Tag Archives: demons

Angels and Demons 2

While Googling, I came upon this quote:

“With the Enlightenment and triumph of rationalism, belief in angels disappeared; but contemporary theology, basing itself on psychoanalysis, has come to a new appreciation of the symbolic role of angels and demons as expressions of the Freudian superego and id.”*

Light flooded my dim brain, as I recognized the extent to which our culture is a battleground between science and belief, between devotion to the supernatural or to the observable.

Witness the excellent and most profound film Nacho Libre: Nacho attempts to baptize his tag-team partner Esqueleto so God will help them win the wrestling match. Esqueleto declines, and announces, “I don’t believe in God. I believe in science.”

A common position is, if you believe in science, you can’t believe in God. Another common position is, if you believe in God, you can’t believe in science.

I taught at a college whose distinction was it’s mission to keep alive the notion that God created the world 5000 years ago. I don’t profess to know enough about carbon dating and such to weigh in on the subject. Still, I can’t help but feel sorry for people whose belief requires an absolute adherence to the literal interpretation of texts that may never have been meant to be interpreted literally. And I feel even sorrier for those who can’t accept that anything might fall outside the realm of scientific observation and analysis.

Returning to the quote that inspired this rant: to equate demons and angels with the Freudian superego** and id*** appears to me staggeringly simplistic.

The pilot who recently crashed his airliner into a mountainside was simply acting in accord with an id untamed by a superego? Hitler, Stalin, Charles Manson et al were simply driven by untamed ids?

Not likely.

Which is why I salute Frank Peretti for portraying angels and demons as spiritual entities to be reckoned with. Even if his vision of cartoonish warriors doesn’t fully convince me, it makes a lot more sense than clashing superegos and ids being at the core of the human propensity to create reigns of terror, or to perform great sacrifice.

As I asserted in the post entitled “Angels and Demons 1”, churches aren’t likely to help us come to understand angels and demons. The topic is dangerous and fraught with too much complexity.

So I deeply hope some of us writers can rise to the challenge and shed new light on a most intriguing and vital matter.

*From “The Angel and the Self in the Poetry of José Ángel Valente” by José Ángel Valente and Julian Palley, in The Hispanic Review

** From About Education: According to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality, the superego is the component of personality composed of our internalized ideals that we have acquired from our parents and from society.

***  From About Education: According to Freud, the id is the source of all psychic energy, making it the primary component of personality. The id is driven by the pleasure principle, which strives for immediate gratification of all desires, wants, and needs.

Angels and Demons 1

A mysterious force prompted me to read a Frank Peretti novel. I found a deal on The Visitation. After reading that, feeling compelled to read another, I bought This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, both of which I had read long enough ago so the details of the story had escaped me.

For those who haven’t read Peretti or have forgotten, the novels’ main characters are demons who work undercover to accomplish Satan’s schemes; angels who stand guard over the humans who play parts in the great drama; and the saints without whose fervent prayers the angels might get massacred.

Aside from the demons, Peretti’s bad guys are mostly occultists, devotees of various religions and practices such as yoga and meditation, psychologists, public servants gone over to the dark side, and of course lawyers (generally enployed by a group based upon the ACLU).

Politics and cultural issues aside, the books make me crave to know what exactly are angels and demons. I mean, here in reality, are they beings or metaphor? Do they exist apart from us, or are they facets of us?

I’ve attended lots of churches but never yet gotten a straight answer, at least from the preachers.

Some friends and acquaintances have claimed to know all about angels and demons. I have witnessed and even participated efforts to exorcise evil spirits. About therapy, meditation, yoga and other such practices, I’ve heard, from Christians, all kinds of advice and arguments, pro and con.

But I can’t remember a church taking a firm stand on any of these issues that Peretti takes on.

No matter whether I believe his themes and characters are soundly based in reality or if I consider him a screwball, I admire him for stepping into an area of inquiry churches appear reluctant to enter.

Which leads me to believe more strongly than ever that the world needs writers who will, like Peretti, cut loose and share their opinions in story form, thereby nourishing the imaginations of us readers.

About Peretti in particular: I only hope he believes what he preaches. The Bible warns of serious consequences in store for liars, right?

I mean, as Dorothy Salisbury Davis wisely wrote, “Don’t sell your soul for peanuts to feed the monkeys.”