Reflections on ‘Eternal Law’

A few years ago a little boy, Matty, was stumbling unsteadily across his garden with a pair of open garden shears in his hands. Had he fallen, the resulting injuries would have been horrific. His mother, who was facing the other way, heard a voice telling her to turn around. She did it, and the boy was spared.

Years later, Matty has grown up into Matthew Graham, co-writer of a provocative and quirky new TV series for British television – Eternal Law. In the series we follow the story of two angels sent to earth in the guise of lawyers to help people. Along the way they encounter not only those working against them, but other angels in disguise amongst the ordinary people – maybe even in the odd back garden or two.

There will be numerous aspects of the series with which people take issue, I’m sure. Some will reject the premise outright, others have already criticised its lack of emotional pull, and others will quite simply baulk at the sight of angels sharing a pint, or swigging from a bottle of wine.

My problem is with the wings. The programme’s edginess and its ambiguity about good, evil, and the role of their boss Mr Mountjoy, is all eclipsed by the addition of radiant wings which would not have looked out of place in an upmarket nativity play. Perhaps they had to be there in order to remind us that these rather earthy characters were actually heavenly beings. That said, lines such as “why do we squander our magnificence” might have been sufficient to do that on their own.

We have a rather curious relationship with the idea of angels. A male-dominated church historically saw them as  female – since that captured their idea of beauty. Certain medieval mystics thought they should be spherical, since that was a perfect shape with neither beginning nor end. Perhaps a new generation will think they wear sharp suits and shiny shoes?

Maybe their ambiguity is their greatest asset. Who knows – perhaps an angel will be reading this unawares?

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