of the most basic sort {cultura, L,ncultivation or tending), a mannwho carefully conserves vchat henhas and vigorously protects it.nHis defense in this case is prose;nfew others—Curtis Stadtfeldncomes to mind—could makenPeruvian potato farming as interestingnto a Lambite as Berryndoes. Perhaps it’s because hisnlanguage conveys his spiritualnbelief in and love for the land.nIN FocusnThe Wings of MindnMortimer J. Adlet: The Angelsnand Us; Macmiilan; New York.nby Joseph KoterskinActually, only two-thirds ofnProfessor Adler’s book concernsnangelic beings, both faithfulnand fallen. The final portionnconsiders a multiplicity of commonnangelistic fallacies. Whilenangel-impersonators are rare,nthere are all sorts of troubles thatncan legitimately be ascribed tonmistaking men for angels—fromnthe innate-ideas doctrine ofnDescartes and the reincarnationnbeliefs of Eastern religions to thenpolitics of anarchism (which expectsnmen to love one anothernwithout laws, like the angels do)nand most forms of socialism. ThenMarxist “new man,” for example,nis expected to give up certainnthings that corporeal men sonenjoy: property and politics.nWithout a doubt, contemporarynculture has produced more fadJsnbased on angelistic fallacies thannangels could dance on the headnof a pin (a question, by the way,nwhich no medieval theologiannMr. Koterski teaches philosophynat the University of St. Thomasnin Houston.nUnfortunately, however, it isnalmost impossible to read Berrynwithout hearing furtive echoesnof the boorish militant conservationists,nor those who have madenthe “back-to-nature” movementnbig business, in his writings,nnot because he is one ofnthem, but because they employnsimilar words and so sully hisnmessage with their posturing.n(GV) Dnever seems to have asked). Fornexample, parapsychology andntelepathic communication, asnwell as those who hastily judgenthe intentions of others, all pretendnto the type of communicationnthat only the angels enjoy.nThere is also symbolic logic,nwhich takes all the fun out ofnhuman ambiguities in speech byncreating a non-misunderstandablenlanguage like that whichnthe angels wordlessly employ.nMost of Adler’s book, however,nis devoted to angels per se.nTheir very existence, of course, isna matter of debate for some, sonhe not only considers doctrinalnquestions but also discusses philosophicallyn^t possibility of thenexistence of angels. Religiousnbelief in angels would be terriblynabsurd, Adler argues, if wencould not be assured that angelsnare at least possible beings, thatnis, “that it is possible for mindsnto exist without bodies.” Whilenthe proof of their actual existencenseems to be beyond thenscope of philosophy, the proof ofnthe possibility of their existencenis another matter. Indeed, idealistsnlike Descartes have an easierntime with this than with explainingnhow the spiritual soul of mannever gets yoked to his fleshlynbody. But for realists like Adler,nthe philosophical proof of thenpossibility of angels rests on thenvalidity of such distinctions asnthat between sense perceptionnand imagination on the onenhand and intellection or understandingnon the other. Unlessnone grants that distinction, thennnothing exists or can exist unlessnit can be sensed and imagined.nBut if one accepts that there arenobjects of thought intellectuallynknown and separate from sensiblenobjects, then the ability to bensensed is not the fence that keepsnbeings in the corral of reality.nThis is not to say that by being annobject of thought such an objectnmust also exist in reality, but itndoes affirm that noncorporealnspirits like angels are in factnpossible.nIt is no wonder that medievalnand modern philosophers discussednangels at such greatnlength. Their supersensorynstatus makes them the perfectntest cases of pure reason and thenbest possible subjects for all sortsnof thought experiments. Adlernfollows the ages-long wranglingnabout how angels could evernchange and how they differ fromnone another (matter is essentialnto both these subjects in ourncommon understanding ofnthem), how they move throughnspace and what their communitiesnmust be like. His tournof angelic topics culminates in anchapter on “Angels as Lovers.”nBut religion, not philosophy,nis the real cement of cultures, sonAdler begins his book by consideringnangels as objects of religiousnbelief. Their existence is,nof course, an article of faith fornreligious Jews, Christians, andnMoslems, and these celestialnbeings have given great joy tonartists throughout history. ThenFlemish Renaissance painters ofnaltarpieces, to take but one examplenbesides those which Adlerngives, always portrayed angels innthe glorious vestments of subordinatenministers at the divinennnliturgy, for the Lord, whethernthe baby Jesus or Christ on thenCross, is the celebrant to whomnthey minister. Adler recounts inndetail what we know about thenhierarchy of the nine angelicnchoirs. Even the lowest have noncomplaints about their places,nfor, unlike our stadiums andnmusic halls, there are in heavennno poles or columns to obscurenthe view of God’s throne fromnone’s assigned seat. As Dantenputs it, “Everywhere in Heavennis paradise.”nFinally, no treatment ofnangels would be complete withoutnthe story of the Fall. Christianity,nboth Catholic and Protestant,nstresses the centrality ofnSatan in salvation history, but inndoing so parts company withnJudaism and Islam. It is almostnunimaginable to us what punishmentnbefits those whose sinnwas claiming virtual equalitynwith God. But to realize thatnphysical pain is possible only fornbodied creatures like men andnthat the fallen angels instead experiencendeprivation—the lossnof the blissful angelic vision—nreinforces the hard-won insightnof St. Augustine: that evil isnreally a privation, the absence ofna good that ought to exist.nAll of this puts the reader innmind of the old prayer so manynlearned as children: “O angel ofnGod, my guardian dear …” IfnGod is “the Creator of all things,nboth visible and invisible,” thennthere is more to this than meetsnthe eye. •nFrivolities ofnthe ClassicsnShalom Aleichem: Marienbad;nG. P. Putnam’s Sons; New York.nShalom Aleichem was anmaster of Yiddish literature duringnits most flourishing period—nthe last pan of the 19th century.n•IHH^^^OnDecember 198Sn