I knew what I was going to write for today’s post, or at least how I was going to write it – then one of those king-sized roadblocks reared up and has me totally flummoxed and unable to continue down that path, at least for today.
I hate it when that happens.
I’m sure I’ll figure out something (probably at about 3 AM in the middle of a really good dream) and carry on that assignment later, but for now…
And there goes my muse / subconscious / guardian angel again. I was just about to bitch about how I had no ideas for tonight, and there was one in the paragraph above, and now there’s another one in this paragraph, just spewing out and staring me in the face.
Let’s go with “guardian angel.”
The tl;dr is, “I’m not a believer, but that’s adult me talking – easily impressionable, seven-year-old me was being molded onto the fast track for Pope, would have believed anything, and had a lot of weird shit put into my head by old fashioned nuns.”
It might be worth talking some nuts and bolts theology with someone someday to see if “guardian angels” are actually a legitimate part of Catholic doctrine. It could be that the concept is just some sort of boogie-man made up by scary nuns to keep little kids in line. I suspect the latter.
The generic public concept is of a heavenly being that’s assigned to watch over us individually, keeping us safe from danger. Such as in the bumper sticker that says, “Don’t drive faster than your guardian angel can fly!” (Why can’t the guardian angel just get into the car with you? Or at least latch onto the roof, facing forward into the wind like a giant supernatural dog would if they stuck their head out of the car window. But then, what if you’ve got a luggage rack? See, this is EXACTLY the sort of thinking that got me in so much trouble with Father Murray and his minions!)
It’s a theme we see in movies and television shows from time to time. “It’s A Good Life!” every Christmas. “Saved By An Angel.” “City Of Angels,” which I’m a total sap about, always crying when Meg Ryan… (OK, no spoilers.) “Here Comes Mister Jordan,” and never that crap remake with Warren Beatty.
Actually, “Dogma,” “Angel Heart,” and “All That Jazz” (one of my all-time favorite films) are more my cup of tea for movies about angels. But, look, there I’ve gone off on a tangent again! Surprise!
The party line from the nuns and priests in the 1960s wasn’t simply that guardian angels were there to protect you. That was part of the job, but they were also there to watch you and rat you out to the Big Guy Upstairs. If you sinned (and by “sinned” they usually meant either thinking on your own or touching yourself in that place, or worse, touching Peggy Sue in her that place) and didn’t fess up to it in Confession, your guardian angel was there to not only bug you about it (a glorified Jiminy Cricket role) but to keep the Powers To Be updated on about what you were unrepentant.
I always wanted to bargain with my guardian angel. I figured there must be something that he wanted that I could get and swap for some slack. But how did I know that it was a “he”? Were there girl guardian angels? Did boys get only boy guardian angels and girls get only girl guardian angels? Or was it random? Could there be a girl guardian angel watching me when I, well, you know? Wouldn’t that be nasty for the boy guardian angels to be watching girls all the time, even when they were taking a bath?
There goes Father Murray again, hitting the sacramental wine! I should probably feel bad about that. Maybe.
So “guardian angels” are a convenient and sometimes amusing plot device that the Catholics cooked up (or do any of the Protestant religions have them too? Jews? Muslims?) and as such they make a decent literal plot device for entertainment products. But do they really exist?
Why is it that many of the devout Catholics I’ve met scoff at the idea of alien life in any science fiction story, but they have no problem believing stories about invisible, immortal beings watching over each of us? And how many guardian angels are there, anyway? Human population has gone up drastically in the last couple of centuries – are they making new guardian angels to keep up? Or were there a zillion of them made in those first seven days and most of them have been bored for eons, but now human overpopulation is a full employment program for them? When you die, if you were bad, does the guardian angel get busted for doing a lousy job with you? Do non-Christians or even non-Catholics get guardian angels? If a guardian angel is assigned to someone who doesn’t believe in their existence, do they still have to be on their toes to do a good job?
Sorry, Father Murray. My bad. (No — it’s not. Wait. That’s lying, which is a sin. Why didn’t my guardian angel stop me from doing it? Or did I get a guardian angel with a wicked sense of humor and…)