ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
follow the good path of Ahura Mazda and to escape the clutches of Ahriman and his wicked angels. If a person is excessively sinful, the fravashi may desert him.
Personal angels also play important roles in popular Jewish traditions; such beliefs are mentioned in the novels of Scholem Asch, for instance, and in the stories of Scholem Aleichem. They played a very important role in traditional Christianity until the rise of scientific materialism during the nineteenth century. There is strong evidence that revival in the belief in angels parallels the general disillusionment which has set in concerning science and technology during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Popular films have enhanced these beliefs. Many people like to watch reruns of It’s A Wonderful Life which appeared (along with several other films featuring angels) in 1947, just after World War II, a time of exceptional dis-ease. George in desperation has decided to commit suicide because of impending ruin. He decides that he is worth more dead than alive. He is rescued by Clarence, an inept middle-aged angel who is trying to win his wings. Clarence shows George that his life has touched many others by taking him on a tour through the town as it would have been if he had never been born. There are certain poignant moments in the film, as in the scene in which prayers rise to heaven from all the people who love George and know how desperate he is. The prayers are indeed anwered—by Clarence.
During recent years, many find belief in God difficult if not impossible. There are, for example, the many aging survivors of Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps who find it impossible any longer to believe that God cares if, indeed, he exists at all. This line of thought, the vexing problem of evil, explored not only by certain Jewish rabbis but studied by many Christians as well, has perplexed the most astute of theologians. While some, like the novelist John Updike, find solace in the approach taken by Reinhold Niebuhr and other Neo-Orthodox theologians, most people have more difficulty than ever tracing the rainbow in the rain. One may long desperately for the consolation of a heavenly father and friend, but where is the evidence for him?
Thus, if a channel can say with great assurance that there is a bright, cheerful angel standing behind you at this very moment, describe her in detail, and tell you in very positive terms that she cares about you, it becomes tempting to believe. Of course, one may theorize that the channel is schizoid or schizophrenic, or an outright fraudHowever, a channel may quite casually tell someone that there is a person from another plane standing behind him/her, and describe this person in vivid terms as, say, a being who is tall, has brown hair, wears glasses, and is perhaps flailing his arms. Or else, the being may be a golden-haired guardian angel who is giggling and laughing with delight. The channel may ask if the client feels the angel’s presence, which he or she may or may not do. However, since many people would like very much to know that there are protective, human-like guardians at hand, the person may well be inclined to believe it. An important factor is the certainty conveyed by the channel. She, and it is usually a woman, sees the guardian angel or spirit being. There is no doubt, and, what is more, she thinks she can train the client to at