UN-TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL
religious and cultural center of America, has rediscovered America's fondness
for the supernatural again. Not-so-suddenly "magical realism"
is the popular format appearing in a bevy of movies and television series,
from Beloved to Touched by an
Angel. A woman in my state of Georgia has been having regular,
private discussions with the Virgin Mary and thousands have hung around to
hear a play-by-play -- this in a predominantly Southern Baptist state that would
have been appalled by such actions in past generations. Perhaps the
Baptists are just too busy with that "homosexual thing" to be
bothered by Catholicism anymore.
None of this has much to do with my life or anyone else's
that I know of, but it may tell us something about the national
character. The need for direct, supernatural involvement in our lives
shows that something is missing here. It isn't enough that we have
wealth, property, education, retirement funds, housepets,
cable TV and computers. Now we want the Creator of the Universe to
directly help us with our problems. I don't know about you, but to me
this reveals an egotism on the part of Americans
that may be dangerous.
And it certainly isn't Christian, regardless that we dress
up the characters in angel suits and halos. Christ acted very
"earthy" even when he was being supernatural. On the road to
Emmaus, the apostles didn't recognise him at
first. He was just a guy-in-the-road. At post-cruxifiction
appearances there was no glowing, no background music, no beating of angels'
wings. It was a century or more before anyone even began getting
visionary, such as the author of Revelations. The original Jesus of the
New Testament came among us as an ordinary man and told us that we ourselves
were of the nature of God ("children of God"). If He did a
few miracles, He didn't make a big spectacle of it and seemed to be impatient
with those who needed to see such things as part of their spiritual
Jesus would certainly be impatient with Americans
today. We love shows about angels doing things for us. We
wait eagerly for lottery tickets to make us stinking rich. We want
God's Mom to come down and give us a talking to every now and then.
The Jesus who walked (not floated) around a backwater country teaching a
gospel of compassion and charity would probably tell us to knock off waiting
for spirits and direct signs of God's involvement in our personal lives and
become a lot more serious with our assigned task of being His agent for
compassion, kindness and joy. Sorry, no background music or
special effects are available.