On Angels and Sleep

October 2, 2009


Angel of GideonSeeing as there was at least a little interest in my first post on angelology, I thought that the feast of the Guardian Angels would be a fitting time to draw attention to one of Karl Rahner’s quirkier essays: ‘A Spiritual Dialogue at Evening: On Sleep, Prayer, and Other Subjects.”  The essay is quirky both because of its genre (an imagined dialogue between Rahner and a physician who is strangely tolerant of dense theological prose and periodic sentences) and because of its subject matter (a theology of sleep).  At any rate, Rahner here nuances the traditional understanding of angels as “pure spirits.”  He grants that they are not as definitely related to matter as the human spirit is, but, nonetheless, holds for the position–developed at greater length elsewhere–that angels bear some proper relation to the material world.

If so, Rahner muses, then perhaps our surrender to sleep and to the realm of the unconscious opens us to the influence of both angels and demons. Read the rest of this entry »