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Original Essays | July 22, 2014

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American Angels: Useful Spirits in the Material World (Culture America)

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American Angels: Useful Spirits in the Material World (Culture America) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From figurines to bumper stickers, Broadway to prime-time TV, angels have taken over America. Our fascination with angels has become big business but, as Peter Gardella shows, this phenomenon has extended well beyond the commercial world to attract and inspire people from all walks of life for a diverse array of reasons.

Gardella's engaging study is the first to look objectively at the place of angels in American culture. He explores in particular the emergence of a domestic religion of "useful angels"—especially outside mainstream churches-that has created a uniquely American faith, one that addresses everything from the sexuality of angels to how angels and demons literally figure in the War on Terror.

Gardella explores the history of angels in America from Spanish colonialism and Puritan sermons to the modern angel craze that overtook the nation in the 1990s in the wake of Sophy Burnham's bestselling A Book of Angels. He argues that our collective fascination with angels seems especially linked to their perceived utility as helpmates and describes how they have been incorporated into everything from healing practices and child rearing to warding off evil and evoking love. But, Gardella argues, these angels are often perceived as servants of man rather than agents of God, and this very servitude has helped codify our sense of national uniqueness and righteousness.

Angel enthusiasm may be centered in America's heartland—home of the Hallmark empire and Precious Moments chapel—but it extends everywhere, including our music, popular literature, advertising, television shows, and Hollywood movies like It's a Wonderful Life, Michael, and City of Angels. And, as Gardella shows, whether New Age or evangelical, these angels are becoming more multicultural, more physical, and more intimately engaged with us all the time.

Beautifully and sympathetically written, but with a scholar's eye for pattern and detail, American Angels mixes theology, psychology, sociology of religion, gender theory, and even film criticism to create an unusually well-rounded survey of a uniquely American phenomenon. It shows us how the utility of angels speaks to the very core of religion and will enlighten skeptics and believers alike.

Synopsis:

Explores the rich history of angels in America from Spanish colonialism and Puritan culture to modern incarnations found on TV, in movies, in comic books, and on bumper stickers. Finds that Americans have constructed the "useful angel" as a servant of man rather than an agent of God.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

1. Useful Spirits of American Culture

2. Angels in the Material World

3. Angels Come from Persia

4. Angels, Therapists, and Exorcists

5. Angels, Love, and Sex

6. Angels of War and Apocalypse

7. New Angels and Superheroes

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780700615377
Subtitle:
Useful Spirits in the Material World
Author:
Gardella, Peter
Publisher:
University Press of Kansas
Subject:
Spirituality - General
Subject:
Angels & Spirit Guides
Subject:
Popular Culture - General
Subject:
Angels
Subject:
Civilization
Subject:
United States - Civilization - 21st century
Subject:
Metaphysics-Angels
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
Culture America
Publication Date:
20071018
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
296
Dimensions:
9.24x6.34x1.02 in. 1.23 lbs.

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Metaphysics » Angels
Religion » Western Religions » Mysticism

American Angels: Useful Spirits in the Material World (Culture America) Used Hardcover
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Product details 296 pages University Press of Kansas - English 9780700615377 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Explores the rich history of angels in America from Spanish colonialism and Puritan culture to modern incarnations found on TV, in movies, in comic books, and on bumper stickers. Finds that Americans have constructed the "useful angel" as a servant of man rather than an agent of God.
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