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Author Topic: The Sacred Heart as I know it.  (Read 21643 times) Average Rating: 0
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LBK
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« Reply #270 on: October 12, 2011, 11:01:44 AM »

At no time have I even remotely suggested that statues are "evil" or "diabolical". Please, it's not good form to put words in people's mouths.

What I have said is that statues are deficient in depicting heavenly, spiritual reality compared to painted, 2D icons, and pointed out the historical absence (apart from exceedingly few ad hoc examples) of statues in Orthodox worship practice.
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« Reply #271 on: October 12, 2011, 11:19:35 AM »

At no time have I even remotely suggested that statues are "evil" or "diabolical". Please, it's not good form to put words in people's mouths.

What I have said is that statues are deficient in depicting heavenly, spiritual reality compared to painted, 2D icons, and pointed out the historical absence (apart from exceedingly few ad hoc examples) of statues in Orthodox worship practice.

I understand what you are saying and I am inclined, rather strongly at a personal level, to agree!!

What I was noting, and think that needs to be noted, is that your approach is taken, by many more than a few Orthodox converts, many steps too far away from your reasoned approach.

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« Reply #272 on: October 12, 2011, 11:26:00 AM »

Statues and iconography are not mutually exclusive. We find both in worship from the very beginning, and as we've seen, all the way to the present day. Both can be powerful objects of reverence, adorn our sanctuaries with beauty, teach us eternal truths, etc.

Yes, the flat-panel image is capable of portraying things that a three-dimensional object never could, just by the very nature of its medium. There's also something haunting about the utter simplicity of the statue that spurs me on to prayer that a flat image couldn't do.

I think we deserve the best of both.
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« Reply #273 on: October 12, 2011, 11:55:45 AM »

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We find both in worship from the very beginning, and as we've seen, all the way to the present day.

A tiny handful of statues (most of which were/are situated outside churches, and therefore served no liturgical or devotional function) over 2000 years does not a worship tradition make. And in my time on earth, never have I seen 3D statues in the many Orthodox churches I have set foot in, irrespective of jurisdiction or country, nor have I seen statues inside photographed churches.  I am confident that my experience is the norm, not the exception.
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« Reply #274 on: October 12, 2011, 12:36:15 PM »

Statues and iconography are not mutually exclusive. We find both in worship from the very beginning, and as we've seen, all the way to the present day. Both can be powerful objects of reverence, adorn our sanctuaries with beauty, teach us eternal truths, etc.

Yes, the flat-panel image is capable of portraying things that a three-dimensional object never could, just by the very nature of its medium. There's also something haunting about the utter simplicity of the statue that spurs me on to prayer that a flat image couldn't do.

I think we deserve the best of both.
I agree. There is something about the simple stone statue of Christ or the Virgin Mary that certainly draws me into the mystery of the presence of God and his saints.
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« Reply #275 on: October 12, 2011, 12:41:40 PM »

Statues and iconography are not mutually exclusive. We find both in worship from the very beginning, and as we've seen, all the way to the present day. Both can be powerful objects of reverence, adorn our sanctuaries with beauty, teach us eternal truths, etc.

Yes, the flat-panel image is capable of portraying things that a three-dimensional object never could, just by the very nature of its medium. There's also something haunting about the utter simplicity of the statue that spurs me on to prayer that a flat image couldn't do.

I think we deserve the best of both.

I am very much inclined to agree with you about this.  I love and will venerate a beautiful icon, just as much as I will a beautiful religious statue, whether that statue is outdoors or inside a church.  There are icons I like and those I dislike.  Same with statues.  Unfortunately, there's no accounting for taste, and on a purely personal level I find much western religious statuary, especially the more modern ones, pretty tacky.  Having said that, I would also like to re-emphasize something I feel very strongly about: whether it be an icon or a statue, it is but a tool (to use a rather crass word) or a vehicle to bring us to something other, and much greater, than the physical object before us.

My own conversion to Christianity, while a long process, came to a pre-baptismal apex before a beautiful statue of the Mother of God at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where I had a very definite, though subtle conversion experience.
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« Reply #276 on: October 12, 2011, 12:52:16 PM »

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We find both in worship from the very beginning, and as we've seen, all the way to the present day.

A tiny handful of statues (most of which were/are situated outside churches, and therefore served no liturgical or devotional function) over 2000 years does not a worship tradition make. And in my time on earth, never have I seen 3D statues in the many Orthodox churches I have set foot in, irrespective of jurisdiction or country, nor have I seen statues inside photographed churches.  I am confident that my experience is the norm, not the exception.

The theology of holy images is an extension of the theology of the Incarnation. Flat-panel images are but one expression of this incarnational worldview. You're taking this and trying to crystallize it into a binding and sole form as if it's inherent in this theology, but it isn't. Statues are as consonant with the Council as anything else, whether painted, carved, stitched, etc.

It doesn't matter if it wasn't as widespread, the fact is that from the OT decrees from God Himself all the way to the 7th Ecumenical Council and beyond, we find three-dimensional images to be a valid expression of real spirituality.

That's all I'm saying. No more no less.
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« Reply #277 on: October 12, 2011, 01:00:05 PM »

Sleeper, did you read my post #260 on page 6 of this thread? I suspect you haven't. It's long, but please take the time to read and absorb it.
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« Reply #278 on: October 12, 2011, 01:40:03 PM »

Yes, I read it. Quite interesting, and quite disagreeable.
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« Reply #279 on: October 12, 2011, 01:52:38 PM »

Yes, I read it. Quite interesting, and quite disagreeable.

Hardly my fault if you find Canon 4, and its interpretation in The Rudder problematic. The bulk of that post of mine is not my words, but those of Orthodox tradition. Deal with it, my friend.

Your insistence on the equal status of statues with icons in Orthodox worship and devotional practice has negligible basis in history, nor in the Fathers, nor in the writings of accepted and respected layman writers, nor in verifiable Orthodox practice to this day. If you choose to ignore all that and cling to your own notions ....  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #280 on: October 12, 2011, 02:15:45 PM »

The difference between you and I, and what likely lies at the heart of our disagreement, is that I don't conflate Orthodoxy with Byzantinism. The Eastern Orthodox tradition is not the whole of the picture, much as the anti-Latinists would like to believe otherwise.

But you're misrepresenting my position anyway. I'm not trying to equate the two, and already said I agreed with the icon's ability to portray things impossible by a statue. It's the supposed "antagonism" to statuary inherent in the theology of images that I find absurd.
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« Reply #281 on: October 12, 2011, 03:31:47 PM »

The difference between you and I, and what likely lies at the heart of our disagreement, is that I don't conflate Orthodoxy with Byzantinism. The Eastern Orthodox tradition is not the whole of the picture, much as the anti-Latinists would like to believe otherwise.

But you're misrepresenting my position anyway. I'm not trying to equate the two, and already said I agreed with the icon's ability to portray things impossible by a statue. It's the supposed "antagonism" to statuary inherent in the theology of images that I find absurd.

I think I may be getting waaaayyyyy out of my depth here  Grin, but I'll ask anyway--what is the purpose of religious art, inclusive of icons and statuary?  And, did the "theologies" (and hence, the canons and/or "rules") of both the eastern and western traditions of sacred art develop as a response to the art forms or....were the art forms a response to "theology"?  Or...am I just asking the wrong question?  If icons (mainly but not exclusively eastern) and religious statuary (mainly but not exclusively western) are both forms of sacred art, but arising legitimately out of different but equally legitimate cultures and traditions; if both forms of art set out to achieve the same purpose, how could one be inherently better or more adequate or more sufficient than the other, **except** perhaps, that adherents of one tradition believe it so out of a deeper belief that that tradition is the only *correct* one?

(Do those questions make sense?)
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« Reply #282 on: October 12, 2011, 05:47:37 PM »

Quote
We find both in worship from the very beginning, and as we've seen, all the way to the present day.

A tiny handful of statues (most of which were/are situated outside churches, and therefore served no liturgical or devotional function) over 2000 years does not a worship tradition make. And in my time on earth, never have I seen 3D statues in the many Orthodox churches I have set foot in, irrespective of jurisdiction or country, nor have I seen statues inside photographed churches.  I am confident that my experience is the norm, not the exception.
I have seen a 3D Catholic type crucifix in an Orthodox Church. Of course, that was only one item, everything else was 2D and flat keeping with the custom of icons.
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« Reply #283 on: October 12, 2011, 05:50:58 PM »

The difference between you and I, and what likely lies at the heart of our disagreement, is that I don't conflate Orthodoxy with Byzantinism. The Eastern Orthodox tradition is not the whole of the picture, much as the anti-Latinists would like to believe otherwise.

But you're misrepresenting my position anyway. I'm not trying to equate the two, and already said I agreed with the icon's ability to portray things impossible by a statue. It's the supposed "antagonism" to statuary inherent in the theology of images that I find absurd.

I think I may be getting waaaayyyyy out of my depth here  Grin, but I'll ask anyway--what is the purpose of religious art, inclusive of icons and statuary?  And, did the "theologies" (and hence, the canons and/or "rules") of both the eastern and western traditions of sacred art develop as a response to the art forms or....were the art forms a response to "theology"?  Or...am I just asking the wrong question?  If icons (mainly but not exclusively eastern) and religious statuary (mainly but not exclusively western) are both forms of sacred art, but arising legitimately out of different but equally legitimate cultures and traditions; if both forms of art set out to achieve the same purpose, how could one be inherently better or more adequate or more sufficient than the other, **except** perhaps, that adherents of one tradition believe it so out of a deeper belief that that tradition is the only *correct* one?

(Do those questions make sense?)
There are a couple of articles on the internet about the difference between icons and western religious art. For example:
http://www.traditionaliconography.com/webgalleryart.html
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« Reply #284 on: October 12, 2011, 06:25:30 PM »

The difference between you and I, and what likely lies at the heart of our disagreement, is that I don't conflate Orthodoxy with Byzantinism. The Eastern Orthodox tradition is not the whole of the picture, much as the anti-Latinists would like to believe otherwise.

But you're misrepresenting my position anyway. I'm not trying to equate the two, and already said I agreed with the icon's ability to portray things impossible by a statue. It's the supposed "antagonism" to statuary inherent in the theology of images that I find absurd.

I think I may be getting waaaayyyyy out of my depth here  Grin, but I'll ask anyway--what is the purpose of religious art, inclusive of icons and statuary?  And, did the "theologies" (and hence, the canons and/or "rules") of both the eastern and western traditions of sacred art develop as a response to the art forms or....were the art forms a response to "theology"?  Or...am I just asking the wrong question?  If icons (mainly but not exclusively eastern) and religious statuary (mainly but not exclusively western) are both forms of sacred art, but arising legitimately out of different but equally legitimate cultures and traditions; if both forms of art set out to achieve the same purpose, how could one be inherently better or more adequate or more sufficient than the other, **except** perhaps, that adherents of one tradition believe it so out of a deeper belief that that tradition is the only *correct* one?

(Do those questions make sense?)
There are a couple of articles on the internet about the difference between icons and western religious art. For example:
http://www.traditionaliconography.com/webgalleryart.html

The only two things I think I might say to this author would be that if icons were intrinsically holy there would be no need to bless them.

It is the graced blessing of an icon that makes it a holy object, not the image itself or its production...unless of course it is an ancient miracle working icon whose origins we cannot know with precision.

And the second is that it is clear that the author of that piece has read NOTHING serious concerning the production and history of sacred art in the Catholic Church.

If he'd like to have a negative and cautionary set of opinions and observations to share about "decorating" the "worship space" in burlap in the post-Vatican II Church, I'd be happy to oblige but it would be informed by my own Church's teaching concerning sacred art...something he clearly missed along the way.

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« Reply #285 on: October 12, 2011, 08:04:41 PM »

The only two things I think I might say to this author would be that if icons were intrinsically holy there would be no need to bless them.

It is the graced blessing of an icon that makes it a holy object, not the image itself or its production...unless of course it is an ancient miracle working icon whose origins we cannot know with precision.

I'm fairly certain that this is not true. Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not. This is how I learned about icons from a well-known iconographer and elder friend; this is also what Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston tells people who buy their icons. I've never heard anyone Orthodox contradict the idea that icons are intrinsically holy objects.
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« Reply #286 on: October 12, 2011, 08:37:17 PM »

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The only two things I think I might say to this author would be that if icons were intrinsically holy there would be no need to bless them.

It is the graced blessing of an icon that makes it a holy object, not the image itself or its production...unless of course it is an ancient miracle working icon whose origins we cannot know with precision.

The holiness of an icon comes from the holiness of the prototype they portray. The clerical blessing of an icon is but a final imprimatur. After all, icons are painted with fasting and constant prayer.
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« Reply #287 on: October 12, 2011, 10:58:52 PM »

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The only two things I think I might say to this author would be that if icons were intrinsically holy there would be no need to bless them.

It is the graced blessing of an icon that makes it a holy object, not the image itself or its production...unless of course it is an ancient miracle working icon whose origins we cannot know with precision.

The holiness of an icon comes from the holiness of the prototype they portray. The clerical blessing of an icon is but a final imprimatur. After all, icons are painted with fasting and constant prayer.

We are made in the image and likeness of God.  We remain so whether or not we are blessed by grace.

I think your version of the theology of icons makes grace subordinated to canonical technique.
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« Reply #288 on: October 12, 2011, 11:22:11 PM »

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The only two things I think I might say to this author would be that if icons were intrinsically holy there would be no need to bless them.

It is the graced blessing of an icon that makes it a holy object, not the image itself or its production...unless of course it is an ancient miracle working icon whose origins we cannot know with precision.

The holiness of an icon comes from the holiness of the prototype they portray. The clerical blessing of an icon is but a final imprimatur. After all, icons are painted with fasting and constant prayer.

We are made in the image and likeness of God.  We remain so whether or not we are blessed by grace.

I think your version of the theology of icons makes grace subordinated to canonical technique.

I don't really understad your objection. Your belief about icons seems to imply that the grace that resides in them is subordinated to clerical blessing. How is this different form saying that grace comes to the icon through prayer, fasting, and canonical technique? (Not of necessity of course...you can't force God's grace into an icon by "doing it right"...that's called magic.)

Do you believe, though, that there is an inherent sacredness in an image simply because it is an image of Christ or a saint?
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« Reply #289 on: October 13, 2011, 09:27:07 AM »

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The only two things I think I might say to this author would be that if icons were intrinsically holy there would be no need to bless them.

It is the graced blessing of an icon that makes it a holy object, not the image itself or its production...unless of course it is an ancient miracle working icon whose origins we cannot know with precision.

The holiness of an icon comes from the holiness of the prototype they portray. The clerical blessing of an icon is but a final imprimatur. After all, icons are painted with fasting and constant prayer.

We are made in the image and likeness of God.  We remain so whether or not we are blessed by grace.

I think your version of the theology of icons makes grace subordinated to canonical technique.

I don't really understad your objection. Your belief about icons seems to imply that the grace that resides in them is subordinated to clerical blessing. How is this different form saying that grace comes to the icon through prayer, fasting, and canonical technique? (Not of necessity of course...you can't force God's grace into an icon by "doing it right"...that's called magic.)

Do you believe, though, that there is an inherent sacredness in an image simply because it is an image of Christ or a saint?

No.  I do not believe it is automatic or tied to techinque.  As you said: that is magic.

I believe that holy things are holy by grace: not by technique, nor by canon.

My ears are not closed to either you or LBK.  So don't get too frustrated with me...please.  Smiley

More:  We can only HOPE that there is grace in anything we produce by our hands and the sweat of our brow.  We can only have FAITH in the one who dispenses all graces and His mother who mediates them all: the person of Jesus, the person of His Mother.

So if you tell me that an icon has been produced in hope and faith and blessed by the Church then I can say that I have greatest HOPE that through it, I can find grace.

But when I unwrap an icon from Un-Cut Mountain Supply, I can venerate the one in the image but I am not going to go very long before I have that image blessed, and it will not hold for me the same degree of HOPE in grace till it is blessed...by a priest...sometimes an Orthodox priest or monk.  I don't distinguish the fonts of grace in either Church: but that is just me.

M.
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« Reply #290 on: October 13, 2011, 10:30:42 AM »

The only two things I think I might say to this author would be that if icons were intrinsically holy there would be no need to bless them.

It is the graced blessing of an icon that makes it a holy object, not the image itself or its production...unless of course it is an ancient miracle working icon whose origins we cannot know with precision.

I'm fairly certain that this is not true. Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not. This is how I learned about icons from a well-known iconographer and elder friend; this is also what Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston tells people who buy their icons. I've never heard anyone Orthodox contradict the idea that icons are intrinsically holy objects.

Please forgive me if I respond prematurely--I haven't had time yet to read the whole article.  The very first thing that strikes me, though, is the first paragraph where the author states that he is an Orthodox iconographer.  That immediately warns me that the article is biased.  I would say the same if the author admitted to being a Catholic liturgical artist.  There is an inherent bias that could be difficult to overcome.

Secondly, the author doesn't identify himself.  Anyone know who wrote this and its context?

Thirdly, he says, "...the religious art that comes from Western secular societies..." (emphasis mine)--as if Eastern religious art, i.e. iconography, does *not* arise from a secular society.  When he says that Western religious art is "bereft of any special dignity...etc", and that it portrays "ignorance of true theology...", I am immediately put off.  It is clear that this is no scholarly treatise with at least some degree of impartiality, but rather an erudite and polite rant about how much better iconography is than Western liturgical art.  Kind of makes me want to stop reading right there.  It appears he is writing for a specific, Orthodox, audience and in the very first paragraph comes across as being holier-than-thou.  This attitude, with respect to at least one German artist, is repeated in the second paragraph.

More on the article, perhaps, later, when I can work my way through it.

Last point for this post--Rufus, you write, "Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not."  If this were the case, the icon that sparked this whole discussion must be considered holy, too--because of the image it bears--rosary and all.  It would also imply that an icon I might write in a weekend workshop, unschooled and unholy creature that I am, would also be "holy"--because of the image it bears.  Can this be correct?

I want to reiterate, for clarity and emphasis, that I have no axe to grind whatsoever with regards to iconography or Western liturgical art.  I actually tend to prefer, in most but not all cases, icons and I have 2 icon corners in my house, and pray before and venerate icons.  I would love nothing more than for there to be icons as well as statuary and stained glass in the church we worship in.  Maybe one day.  There is much western liturgical art, both two and three dimensional, that evokes in me the same worshipful response that icons do.  I feel, for many reasons, equally comfortable in an eastern church and a western, Catholic, church.  But...that's just me.


One last thing (again  Smiley)--If there is no Orthodox priest available to bless an icon, if I were to recite the prayer of blessing of an icon over it and sprinkle holy water on it, would it be "blessed"?  I specify Orthodox priest because I'm taking it for granted, perhaps wrongly, that the vast majority of Catholic priests would not know how to bless an icon, or perhaps even see the need to do so.  Does an icon even *need* to be blessed to venerate it?
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« Reply #291 on: October 13, 2011, 01:14:02 PM »

The difference between you and I, and what likely lies at the heart of our disagreement, is that I don't conflate Orthodoxy with Byzantinism. The Eastern Orthodox tradition is not the whole of the picture, much as the anti-Latinists would like to believe otherwise.

But you're misrepresenting my position anyway. I'm not trying to equate the two, and already said I agreed with the icon's ability to portray things impossible by a statue. It's the supposed "antagonism" to statuary inherent in the theology of images that I find absurd.

I think I may be getting waaaayyyyy out of my depth here  Grin, but I'll ask anyway--what is the purpose of religious art, inclusive of icons and statuary?  And, did the "theologies" (and hence, the canons and/or "rules") of both the eastern and western traditions of sacred art develop as a response to the art forms or....were the art forms a response to "theology"?  Or...am I just asking the wrong question?  If icons (mainly but not exclusively eastern) and religious statuary (mainly but not exclusively western) are both forms of sacred art, but arising legitimately out of different but equally legitimate cultures and traditions; if both forms of art set out to achieve the same purpose, how could one be inherently better or more adequate or more sufficient than the other, **except** perhaps, that adherents of one tradition believe it so out of a deeper belief that that tradition is the only *correct* one?

(Do those questions make sense?)
There are a couple of articles on the internet about the difference between icons and western religious art. For example:
http://www.traditionaliconography.com/webgalleryart.html

Thanks for posting that, Stanley! 

I've read through more of the article (discovered it's by Paul Azkoul, btw--all I had to do was look  Grin).  I won't bother critiquing it any further than I have above, as I don't think he adds much to the discussion, nor has my opinion of it changed.  I've read/heard most of it before, from other Orthodox sources, and as far as I'm concerned he's preachin' to the (Orthodox) kleros.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but his bias is, well, enormous, and I think in a number of places he's just plain wrong, but that's just my *opinion* as a layman who is neither an artist, an iconographer, or a scholar.

You said there were a couple of articles online.  My google search for "differences between iconography and western religious art" didn't yield much.  What else were you referring to?
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« Reply #292 on: October 13, 2011, 02:53:17 PM »

Last point for this post--Rufus, you write, "Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not."  If this were the case, the icon that sparked this whole discussion must be considered holy, too--because of the image it bears--rosary and all.  It would also imply that an icon I might write in a weekend workshop, unschooled and unholy creature that I am, would also be "holy"--because of the image it bears.  Can this be correct?

Well, perhaps I should qualify my point: what makes an icon a holy image is not simply the fact that it is a depiction of Saint Such-and-such, but the degree to which it reflects the spiritual reality behind the person portrayed. Someone who himself is not spiritualy engaged will have a hard time doing that. If you painted an icon in a workshop, I would have no problem venerating it. If the Immaculate Heart and Rosary are not acceptable in Orthodoxy, then we may not venerate an icon that depicts them.

Analogy: my Bibles are holy books. They do not need to be blessed: the teaching of the Holy Spirit is expressed in them, whether they have been blessed or not. On the other hand, if I'm looking at the Watchtower Bible, edited to remove Trinitarian doctrine, I simply cannot venerate that book.
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« Reply #293 on: October 13, 2011, 03:04:53 PM »

There are a couple of articles on the internet about the difference between icons and western religious art. For example:
http://www.traditionaliconography.com/webgalleryart.html

One serious problem with this article is that the author is not treating Latin Christian art in general: he's only criticizing a specific manifestation of it, namely Renaissance paintings. There is obviously a vast amount of Western Christian artwork that is of very questionable spiritual value, going way over the top with regard to carnality and sentimentality. There is also a vast amount of Western art that is much more moderate and more suitable for comparison. Moreover, most Western Christian art is not intended for veneration, so there is little sense in comparing it to Orthodox icons.
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« Reply #294 on: October 13, 2011, 03:15:40 PM »

There are a couple of articles on the internet about the difference between icons and western religious art. For example:
http://www.traditionaliconography.com/webgalleryart.html

One serious problem with this article is that the author is not treating Latin Christian art in general: he's only criticizing a specific manifestation of it, namely Renaissance paintings. There is obviously a vast amount of Western Christian artwork that is of very questionable spiritual value, going way over the top with regard to carnality and sentimentality. There is also a vast amount of Western art that is much more moderate and more suitable for comparison. Moreover, most Western Christian art is not intended for veneration, so there is little sense in comparing it to Orthodox icons.

Yes, this article is seriously flawed in many ways.  Unfortunately, Mr. Azkoul seems to think he is comparing iconography with all Western liturgical art, which, as you say, he is not.  Perhaps he should stick to writing icons instead of (inaccurate and somewhat inflammatory) articles  Grin.
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« Reply #295 on: October 13, 2011, 03:29:47 PM »

Last point for this post--Rufus, you write, "Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not."  If this were the case, the icon that sparked this whole discussion must be considered holy, too--because of the image it bears--rosary and all.  It would also imply that an icon I might write in a weekend workshop, unschooled and unholy creature that I am, would also be "holy"--because of the image it bears.  Can this be correct?

Well, perhaps I should qualify my point: what makes an icon a holy image is not simply the fact that it is a depiction of Saint Such-and-such, but the degree to which it reflects the spiritual reality behind the person portrayed. Someone who himself is not spiritualy engaged will have a hard time doing that. If you painted an icon in a workshop, I would have no problem venerating it. If the Immaculate Heart and Rosary are not acceptable in Orthodoxy, then we may not venerate an icon that depicts them.

Analogy: my Bibles are holy books. They do not need to be blessed: the teaching of the Holy Spirit is expressed in them, whether they have been blessed or not. On the other hand, if I'm looking at the Watchtower Bible, edited to remove Trinitarian doctrine, I simply cannot venerate that book.

Clarity is always a good thing  Wink Wink!

I think I'd agree with you about your 1st sentence which I have bolded.  I would also contend that "spiritual reality behind the person portrayed" can also be, and is, a feature of much Western liturgical art.  Also, how does one determine the level of spiritual engagement of any particular artist/iconographer at any given moment?  With respect to Western liturgical art, which many Orthodox seem to denigrate, how do we know that any particular artist has *not* partaken of intense prayer and fasting before and while working on a particular piece?  Unless he or she says so, I would say we don't know, and therefore should be very, very slow to judge.

By the way, has any Orthodox bishop or synod made a statement that the rosary is unacceptable in Orthodoxy?  If so, I'd like to see it.  As far as the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Immaculate Heart of Mary goes, seems like we've come almost full circle  Wink.

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« Reply #296 on: October 13, 2011, 04:23:41 PM »

My guess is something like this?
I think that is just a small portion of a larger icon.  It would be interesting to see the whole image.
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« Reply #297 on: October 13, 2011, 05:07:08 PM »

Last point for this post--Rufus, you write, "Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not."  If this were the case, the icon that sparked this whole discussion must be considered holy, too--because of the image it bears--rosary and all.  It would also imply that an icon I might write in a weekend workshop, unschooled and unholy creature that I am, would also be "holy"--because of the image it bears.  Can this be correct?

Well, perhaps I should qualify my point: what makes an icon a holy image is not simply the fact that it is a depiction of Saint Such-and-such, but the degree to which it reflects the spiritual reality behind the person portrayed. Someone who himself is not spiritualy engaged will have a hard time doing that. If you painted an icon in a workshop, I would have no problem venerating it. If the Immaculate Heart and Rosary are not acceptable in Orthodoxy, then we may not venerate an icon that depicts them.

Analogy: my Bibles are holy books. They do not need to be blessed: the teaching of the Holy Spirit is expressed in them, whether they have been blessed or not. On the other hand, if I'm looking at the Watchtower Bible, edited to remove Trinitarian doctrine, I simply cannot venerate that book.

Clarity is always a good thing  Wink Wink!

I think I'd agree with you about your 1st sentence which I have bolded.  I would also contend that "spiritual reality behind the person portrayed" can also be, and is, a feature of much Western liturgical art.  Also, how does one determine the level of spiritual engagement of any particular artist/iconographer at any given moment?  With respect to Western liturgical art, which many Orthodox seem to denigrate, how do we know that any particular artist has *not* partaken of intense prayer and fasting before and while working on a particular piece?  Unless he or she says so, I would say we don't know, and therefore should be very, very slow to judge.

Well, there's just something uncomfortable about worshiping in the presence of Bodybuilder God the Father touching fingers with Bodybuilder Adam on the ceilng of the Sistine Chapel.

Quote
By the way, has any Orthodox bishop or synod made a statement that the rosary is unacceptable in Orthodoxy?  If so, I'd like to see it.  As far as the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Immaculate Heart of Mary goes, seems like we've come almost full circle  Wink.

Well, I entered this thread because of the icons, and I'd rather avoid the bickering over whatever. That's why I said, "IF they are not acceptable...."
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« Reply #298 on: October 13, 2011, 05:26:57 PM »

Last point for this post--Rufus, you write, "Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not."  If this were the case, the icon that sparked this whole discussion must be considered holy, too--because of the image it bears--rosary and all.  It would also imply that an icon I might write in a weekend workshop, unschooled and unholy creature that I am, would also be "holy"--because of the image it bears.  Can this be correct?

Well, perhaps I should qualify my point: what makes an icon a holy image is not simply the fact that it is a depiction of Saint Such-and-such, but the degree to which it reflects the spiritual reality behind the person portrayed. Someone who himself is not spiritualy engaged will have a hard time doing that. If you painted an icon in a workshop, I would have no problem venerating it. If the Immaculate Heart and Rosary are not acceptable in Orthodoxy, then we may not venerate an icon that depicts them.

Analogy: my Bibles are holy books. They do not need to be blessed: the teaching of the Holy Spirit is expressed in them, whether they have been blessed or not. On the other hand, if I'm looking at the Watchtower Bible, edited to remove Trinitarian doctrine, I simply cannot venerate that book.

Clarity is always a good thing  Wink Wink!

I think I'd agree with you about your 1st sentence which I have bolded.  I would also contend that "spiritual reality behind the person portrayed" can also be, and is, a feature of much Western liturgical art.  Also, how does one determine the level of spiritual engagement of any particular artist/iconographer at any given moment?  With respect to Western liturgical art, which many Orthodox seem to denigrate, how do we know that any particular artist has *not* partaken of intense prayer and fasting before and while working on a particular piece?  Unless he or she says so, I would say we don't know, and therefore should be very, very slow to judge.

Well, there's just something uncomfortable about worshiping in the presence of Bodybuilder God the Father touching fingers with Bodybuilder Adam on the ceilng of the Sistine Chapel.

Quote
By the way, has any Orthodox bishop or synod made a statement that the rosary is unacceptable in Orthodoxy?  If so, I'd like to see it.  As far as the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Immaculate Heart of Mary goes, seems like we've come almost full circle  Wink.

Well, I entered this thread because of the icons, and I'd rather avoid the bickering over whatever. That's why I said, "IF they are not acceptable...."

What--you don't like to bicker?HuhHuhHuhHuh Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked   Grin  OY VEY Shocked!!  What a spoil-sport  Grin Grin Grin!

Actually, my question about Orthodox bishops/synod and the rosary was a serious question, even though it may not have come across that way.  I am certainly not aware that anyone has decreed its use unacceptable, but if someone has it'd be interesting to see....that's all I meant. 

As for worshiping in the Sistine Chapel.....I'd love to do so, and believe I would feel totally comfortable.  But then, I *am* a Catholic Wink!
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« Reply #299 on: October 13, 2011, 07:16:47 PM »

Last point for this post--Rufus, you write, "Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not."  If this were the case, the icon that sparked this whole discussion must be considered holy, too--because of the image it bears--rosary and all.  It would also imply that an icon I might write in a weekend workshop, unschooled and unholy creature that I am, would also be "holy"--because of the image it bears.  Can this be correct?

If the Immaculate Heart and Rosary are not acceptable in Orthodoxy, then we may not venerate an icon that depicts them.


That registers and makes good sense.  I am good with that kind of statement but I don't think that one can simply say that this or that image is NOT an icon simply because it has a rosary in it.  It may well be an icon.  It simply may not be one that can genuinely be venerated by an Eastern Orthodox believer.

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« Reply #300 on: October 13, 2011, 07:28:10 PM »

There are a couple of articles on the internet about the difference between icons and western religious art. For example:
http://www.traditionaliconography.com/webgalleryart.html

Moreover, most Western Christian art is not intended for veneration, so there is little sense in comparing it to Orthodox icons.

This is VERY true.  In fact, the western Catholics actually do not venerate ANY sacred art in general. 

They do distinguish between that which tells a story, like the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and that which is meant for reflective consideration during prayer, private or liturgical.  That many of us can and do manage to distinguish.

Roman rite Catholics venerate the Bible, relics and the cross or crucifix.  Other than that...not so much.

BTW I've been in eastern parish churches and cathedrals where there is so much of the surface features of the interior covered with icons and iconic murals that I am infinitely distracted during liturgy and find myself becoming agitated by the visual stimulus overload.  The interiors are lovely and well loved without a doubt, but I often find myself forced to shut my eyes.  I also get too much stimulus when the choir is TOO good...<smile>...I can live without the soaring soprano more often than not.  There is a reason that I go and visit a Roman rite parish now and then for a bare bones daily liturgy.  I think it is the contemplative tendencies that I have, and though I love the beauty, sometimes it gets to be a bit too much.

M.
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« Reply #301 on: October 13, 2011, 08:28:38 PM »

Last point for this post--Rufus, you write, "Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not."  If this were the case, the icon that sparked this whole discussion must be considered holy, too--because of the image it bears--rosary and all.  It would also imply that an icon I might write in a weekend workshop, unschooled and unholy creature that I am, would also be "holy"--because of the image it bears.  Can this be correct?

If the Immaculate Heart and Rosary are not acceptable in Orthodoxy, then we may not venerate an icon that depicts them.


That registers and makes good sense.  I am good with that kind of statement but I don't think that one can simply say that this or that image is NOT an icon simply because it has a rosary in it.  It may well be an icon.  It simply may not be one that can genuinely be venerated by an Eastern Orthodox believer.

True. I don't really think one can say that something simply is or is not an icon, with no shades of gray in between--to debate about what exactly constitutes an icon involves a lot of hair-splitting.
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« Reply #302 on: October 13, 2011, 09:07:04 PM »

Last point for this post--Rufus, you write, "Icons are considerd holy because of the image they bear, which is much more important than whether they have been blessed or not."  If this were the case, the icon that sparked this whole discussion must be considered holy, too--because of the image it bears--rosary and all.  It would also imply that an icon I might write in a weekend workshop, unschooled and unholy creature that I am, would also be "holy"--because of the image it bears.  Can this be correct?

If the Immaculate Heart and Rosary are not acceptable in Orthodoxy, then we may not venerate an icon that depicts them.


That registers and makes good sense.  I am good with that kind of statement but I don't think that one can simply say that this or that image is NOT an icon simply because it has a rosary in it.  It may well be an icon.  It simply may not be one that can genuinely be venerated by an Eastern Orthodox believer.

True. I don't really think one can say that something simply is or is not an icon, with no shades of gray in between--to debate about what exactly constitutes an icon involves a lot of hair-splitting.

I am enjoying this part of the discussion very much so thank you and LBK very much.

What I think about, once we get this far is how then do we teach our young people and converts how to recognize spiritually profitable icons in the east, and spiritually profitable sacred art in the west?

How do we, in the west, get away from the newly formed habit of "decorating" the "worship space" and get back to the production of sacred art used in liturgical worship and in private devotion and paraliturgical devotion....and when I speak of liturgical prayer, I speak here also of the divine office.

M.

PS: I say "we" for east or west since I have been immersed in both for long periods in my life.
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« Reply #303 on: October 13, 2011, 09:24:58 PM »

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How do we, in the west, get away from the newly formed habit of "decorating" the "worship space"

The "decoration of worship space" by covering the interior with icons is nothing new at all. Even the second-century church at Dura Europos, a century before the Edict of Toleration, was covered in icons. And it is beyond question that in many ancient churches, some still standing to this day, icons, be they painted, or mosaic, were in profusion. Even in the post-iconoclastic period after the eighth century, ancient churches, and those of more recent provenance (including humble parish churches, not just the grand cathedrals) which are covered in icons are innumerable. And let's not forget the treasure of the Romanian "painted churches", whose external, as well as internal, walls are covered with icons.

If anything the "newly-formed habit" of Christian practice is the tendency of removing decoration from the "worship space". Untold destruction was inflicted on western churches (RCC and other denominations) in the aftermath of the Reformation, and, more recently, in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, in stripping out imagery and decorative elements, for a variety of reasons.
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« Reply #304 on: October 13, 2011, 10:03:24 PM »

I am enjoying this part of the discussion very much so thank you and LBK very much.

What I think about, once we get this far is how then do we teach our young people and converts how to recognize spiritually profitable icons in the east, and spiritually profitable sacred art in the west?

Good question... it would be easier to answer if we had any substantial amount of young people in our churches in the first place. I actually feel like in the Orthodox Church, there is a push to revive traditional iconography, and it is generally preferred to more modern artwork. On the other hand, many of the modern icons we produce look very cheesy, even if there's nothing technically wrong with them.

Since I grew up with traditional icons around me, it's difficult for me to tell how an outsider views them. For me, the difference between a good icon and a naughty one is intuitive. Are my tastes simply subjective? I don't know.

Quote
How do we, in the west, get away from the newly formed habit of "decorating" the "worship space" and get back to the production of sacred art used in liturgical worship and in private devotion and paraliturgical devotion....and when I speak of liturgical prayer, I speak here also of the divine office.

I really don't know. It's a problem that's foreign to my personal experience.

My guess is that learning to discern what is sacred is like learning a language: you can have it explained to you all day, but you'll never get it until you're immersed and conversing with it for a long time. For children, home upbringing is certainly the biggest influence on how they learn the Faith. I think the biggest reason that there are so few young people in churches today is that their parents simply didn't teach them to live out the Faith in daily life. Having something like an icon corner definitely makes an impression.
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« Reply #305 on: October 14, 2011, 12:03:37 AM »

The difference between you and I, and what likely lies at the heart of our disagreement, is that I don't conflate Orthodoxy with Byzantinism. The Eastern Orthodox tradition is not the whole of the picture, much as the anti-Latinists would like to believe otherwise.

But you're misrepresenting my position anyway. I'm not trying to equate the two, and already said I agreed with the icon's ability to portray things impossible by a statue. It's the supposed "antagonism" to statuary inherent in the theology of images that I find absurd.

I think I may be getting waaaayyyyy out of my depth here  Grin, but I'll ask anyway--what is the purpose of religious art, inclusive of icons and statuary?  And, did the "theologies" (and hence, the canons and/or "rules") of both the eastern and western traditions of sacred art develop as a response to the art forms or....were the art forms a response to "theology"?  Or...am I just asking the wrong question?  If icons (mainly but not exclusively eastern) and religious statuary (mainly but not exclusively western) are both forms of sacred art, but arising legitimately out of different but equally legitimate cultures and traditions; if both forms of art set out to achieve the same purpose, how could one be inherently better or more adequate or more sufficient than the other, **except** perhaps, that adherents of one tradition believe it so out of a deeper belief that that tradition is the only *correct* one?

(Do those questions make sense?)
There are a couple of articles on the internet about the difference between icons and western religious art. For example:
http://www.traditionaliconography.com/webgalleryart.html

Thanks for posting that, Stanley! 

I've read through more of the article (discovered it's by Paul Azkoul, btw--all I had to do was look  Grin).  I won't bother critiquing it any further than I have above, as I don't think he adds much to the discussion, nor has my opinion of it changed.  I've read/heard most of it before, from other Orthodox sources, and as far as I'm concerned he's preachin' to the (Orthodox) kleros.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but his bias is, well, enormous, and I think in a number of places he's just plain wrong, but that's just my *opinion* as a layman who is neither an artist, an iconographer, or a scholar.

You said there were a couple of articles online.  My google search for "differences between iconography and western religious art" didn't yield much.  What else were you referring to?
http://www.traditionaliconography.com/theology.asp
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« Reply #306 on: October 14, 2011, 12:09:29 PM »

Quote
How do we, in the west, get away from the newly formed habit of "decorating" the "worship space"

The "decoration of worship space" by covering the interior with icons is nothing new at all. Even the second-century church at Dura Europos, a century before the Edict of Toleration, was covered in icons. And it is beyond question that in many ancient churches, some still standing to this day, icons, be they painted, or mosaic, were in profusion. Even in the post-iconoclastic period after the eighth century, ancient churches, and those of more recent provenance (including humble parish churches, not just the grand cathedrals) which are covered in icons are innumerable. And let's not forget the treasure of the Romanian "painted churches", whose external, as well as internal, walls are covered with icons.

If anything the "newly-formed habit" of Christian practice is the tendency of removing decoration from the "worship space". Untold destruction was inflicted on western churches (RCC and other denominations) in the aftermath of the Reformation, and, more recently, in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, in stripping out imagery and decorative elements, for a variety of reasons.

Oh my...I didn't expect you to do this with what I said, though I see how it happened.  Comes from not knowing one another very well which is predictable but I wasn't thinking to account for that when I wrote my post.  I thought my comment on burlap decorations in western Catholic parishes would clue you in to that which I was referring.

I do not mean that icons and iconic murals are decorations, in the way that I am talking about decorations.   I see large iconic murals more as "story telling" sacred art, rather than icons for immediate and direct veneration: Much like the paintings on walls in medieval cathedrals and basilicas.  They are not designed for or situated so that they are available for immediate and direct veneration.

There are large icons of saints on the walls of the Church where I spend most of my liturgical life...Those icons are situated so that they can easily be venerated directly by any of the members.   There are, for the moment, no icons or murals on or near the ceiling, or out of direct reach of the people.  Once those remote icons are in place then it is expected that they will be references to the story-telling of scripture and tradition.

That is not at all what I was referring to when I spoke of "decorating" a "worship space"... What I was referring to there are large and temporary pieces of installation art used to invoke some aspect of Advent or Lent, for example, in Roman rite parishes.

I don't think I want to pursue that more in terms of western practice.  I see that Rufus did catch my drift and we can most likely take the next step from his post.
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« Reply #307 on: October 14, 2011, 12:53:47 PM »

The difference between you and I, and what likely lies at the heart of our disagreement, is that I don't conflate Orthodoxy with Byzantinism. The Eastern Orthodox tradition is not the whole of the picture, much as the anti-Latinists would like to believe otherwise.

But you're misrepresenting my position anyway. I'm not trying to equate the two, and already said I agreed with the icon's ability to portray things impossible by a statue. It's the supposed "antagonism" to statuary inherent in the theology of images that I find absurd.

I think I may be getting waaaayyyyy out of my depth here  Grin, but I'll ask anyway--what is the purpose of religious art, inclusive of icons and statuary?  And, did the "theologies" (and hence, the canons and/or "rules") of both the eastern and western traditions of sacred art develop as a response to the art forms or....were the art forms a response to "theology"?  Or...am I just asking the wrong question?  If icons (mainly but not exclusively eastern) and religious statuary (mainly but not exclusively western) are both forms of sacred art, but arising legitimately out of different but equally legitimate cultures and traditions; if both forms of art set out to achieve the same purpose, how could one be inherently better or more adequate or more sufficient than the other, **except** perhaps, that adherents of one tradition believe it so out of a deeper belief that that tradition is the only *correct* one?

(Do those questions make sense?)
There are a couple of articles on the internet about the difference between icons and western religious art. For example:
http://www.traditionaliconography.com/webgalleryart.html

Thanks for posting that, Stanley! 

I've read through more of the article (discovered it's by Paul Azkoul, btw--all I had to do was look  Grin).  I won't bother critiquing it any further than I have above, as I don't think he adds much to the discussion, nor has my opinion of it changed.  I've read/heard most of it before, from other Orthodox sources, and as far as I'm concerned he's preachin' to the (Orthodox) kleros.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but his bias is, well, enormous, and I think in a number of places he's just plain wrong, but that's just my *opinion* as a layman who is neither an artist, an iconographer, or a scholar.

You said there were a couple of articles online.  My google search for "differences between iconography and western religious art" didn't yield much.  What else were you referring to?
http://www.traditionaliconography.com/theology.asp

Well, okay.  It's certainly a better article if for nothing more than the fact that he writes about that which he knows rather than ranting about that which he does not.  He does offer a decent, brief exposition of the topic of iconography, though.

If anyone knows of any other discussions of eastern/western liturgical art, I'm certainly interested.

Because I wasn't raised in any Christian tradition whatsoever, I found Mary's comment that western Christians do not, on the whole, "venerate" sacred art quite interesting.  Come to think of it, on looking back over my experiences in the western Catholic Church, I would only have to confirm that.  What I have noticed, though, on many occasions, is people bowing before, kneeling in front of statues of the Mother of God or a patron saint and praying.  How might this differ in essence from the eastern veneration of icons, I wonder?  Or, indeed, does it?  What I do know, though, is that they are not "worshiping" an idol or the statue itself.

Mary, perhaps you could explain your statement: "I see that Rufus did catch my drift and we can most likely take the next step from his post."  The fog in my brain is keeping me from decoding your meaning... Wink

JM

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« Reply #308 on: October 14, 2011, 01:14:05 PM »

Mary, perhaps you could explain your statement: "I see that Rufus did catch my drift and we can most likely take the next step from his post."  The fog in my brain is keeping me from decoding your meaning... Wink

JM



Nothing to decode actually.  I simply meant that Rufus caught what I was trying to talk about while LBK picked up on an opening that I had not covered sufficiently.  Rufus's reply leaves me more room to take the next step...or anyone.  I haven't replied yet and may not have time today...dunno.
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« Reply #309 on: October 14, 2011, 01:35:47 PM »

Mary, perhaps you could explain your statement: "I see that Rufus did catch my drift and we can most likely take the next step from his post."  The fog in my brain is keeping me from decoding your meaning... Wink

JM



Nothing to decode actually.  I simply meant that Rufus caught what I was trying to talk about while LBK picked up on an opening that I had not covered sufficiently.  Rufus's reply leaves me more room to take the next step...or anyone.  I haven't replied yet and may not have time today...dunno.

There I go, reading things that I guess weren't there  Grin.  It just sort of sounded as if you had a particular "next step" in mind.  Guess not.... Smiley
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« Reply #310 on: October 14, 2011, 01:40:56 PM »

Mary, perhaps you could explain your statement: "I see that Rufus did catch my drift and we can most likely take the next step from his post."  The fog in my brain is keeping me from decoding your meaning... Wink

JM



Nothing to decode actually.  I simply meant that Rufus caught what I was trying to talk about while LBK picked up on an opening that I had not covered sufficiently.  Rufus's reply leaves me more room to take the next step...or anyone.  I haven't replied yet and may not have time today...dunno.

There I go, reading things that I guess weren't there  Grin.  It just sort of sounded as if you had a particular "next step" in mind.  Guess not.... Smiley

Not till I have time to think about it, or somebody else thinks of something... Wink
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« Reply #311 on: October 14, 2011, 03:34:46 PM »

If anything the "newly-formed habit" of Christian practice is the tendency of removing decoration from the "worship space". Untold destruction was inflicted on western churches (RCC and other denominations) in the aftermath of the Reformation, and, more recently, in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, in stripping out imagery and decorative elements, for a variety of reasons.
It is sad to see so many RC Churches stripped of their statues, images and other decorative which has happened in the last few decades.
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« Reply #312 on: October 14, 2011, 04:08:52 PM »

If anything the "newly-formed habit" of Christian practice is the tendency of removing decoration from the "worship space". Untold destruction was inflicted on western churches (RCC and other denominations) in the aftermath of the Reformation, and, more recently, in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, in stripping out imagery and decorative elements, for a variety of reasons.
It is sad to see so many RC Churches stripped of their statues, images and other decorative which has happened in the last few decades.

Indeed, it is!  The church architecture (exterior and interior) of the 60's, 70's, and 80's is in many ways a real travesty.  Fortunately, that stark minimalism seems to be on the way out.  Unfortunately, some of those ugly creations will hang around for many more years.  The insides, however, are much more amenable to restoration/rehabilitation than the structures themselves.  Keep prayin'!  Our parish is gradually re-doing the interior to make it much more a beautiful worship space and less of a barn.  Change comes slowly and unfortunately, costs money.  But, you know, for all of that "stuff" or lack of it--statues, paintings, icons, etc., etc., "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" Matt. 18:20.
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« Reply #313 on: October 14, 2011, 06:09:10 PM »

Quote
I do not mean that icons and iconic murals are decorations, in the way that I am talking about decorations.   I see large iconic murals more as "story telling" sacred art, rather than icons for immediate and direct veneration: Much like the paintings on walls in medieval cathedrals and basilicas.  They are not designed for or situated so that they are available for immediate and direct veneration.

Just because mural icons are out of physical reach of lips and hands does not mean they are not venerated. At every liturgical service they are censed and bowed before. Censing is no less a gesture of veneration than is kissing. It is a small, but very important detail that, all too often, gets missed in people's understanding of iconography.

On stanley123's and J Michael's comments on modern RCC churches:

I had cause in recent months to attend the confirmation and first communion of a family member. Never mind the barn-like early-seventies interior, or the pre-recorded modern songs, this was the least of the problem. What shocked and grieved me far more was the almost total lack of reverence and sense of place and occasion, even though the bishop was present. Indeed, at one stage, the bishop himself invited the little ones to stand with him behind the Holy Table. The whole ceremony was all so .... casual. So sad. So very sad.


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« Reply #314 on: October 14, 2011, 06:34:34 PM »


Just because mural icons are out of physical reach of lips and hands does not mean they are not venerated. At every liturgical service they are censed and bowed before. Censing is no less a gesture of veneration than is kissing. It is a small, but very important detail that, all too often, gets missed in people's understanding of iconography.


There are other kinds of veneration besides direct and immediate.  I recognize that fact.

I have never seen a bishop, priest or patriarch self-consciously and obviously try to incense the ceiling or anything above eight or ten feet above the ground...but perhaps you have.
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