How the fallen angels lost their sting for me.
As a teenager in school, we studied Milton's â��Paradise Lostâ��; the story of the â��council of warâ�� by the angels who had rebelled against God and been banished from the Kingdom of Heaven. Milton's epic poem had them bemoaning their plight and the possibilities of re-assembling and attacking heaven again and regaining their former elevated position. Of course we were aware that the fallen angels were now devils. Each devil/angel takes the stage, and has his say, (it seems they were all men!), and after each has outlined his case the situation was summed up and concluded by the arch devil himself, Lucifer. We werenâ��t allowed to forget that these devils were once angels in God's heaven. And, I suppose, this was a lesson for us young boys to learn and remember.
Notwithstanding their inherent threatening nature, I was never frightened by these rebel angels of Miltons, rather I was fascinated by their characters, like actors in a play, and the arguments that he put in their mouths; it was all a trifle unreal, even to a young romantic scholar like myself. They were, in his depiction, powerful personalities, but now deprived of the glory of heaven, and that took the wind out of their sails. Fallen and broken angels they were and not a pair of wings between the lot of them!
Their main deliberation was in their own plight and not focused on me and trying to lead me astray. They were deeply occupied with trying to solve the bungled revolution they had so recently fought with seriously damaging results. Another lesson for us to take heed of, I suppose: not to oppose God and think we could win!
What enthralled me the most about them was the richness and the power of the language Milton gave them. His use and command of the English language intrigued and delighted me more than the so-called evilness of these pathetic creatures, once bright and beautiful, but now dark and despondent. These devilsâ�� speeches had us young English scholars leafing through the dictionary like never before learning new words and meanings. This was more the purpose of the study of the poem, of course, and not anyway religious at all. It was in English class.
Whereas before, we, as children, had been introduced to devils as evil tempters who spent their time egging us on to commit sin and displease God, we were now seeing another side to these tempters; they had their own problems, problems much bigger than ours here on the Earth. Many a the time I felt really sorry for them, defeated, banished and desperate.
I often wondered, later, on more mature philosophical reflection, if such creatures existed at all. Or did their brighter counterparts, angels, also exist? Or were they all like Milton's darker brooding brothers, simply figments of his fertile artistic imagination? And as the power of the image, whether in painting or literature, has a great impact on the minds of the common man or woman, (as in advertising), we began to accept the artistic vision as the real. Or was the artist's projected image a reflection of our own fears, perhaps? Of the dark. Of our loss. Of our insecurity!
I'm sure that many arguments, both pro and con, could be tabled. And would we ever know the truth? The human being seems to have the ability to proffer one argument only to be quickly routed by the opposite. As soon as one authority has professed that it's â��okay to eat butterâ��, another knocks it on the head as being bad for us. I think the same is somewhat true of angels and devils.
Except that butter actually exists. Unlike god, angels and devils, which are allegorical. I love Milton - haven't read him for ages though.
Feel free to eat butter - it will not do you any harm in reasonable amounts. Eat three pounds a day and you might have some issues. By the way - the site has a special section for irrational beliefs in invisible super beings - it is called the "religion and beliefs." forum. You can find it here:
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