What Do Angels Do All Day?


So, what do angels do all day? I wasn’t particularly looking for trouble when I started thinking about this, and I can’t really say I’ve found any trouble, but it has been one of those little things that’s nagged at me for literally minutes and who knows when it’ll end.

I mean, I know, kind of, that angels are busy being in perfect communion with God, and I guess that’s great for them. I suppose that of all the people you’d want to be in perfect communion with, God is right up near the top of the list, well ahead of the guy who draws xkcd or that Firefly person other people on the Internet get all tense about. And I’m sure they’re happy about it, because of perfection and all that and plus, if they weren’t happy, God would know about it right away and could fix that before they even knew they were unhappy. That sounds a little creepy if I lay it out like that, but I have to suppose that God would try to play up the non-creepy side of that, and succeed, if God’s making any kind of effort at it. Also I suppose that if angels are there outside the mortal realm the whole idea of days or even time get pretty vague, but, it seems like being isn’t the same thing as doing. Given that they exist, I mean, what do they exist to do?

Pop culture, as ever, offers suggestions, most of them stupid. If I follow the twee movie industry right, angels can keep themselves fairly busy by coming into the mortal realm and guiding schlubby people into successful romances, possibly with the angels themselves, possibly with some faintly attractive person who has some properties such as existing and being played by the third-billed actor. Some work on teaching mortals to cherish what they have, which I guess is also nice enough. I suppose there’s a couple who have to explain why they can’t get the mortals Peter Falk’s autograph. (He’s getting coffee.)

It used to be different. Going back to the Like 1940s Or Something, angels got to work in vast bureaucratic organizations, becoming parts of the classic Men in the Grey Flannel Halo sort of lifestyle. They’d have titles and ranks and run off to take care of people whom review meetings have found are succumbing to life-threatening despair, or are maybe dying by accident way sooner than they ought to be, or maybe are just driving uncommonly poorly while in New Jersey, or not decorating their homes with enough telephones, or maybe they’re just trying to figure out the right way to bring the world to an end. Some of them might get into hijinks like putting that new-fangled Swing music on trial and deciding to acquit it on the grounds that they can kind of hear how there’s licks from Mozart slipped into it, plus, the people in the movie theaters watching this short really like Swing so they better not disapprove too much.

The angels in these presentations all clearly have stuff to do all day, and they seem to be pretty happy with an existence of staff meetings and interdepartmental communications. They seem to be happier staff meetings than I’ve ever been to, I guess because instead of having walls and PowerPoint demonstrations they have clouds and sunsets and the implication that someone who acts up might lose his cloud-seating privileges, which would be pretty exciting. They don’t have doughnuts, but maybe part of being in perfect communion with God is that you don’t even care about jelly doughnuts while you’re trying to remember exactly which planet Earth is, again. Come to it, worrying about things like Swing music when you aren’t sure about what planet Earth is seems kind of like busy-work. Maybe that’s what was going on in the mid-century like that, and the angels took to bureaucracy because they needed something exciting to do. I bet when they discovered PERT charts they were on cloud nine, if they could be said to exist anywhere.

What I take away from all this is that I believe I’m somehow turning into a precocious yet annoying seven-year-old.