Hey all, I'll apparently be being introduced to visio divina soon in one of my classes. I gather this is "prayer with images," and they're using the St. John's Bible.
Any idea if this'll even closely resemble Orthodoxy? Any other thoughts on it? It seems to be popular among Episcopalians which gives me a great deal of pause.
My guess is this will probably be a New Agey meditation exercise where one is encouraged to reflect on their own thoughts, feelings, etc. while looking at an image. Perhaps you will be encouraged to keep a journal about your self-absorbed experience. Most of these meditation exercises, even if images or objects are used, are really an exercise in self-contemplation and self-obsession. They are often "experience" oriented in that people are led to engage in a "spiritual practice" with the intent of having some kind of insight, some experience, some sensation, etc. This is the very rich and furtile ground of delusion and spiritual deception.
In Orthodoxy we venerate icons, we stand before them as we speak to the one being depicted. We speak to those depicted because we love them, we trust in the mercy of God and the intercessions of the saints, and we need their mercy and help. We are not trying to "feel spiritual" or have any special experience. In other words, while in Orthodoxy we have icons and this "visio divina" uses images, the way in which these images are being used are complete opposites. Visio divina is being used as one of many tools in the spiritual marketplace for people to use to "feel spiritual" and congratulate themselves on engaging in "spiritual practices". They have nothing to do with living a life of humble repentance in obedience to God within His Church.
For the record, before I was Orthodox I was involved in a Benedictine "Christian meditation" movement that said its practice of "Christian" mantra meditation was also just like the Orthodox practice of the Jesus Prayer. I taught this way of meditation to others in churches and at retreats, until I began to really read and understand the Orthodox tradition on the Jesus Prayer. I eventually came to the conclusion that this assertion regarding the Jesus Prayer was a total lie, despite external and superficial similarities in practice. Spiritually they were incompatible. I realized that I had to leave this stuff behind and enter the Orthodox Church if I wanted to truly pray and worship as a Christian rather than as a practitioner of self-absorbed and deluded New Age pseudo-Christianity.