As the authors of several angel books and frequent guests on radio talk shows, the Steigers receive dozens of letters from men and women who share accounts of angelic interactions. If you'd like to ask a question, e-mail them at columnists@staff.beliefnet.com. Please put "Steigers" on the subject line.

Q: You've written about good angels and bad or fallen angels. Are there any angels somewhere in between?

A: As we heard someone say recently, there are only three kinds of angels: the good, the bad, and the evil deceivers pretending to be good.

It is our understanding that there can be no undecided angels. An angel is either a messenger of God or a disciple of Lucifer. They are either on the side of good or of evil.

As a point of interest, certain medieval Christian theologians suggested that fairies were entities between humans and angels; in essence, demoted angels, working their way back to full heavenly status--although many take great delight in performing mischievous deeds against humans.

In the teachings of Islam, there are three distinct species of intelligent beings in the universe: The Malak, a high order of Light Beings; the al-jinn, ethereal, perhaps multi-dimensional beings; and humans, fashioned of the stuff of Earth and born into physical bodies. The Qur'an tells us that while a certain number of the jinn act benevolently toward humans and may even serve as guardians and guides, the great majority of these "in-between" entities are dedicated to performing devilish acts against humankind.

Q: Why do so many people make fun of others when it comes to talking about angels and other spiritual beings? I have seen angelic beings since I was little but whenever I talk to others about my experiences, they either laugh or appear frightened. Even my pastor seems frightened when I share my stories of angels with him. Why is this?

A: For the past couple of centuries, the Western world has done little to encourage individual's mystical experiences. Until quite recently, even clergy were reluctant to discuss angelic manifestations or any other kind of spiritual phenomena with their parishioners for fear of being branded primitive or superstitious. Lay people who described their mystical experiences were approached with great caution and their stories were considered suspect unless some kind of so-called "scientific" proof could be offered. Unfortunately, even learned men and women often express their lack of awareness or their ignorance of the unknown by laughing nervously or by recoiling in fear.

The great philosopher William James once observed that the fountainhead of all religions lies in the mystical experience of the individual. All theologies, all ecclesiastical establishments, he contended, were but secondary growths.

If you are experiencing angelic or other spiritual manifestations, be assured that you are not alone. On January 23, 1994, USA Today published the results of a national survey conducted for the National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago. The data collected on private spiritual experience revealed that two-thirds of all Americans claim to have had at least one mystical experience.

Of the millions of Americans who acknowledge a mystical encounter, 67.3% claim to have experienced some form of extrasensory perception, such as telepathy, with someone far away from them; 28.3% say that they seen events occur as they happened at a great distance; 39.9% are convinced that they have communicated with spirits; 31.5% have experienced the elevation of consciousness by a connection to a powerful spiritual force.

Until only recently, observed Dr. Jeffrey S. Levin, an associated professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia, one of the experts who analyzed the survey data, some kind of social stigma may have prevented more men and women from acknowledging such paranormal encounters, which, he says, have been around "since time immemorial."

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