Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Interesting essay. Further thoughts? How has Orthodox iconography affected your own life? What icons have meant the most to you and why? What are key differences you see between iconography and Western art?
While I must adhere and respect the Holy Tradition, I must confess that in my own spiritual life and worship, I am as moved in the spirit by Orthodox iconography as I am by high Christian art such as Carravaggio or Titian, who though clearly are not Icon painters, none-the-less their work also carries the Holy Spirit, at least for me. In Orthodox we would never put up such art in the Church, but surely even the most staunchly conservative amongst us can see the spiritual, Christian beauty and impact behind some of the Western art's paintings of the Saints or Madonna or Christ etc etc.
These paintings often convey a different side of worship, a more pragmatic, practical, real side that the idealized images in Icons do not quite convey. Our lives are not dull, dry and emotionless, rather we are filled with feelings, and the Western artists are good at manifesting our human feelings into the religious imagery. They capture our pains, our fears, our joys, our marvels, our wonders, our frustrations, or ideas, or cultures, etc etc..
In this way, Western art is indeed valuable and has a place in our own religious lives.