One Sunday night in October 1983, I was returning to Dallas in my 8-speed Dodge Colt from a weekend trip in Oklahoma (and as far as Springfield, MO), and had actually hit a dog who had run out in front of the car on an isolated road. After crossing back into Texas, and driving somewhere around Commerce, I heard a sermon from a fundamentalist preacher, talking about what happens when you “die”. An “angel” comes and accompanies you as you are processed for your judgment, he said. He spoke about an angel as a real person, an idea which I found interesting. Now, living in Texas then, I had gotten used to hearing a lot of car radio sermons arguing for post-tribulationism v. “Pre”, which is beyond me now. “Pre” makes more sense.
There’s something intriguing to me about the number 144,000. In Rev. 14:3-5. One of the interpretations of this number is that it is a count of redeemed make “virgins”. I’m not quite sure why they would need redemption (except that all of us do, in Christianity), but it sounds like there is something special, or permanent about these men.
In at least two of my screenplays, and in the main novel “Angel’s Brothers” that I will describe soon, the concept of an “angel” comes up , in a few different contexts. I’ll lay out the “rules of the road” for them in this post.
There really haven’t been a lot of movies about the topic (outside specifically “Christian’ films like the Left Behind series). One of the best is “Astral City: A Spiritual Journey”, by Wagner de Assis, from Brazil, a 2011 release from Strand. Of course, we remember “What Dreams May Come” and “Reviewing Your Life” and even “Ghost”. Some of the leading males in television series and comic book movies (ranging from “Smallville” to “Spiderman”) may be seen as having angelic characteristics. There is a female angel who travels between Purgatory and Earth in the play “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.”
In the vision, I’m laying out, the characters comprise several kinds of entities:
(1) Biblical angel. Such a person could be one of the original 144,000, if still alive (essentially immortal).
(2) Original angel, Such a person would be born with the reincarnated memories of one of the 144,000. Such a person would not have children.
(3) Ordinary angel. Such a person has been elevated in such a way that he has some of the memories of one of the 144,000 but only through those of other people, transmitted to him through infection with a bizarre virus (dealt with in the later novel manuscripts). Such a person does not have children after “conversion”.
(4) New angel. Such a person has memories of other individuals with whom he has had close contact. He has also been infected by the virus in a superficial, non-symptomatic way. The number of “new angels” varies with the number of those of the first three types lost in various ways. The number tends to converge so that the total will be close to 144000. Susceptibility to the right kind of “infection” may result from some kind of supernatural contact early in life. Such a person may or may not have children at any time.
There are ways that angels can “fail”. These would include
(1) Moral corruption, similar to ordinary human failing (call it “Satanic” if you like).
(2) Being challenged and failing the challenge. Failure can come from (a) not recovering lost appearance or function or (b) enjoying defeat in a morally inappropriate way. But some angels are not challenged.
My manuscripts present only males as being angels (partly as a result of the “144000” idea). In fact, the characters are depicted as white males., from Bill’s “world” There is nothing wrong with the idea of female angels (as in the play by Andy Guirgis) or those of other races. But in one of the screenplays, “Bill” will become involved in the process of “choosing” who can become a new angel, and perhaps who (among those already established) can be challenged and survive. Bill, in a different sense, makes a similar choice in the novel (among a smaller set of people).
In “my world” (especially “Angel’s Brothers”), the rest of the population comprises
.(5) Old souls (“Bill” — although Ephram was called an “old soul” in “Everwood”). Such a person can survive indefinitely but “intermittently” through a new angel, but usually must have children first. The old soul is not an angel himself.
(6) “Ordinary People” — and that was the name of a hit 1980 movie.
Infection is supposed to happen through a micro black hole or quantum mechanical black hole embedded in a retrovirus, with generally low but somewhat unpredictable transmission. The surface of the micro black hole would hold the information or track records of other people’s lives., sometimes even living people.
In general, the screenplays depend on various characters knowing the content of Bill’s later novels, particularly on the idea that “Angel’s Brothers” has been published and established.
Does the concept of an immortal or nearly immortal human make sense? (In NBC’s “The Event”, the aiien humans could live ten times as long as us.) It could make space travel a lot easier. (In a couple of the screenplays, I’ve posed the idea that the angels use Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, as a base.) On the other hand, entropy is part of physics, and a cycle of reproduction, procreating new beings with new instances of free will, seems to be a way for nature (or “God”) to counter entropy.
There is something disturbing, however, about the idea that the character “Bill” has invested so much in identifying and nurturing angels or “superheroes”. What about those who are not so gifted? (Conservative columnist George Will has written about this issue in his own family, as he recognizes a divide between those who are gifted [like in sports, intellect, arts] and those who are no,; a discussion for another time.) If it is acceptable to ignore them when they come knocking, then that can have very dangerous consequences for society (as history proves). Perhaps for someone like Bill, a requirement to “pay your dues” is the only answer. On the other hand, when Bill accomplishes and finds “what he wants” be becomes more generous with his time and attention.
(Published: Monday June 9, 2014 1t 3 PM EDT).