American Angels: Useful Spirits in the Material World

Overview

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 ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (9) from $1.99   
  • New (3) from $15.00   
  • Used (6) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

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, asGardella 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.

This book is part of the CultureAmerica series.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Gardella (world religions, Manhattanville Coll.) has written one of 2007's most provocative and original books on spirituality. Angels, once the impersonal bearers of God's will, have mutated steadily into clichéd and honey-sweet decorative accessories in every American home. This wide-ranging book both surveys the immense range of angelic and pseudoangelic images and places them in a thoughtful historical and national context. Gardella suggests, with good reason, that angels have transformed into a symbol of a future of fulfilled dreams and are perhaps even the most potent metaphor for American culture. Highly recommended.
—Graham Christian

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700615377
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 9/18/2007
  • Series: CultureAmerica
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Gardella is professor of world religions at Manhattanville College and author of Innocent Ecstasy: How Christianity Gave America an Ethic of Sexual Pleasure and Domestic Religion: Work, Food, Sex and Other Commitments.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)