The Angel’s In The Details

Recently a friend used a figure of speech while describing a situation involving an unexpected detail that later turned out to be crucial to the success of their project, but after going unnoticed, caused further disruption and complications to occur. It made me contemplate the meaning and foundation of this now commonly known idiom.

Many people may be familiar with the phrase ‘the Devil’s in the details’, which some claim was originally used by the atheist German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (in German: “Der Teufel steckt im Detail”(1)) and later adopted by many other cultures around the world, although paradoxically the exact ‘details’ of its origin seem difficult to determine. It generally “refers to problems or difficulties that result from the unforeseen nature of unexamined details. It refers to a catch hidden in the details rather than the truth in its abstract sense.”(2) This was indeed the saying used by my friend during our discussion, but after having a feeling that something did not seem right about that phrase (probably stemming from the fact that I personally have never believed in the existence of the ‘Devil’), I decided to do a little digging into the true foundation of this phrase.

What I found confirmed my suspicions, in that the original saying had at some point been morphed into its current variation and lost the essence of its meaning along the way. The expression ‘the Devil’s in the details’ is actually a derivation of the original saying God is in the detail which is usually attributed to German/American architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, but more aptly originated from an older German proverb (‘Der liebe Gott steckt im detail’) (3) of an unknown source.

So, when the phrase ‘the Angel’s in the details’ playfully came to me as an alternative to ‘the devil’s in the details’, I suppose this was not too far from the original truth of the matter, especially if we go with the notion that Angels work with God, which I feel to be true. For the phrase ‘God is in the details’ denotes something very different than its ‘devilish’ counterpart.

“The idea was that whatever one does should be done thoroughly and the truth, if it exists, is in the details.”(1) This approach invokes the consideration that in every little detail of movement, whether it be in the form of a thought, the spoken word, or physical action, there exists a greater Truth, and that these movements can either heal or harm us as a humanity.

In essence, honouring the original iteration of this phrase that holds God and all that He represents to be in the details of everyday life offers us the opportunity to appreciate not only our divine connection with Him, but how if we allow ourselves to feel it, we can see God’s signature in so many things around us. Take the twinkle in the eye of a young child who is being cheeky and playful, the way the Sun can suddenly emerge from a cloudy sky and cascade its light all around you but somehow leaves the surrounding landscape in the shadows, or how just at the right moment a close friend tenderly puts their hand on your shoulder in a gesture of support when you need it most.

When one considers what is on offer here, to look at the potential for more love to be expressed on Earth through these wonderful details, it makes any view of life’s details as being something to worry about or feel threatened by their omission as one that misses the point completely and steers us in a direction of living with emotional guilt, shame or remorse for not noticing something that later proved to be problematic. I imagine everyone can appreciate the difference they feel inside when someone takes that extra bit of time and attention to even the smallest detail in the service they provide to another or in the quality of the way they make something, compared to just doing things in an almost careless or haphazard manner. We hold the capacity for bringing more love into everything we do when we appreciate the power that even the smallest detail can bring to another.

I feel that what we are also talking about here is how we view the word ‘truth’. If it is acknowledged in a favourable sense that we can notice how God expresses His energy in every little detail we observe in Nature (like the gentle flapping of a butterfly’s wings to the infinite complexity of the human body and its inner workings), it also exposes how saying something like ‘the devil is in the details’ suggests that we are avoiding the Truth of a situation or what is being presented to us in life in order to grow and evolve.

An example of this would be how we know alcohol is chemically a poison to human cells, yet we continue to consume it in massive quantities at the great expense of our minds and bodies, with all sorts of social consequences of its usage(4). Or how we have had not one but two ‘World Wars’, and even with the devastating loss of life, infrastructure collapse, torture, and multi-generational psychological damage that ensued during that period, we continue to engage in the very same wars across the globe, and somehow find ridiculous ways to justify their existence.

Could it be that these are the kinds of ‘details’ that we are avoiding, and thereby have twisted an otherwise divine saying associating God with details into one that now demonises those very details we don’t really want to admit are being ignored at the great detriment of all Humankind?

By Michael Goodhart, Aircraft Technician, B.A. Psychology, Lover of people, Nature and the philosophy of Universal Life, North Carolina, USA

References: 

  1. the devil is in the detail. Theidioms.com. https://www.theidioms.com/the-devil-is-in-the-detail/. Published 2019. [Accessed June 4, 2019].
  2. What Does The Devil Is in the Details Mean? – Writing Explained. Writing Explained. https://writingexplained.org/idiom-dictionary/the-devil-is-in-the-details. Published 2019. [Accessed June 4, 2019].
  3. Martin G. ‘The devil is in the details’ – the meaning and origin of this phrase. Phrasefinder. https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/the-devil-is-in-the-details.html. Published 2019. [Accessed June 4, 2019].
  4. Nutt D. There is no such thing as a safe level of alcohol consumption | Professor David Nutt. the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2011/mar/07/safe-level-alcohol-consumption. Published 2019. [Accessed June 4, 2019].

Further Reading:
God is in the Detail
The Devil in the Detail
Serge Benhayon – a life of detail

40 thoughts on “The Angel’s In The Details

  1. It’s interesting, because if one gets stuck in an argument and they are adamant on being right and another bring wrong, they will often use ‘detail’ to argue their point (you did this, you did that etc.) however, by getting stuck in this, they might overlook the fact that they love that person and are simply hurt by something that’s been done. By stepping back, connecting to the bigger picture and approaching the situation differently, they might see that there is a different way and such a possibility for a different outcome. Here ‘the details’ are being used by ‘the devil’ (so to say) and it’s the bigger picture which needs to be offered to support restore the situation and work out what went wrong. However, with a more loving lens, when one looks back on the situation it’s often the little things which have built up over time that we’re not loving that led to the argument happening in the first place, and such, it was the beauty in the detail that was overlooked that ultimately built to the larger, more problematic issue. And such, the quality of the detail dictates the quality of the end; make every moment precious and what will be known is the quality of the Heavens.

  2. When I read the ‘Devil’s in the details’ I could feel the contraction in the sentence and yet when I read ‘God is in the detail’ I could feel the expansion in the sentence. The fact of the detail is that everything is something and no-thing is nothing.

  3. Another beautiful piece of writing that invites us to consider questions about the choices we make on a daily basis to collude in the avoidance of the details that will expose the madness of our cyclical, avoidance of learning existence. Alcohol, war, disregard for our bodies… look in any corner of life and you will find our willful ignorance and stupidity. This may sound doom and gloomy, but by avoiding being honest about the shady stuff we are also totally missing out on the magic that truly lies within life and the opportunities that abound.

  4. I love the detail of life. The detail of people’s lives, the detail of design, the detail of colour, the detail of angles, the detail of relationships. For me the meaning is in the detail.

  5. God or evil can be in the details depending on the energy we align to, but God is always grander to precisely embrace every aspect of our life that remain misaligned, to lovingly and forever awaiting for its final correction.

    1. Even when we align to a consciousness that is leading us away from God, if we were to go deeper into the detail we would find that God is in actual fact right there because nothing can come from anything other than God, even the consciousnesses that are leading us away from Him have Him as their foundation.

      1. Alexis, something that has become very apparent to me in all your comments and is worthy of deep appreciation is your knowingness of God and we can feel His presence in all aspects of our lives. This brings such a power and authority to your comments that is not coming from any faith, but that connection felt deep within that you have obviously been expressing from that point outwards. In comes across as such a beautiful beholding of love in your comments.

      2. Michael thank you for expressing what you have, your comment made me stop and feel the deep love that I have for God in my body, I really do love Him very much indeed.

  6. At a time when the chaos, self, greed, corruption and stress can clearly be felt amongst and in the world how wonderfull to read this ‘look at the potential for more love to be expressed on Earth through these wonderful details’. Showing us it is but a choice of what we choose … lets look at the potential or rather allow for more love to come through our bodies ✨

  7. Love the perspective you bring here on detail. Yes, we have a propensity to worry about the detail, to getting it right, but what if the detail is simply giving us the opportunity to open up to more awareness and love?

  8. Years ago, I had a manager that his favourite phrase was; I hate to be the devil in detail, but? He would consistently only find fault in any discussion, regarding anything! He was always the bad cop. What had caused him to turn his back on God and the magic of life around us in the world and instead find fault in everything? How much energy is required to fight our real purpose and at what cost to our bodies?

  9. “We hold the capacity for bringing more love into everything we do when we appreciate the power that even the smallest detail can bring to another.” I love this. Learning to commit to the detail has been a late learning for me – but brings so much with it. Inspired by my house mate I am loving it when I do do.

    1. For me there is a settlement that comes when we appreciate the detail. There is such an abundance within it that can be felt, well beyond the confines of the physical parameters of the object, or detail, we are observing.

      1. Absolutely Michelle, when we take a simple truth to bed and deeply rest in the still space we get to from our ways of living, we can then feel the freedom of the inner-temple and all that it shares for our evolution.

    1. This is a great marker for us all, Greg, and one I have been adopting more and more, that any time complication enters my day in any way, I know it is not the Truth and not in harmony. So it makes for a great stopping point to reassess what is really going on and why.

      1. Super cool… having any deviation from simplicity being a marker of our deviation from truth. If it is not simple, stop, settle and allow it to be so, as in let go of the complication we layer on and let the simplicity blossom.

    2. Has the devil ever done anything sneaky? He likes to work up-front, and in your face and fool you. Most times, we open the door for him to come in and make himself comfortable. Is it that dam-nation of free will, that causes us to answer the door to start with?

    3. Greg, this has shone a light on a task I have been given. I find that my desire to do it ‘simply’ has merely been an avoidance of attention to detail, which could have lead to a severe complication, Which brings me back to being responsible and working with, and for, God. Thank you.

  10. ‘This approach invokes the consideration that in every little detail of movement, whether it be in the form of a thought, the spoken word, or physical action, there exists a greater Truth, and that these movements can either heal or harm us as a humanity.’ I love detail, especially the small ones. In the detail you get to stop in the appreciation of it and find yourself feeling a sense of space in the joy of the moment.

  11. This is simple and magnificent : every move I make, every thought I think, every breath I take – it can have God in it. Or not. So I have a responsibility and enormous power to bring – with every move, thought, breath – God into life on earth. Could it not be that this is our all only and graceful purpose?!

  12. I love what you have highlighted here. It just goes to show how one thing is bastardised and centuries later people are still saying the bastardised saying without a second thought! My feeling was why even change it, although I know this was a playful take from you ‘the Angel is in the detail’ and instead take it back to the original and truthful meaning ‘God is in the detail’. I love this ‘The idea was that whatever one does should be done thoroughly and the truth, if it exists, is in the details.’ Let’s take it back to this ✨ or rather not take it back but claim it back that ‘God is in the detail’.

  13. I love the angel being in the detail, rather than the devil. The detail you went to in researching this saying and finding it’s true origin – beautiful. Thankyou for sharing this. I never felt comfortable with ‘ the devil’s in the detail.’

  14. I guess if we don’t like to know that our every movement governs how our life is going to unfold then it is easier to blame the devil for that than taking responsibility for our lives.

  15. “We hold the capacity for bringing more love into everything we do when we appreciate the power that even the smallest detail can bring to another.” An awareness that every move we make affects the next, and the next, then we can recognise the responsibility of moving in alignment with truth and God.

    1. God is the detail, how can He not be, He’s everything. How many of us sit in church and pray to God thinking that’s He’s a big magnificent being somewhere in the ethos and we pay no attention whatsoever to the detail of our lives or for many of us even the large components of our lives, totally missing the fact that we have the ability to bring God through by paying attention to the detail.

    1. Joseph I like your simple explanation I also feel by ignoring God we have created the mess we are in as we are currently living against the order of the universe.

    2. A detail that I am aware of right now is how I have allowed myself to feel ‘bad’ about something that I have done, not only that but I have also added comparison to my self recrimination ‘(so and so would never do that)’ but the great thing is that I am aware of this detail, this deviation from my usual clear thinking. I recognise these beahviours as not the real me and as a result I am able to work on not entertaining them. I agree Joseph, it’s imperative that we pay attention to the detail because if we don’t we’ll never find our way back to God.

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