accepted by all cultures.
Depending on personal traditions, even the gender, skin tone, and style of dress may be dramatically altered. With halos and wings also being optional, you can still be assured that this ethereal creature will always move with grace. Angels rarely tend to trip over their own feet anywhere in the world.
Other than grace and beauty, what else do most angels have in common? In North American culture, they’re likely to be associated with at least one or more of the following concepts:
- Safety, a sense that we are being watched over.
- Worship, a connection to a higher power and their love.
- Wishes, an ability to grant our deepest desires.
- Dreams, an omen of good to come.
- Protection, a force that stands between us and evil.
Television has been portraying angels in their programming ever since they began broadcasting . The time-honored image of an angel sitting on one shoulder, while the devil argues his case on the other, has long served to reinforce the fact that a character is facing a dilemma.
Black and white cartoons with grainy images of early DISNEY characters brought the concept mainstream for many viewers starting in the late 1920’s. That’s nearly a hundred years of children growing up with cartoon images of angels as part of their entertainment.
Big screen productions have even managed to take it one step further. Angels now appear in both starring and supporting roles. We’ve even seen characters with angelic-like properties now operating without man’s best interest at heart, the horror genre doing it’s best to swing the pendulum both ways. Heavily borrowing images and stories of the fallen-angels from Christianity, our perceptions continue to expand.
Angels are an accepted and recognizable part of our cultures. The question remains, why are they so popular?
Whether you worship a higher power is not the singular determining factor for establishing a belief in angels. Some who do not believe, or follow any religion, still report a belief in angels, their point being that there isn’t necessarily a connection between the two. They are firm in their belief that you are able to recognize one without the other.
Those who do follow one of the multitudes of religious beliefs, can easily track their ideas back to doctrine. Having prayed or worshiped angelic figures for most of their lives, the belief in angels is as natural as breathing for some.
How often have you heard the old adage that a person who’s narrowly escaped death must have had an angel on their shoulder? Or had someone offer comfort reminding you that god has a special angel watching over children?
Angels apparently do bring people comfort. They extend a sense of peace and calmness, and the promise of good things on the horizon. How can that be bad? Now if you hear an angel whispering in your ear to cash in your life savings and stuff all your money down gopher holes in a field, you might want to seek professional help.
Pop culture has managed to blurr the lines between angels and fairies, however I still equate a fairy as a being from a children’s story. Especially the Good Fairy, the Tooth Fairy, and the Blue Fairy, who inhabited many of my bedtime stories.
So, if angels have been written about in numerous religious documents across the world, and then popped up in mainstream culture for nearly a century, why are we surprised that 75% of North Americans believe.
When you grow up exposed to an idea, the same idea that your parents were exposed to in their youth, its not much of a stretch to think that you might believe in angels.
Continually bombarded with images of angels on television, the internet, live theater, and movies, turning to music or the written word wont isolate anyone either. Angels are a part of worldwide culture, and no form of art, education, or entertainment, would be the same without them.
As a proud member of THE FIFTY CANDLES CLUB, I know I’ll probably never see an angel in my lifetime, but I’d like to. The idea that a good-being is watching over me does bring me comfort, even if you believe it’s a childlike comfort only fed to us for entertainment purposes.