Dear Dr. Boli: In the supermarket the other day, I saw a brand of toilet paper called “Angel Soft,” which started me wondering: How soft are angels? —Sincerely, Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Dear sir: Angels are not particularly soft. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah gives us a fairly good idea of the qualities and characteristics of angels, which are not the same as the qualities and characteristics generally associated with bathroom tissue, at least the premium brands. An excess of fire and brimstone is usually frowned upon in a premium toilet paper, and word of mouth spreads the news fairly quickly if uncomfortable scraps of divine wrath are found in a particular brand.
The name “Angel Soft,” however, does not refer to any quality in the tissue itself, but rather was given in tribute to the destruction of the Cities of the Plain in Genesis 19. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah and their destruction by fire and brimstone is well known; what is less well known is that two smaller cities were destroyed at the same time. For these cities, which the book of Sirach names as Winnipeg and Sioux Falls, the angelic forces, showing one of those flashes of divine humor that illuminate so much of the Old Testament, in fact used toilet paper as the destructive agent.