Angels have come a long way. Early versions showed minimal fashion sense dressing in shapeless shifts that obscured any hint of gender. Only having a trumpet to gain attention and dreams to send messages hampered communication with mortals. No longer.
Little Angel, adorning a cathedral in the Netherlands with her feminine curves and laid-back style has dumped the trumpet and dreams in favour of a cellphone and Twitter account. It's fortunate that a quick hallelujah and glad tidings tend to fit into 140 characters.
Except, wouldn't you know it, there's a problem with this divine communicator. What started as a fun experiment has grown into a hot line used by all kinds of people, some needing help, some with questions you've always wanted to ask about angel behaviour and others, someone to talk to. The angel listens to them all and responds. That's not the problem though.
The problem sits inside the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist in Hertogenbosch, where officials are concerned someone could be profiting from their newest angel. In response they set up an official angel line where a male voice gives automated options for information about the cathedral and Christianity.
Two angelic interventions that mirror the complex mix of worlds we all have to tangle with. Where our internal and external worlds sometimes seem to be at cross purposes, where academic or thinking ways of understanding the world trip over imaginative exploration of ideas. It's the difference between reading a science text and a storybook. Both have something to offer but they come at it from completely different angles.
The journey into God has both these elements to it. For some there's a very clear, dogmatic path mapped out by thinkers and academics, both inside and outside different religious traditions. Then there's the more convoluted approach that values story, imagination, experience and perhaps mysticism. Those paths may or may not mix and mingle or come to similar conclusions. We have to live with and learn to navigate the confusion that that brings.
I was reminded of this mix during a Facebook discussion about the divinity of Jesus. The discussion was stimulating but I had to admit that, apart from an intellectual definition, I wasn't too sure what being divine actually meant. As soon as the thought had formed, an image took its place. A picture of an intense Jewish Jesus wryly smiling, his smile a reflection of an inner world that knows no bounds. Is that divinity I wondered?
No one can control how humanity understands, imagines or responds to the Divine; anymore than Cathedral officials can control the spontaneous need of the Dutch community to interact with a concrete angel that symbolizes a soulfulness that is desired in our world but hard to find.
Perhaps what is more important is to stay in the uncertainty, ready to be surprised by tweeting or trumpeting angels with a bit of good news. The storyline has worked before.
Now check out these little divine messengers singing Pretty little angel eyes..