September 18, 2009
Angels on Earth , a magazine published bimonthly by Guideposts, “presents true stories about heavenly angels and humans who have played angelic roles in daily life.” I accepted an offer for a free issue (subscription cancelable if not satisfied). Here is a brief look at the first few stories in the July/August 2009 issue and my analysis of them.
A Salt Lake City woman sees meaning in a telephone call. On the anniversary of her younger sister’s unexpected death, she is comforted to receive news that she has become a grandmother. Her son reports, “A healthy baby boy.”
Comment: Isn’t this merely a happy coincidence? Doesn’t the fact of her sister’s untimely death make clear that both good and bad luck occur and that sometimes they coincide?
A California man recalls how, years ago, he was a young traveler in Sudan, trying to get to Khartoum “to pick up some much-needed money from the Western Union.” At the train station “a well-dressed, aristocratic-looking black man” asked if he needed help and, learning his problem, provided the price of the fare.
Comment: But wasn’t the young traveler’s distress evident on his face and from his body language? The “aristocratic” man could obviously afford to be generous. That he was is praiseworthy, of course, but many of us perform random acts of kindness.
A young Oklahoma lady relates how, after receiving expensive new contact lenses during high school, she was sweeping the family porch of mimosa blossoms, when she stopped momentarily to rub her eye. Out popped one lens. Replacement being unaffordable, she searched frantically on hands and knees, but the wind hopelessly “whirled the flower petals around like fluttering wings.” As she reluctantly stood to go tell her mother the bad news, she saw something glinting and realized, “The wind had blown my contact lens right out in the open for me to find!”
Comment: Or perhaps the wind had simply separated the chaff, as it were (the petals), from the wheat (the lens). In any event, why the unnecessary suggestion of supernatural intervention?
A New York woman writes of her apprehension one night as she dropped off her husband for a stint of duty on the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Catenary . A young woman in jeans and plaid shirt sat on the pier, her blond hair catching light from a storage shed and casting “a glow around her face.” After her husband returned five days later, she inquired who the girl was that she had pointed out to him, but he recalled no one; neither, he learned, had the other men. His wife concluded the girl was “the Catenary ’s angel, standing guard over ‘those in peril on the sea’ as the old Navy hymn goes. . . . She showed me that angels were watching over all our family, on the sea and on the land.”
Comment: The magazine helpfully added wings to its color illustration of the “angel” girl. That the husband’s memory did not support his wife’s recollection, however, suggests that the latter may have conflated what actually happened. Perhaps she saw a real girl, or had a daydream or later an actual dream, that grew—in her obviously vivid imagination—into a seemingly supernatural dimension.
The articles continue in this fashion, with the writers engaging in much magical thinking. With all due respect to some of the sentiments expressed, I found the little magazine too syrupy for my taste and too sadly lacking in critical thinking. I wrote “Please Cancel” across the subscription invoice.