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Author Topic: The Fuss Over Icons  (Read 5833 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 »

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?
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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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« 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.
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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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« Reply #45 on: November 09, 2011, 05:52:57 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.

I apologise for butting in, then. Smiley
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« Reply #46 on: November 09, 2011, 07:02:32 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.

"objective way" #laughs. Is that an 'emotional female' dig? I kid, i kid

Yes, objectively the attitude behind the action or word makes it one thing or the other. We all  know though that words can be used to justify what is really going on and when it's an individual doing something that can't be known fully, we say that we must not judge the person and i'd agree with that. However, and it's a serious "However," when you have many, many people all doing the same thing it can easily go off course and get out of hand. Slipping from an occasional rememberance and respectful nod to those who have gone before us, into something bordering on worship -- especially if it's down to attitude.

Think how easy it is to slip this line with money for instance. How easy it can become too important to us all. Churches (or rather movements) that justify having lots of it just to cover the improper attitude behind the words they use when talking about it.
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« Reply #47 on: November 09, 2011, 09:51:45 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?

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?



It depends on the individual.

Let me first go back a few steps. I have photographs throughout my home of friends and family members. Some living, some dead. The pictures I have of my dead relatives are not because I am still grieving their loss, but it is to remind me of happy memories of them, and to ask them for their prayers.

In a similar fashion, I have icons in my home and in my car. Particularly of the Theotokos. I talk to her, I ask for her prayers, just as I do my deceased family members. Can I pray without icons? Yes. Do I prefer to pray with icons? Yes. It helps me focus and not become lost in my own thoughts. (I get distracted -- oooh, shiny object!)

You ask how many icons are too many? Depends on the individual. I've heard some of the European members of this board say that in Russia or Greece, it is the custom to only have one icon in an icon corner. Most Americans I know have several. Is this out of money, tradition, or culture? I don't know.

You also keep on talking about the diamond encrusted Bible.

I present to you, The Holy Gospel:



Why do we decorate the Gospel? It is out of reverence for Christ, the Logos. We honor the Word of God by decorating the Gospel.

Protestants are always fearful that icons will take away devotion to Christ. That suddenly people will fall so enamored with an icon of a saint, that they will forget who is Lord. The thing is, this is next to impossible to do. For all icons ultimately point to Christ. All icons of saints are icons of people who lived for Christ. Who died for Christ. Who wanted nothing more than to serve Christ.

If I did nothing but sat and read about the lives of the saints (hagiography) all day, I would still learn about Christ. Why? Because any true saint, and their life, points to Christ.

I dare you to find an icon and read about the life of a saint, and show me how it does not point to Christ in some way.

You see, as Orthodox Christians, we realize that the icon is just an icon. It's not God. Just as the statue in the Lincoln Memorial is not Abraham Lincoln, it memorializes him and helps people remember the ideas he fought for.

I'm starting to ramble, but I hope this helps.
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« Reply #48 on: November 10, 2011, 04:59:32 AM »

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.

"objective way" #laughs. Is that an 'emotional female' dig? I kid, i kid

Yes, objectively the attitude behind the action or word makes it one thing or the other. We all  know though that words can be used to justify what is really going on and when it's an individual doing something that can't be known fully, we say that we must not judge the person and i'd agree with that. However, and it's a serious "However," when you have many, many people all doing the same thing it can easily go off course and get out of hand. Slipping from an occasional rememberance and respectful nod to those who have gone before us, into something bordering on worship -- especially if it's down to attitude.

I'm sorry, but you haven't given me anything here that defines the line between worship and veneration. You've just restated that there is a line that should not be crossed - and now confirmed that it is an objective line. So what is the line, and what makes something worship rather than veneration?

"Out of hand", "over the top", "fuss" -- these are all subjective terms: what is "fussy" to one person may not be fussy to another. Even your example of the bejeweled Bible is merely a matter of taste: you clearly think that such decorations are gaudy, therefore "wrong" or "over-the-top", yet if you actually thought such decorations were tasteful and discrete then you wouldn't be using this example at all. I'm just asking if you have a more definite and, yes, objective criteria for what constitutes worship as opposed to veneration.

You can even talk about attitude if you like, because you don't have to try and apply this standard to other people. Just give us something that we could at least apply to ourselves: what is worship as opposed to veneration, and where is the line between the two?
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« Reply #49 on: November 10, 2011, 05:16:44 AM »

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.

I apologise for butting in, then. Smiley

Sorry if I came across as brusque.  Embarrassed
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« Reply #50 on: November 10, 2011, 05:46:24 AM »

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.

I apologise for butting in, then. Smiley

Sorry if I came across as brusque.  Embarrassed

No, no, Not at all!  Smiley
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« Reply #51 on: November 10, 2011, 11:35:03 AM »

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.

"objective way" #laughs. Is that an 'emotional female' dig? I kid, i kid

Yes, objectively the attitude behind the action or word makes it one thing or the other. We all  know though that words can be used to justify what is really going on and when it's an individual doing something that can't be known fully, we say that we must not judge the person and i'd agree with that. However, and it's a serious "However," when you have many, many people all doing the same thing it can easily go off course and get out of hand. Slipping from an occasional rememberance and respectful nod to those who have gone before us, into something bordering on worship -- especially if it's down to attitude.

I'm sorry, but you haven't given me anything here that defines the line between worship and veneration. You've just restated that there is a line that should not be crossed - and now confirmed that it is an objective line. So what is the line, and what makes something worship rather than veneration?

"Out of hand", "over the top", "fuss" -- these are all subjective terms: what is "fussy" to one person may not be fussy to another. Even your example of the bejeweled Bible is merely a matter of taste: you clearly think that such decorations are gaudy, therefore "wrong" or "over-the-top", yet if you actually thought such decorations were tasteful and discrete then you wouldn't be using this example at all. I'm just asking if you have a more definite and, yes, objective criteria for what constitutes worship as opposed to veneration.

You can even talk about attitude if you like, because you don't have to try and apply this standard to other people. Just give us something that we could at least apply to ourselves: what is worship as opposed to veneration, and where is the line between the two?

I don't think it's gaudy but it does seem excessive.

I could easily have given you the definition of both the words "worship" and "veneration" because there are definitions for them. It doesn't matter what i think the definitions are. The reason i haven't been so objective is because it's my struggle with the issue that's the deal here. They're my terms to describe how i feel about it when i see an icon corner for instance or when i look at a shrine to some saint. Hopefully you can see that i have moved a little from icon veneration being wrong in principle, to one of it being wrong in the way it's performed.

If we were just discussing the definitions, this thread would be over in a flash because they are close but there is a slight distinction which i think we both know would extricate Orthodoxy of all charges, in the mind of the person throwing rocks of idolatry.

I could give you verses from scripture to back up all the nonsense that passes for 'a gold dust, teeth filling, barking, writhing around on the floor' move-of-the-Spirit as well, but it wouldn't convince me any longer that it's right or healthy, even though i did believe it and participate, at one time.

What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.
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« Reply #52 on: November 10, 2011, 11:48:04 AM »

Quote
What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.

Why is that wrong?
Shall I tell you of the little girl in our parish that went into remission of her cancer after a healing unction service when the Sitka Mother of God was in our parish?
Shall I tell you of a darkened church lit only by candles, a bald little girl sitting in a chair, surrounded by priests, who were praying for her healing?

Shall I tell you about the light that I saw emanating from the middle of them?

Or would you just dismiss that as wrong and me as delusional?


(note: I may very well be delusional about other things - but I know what I saw that night...)
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« Reply #53 on: November 10, 2011, 12:44:00 PM »

Dear Fountain Pen,

"What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right."

You refused my invitation to come and see, but are still trying to judge that which you have not experienced.
Do you mean morally right? Ethically right? Spiritually right?  Mathematically right?  Economically right?  Legally right? 

Love,

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« Reply #54 on: November 10, 2011, 01:00:10 PM »

I don't think it's gaudy but it does seem excessive.

I could easily have given you the definition of both the words "worship" and "veneration" because there are definitions for them. It doesn't matter what i think the definitions are. The reason i haven't been so objective is because it's my struggle with the issue that's the deal here. They're my terms to describe how i feel about it when i see an icon corner for instance or when i look at a shrine to some saint. Hopefully you can see that i have moved a little from icon veneration being wrong in principle, to one of it being wrong in the way it's performed.

If we were just discussing the definitions, this thread would be over in a flash because they are close but there is a slight distinction which i think we both know would extricate Orthodoxy of all charges, in the mind of the person throwing rocks of idolatry.

I could give you verses from scripture to back up all the nonsense that passes for 'a gold dust, teeth filling, barking, writhing around on the floor' move-of-the-Spirit as well, but it wouldn't convince me any longer that it's right or healthy, even though i did believe it and participate, at one time.

What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.

I find it very difficult to accept your assessment when you have never prayed using icons, and have never visited a person's icon corner.

An icon corner is a very personal and very intimate thing.

Perhaps you have in your home, or have seen in other peoples homes a wall where they keep all of their family photos. It may show the many generations of their family, or just photos of their children growing through the years. The wall is intimate and personal to that family. It shows their relationship to their kin. To outsiders, it may seem gaudy and excessive to have so many photos on one wall, but to the owner of the photos, they are happy reminders of their loved ones.

Similarly, a person with many icons will often have them because through the years they have asked for the invocation of various saints through times of trouble, and because that saint prayed for them, they have an icon of the saint.

For example, I asked for the prayers of St. Xenia of St. Petersburg during a period of unemployment. I now have her icon as part of my icon corner. Although I am now employed, I am still grateful for her prayers, and grateful to God for answering them.

I think it is a bit haughty of self-righteous of you to judge whether an icon corner and the veneration of icons is gaudy and over the top, when you have never prayed with them yourself.

There's an old expression, "don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins." I believe it applies here.
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« Reply #55 on: November 10, 2011, 01:51:57 PM »


What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.
How very true! Miracle-working icons, icons, the Orthodox faith itself are not dependent on any or "all [of] the correct definitions in the world". This world can't explain them fully or even accurately. You will never understand icons by studying dictionaries and other books. As others have said, they must be experienced. Right now, your intellect is controlling your faith. I hope that some day your faith will control your intellect.
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« Reply #56 on: November 10, 2011, 02:20:16 PM »

Quote
What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.

Unfortunately, FP, you know not of what you speak, as you have not even attended any Orthodox services. A miracle-working icon is visiting my town right now. No words can adequately express the reverence, the quiet joy, the sense of humility and awe and gratitude of being in the presence of greatness, in the same place as a vessel of the grace of God, whether such a treasure is visiting one's home, or in a church where a supplicatory service is conducted in its honor (the honor, of course, directed to who is depicted on the icon), and to be granted the great privilege to pray before the icon, and to venerate it with faith and love.

There are no grand displays of emotion at such services or visits, no histrionics or mass hysteria, nothing over-the-top. All is subdued, subtle and dignified. katherineofdixie's observations and experiences are right on the mark.
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« Reply #57 on: November 10, 2011, 02:37:27 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


Perhaps you have in your home, or have seen in other peoples homes a wall where they keep all of their family photos. It may show the many generations of their family, or just photos of their children growing through the years. The wall is intimate and personal to that family. It shows their relationship to their kin. To outsiders, it may seem gaudy and excessive to have so many photos on one wall, but to the owner of the photos, they are happy reminders of their loved ones.

Similarly, a person with many icons will often have them because through the years they have asked for the invocation of various saints through times of trouble, and because that saint prayed for them, they have an icon of the saint.


This is the best explanation here.  If you walk into a person's home, you will not automatically understanding the meanings behind all the photographs on their walls, and neither can you understand the deeply personal reasons folks also have Icons.  So, just like when you are trying to understand who and why the pictures are hanging, isn't it better to ask a person the meaning behind their icons rather then condemn them outright out of admitted ignorance?

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #58 on: November 10, 2011, 08:31:46 PM »


I think it is a bit haughty of self-righteous of you to judge whether an icon corner and the veneration of icons is gaudy and over the top, when you have never prayed with them yourself.

There's an old expression, "don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins." I believe it applies here.

I said i didn't think it was gaudy.
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« Reply #59 on: November 10, 2011, 08:45:43 PM »


What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.
How very true! Miracle-working icons, icons, the Orthodox faith itself are not dependent on any or "all [of] the correct definitions in the world". This world can't explain them fully or even accurately. You will never understand icons by studying dictionaries and other books. As others have said, they must be experienced. Right now, your intellect is controlling your faith. I hope that some day your faith will control your intellect.

Then how genesisone, in all sincerity, if it's down to experience, can anyone escape from slipping into the kind of 'experiential' error that leads people to bark like dogs because it's their 'personal experience'. Isn't that similar to what's happening here with this? Because i can't, for the life of me, see a difference.

N.B.Thank you for understanding what i was meaning concerning the definitions of those two words.
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« Reply #60 on: November 10, 2011, 08:56:58 PM »

Quote
What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.

Why is that wrong?
Shall I tell you of the little girl in our parish that went into remission of her cancer after a healing unction service when the Sitka Mother of God was in our parish?
Shall I tell you of a darkened church lit only by candles, a bald little girl sitting in a chair, surrounded by priests, who were praying for her healing?

Shall I tell you about the light that I saw emanating from the middle of them?

Or would you just dismiss that as wrong and me as delusional?


(note: I may very well be delusional about other things - but I know what I saw that night...)

Katherine, we can't get into a discussion about healing and miracles, we can't. It wouldn't go anywhere productive because i have similar stories from the church where we all went, of things i saw and experienced. Some of where i believe the (charismatic) Pentecostal churches have strayed is because they have been guided by their experience rather than what the scriptures (et al.) tell us.

It seems to me that's what's being said about icons and icon corners, that they're deeply personal and subjective.



You don't at all seem delusional #smiles. In fact i can relate to some of your experiences.
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« Reply #61 on: November 10, 2011, 09:06:23 PM »

The original post also seems to make reference to the idea of having a "sacred space" in the home. There is much written on that subject, too. Just as we go to our church to worship we have the icon corner at home as a special, holy place set aside, to remind us to pray, to worship.
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« Reply #62 on: November 10, 2011, 09:15:39 PM »


What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.
How very true! Miracle-working icons, icons, the Orthodox faith itself are not dependent on any or "all [of] the correct definitions in the world". This world can't explain them fully or even accurately. You will never understand icons by studying dictionaries and other books. As others have said, they must be experienced. Right now, your intellect is controlling your faith. I hope that some day your faith will control your intellect.

Then how genesisone, in all sincerity, if it's down to experience, can anyone escape from slipping into the kind of 'experiential' error that leads people to bark like dogs because it's their 'personal experience'. Isn't that similar to what's happening here with this? Because i can't, for the life of me, see a difference.

FountainPen, let me try this analogy (I hope we all understand that analogies always fall short at some point and shouldn't be taken beyond the point that is being made.)

I have never visited the United Kingdom. However, I have read much about that country. There are certainly elements about it that are reflected in my own (Canada). I have met many people from the UK. I have seen travelogues and other documentaries. I read BBC news online every day (usually more than once  Smiley). What else do you suggest that I read or study to better understand your country and grasp all that it has to offer? I'm guessing that you would really like to make another suggestion  Wink.
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« Reply #63 on: November 10, 2011, 09:16:29 PM »

The original post also seems to make reference to the idea of having a "sacred space" in the home. There is much written on that subject, too. Just as we go to our church to worship we have the icon corner at home as a special, holy place set aside, to remind us to pray, to worship.

Yes, we're told to go into our closet and pray. That 'special place' which i can accept would be a place for reflection, with possibly a bible, a cross, maybe even an icon or two -- i can see that. It's the amount of icons i think that's bothering me and the extent to which the veneration is taken both individually and corporately.
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« Reply #64 on: November 10, 2011, 09:21:27 PM »

FountainPen, it seems it is not the concept of the icons per se which is upsetting to you, but the ostentation that sometimes accompanies their use. Is this a fair statement? Because, if so, you're in a pretty good place, in my opinion.
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« Reply #65 on: November 10, 2011, 09:21:55 PM »


What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.
How very true! Miracle-working icons, icons, the Orthodox faith itself are not dependent on any or "all [of] the correct definitions in the world". This world can't explain them fully or even accurately. You will never understand icons by studying dictionaries and other books. As others have said, they must be experienced. Right now, your intellect is controlling your faith. I hope that some day your faith will control your intellect.

Then how genesisone, in all sincerity, if it's down to experience, can anyone escape from slipping into the kind of 'experiential' error that leads people to bark like dogs because it's their 'personal experience'. Isn't that similar to what's happening here with this? Because i can't, for the life of me, see a difference.

FountainPen, let me try this analogy (I hope we all understand that analogies always fall short at some point and shouldn't be taken beyond the point that is being made.)

I have never visited the United Kingdom. However, I have read much about that country. There are certainly elements about it that are reflected in my own (Canada). I have met many people from the UK. I have seen travelogues and other documentaries. I read BBC news online every day (usually more than once  Smiley). What else do you suggest that I read or study to better understand your country and grasp all that it has to offer? I'm guessing that you would really like to make another suggestion  Wink.

I understood the concept of 'the key to fully understanding being experiential' several posts ago. This analogy doesn't work, it's not even in the same arena.

Thanks anyway.
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« Reply #66 on: November 10, 2011, 09:25:57 PM »

FountainPen, it seems it is not the concept of the icon per se which is upsetting to you, but the ostentation that sometimes accompanies their use. Is this a fair statement? Because, if so, you're in a pretty good place, in my opinion.

Yes that's a fair comment, though not in any monetary sense. I've been trying to bottom-line it for a few days now and in doing so i realise i've moved quite a bit from my original position a few weeks ago. #smiles
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« Reply #67 on: November 10, 2011, 09:57:46 PM »

Do you think heaven will just be you and one or two saints?  Just engaging in a little bit of praise? Huh

Yes, we're told to go into our closet and pray. That 'special place' which i can accept would be a place for reflection, with possibly a bible, a cross, maybe even an icon or two -- i can see that. It's the amount of icons i think that's bothering me and the extent to which the veneration is taken both individually and corporately.
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« Reply #68 on: November 11, 2011, 03:57:33 AM »

I've been thinking about this thread all day and keep coming back to your posts and most specifically what you have surmised in your own mind what is actually happening when one venerates an icon.  Again, I would entreat you to "go and see" because I think you have made it something far bigger in your own mind than it really is. 

I also wanted to comment about your thoughts on veneration and how you said it can get out of hand when many people are doing it.  The fact is, the Church teaches right veneration and right worship.  I'm currently attending catechism classes and every single time veneration is mentioned, it is always brought around to the reason why: the person or history depicted in the icon points us to *Christ*.  Period.  If one takes it further than that and begins worshipping it, they are not in line with Church teaching.

After a recent Divine Liturgy, I spent some time thinking about my journey and what I've learned so far.  I remembered catechism one night...how the priest walked us through the nave explaining the whole room, the layout, what's happening where.  As I allowed that memory to ruminate, I realized that the icons *tell the history of our faith* AND *why we have faith at all*.  I come from churches that are devoid of anything but a cross on a wall.  Otherwise, nothing.  Nada.  They're sterile buildings.  Nothing to remind me, save the possibility that the pastor *might've* reminded us during the sermon, *why* we're there or what happened beyond those walls in the history of the Church.  It's a beautiful story and one that is told on the walls of the Orthodox Church and in the worship.  You just don't see that anywhere else!

I thought about you when I came home from class tonight and wished you could've been there as the priest described each part of the Divine Liturgy...(all of it pointing us to Christ, Alleluia!!!) because I can hear you warring within yourself and I know that frustration.  But until you DO go and see, you'll continue to have these burning questions that not one of us can truly answer for you.  Once you put together what you see, hear, and smell, and combine that with talking to a priest, you will stay right where you are in your frustration.  At least going and seeing and talking with a priest in person might help you move to one side or the other. 
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« Reply #69 on: November 11, 2011, 05:43:23 AM »

The reason i haven't been so objective is because it's my struggle with the issue that's the deal here. They're my terms to describe how i feel about it when i see an icon corner for instance or when i look at a shrine to some saint. Hopefully you can see that i have moved a little from icon veneration being wrong in principle, to one of it being wrong in the way it's performed.

I haven't been reading your posts elsewhere on the forum, but I'll take your word for it that there's been a change.


What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.

This is also your opinion, of course, despite how strident it sounds now. Going by what you said before, then previously you would have been equally strident about icon veneration being wrong in principle. And now you aren't. You can't expect it all to change in the blink of an eye, it has been a continual process, and it will continue to be.
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« Reply #70 on: November 11, 2011, 05:54:18 AM »

I've been thinking about this thread all day and keep coming back to your posts and most specifically what you have surmised in your own mind what is actually happening when one venerates an icon.  Again, I would entreat you to "go and see" because I think you have made it something far bigger in your own mind than it really is.  
That's possible and i'm open to that being the case.

It's a substantial chunk of the Orthodox experience though and if veneration slips too far it could become idolatrous --that's a weighty charge. (I'm not saying that's what's happening, just from a Protestant perspective it seems that way). How much bigger could that concern be?

I also wanted to comment about your thoughts on veneration and how you said it can get out of hand when many people are doing it.  The fact is, the Church teaches right veneration and right worship.
I suppose that is the bottom line and the difference between what i have described before about the charismatic services that some don't teach correctly.

I'm currently attending catechism classes and every single time veneration is mentioned, it is always brought around to the reason why: the person or history depicted in the icon points us to *Christ*.  Period.  If one takes it further than that and begins worshipping it, they are not in line with Church teaching.
Right.

After a recent Divine Liturgy, I spent some time thinking about my journey and what I've learned so far.  I remembered catechism one night...how the priest walked us through the nave explaining the whole room, the layout, what's happening where.  As I allowed that memory to ruminate, I realized that the icons *tell the history of our faith* AND *why we have faith at all*.  I come from churches that are devoid of anything but a cross on a wall.  Otherwise, nothing.  Nada.  They're sterile buildings.  Nothing to remind me, save the possibility that the pastor *might've* reminded us during the sermon, *why* we're there or what happened beyond those walls in the history of the Church.  It's a beautiful story and one that is told on the walls of the Orthodox Church and in the worship. You just don't see that anywhere else!
Historically, i understand the significance and can appreciate this to a degree. It reminds me of a story our pastor used to tell about the elderly in our congregation selling their jewelry and precious items to purchase the building we owned as a church. Those people are honoured in a special way because they gave so much for what we had which was evident in the way others responded to them. They had an unofficial mention and applause at least once a year.

I thought about you when I came home from class tonight and wished you could've been there as the priest described each part of the Divine Liturgy...(all of it pointing us to Christ, Alleluia!!!) because I can hear you warring within yourself and I know that frustration.  
Yes, that's exactly what it's like! #laughs

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« Reply #71 on: November 11, 2011, 06:11:02 AM »

What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.

This is also your opinion, of course, despite how strident it sounds now.

No, it's a fact. Sometimes what is officially taught on one level isn't what happens on another.
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« Reply #72 on: November 11, 2011, 06:16:33 AM »

What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.

This is also your opinion, of course, despite how strident it sounds now.

No, it's a fact. Sometimes what is officially taught on one level isn't what happens on another.

Your second sentence is a fact; your statement on what is OTT is opinion. As you yourself said:

Quote
it does seem excessive.

"Seems" excessive. It's how it appears to you, it's your feeling on the matter, it's your opinion.

Anything which is "over-the-top" or "excessive" is wrong by definition; the disagreement lies in what you are calling OTT and excessive. When asked what standards you are applying to conclude something (like processing icons) is OTT or excessive, you are either refusing to answer, or saying outright it's just your own feelings on the subject. So until you bring forward the objective standard you are using to conclude that such-and-such a practice is excessive, we can only assume what you're saying is opinion - a strongly held opinion, yes, but opinion nonetheless. Like your view on icons being outright idolatry, it can change.
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« Reply #73 on: November 11, 2011, 06:32:39 AM »

I can definitely understand your concerns. I definitely had a time when I believed iconography was pure and simple idolatry. I rejected it outright. I rejected just about everything the Church teaches, as a matter of fact. I had to do a lot of changing.

I have seen, even in this thread, your opinion change on this issue. I'm glad to see you in dialogue with it, sincerely and honestly discussing, asking questions, etc. It's good. I'm glad you're here!

What I'd like to talk about is how so many people have commented on the importance of experience when it comes to Orthodoxy, because I both totally agree with them and came originally from the presupposition that the idea was complete bunk. Going to an Orthodox service isn't going to make you Orthodox. It isn't going to suddenly convince you that this is all there is and it's beautiful and wonderful and you're ready to get dunked for Jesus RIGHT NOW. Of course, we wouldn't dunk you for Jesus right then, anyway. We're a little more careful with the mysteries than the run-of-the-mill evangelical megachurch. Wink

However, experiencing the Liturgy, the cycle of services, etc. is very beneficial. It lets you directly interact with that you're trying to understand. You can talk to us and read as many books as you want, and while you'll learn a lot about Orthodoxy, you won't learn Orthodoxy itself. That's because it is indeed a way of life. We're made Orthodox not because what we say and believe (though it's a prerequisite), but because we have lived it. We've been baptized and chrismated. We commune at the Liturgy, we make confession, we fast, pray and give alms (as a community, within the liturgical year), etc. Until you start doing Orthodoxy, you won't get it like the Orthodox faithful get it. For all the knowledge you can gain about it, you can't see it as we see it until you experience.

Now, all that said...you need to do far more than experience it. If you're someone who might convert, you've got a lot to resolve and in many different ways. I've never met anyone who's had an easy time in the conversion process. If nothing else, there's a ton of theology to understand and wrestle with which are very different from much of what we've been exposed to. I know as a former Presbyterian, I had a bunch of theological hang-ups. I loved the services, thought they were beautiful, and admired the Church very much as something beautiful...but it had dreadful heresies! I would think to myself "The Orthodox know how to do church...too bad they're so wrong about everything!" I'm not saying you're echoing that, you're not...but I certainly did. I had to read a lot about Orthodox theology, church history, etc. to get more okay with the idea of Orthodoxy. It happened, but it wasn't easy. I had many times I spent with my priest wrestling with different ideas. He could point me to resources, clarify misunderstandings, exhort me to continue on...but it's something I had to go through.

In the same vein, even when I was okay with most of it, I still had hang-ups. I just couldn't fully make that jump. I wanted to. Badly. But, I wouldn't let myself. It just didn't feel right. What finally made me desire to convert was making it all my own. To attend the service and be in prayer with the people. To try participating in the fasting seasons, keep a regular Orthodox prayer rule, etc. I took on the Orthodox lifestyle in every way I possibly could. Then, I started seeing it like the Orthodox do. I finally, after so long, got it. I couldn't do anything but convert. It's a strange feeling when you go from defending a practice to simply loving the truth of it. For me, that transition was with the Theotokos. I went on a progression from the standard Protestant perspective, to intellectually defending her Ever-Virginity...to just loving her. That last step, from the head to the heart...is Orthodoxy. That's what we're about. Sinking our heads into our hearts and truly being where we need to be. Communing with God in relation, not just thinking nice things about the idea. I now simply love the truths of the Orthodox. I don't even like arguing them really anymore (I used to be a really big Calvinist debater...and went to a Wesleyan school! How much fun that was!), I just love it all. In my particular example, my growing devotion to the Mother of God is very special to me. You may be scandalized for me to say that there's a icon corner of about six icons in one part of my house that are all of the Blessed Virgin. I keep one of my Bibles there, a candle, and a rosary.

And, thinking on it now, that's a good thing to talk about, I think. You probably don't really get my devotion to the Mother of God at all (or to any saint). It's alien to you, I'm sure. Because, while I can tell you all of the reasons why the Orthodox venerate her, I don't actively think of any of those things when I see her icon. If you ask me to talk about her at all, of course I can't help but talk about the Incarnation, and how she gave of herself for the sake of Christ...that's all great and wonderful and true. But, when I see her icon, the first response I have is just...love. I want to smile at it, to venerate it, etc. I feel weird not doing so...actually. I want to because I want to give her respect, honor and love because I have all of those things for her...and for me that's on a very personal level. But, she's the Mother of God! The entire Church also loves and venerates her! It is proper to do so both personally and corporately.

I'm rambling...apologies. My point is simply that, there are both things to get your head around, but no matter how well your head is around it...you won't see it like the Orthodox do until you experience it. Until you start joining in. So, with that, I do hope you go to an Orthodox service soon. Speak with the people, introduce yourself to the priest, etc. Get involved. Wrestle with your ideas there, think on them, talk to others about them...but do it while you're involved. The results might surprise you.
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« Reply #74 on: November 11, 2011, 07:35:42 AM »

^ POM nominee!
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« Reply #75 on: November 11, 2011, 10:17:53 AM »


It may seem a fuss if one has no or not much of a relationship with that represented in the holy icon, but really no fuss at all compared to the virtues in Christ of the one venerated. And just as physical expression of affection can enhance a human relationship with spouse, children, etc., veneration, i.e. kissing, bowing, ornate decoration, etc. can deepen the relationship with the prototype of the holy icon. Don't worry, you cannot love too much.  Orthodox worship God alone. Veneration is for everyone else.

Quote
In the literal view, things are things. What you see is what there is. In an iconic view, things point to something beyond themselves – they make present that to which they point.

However, there is much more to this than the mere act of seeing. To see an icon requires that we also be in relationship with that which it represents. Christ is present in His icon but is only made manifest to us because we are in relationship with Him. Thus I have said that to see an icon properly involves its veneration. Veneration is an expression of our relationship with that which is represented. http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/icons-and-truth-2/
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« Reply #76 on: November 11, 2011, 10:35:30 AM »

Quote
What i'm trying to say is that all the correct definitions in the world can't make some of the more OTT practises, such as a touring miracle-working icon, right.

Why is that wrong?
Shall I tell you of the little girl in our parish that went into remission of her cancer after a healing unction service when the Sitka Mother of God was in our parish?
Shall I tell you of a darkened church lit only by candles, a bald little girl sitting in a chair, surrounded by priests, who were praying for her healing?

Shall I tell you about the light that I saw emanating from the middle of them?

Or would you just dismiss that as wrong and me as delusional?


(note: I may very well be delusional about other things - but I know what I saw that night...)

Katherine, we can't get into a discussion about healing and miracles, we can't. It wouldn't go anywhere productive because i have similar stories from the church where we all went, of things i saw and experienced. Some of where i believe the (charismatic) Pentecostal churches have strayed is because they have been guided by their experience rather than what the scriptures (et al.) tell us.

It seems to me that's what's being said about icons and icon corners, that they're deeply personal and subjective.



You don't at all seem delusional #smiles. In fact i can relate to some of your experiences.

The Church keeps us from being guided only by our experiences. Icons and icon corners are deeply personal because ours is a relational faith, as well as the faith given to the Apostles by our Lord.
And don't be so dismissive of personal experinces. When in the right context, the are essential to our faith and praxis.
After all, don't you keep telling me that Protestants are guided and enlightened by the Holy Spirit? What is that but personal experience of the Holy Spirit?
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« Reply #77 on: January 28, 2012, 06:06:30 PM »

As i'm still thinking about icons and mulling over what's been posted and other info i've read. I can't accept that images of cherubim in the temple and elsewhere can be used to set a precedent for the kind of icons that we see today, where they are and what is done with them. This seems a bit of a stretch to me.
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« Reply #78 on: January 28, 2012, 08:44:10 PM »


The cherubim in the temple are merely showing that the second commandment by itself is not a reason for prohibiting the making of images and placing them in churches. You're right that it would be a stretch to point to these as the main reason for venerating icons of Christ and the Saints.

The Incarnation is the precedent for icons as you are thinking of them: images which are venerated. Jesus Christ was worshiped whilst on earth, as recorded in Scripture, yet (as it says in the Divine Liturgy): "(they) have bowed not before flesh and blood but before You the awesome God". But of course.... they did "literally" bow before flesh and blood, because Jesus Christ (called the "image" or "icon" of God in Scripture) was fully man. So, the disciples bowed down before Jesus, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him (Matthew 28:9), yet they are not worshiping a man, but their Lord, God and Saviour. A casual observer would just see some men bowing down and kissing he feet of another man, but the disciples knew what they were doing, and Who they were doing it to. It is similar with icons: we are not kissing or venerating pieces of wood and paint, but the the prototype of what they represent.
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« Reply #79 on: January 28, 2012, 08:52:27 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I really don't understand all the fuss one way or the other.  Most Protestants and Evangelicals have pictures of Jesus up in their  homes, give their kids Christian coloring books with animated Bible stories, watch movies and cartoons about Biblical stories.  What is the difference? Images of God and the Saints are Images of God and Saints, the truth is that Protestants are generally hypocrites and their rejection of iconography whether they see it or not..

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #80 on: January 28, 2012, 09:18:17 PM »


The cherubim in the temple are merely showing that the second commandment by itself is not a reason for prohibiting the making of images and placing them in churches. You're right that it would be a stretch to point to these as the main reason for venerating icons of Christ and the Saints.

The Incarnation is the precedent for icons as you are thinking of them: images which are venerated. Jesus Christ was worshiped whilst on earth, as recorded in Scripture, yet (as it says in the Divine Liturgy): "(they) have bowed not before flesh and blood but before You the awesome God". But of course.... they did "literally" bow before flesh and blood, because Jesus Christ (called the "image" or "icon" of God in Scripture) was fully man. So, the disciples bowed down before Jesus, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him (Matthew 28:9), yet they are not worshiping a man, but their Lord, God and Saviour. A casual observer would just see some men bowing down and kissing he feet of another man, but the disciples knew what they were doing, and Who they were doing it to. It is similar with icons: we are not kissing or venerating pieces of wood and paint, but the the prototype of what they represent.

I can accept that explanation possibly, for the icons of Christ.
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« Reply #81 on: January 28, 2012, 09:20:53 PM »

Habte,

I remember years ago, when I went to see "The Passion of the Christ".  A lot of 'evangelical' Protestants and charismatic types were there; the kind of people that would cry 'idolatry' over Christians who weep before icons, or would accuse St. Basil of idolatry when he said he could not pass by an icon of Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac, without tears.  

Yet, by the end of the movie, there wasn't a dry eye in the whole theater.  So, some how it's fine to cry at millions of moving pictures of Our Lord God and Savour Jesus Christ suffering for us; while it is unacceptable to weep or have an icon of the Crucifixion?

I remember growing up, and my old 'fundamentalist' Methodist grandmother always had pictures of Jesus Christ in her house, always a Bibles with pictures, even statures of Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemene (that was popular in all kinds of Baptist and Methodist houses).  I remember whenever we did something bad in her house, she'd say, "You see Jesus up there," pointing to Rembrandt's Christ, "He's looking at you; you should do that." And I admit, even when she wasn't there, me, my brother, and my cousin always felt awkward saying or doing anything bad if there was a picture of Christ around.

The whole atmosphere reminded me of that phrase of Flannery O'Connor about the 'Christ haunted South'. Thanks to these attitudes, no one would get in an argument, or would try to avoid it, if there was noticeable religious imagery in the room; you always went outside.
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« Reply #82 on: January 28, 2012, 09:22:37 PM »

Sorry the line:

"You see Jesus up there," pointing to Rembrandt's Christ, "He's looking at you; you should do that."

should read

"you SHOULDN'T do that".

sorry for the typo
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« Reply #83 on: January 28, 2012, 09:24:08 PM »


I really don't understand all the fuss one way or the other.  Most Protestants and Evangelicals have pictures of Jesus up in their  homes, give their kids Christian coloring books with animated Bible stories, watch movies and cartoons about Biblical stories.  What is the difference?

That's rather pathetic if i may say so. Children are hardly kissing and venerating colouring books or video screens and no 'most' Protestants don't have pictures up of Jesus in their homes.
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« Reply #84 on: January 28, 2012, 09:29:50 PM »

I think the idea has to do with how different cultures expressed respect.  I can't imagine the reaction if had been 6 years old and took a picture of Christ and told me Grandmother, "here's what I think of Jesus" and spit on it.

Kissing icons, etc, are just the forms of respect that were paid to people and other things. If the culture iconography had developed in, had been one in which you just looked with longing and devotion on someone, but, never touched them physically, then it would have been transferred to Christian art and iconography.
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« Reply #85 on: January 28, 2012, 09:34:57 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


I really don't understand all the fuss one way or the other.  Most Protestants and Evangelicals have pictures of Jesus up in their  homes, give their kids Christian coloring books with animated Bible stories, watch movies and cartoons about Biblical stories.  What is the difference?

That's rather pathetic if i may say so. Children are hardly kissing and venerating colouring books or video screens and no 'most' Protestants don't have pictures up of Jesus in their homes.

My dear, pictures are pictures.  The Eastern Orthodox iconoclasts beef was with ALL religious imagery, you can't have your cake and eat it too.  There is simply no intellectual or theological explanation for this aside from hypocrisy Wink

And yes, the majority of Protestant homes that I have been in have at least ONE picture of Jesus up somewhere.. Come to think of it my grandmother is like FrAugustineFetter, she has both the Rembrandt Jesus AND some bricabrac statues of the Lord's Supper and Jesus with some children on his lap (and we in Orthodox would frown upon statues)  Smiley

Now if you want to be an iconoclast, you must rightfully condemn ALL these images of Jesus or Saints or Angels or any such things, otherwise it is simply an illogical and redundant argument of hair-splitting.  We in Orthodox have images in our homes, in our churches, in our lives, and so to do many Protestants and Evangelicals, in reality, they think we are being sacrilegious because of how we treat these images, we think sometimes they are sacrilegious for how they DO NOT treat these same images, but the images remain the same.  Either God can be experience through human art or He can't, which way is it?


stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #86 on: January 28, 2012, 10:12:36 PM »

Years ago there were many illiterate people and Icons were used to express biblical stories to those that couldn't read. That is why the images are usually referred to as written and not drawn.
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« Reply #87 on: January 28, 2012, 10:48:55 PM »

Habate,

I think you're referring to my grandmother, and not me! I don't have that Rembrandt painting of Christ! Though it is beautiful!

But you are right; when I was a protestant, years ago, I remember every Baptist home I went in, had pictures of Jesus, little scenes on the mantle of the Good Shepherd, and there was painting I saw in so many houses, and so many Protestant Sunday School rooms of Christ knocking on the door.  The door had no handle on the outside, and Jesus was standing outside with a lantern knocking.  We were taught as children what it meant; it symbolized that Jesus was always knocking on the door of the heart of man, but, he would not come in (thus, no door handle on the outside), unless opened it from our side.  Then there were the stained glass windows in all the old protestant churches (as opposed to the new mega church design that wanted to be grotesque), with the Lamb and Banner, the Cross and Crown, the Resurrection, the Crucifixion, the Raising of Lazarus, the Ten Commandments scene and the Ten Commandments, the Ascension, and everyones repeated favourite of Jesus the Good Shepherd with the sheep.  Then there were the pictures of the Apostles (in Rembrandt type style, with dark colours, etc) in the dinning halls; and of course the Cross. However, I rarely saw a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.  They seemed to think that was too much! Yes, the old Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians could have that stuff, but, you had better not have a picture of Our Lady!

I always find this stuff amazing, as Protestants used to vigourously object to even the Cross as a decoration or image.

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« Reply #88 on: January 29, 2012, 05:14:51 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


I really don't understand all the fuss one way or the other.  Most Protestants and Evangelicals have pictures of Jesus up in their  homes, give their kids Christian coloring books with animated Bible stories, watch movies and cartoons about Biblical stories.  What is the difference?

That's rather pathetic if i may say so. Children are hardly kissing and venerating colouring books or video screens and no 'most' Protestants don't have pictures up of Jesus in their homes.

My dear, pictures are pictures.  The Eastern Orthodox iconoclasts beef was with ALL religious imagery, you can't have your cake and eat it too.  There is simply no intellectual or theological explanation for this aside from hypocrisy Wink

And yes, the majority of Protestant homes that I have been in have at least ONE picture of Jesus up somewhere.. Come to think of it my grandmother is like FrAugustineFetter, she has both the Rembrandt Jesus AND some bricabrac statues of the Lord's Supper and Jesus with some children on his lap (and we in Orthodox would frown upon statues)  Smiley

Now if you want to be an iconoclast, you must rightfully condemn ALL these images of Jesus or Saints or Angels or any such things, otherwise it is simply an illogical and redundant argument of hair-splitting.  We in Orthodox have images in our homes, in our churches, in our lives, and so to do many Protestants and Evangelicals, in reality, they think we are being sacrilegious because of how we treat these images, we think sometimes they are sacrilegious for how they DO NOT treat these same images, but the images remain the same.  Either God can be experience through human art or He can't, which way is it?


stay blessed,
habte selassie

How is it hair-splitting? It is if we were discussing possession of any images then yes but as with money, it's not money itself that is the problem or possessing it, it's the love of money that is the problem. As long as you'd be ok with me throwing such icons in the garbage as i would a colouring book (which i know you probably wouldn't -- i wonder why?) then imight be able to see your point. Unfortunately and sadly i think you'd probabkly save the colouring book if it had iconic images of 'Jesus' in it and either burn it or colour it in, varnish it and frame it for your wall!
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« Reply #89 on: January 29, 2012, 05:20:06 AM »

Years ago there were many illiterate people and Icons were used to express biblical stories to those that couldn't read. That is why the images are usually referred to as written and not drawn.

And i would not have an issue with that at all as a teaching tool.
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« Reply #90 on: January 29, 2012, 05:39:55 AM »

I think the idea has to do with how different cultures expressed respect.  I can't imagine the reaction if had been 6 years old and took a picture of Christ and told me Grandmother, "here's what I think of Jesus" and spit on it.

Kissing icons, etc, are just the forms of respect that were paid to people and other things. If the culture iconography had developed in, had been one in which you just looked with longing and devotion on someone, but, never touched them physically, then it would have been transferred to Christian art and iconography.

That would have been a symbolic use of an object. The words spoken would and the spitting would be offensive alone without the image being of any importance.
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« Reply #91 on: January 29, 2012, 09:50:56 AM »

FountainPen, I recall mentioning some time ago that you did not seem to have attended any Orthodox services, and, IIRC, had recommended that you did, to get some idea of how icons are regarded and treated in Orthodox devotions and liturgical practice. May I also recommend you read the seminal treatise by St John of Damascus called In Defense of the Holy Images (found here: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/johndam-icons.html, it's not a long document), which addresses a multitude of questions on the place and propriety of icons in Christian life.

If, after reading this work, and attending at least one or two Orthodox services, then come back to us with your concerns (if you have any) about iconography. Your concerns on the use of imagery in worship and devotion is nothing new - but the Church sorted it all out more than 1200 years ago. Present-day iconoclasts are simply reinventing a wobbly, wayward wheel.  Wink
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« Reply #92 on: January 29, 2012, 10:15:24 AM »


The cherubim in the temple are merely showing that the second commandment by itself is not a reason for prohibiting the making of images and placing them in churches. You're right that it would be a stretch to point to these as the main reason for venerating icons of Christ and the Saints.

The Incarnation is the precedent for icons as you are thinking of them: images which are venerated. Jesus Christ was worshiped whilst on earth, as recorded in Scripture, yet (as it says in the Divine Liturgy): "(they) have bowed not before flesh and blood but before You the awesome God". But of course.... they did "literally" bow before flesh and blood, because Jesus Christ (called the "image" or "icon" of God in Scripture) was fully man. So, the disciples bowed down before Jesus, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him (Matthew 28:9), yet they are not worshiping a man, but their Lord, God and Saviour. A casual observer would just see some men bowing down and kissing he feet of another man, but the disciples knew what they were doing, and Who they were doing it to. It is similar with icons: we are not kissing or venerating pieces of wood and paint, but the the prototype of what they represent.

I can accept that explanation possibly, for the icons of Christ.

Okay. Would I be right in saying that you wouldn't accept it for other icons because you believe Christ to be omnipresent, but the Saints are not?
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« Reply #93 on: January 29, 2012, 10:52:38 AM »


The cherubim in the temple are merely showing that the second commandment by itself is not a reason for prohibiting the making of images and placing them in churches. You're right that it would be a stretch to point to these as the main reason for venerating icons of Christ and the Saints.

The Incarnation is the precedent for icons as you are thinking of them: images which are venerated. Jesus Christ was worshiped whilst on earth, as recorded in Scripture, yet (as it says in the Divine Liturgy): "(they) have bowed not before flesh and blood but before You the awesome God". But of course.... they did "literally" bow before flesh and blood, because Jesus Christ (called the "image" or "icon" of God in Scripture) was fully man. So, the disciples bowed down before Jesus, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him (Matthew 28:9), yet they are not worshiping a man, but their Lord, God and Saviour. A casual observer would just see some men bowing down and kissing he feet of another man, but the disciples knew what they were doing, and Who they were doing it to. It is similar with icons: we are not kissing or venerating pieces of wood and paint, but the the prototype of what they represent.

I can accept that explanation possibly, for the icons of Christ.

Okay. Would I be right in saying that you wouldn't accept it for other icons because you believe Christ to be omnipresent, but the Saints are not?

No. Are you also suggesting that Christ is present in the icon in a mysterious way when the icon is being venerated?
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« Reply #94 on: January 29, 2012, 11:06:21 AM »

FountainPen, I recall mentioning some time ago that you did not seem to have attended any Orthodox services, and, IIRC, had recommended that you did, to get some idea of how icons are regarded and treated in Orthodox devotions and liturgical practice. May I also recommend you read the seminal treatise by St John of Damascus called In Defense of the Holy Images (found here: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/johndam-icons.html, it's not a long document), which addresses a multitude of questions on the place and propriety of icons in Christian life.

If, after reading this work, and attending at least one or two Orthodox services, then come back to us with your concerns (if you have any) about iconography. Your concerns on the use of imagery in worship and devotion is nothing new - but the Church sorted it all out more than 1200 years ago. Present-day iconoclasts are simply reinventing a wobbly, wayward wheel.  Wink

I'm not a present day iconoclast who is unable to read long documents. Neither am i prepared to travel 2 hours there and 2 back, to get to an English speaking Orthodox service. My concerns are not limited to the church service so it's not as though i'm missing out on vital information by not attending and i've read several papers on icons that have been linked to on this forum, including that one.

Thanks.
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« Reply #95 on: January 29, 2012, 11:28:18 AM »


The cherubim in the temple are merely showing that the second commandment by itself is not a reason for prohibiting the making of images and placing them in churches. You're right that it would be a stretch to point to these as the main reason for venerating icons of Christ and the Saints.

The Incarnation is the precedent for icons as you are thinking of them: images which are venerated. Jesus Christ was worshiped whilst on earth, as recorded in Scripture, yet (as it says in the Divine Liturgy): "(they) have bowed not before flesh and blood but before You the awesome God". But of course.... they did "literally" bow before flesh and blood, because Jesus Christ (called the "image" or "icon" of God in Scripture) was fully man. So, the disciples bowed down before Jesus, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him (Matthew 28:9), yet they are not worshiping a man, but their Lord, God and Saviour. A casual observer would just see some men bowing down and kissing he feet of another man, but the disciples knew what they were doing, and Who they were doing it to. It is similar with icons: we are not kissing or venerating pieces of wood and paint, but the the prototype of what they represent.

I can accept that explanation possibly, for the icons of Christ.

Okay. Would I be right in saying that you wouldn't accept it for other icons because you believe Christ to be omnipresent, but the Saints are not?

No. Are you also suggesting that Christ is present in the icon in a mysterious way when the icon is being venerated?

No, I wasn't. Alright, so why could you accept (possibly) what I said for icons of Christ, but not for other icons?
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« Reply #96 on: January 29, 2012, 11:43:31 AM »


No, I wasn't.

Then why would you think i'd accept it because of omnipresence?

Sorry, i thought that's why you had mentioned it.
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« Reply #97 on: January 29, 2012, 11:59:04 AM »


No, I wasn't.

Then why would you think i'd accept it because of omnipresence?

Sorry, i thought that's why you had mentioned it.

I was just speculating on why you said you could possibly accept the explanation for icons of Christ, and so imply that you still couldn't accept it for venerating icons of Saints. My presumption was wrong, I'm sorry. Maybe you weren't implying that at all... but if you are saying that the explanation "works" for icons of Christ but not icons of other Saints, then I do wonder what distinction you're making.
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« Reply #98 on: January 29, 2012, 01:27:14 PM »

Years ago there were many illiterate people and Icons were used to express biblical stories to those that couldn't read. That is why the images are usually referred to as written and not drawn.

And i would not have an issue with that at all as a teaching tool.

     OK. It's a beginning. The arguments your using are the same as those who defame alcohol because there are those who mishandle it and become drunks and alcoholics. So in order to help those who are misusing it everyone must not use it. This is more of a spiritual problem of the misuser. Than that of the icon. If the user is focusing on the wood and paint than surely they are misguided. If instead we look at the icon towards the image we are edified in the same way as we look upon a picture of a family member. Relating the picture with the person in it.
   
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« Reply #99 on: January 29, 2012, 02:04:29 PM »

Years ago there were many illiterate people and Icons were used to express biblical stories to those that couldn't read. That is why the images are usually referred to as written and not drawn.

And i would not have an issue with that at all as a teaching tool.

The veneration of icons teaches the proper reverence of those they represent, as well as teaching the stories depicted in a different/non-literary form (e.g., Christ's baptism in the Jordan). So they're still teaching tools, for the literate and the illiterate alike.

I'm glad you've come to realize that there is no problem whatsoever with icons. Smiley

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« Reply #100 on: January 29, 2012, 03:54:39 PM »

Years ago there were many illiterate people and Icons were used to express biblical stories to those that couldn't read. That is why the images are usually referred to as written and not drawn.

And i would not have an issue with that at all as a teaching tool.

FountainPen,

Going back to my initial response (#8), my question would be: do you have a problem with the veneration of icons, or veneration in general? What sort of objects do you think it is allowable to venerate?

and as long as I'm here (forgive me for not loading the thread in another tab and going for the quote in full context)

Quote
I can accept that explanation possibly, for the icons of Christ.

Do you understand that saints are an icon of Christ? So, to a degree, is every human, as we are all made in the image of God, but a saint is like a portrait to the unregenerate human's stick-figure. We have icons of saints not to take away from Christ, but because an icon of a saint is an icon of an icon of Christ.
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« Reply #101 on: January 29, 2012, 06:00:33 PM »

And there are those icons that are miracle-working...
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« Reply #102 on: January 29, 2012, 10:54:56 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

FountainPen, I recall mentioning some time ago that you did not seem to have attended any Orthodox services, and, IIRC, had recommended that you did, to get some idea of how icons are regarded and treated in Orthodox devotions and liturgical practice. May I also recommend you read the seminal treatise by St John of Damascus called In Defense of the Holy Images (found here: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/johndam-icons.html, it's not a long document), which addresses a multitude of questions on the place and propriety of icons in Christian life.

If, after reading this work, and attending at least one or two Orthodox services, then come back to us with your concerns (if you have any) about iconography. Your concerns on the use of imagery in worship and devotion is nothing new - but the Church sorted it all out more than 1200 years ago. Present-day iconoclasts are simply reinventing a wobbly, wayward wheel.  Wink

I'm not a present day iconoclast who is unable to read long documents. Neither am i prepared to travel 2 hours there and 2 back, to get to an English speaking Orthodox service. My concerns are not limited to the church service so it's not as though i'm missing out on vital information by not attending and i've read several papers on icons that have been linked to on this forum, including that one.

Thanks.

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I take the subway two hours just to get lunch sometimes but I'm from LA, we have a different concept of geography..

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #103 on: January 29, 2012, 11:29:47 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

FountainPen, I recall mentioning some time ago that you did not seem to have attended any Orthodox services, and, IIRC, had recommended that you did, to get some idea of how icons are regarded and treated in Orthodox devotions and liturgical practice. May I also recommend you read the seminal treatise by St John of Damascus called In Defense of the Holy Images (found here: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/johndam-icons.html, it's not a long document), which addresses a multitude of questions on the place and propriety of icons in Christian life.

If, after reading this work, and attending at least one or two Orthodox services, then come back to us with your concerns (if you have any) about iconography. Your concerns on the use of imagery in worship and devotion is nothing new - but the Church sorted it all out more than 1200 years ago. Present-day iconoclasts are simply reinventing a wobbly, wayward wheel.  Wink

I'm not a present day iconoclast who is unable to read long documents. Neither am i prepared to travel 2 hours there and 2 back, to get to an English speaking Orthodox service. My concerns are not limited to the church service so it's not as though i'm missing out on vital information by not attending and i've read several papers on icons that have been linked to on this forum, including that one.

Thanks.

People have crawled a thousand miles starving on their knees for God, if you can't bother driving merely two hours to witness Orthodox for yourself, then in your regretful laziness you have NO RIGHT to speak out anything against her, because you are simply to lazy or indifferent to check it out for yourself.  I am sorry but laziness is no excuse for willful and woeful ignorance  Undecided Undecided

I take the subway two hours just to get lunch sometimes but I'm from LA, we have a different concept of geography..

stay blessed,
habte selassie

How you can start and end your posts with the supposed 'blessings' and then come out with such harsh and personal judgement is beyond me.

When i get home from work, i am responsible for looking after a terminally ill family member. I don't have time to drive two hours there and back to get to church on a weekend because i'm not free to do so and i'm not prepared to leave them with a carer on the weekend like i have to on a week day. It has nothing to do with laziness or not being bothered as you wrongly assume.

Trying to shame me by telling me of people who have crawled thousands of miles for God... is well... i have no words Habte -- none that i can post anyway.

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« Reply #104 on: January 29, 2012, 11:49:04 PM »

Years ago there were many illiterate people and Icons were used to express biblical stories to those that couldn't read. That is why the images are usually referred to as written and not drawn.

And i would not have an issue with that at all as a teaching tool.

FountainPen,

Going back to my initial response (#8), my question would be: do you have a problem with the veneration of icons, or veneration in general? What sort of objects do you think it is allowable to venerate?

and as long as I'm here (forgive me for not loading the thread in another tab and going for the quote in full context)

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I can accept that explanation possibly, for the icons of Christ.

Do you understand that saints are an icon of Christ? So, to a degree, is every human, as we are all made in the image of God, but a saint is like a portrait to the unregenerate human's stick-figure. We have icons of saints not to take away from Christ, but because an icon of a saint is an icon of an icon of Christ.

I do understand that each component is able to be explained logically as being just a small thing that isn't anything to be concerned about. Kissing, bowing, venerating etc., but put them all together and that's when i start having problems.

As for saints being icons of Christ -- this is what that sounds like to me: We Orthodox collect boxes, not just any old boxes but only the boxes that used to contain gifts. We have several and they don't have to be fancy ones they can just be plain old boxes or sometimes bags too. We stack them all in a corner and periodically look at them because they remind us of the gift that used to be inside and they are representitive of the gift that is Jesus. We are all gifts and that's why we give gifts to one another because it reminds us of Jesus. Don't you see, that's why we keep the boxes because it brings us closer to Jesus.

Now i know that this is nonsense, but what you're telling me makes about as much sense to me as what i've written above. I can see the obvious links you're making with icons, Christ, saints, restoration of the image etc., but the overall elephant in the room, as-it-were, is still idolatry.

I'm trying, i really am.
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« Reply #105 on: January 30, 2012, 01:30:17 AM »

As for saints being icons of Christ -- this is what that sounds like to me: We Orthodox collect boxes, not just any old boxes but only the boxes that used to contain gifts. We have several and they don't have to be fancy ones they can just be plain old boxes or sometimes bags too. We stack them all in a corner and periodically look at them because they remind us of the gift that used to be inside and they are representitive of the gift that is Jesus. We are all gifts and that's why we give gifts to one another because it reminds us of Jesus. Don't you see, that's why we keep the boxes because it brings us closer to Jesus.

The saints aren't boxes that contained (past tense implying they no longer do) gifts, but contain (present tense) gifts, more like display cases for showing off the gifts they contain. I don't know how useful that is for you, but I hope it helps as far as explaining the saints and relics. As for icons specifically, I typically use the argument that most iconoclasts treat images representative of secular authority with more reverence than they do religous ones. One example would be that no one has a problem with saluting their nation's flag, but wouldn't dare show the slightest reverence to an icon.
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« Reply #106 on: January 30, 2012, 02:01:51 AM »

I can see the obvious links you're making with icons, Christ, saints, restoration of the image etc., but the overall elephant in the room, as-it-were, is still idolatry.

I'm trying, i really am.
Perhaps the issue is cultural. How middle eastern and russian people honor stuff is different from how Americans honor stuff.

They kiss, we handshake.

They touch dead bodies, we fill them with chemicals and encase them in steel.

'Cause what you seem to be saying is, "I get honoring, but the stuff you guys do to icons is not just honor." Maybe our culture just sucks at physically honoring stuff, so authentic gestures of honor seem idolatrous by comparison.
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« Reply #107 on: January 30, 2012, 12:51:05 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!




How you can start and end your posts with the supposed 'blessings' and then come out with such harsh and personal judgement is beyond me.

When i get home from work, i am responsible for looking after a terminally ill family member. I don't have time to drive two hours there and back to get to church on a weekend because i'm not free to do so and i'm not prepared to leave them with a carer on the weekend like i have to on a week day. It has nothing to do with laziness or not being bothered as you wrongly assume.

Trying to shame me by telling me of people who have crawled thousands of miles for God... is well... i have no words Habte -- none that i can post anyway.



Excuse me, perhaps that came across harsher then it needed to be or was intended, but the truth hurts sometimes.  The reality is that you are lazy if you are saying, "Neither am i prepared to travel 2 hours there and 2 back, to get to an English speaking Orthodox service. "  Even with all the circumstances you are dealing with, do you think that we in Orthodox don't have the same? None of us have ill relatives or logistical problems? You shouldn't dismiss the reality of Church because of your current circumstances, we are all in this same boat, we all have these same problems, do you know how we deal with them? The Divine Liturgy. THIS is why folks here continually invite you to visit a Church and attend a Liturgy, because the healing from the Holy Spirit which you, me, and us all need DAILY is in the Liturgy, is in the Church.  If you scoff or dismiss it, that is your business, but we are sincerely trying to help you the only way God has helped us, we are trying to share with you what God has shared with us, if you aren't interested, we simply can't help you. You are drawing your own fundamental lines in the sand here, but we can't teach you Orthodox, you have to experience it for yourself.  I'll tell you like I tell my students, "Give God the opportunity, don't waste it."

I take the subway 2 hours each way EVERY Sunday to go to Liturgy.  Orthodox is an experience, not a book.  Why did the Inca King Ataluapa through the Bible on the ground, because he couldn't read it and rightfully said that it didn't speak to him.  This is why the Church lives and teaches through the experience of the Divine Liturgy.  You will not find Orthodox in any of the books you are reading, you can only find Orthodox from the tangible experience of the Church, through prayer and the Holy Spirit.  I found your attitude a bit condescending by the way, sorry if I flinched.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #108 on: January 30, 2012, 01:13:17 PM »

I havent read all the pages of this, but Id just like to put in my two cents.  Remember, I grew up protestant but i now have an icon corner. 

One way that it benefited me, was sort of an accountability.  (I guess thats the right word...)  My prayer life was pretty miserable.  At best, my prayer life was me mumbling a prayer into my pillow, if I remembered,  when I went to sleep.   You may not be as bad as i was though.   All I can say is that having a specific location to say my prayers, (not that prayer is limited to that location of course) and having a sort of prayer rule has been extremely beneficial.  I dont even walk passed the icons without praying something, even if its just saying the Jesus prayer as im walking by.  These sort of things are meant to help you with your prayer life. 

As far as idolatry, I just dont get it.  People in evangelical circles have no problem raising their hands, or kneeling at the foot of the stage when a rock and roll worship band is performing.  Could we not make an argument that you (not you in particular) are idolizing the rock band?  I can assure you I dont worship these things.  I dont see whats so wrong with looking at an icon of Chirst as you pray to him.  Or looking at an icon of a saint when asking him to pray for you.  (intercession of saints is a whole other topic of course. no need to get into that here.)  Prayer can be challenging at times.  Engaging more of my senses with the visuals of the icons, scent of the incense, and touching a prayer rope is what helped me to get back on track. 
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« Reply #109 on: January 30, 2012, 01:16:21 PM »

Habte, don't you think it might be more conducive to bringing Fountain Pen to Orthodoxy not to continue in haranguing him/her along the same lines they already objected to? I know that when I came here originally, I was also far from the Orthodox Church and felt I could not attend (the nearest OO church is so far away that even the local Ethiopians attend the EO church rather than traveling for hours upon hours to attend liturgy; are you going to call all of them lazy, too?). By the grace of God, I moved some 1200 miles away and can now attend Orthodox services as often as they are offered. It is a blessing of God as much as being able to tend to a terminally ill relative (something I have also done) is, because just as the faith is not in reading books, it is likewise not only in attending services and feeling ourselves right with God for our exertions. So rather than negatively appraising others for what they do not do, why not show a way that they might come closer to the true faith and the greatness of mercy that may sustain them while they are outside the church? For instance: We cannot always go to church, but we can learn the Agbeya (as I did before I moved here and could attend services). We cannot always pray the full hour, but we can pray the Prayer of Thanksgiving (as I often do, and would have done over my mother had I known it when she was dying). Maybe if we have not memorized that yet, we can pray shorter prayers (Kyrie Eleison, the Jesus prayer, etc). There is always something we can do, but what we ought not do is disparage people for not being where we are, or where we would like them to be.

Of course Fountain Pen should go to church. I should too, but services are only so often since we don't have our own priest (they're flown in from Phoenix), so I suppose technically I am also falling short of the standard many have of weekly/daily attendance. That, I believe, is one of the strengths of Orthodoxy over my previous experience in RCism (with its concept of "Sunday Obligation"): It is adaptable to circumstances in which the struggling may find themselves not out of "laziness" toward its practice, but out of mercy towards its practicants.
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« Reply #110 on: January 30, 2012, 01:55:32 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Habte, don't you think it might be more conducive to bringing Fountain Pen to Orthodoxy not to continue in haranguing him/her along the same lines they already objected to? I know that when I came here originally, I was also far from the Orthodox Church and felt I could not attend (the nearest OO church is so far away that even the local Ethiopians attend the EO church rather than traveling for hours upon hours to attend liturgy; are you going to call all of them lazy, too?). By the grace of God, I moved some 1200 miles away and can now attend Orthodox services as often as they are offered. It is a blessing of God as much as being able to tend to a terminally ill relative (something I have also done) is, because just as the faith is not in reading books, it is likewise not only in attending services and feeling ourselves right with God for our exertions. So rather than negatively appraising others for what they do not do, why not show a way that they might come closer to the true faith and the greatness of mercy that may sustain them while they are outside the church? For instance: We cannot always go to church, but we can learn the Agbeya (as I did before I moved here and could attend services). We cannot always pray the full hour, but we can pray the Prayer of Thanksgiving (as I often do, and would have done over my mother had I known it when she was dying). Maybe if we have not memorized that yet, we can pray shorter prayers (Kyrie Eleison, the Jesus prayer, etc). There is always something we can do, but what we ought not do is disparage people for not being where we are, or where we would like them to be.

Of course Fountain Pen should go to church. I should too, but services are only so often since we don't have our own priest (they're flown in from Phoenix), so I suppose technically I am also falling short of the standard many have of weekly/daily attendance. That, I believe, is one of the strengths of Orthodoxy over my previous experience in RCism (with its concept of "Sunday Obligation"): It is adaptable to circumstances in which the struggling may find themselves not out of "laziness" toward its practice, but out of mercy towards its practicants.

It isn't lacking attendance which I was criticizing, it is a scoffing or dismissive attitude.  If she wasn't intending to scoff the Church, then that is my mistaken interpretation, but tone doesn't translate well on internet forums.  Attitude and intention is what is important.  Folks need to PRAY constantly to be allowed the Grace to go to Church.  The moral of the Slaying of the Innocents is that Jesus is on the move and Christians are constantly under threat, so we simply can't take any opportunities for granted and we need to pray that God brings us through every single opportunity without squandering His Grace. If folks have nearby parishes and don't attend, they are scoffing the Church.  If folks have never been in their life, but are preemptively drawing the dividing line, what can they expect?

I didn't mean to disrespect her, but I may have also misunderstood her reply.  Folks have been polite enough to get into the lengthy discussions over the past few months with FountainPen, but at the end of the day, if she isn't even going to attend a single Divine Liturgy what is it worth? We aren't going to convince her to go to Orthodox Liturgy by the persuasiveness of our arguments about doctrine and dogma.  At the end of the day, FountainPen is just going to have to see it for herself!  So all this talking is redundant if she has already drawn that line in the sand.  Again though, I may have misunderstood her reply, but I read that as a dismissal of our invitation. We are Orthodox.  This is an Orthodox forum.  We are here to invite folks to our parishes, if the reject the invitation, what more can we do, but I felt she was throwing her rejection back in our faces like with a teeth smacking gesture..

and as to your comment about Ethiopians, A) it is not relevant to my point to FountainPen, because these Ethiopians are attending a closer Orthodox service, whereas apparently FountainPen has only one nearby and it isn't, its far, but regardless its the only one she may have. (B) Further, I would unashamedly call them lazy for choosing a local but non-Oriental parish.  I am very sensitive to these kinds of matter, I know folks who walked across Ethiopia to become refugees in Kenya or Sudan, dreaming and praying of their Ethiopian Church, and for folks in this modern US to have the luxury of driving, and not drive an extra few hours to experience the Kingdom of God on earth, what is the point?  Where are the priorities?  Again, I take the subway two hours each way to go to Liturgy every time, I don't have a car, nor have I had one for several years, so folks can't pull that cop-out to me, I speak from experience.  

I don't intend this a judgment  but definitely a criticism.  Folks need to give God the opportunity..

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #111 on: January 30, 2012, 04:35:15 PM »

I didn't mean to disrespect her, but I may have also misunderstood her reply.  Folks have been polite enough to get into the lengthy discussions over the past few months with FountainPen, but at the end of the day, if she isn't even going to attend a single Divine Liturgy what is it worth?

St. Monica prayed for her son for how many years before the Spirit moved him to abandon his wicked ways and come to the Church? 20? 25? Something like that. The potential saints of today (i.e., everybody) deserve nothing less. While there almost always comes a point when it is profitable to back away from a particular argument (and it sounds like you've reached that point with FP), we never stop praying for people, do we? We never stop praying for the whole world. A few months, a few years, a few decades...whatever. Keep at it and do not despair.

Quote
We aren't going to convince her to go to Orthodox Liturgy by the persuasiveness of our arguments about doctrine and dogma.
 

Of course not. I think most people first attend church because they are invited. Arguing people into church is a bad way to do it because we do not come to God by argument.

Quote
At the end of the day, FountainPen is just going to have to see it for herself!  So all this talking is redundant if she has already drawn that line in the sand.
 

Well you know what they say about things built on sand. It applies to things written in sand, too. The line may move, with time. We may help it move, with patience and understanding.

Quote
Again though, I may have misunderstood her reply, but I read that as a dismissal of our invitation. We are Orthodox.  This is an Orthodox forum.  We are here to invite folks to our parishes, if the reject the invitation, what more can we do, but I felt she was throwing her rejection back in our faces like with a teeth smacking gesture..

I have a feeling I may have missed this invitation, but from what I have seen in this thread (posts calling her lazy), I do not blame her for not wanting to come experience the faith herself. The disposition of my spiritual family here in Albuquerque is, thanks be to God, almost unbearably light and kind, despite not moving an inch in the realm of doctrine or normative practices. If I were called lazy and derided for my failure to live up to what is already established, or even worse assumed to be purposely turning my nose up at the Orthodox way of life, I would not still strive to integrate myself into the community. I would give up and probably just stop going to church altogether. And as you say, you do not know whether or not you have understood FountainPen, but proceed based on your assumptions and hunches. Well, I have a hunch, too, having spent about 18 months of my 13th-14th year trying to care for my dying mother: FP is probably incredibly tired and burdened. So I would say this:

Fountain Pen, no one can argue you into Orthodoxy, nor do we necessarily seek to do so. Zealotry (in the positive sense of the word) sometimes overtakes us all, no matter who we are, and that can be off-putting to someone who comes from a background that does not accept what we already see as real/historically obvious/fundamental/etc. But our church is a place of comfort (even for people like me, the perpetually-uncomfortable catechumen) not because it is easy or basic, but because our Lord Jesus Christ is there. When we come together to worship our Lord, it is an entirely different experience than any argument on the internet can prepare you for or any book can inform you of. Our Lord has granted us relief from our burdens and rest for our souls in His holy Church, and when we enter into it it is like entering into heaven, or as close to it as we will ever get before we give up our souls to the Lord. It is absolutely transformative, and does not end with the liturgy. Every single Saturday (we in Albuquerque worship on Saturday because the priests who serve us need to return to their diocese in Phoenix for the Sunday service) changes me and my life. Sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot. But it's never the same, and I'm never the same. Life is still difficult and tiring, but the peace of Christ is with me because I have come, by the Holy Spirit, to meet Him in His Church.

That is why you should go to the Orthodox Church. Maybe if you want a faith you can be immediately intellectually-convinced of and comfortable with, you will find it not to your liking. But if you want to lay down your burdens and be transformed by the presence of God before you, Orthodoxy will bring you there.
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« Reply #112 on: January 30, 2012, 05:15:49 PM »

Hey, guys, let's talk about Fountain Pen like she's not able to read all this.
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« Reply #113 on: January 30, 2012, 05:25:31 PM »

Geez, instead of "Come and See" it seems like all the posts here are doing nothing more than driving her away.

Well done team. Well done.


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« Reply #114 on: January 30, 2012, 05:26:38 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!



Well you know what they say about things built on sand. It applies to things written in sand, too. The line may move, with time. We may help it move, with patience and understanding.



This speaks volumes of peace to my heart, thank you for it.  I never stopped praying for FountainPen or any folks outside of the Church, however my implication was that time and time again, not just on this thread but all the time on this forum, many many folks devote a lot of time to testify and witness Orthodox to FountainPen, and I interpreted her comment as being of a negative and dismissive attitude (she said "Neither am i prepared to travel 2 hours there and 2 back, to get to an English speaking Orthodox service. My concerns are not limited to the church service so it's not as though i'm missing out on vital information by not attending.)  I may have wrongfully interpreted that, again, tone is not translated well in internet forums.  Either way, my point remains valid, even if I crossed a line with the lazy comment.  

If FountainPen or any others are not prepared, or have no intentions of, or even see the inherent value of attending Divine Liturgy, then in their scholastic zeal they have entirely missed the point of Orthodox.  In Orthodox, it is far superior to be illiterate and shy with sincere faith and hope in the Liturgy, then to spend a lifetime burdened by books.  Jesus Christ said, "You search the Scriptures diligently, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #115 on: January 30, 2012, 05:30:09 PM »

Hey, guys, let's talk about Fountain Pen like she's not able to read all this.

I was addressing her directly because I can relate in some small way to where she is. What's wrong with that?
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« Reply #116 on: January 30, 2012, 05:33:39 PM »

Hey, guys, let's talk about Fountain Pen like she's not able to read all this.

I was addressing her directly because I can relate in some small way to where she is. What's wrong with that?
Your intentions were good. Just think it will do more harm than good. People don't like being talked about in that manner.
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« Reply #117 on: January 30, 2012, 05:44:17 PM »

I don't really see how I talked about her in "that way" or any other way (I was relating my own experience of Orthodoxy, not hers or anyone else's), but okay. Fountain Pen, I apologize if you were offended in some way.
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« Reply #118 on: January 30, 2012, 06:31:36 PM »

Years ago there were many illiterate people and Icons were used to express biblical stories to those that couldn't read. That is why the images are usually referred to as written and not drawn.

And i would not have an issue with that at all as a teaching tool.

FountainPen,

Going back to my initial response (#8), my question would be: do you have a problem with the veneration of icons, or veneration in general? What sort of objects do you think it is allowable to venerate?

and as long as I'm here (forgive me for not loading the thread in another tab and going for the quote in full context)

Quote
I can accept that explanation possibly, for the icons of Christ.

Do you understand that saints are an icon of Christ? So, to a degree, is every human, as we are all made in the image of God, but a saint is like a portrait to the unregenerate human's stick-figure. We have icons of saints not to take away from Christ, but because an icon of a saint is an icon of an icon of Christ.

I do understand that each component is able to be explained logically as being just a small thing that isn't anything to be concerned about. Kissing, bowing, venerating etc., but put them all together and that's when i start having problems.

As for saints being icons of Christ -- this is what that sounds like to me: We Orthodox collect boxes, not just any old boxes but only the boxes that used to contain gifts. We have several and they don't have to be fancy ones they can just be plain old boxes or sometimes bags too. We stack them all in a corner and periodically look at them because they remind us of the gift that used to be inside and they are representitive of the gift that is Jesus. We are all gifts and that's why we give gifts to one another because it reminds us of Jesus. Don't you see, that's why we keep the boxes because it brings us closer to Jesus.

Now i know that this is nonsense, but what you're telling me makes about as much sense to me as what i've written above. I can see the obvious links you're making with icons, Christ, saints, restoration of the image etc., but the overall elephant in the room, as-it-were, is still idolatry.

I'm trying, i really am.

Also, St. John of Damascus gives us scriptural precedent for venerating icons.

"Abraham bowed down to the sons of Hamor, men who had neither faith nor knowledge of God, when he bought the double cave intended to be a tomb. Jacob bowed to the ground before Esau, his brother, and also before the tip of his son Joseph's staff. He bowed down, but he did not adore. Joshua, the son of Nun, and Daniel bowed in veneration before an angel of God, but they did not adore him" (The Divine Images, page 19).
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« Reply #119 on: January 30, 2012, 06:41:47 PM »

and further, what of the serpent of brass? were the israelites worshipping the statue when they came to it for healing?

"And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any person, when he beheld the serpent of brass, they lived"(Numbers 21:9).
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« Reply #120 on: January 31, 2012, 06:53:49 AM »

and further, what of the serpent of brass? were the israelites worshipping the statue when they came to it for healing?
Might not be the best example, considering what happened to that brass serpent.
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« Reply #121 on: January 31, 2012, 02:58:11 PM »

and further, what of the serpent of brass? were the israelites worshipping the statue when they came to it for healing?
Might not be the best example, considering what happened to that brass serpent.

They did eventually go overboard, and offered incense to it and gave it a new name, but God did command that the israelites come to the serpent for healing. The serpent was at that time a "meeting place" between God and man. When people turned to the serpent as an end in itself and ignored God's glory working through it, well that was the turning point that led to their destruction.

this serpent was the first "icon" of Jesus, as foretold in the gospels.
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« Reply #122 on: January 31, 2012, 03:04:15 PM »

Also note that in between the golden cherubim on the ark was a similar "meeting place" between God and man. The high priest would come in to make his most sacred prayers and offerings before the ark in the holy of holies. So those who claim that the Jews did not pray nor offer worship to God before these "images" are mistaken.

Exo 25:22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
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« Reply #123 on: February 01, 2012, 02:24:18 AM »

"Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name...

...And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the LORD your God. And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the LORD, and the king."

-1 Chronicles 29:10-13, 20
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« Reply #124 on: February 03, 2012, 03:58:33 PM »

Nicholas Papas, an iconographer whose icons you can purchase at http://comeandseeicons.com, has just started writing for The Sounding, a blog run by OCN. His first blog post is a reflection on one of his works - a mural of Christ and ten saints - and I enjoyed reading an iconographer's thoughts on the significance of his own icon. 

By the way, FountainPen, although I come from a Catholic background, I always get excited when I see that you've posted something. You always ask such good questions, and it usually leads to a good discussion. What are your thoughts on Nick Papas' post? Is there anything that you find objectionable?
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« Reply #125 on: February 03, 2012, 05:18:22 PM »

Years ago there were many illiterate people and Icons were used to express biblical stories to those that couldn't read. That is why the images are usually referred to as written and not drawn.

And i would not have an issue with that at all as a teaching tool.

FountainPen,

Going back to my initial response (#8), my question would be: do you have a problem with the veneration of icons, or veneration in general? What sort of objects do you think it is allowable to venerate?

and as long as I'm here (forgive me for not loading the thread in another tab and going for the quote in full context)

Quote
I can accept that explanation possibly, for the icons of Christ.

Do you understand that saints are an icon of Christ? So, to a degree, is every human, as we are all made in the image of God, but a saint is like a portrait to the unregenerate human's stick-figure. We have icons of saints not to take away from Christ, but because an icon of a saint is an icon of an icon of Christ.

I do understand that each component is able to be explained logically as being just a small thing that isn't anything to be concerned about. Kissing, bowing, venerating etc., but put them all together and that's when i start having problems.

As for saints being icons of Christ -- this is what that sounds like to me: We Orthodox collect boxes, not just any old boxes but only the boxes that used to contain gifts. We have several and they don't have to be fancy ones they can just be plain old boxes or sometimes bags too. We stack them all in a corner and periodically look at them because they remind us of the gift that used to be inside and they are representitive of the gift that is Jesus. We are all gifts and that's why we give gifts to one another because it reminds us of Jesus. Don't you see, that's why we keep the boxes because it brings us closer to Jesus.

Now i know that this is nonsense, but what you're telling me makes about as much sense to me as what i've written above. I can see the obvious links you're making with icons, Christ, saints, restoration of the image etc., but the overall elephant in the room, as-it-were, is still idolatry.

I'm trying, i really am.

     Anything from money to golden calves can be considered idolatry. At this point I would just like to add. That it's our very own response to the image that makes it an idolatry or not. You know, there was once a time when people worshiped the sun and some still do. Would that mean that we have to destroy it to make us OK with your god? Or should one look at the real root of the problem. Which for me is "thy self"
    Not to belittle someones actions but. There are those who are week of mind and character that will always read thing wrongly. Take alcohol for example. Alcohol is dangerous to those who don't know how to use it properly. Do we then blame the alcohol for it's misuse? I hope you see now that there are many thing that you are presenting as miss information. Only because of the stance you choose to take in regards to icons. Your not allowing yourself to see things in a different context. The correct context might I add.
    When we look upon icons there are two images present. The picture and the substance of the person. We venerate the person in the Icon because the substance is that of a saint and a continuation of the image of Christ. In other words we see Christs actions through the saints actions. That is why they are deserving of veneration. They continue in the long line of saints from the time of Christ that have edified those who use them as an example of what Christ wants people to be.
     Ill go as far as to say there are those that do misuse icons in the orthodox faith. But I'm sure that there priests. If aware of the situation would certainly handle it accordingly and set there flock strait.
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« Reply #126 on: February 06, 2012, 07:53:20 PM »

Dear Fountain Pen,

I don't know if you are still reading this thread, but if so, though it may be hubristic of me, I think I can help with your questions. Over the years I've become a passable parrot of the thoughts and explanations of my betters.

What Icons are:
  • Images/remembrances of the champions and exemplars of the faith who have been revealed in the Church by God for veneration and emulation.
    Textbooks in the faith for the illiterate.
    Windows to heaven.
    The dullest edge of beatific vision.
    Hieroglyphs

What icons are not:
  • Idols
    Superfluous

Explanations:

History:
  • It would help to know the basic history of how icons interred the Church, there are four sources according to the Tradition. 1st. Christ, the image of God, made an image of Himself and passed it on to the King of Edessa with a promise to send to him one of His apostles after Christ had completed His earthly ministry. That apostle was Mattias, and according to Eusebius, Edessa was one of the the first, if not the first Gentlle city to convert to the faith…indeed it converted so deep in Christian history, in the first or second generation, the dating cannot be entirely certain.

    2nd: The Apostle Luke during his interviews with the Theotokos painted the prototype of the Theotokos and Holy Child images you find at the front of every Orthodox temple. According to the Tradition, the Theotokos said upon viewing St. Luke's work that her Son would bless that image. He later made more copies, and if memory serves there are at least four or five images of the Theotokos surviving that reputed to originally have been from his hand.

    3rd: The holy martyrs: This is where images of the saints come from. In Egypt and Palestine the funerary custom was to attach an image of the deceased, usually from a time of their youth and health, to the face of the body to be placed in the tomb. It served as a kind of grave marker, and given the particular funerary sensibilities of the Egyptians from pharonic times, the image on the board and the the deceased were believe to enjoy a mystical ontological connection beyond the grave.  When people in these regions became Christian, they kept many of their old funeral customs, and when the deceased was a martyr it was customary within the Christian community to take their relics (bones) into the Church for the veneration of the faithful. You can read about how tenderly early Christians felt about the relics of their martyred in the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, who was a disciple and spiritual son of the Apostle John. When the relics came into the church, the funerary images came with them. So in those early centuries one began to find Christian temples whose walls were adorned with the images of those who had given their lives for Christ…members of the great cloud of witnesses of whom the world was not worthy. Naturally, over time those images began to be copied and shared, especially of martyrs whose life and death were especially noble in the service of Christ.

    As this practice became particularly Christian in its representation of the martyrs, the images became less overtly naturalistic and more theologically representative.  When the old funerary custom provided an image of the deceased as they appeared in the prime of their life, Christian funerary images of the martyrs showed the martyrs as persons whose lives were transformed by Christ..in union with Life Himself. Thus it was later argued that all images of the saints are images of Christ insofar as they are images of Christ as revealed in this or that holy person.

    4th Jerusalem: As Christianity grew in popularity, and conversions multiplied, and even the emperor himself and his mother became Christians, and it was safer to travel as Christian, and the emperor's mother had gone to great lengths to seek out and adorn the holy places in Jerusalem, Jerusalem then became a site of great pilgrimage. The Christians of Jerusalem commemorated the events of Christ's life and that of other biblical figure by painting images of them and adorning their their temples with them along with those of the martyred saints.  Visitors were very taken with these images, and wanted copies to take home with them as keepsakes, and inspiration pieces for their places of worship.  Soon enough a whole cottage industry of sorts grew up in and around Jerusalem to produce biblical event/life of Christ icons for the pilgrims who in turn spread them all over Christendom…for in those early centuries, the activities of the Church at Jerusalem, the eldest of them all was looked to as a standard bearer…so whatever was done and approved of by the Church in Jerusalem generally favorably received and often emulated.

Hieroglyphs, Beatific Vision/Windows to Heaven:
The funerary experience of the Church with her martyrs established the idea of the connection between the image and the prototype. It was similar in concept to the idea that the statue of an emperor present in a place of official gov. business solemnized the business…sort of like the way we regard a notary seal as making something official, only more-so. So just as the government had images of its ruler in places of government business, the Church had images of her ruler in her temples. The image and it's prototype were understood to be connected, the image in a way making present the person who was the prototype.  This also coincided with similar perceptions in the liturgical experience of the Jews at Passover, where one who has eaten the meal and heard the recitation of the story of the exodus to have been mystically present at the original event. This mindset greatly informed the compositional aesthetics of icons as these things began to be pondered and standardized within the Church. This is why well wrought icons have a reversed perspective, which seems to distort the "natural" appearance of things represented therein like chairs and pedestals, buildings, etc.  The vanishing point for the composition is located in the viewer, not on the plane of the horizon.  This means the icon does not exist as a mere flat representation, but creates through its composition a sacred space in collaboration with the viewer. The image 'wraps' around the viewer, moves towards him, includes him in the event depicted or in the presence of the person whose image it is.

It was not only Egyptian funerary customs which contributed to Christian iconography the graphic legacy of Egyptian hieroglyphics.  This is at the root of why one often hears of icons being written, not painted…even though technically speaking they are made with paints. Hieroglyphs followed certain conventions of the division of space and the representation of informational content. A geometric study of the placement of images in a well made icon will show these same divisions of space as found in hieroglyphic inscriptions. One also find conventions such as distance represented in height planes, of more important figures shown larger than less important ones, and a variety of artistic conventions to convey abstract or spiritual ideas…even the choice of colors has distinct meaning. For example, events that occurred indoors are shown outdoors but under a fabric awning. The divine light in a saint is shown by a golden nimbus, plants take fantastic shapes to point to otherworldliness…back towards paradise. First red, and then later gold leaf was used to represent light. There's a whole catalog of emblems and gestures that convey a variety of theological ideas…enlarged ear lobes over long locks of hair, for example are not necessarily indications of coiffure but is a way of showing that this person was sensitive to hearing the voice of God. Angel hair styles are modeled on those of Persian boy servants of that time…thus showing they are servants of God.  Images of the holy are always show full face or at least 3/4 and thus open to communion with the viewer. Images in profile are theologically, ecclesiologically closed.  So when an icon is seen all these compositional factors enter into how that image is understood and related to…how it is read.  For example you could spend months studying the implications of the composition of Andre Rublev's Hospitality of Abraham (Holy Trinity). Some have even gone so far as to suggest that it's composition is so profound as to be in itself a proof of the Holy Trinity. I cannot speak to that, but it does possess immense depths.

Given that the image is not just portraiture, but a kind of image conveyed sermon/hymn on a given holy theme composed in accordance with carefully chosen canons with regard to it content and execution, that they are regarded as being in line and color what the Gospels and Epistles are in the written word, it is in this respect they must be encountered and contemplated.  Same message, same content, different media.

Consider a favorite hymn which is well crafted and theologically rich. One first experiences it externally…you read the words and follow the notes and sing along. It touches you, and as your life experience grows your love and appreciation of the hymn grows as well. Soon enough you sing it from memory…no need for a book…and then one day you penetrate the words. You go behind the text to place where the composer was when he was inspired along these lines.  You encounter the place where the hymn came from…and from that day, it's not just another's words you agree with and sing…but your own song, for you have tasted the spring it flowed from. That is how an icon works. It is first experienced externally, then appreciated and loved, then one day the heart penetrates the image…as if a window had been opened and passed through. The place where the image came from, the holy vision to some extent is experienced and the prototype touched. Now the heart has been educated and sees beyond what the eye beholds, the image is a bridge leading towards the reality, joining this world to that, the duller end here, the glorious end there.  Now the external prayer said before the image has awakened in the heart and the heart moves swiftly in prayer to stand before God and the whole congregation of Angels and Saints, the triumphant assembly of the Church of the Firstborn, and Word of God.

Ostentation: The line here is relative. The principal we follow is that the worship of God and all associated with it should be beautiful. It's beauty should harrow the heart that it may receive and bring to fruit the seed of everlasting remembrance before God. Each community of faithful does what is within it's power to beautify its worship. What is ostentatious in one context is a fit and precious offering in another.  That said, yes people do go overboard when the ornament obscures rather than reveals the object ornamented. Some oklads (protective metal coverings for old or much venerated icons, usually of river and gold and sometimes jewels) are a bit much, leaving only little bits of the icon visible for veneration.  

The question of ostentatious veneration and venerations run amok were dealt with in the canons of the 7th ecumenical council. Prior to it, some went so far as to ingest bits of its paint, received communion from the hands of the icon of a beloved saint, used to stand in as godparents.  All these other similar uses were identified and forbidden.  The council explicitly stated that icons may receive only that level of veneration appropriate to be shown to another man.  It is on this point though moderns trying to critique icon veneration often get in trouble.  Moderns tend to be very democratic and egalitarian…the idea of the appropriateness of bowing and prostrating before kings, emperors and potentates is a million miles from their thoughts…but it was not so far from the thoughts of those who drafted the canons of the 7th council, in whose time such gestures of honor and respect were entirely common. We must learn our cultural myopias and take them into account in our judgements of ancient times and ways.  As humans we have a limited physical vocabulary…a deep bow in one context is veneration, in another it is latria…adoration and worship. Only context and the interior state of the heart determine it for sure.  That said, abuse is not an argument against right use. The Church has determined the boundaries of right use. It is up to us to observe them both positively and negatively.

Comments:

Being able to throw images in the trash…as if the image did not matter.  During the iconoclastic controversy an certain iconographer refused to obey the emperor's edict against painting icon.  After several years the iconographer was caught and dragged before the emperor who placed an icon of Christ on the floor and told the iconographer to trample it, because it was just paint and wood.  Instead the iconographer pulled a coin from his purse that bore the emperor's image and trampled it instead.  In fury the emperor commanded the iconographer be executed and as the guards dragged the hapless man away, he cried out, "You see your majesty, an image is not nothing!"

Bright Lines: There aren't any visible to the human eye though they run thorough the middle of every human heart.  We may not say to an icon, "You are my God." Nor may we treat it as if it were God. Yet we treat them with great joyful reverence in public and in private…even in procession.  We do not pray to an icon, we pray before it, because as noted it creates a sacred space which includes us and invites us to prayerful contemplation and worship.

Icons are not objects of naked intellection and aesthetic appreciation, rather they create places for an event of communion between us and Christ and His saints. The very nature embodies the Orthodox understanding of Christian gnosis…it is in experience, in communion, in participation, not in discursive thinking or ideation. And our experience is filtered and guarded with an icon because it stand compositionally and theologically within the Spirit lived experience of the Church across the ages.  And when an icon gets too old, too damaged to be repaired or used as it was created for, then it goes into the fire…not unlike our attitude towards a worn out national flag. It is disposed of respectfully.

So, please forgive my longwindedness, but I hope have have touched upon your major questions and concerns about Orthodox icons and iconography.
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« Reply #127 on: February 07, 2012, 07:31:14 AM »

I'm still reading  

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« Reply #128 on: February 10, 2013, 12:11:03 AM »

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.

a picture is worth a thousand words. Thank you, as being a catechumen the icon thing was really odd to me. BUT this really hit home <3
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« Reply #129 on: February 10, 2013, 12:16:17 AM »


History:
  • It would help to know the basic history of how icons interred the Church, there are four sources according to the Tradition. 1st. Christ, the image of God, made an image of Himself and passed it on to the King of Edessa with a promise to send to him one of His apostles after Christ had completed His earthly ministry. That apostle was Mattias, and according to Eusebius, Edessa was one of the the first, if not the first Gentlle city to convert to the faith…indeed it converted so deep in Christian history, in the first or second generation, the dating cannot be entirely certain.

    2nd: The Apostle Luke during his interviews with the Theotokos painted the prototype of the Theotokos and Holy Child images you find at the front of every Orthodox temple. According to the Tradition, the Theotokos said upon viewing St. Luke's work that her Son would bless that image. He later made more copies, and if memory serves there are at least four or five images of the Theotokos surviving that reputed to originally have been from his hand.



okay, I was wondering which image of Christ was most accurate as I once heard the common portrayal was a famous artist who painted his gay lover (have no idea of the credibility of that, but have since been seeking a legitimate illustration with history). Do you have an image you could send? And of Theotokos and Christ? Thank you so much for the long windedness!![/list]
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« Reply #130 on: February 10, 2013, 01:19:42 PM »

 
Quote
I once heard the common portrayal was a famous artist who painted his gay lover

I've never heard of such a thing. It is possible there are some today or in recent history who paint in an iconographic style and use models of people they know for the images.  Such was popular to do with religious pictures of the Virgin Mary in the West during the Renaissance. However, that sort of thing is deeply contrary to the canons of the Church with respect to holy images. Their forms are dictated within the Tradition and must rest on historical sources and documented accounts. They are in line and color what the Scriptures are in written word, thus the types and compositions of images accepted as icons in the Church are carefully guarded. This of course does not mean all iconographers are of equal talent, or of equal depth of spiritual life…all things that become part of any given icon.

The Face. The image we understand to be that of Christ likely has its deepest root in the image of the Holy Mandylion (Holy Napkin), and those of the Theotokos of those images by the hand of St. Luke.



The image of Christ at St. Catherine's on Mt. Sinai dates from before the iconoclastic controversy, and is one of the primary iconographic models in use today:


This is the type of the blessed Theotokos know as Hodegetria or Directress/She who shows the way. This is the pose/composition first attributed to St. Luke:


Another very old version of the Theotokos is the Oran's or Worshiper. Specific variations have various names, but among the most common are the ones with Christ in a mandorla at her bosom. This represents the moment she said yes to God and Christ became incarnate within her. It was the moment when Heaven met earth. This is why this icon is traditionally placed directly behind the altar in it's apse. Since the whole temple is an icon of the cosmos, the place in the apse of the altar is where the roof meets and becomes one with the wall, just as heaven touched earth and God became Man, and it is in the altar on the throne where bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, again heaven meeting earth. These images are generally called either Panagia (all holy) or Wider than the Heavens (because her womb became wider than the heavens…containing Him Whom the heavens cannot contain)

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« Reply #131 on: February 10, 2013, 11:19:35 PM »

Dear to Christ, "Fountain Pen",

If you have access to the internet, you can "attend" a Divine Liturgy even if you can not physically attend. Broadcast of the Divine Liturgy are available on the internet by several jurisdictions in the USA. Some are in the original tongue of the jurisdiction but most are bilingual or all in English. While these are pale substitutes for the full witness of participating in the Divine Liturgy and the other services of the Church, however they will enable you to worship with the Orthodox. As a son who cared for my mother with my precarious wife and hard working teenagers for some six years until she reposed, I know first hand the extra burden you carry as a loving family caregiver. It is important for you to get Respite to be spiritually charged even if it is only once a month try to attend a Liturgy, talk privately with a Priest and try to get the spiritual support and answers you need.

In Christ,
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« Reply #132 on: February 11, 2013, 09:55:29 PM »

Quote
I once heard the common portrayal was a famous artist who painted his gay lover

The Face. The image we understand to be that of Christ likely has its deepest root in the image of the Holy Mandylion (Holy Napkin), and those of the Theotokos of those images by the hand of St. Luke.



This is going to sound very very ignorant so please pardon me, but the Holy Napkin...napkin as in like napkin to assist in tidy eating? Like to wipe your hands on?
And thank you so much, these images hold much much more meaning knowing this bit of history behind them.
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« Reply #133 on: February 11, 2013, 10:04:21 PM »

Quote
I once heard the common portrayal was a famous artist who painted his gay lover

The Face. The image we understand to be that of Christ likely has its deepest root in the image of the Holy Mandylion (Holy Napkin), and those of the Theotokos of those images by the hand of St. Luke.



This is going to sound very very ignorant so please pardon me, but the Holy Napkin...napkin as in like napkin to assist in tidy eating? Like to wipe your hands on?
And thank you so much, these images hold much much more meaning knowing this bit of history behind them.

"Napkin" in this context simply means "cloth".
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« Reply #134 on: February 11, 2013, 10:06:14 PM »

"Napkin" in this context simply means "cloth".

Is it the same case with Acts 19:11-12?
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« Reply #135 on: February 11, 2013, 10:07:04 PM »

"Napkin" in this context simply means "cloth".

Is it the same case with Acts 19:11-12?

Yes.
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« Reply #136 on: February 11, 2013, 10:28:44 PM »

Quote
I once heard the common portrayal was a famous artist who painted his gay lover

The Face. The image we understand to be that of Christ likely has its deepest root in the image of the Holy Mandylion (Holy Napkin), and those of the Theotokos of those images by the hand of St. Luke.



This is going to sound very very ignorant so please pardon me, but the Holy Napkin...napkin as in like napkin to assist in tidy eating? Like to wipe your hands on?
And thank you so much, these images hold much much more meaning knowing this bit of history behind them.

"Napkin" in this context simply means "cloth".

so that image was originally depicted on a cloth?
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« Reply #137 on: February 12, 2013, 12:25:15 AM »

Quote
I once heard the common portrayal was a famous artist who painted his gay lover

The Face. The image we understand to be that of Christ likely has its deepest root in the image of the Holy Mandylion (Holy Napkin), and those of the Theotokos of those images by the hand of St. Luke.



This is going to sound very very ignorant so please pardon me, but the Holy Napkin...napkin as in like napkin to assist in tidy eating? Like to wipe your hands on?
And thank you so much, these images hold much much more meaning knowing this bit of history behind them.

"Napkin" in this context simply means "cloth".

so that image was originally depicted on a cloth?

Yes. Christ pressed the cloth to His face, and, in doing so, an image of His face was miraculously imprinted upon the cloth. It was the very first icon ever produced, and, because of its miraculous origin, is also known as the Icon Not Made By Hands, i.e. because it was not painted by an artist/iconographer.
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