Hope takes wing for believers in angels

December 22, 1992|By Los Angeles Daily News

Los Angeles -- Liane Haynes believes in angels.

The 35-year-old banquet manager from Burbank doesn't think her faith is flaky, funny or odd. Angels guide her and work miracles in her life, she says, and that's that.

In contrast to some enthusiasts, Ms. Haynes' only angel-related item is her good friend Alma Daniels' book, "Ask Your Angels" (Ballantine; $10). But nature abhors a vacuum, and into her cherub-free space glide the angels themselves.

"I don't see them in visions like some people do, but I believe there are people here on Earth whose bodies the angels step into," she said.

Ms. Haynes recently found herself stranded at 3 a.m., her car broken, several young men loitering at the corner.

"I was scared," she said. "It took me a few minutes to figure it out, but I said to myself, 'Angels, I'm in trouble . . . help me please.' "

Less than five minutes after her SOS, a cab drove up to her car.

"What was a cab doing in that area at that time of night?" she asked.

The driver listened to her car, told her she was out of gas, took her to a gas station, purchased gas for her, returned her to her car and got it running again.

"I tried to pay him and he refused. I asked him what I could do, and he said to just say a prayer for him on Sunday," she said, pausing for an instant.

"That was an angel."

Ms. Haynes is not alone in her belief. According to a Gallup Poll, 50 percent of the U.S. population believes in angels.

Angel enthusiasts say hard times and changing values have caused the renewed interest. Skeptics point to the heavenly profits angelic merchandise brings in as the cause behind their renewed popularity.

To believers, angels are ethereal Secret Service agents and every human being is president. Angels can comfort us when we're sad or frightened, heighten our pleasure when we're glad, protect us from evil and danger or help us accept the consequences of bad news, enthusiasts say.

In the past two years, angel artifacts have enchanted shoppers. Books that purport to teach how to get in touch with your angel, how to talk to your angel once you locate it and how to find the angel within you have sold briskly. Add that to angel catalogs, angel seminars, angel pins, angel newsletters and angel sightings, and it looks like the winged ones have left the cosmic back lot for the forefront of popular consciousness.

The seraphs, however, do seem to have some earthly shortcomings.

For an angel believer like Ms. Haynes, increased interest in angels is good news. As an African-American woman, however, she is troubled by the almost universal depiction of angels as white, blond and blue-eyed.

"It bothers me very much, but I think people will wake up and it will change," she said. "I have a friend who's an artist, and I've asked him to do a black angel for me."

Venice, Calif.-based Terry Lynn Taylor, whose book "Messengers Light" (H.J. Kramer; $9.95) comes out in January, said her experiences with angels involved African-American men. She shares Ms. Haynes' concern that popular art depicts heaven as a whites-only bastion. Of even greater concern is that the mass-market approach to angels could obscure their true message.

"They are not entertainment," Ms. Taylor said. "When all is said and done, angels really do have an effect in our lives. Once someone has become aware of angels, they'll never be the same again. The world will change for you. It may not happen overnight, but your awareness of the unseen world will be different."

For Karen Goldman, a West Hollywood angel author, peace of mind unexpectedly became a piece of the action. A near-spiritual experience at a 1981 Simon and Garfunkel concert in New York left her exhilarated.

"I was floating when I got home," Ms. Goldman said. "I wrote that Simon and Garfunkel were angels, and a light bulb went off in my head."

For months, Ms. Goldman was bombarded with angel thoughts, which she recorded in a notebook. In June 1991, she took her rough draft to a Sir Speedy copier service and made one copy. Urged on by a friend, she walked into the Bodhi Tree book store in West Hollywood with "The Angel Book."

"You can't just walk into a book store and try to sell your book," Ms. Goldman said. "But the owner ordered 10 copies. I had to go right back to Sir Speedy and have nine more made to fill the order."

The book sold with amazing grace. Ms. Goldman peddled it to some 50 bookstores nationwide and sold 10,000 copies in the first year, she said.

In May, Simon & Schuster won a bidding war to put "The Angel Book" into the mainstream. With a hardcover, thick paper and richly colored drawings by Anthony D'Agostino, the book's newest incarnation retails for $17.

"I never expected this," Ms. Goldman said. "It's all happened so fast, I know the angels are behind my efforts."

Eileen Freeman's newsletter, Angel Watch, is a labor of love, she says. The Mountainside, N.J., woman says her publication helps keep everyone interested in angels in touch with each other and aware of each other's work.

"This is unpaid work," she said of her bimonthly newsletter, for which several hundred subscribers pay $16 a year. "That covers costs, nothing more. That's all I want it to do. The angels don't want me to make money on this."

A glance at ancient art and literature shows angels have been around for ages.

"Basically, you're not looking at a new trend. People are more open now to a plurality of ideas. That's why they're willing to look at angels," said Carol Lozoff, whose New Yorked-based Everything Angels catalog is in its first printing. "Economic times are hard, and things seem less stable. People are looking for something to fill their lives with joy, serenity and peace of mind."

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