God ain't easy. We're talking about the divinity of the Abrahamic religions, the religions of the desert. One could argue whether for all these faiths the divinity is one and the same, but the existence of such an argument backs up my thesis: God ain't easy. The gods of polytheistic religions are easier to understand, for they seem to have human qualities -- as well as many superhuman ones. But this one and only, this I Am, this being who according to Einstein doesn't roll dice, this God is hard to wrap one's head around.
Jesus, according to those who believe in the Holy Trinity, is the Son of God, is God the Son. Not easy to fathom either, but at least human. He walked, he talked, he ate. Just like we do. Now, that one can relate to.
Then there are the saints, whom in the Catholic tradition, many pray to and ask for favors. As they do to Mary, mother of Jesus, who is prayed to in her many manifestations. Does this come close to idolatry? Austere Protestants will say yes. The Catholic Church itself does too. In Catholic school we were warned about "worshipping" saints and the Virgin Mary, never mind the actual "miraculous" representations that folk Catholicism venerates, asks for favors and miracles, and if granted some may walk on their knees to their site to give thanks.
It doesn't take a Ph.D. In folklore to see the remnants of pre-Christian polytheism in such attitudes and practices. But then, God ain't easy and these once flesh-and-blood beings and their material representations are more palatable to our frail and flawed humanity.
And the angels. Not human like the saints, yet not divine. Certainly handsome in the paintings and statues of archangels, big strapping winged creatures of uncertain gender. Or the cherubs, adorable naked babies. Whatever angels are, when they are represented they look good. And they do good.
Which brings me to my flat tire. But that's for the next post.