CSFF Blog Tour: Imagining Angels

One sometimes wonders – on these tours where we debate angel books and angel characters – what angels make of it all. Possibly they don’t make much. Heaven has more important business. Anyway, they have surely noticed by now that gaps in human knowledge are often filled by human imagination.

God has set limits so that, though angels are always seeing us, we can hardly ever see them. Our knowledge of angels is so slight that Christians have had a diversity of views on them. Even staying within biblical parameters, we can imagine angels many different ways. Here is a brief sampling of angelic portrayals from literature written by Christians – two from our modern era, two from the era just before.


We’re close now, so close than I can see that touching a Sabre’s wing may be the fastest way to lose an arm. I set to examining the nearest one. He’s gigantic, like Jake said. And his eyes are pure white, trademark white. Like Canaan’s. Like Helene’s. He has the celestial gaze of one who’d lay down his life for another. His skin, too, is white, so white it looks almost silver. His muscled arms and chest make Canaan look trim. But as much as I can find things to admire about his physique, it’s his wings that so separate him from any other angel I’ve seen.

Their beauty is staggering, their design inexplicable. Where I expect to see rows and rows of snowy white feathers, one blade lies on top of another – thousands of them – sharp and glistening silver. Shannon Dittemore, Broken Wings

Love, we have looked on many shows
As over lands from sea to sea
Man with his Guardian Angel goes
His shining shadow more than he.

– G. K. Chesterton, “Love, We Have Looked on Many Shows”

In a graceful, fiery spiral they drifted down behind one of the college dormitories and came to rest in the cover of some overhanging willows. The moment their feet touched down, the light from their clothes and bodies began to fade and the shimmering wings gently subsided. Save for their towering stature they appeared as two ordinary men, one trim and blond, the other built like a tank, both dressed in what looked like matching tan fatigues. Golden belts had become like dark leather, their scabbards were dull copper, and the glowing, bronze bindings on their feet had become simple leather sandals. Frank Peretti, This Present Darkness

But Thou, Lord, surely knewest thine own plan
When the angelic indifferencies with no bar
Universally loved, but Thou gav’st man
The tether and pang of the particular,

Which, like a chemic drop, infinitesimal,
Plashed into pure water, changing the whole,
Embodies and embitters and turns all
Spirit’s sweet water into astringent soul

That we, though small, might quiver with Fire’s same
Substantial form as Thou – not reflect merely
Like lunar angels back to Three cold flame.
Gods are we, Thou hast said; and we pay dearly.
C. S. Lewis, “Scazons”

CSFF Blog Tour: Sabres, Cherubs, and Guardian Angels

During the blog tour of Angel Eyes, I wrote a post considering different aspects of the angels’ portrayals and their foundation in Scripture. Now that Shannon Dittemore has continued her series, I will continue mine. The portrayal of angels may be classified one of three ways: biblical (taught in Scripture), anti-biblical (contradicted by Scripture), and speculative (neither confirmed nor denied by Scripture).

So here we go:

Angels called Sabres worship God near His throne – The Sabres bear a resemblance to the four living creatures of Revelation, whom John saw around the throne and who “never stop saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.’ ” They are also similar to the six-winged seraphim Isaiah saw flying above God’s throne, “calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ “

But the Sabres can’t be the four living creatures. For one thing, there are twelve of them, and for another, they aren’t covered with eyes. Nor does their description match that of the seraphim. Although the Sabres have some biblical antecedent, they are speculative inventions.

Cherubs are small – Pearla, the Cherub, is a small angel; the demonic counterparts of her “cherubic order” – “impish” spies – are apparently small, too.

The Bible makes some mention of cherubs, or cherubim. They were a prominent aspect of the holy art of the tabernacle and the temple, and the Ark of the Covenant was overshadowed by golden cherubim. In the desert, when Bezalel crafted the Ark, he made the “cherubim of the Glory” of one piece with its cover. Centuries later, when Solomon built the temple, they made “the chariot” – two sculptured cherubim who spread their wings above the Ark in the Most Holy Place.

It is clear that those sculptured cherubim – whose design God had given to David – had two wings. We’ll get to the importance of that later.

Cherubim, together with the flaming sword, guarded the way to Eden and the tree of life. The four living creatures Ezekiel saw were cherubim – angels with four faces, four wings, and a multitude of eyes. “When the creatures moved,” the prophet wrote, “I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army.”

The walls of the temple Ezekiel saw – like the walls of the temple Solomon built – were decorated with cherubim. In the temple of Ezekiel’s vision, each cherub had two faces.

In chapter 28, God speaks: “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you … You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. … Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.”

Pearla, the Cherub, was called “little one” by the archangel Michael. One cannot imagine Michael extending the same endearment to the cherubim guarding Eden, or the four living creatures, or the “guardian cherub” of Ezekiel’s prophecy. One word you would not associate with the cherubim of Scripture is “small”.

In making imps and cherubs small, Broken Wings is drawing from culture and art, not the Bible. Indeed, the small cherubs make a very different impression than the cherubim of Scripture. Yet given the diversity of cherubim even in Scripture – two wings, four wings, two faces, four faces, covered with eyes, covered with jewels – I am reluctant to call Pearla the Cherub anti-biblical.

God assigns to human beings Shields (guardian angels) – In Acts, after Peter’s miraculous escape from prison, he came to the house of John Mark’s mother, where the believers initially thought he was “his angel”. Christians have believed in guardian angels since the beginning of the Church.

Two verses in Scripture support the idea. In Hebrews, the author writes, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” The Gospel of Matthew recounts Jesus saying, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels always see the face of my Father in heaven.” This is even more in the way of guardian angels, because it implies that God does attach specific angels to specific people.

The details of “our” angels, and how they minister to us, are unknown to us. Maybe the popular idea of an angel who is always near us is correct; maybe the angels watch from heaven; maybe they come, from time to time, as God directs. The “Shields” in the Angel Eyes Trilogy are a sound biblical idea, even though the specifics are by necessity speculative.

CSFF Blog Tour: Broken Wings

The truth, when uncovered, can cause a lot of trouble. Brielle knows this, after all the chaos stirred up when Damien discovered the secret of her eyes and Jake’s hands. That trouble is now on the back-burner, where it’s simmering to a boil. In the meantime, Brielle has enough to handle with the truth the angel unearthed in the cemetery.

Broken Wings is Shannon Dittemore’s second novel, continuing what she began in Angel Eyes. It’s a second act, but it feels like a middle-act. Dittemore handles the “before” events with enough skill that you could begin the story here, if you wanted, but you would be missing something.

What mainly creates the impression of a middle-act is the story-lines that are only begun and those that never really come to a head. Nothing is concluded. The end of the book does not set the stage for new conflicts; it merely lowers the curtain on a drama full of unfinished fights and unanswered questions.

All sorts of forces are at work in this story – demonic and angelic, human and divine. The designs of the demonic enemies are kept largely hidden; the purposes of God are more mysterious still. To Dittemore’s credit she gives God an unseen but present role, never fully explaining Him. Her characters are left to trust, or not trust. Like we are.

Shannon Dittemore keeps interest alive throughout Broken Wings, seasoning it with dashes of excitement. I enjoyed the development of Kaylee, and the textured introduction of Olivia. Marco – over this book and the first – strikes me as a bit of an idiot, but that’s acceptable in a secondary character.

I liked Jake and Brielle a little less this time around. Strangely enough, the reasons are related largely to their romance. I thought it shallow and selfish that Jake – with a miraculous healing gift in a world full of suffering, dying people – essentially reduced his criteria for healing people to, How will it affect my girlfriend? And no one will ever justify why Brielle would not wait until Jake was done healing a bleeding, unconscious person before she began kissing him.

I also thought unmarried Christians should be more hands-off than they were, though I know that the majority opinion is probably against me. And the author’s use of a few (mildly) crude words was a bad thing

Despite these moral missteps, the book had a solid spiritual foundation, themed in trusting and worshiping God even when we don’t understand. Shannon Dittemore dealt creatively with the speculative element, and the characters were strong and, on occasion, winning. Even by the standards of professional writing, the prose of Broken Wings is notably good. Those who like books about angels will find this the sort of thing they like. Even those who don’t may make an exception.


And now, happy campers – and unhappy ones, for that matter – here are the links:

Broken Wings on Amazon;

Shannon Dittemore’s website;

and the CSFF’ers, as our organizer Becky Miller calls us:


Gillian Adams

Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Janey DeMeo
Theresa Dunlap
Emma or Audrey Engel
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Karielle @ Books à la Mode
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Megan @ Hardcover Feedback
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nathan Reimer
James Somers
Kathleen Smith
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Shane Werlinger

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Review: Sneak

When you are a refugee from an evil government and its secret police, when your ambition is to pull a prison break at a fortress of a prison, when you are variously counted a criminal, a traitor, an outcast, and a target – what do you do? Well, for starters, you sneak.

Sneak is the second installment of the story Evan Angler began in Swipe. Logan, now among the Dust, is on a mission to save his sister; he has a city to go to, a name to look for – Acheron, the ultimate bane of the Markless. On the road they find stories of Acheron. Whether or not they’ve found truth – well, that they won’t know until they can get to Acheron and see for themselves.

Sneak explores deeper the world rising from the devastation of global warming and Total War. That world grows more elaborately dystopian, and in this second book, the series becomes definitely Christian and unmistakably End Times. I had hoped the books were not going in that direction, because it’s not the sort of thing that naturally appeals to me. But if you’re going to do it, this is the way to.

Knowing Revelation, one can see various fulfillments in Swipe and Sneak. Yet they come in unexpected ways, flavored and influenced by the particular world of the novels. And they come unheralded, and even gradually – far more interesting, and even more believable, than the seven years of cataclysm found in other End Times works.

The pace of Sneak is brisk enough to keep away boredom, and slow enough that readers are not left confused. Certain events were skimmed past with hardly a glance, but they were peripheral to the actual experiences of the characters, and maybe that is the nature of a middle-grade book. On the same front, I found the main character too rash – but again, maybe that is the nature of thirteen-year-old boys who have abruptly been torn from all that was stable in their lives.

What I appreciated most about this book was the inventiveness with which the author handled his world and End Times prophecies. He had a flair with his characters, too, and managed to support a large cast and make most of them distinctive. Sneak leaves more going than Swipe did, while also leaving less of an idea of where the characters will turn next. So here’s to the next book, and the author’s skill that keeps readers coming back.

The Mind’s Reel

There are movie lines that stay with you, that your mind keeps on playing whether you ask for it or not. And many of these lines stick without any inherent merit or apparent superiority. These are not the things that, while reading a script, leap up at you; no, they stay tamely on the page, all flat ink. But somewhere between the script and the screen, some magic comes in and turns these sentences to gold.

Here are a few I’ve marked in my family’s own movie experience.

I don’t want to be a pie! I don’t like gravy. Chicken Run

These are the jokes, kid. Monsters, Inc.

Dishonor on you. Dishonor on your cow. Mulan

Period. End of story. Very sad. But personally, I’m crazy about it. Son of Flubber

Never trust a bunny. Hoodwinked

We’re in a war, man! There’s no time for stupid questions. Mulan


This one is useful to quote when you need more information:

Be specific, Bob. The Incredibles


This is an all-purpose expression of dismay:

I’m a lost toy. Toy Story


This – another line from Toy Story – no doubt owes its immortality to Buzz Lightyear’s heartfelt melodrama:

Years of academy training wasted! Toy Story


I think the alliteration plays a part in making this one memorable:

Foreign as a frankfurter. Chariots of Fire


And poor grammar has a part in these:

Don’t let’s get personal. The Love Bug

I told you they was organized. Chicken Run


These play off the fact that certain words – like monkey – are just inherently funnier than others:

What’s with the monkey? The Lion King

Dude. He ate our cake. Veggie Tales


And the most famous, most immemorial of all, known by everyone in the English-speaking world:

Lions and tigers and bears – oh my! The Wizard of Oz