Angel May Not Cry

"God damn it, now there's no escaping this git"
(image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

One day, while preparing materials for a screening of the fascinating film Flight From Death: The Quest For Immortality, I noticed the film poster featuring an image of a statue like this one. The "Angel of Grief", it is called. I had seen tomb monuments of "weeping angels" previously, as well as the more pop-famous ones from the Doctor Who TV series. In the mental context I was in at the time, though, I came to a realization that, well, this monument made no sense whatsoever.

Why on earth (and in heaven) would an angel mourn the death of a mortal? One can understand that a mortal's loved ones may grieve at having to live without them. Even the ones who believe in an immortal afterlife might feel some pain at the ostensibly temporary separation.

An angel, on the other hand, transcends the mortal plane. And they know it. Whether one's soul is bound to a meat suit on terra firma, or floating about the celestial realm with JC, well, that shouldn't make one iota of difference to an angelic being.

Or to God. Puzzlingly, Jesus mourned the death of Lazarus right before he resurrected him, although he is said to have had some semblance of an excuse for shedding a tear or two, under the "100% human" clause of the terms of his incarnation (more on that in a future post). An angel, on the other hand, has absolutely none.

Murder might offend God, perhaps, but not beyond it being (within the framework of the libertarian free will that humans supposedly have in his regime) a human usurpation of a divine prerogative. Not as a loss or as a tragedy. As one theistic apologist put it, in an attempt to give God a pass on wholesale God-directed Biblical slaughter, death is a "relocation" of the human soul, from the divine perspective.

There is, of course, a dissonance between this more coherent approach to how a deity would see human death, and how it is marketed to the flocks. Of course, this is completely expected when you consider that the marketing material is often poorly thought out, engineered to appeal to emotion and a desire for meaning. With theism, it is engineered to endow the mortal life of humans with cosmic prominence -- in the case of Christianity, even turning death into something that God had to somehow put himself through. None of that actually makes sense when you pry it apart and actually try to fit the cogs together. Like the Angel of Grief.


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