Tag Archives: Angels

The Greatest Films of Christmas #3 It’s a Wonderful Life

wonderful life.jpg“Remember no man is a failure who has friends.”

Besides the fact this movie has Capra’s usual bizarre caricature of rich people (anyone with Potter’s attitude and traits would not stay wealthy for very long let alone George Bailey’s entire life) this is a great film.

Long before cheap sci-fi took up the concept of the butterfly effect, this story asked how much do we affect the lives of those around us. And George Bailey seemed, even in his less happy moments, to always be a force for good in life.

If I really have to summarize the plot for you…well, that’s just sad. If you haven’t seen this movie go out and see it right now.

The point you are supposed to get out of this film is not only that life is precious and worth living, but that we all improve the world around us. Every little choice, when made with the right frame of mind, looking for the long term rather than the short term (as George did in trying to stop the run on his bank), thinking of others equal to how much you think of yourself, of standing up for what it right and opposing what we know to be wrong, and forgiving ourselves our mistakes when we are less than perfect—every little choice affects the lives of others in ways we can never see and with results we can never know. Now, the very lives of everyone in the town we live in probably doesn’t depend immediately on what choices we make…or at least we think it doesn’t…but does it need to be a whole city before we worry about our choices. What if the choices we make only affect a dozen, or half a dozen, or even only one other person (although I doubt any of us have such little impact)? Even if only one, think about the power that our choices have, think of how much we are worth if we can make the world better for only one other person.

Let me go off on my New Age tangents for a second. An often overlooked point of George Bailey’s life is how important his antagonist, the cartoonish Mr. Potter was. Without Potter George would have left Bedford Falls, he would have gone to college, probably been a mid-level architect, never married Mary, never been the person who fought to help those around him, never been the great man he was. Destiny put in his path a force that would bring out the best in him rather than let him steer toward the mediocrity of what is considered success by the standards of the hoi polloi. So next time you run across someone you really hate…ask yourself, have they been placed there to bring out something good in you…and are you letting that good portion come out?

On the other hand, while not a major point, I just need to point out that this movie perpetuates one of the worst spiritual lies of all time. It suggests that humans become angels when they die. I believe angels do exist, but in no religious or serious spiritual belief on Earth have angels ever been human.

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Greatest Films of Christmas #10 Michael

michael.jpg“I’m not that kind of angel.”

A Christmas story of an angel who fights, swears, drinks, smokes, fornicates. And he’s not too hot on suffering fools either. And he eats enough sugar at one meal to cause an army to develop Type II diabetes. But he smells like cookies….and he wants everybody to be as happy as life will allow.

Such is the improbably tale of Michael. I forever have mixed feelings over this movie…because I actually believe in the Archangel Michael, I pray for his help on a near daily basis…and I just don’t see him being such a worthless, though lovable, lout. But I have to assume that any divine being has a good sense of humor so I don’t worry too much.

“It’s a difficult case—to give a man back his heart.”

It is the story of Michael (played by John Travolta …it works for the movie) who comes back to redeem two characters Frank Quinlan (William Hurt) and Dorothy Winters (Andie MacDowell) who both work for a supermarket tabloid. Both have become cynical and cold and lost their desire to live life and love. And over the course of a long car trip to Chicago filled with a battle with a bull, the world’s largest ball of twine, the world’s largest non-stick frying pan, a few misdemeanors he shows them that they can embrace their hearts again.

It’s a Christmas story for several reasons. First off it takes place at Christmas. Snow, angels, Santa, elves, Christmas trees. All the trappings. And for the deeper reasons as well, for the fact that this is a story of love and of redemption—of learning that your guardian angel is always there for you even when you don’t see it.

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Misconceptions about New Agers: That we believe in a lot of gods

So apparently some people believe New Agers believe in no God (which I dealt with). We do. Some people believe we worship Satan (which I’m not even going to dignify with a full blog). We don’t. And then some people believe New Agers are a bunch of polytheists worshiping an insane number of gods. This is incorrect…but at least I understand where they get this from.

Let me start with a comparison. Catholics worship only one God. That is a given. But they pray to a whole mess of Angels and Saints. Why? Because if you believe in angels,  archangels and saints, you believe that God does use intermediaries that can specialize in certain skills for certain needs and certain problems. Why? Because sometimes grasping the infinite concept of God is a bit much for our brain, especially when we’re under stress…i.e., when we’re praying for help. It is a great help to be able to see an intermediary, someone that looks more human, is more relatable and can be more understanding of what our problems are. Yes, we can pray directly to God, and should, but should you need something more relatable in a time of need you have saints and angels to pray to. (And I apologize if I didn’t get the exact details of Catholic dogma, I did try to be correct in the broad strokes).

Now over to New Agers. Pretty much the same thing with us. We believe in angels and saints. We believe that a Saint from any religion can help us because they have reached a level of enlightenment much higher than the average person at present and will not care about such petty things as what name you attribute to God. If you call on them they will come, be you Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, agnostic or New Ager. It doesn’t matter, you called for help they will come and do what they can (understand however it’s more of a whispering in your ear to see the opportunities to earn what you want or to get out of the situation you want to get out of, or at least to calm or strengthen you as the situation and request may call for). (More along the lines of what you saw in the movie City of Angels than in It’s A Wonderful Life).

However, New Agers don’t just call on saints and angels. We tend to have a much wider base of enlightened souls to call upon. And I don’t just mean Buddha, Krishna, Christ and Lao-Tzu. No we tend to take a lot of the old Pagan deities as well. Do we actually believe in the stories of Mount Olympus or of the Vedas? Not really. But we do believe that there was likely some enlightened soul behind that story, a truth that gave birth to the myth, and that is the person we’re calling upon. Further, I know some New Agers call up figures who were clearly fictional (I’m not going to name names so as not to embarrass anyone). Are they asking for help from no one and getting no help because they didn’t use the right name? No. New Agers tend to believe that the Heaven and all its beings are bright enough to know what we’re asking for even if we get the name wrong. There really was no Saint Christopher in history, but I’m sure some angel or enlightened being who did specialize in helping those in need of protection or guidance during journeys responded to all the calls for Saint Christopher…and if this enlightened being ever needed to reveal itself to someone (an exceedingly rare experience, but moments of revelation are not completely unheard of) it might even identify itself with that name just so as to help the person it was coming to understand what it was there for.   Now in a lot of cases we do refer to the enlightened souls as deities or gods, but more out of respect for the other religions we took them from, not because we really equate them with God.  Although you might hear a New Ager use the term Ascended Master as a catch all for all of these enlightened souls.

So do we call upon a lot of saints, angels, and gods (lower case g…who were likely just enlightened souls from very long ago) for help, and pray to them? Yes we do. But we don’t worship them. No. We understand that they are intermediaries who can better understand our problems and what me may need (although honestly angels are a bit detached as well—absolutely no understanding of how time works, if you’re praying to angels for help be sure to be very specific in terms of when and where). I think it’s safe to say that most New Agers believe there is only one God who uses a very large task force of intermediaries to help us.

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