Thursday, December 6, 2007

...things seen and unseen...

December 4th was the Feast of St. John of Damascus. In the 8th century, a bitter controversy divided the church between those who valued the use of icons (sacred paintings used as a devotional tool) and "Iconoclasts" who rejected (even destroyed) such images.

John supported the use of icons. Various arguments are used in their defense:

  • In Jesus, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14), therefore we are free to use artistic representations of God. In Colossians 1:15, Jesus is called "the image (ikon) of the invisible God."

  • Icons receive only "reverence" as holy items, but "worship" is offered only to God. Gestures of respect in the presence of icons are reverence, while true worship, in prayer, "passes through" the icon to God, who alone is worthy to receive worship.

Anglican liturgical worship is practiced along a broad spectrum, from very plain and austere (emphasizing the spoken word) to very elaborate (involving more of the senses). Those at the more elaborate end give thanks for John of Damascus and others who have valued the arts as a means to direct our worship toward God.

Some of John's own words.

A Sioux Falls photo artist who is studying Anglicanism.

The Archbishop of Canterbury on praying with icons.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Tim+. You've done it again. So many blogs are just "words, words, words (I'm so sick of words)." You manage to make your blog very attractive with all the colorful pictures you import. A pleasure to visit it.

Like many orthodox Anglicans, I have been quite critical of Archbishop Rowan Williams for dithering and delaying and refusing to exercise any real discipoline on apostate bishops. But I do appreciate his books on icons. Yes, books plural. Besides the one highlighted in the link you provided, there is another one just on icons of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I've forgotten the title, but it really is very perceptive and faith-nurturing. The ABC isn't all bad, not by any means. He's very different from former PB Frank Griswold, who also favored icons, but was far more heretical.

Anyway, I never know what I'll see when I visit your site. But I've come to expect that there will be something eye-pleasing. And in a culture that is rapidly moving from being print-based to multi-media based, that is a huge plus.

Keep up the good work, my friend.