I know a discussion of icons come up quite often, when discussing them with Evangelicals, so I thought I would approach it from a different perspective, and to point out how the Evil One has used iconoclasm as an in-road and a divisive tool against the Church,and I will hopefully show why icons are very much needed in the Church. I think I can safely say,and please correct me if I'm wrong, that one of the main purposes of icons was to build and preserve a true and faithful image of Christ, and of the Christian life, to the Christian who is,in His or Her daily life, bombarded with false images that may distort life,and the true Apostolic faith. Iconoclast have been around for centuries,and though they may have had noble goals,in their persuit of the distruction of religious images, What they didn't realize is that by destroying those images they where simply replacing them with others,maybe not "visible" images but "mental images".
Images translated in the mind, not by pictures or art,but WORDS,this becomes increasingly prevelent during the beginnings of the age of Scholasticism, one's philosophy and mindset tends to create images in the mind of a person simply by what they read,or ponder on. This is especially true of a woman,while men are influenced more by pictoral images,women are more influenced by what is spoken or read,take Romance novels for instance,a woman does not need pictures to build an image of what is taking place,or the subject of what is being said,they simply need words to convey a thought or action,not that men are incapable of such a task, It is just easier for a woman. My point is that the intended purpose of icons was to preserve in picture form, the life and faith of the Church,meaning that while words written or spoken can be sometimes mis-interpreted and a false idea take root,icons have a very clear an concise message to convey,that would otherwise be distorted or mis-construed. So to those iconoclast out there, just remember a picture is worth a thousand words!
I think you raise some very good points. But I think that most non-Orthodox also react strongly against the veneration
of icons. Even if they understand that worship is not taking place the idea of venerating something seems like a waist of time...pointless. Toss in our ever increasingly individualistic, post-modern culture and we've got our work cut out for us.