Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dry leaves blown about aimlessly

OUR ENTIRE STRUGGLE in this life is aimed at discovering our 'deep heart' because that is the place where God manifests Himself. Above all, we aim to uproot the passion of pride within us, because this is the passion which buries the heart, leaving us feeling as if we no longer had a heart. 'Pride stops us from loving,' says St Silouan. Indeed, true love proceeds from humility, for the humble man has room in his heart for God and his fellow-men. As long as we are proud we will be separated from our heart; we will live only according to our little minds, totally missing the ultimate purpose of our coming into this life, and will end up as dry leaves blown about aimlessly by the wind. If, however, we succeed in finding our deep heart, then our mind will drop anchor not only in the heart, but also in the depths of heaven where our life is 'hid with Christ in God' . And God will come and make His abode in us.

Archimandrite Zacharias in "Remember Thy First Love"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Icons and Tradition.

So we ran into this painting of Jesus which apart from scaring us a bit, raises what I think a few questions worthwhile considering.

To the Orthodox the painting would obviously not qualify as an icon. But precisely why not? As one commenter aptly wrote, "'Decorative Jesus' can look like anything you want; it's only when you have to kiss an image that it gets personal." Very well. So it is suggested we look to Tradition to guide us, just as in theology, toward that which is believed to be true, right and faithful. (as an aside, would it not be harder to judge an image (icon) to be orthodox than it would doctrine?). Another commenter mentioned (I am paraphrasing) that individual opinion thus doesn't play a role in the church, that the church is a collective of sorts. Is that an accurate way to describe the issue? Do our opinions not count? Are our persons absorbed into a collective?

Icons and in particular icons of Christ are not new to controversy. What is it that an Icon of Christ depicts - does it depict Christ 's humanity, or Christ's divinity? We can't describe His divinity (which by definition is uncontainable and indescribable), nor His humanity apart from His divinity - the two natures are inseparable, Christian theology is quite clear about that. Also, why is it that the Orthodox church decided that as far as depicting Christ, symbolism (such as a lamb) is not acceptable? Whatever the answers, one thing is clear, the meaning and justification for icons is closely related to theology.

So, back to the present painting purporting to depict Christ. Besides not being to our particular taste, what's wrong with it?