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Author Topic: The Fuss Over Icons  (Read 5605 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 09, 2011, 01:51:30 PM »

Do you think the reason Christians have a hard time accepting that Orthodox don't, worship the icon but simply venerate it, is because it's done with such a lot of fuss?

For instance, the icon corner. Why have one? Is it really necessary to have it like a shrine that you go and sit at and pray there?

If the icons are nothing more than images of family members, i don't think i would have a collection of photos that i sat under and stared at talking to them.

My bible is filled with the words of family members but i don't have it on a plinth encased in glass with uplighting and a velvet lined, gold trimmed cushion for it to sit on until i want to read it. If someone saw me making such a fuss of my book, they'd be right to worry a little.
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« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2011, 02:15:12 PM »

Do you think the reason Christians have a hard time accepting that Orthodox don't, worship the icon but simply venerate it, is because it's done with such a lot of fuss?

What do you think veneration is?
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« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2011, 02:16:43 PM »

A respect and honour that's shown to an individual.
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« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2011, 02:20:51 PM »

Well, I kiss people hello when I go to a Christmas party. It's just a way of showing love. It's also a common greeting in parts of Europe and the Middle East, and since the Orthodox faith has its origins in the Middle East, that may have carried over. The picture in the icon reminds us of the departed saint, whose body is no longer alive on Earth, but whose soul is very much alive in Heaven. So we still 'say hello' to them.  angel

Also, there is something about real things that just demands respect. Case in point: a number of years ago, when I went to Washington, DC on vacation, I stopped at the Hall of Records, where they have the Constitution stored in a special case. You can see it, but there's always a long line. I waited, and when I got up there, and I realized this was the real thing that Thomas Jefferson wrote, I started to cry.

I don't think I'm the only person who's ever done that.  Smiley

If you want, give this a try. It was written by St. John of Damascus, and it is all about the icons.

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/johndamascus-images.asp

I hope that is helpful. Also, if you go to Google Books and look up the terms 'Orthodox' or 'icons' and 'iconography,' you may find some other things about them. Enjoy.   Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2011, 02:22:36 PM »

A respect and honour that's shown to an individual.

I don't want to assume anything, so I will ask: the respect and honour varies from individual to individual, right? In other words, more respect and honour can be given to one individual compared to another and yet both individuals can be said to have received "veneration"?
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« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2011, 02:29:09 PM »

Do you think the reason Christians have a hard time accepting that Orthodox don't, worship the icon but simply venerate it, is because it's done with such a lot of fuss?

For instance, the icon corner. Why have one? Is it really necessary to have it like a shrine that you go and sit at and pray there?

If the icons are nothing more than images of family members, i don't think i would have a collection of photos that i sat under and stared at talking to them.

My bible is filled with the words of family members but i don't have it on a plinth encased in glass with uplighting and a velvet lined, gold trimmed cushion for it to sit on until i want to read it. If someone saw me making such a fuss of my book, they'd be right to worry a little.

I have always had pictures of my family members, esp. deceased ones, in a prominent place wherever I lived and I certainly talked to my grandmother, the only grandaparent I ever knew, at times when I found myself near that particular place (now it's a huge wall of photos behind our sofa and includes my wife's ancestors, as well).  I did this long before I was even an Eastern Rite Catholic. 

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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2011, 02:30:09 PM »

I don't want to focus on theology here, so much as your apparent belief that this type of veneration or shrine is weird. I think it is clearly a natural human way to deal with those who are no longer with us:
















^ the preserved shrine-bedroom of a dead American soldier

This is a natural human thing to do. If we do this sort of thing with more-or-less sinful people, so much more should we do it with those "good and faithful servants" who have been made worthy to live eternally with God?

And for what it's worth, I have known people who spoke to photographs of the dead, such as a parent, child, or spouse. Also they do it at the graveside too. This kind of thing is more common in the east, but I think it is a universal human reality.
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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2011, 02:31:39 PM »

Do you think the reason Christians have a hard time accepting that Orthodox don't, worship the icon but simply venerate it, is because it's done with such a lot of fuss?

For instance, the icon corner. Why have one? Is it really necessary to have it like a shrine that you go and sit at and pray there?

If the icons are nothing more than images of family members, i don't think i would have a collection of photos that i sat under and stared at talking to them.

My bible is filled with the words of family members but i don't have it on a plinth encased in glass with uplighting and a velvet lined, gold trimmed cushion for it to sit on until i want to read it. If someone saw me making such a fuss of my book, they'd be right to worry a little.

God and the ones who become divine by grace get a lot of fuss. You're displace of "fuss" isn't essentially Protestant, it's quintessentially American. I suppose that when a Patriarch dies we could just throw his body in the ground and call it a day, but our love for him and his office compels a greater degree of ceremony.

I'm not really going to bother addressing this anymore until you actually go to a liturgy at least three Sundays in a row at the same church. And you should feel lucky to be there, because the early church would not have even let you attend.

By the way, we stand at our icon corners, we do not sit to pray.
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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2011, 02:32:09 PM »

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but we make a big fuss about our book, too. And for much the same reason.

The Scriptures were, during the Roman persecutions, a forbidden book, subject to destruction whenever found and evidence to be used against Christians during their trials. The Gospels were often hidden until use during the services, at which point they were retrieved from their hiding spaces and brought in to the assembly. This little bit of history survives as the "Small Entrance" in the Divine Liturgy, where the priest carries the Gospel book from behind the iconostasis, enters and holds it up for all to see and venerate.

The Gospel is also placed (during Matins/Orthros in some jurisdictions) near the entrance of the Church to be venerated as the parishoners enter.

It was because the Gospels were venerated in such a manner that after the triumph of the icons over the Iconoclasts the icons went from being decoration and teaching tools to being treated as visual Gospels and kissed and venerated and one Sunday of each year carried in triumph around the Church.  Both the Gospel and icons have the same purpose- to declare the truth of the Incarnation, that God has become Man, it is through both (and the services of the Church and daily prayer and a host of other small things) that we come to know the God-Man Jesus Christ. We venerate the messengers and worship the One who sent them forth into the world.

As for having a prayer corner- it is certainly not necessary, one can indeed pray to and worship the Lord without one (as in prison or the depths of poverty), but if one has the ability to afford the icons and to set aside a small part of their living space as being the "place" to pray it certainly aids devotion. Prayer shouldn't, of course, be limited to that space (we are to "pray without ceasing" after all), but having that one spot for the beginning and ending of the day in prayer and devotion aids us fallen creatures who are creatures of routine and habit.

PS Many of us keep our Bibles in our Icon Corner as well.
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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2011, 02:38:17 PM »

A respect and honour that's shown to an individual.

I don't want to assume anything, so I will ask: the respect and honour varies from individual to individual, right? In other words, more respect and honour can be given to one individual compared to another and yet both individuals can be said to have received "veneration"?

Yes, though i think there's a line and if you cross it, it ceases to be veneration.
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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2011, 02:40:10 PM »

I don't want to focus on theology here, so much as your apparent belief that this type of veneration or shrine is weird. I think it is clearly a natural human way to deal with those who are no longer with us:
















^ the preserved shrine-bedroom of a dead American soldier

This is a natural human thing to do. If we do this sort of thing with more-or-less sinful people, so much more should we do it with those "good and faithful servants" who have been made worthy to live eternally with God?

And for what it's worth, I have known people who spoke to photographs of the dead, such as a parent, child, or spouse. Also they do it at the graveside too. This kind of thing is more common in the east, but I think it is a universal human reality.

I know it goes on, it's not healthy though, the examples you've cited. A lot of the shrines to dead people are those trying to hang on to the past. It's not a healthy thing.

We're not talking about grief here, grief is quite a different reason for having a focal point.
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« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2011, 02:42:11 PM »

One other thought: love can be described as a self-emptying for no personal gain or reward; spending one's own time and resources for the sake of someone else, with no intention of profiting by it.

That is why people lay flowers and teddy bears at people's graves: the gift will soon be damaged by weather and time. The dead person cannot reciprocate the gift. It is a pure emptying of self which comes from an overflowing of love.

We make shrines to the saints and burn candles in part because we love them. If there is excess, it is because we love them so much. Love cannot be bound by rational survival systems of give-take.
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« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2011, 02:44:04 PM »

I know it goes on, it's not healthy though, the examples you've cited. A lot of the shrines to dead people are those trying to hang on to the past. It's not a healthy thing.

We're not talking about grief here, grief is quite a different reason for having a focal point.

I don't agree. This line of reasoning draws a sharp distinction between the dead and the living, which does not exist in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2011, 02:45:22 PM »

Do you have an icon corner for reasons of grief?

To grieve the reposed?
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« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2011, 02:46:06 PM »

A respect and honour that's shown to an individual.

I don't want to assume anything, so I will ask: the respect and honour varies from individual to individual, right? In other words, more respect and honour can be given to one individual compared to another and yet both individuals can be said to have received "veneration"?

Yes, though i think there's a line and if you cross it, it ceases to be veneration.
What do you think the line is?

And I want to say ding ding ding! to AL's response about it being more American than Protestant (although both are quite intertwined in many ways).

When my (Filipino) relatives die, we mourn for weeks. We eat with the family every night and say a rosary to pray for the person's soul to be with God in heaven. We try to be somber on those days. I have a strict mother who will chastise anyone for laughing or telling jokes during those times. We put up pictures on the table and light candles as we pray. We visit their graves on special days (40 days, 1 year, their birthdays, their wedding anniversaries). My family members talk to them. I talk to photos of my godmother.


Now, my line is when they think that these relatives are granting miracles from heaven (superstitious Catholics Wink ), which they do, I must point out. But otherwise, my friends think that it's weird and alien to them that we do this after death.

There is a big cultural disconnect. My husband is absolutely not prepared to kiss my priest's hand, yet I think it's the most natural thing in the world. I bowed down and received "blessings" from my grandparents as a child. I kissed the priest when he came over for a house blessing.

Sometimes it takes a while to address those differences (Father better not be waiting for Mr. Ismi to kiss his hand any time in the next week or so), but that's a decision we make.
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« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2011, 02:52:18 PM »

It can't be that i'm simply hung up on a purely cultural issue.
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« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2011, 02:56:01 PM »

It can't be that i'm simply hung up on a purely cultural issue.
I wouldn't say that it's purely cultural, but when you're brought up in a completely different lifestyle, these things are alien. A lot of things about American culture were alien to me until I got to college and started doing the stuff that evil Americans do. I never realized what little things my family refused to participate in.

Christianity's beginning was in a world that had icons, that had different cultural practices, etc. Some of that is retained and when you're coming from an American Protestant church upbringing (in general), as my husband is, it seems weird. That's what he's said to me and that's my experience in sharing my family's religious life with my friends.
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« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2011, 03:06:22 PM »

Surely you don't have a problem with public monuments, which are always in tribute to something. If they can put a statue of an admiral or a king or a president in a park, it shouldn't be a problem to have a picture of a saint.
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« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2011, 03:09:36 PM »

It can't be that i'm simply hung up on a purely cultural issue.

why not?

The early Christians celebrated the eucharist on the graves of the martyrs. They were acutely aware that the departed saints are in heaven co-celebrating the eucharist with us here on earth, and that we are not cut off from them. For us, surrounding ourselves with icons is yet another reminder of this reality.
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« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2011, 03:23:12 PM »

So you think i could encrust my bible wiith gold and diamonds, keep it on a plinth with a velvet cushion with uplighting and you wouldn't skip a beat? All in the name of 'veneration'?

What if my whole property was covered in icons and the outside of my home was shrine-like with flowers and people coming to view it, crying and crossing themselves and you would put it down to love? I just love so much that it looks to the outsider, excessive.

That's not love.

I'd expect anyone who really loves me to correct me on that.
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« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2011, 03:25:13 PM »

So you think i could encrust my bible wiith gold and diamonds, keep it on a plinth with a velvet cushion with uplighting and you wouldn't skip a beat? All in the name of 'veneration'?

What if my whole property was covered in icons and the outside of my home was shrine-like with flowers and people coming to view it, crying and crossing themselves and you would put it down to love? I just love so much that it looks to the outsider, excessive.

That's not love.

I'd expect anyone who really loves me to correct me on that.

You've gone from some people who can afford it who have a simple icon corner in a room of their house to an obvious ostentatious display of personal wealth and then equate the two?

That's a strawman, my friend.
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« Reply #21 on: November 09, 2011, 03:25:41 PM »

Surely you don't have a problem with public monuments, which are always in tribute to something. If they can put a statue of an admiral or a king or a president in a park, it shouldn't be a problem to have a picture of a saint.

Christians don't take thier lead from worldly activities. The world does it in a secular sense so therefore, it's okay?
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« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2011, 03:30:22 PM »

So you think i could encrust my bible wiith gold and diamonds, keep it on a plinth with a velvet cushion with uplighting and you wouldn't skip a beat? All in the name of 'veneration'?

What if my whole property was covered in icons and the outside of my home was shrine-like with flowers and people coming to view it, crying and crossing themselves and you would put it down to love? I just love so much that it looks to the outsider, excessive.

That's not love.

I'd expect anyone who really loves me to correct me on that.

You've gone from some people who can afford it who have a simple icon corner in a room of their house to an obvious ostentatious display of personal wealth and then equate the two?

That's a strawman, my friend.

You're right, i've stretched it a bit but only to get the point across. To have a shrine-like corner in a home is usually the activity someone who has lost a loved one and is finding it hard to move on.
Or a secular celeb enthusiast.
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« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2011, 03:31:31 PM »

A respect and honour that's shown to an individual.

I don't want to assume anything, so I will ask: the respect and honour varies from individual to individual, right? In other words, more respect and honour can be given to one individual compared to another and yet both individuals can be said to have received "veneration"?

Yes, though i think there's a line and if you cross it, it ceases to be veneration.

I suppose you mean when the line is crossed, it becomes "worship" rather than veneration, but as another poster asked, I wonder where you draw that line.

Anyway, to my question you answered "yes", so you agree with the proposition that some individuals will receive more veneration that others. In that case, to answer your original question:

Quote
Do you think the reason Christians have a hard time accepting that Orthodox don't, worship the icon but simply venerate it, is because it's done with such a lot of fuss?

At the heart of Orthodoxy - the mind, practice, philisophy - is "right" (ortho) glorification (doxa). It's what the Church does, what she has always done: offer "right" glorification. "Right" means that the glorification is:

1) In the right direction (in other words we don't glorify the "wrong" things)
2) For the right reasons (e.g. we glorify Jesus Christ for what He has done for us, and for being the Son of God; we don't glorify Him for something He didn't do and something He is not)
3) To the right degree (e.g. we don't give the glorification deserving of God to another)

It seems the main "reason Christians have a hard time accepting that Orthodox don't worship the icon but simply venerate it" is because of the third point. It's the degree of veneration given to icons that is the "problem", rather than the fact icons are venerated at all or the reasons for doing so. However, the third reason I listed works both ways: we not give the glorification deserving of God to another, but neither should we "hold back" any veneration or devotion we hold towards an individual. The non-Orthodox might look at how the Orthodox venerate icons and think "it's too much", whilst the Orthodox themselves are very probably thinking "it's not enough"! In the Akathist Hymn there is a striking line directed towards Christ, which says:

Every hymn is defeated that tries to encompass the multitude of Your many compassions;
For if we offer to You, O Holy King, songs equal in number to the grains of sand,
Nothing have we done worthy of that which You have given us...


This is the mindset of the Orthodox Church. What we do to respect and honour images of Jesus Christ is nothing, despite what it might look like from the outside.

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« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2011, 03:36:14 PM »

So you think i could encrust my bible wiith gold and diamonds, keep it on a plinth with a velvet cushion with uplighting and you wouldn't skip a beat? All in the name of 'veneration'?

What if my whole property was covered in icons and the outside of my home was shrine-like with flowers and people coming to view it, crying and crossing themselves and you would put it down to love? I just love so much that it looks to the outsider, excessive.

That's not love.

I'd expect anyone who really loves me to correct me on that.

You've gone from some people who can afford it who have a simple icon corner in a room of their house to an obvious ostentatious display of personal wealth and then equate the two?

That's a strawman, my friend.

You're right, i've stretched it a bit but only to get the point across. To have a shrine-like corner in a home is usually the activity someone who has lost a loved one and is finding it hard to move on.
Or a secular celeb enthusiast.

But Orthodox Christians do not have an icon corner because they've lost a loved one.  They have them because it helps them focus their thoughts in order to commune with a God that is not visibly present, at least in a way most humans can see.  Icon corners are tools, nothing more.  In my experience, Christians who have problems with icon corners are often incredibly arrogant who think they have a direct phone line to God via their mental prayer.  Those who do not have problems with them accept the limitations of their often weak faith and use icons as a means to build their faith up. 
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« Reply #25 on: November 09, 2011, 03:38:27 PM »

So you think i could encrust my bible wiith gold and diamonds, keep it on a plinth with a velvet cushion with uplighting and you wouldn't skip a beat? All in the name of 'veneration'?

What if my whole property was covered in icons and the outside of my home was shrine-like with flowers and people coming to view it, crying and crossing themselves and you would put it down to love? I just love so much that it looks to the outsider, excessive.

That's not love.

I'd expect anyone who really loves me to correct me on that.

You've gone from some people who can afford it who have a simple icon corner in a room of their house to an obvious ostentatious display of personal wealth and then equate the two?

That's a strawman, my friend.

You're right, i've stretched it a bit but only to get the point across. To have a shrine-like corner in a home is usually the activity someone who has lost a loved one and is finding it hard to move on.
Or a secular celeb enthusiast.

Or doting grandparents. Both sets in my family have certain walls/corners devoted to picture upon picture of grandchildren.

It only seems creepy when you dwell on icons being pictures of "dead" people. Christianity teaches us that saints are not dead, but alive, surrounding the Throne in Heaven.
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« Reply #26 on: November 09, 2011, 03:44:42 PM »

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However, the third reason I listed works both ways: we not give the glorification deserving of God to another, but neither should we "hold back" any veneration or devotion we hold towards an individual.

How can you say we mustn't hold back any veneration due? Glory to God obvious but where is the mandate concerning veneration?
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« Reply #27 on: November 09, 2011, 03:48:39 PM »

So you think i could encrust my bible wiith gold and diamonds, keep it on a plinth with a velvet cushion with uplighting and you wouldn't skip a beat? All in the name of 'veneration'?

What if my whole property was covered in icons and the outside of my home was shrine-like with flowers and people coming to view it, crying and crossing themselves and you would put it down to love? I just love so much that it looks to the outsider, excessive.

That's not love.

I'd expect anyone who really loves me to correct me on that.

You've gone from some people who can afford it who have a simple icon corner in a room of their house to an obvious ostentatious display of personal wealth and then equate the two?

That's a strawman, my friend.

You're right, i've stretched it a bit but only to get the point across. To have a shrine-like corner in a home is usually the activity someone who has lost a loved one and is finding it hard to move on.
Or a secular celeb enthusiast.

But Orthodox Christians do not have an icon corner because they've lost a loved one.  They have them because it helps them focus their thoughts in order to commune with a God that is not visibly present, at least in a way most humans can see.  Icon corners are tools, nothing more.  In my experience, Christians who have problems with icon corners are often incredibly arrogant who think they have a direct phone line to God via their mental prayer.  Those who do not have problems with them accept the limitations of their often weak faith and use icons as a means to build their faith up. 

I won't be beaten/shamed to submission by not - so - subtle attempts at an ad hom

Either explain or save yourself the trouble and don't.
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« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2011, 03:49:44 PM »

Quote
However, the third reason I listed works both ways: we not give the glorification deserving of God to another, but neither should we "hold back" any veneration or devotion we hold towards an individual.

How can you say we mustn't hold back any veneration due? Glory to God obvious but where is the mandate concerning veneration?

"Veneration due" is "veneration due"; why would you want to hold back on something (anything) that is due to another?

I think it would help if I understood what you thought the difference between worship and veneration is, and where/how that line can be crossed.
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« Reply #29 on: November 09, 2011, 03:51:48 PM »

So you think i could encrust my bible wiith gold and diamonds, keep it on a plinth with a velvet cushion with uplighting and you wouldn't skip a beat? All in the name of 'veneration'?

What if my whole property was covered in icons and the outside of my home was shrine-like with flowers and people coming to view it, crying and crossing themselves and you would put it down to love? I just love so much that it looks to the outsider, excessive.

That's not love.

I'd expect anyone who really loves me to correct me on that.

You've gone from some people who can afford it who have a simple icon corner in a room of their house to an obvious ostentatious display of personal wealth and then equate the two?

That's a strawman, my friend.

You're right, i've stretched it a bit but only to get the point across. To have a shrine-like corner in a home is usually the activity someone who has lost a loved one and is finding it hard to move on.
Or a secular celeb enthusiast.

Or doting grandparents. Both sets in my family have certain walls/corners devoted to picture upon picture of grandchildren.

It only seems creepy when you dwell on icons being pictures of "dead" people. Christianity teaches us that saints are not dead, but alive, surrounding the Throne in Heaven.

Yes, i've overcome the dead or alive issue.
Grandparents do it because the photo captures a moment in time, a memory. Nothing more than that really.
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« Reply #30 on: November 09, 2011, 03:59:42 PM »

So you think i could encrust my bible wiith gold and diamonds, keep it on a plinth with a velvet cushion with uplighting and you wouldn't skip a beat? All in the name of 'veneration'?

What if my whole property was covered in icons and the outside of my home was shrine-like with flowers and people coming to view it, crying and crossing themselves and you would put it down to love? I just love so much that it looks to the outsider, excessive.

That's not love.

I'd expect anyone who really loves me to correct me on that.

You've gone from some people who can afford it who have a simple icon corner in a room of their house to an obvious ostentatious display of personal wealth and then equate the two?

That's a strawman, my friend.

You're right, i've stretched it a bit but only to get the point across. To have a shrine-like corner in a home is usually the activity someone who has lost a loved one and is finding it hard to move on.
Or a secular celeb enthusiast.

But Orthodox Christians do not have an icon corner because they've lost a loved one.  They have them because it helps them focus their thoughts in order to commune with a God that is not visibly present, at least in a way most humans can see.  Icon corners are tools, nothing more.  In my experience, Christians who have problems with icon corners are often incredibly arrogant who think they have a direct phone line to God via their mental prayer.  Those who do not have problems with them accept the limitations of their often weak faith and use icons as a means to build their faith up. 

I won't be beaten/shamed to submission by not - so - subtle attempts at an ad hom

Either explain or save yourself the trouble and don't.

I'm sorry you took it that way.  I should have been more careful.  My words were not directed at you personally but an explanation of my own experience.  I am the one who should be ashamed for using such language. Please forgive me.

I really can't explain it more than has been done here.  Icons are tools for me and for countless Orthodox Christians.  By using them in our prayer life, we believe they have been endowed with a grace to help us along in our spiritual journey, our theosis.  The people depicted in icons are our brothers and sisters in the faith or, in the case of icons of Christ, God Himself.  These icons help to make the spiritual materially present; they cross the Great Divide and make the reality that the dead are not gone, only in a different place, more readily apparent.  It's really nothing more simple than that and if you can't see that, I can't explain it anymore. 
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« Reply #31 on: November 09, 2011, 04:01:37 PM »

Quote
However, the third reason I listed works both ways: we not give the glorification deserving of God to another, but neither should we "hold back" any veneration or devotion we hold towards an individual.

How can you say we mustn't hold back any veneration due? Glory to God obvious but where is the mandate concerning veneration?

"Veneration due" is "veneration due"; why would you want to hold back on something (anything) that is due to another?

I think it would help if I understood what you thought the difference between worship and veneration is, and where/how that line can be crossed.

I'm asking where the line is from you all?

My recession-friendly, Walmart version: cubic zirconia, encrusted bible set on a plinth with fairy lights in a glass case (converted fish tank) surrounded by burning incence sticks. Is that too far and why?

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« Reply #32 on: November 09, 2011, 04:08:25 PM »

I feel like you're mocking how ostentatious you think the display is. Several of the icons in my house are $1.00 prints mounted on frames, and two of them hanging on my wall are icons on the front of the church program.  Undecided

I can't go further if you're equating that garish picture with an icon corner.
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« Reply #33 on: November 09, 2011, 04:09:10 PM »

Quote
However, the third reason I listed works both ways: we not give the glorification deserving of God to another, but neither should we "hold back" any veneration or devotion we hold towards an individual.

How can you say we mustn't hold back any veneration due? Glory to God obvious but where is the mandate concerning veneration?

"Veneration due" is "veneration due"; why would you want to hold back on something (anything) that is due to another?

I think it would help if I understood what you thought the difference between worship and veneration is, and where/how that line can be crossed.

I'm asking where the line is from you all?


Weeeell, your original question was along the lines of: "Look at how you venerate icons... don't you think that's a bit over the top??" -- which assumes already that we've crossed a line. We can't answer your question unless you tell us where you think this line is.

I could answer the question of what I think the difference between veneration and worship is (and if you ask me directly in your reply I will) but that's not answering your original question.

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« Reply #34 on: November 09, 2011, 04:09:31 PM »

So you think i could encrust my bible wiith gold and diamonds, keep it on a plinth with a velvet cushion with uplighting and you wouldn't skip a beat? All in the name of 'veneration'?

What if my whole property was covered in icons and the outside of my home was shrine-like with flowers and people coming to view it, crying and crossing themselves and you would put it down to love? I just love so much that it looks to the outsider, excessive.

That's not love.

I'd expect anyone who really loves me to correct me on that.

You've gone from some people who can afford it who have a simple icon corner in a room of their house to an obvious ostentatious display of personal wealth and then equate the two?

That's a strawman, my friend.

You're right, i've stretched it a bit but only to get the point across. To have a shrine-like corner in a home is usually the activity someone who has lost a loved one and is finding it hard to move on.
Or a secular celeb enthusiast.

But Orthodox Christians do not have an icon corner because they've lost a loved one.  They have them because it helps them focus their thoughts in order to commune with a God that is not visibly present, at least in a way most humans can see.  Icon corners are tools, nothing more.  In my experience, Christians who have problems with icon corners are often incredibly arrogant who think they have a direct phone line to God via their mental prayer.  Those who do not have problems with them accept the limitations of their often weak faith and use icons as a means to build their faith up. 

I won't be beaten/shamed to submission by not - so - subtle attempts at an ad hom

Either explain or save yourself the trouble and don't.

I'm sorry you took it that way.  I should have been more careful.  My words were not directed at you personally but an explanation of my own experience.  I am the one who should be ashamed for using such language. Please forgive me.

I really can't explain it more than has been done here.  Icons are tools for me and for countless Orthodox Christians.  By using them in our prayer life, we believe they have been endowed with a grace to help us along in our spiritual journey, our theosis.  The people depicted in icons are our brothers and sisters in the faith or, in the case of icons of Christ, God Himself.  These icons help to make the spiritual materially present; they cross the Great Divide and make the reality that the dead are not gone, only in a different place, more readily apparent.  It's really nothing more simple than that and if you can't see that, I can't explain it anymore. 

Fair enough.

Sorry, i thought the arrogant comment was for me as i'm obviously having problems with this practice.

Thanks for your input. Sometimes it's easier when i come back to a thread and have time to mull it over.
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« Reply #35 on: November 09, 2011, 04:12:25 PM »

I feel like you're mocking how ostentatious you think the display is. Several of the icons in my house are $1.00 prints mounted on frames, and two of them hanging on my wall are icons on the front of the church program.  Undecided

I can't go further if you're equating that garish picture with an icon corner.

No not at all. Sorry, inappropriate humour to do with an earlier post.

Apologies IsmiLiora.

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« Reply #36 on: November 09, 2011, 04:18:59 PM »

Quote
However, the third reason I listed works both ways: we not give the glorification deserving of God to another, but neither should we "hold back" any veneration or devotion we hold towards an individual.

How can you say we mustn't hold back any veneration due? Glory to God obvious but where is the mandate concerning veneration?

"Veneration due" is "veneration due"; why would you want to hold back on something (anything) that is due to another?

I think it would help if I understood what you thought the difference between worship and veneration is, and where/how that line can be crossed.

I'm asking where the line is from you all?


Weeeell, your original question was along the lines of: "Look at how you venerate icons... don't you think that's a bit over the top??" -- which assumes already that we've crossed a line. We can't answer your question unless you tell us where you think this line is.

I could answer the question of what I think the difference between veneration and worship is (and if you ask me directly in your reply I will) but that's not answering your original question.



No, it's okay. There's enough info here for me to go on for now.
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« Reply #37 on: November 09, 2011, 04:24:35 PM »

I feel like you're mocking how ostentatious you think the display is. Several of the icons in my house are $1.00 prints mounted on frames, and two of them hanging on my wall are icons on the front of the church program.  Undecided

I can't go further if you're equating that garish picture with an icon corner.

No not at all. Sorry, inappropriate humour to do with an earlier post.

Apologies IsmiLiora.


No problem. I guessed you were joking but I thought there was something else behind that, too.

In the interest of furthering the discussion, like anything else, icons can be used in a very prideful manner. People can accumulate them for the sake of having more icons to display in their homes, may construct elaborate icon corners, etc. But a grand icon corner isn't bad or wrong in itself -- it's the intention behind it that matters. But I understand being taken aback by private icon corners that probably cost thousands of dollars. But we shouldn't judge there.

My icons are right now, on a rickety shelf in our living room. When my in-laws came over, I accidentally knocked it over. I picked up my Christ Pantocrator icon and absentmindedly kissed it before putting it back on the shelf. Apparently that was the straw that broke the camel's back with my MIL. She thought it was idolatry and that I was worshiping the icon.


Now, she wasn't there a week ago, the heating men knocked over the shelf when they were tinkering around with the radiator, and all of the icons went crashing to the floor. I just quietly picked them up and put them on the kitchen table while the men were still working. I didn't make a big deal about it. At the end of the day, they are representations, wood, paint, paper. But they mean a lot to me because they are reminders of my faith and my brothers and sisters who have come before me in this world.

And yes, I agree with Schultz. I'll admit that my faith is weak and that I also use the icons to help me concentrate on the person, think of their lives, and recite prayers. Otherwise my mind goes a million miles a minute.
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« Reply #38 on: November 09, 2011, 04:38:25 PM »

Quote
However, the third reason I listed works both ways: we not give the glorification deserving of God to another, but neither should we "hold back" any veneration or devotion we hold towards an individual.

How can you say we mustn't hold back any veneration due? Glory to God obvious but where is the mandate concerning veneration?



"Veneration due" is "veneration due"; why would you want to hold back on something (anything) that is due to another?

I think it would help if I understood what you thought the difference between worship and veneration is, and where/how that line can be crossed.

I'm asking where the line is from you all?


Weeeell, your original question was along the lines of: "Look at how you venerate icons... don't you think that's a bit over the top??" -- which assumes already that we've crossed a line. We can't answer your question unless you tell us where you think this line is.

I could answer the question of what I think the difference between veneration and worship is (and if you ask me directly in your reply I will) but that's not answering your original question.



No, it's okay. There's enough info here for me to go on for now.

Could you answer my question, then? Where do you think the line between worship and veneration is?
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« Reply #39 on: November 09, 2011, 05:04:26 PM »

Regarding garishness and ostentation, I understand that St John Chrysostom rebuked many in his time for owning and prominently displaying in their homes copies of the Scriptures written on purple parchment, in silver ik.

The icon can be abused in the same way that the Scriptures sometimes are. Let's resist the temptation to throw out the baby with the bathwater (which I sometimes think is something of a protestant m/o).
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« Reply #40 on: November 09, 2011, 05:09:45 PM »

Quote
However, the third reason I listed works both ways: we not give the glorification deserving of God to another, but neither should we "hold back" any veneration or devotion we hold towards an individual.

How can you say we mustn't hold back any veneration due? Glory to God obvious but where is the mandate concerning veneration?



"Veneration due" is "veneration due"; why would you want to hold back on something (anything) that is due to another?

I think it would help if I understood what you thought the difference between worship and veneration is, and where/how that line can be crossed.

I'm asking where the line is from you all?


Weeeell, your original question was along the lines of: "Look at how you venerate icons... don't you think that's a bit over the top??" -- which assumes already that we've crossed a line. We can't answer your question unless you tell us where you think this line is.

I could answer the question of what I think the difference between veneration and worship is (and if you ask me directly in your reply I will) but that's not answering your original question.



No, it's okay. There's enough info here for me to go on for now.

Could you answer my question, then? Where do you think the line between worship and veneration is?

The attitude behind the word is what defines the line, and basically it's understood only in context. Veneration, honour, adore, respect are all definitions of worship.

From a post I did on this subject earlier...

Wycliffe, in his translation of scripture into the English of the pre-Reformation 1300s quotes; "Worschipe thi fadir and thi modir" (Mark 7.10). Today, this verse is translated as "honour your father and mother".

The etymological origin and literal meaning of the English word “worship” is; wur’-ship (Anglo-Saxon: weorthscipe, wyrthscype, "honor," from weorth, wurth, "worthy," "honorable," and scipe, "ship" - in other words "conferring honour to those who are worthy of receiving it"). It's not an exclusively religious word and it traditionally includes several definitions and applications with regard to conferring honour – including adoration. Whilst, theologically speaking, adoration is the highest mode of conferring honour and is offered to God alone, it is still a definition of “worship”.  

During the English Reformation, certain Christian communities under influences from Europe began to reject the worship of the Mother of God, along with that of the saints, angels, icons and relics. In many places there were widespread outbreaks of iconoclasm. Sacred images which had been worshipped for centuries by devout Christians came to be seen, by the Reformers, as idols. The English Reformers, emulating their European counterparts, argued the same biblical texts to justify their beliefs as the Eastern iconoclasts had done back in the early centuries of Christian history; so it isn’t unexpected that these items came to be treated as abominations; smashed, hacked to pieces, or burned. Communities which resisted the Reformation often hid their sacred images, and restored them to use when the opportunity arose. This was the case during the brief reign of Mary Tudor in England.

The English Reformation’s rejection of the worship of the Mother of God, saints, angels, icons and relics, had an odd consequence for the emerging Protestant usage of the English language. Since Protestants mistakenly assumed that God was the sole object of Christian worship, the word gradually began to be restricted in meaning and finally became treated solely as a synonym for "adore."

The English word "adoration" correctly translates from the Greek word "latreia" or the Latin "adoratio" or "adoratio latriae". Now, there can be no doubt that this is the utmost mode of worship; due to God and to God alone. Adoration as a mode of the utmost form of worship springs from the Christian’s acknowledgement of our absolute dependency on God as created beings. But let’s not forget that “adoration” is still a mode of worship; still a definition of "worship".

The English Reformation’s rejection of the worship of the saints, their relics and sacred images left no other definition of worship except for “adoration” in the Protestant mindset. Unfortunately, no distinction was made by Protestants between adoration and the other lesser, relative modes of worship, since none of them had survived in their religious practice.

Nonetheless, despite this manipulation of the English word, the older, broader concept of "worship" still survives to some degree in England. A mayor of a city is referred to as "your Worship," and, of course, this is completely without any suggestion that anyone is acknowledging that person as the Creator of the Universe. In the older version of the Anglican Marriage service the bride and bridegroom exchange rings, saying “with this ring, I thee wed, with my body I thee worship,". As we said these words, neither my husband nor myself were the slightest bit confused that either of us was acknowledging the other as the Creator of the Universe.  

Unfortunately, this usage hasn't continued with our American neighbours, who seem to have managed to completely obliterate the broader meaning of the English “worship”, and made it a word that can now only to be used in connection with God. How far you have succeeded in this linguistic manipulation is evident with the Episcopalians who, from what I understand, have completely removed the line “with my body, I thee worship” from the marriage vows in the Common Book of Prayer. Perhaps if this phrase had remained within the Episcopalian movement, Americans might have retained a broader understanding of the English word “worship”, and not fallen into the Protestant trap. Often I see someone deny our worship of the Mother of God, the saints and relics, with the insistence that we merely venerate” Her. Of course, this completely misses the point, for veneration is simply a definition of the word "worship".

In Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) we find; Worship \Wor"ship\, n. [OE. worshipe, wur[eth]scipe, AS. weor[eth]scipe; weor[eth] worth + -scipe -ship…
    
     1. Excellence of character; dignity; worth; worthiness. [Obs.] (Shakespeare)
              A man of worship and honour. (Chaucer)
  
              Elfin, born of noble state, And muckle worship in his native land.  (Spenser)
  
     2. Honour; respect; civil deference. [Obs.]
  
              Of which great worth and worship may be won. (Spenser)                                            
               Then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat
    With thee. (Luke 14:10). (*King James Version)
                                            
     3. Hence, a title of honour, used in addresses to certain magistrates and others of
         rank or station.
  
              My father desires your worships' company. (Shakespeare)
  
     4. The act of paying divine honours to the Supreme Being; religious reverence and
         homage; adoration, or acts of reverence, paid to God, or a being viewed as God.
  
   “God with idols in their worship joined.'' (Milton)
  
              The worship of God is an eminent part of religion, and prayer is a chief part
              of religious worship. (Tillotson)
  
     5. Obsequious or submissive respect; extravagant admiration; adoration.
  
              'T is your inky brows, your black silk hair, Your bugle eyeballs, nor your
               cheek of cream, That can my spirits to your worship. (Shakespeare)
  
     6. An object of worship.
  
              In attitude and aspect formed to be at once the artist's worship and despair.
   (Longfellow)
  

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« Reply #41 on: November 09, 2011, 05:17:44 PM »

Quote
However, the third reason I listed works both ways: we not give the glorification deserving of God to another, but neither should we "hold back" any veneration or devotion we hold towards an individual.

How can you say we mustn't hold back any veneration due? Glory to God obvious but where is the mandate concerning veneration?



"Veneration due" is "veneration due"; why would you want to hold back on something (anything) that is due to another?

I think it would help if I understood what you thought the difference between worship and veneration is, and where/how that line can be crossed.

I'm asking where the line is from you all?


Weeeell, your original question was along the lines of: "Look at how you venerate icons... don't you think that's a bit over the top??" -- which assumes already that we've crossed a line. We can't answer your question unless you tell us where you think this line is.

I could answer the question of what I think the difference between veneration and worship is (and if you ask me directly in your reply I will) but that's not answering your original question.



No, it's okay. There's enough info here for me to go on for now.

Could you answer my question, then? Where do you think the line between worship and veneration is?

The attitude behind the word is what defines the line, and basically it's understood only in context. Veneration, honour, adore, respect are all definitions of worship.

I agree, but I wanted to know what FountainPen thought, and whether she could in any objective way define where the line was.
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« Reply #42 on: November 09, 2011, 05:22:05 PM »

It can't be that i'm simply hung up on a purely cultural issue.

Of course not, Cleopatra.
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bogdan
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« Reply #43 on: November 09, 2011, 05:25:54 PM »

Surely you don't have a problem with public monuments, which are always in tribute to something. If they can put a statue of an admiral or a king or a president in a park, it shouldn't be a problem to have a picture of a saint.

Christians don't take thier lead from worldly activities. The world does it in a secular sense so therefore, it's okay?

Not necessarily, but it might be. Many cultures have stumbled upon aspects of the truth through their own efforts.

For example, I think the extreme lionization of the American Founding Fathers by some people is a misguided response to a built-in human impulse to venerate the saints. (There is myth/hagiography, iconography, and many other aspects to be found in some Americans. The impulse is a glimmer of truth, but the practice is directed into the wrong people.)

The concepts of veneration of saints, image-making, etc. are universal because the impulses to do so are true.* But without the proper outlet, the impulse gets corrupted.

* note: that does not necessarily work vice-versa. The Church does not follow culture. But culture may inadvertently try to follow the Church which has existed from the Beginning.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2011, 05:40:14 PM by bogdan » Logged
katherineofdixie
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« Reply #44 on: November 09, 2011, 05:38:53 PM »

It can't be that i'm simply hung up on a purely cultural issue.

Why not?
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