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By Suzanne Hobson (auth.)

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Additional resources for Angels of Modernism: Religion, Culture, Aesthetics 1910–1960

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A committee of military chaplains established by Archbishop Randall Davidson reported in 1918 that ‘without a generally accepted and loved popular devotion which corrects what is lacking in present forms and litanies put out for authority . .

These angels are felt, then, to embody a concept – the ‘twentiethcentury angel’ – which itself has received little interrogation and, moreover, seems to rest on a still more elusive concept – the ‘historical’ angel. Exactly what, in terms of function and iconography, would distinguish a twentieth-century angel from, say, its thirteenth-century predecessor? 1 If so, then where on earth (pun intended) would we find similar figures in the modern historical record? Or, to approach this problem from another angle, does the ‘historical angel’ suggest an equivalent to the ‘historical Jesus’ – the object of the quest undertaken by Biblical critics in the nineteenth century?

128 While Bloom’s solution to the problem is idiosyncratic, his sense that a ‘debased Gnosticism’ has created a contemporary crisis of faith resonates with other philosophical treatments of the late twentieth-century religious climate. In The Puppet and the Dwarf (2003), Slavoj Žižek includes Gnosticism in a list of theological trends that have been given a new lease of life by ‘the “postsecular” Messianic turn of deconstruction’. 129 Žižek explains this postsecular turn in terms of the correspondences between the Gnostic universe – created by a trickster God – and the Cybernetic universe.

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