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Holy Images: Different Purposes, Substrata?

Sleeper

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I am admittedly not very well-read yet on the theology of icons. I've engaged in several conversations here and elsewhere about the possible place of statuary and other "non-traditional" imagery within the tradition of holy images. But I was wondering if any Fathers, or even current theologians, etc., have held the position that there could be different roles for different types of images whilst still falling under the category of "icon"?

For instance, I understand the teaching role of "traditional" iconography in that they embody theology better than any other medium could. But could there be images that "count" as icons, that don't necessarily serve the teaching role, but serve solely as aids for prayer, or for veneration? I have read LBK, and others, dismiss images as icons because, for example, they don't have certain traditional aspects that express the ever-virginity of Mary, and so on. But why would every holy image have to do that?

What got me thinking of theis was stumbling across the icon of St. Mary that St. Seraphim kept for his whole life, and being surprised at how "Western" it looked. He prayed before this every day until his death, and while I'm not familiar enough with what's supposedly necessary in a "valid" icon of Our Lady and whether or not his had those features, it just got me thinking about whether or not such an image lacking those features could still be an "icon" treated with the same reverence and used as an aid for prayer.

I'm looking for your opinions, or any from the Fathers, etc., that you might want to share.
 

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Sleeper said:
For instance, I understand the teaching role of "traditional" iconography in that they embody theology better than any other medium could. But could there be images that "count" as icons, that don't necessarily serve the teaching role, but serve solely as aids for prayer, or for veneration? I have read LBK, and others, dismiss images as icons because, for example, they don't have certain traditional aspects that express the ever-virginity of Mary, and so on. But why would every holy image have to do that?
Icons are books for the illiterate.
 

LBK

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The very short answer to the dilemma of the icon of the Mother of God that St Seraphim prayed to is that, in his time and place, western imagery had almost completely supplanted traditional canonical icons. This process started in about the 16th century, and did not begin to abate until the turn of the 20th century, with real progress being made in reversing the trend occurring only in the last generation or so.

IOW, St Seraphim, and others like him, had little choice but to venerate these images, as these were, for the most part, all that were available.
 

LBK

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Cyrillic said:
Sleeper said:
For instance, I understand the teaching role of "traditional" iconography in that they embody theology better than any other medium could. But could there be images that "count" as icons, that don't necessarily serve the teaching role, but serve solely as aids for prayer, or for veneration? I have read LBK, and others, dismiss images as icons because, for example, they don't have certain traditional aspects that express the ever-virginity of Mary, and so on. But why would every holy image have to do that?
Icons are books for the illiterate.
True, but this is a very simplistic statement, expressing only a small part of what icons are and stand for. For one thing, the literate have as much need for good icons as the illiterate.
 

Cyrillic

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LBK said:
Cyrillic said:
Sleeper said:
For instance, I understand the teaching role of "traditional" iconography in that they embody theology better than any other medium could. But could there be images that "count" as icons, that don't necessarily serve the teaching role, but serve solely as aids for prayer, or for veneration? I have read LBK, and others, dismiss images as icons because, for example, they don't have certain traditional aspects that express the ever-virginity of Mary, and so on. But why would every holy image have to do that?
Icons are books for the illiterate.
True, but this is a very simplistic statement, expressing only a small part of what icons are and stand for. For one thing, the literate have as much need for good icons as the illiterate.
I know. Stop ruining my aphorisms  :police:
 

LBK

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But why would every holy image have to do that?
Every image worthy of veneration must express Truth, and heavenly, not earthbound, temporal reality. Three-dimensional statues are of this world, and speak of this world. Icons, be they flat or bas-relief, and painted according to tradition in style and content, do not represent the world. The Kingdom of God is not of this world, so our venerable images must reflect and express this.
 

LBK

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Cyrillic said:
LBK said:
Cyrillic said:
Sleeper said:
For instance, I understand the teaching role of "traditional" iconography in that they embody theology better than any other medium could. But could there be images that "count" as icons, that don't necessarily serve the teaching role, but serve solely as aids for prayer, or for veneration? I have read LBK, and others, dismiss images as icons because, for example, they don't have certain traditional aspects that express the ever-virginity of Mary, and so on. But why would every holy image have to do that?
Icons are books for the illiterate.
True, but this is a very simplistic statement, expressing only a small part of what icons are and stand for. For one thing, the literate have as much need for good icons as the illiterate.
I know. Stop ruining my aphorisms  :police:
Sorry!  :laugh:
 

Sleeper

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LBK said:
The very short answer to the dilemma of the icon of the Mother of God that St Seraphim prayed to is that, in his time and place, western imagery had almost completely supplanted traditional canonical icons. This process started in about the 16th century, and did not begin to abate until the turn of the 20th century, with real progress being made in reversing the trend occurring only in the last generation or so.

IOW, St Seraphim, and others like him, had little choice but to venerate these images, as these were, for the most part, all that were available.
But doesn't this situation show that such images "work" in that they instill in us a deep reverence for the Saint depicted, and so on? I realize that this particular image doesn't express the "full" theology of Our Lady, but that's my question, why would every image have to do that, in order to be considered "valid"? I'm not saying exceptions prove the rule or call into doubt the traditional, canonical aspects of most iconography, but why not view holy images in a sort of tiered manner, where some are aids to prayer, some express theology, etc.,?
 

LBK

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LBK said:
But why would every holy image have to do that?
Every image worthy of veneration must express Truth, and heavenly, not earthbound, temporal reality. Three-dimensional statues are of this world, and speak of this world. Icons, be they flat or bas-relief, and painted according to tradition in style and content, do not represent the world. The Kingdom of God is not of this world, so our venerable images must reflect and express this.
Further to this, just as the hymns and prayers of the Church are composed with great care to express what the church teaches and believes, so must the same care be taken in the painting of icons to express the same truths. Hymnography and iconography are two faces of the same doctrinal coin - the visual and the verbal.
 

LBK

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Sleeper said:
LBK said:
The very short answer to the dilemma of the icon of the Mother of God that St Seraphim prayed to is that, in his time and place, western imagery had almost completely supplanted traditional canonical icons. This process started in about the 16th century, and did not begin to abate until the turn of the 20th century, with real progress being made in reversing the trend occurring only in the last generation or so.

IOW, St Seraphim, and others like him, had little choice but to venerate these images, as these were, for the most part, all that were available.
But doesn't this situation show that such images "work" in that they instill in us a deep reverence for the Saint depicted, and so on? I realize that this particular image doesn't express the "full" theology of Our Lady, but that's my question, why would every image have to do that, in order to be considered "valid"? I'm not saying exceptions prove the rule or call into doubt the traditional, canonical aspects of most iconography, but why not view holy images in a sort of tiered manner, where some are aids to prayer, some express theology, etc.,?
See my post above on the relationship between the visual and verbal.
 

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LBK said:
But why would every holy image have to do that?
Every image worthy of veneration must express Truth,
Yes, but would it always have to show all of it? We don't do this in the Creed.

and heavenly, not earthbound, temporal reality. Three-dimensional statues are of this world, and speak of this world.
I would have to disagree here, as I have seen statues that depict heavenly reality.

Icons, be they flat or bas-relief, and painted according to tradition in style and content, do not represent the world. The Kingdom of God is not of this world, so our venerable images must reflect and express this.
And I would just ask again, why that would have to be the case with all holy images.
 

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LBK said:
LBK said:
But why would every holy image have to do that?
Every image worthy of veneration must express Truth, and heavenly, not earthbound, temporal reality. Three-dimensional statues are of this world, and speak of this world. Icons, be they flat or bas-relief, and painted according to tradition in style and content, do not represent the world. The Kingdom of God is not of this world, so our venerable images must reflect and express this.
Further to this, just as the hymns and prayers of the Church are composed with great care to express what the church teaches and believes, so must the same care be taken in the painting of icons to express the same truths. Hymnography and iconography are two faces of the same doctrinal coin - the visual and the verbal.
I understand that, but aren't these areas of tradition threads in a larger tapestry? We don't require every hymn, and every prayer, and every gesture to put forth every aspect of theology, every time. But that doesn't make them unworthy, does it?
 

LBK

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Michał Kalina said:
Sleeper said:
Yes, but would it always have to show all of it? We don't do this in the Creed.
LBK says so. I do not agree with it.
Your response is hardly surprising.  ::) It also contributes little, if anything, to answering the OP's questions.

On the matter of the stars of virginity on the Mother of God, and the inscription MP-ΘY, these are essential requirements on any icon depicting her. Their inclusion is a matter of expressing dogmas we hold about her, and are not an optional inclusion.
 

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LBK said:
Michał Kalina said:
Sleeper said:
Yes, but would it always have to show all of it? We don't do this in the Creed.
LBK says so. I do not agree with it.
Your response is hardly surprising.  ::) It also contributes little, if anything, to answering the OP's questions.

On the matter of the stars of virginity on the Mother of God, and the inscription MP-ΘY, these are essential requirements on any icon depicting her. Their inclusion is a matter of expressing dogmas we hold about her, and are not an optional inclusion.
When the icon is being used for teaching purposes, yes. But if one wanted to pray before any image of Our Lady, and kiss it in reverence, so long as it didn't explicitly affirm the Immaculate Conception, for example, does that mean it's just like any old painting? Is it really precluded from being a "holy icon"? I know it's the "exception" but did St. Seraphim waste his tears and kisses? This is the problem I'm having with this viewpoint. I completely understand the importance of the rich theological symbolism to be in place, especially in a parish setting where we gather for worship and instruction, but I have a hard time believing that a beautiful, wholesome, prayerful image of Our Lady, or any of the saints, whether painting, bas relief, statue, etc., is then negated if it doesn't follow strict, specifically Byzantine iconographical rules.

I believe that each self-ruling, self-governing Church has the freedom to embody and portray the Apostolic deposit in any way they see fit, so long as it is harmonious with said deposit. This was always the case with liturgy, with the divine office, with architecture, with music, why not with images?

I would assume the only hard and fast rules were those articulated at the Ecumenical Council where iconoclasm was ultimately defeated. I'll find time to read the decrees from that, but is your viewpoint, LBK, based upon distinctions articulated at that Council or are they from later decrees?
 

LBK

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But if one wanted to pray before any image of Our Lady, and kiss it in reverence, so long as it didn't explicitly affirm the Immaculate Conception, for example, does that mean it's just like any old painting?
Yes. It is just a painting, not an icon.

Is it really precluded from being a "holy icon"?
Yes, it is, because it is deficient in expressing what the church teaches about the Mother of God. Would you put a painting of the Madonna of the Streets on the same devotional, theological and doctrinal level as an icon of the Vladimirskaya? One must distinguish between earthly sentimentality and heavenly, perfected truth.



 

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I believe that each self-ruling, self-governing Church has the freedom to embody and portray the Apostolic deposit in any way they see fit, so long as it is harmonious with said deposit. This was always the case with liturgy, with the divine office, with architecture, with music, why not with images?
We can see where this approach has led in many non-Orthodox churches, with self-expression and self-will supplanting established and proper tradition. Would you be comfortable with a DL whose musical arrangements are based on, say, sea shanties, as long as the words of the hymns and prayers remain the same, and the singing is a capella?
 

Mor Ephrem

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Madonna of the Streets...so that's what that's called!  

That image, for whatever reason, became popular among Orthodox Indians.  I've seen it in many a home.  And there's one in what used to be a chapel (now a pilgrimage center) that's been flowing with myrrh and working miracles for a few years now.    
 

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LBK said:
On the matter of the stars of virginity on the Mother of God, and the inscription MP-ΘY, these are essential requirements on any icon depicting her. Their inclusion is a matter of expressing dogmas we hold about her, and are not an optional inclusion.
You say so.
 

LBK

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Michał Kalina said:
LBK said:
On the matter of the stars of virginity on the Mother of God, and the inscription MP-ΘY, these are essential requirements on any icon depicting her. Their inclusion is a matter of expressing dogmas we hold about her, and are not an optional inclusion.
You say so.
Her ever-virginity is not a theologoumenon, but a dogma, no less, so the stars which express this dogma must be present in her icons, just as it is a dogmatic necessity for icons of Christ to bear the inscription IC-XC. Why do you fight so hard against this?
 

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LBK said:
Her ever-virginity is not a theologoumenon, but a dogma, no less,
Agreed.

so the stars which express this dogma
Agreed.

must be present in her icons, just as it is a dogmatic necessity for icons of Christ to bear the inscription IC-XC.
Prove it.

Why do you fight so hard against this?
You do not share any evidence.
 

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You do not share any evidence.
Nonsense. The evidence is in over 1600 years of extant iconographic history, in fresco, panel icon and mosaic. Since the Council of Ephesus in 431 which dogmatized the ever-virginity of the Mother of God, iconographers and mosaicists have consistently included the stars on the Virgin's icons. Mosaics showing the stars survive to this day in fifth-century churches such as Aghia Sophia, Santa Maria Maggiore, and Santa Prassede.

Following the period of the Great Schism, and certainly by the dawn of the Renaissance in the early 1300s, the stars in western religious art began being reduced to a single star on the Virgin's forehead, or omitted altogether. As the Renaissance progressed, western religious painting soon lost any connection with iconography, both in artistic style, and in content.

Quote
must be present in her icons, just as it is a dogmatic necessity for icons of Christ to bear the inscription IC-XC.

Prove it.
Must I say it again that icons are not simply pretty pictures, but the visual equivalent of hymnography, and, like hymnography, a pillar of the expression of Orthodox teaching? Do we not constantly express the ever-virginity of the Mother of God in every single liturgical service, and in innumerable hymns and prayers, just as we constantly and unfailingly proclaim Jesus Christ to be the Son of God?
 

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LBK said:
You do not share any evidence.
Nonsense. The evidence is in over 1600 years of extant iconographic history, in fresco, panel icon and mosaic. Since the Council of Ephesus in 431 which dogmatized the ever-virginity of the Mother of God, iconographers and mosaicists have consistently included the stars on the Virgin's icons. Mosaics showing the stars survive to this day in fifth-century churches such as Aghia Sophia, Santa Maria Maggiore, and Santa Prassede.

Following the period of the Great Schism, and certainly by the dawn of the Renaissance in the early 1300s, the stars in western religious art began being reduced to a single star on the Virgin's forehead, or omitted altogether. As the Renaissance progressed, western religious painting soon lost any connection with iconography, both in artistic style, and in content.
These are not evidence that the lack of stars purposely denies her virginity. This is just an evidence that the stars  have been being used.
 

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Our posts must have crossed - please read my edited post, in which I added more material.
 

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LBK said:
I believe that each self-ruling, self-governing Church has the freedom to embody and portray the Apostolic deposit in any way they see fit, so long as it is harmonious with said deposit. This was always the case with liturgy, with the divine office, with architecture, with music, why not with images?
We can see where this approach has led in many non-Orthodox churches,
I'm not talking about non-Orthodox churches, though. Perhaps you could provide some information that supports the notion that the Byzantine rules were the universal rules for all holy images, east and west, up to, during, and shortly after the Council. That's not a challenge, I'm genuinely interested in that, because I don't know much about the historical development at this point.

Would you be comfortable with a DL whose musical arrangements are based on, say, sea shanties, as long as the words of the hymns and prayers remain the same, and the singing is a capella?
Actually, yes. Musical style has very, very little to do with the content of the texts and one's ability to pray them. I once heard some Orthodox chant that was attempting to be indigenously American, thus using tones that were strikingly similar to Appalachian folk music, and I must say, I'd love to hear more of it.
 

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LBK said:
But if one wanted to pray before any image of Our Lady, and kiss it in reverence, so long as it didn't explicitly affirm the Immaculate Conception, for example, does that mean it's just like any old painting?
Yes. It is just a painting, not an icon.

Is it really precluded from being a "holy icon"?
Yes, it is, because it is deficient in expressing what the church teaches about the Mother of God.
And, again, this brings up my larger point that I don't really feel has been addressed yet. Why do all icons have to serve a teaching role?
 

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Sleeper said:
LBK said:
But if one wanted to pray before any image of Our Lady, and kiss it in reverence, so long as it didn't explicitly affirm the Immaculate Conception, for example, does that mean it's just like any old painting?
Yes. It is just a painting, not an icon.

Is it really precluded from being a "holy icon"?
Yes, it is, because it is deficient in expressing what the church teaches about the Mother of God.
And, again, this brings up my larger point that I don't really feel has been addressed yet. Why do all icons have to serve a teaching role?
Did I not write earlier that icons are the visual expression of what the church teaches and proclaims as Truth? They are not simply pictures or illustrations.

At their core, they are expressions of the Incarnation, of the invisible God becoming visible, tangible, and participating fully in the material world. God is Truth, therefore icons must reflect and proclaim this, whether they depict Christ, His Mother, saints or feasts.

 

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LBK said:
Sleeper said:
LBK said:
But if one wanted to pray before any image of Our Lady, and kiss it in reverence, so long as it didn't explicitly affirm the Immaculate Conception, for example, does that mean it's just like any old painting?
Yes. It is just a painting, not an icon.

Is it really precluded from being a "holy icon"?
Yes, it is, because it is deficient in expressing what the church teaches about the Mother of God.
And, again, this brings up my larger point that I don't really feel has been addressed yet. Why do all icons have to serve a teaching role?
Did I not write earlier that icons are the visual expression of what the church teaches and proclaims as Truth? They are not simply pictures or illustrations.
You did write that earlier, but what you didn not explain is why all icons have to visually express the full teaching of the church all the time. Nor have I seen any pertinent source material that says anything not doing such a thing is precluded from being a holy image.
 

LBK

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Sleeper said:
LBK said:
Sleeper said:
LBK said:
But if one wanted to pray before any image of Our Lady, and kiss it in reverence, so long as it didn't explicitly affirm the Immaculate Conception, for example, does that mean it's just like any old painting?
Yes. It is just a painting, not an icon.

Is it really precluded from being a "holy icon"?
Yes, it is, because it is deficient in expressing what the church teaches about the Mother of God.
And, again, this brings up my larger point that I don't really feel has been addressed yet. Why do all icons have to serve a teaching role?
Did I not write earlier that icons are the visual expression of what the church teaches and proclaims as Truth? They are not simply pictures or illustrations.
You did write that earlier, but what you didn not explain is why all icons have to visually express the full teaching of the church all the time. Nor have I seen any pertinent source material that says anything not doing such a thing is precluded from being a holy image.
Let's cut to the chase: is there a particular image or images you have in mind that you would like to regard as equivalent to icons - i.e. to venerate, to pray before, to cense, etc?
 

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LBK said:
But if one wanted to pray before any image of Our Lady, and kiss it in reverence, so long as it didn't explicitly affirm the Immaculate Conception, for example, does that mean it's just like any old painting?
Yes. It is just a painting, not an icon.

Is it really precluded from being a "holy icon"?
Yes, it is, because it is deficient in expressing what the church teaches about the Mother of God. Would you put a painting of the Madonna of the Streets on the same devotional, theological and doctrinal level as an icon of the Vladimirskaya? One must distinguish between earthly sentimentality and heavenly, perfected truth.

I would have to say that, although deficient, it partakes of the nature of an icon, if for nothing else than that I wouldn't stomp on it.
 

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ialmisry said:
LBK said:
But if one wanted to pray before any image of Our Lady, and kiss it in reverence, so long as it didn't explicitly affirm the Immaculate Conception, for example, does that mean it's just like any old painting?
Yes. It is just a painting, not an icon.

Is it really precluded from being a "holy icon"?
Yes, it is, because it is deficient in expressing what the church teaches about the Mother of God. Would you put a painting of the Madonna of the Streets on the same devotional, theological and doctrinal level as an icon of the Vladimirskaya? One must distinguish between earthly sentimentality and heavenly, perfected truth.

I would have to say that, although deficient, it partakes of the nature of an icon, if for nothing else than that I wouldn't stomp on it.
The only "partaking of the nature of an icon" the above painting does is that it is a painting, visible and tangible. This does not come remotely close to making it an image that is holy, that is set apart for holy use, that is worthy of veneration. It is simply a well-executed, if sentimental, painting of a woman and her baby.

It's also quite likely that the woman's features were modeled on a particular person, which would be enough to render it unsuitable for veneration.
 

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LBK said:
Sleeper said:
LBK said:
Sleeper said:
LBK said:
But if one wanted to pray before any image of Our Lady, and kiss it in reverence, so long as it didn't explicitly affirm the Immaculate Conception, for example, does that mean it's just like any old painting?
Yes. It is just a painting, not an icon.

Is it really precluded from being a "holy icon"?
Yes, it is, because it is deficient in expressing what the church teaches about the Mother of God.
And, again, this brings up my larger point that I don't really feel has been addressed yet. Why do all icons have to serve a teaching role?
Did I not write earlier that icons are the visual expression of what the church teaches and proclaims as Truth? They are not simply pictures or illustrations.
You did write that earlier, but what you didn not explain is why all icons have to visually express the full teaching of the church all the time. Nor have I seen any pertinent source material that says anything not doing such a thing is precluded from being a holy image.
Let's cut to the chase: is there a particular image or images you have in mind that you would like to regard as equivalent to icons - i.e. to venerate, to pray before, to cense, etc?
No, I have no image in mind. The only chase to which I'm trying to cut is whether or not there can be a fluidity or, as stated in the title, a multi-tiered substrata as it were, in regards to what we can classify as "holy images" in the true sense of what the Council was setting out to defend. You have made it clear that you do not believe this is possible, so what I'm trying to get at is some good source material for your viewpoint, because I'm not very well-read on this subject.
 

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Michał Kalina said:
Sleeper said:
Yes, but would it always have to show all of it? We don't do this in the Creed.
LBK says so. I do not agree with it.
This comment is not only unprofessional and unChristian, it's mean spirited and immature.  Regardless that this is an open forum, posting a comment soley to express your dislike for another poster is childish and boorish.  Shame on you.
 

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GabrieltheCelt said:
Michał Kalina said:
Sleeper said:
Yes, but would it always have to show all of it? We don't do this in the Creed.
LBK says so. I do not agree with it.
This comment is not only unprofessional and unChristian, it's mean spirited and immature.  Regardless that this is an open forum, posting a comment soley to express your dislike for another poster is childish and boorish.  Shame on you.
What are you talking about?  It's unprofessional and unChristian to merely say, "X says this.  I disagree."

Shame on you for looking for anything to pick on our Belarussian brother.
 

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There is quite a history between these two on the subject of icons, so it's not a comment without merit.
 

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LBK, would you say this definition provided by St. John Maximovitch is a good one?

"An Icon is an image which leads us to a holy, God-pleasing person, or raises us up to Heaven, or evokes a feeling of repentance, of compunction, of prayer, a feeling that one must bow down before this image. The value of an Icon lies in the fact that, when we approach it, we want to pray before it with reverence. If the image elicits this feeling, it is an Icon." - From Orthodox Life, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Jan-Feb 1980), pp. 42-45. Translated from: Heritage, Vol. 1, # 1 (September, 1968), pp. 4-8.
 

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Schultz said:
GabrieltheCelt said:
Michał Kalina said:
Sleeper said:
Yes, but would it always have to show all of it? We don't do this in the Creed.
LBK says so. I do not agree with it.
This comment is not only unprofessional and unChristian, it's mean spirited and immature.  Regardless that this is an open forum, posting a comment soley to express your dislike for another poster is childish and boorish.  Shame on you.
What are you talking about?  It's unprofessional and unChristian to merely say, "X says this.  I disagree."

Shame on you for looking for anything to pick on our Belarussian brother.
My apologies to Michael.  If you take the time to look at his comment, he should've addressed WHY he disagrees with LBK.  As it stands, it looks as if he's disagreeing simply because he doesn't like LBK. 
 

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When it comes to icons, I would tend to side with LBK, due to this individual's background and knowledge.  

LBK's expertise is often sought after in the "real" world by individuals and clergy...not to mention there is a book about iconography being prepared for publication by this poster.

I don't know that Michal is an expert in icons.  If he is I'd like to hear some constructive comments on the matter, in addition to acknowledging his well known dislike of another poster.

As for venerating images versus icons...IF you have a choice, then by all means acquire an icon.  IF you have no choice in the matter (ie. St. Seraphim) than use what you have with the best intentions.

As for creating icons without all theology meant to be depicted in them, it should not happen.

If you are creating an icon of the Mother of God, the only reason I can see for omitting the stars of her perpetual virginity, are than the creator of the icon, simply was not well versed in iconography.  Otherwise, exactly why would you omit them?  Why would you take the time to create an image and then voluntarily decide not to include the stars?  Do they detract from the overall image?  Do the stars perhaps look gaudy?  There's no good reason not to include them.

Documented proof?  What about oral tradition?  The Church has many such traditions...most aren't written down anywhere, but, passed from parent to child, teacher to student, etc.  You'd be hard pressed to find written documentation for most of our traditions.  

If an icon is truly being created for use as a religious object, not mere art, than the iconographer should have an idea of what they are doing and how to do it.  The Virgin Mary, was always the "Virgin" Mary.  At no time can you separate that fact from her.

Is it necessary to "always" depict something that is already a known fact?  Do we always need to represent full theology?

Well....I know that Christ is God....but, do I always have to remind everyone?  What I decided to paint an icon without the halo or the OWN/WON written.  Would that be acceptable?  We all know He is God...why do we always have to put a halo around Him?



 

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ialmisry said:
LBK said:
But if one wanted to pray before any image of Our Lady, and kiss it in reverence, so long as it didn't explicitly affirm the Immaculate Conception, for example, does that mean it's just like any old painting?
Yes. It is just a painting, not an icon.

Is it really precluded from being a "holy icon"?
Yes, it is, because it is deficient in expressing what the church teaches about the Mother of God. Would you put a painting of the Madonna of the Streets on the same devotional, theological and doctrinal level as an icon of the Vladimirskaya? One must distinguish between earthly sentimentality and heavenly, perfected truth.

I would have to say that, although deficient, it partakes of the nature of an icon, if for nothing else than that I wouldn't stomp on it.
I agree.  While this painting is "assumed" to be the Virgin with Child...it might as well be any woman on the street with her cute baby.  However, I certainly would not "stomp" on it, either....because many do consider it to be the image of the Virgin Mary.

It is a beautiful painting. 

I have often send Christmas cards, with striking images of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child....simply because they are so beautiful.....however, I realize that they certainly are not icons, but simply beautiful religion based art.

 

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LizaSymonenko said:
When it comes to icons, I would tend to side with LBK, due to this individual's background and knowledge.  

LBK's expertise is often sought after in the "real" world by individuals and clergy...not to mention there is a book about iconography being prepared for publication by this poster.

I don't know that Michal is an expert in icons.  If he is I'd like to hear some constructive comments on the matter, in addition to acknowledging his well known dislike of another poster.

As for venerating images versus icons...IF you have a choice, then by all means acquire an icon.  IF you have no choice in the matter (ie. St. Seraphim) than use what you have with the best intentions.

As for creating icons without all theology meant to be depicted in them, it should not happen.

If you are creating an icon of the Mother of God, the only reason I can see for omitting the stars of her perpetual virginity, are than the creator of the icon, simply was not well versed in iconography.  Otherwise, exactly why would you omit them?  Why would you take the time to create an image and then voluntarily decide not to include the stars?  Do they detract from the overall image?  Do the stars perhaps look gaudy?  There's no good reason not to include them.

Documented proof?  What about oral tradition?  The Church has many such traditions...most aren't written down anywhere, but, passed from parent to child, teacher to student, etc.  You'd be hard pressed to find written documentation for most of our traditions.  

If an icon is truly being created for use as a religious object, not mere art, than the iconographer should have an idea of what they are doing and how to do it.  The Virgin Mary, was always the "Virgin" Mary.  At no time can you separate that fact from her.

Is it necessary to "always" depict something that is already a known fact?  Do we always need to represent full theology?

Well....I know that Christ is God....but, do I always have to remind everyone?  What I decided to paint an icon without the halo or the OWN/WON written.  Would that be acceptable?  We all know He is God...why do we always have to put a halo around Him?
I understand all of that. But what it fails to address, or rather, what it seems to assume, as that this particular Byzantine tradition, with all of its symbolism, is necessarily that of the entire undivided Church throughout history. What of that millennium-plus of unbroken Apostolic tradition in the Western Latin lands? Were they given the instructions that stars = virginity, for example?

My point from earlier was that there seems to be, historically, a great deal of fluidity in these aspects of Tradition, such as liturgy, music, architecture, etc. The logic often employed with this subject would seem to say that many dioceses in the Western Orthodox world "rejected" the Kingship of Christ because they didn't construct their churches with domes and icons of the Pantocrator. Because one particular stream of tradition decided that certain things meant certain things, does not mean that other streams of tradition reject those things merely because they didn't come to mean the same things.
 
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