Author Topic: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox  (Read 4297 times)

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Offline scamandrius

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Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« on: January 22, 2007, 05:29:18 PM »
On another thread, we've been discussing icons and the difference between veneration and worship. 

One thing I have done in the past that I'm beginning to regret or at least have second thoughts about is the gift of icons to other non-Orthodox Christians.  Two of my best friends are LCMS pastors (one's father was my catechism teacher when I was still Lutheran) and this past Christmas I gave them both icons of the Christos Pantocrator, one a reduplication from the Vastopadi monastery and another from Hagia Sophia.  Both of them accepted and neither one acted in an iconoclastic fashion.  However, it's probably not a foregone conclusion that they would not use them in their prayer life (though I certainly could be wrong).  Is it less than desirable to give icons to those who would only regard them as nice illustrations instead of being read through the lens of prayer?  I also fear that I was being perhaps less than charitable for being perceived as "forcing" my ways onto them.  Any thoughts?

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Offline Anastasios

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2007, 05:34:16 PM »
It may not be advisable to do that for the reasons you specified, but at the same time, if they are not going to dishonor them, it may end up being ok because they may just keep looking at them and it may do something to them over time.
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Offline Schultz

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2007, 05:36:41 PM »
I just purchased an icon of St. Columba for an Anglican friend of mine (member of the "continuing" Anglican communion) for his newborn son, Colum.  My friend has begun a slow but sure journey back to apostolic Christianity and I have no doubt that he will eventually use icons as a "window to heaven", if he doesn't already (I havent spoken with him on the subject in quite some time).  I have no regrets about doing so, nor do I see a problem with it so long as it goes to a person who will respect the image itself, even if only as a work of art.  I'd never give an icon to a person I wouldn't lend a book to, though.
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Offline Keble

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2007, 05:39:31 PM »
I have to say I'm a bit puzzled by the implication that one is obligated to venerate an icon. Also, I suspect that even one so Protestant as an LCMS member would venerate the image to the extent of interpreting willful damage/disrespect to it as being intended towards that which it represents.

Offline CRCulver

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2007, 05:43:52 PM »
I have to say I'm a bit puzzled by the implication that one is obligated to venerate an icon.

St. John of Damascus makes an argument to that effect. Just as one must reverence the image of the Emperor so as to show proper respect and obedience to one's superiors, so one would have to reverence the image of Jesus Christ.

Offline Anastasios

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2007, 05:56:58 PM »
St. John of Damascus makes an argument to that effect. Just as one must reverence the image of the Emperor so as to show proper respect and obedience to one's superiors, so one would have to reverence the image of Jesus Christ.
yeah, I agree with Christopher, Keble.  Just as I would not enter my home and not greet my wife, I would not enter my icon corner and not venerate the icons. To me, they are equally present (although in different ways).

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Offline Deacon Lance

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2007, 05:58:30 PM »
They may not bow/prostrate before it,  kiss it or burn candles or incense in front of it, but I am sure they may prayerfully reflect on it and that is a type of reverence.  

« Last Edit: January 22, 2007, 05:59:22 PM by Deacon Lance »
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Offline Landon77

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2007, 06:00:33 PM »
This is interesting.  I've never understood Orthodoxy to teach that icons are some sort of lens the Saints use to spy on us, since they can do that without icons.  I've always seen icons as more of a one-way thing.
I've given an icon once, to an agnostic friend who agreed to let me take her to an Orthodox Liturgy.  I gave it as a gift because I don't think she would desecrate it on purpose, and I don't think she felt like I was forcing it on her.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2007, 06:01:11 PM »
I have to say I'm a bit puzzled by the implication that one is obligated to venerate an icon.
It's beacuse the theology of Icons is inextricably linked to our Christology and Soteriology. To refuse to venerate Icons implies a rejection of Orthodox Christology and Sotierology, thus, when an Orthodox Bishop is consecrated, he must first publically declare his promise to uphold Orthodox teaching and the veneration of Icons.
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Offline dantxny

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2007, 07:26:36 PM »
Quote
I've never understood Orthodoxy to teach that icons are some sort of lens the Saints use to spy on us, since they can do that without icons.  I've always seen icons as more of a one-way thing.

Well, I do think they can work on our hearts in other ways.  I have found it hard (or at least feeling guilty) to be involved in sin when an icon is in a room.  At one time, I have even gone as far and remove the icon from a room while watching a violent movie with substantial profanity.  As another example, I like to go to antique stores and and estate sells (I'm a closet Victorian) to look for cheap furniture.  Eventually, because of the practice of putting a cross over ones bed, it occurred to me how silly it seems to get a ornate expensive bed that greatly overshadows the cross watching over us when we sleep.  Likewise, when we go to bed we trace the sign of the cross over our sleeping area.  Thus, I would say that icons are active ways saints and God involve themselves within our lives.  They may even spy a little. :)
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Offline Keble

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2007, 02:15:58 PM »
St. John of Damascus makes an argument to that effect. Just as one must reverence the image of the Emperor so as to show proper respect and obedience to one's superiors, so one would have to reverence the image of Jesus Christ.

Problem argument. It is illegitimate to interpret refusal to observe your forms of respect as disrespect on the part of someone else. Perhaps, however, one could advance the argument that one should be reluctant to give such an image to someone who could not use it as it was intended.

Offline CRCulver

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2007, 02:25:12 PM »
Problem argument. It is illegitimate to interpret refusal to observe your forms of respect as disrespect on the part of someone else.

No, the Church, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has set the proper forms of respect. It is the duty of all to observe said ordinances.

Offline Keble

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2007, 02:48:27 PM »
No, the Church, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has set the proper forms of respect. It is the duty of all to observe said ordinances.

...and obviously someone from the LCMS-- the LCMS! :o -- is going to observe the ordinances of THE church-- HIS church!

Offline CRCulver

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2007, 02:58:37 PM »
...and obviously someone from the LCMS-- the LCMS! :o -- is going to observe the ordinances of THE church-- HIS church!

Obviously. The only way to convince people of the right way to venerate icons is to have them come into the Church first.

Offline Simayan

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2007, 05:12:03 PM »
I see the safest thing to do is to give them to Catholics, Anglicans, and Episcopals, preferably choosing pre-schism saints. I know my mom always likes it when we bring out the icon of St. Patrick for his name day. In several devout Catholic homes, I've seen statues on the prayer table, but also some icons as well.

I think it gets a bit messy when dealing with iconoclasts, though.
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Offline Edmund

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2007, 09:24:42 PM »
I suppose it could depend on if they are High Church lutherans some Lutheran churches mainly in Europe look more Catholic then their Catholic counterparts like the lutheran cathedral in Berlin.

Offline Entscheidungsproblem

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2007, 10:00:35 PM »
I see the safest thing to do is to give them to Catholics, Anglicans, and Episcopals, preferably choosing pre-schism saints. I know my mom always likes it when we bring out the icon of St. Patrick for his name day. In several devout Catholic homes, I've seen statues on the prayer table, but also some icons as well.

I think it gets a bit messy when dealing with iconoclasts, though.

I'd have to agree with this. 

Many traditional Roman Catholic homes have icons (a table with a statue of the Blessed Virgin with a cross and icons behind it is not overly uncommon), as do some High Church Anglican households.  Though a Calvinist or other iconoclast might not be so open to it. 
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Offline Thomas

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Re: Icons as gifts to non-Orthodox
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2007, 09:47:02 AM »
I believe that giving an Icon to someone who will honor it is a blessing to those whom you will give it to. They kind of icon you give would need to be appropriate to where they are in their life.  I have given Icons to both Baptists, Methodists, and Lutherans that were of the major Feasts, the life of Christ, and of the Lord that were very welcomed and placed  in or near their family  "Prayer Center" thus creating a protestant icon corner without their being aware that that is what they have done.  They have all spoken of the Icon "speaking to them" calling them to be "closer to the Lord". Isn't that a purpose of the Icon.

To our Catholic and Episcopalian friends, I have given  preschism icons of Saints, the Most Holy Theotokos, as well as Festal Icons and have seen them mounted at their family Prayer altars/tables/corners. Likewise they speak of the impact the Icons presence in their home makes in their lives, often asking for suggestions on adding Icons to their homes.

So in conclusion, my experience has been very positive in prayerfully giving an icon to a friend or family member who is not Orthodox.  The main gift I have received from doing so is having them more open to discuss Orthodoxy in a positive frame with the understanding that we are Christian not some kooky cult.

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