Author Topic: Idols?  (Read 4912 times)

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Offline TomS

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Idols?
« on: June 21, 2003, 10:32:12 AM »
I have in my home, a few works of art (paintings, sculptures, etc.) of some pagan gods that I picked up in my travels to India and other places a few years back.

I have always viewed them as simply works of art and exotic reminders of my travels, but after reading Fr. Rose's book "Orthodoxy and The Religion of the Future", I am wondering if I should get rid of them.

I mentioned this to my wife, and she feels that that is taking it to the extreme (cradle liberal GOA remember?). That since we do not believe in these gods, and simply view them as works of art, that it is not the same thing as having "pagan idols" in the house.

What do you think?

FYI - I am leaning toward getting rid of them



Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2003, 11:59:04 AM »
Dear Tom,

I don't know what Father Seraphim has to say about those, but I am Indian, and when I went to India some time back, I bought a few of those.  I have them in my house "on display" along with other things I've picked up in my travels and that others have picked up for me on their travels.  Personally, I wouldn't worry about it so much.  

Where did you travel while in India?

Offline TomS

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2003, 12:07:14 PM »
Bangalore and Madras.

I was considering selling a software product I had developed to a company in the US that was owned by an Indian. The company did very little development in the US because they had developers in Madras and Bangalore to do the actual coding. So I spent abount a month over there looking things over and evaluating the developers and quality of the code.

Talk about culture shock -- that trip was the first time I had ever travelled out of the US!

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2003, 12:22:43 PM »
I've been to Bangalore before; it's pretty nice.  That's actually where I bought the Hindu images.  I've never been to Madras before, and I have always wanted to go so I could visit the tomb of the Apostle Thomas.  Did you go there while in Madras?

Offline TomS

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2003, 12:29:38 PM »

YES! I did go there. It was very beautiful. There was a very nice old nun there who was so happy to see an american and we sat and talked for a while. She was so pious and pure of heart. I will always remember her.

The alter is built over the site where the relics are kept. There is a small set of steps cut into the rock that you go down to view the relics.  In fact I may have some pictures. I will post them if I can find them.

I actually rented a driver and a car every weekend to take me around to the temples and show me the sites. It only cost me $10 per day for BOTH the car and the driver! I bought some of the carved idols from some of the vendors that have set their booths outside of some of the temples.

« Last Edit: June 21, 2003, 12:34:23 PM by TomS »

Offline sinjinsmythe

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2003, 02:58:21 PM »
Tom, maybe you should ask your priest and see what he says about it.
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Offline Linus7

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2003, 09:55:45 PM »

I think sinjin's advice is good.

I would not feel comfortable with those Hindu things, but that's me.

I sometimes read the old Norse and Greek myths, and I especially enjoy the Icelandic sagas. I suppose that is sort of similar to having those Hindu objects, but I am not constantly looking at the images of the gods in my home or being reminded of them.

It's a tough question. I cannot say wrong or right either way. A lot depends on one's own attitude.

If the images make you uncomfortable, then get rid of them.

Like sinjin said: talk to a priest.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2003, 09:57:17 PM by Linus7 »
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Offline Mattheos

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2003, 12:37:28 AM »
Dear TomS

Friend, these idols are false gods. Anything other than THE God is against God. False gods are worship of the devil. The devil will use this against the person on judgement day, who had them even in his house, to claim to God that this person followed the devil and thus ought to be in the yoke of Satan.
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Offline prodromos

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2003, 04:13:56 AM »
Mattheos,

I don't think such a hard line is necessary. 1 Corinthians 8 makes it pretty clear that the idols themselves are nothing. The only real concern is if having them would cause a weaker brother to stumble. I personally would not keep them but I would have to be very careful not to judge someone who did.

One other concern I would have is whether or not those idols had actually been "consecrated" in their particular belief system. Evil spirits can inhabit inanimate objects and I would be very wary of bringing such into my home, though admittedly I probably give them just as easy a foot hold by giving in to anger or some other sin.

John.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2003, 04:16:53 AM by prodromos »

Offline TomS

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2003, 02:49:57 PM »
I threw them all in the trash this morning before I left for the office!

 ;D

I can see Mor Ephrem's point of view. For him, being Indian, it is more of a cultural thing. But for me, all I could see when I looked at them were idols.

Offline Anastasios

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2003, 03:38:01 PM »
I have some Hindu "icons" laying around the house and every once and awhile I listen to "Ohm namay Shiva" ["oh in the name of Shiva", basically] which is just a cassette where the lady sings that over and over again.  Why the heck would I listen to that pagan music? For the same reason I sometimes listen to "gangsta' rap": I like the tune, the words rhyme, etc.

Probably not the best but I know that those Hindu gods are really demons and powerless since the advent of Christ so I don't fear them.

I take a "to each his own" attitude towards that stuff.  If I were married to say, a former Hindu, I wouldn't keep the images in the house though as they would be a source of scandal.

I went to India twice, both to the same places in North India such as Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, etc.  I would live in New Delhi for awhile if a) I had a job with an American company and b) my wife would do it.  I doubt that would happen!

anastasios
« Last Edit: June 25, 2003, 11:23:37 PM by anastasios »
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Offline Νεκτάριος

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2003, 04:59:32 PM »
I think it is REALLY playing with fire to have these idols around or to listen to Hindu mantras/ prayers being said.  To assume that the demonic has no power because Christ is already conquered is a giant aberation from Orthodox Tradition.  Look at the desert fathers dealings with them or even the contemporary Athonits.  I think Father Seraphim Rose's dealing with the topic of Hinduism in Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future is very apt.

Offline Robert

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2003, 05:02:06 PM »
I guess I can't rub butter all over Ganesh anymore then, eh?

Bobby

Offline Oblio

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2003, 05:10:07 PM »
Or smuggle Double Whoppers to him in the dark of night ...
« Last Edit: June 25, 2003, 05:10:26 PM by Oblio »

Offline Keble

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2003, 05:27:46 PM »
I think it is REALLY playing with fire to have these idols around or to listen to Hindu mantras/ prayers being said.  To assume that the demonic has no power because Christ is already conquered is a giant aberation from Orthodox Tradition.  Look at the desert fathers dealings with them or even the contemporary Athonits.  I think Father Seraphim Rose's dealing with the topic of Hinduism in Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future is very apt.

I don't think I'd agree with this about the idols; to me they are simply art objects and there's no danger of me falling into the wrong sort of intention toward them. Obviously this is going to vary from person to person.

I am tending to agree about the music though. It's much harder to keep control over the intention here, and indeed it might well be the case that the author of the music intends you, the listener, to participate in his praying by playing his music for him. (Think of Tibetan prayer wheels, for example.)

In any case it seems to me that if one has to consider this question seriously, one should be getting rid of the things.

Offline Edwin

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2003, 09:20:00 PM »
:Friend, these idols are false gods. Anything other than THE God is against God. False gods are worship of the devil. The devil will use this against the person on judgement day, who had them even in his house, to claim to God that this person followed the devil and thus ought to be in the yoke of Satan. :

But since God knows better, why care what the old liar says? Do you think he can fool God somehow?

Edwin, rejoicing in being on a board where he gets to be the liberal again (after being the grumpy conservative on Beliefnet)
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Offline Anastasios

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2003, 11:23:09 PM »
Nektarios,

I respect your opinion, but having been to India twice, I can tell you that Fr. Seraphim was a little off on his description of Hinduism.

Listening to my mantra tape is just like cultural stuff to me.  Not like I believe in Shiva.  And like I said, it's not like I listen to it often--it was a year ago.  Now if I were listening to tapes of sermons from a Muslim imam that would be different!

I wouldn't have a Hindu idol in my house since that would be crossing the line for me.  But 2-d "icons" are just like pictures to me.  Again, I look at it as Indian cultural stuff.

If one is tempted by that stuff, I could see why it would be prudent not to have it around.  But after having gone to India and seen Hinduism in action, I was disgusted by how fake and silly it is, so I could never in my wildest dreams be tempted by that stuff.  To say that just by having it around it is dangerous, however, seems to me to be giving demons power they don't have.

In Christ,

anastasios
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Offline Νεκτάριος

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2003, 02:21:41 AM »
Anastasie,

I agree with you about hinduism being mostly just plain silly from having some Hindu (Indians, not wanabee Americans) friends.  But I do think that in some cases there is truly a demonice presence involved.  Like the Charasimatics...most of the time it is people just being stupid but there are times when the demonic is at work.  But this is an interesting topic to bring up because I know of many Greek people (and VERY Orthodox ones too) that have no qualms of having pictures of ancient Greek pagan deities because it is part of their heritage.  Is this a seperate issue because the religion of the ancient Greeks is long dead while the paganism of the Hindus is still being practiced?  Just some questions that I've never considered before.

I think the mantra though is much more serious than pictures idols (especially if they are just being treated as tourists sites like Mount Rushmore or the statue of liberty).  I have read of charisimatics and people converting to Orthodoxy from a backround involving the use of a mantra having a very hard time with the Jesus prayer because their old mantra or tongue attacks them everytime they attemp to pray the Jesus Prayer.  To me that is a major red-flag of the demonic and playing with fire zone.


Offline Anastasios

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2003, 09:05:05 AM »
Nektarios,

OK, I can see your point, and like I have said repeatedly, if it caused scandal I wouldn't listen to it/show the image in front of others.  Since it seems to have caused scandal here, I won't mention this issue publicly again.

What I would like to point out though, friend, is that in India, religious music from one group gets moved to the next with a few word tweakings, etc.  For instance, I could take the beat and the melody from "Ohm namay shiva" and transform it to "Ohm namay Isa" (Oh in the name of Jesus) or even the Sanskrit/Hindi translation of "Oh Jesus, have mercy on me" and it would become immensly popular with Christians and the bishops would be likely to play it in their car stereo!  For instance, bajans are tradional Hindu hymns.  So one day I was in this RC church and lo and behold they were singing bajans.  I was like "hmmmmmm wonder what the words say" and instead of the ususal "Krishna played his flute, picked up some women, danced around la la la" it was something to the effect of "Christ the Saviour, born of Mary, have mercy on us, etc etc etc".  Very interesting.  This happens with Muslims too.

Perhaps I should not have brought the issue up because in the American context people tend to take Hinduism more seriously and I should have anticipated that people would be generally concerned for me or offended by  me.  So I apologize to all.  I really only listen to that tape like once or twice a year!

Anyway, I also want to say that I do agree with you that there are SOME Hindu things that are plainly demonic--I felt the presence of demons in one Hindu temple I was in, for instance.  Usuallly, though, it's just strange.

anastasios
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Offline Anastasios

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2003, 10:51:14 PM »
After thinking about the issue I have decided that listening to Hindu music is not a good idea.  Thank you for helping me to see this.  I remain unchanged on the issue of having 2-d pictures, however.

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Offline Seraphim Reeves

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Re:Idols?
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2003, 08:13:22 PM »
To a certain extent, I think the issue of idolatrous images is a toss up, dependent in many respects upon one's scruples.  However, I think it is unbecoming for Christians to have these in their homes, even under the pretext of culture...I don't quite see what the point of having them would be.  If one desires decoration, there are plenty of other ways to decorate one's home than to use images which in many contexts the Bible refers to as being "abominations."  In addition, they would certainly be a scandal to some Christians who one might end up having in the home.

As for mantras, pagan chants, etc....very bad idea.  I can only speak from personal experience here.  Before I was Orthodox, I accidentally ran into some mantra recordings done by the Hare Krishna's.  Innocently I streamed one of these on my computer, and it lasted for a half hour.  For the next week, this stupid thing was burned into my memory...even worse, I'd find myself chanting this mantra under my breath, word for word.

In our post-Descartes society, we often over-estimate the dominance of the rational mind, even making the tremendous error of equating "me" with "rational mind."  The rational mind is only part of the whole man, and certainly only one part of his soul.  The mantras of the Hindus exist in the form that they do for a reason - because they are so catchy, and for whatever reason are so easily committed to memory.  What is worse, is the repetion of such a mantra (even if one starts out not intended this) by an individual is a form of worship, even an attempt to commune with the "deity" invoked by the mantra.

While it may sound supersticious to modern, hyper-rationalistic man, many contemporary Orthodox ascetics and spiritual authors have made comments on points which rationalistic folks would find a little silly or absurd.  For example, I've read warnings by priests to be careful when one makes the sign of the Cross, to make sure one touches near the navel when they sign the bottom of the Cross...otherwise, one is in fact signing one's self with an inverted Cross, which in their opinion, makes the devil giddy.  In the same way, I remember reading a recollection where St.John (Maximovitch) would not allow the altar boys to wear neck ties in the sanctuary, since the neck tie was too similar to a noose, and the sanctuary in fact was the source of Life.

From a proud, "I know what I mean", rationalistic p.o.v., those two things just seem silly.  However, even in secular literature, the reign of narrow "rationalism" is being undermined...it was in the 20th century (and not the arrogance of the Enlightenment) that secular sciences rediscovered the subconscious mind and it's importance (something Orthodox spiritual writers, being true psychologists never lost track of), and how it is subtly influenced by our environment and what we expose ourselves to.

Just as the repetition of the "Jesus Prayer" will influence a person, obviously the same type of repetition of idolatrous prayers will create an influence (or open the door for an influence of some kind.)