I have to admit that although I love the show, Supernatural’s depiction of angels is very disturbing. I like the fact it has made me so uncomfortable; it’s making me rethink a lot of things, giving me much food for thought and blog posts.
Yay for Supernatural!
So for those of you who don’t watch Supernatural (yet), Dean and Sam Winchester travel the United States ridding it of various supernatural and usually evil ghosts, ghouls and monsters (I wonder why they don’t ever come up to Canada? We have our own share of crazies). In previous seasons, the brothers have crossed paths numerous times with demons, but it was only in this season that they have crossed paths with angels.
It would seem fine and dandy, since angels are, well, good – but to give you an idea of the kind of angels that exist in the show, one of them (Uriel) is a specialist in wiping entire cities off the map.
Not a task you usually associate with angels, huh?
Sam Winchester had as much trouble as I did accepting that these angels were the real deal, rather than the ones he had conjured up in his imagination. I guess I’m a step ahead of Sam in that the angels in Supernatural are also the figment of someone’s imagination – but it’s a concept that is still worth exploring, be it only for the sake of opening up the little box that is my mind.
It’s not just the angel’s speciality that is disturbing – it’s their whole attitude, as reflected by the exchange below. It came right after Castiel, an angel, tells the Winchester brothers that an entire city must be levelled. Why?
Castiel: Lucifer cannot rise. He does and hell rises with him. Is this something you want to risk?
But the Winchester brothers cannot accept that an entire city be levelled, be it to prevent Lucifer from rising and walking earth. So the following heated discussion ensues (episode in question: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester).
Castiel: I’m sorry. We have our orders.
Sam: No. You can’t do this. You’re angels. I mean, aren’t you supposed to… You’re supposed to show mercy!
Uriel: Says who?
Castiel: We have no choice.
Dean: Of course you have a choice. I mean come on, you’ve never questioned a crap order? Huh? What are you both, just a couple of hammers?
Castiel: Look, even if you can’t understand it, have faith. The plan is just.
Sam: How can you even say that?
Castiel: Because it comes from heaven. That makes it just.
Dean: That must be nice, to be so sure of yourself.
Oh, the sheer number of thoughts bombarding my little brain right now is delightful, kind of like its awakening early in the morning after gulping down a decadently delicious cup of steaming coffee.
So first of all, it’s worth noting that the point of view of the angels in this exchange eerily sounds like the discourse of fanatics, intent on imposing their interpretation of Holy Writings on others. This goes against what religion is all about. If you’re supposed to find God, how can you independently do so if someone else’s views are imposed on you? And how can you know God through the imperfect interpretation of someone else? First conclusion: if, by definition, only God is perfect and His angels are not, then it’s OK for the boys to question the order. After all, it could have been the angels’ imperfect interpretation of the order that is causing the boys such discomfort.
Just for the sake of argument – boy, do I love those – let’s say the angels, Castiel and Uriel, really got their orders directly from God, and that God really did ask for the town to be levelled; does this mean that Sam and Dean should be condemned for questioning them? I don’t think so; life would just be too easy, were we to have a simple set of rules to follow without questioning them. And having a simple set of rules to follow without questioning would defeat the purpose of having free will.
Think about it. If religion is about finding the truth, it means that you need to understand why you’re doing something. It doesn’t mean that you will ever fully understand, for how can an imperfect mind understand a perfect one? It also doesn’t mean we should refrain from doing anything at all, for how can we hope to understand why we should do something if we don’t do it? Second conclusion: the boys are right to question the orders, but not for the sake of argument, rather for the sake of understanding what the logic is.
I’m going to let this go for now and come back to it tomorrow.
End of Part I (a.k.a. my head is about to explode).