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Patmos, Building Sanctification, and 'Litholatry'

Antonis

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NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
 

Volnutt

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Antonis said:
NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
Matter is sanctified in relation to people. An unused plot of land is not conferring grace on anybody.

Anyway, since it is in use after all, I hope the monks consented to this.
 

Antonis

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Volnutt said:
Antonis said:
NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
Matter is sanctified in relation to people. An unused plot of land is not conferring grace on anybody.

Anyway, since it is in use after all, I hope the monks consented to this.
If nobody is around, a place is still holy and there is potential for it to be tended by Orthodox. If it is given away, this potential is given up. Many of the tombs of the prophets are in the hands of non-believers with no Orthodox around. Their tombs are still holy, and it is unfortunate that they are not tended.

The monks of Patmos have been resisting this pressure from the EP for some time, and have recently received further encouragement from brother monastics across Greece, as can be seen in the link from Mor.
 

Volnutt

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Antonis said:
Volnutt said:
Antonis said:
NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
Matter is sanctified in relation to people. An unused plot of land is not conferring grace on anybody.

Anyway, since it is in use after all, I hope the monks consented to this.
If nobody is around, a place is still holy and there is potential for it to be tended by Orthodox. If it is given away, this potential is given up. Many of the tombs of the prophets are in the hands of non-believers with no Orthodox around. Their tombs are still holy, and it is unfortunate that they are not tended.

The monks of Patmos have been resisting this pressure from the EP for some time, and have recently received further encouragement from brother monastics across Greece, as can be seen in the link from Mor.
God does not dwell in temples made with human hands. It makes no sense to say that the Spirit is just "idling" over something that's not being used by believers. By your logic, Titus should have dropped dead when he set foot in the Holy of Holies.

Yes, it might be good and pious to want to recover the tombs of the prophets and hold church there again, but only because of what God has done there and what He could do in the future.
 

Antonis

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Volnutt said:
Antonis said:
Volnutt said:
Antonis said:
NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
Matter is sanctified in relation to people. An unused plot of land is not conferring grace on anybody.

Anyway, since it is in use after all, I hope the monks consented to this.
If nobody is around, a place is still holy and there is potential for it to be tended by Orthodox. If it is given away, this potential is given up. Many of the tombs of the prophets are in the hands of non-believers with no Orthodox around. Their tombs are still holy, and it is unfortunate that they are not tended.

The monks of Patmos have been resisting this pressure from the EP for some time, and have recently received further encouragement from brother monastics across Greece, as can be seen in the link from Mor.
God does not dwell in temples made with human hands. It makes no sense to say that the Spirit is just "idling" over something that's not being used by believers. By your logic, Titus should have dropped dead when he set foot in the Holy of Holies.

Yes, it might be good and pious to want to recover the tombs of the prophets and hold church there again, but only because of what God has done there and what He could do in the future.
Our bodies are made by human hands? Our bodies are sanctified by human effort?

I have no idea where you are getting your idea that about the Spirit "idling." If a tree is sanctified and nobody is around, is it still holy? The Holy Cross was still holy even when hidden and undiscovered under the basil bush.
 

NicholasMyra

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Antonis said:
NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
Much evil has been done with such an excuse. Church buildings are to be sacrificed as things set aside for church use often are. Just because something is holy does not mean it gets prime place among holier things. This is why St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote what he did about pilgrimages. Worry about your home altar.
 

Volnutt

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Antonis said:
Volnutt said:
Antonis said:
Volnutt said:
Antonis said:
NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
Matter is sanctified in relation to people. An unused plot of land is not conferring grace on anybody.

Anyway, since it is in use after all, I hope the monks consented to this.
If nobody is around, a place is still holy and there is potential for it to be tended by Orthodox. If it is given away, this potential is given up. Many of the tombs of the prophets are in the hands of non-believers with no Orthodox around. Their tombs are still holy, and it is unfortunate that they are not tended.

The monks of Patmos have been resisting this pressure from the EP for some time, and have recently received further encouragement from brother monastics across Greece, as can be seen in the link from Mor.
God does not dwell in temples made with human hands. It makes no sense to say that the Spirit is just "idling" over something that's not being used by believers. By your logic, Titus should have dropped dead when he set foot in the Holy of Holies.

Yes, it might be good and pious to want to recover the tombs of the prophets and hold church there again, but only because of what God has done there and what He could do in the future.
Our bodies are made by human hands? Our bodies are sanctified by human effort?

I have no idea where you are getting your idea that about the Spirit "idling." If a tree is sanctified and nobody is around, is it still holy? The Holy Cross was still holy even when hidden and undiscovered under the basil bush.
I'm saying the sanctification is for a purpose and in the context of a relationship between God and His people. Saying that a holy thing is holy as a matter of course apart from any other context is like the object version of OSAS. Jesus didn't come in order to make holy wood and stone. He died so that He could use wood and stone to make holy people.
 

Daedelus1138

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Volnutt said:
Jesus didn't come in order to make holy wood and stone. He died so that He could use wood and stone to make holy people.
I'm not sure that fits with Orthodox theology, especially how Orthodox think of salvation in cosmic terms, going back to the ECF's. 

Your perspective seems a lot more Protestant.  It's pretty much identical to how Lutherans think of the concept of holiness, at least formally.  It's one reason Lutherans don't have sacramental holy water.
 

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Daedelus1138 said:
Volnutt said:
Jesus didn't come in order to make holy wood and stone. He died so that He could use wood and stone to make holy people.
I'm not sure that fits with Orthodox theology, especially how Orthodox think of salvation in cosmic terms, going back to the ECF's. 

Your perspective seems a lot more Protestant.  It's pretty much identical to how Lutherans think of the concept of holiness, at least formally.  It's one reason Lutherans don't have sacramental holy water.
I don't think they are quite the same (plus, some Lutherans DO have holy water).  The difference I see is that Volnutt is saying that a thing is not holy, off by itself, apart from actual use.  Something that has no will, and no capacity for action cannot be holy unless it is set aside (and used) as a holy thing.  That's actually in the meaning of holy, something set apart, something different.  So a church is not "holy" just because you call it a church.  A church (speaking of the building) is holy because it is different than other buildings, it has been set for a specific use, in the service of God.  If it ceases to have that function, it ceases to be holy.

I don't see this so much as a Protestant (especially not a Lutheran) thing.  I see this as Volnutt viewing holy in a relational context, which is a currently developing current of theology, which is rooted in the Bible and in the Fathers (including, perhaps especially, the Eastern Fathers).

EDIT: To add to my first paragraph, what I think Volnutt is saying (and of course he can correct me if need be) is that 'holy' is not an absolute ontological category.  Nothing is holy in itself (with the possible exception of God, though whether or not God would be holy without creation is perhaps debatable).  Everything is holy in relation to something else (namely, and chiefly, to God).
 

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Daedelus1138 said:
Volnutt said:
Jesus didn't come in order to make holy wood and stone. He died so that He could use wood and stone to make holy people.
I'm not sure that fits with Orthodox theology, especially how Orthodox think of salvation in cosmic terms, going back to the ECF's. 

Your perspective seems a lot more Protestant.  It's pretty much identical to how Lutherans think of the concept of holiness, at least formally.  It's one reason Lutherans don't have sacramental holy water.
+1

Aren't the pieces of the cross holy? On a much lower scale, isn't the wood of blessed (yet wasted) icons holy? If not, we're wasting our time with such elaborate ways to dispose it.

Volnutt said:
By your logic, Titus should have dropped dead when he set foot in the Holy of Holies.
Did the soldiers drop dead after whipping and punching Jesus Christ? I think you're assuming a "flashes and visions" way to communicate with God.
 

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Antonis said:
NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
To be honest, we need to stop associating iconoclasm with "monophysitism" even if not directed at Copts, Syrians, and Armenians.  I find this idea to be based on mere polemic and not facts, and at best a spiritual contemplation on "graced material".  There is no clear evidence as far as I am reading that iconoclasm was ever associated with some form of docetism.  It can be more accurate to consider the Islamic influence at the time though, which grew very quickly around the same time as the iconoclastic controversy.

I would prefer modern "Islamic/Protestant" spirit if a iconoclastic association is needed in a discussion.

With that in mind, we also do need to recognize veneration has its limits.
 

Daedelus1138

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JamesRottnek said:
I don't think they are quite the same (plus, some Lutherans DO have holy water).
I asked the local Lutheran pastor about this subject, about holy objects.  He is a member of the ELCA, but grew up in the LCMS, and said things are only holy in their use.  He also seemed to not be very affirming of the idea of holy water, though he admitted that he opened the baptismal font sometimes (which is admittedly small, just big enough for sprinkling... BTW, I've never seen it used, that tells you about the demographics of the parish) but it was more of a "reminder of baptism" than the water having any kind of special power.

The difference I see is that Volnutt is saying that a thing is not holy, off by itself, apart from actual use.  Something that has no will, and no capacity for action cannot be holy unless it is set aside (and used) as a holy thing.  That's actually in the meaning of holy, something set apart, something different.
It seems from the Orthodox perspective, some things are holy owing to their clear association with things divine, and not because they have been set aside by human hands.  Examples would be the Mother of God, the Cross, the tomb in which Jesus' body was placed, etc.  No human had to set aside those things as holy.  I suppose one could argue that God's hands set those things and persons aside to be holy.  If so, it's not always explicit.

 

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Daedelus1138 said:
JamesRottnek said:
I don't think they are quite the same (plus, some Lutherans DO have holy water).
I asked the local Lutheran pastor about this subject, about holy objects.  He is a member of the ELCA, but grew up in the LCMS, and said things are only holy in their use.  He also seemed to not be very affirming of the idea of holy water, though he admitted that he opened the baptismal font sometimes (which is admittedly small, just big enough for sprinkling... BTW, I've never seen it used, that tells you about the demographics of the parish) but it was more of a "reminder of baptism" than the water having any kind of special power.

The difference I see is that Volnutt is saying that a thing is not holy, off by itself, apart from actual use.  Something that has no will, and no capacity for action cannot be holy unless it is set aside (and used) as a holy thing.  That's actually in the meaning of holy, something set apart, something different.
It seems from the Orthodox perspective, some things are holy owing to their clear association with things divine, and not because they have been set aside by human hands.  Examples would be the Mother of God, the Cross, the tomb in which Jesus' body was placed, etc.  No human had to set aside those things as holy.  I suppose one could argue that God's hands set those things and persons aside to be holy.  If so, it's not always explicit.
Yeah, I know ELCA parishes really run the gament on a lot of things.  In my experience, one of those is holy water.  I've been involved to one degree or another at two Lutheran parishes that have large fonts of holy water at the entrance to the sanctuary, and which most everyone used as they entered and exited.  And I've been to ones that have such fonts (though smaller) that are seldom used.  And I've been to ones where I think most people would be deeply confused if there was a font by the door one Sunday morning.

And I didn't mean to suggest that either Volnutt or a relational holiness framework require things be set aside by human hands to be holy (though that would be the most common means of doing it).  As for the Theotokos, she was set aside.  God asked her to set herself aside, and she said yes.  The Cross and the tomb were both set aside as well - one by Romans and Jews, the other by Joseph of Arimethea.  Now, in neither case might it have been apparent to those involved that they were setting aside such things - yet that is precisely what they were doing.  The Cross wasn't holy because it was used to kill someone.  And the tomb wasn't holy because a person was laid to rest in it.  Both were holy because they were set aside for Christ, to be used in his death and Resurrection.
 

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I'm afraid I don't fully understand the issue.  "Litholatry" sounds like a slippery word.
 

Volnutt

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Daedelus1138 said:
JamesRottnek said:
I don't think they are quite the same (plus, some Lutherans DO have holy water).
I asked the local Lutheran pastor about this subject, about holy objects.  He is a member of the ELCA, but grew up in the LCMS, and said things are only holy in their use.  He also seemed to not be very affirming of the idea of holy water, though he admitted that he opened the baptismal font sometimes (which is admittedly small, just big enough for sprinkling... BTW, I've never seen it used, that tells you about the demographics of the parish) but it was more of a "reminder of baptism" than the water having any kind of special power.

The difference I see is that Volnutt is saying that a thing is not holy, off by itself, apart from actual use.  Something that has no will, and no capacity for action cannot be holy unless it is set aside (and used) as a holy thing.  That's actually in the meaning of holy, something set apart, something different.
It seems from the Orthodox perspective, some things are holy owing to their clear association with things divine, and not because they have been set aside by human hands.  Examples would be the Mother of God, the Cross, the tomb in which Jesus' body was placed, etc.  No human had to set aside those things as holy.  I suppose one could argue that God's hands set those things and persons aside to be holy.  If so, it's not always explicit.
Humans set things aside, God sets things aside. Holy people are holy until they defile themselves. objects are holy until they aren't being used in the relationship between God and His people (or until they're defiled). That doesn't mean the holiness is just a function with no ontological import, but it also doesn't mean that holiness has some kind of immutable character completely apart from people.

Maybe my view is too simplistic, but it's what makes the most sense to me at this moment.
 

Antonis

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minasoliman said:
Antonis said:
NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
To be honest, we need to stop associating iconoclasm with "monophysitism" even if not directed at Copts, Syrians, and Armenians.  I find this idea to be based on mere polemic and not facts, and at best a spiritual contemplation on "graced material".  There is no clear evidence as far as I am reading that iconoclasm was ever associated with some form of docetism.  It can be more accurate to consider the Islamic influence at the time though, which grew very quickly around the same time as the iconoclastic controversy.

I would prefer modern "Islamic/Protestant" spirit if a iconoclastic association is needed in a discussion.

With that in mind, we also do need to recognize veneration has its limits.
You can speak to Mor Ephrem about that one, he was the first to make me think in those terms when we were sitting down over coffee.  :p

I think it is safe to say that there is a certain monophysitic spirit when it comes to doubting that matter--relics and their reliquaries, to be precise--can be sanctified. Just because the historic iconoclastic movement did not grow out of docetism does not mean there can't be a docetic spirit in iconoclasm.
 

Antonis

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Volnutt said:
Daedelus1138 said:
JamesRottnek said:
I don't think they are quite the same (plus, some Lutherans DO have holy water).
I asked the local Lutheran pastor about this subject, about holy objects.  He is a member of the ELCA, but grew up in the LCMS, and said things are only holy in their use.  He also seemed to not be very affirming of the idea of holy water, though he admitted that he opened the baptismal font sometimes (which is admittedly small, just big enough for sprinkling... BTW, I've never seen it used, that tells you about the demographics of the parish) but it was more of a "reminder of baptism" than the water having any kind of special power.

The difference I see is that Volnutt is saying that a thing is not holy, off by itself, apart from actual use.  Something that has no will, and no capacity for action cannot be holy unless it is set aside (and used) as a holy thing.  That's actually in the meaning of holy, something set apart, something different.
It seems from the Orthodox perspective, some things are holy owing to their clear association with things divine, and not because they have been set aside by human hands.  Examples would be the Mother of God, the Cross, the tomb in which Jesus' body was placed, etc.  No human had to set aside those things as holy.  I suppose one could argue that God's hands set those things and persons aside to be holy.  If so, it's not always explicit.
Humans set things aside, God sets things aside. Holy people are holy until they defile themselves. objects are holy until they aren't being used in the relationship between God and His people (or until they're defiled). That doesn't mean the holiness is just a function with no ontological import, but it also doesn't mean that holiness has some kind of immutable character completely apart from people.

Maybe my view is too simplistic, but it's what makes the most sense to me at this moment.
Does the holiness of an object "fade" with time as humans no longer utilize it, or is it more like a light switch? What kind of waiting period is there?
 

JamesRottnek

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Antonis said:
Volnutt said:
Daedelus1138 said:
JamesRottnek said:
I don't think they are quite the same (plus, some Lutherans DO have holy water).
I asked the local Lutheran pastor about this subject, about holy objects.  He is a member of the ELCA, but grew up in the LCMS, and said things are only holy in their use.  He also seemed to not be very affirming of the idea of holy water, though he admitted that he opened the baptismal font sometimes (which is admittedly small, just big enough for sprinkling... BTW, I've never seen it used, that tells you about the demographics of the parish) but it was more of a "reminder of baptism" than the water having any kind of special power.

The difference I see is that Volnutt is saying that a thing is not holy, off by itself, apart from actual use.  Something that has no will, and no capacity for action cannot be holy unless it is set aside (and used) as a holy thing.  That's actually in the meaning of holy, something set apart, something different.
It seems from the Orthodox perspective, some things are holy owing to their clear association with things divine, and not because they have been set aside by human hands.  Examples would be the Mother of God, the Cross, the tomb in which Jesus' body was placed, etc.  No human had to set aside those things as holy.  I suppose one could argue that God's hands set those things and persons aside to be holy.  If so, it's not always explicit.
Humans set things aside, God sets things aside. Holy people are holy until they defile themselves. objects are holy until they aren't being used in the relationship between God and His people (or until they're defiled). That doesn't mean the holiness is just a function with no ontological import, but it also doesn't mean that holiness has some kind of immutable character completely apart from people.

Maybe my view is too simplistic, but it's what makes the most sense to me at this moment.
Does the holiness of an object "fade" with time as humans no longer utilize it, or is it more like a light switch? What kind of waiting period is there?
Does bread and wine turn into the Body and Blood of Christ gradually, or is it more like a light switch?
 

Antonis

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JamesRottnek said:
Antonis said:
Volnutt said:
Daedelus1138 said:
JamesRottnek said:
I don't think they are quite the same (plus, some Lutherans DO have holy water).
I asked the local Lutheran pastor about this subject, about holy objects.  He is a member of the ELCA, but grew up in the LCMS, and said things are only holy in their use.  He also seemed to not be very affirming of the idea of holy water, though he admitted that he opened the baptismal font sometimes (which is admittedly small, just big enough for sprinkling... BTW, I've never seen it used, that tells you about the demographics of the parish) but it was more of a "reminder of baptism" than the water having any kind of special power.

The difference I see is that Volnutt is saying that a thing is not holy, off by itself, apart from actual use.  Something that has no will, and no capacity for action cannot be holy unless it is set aside (and used) as a holy thing.  That's actually in the meaning of holy, something set apart, something different.
It seems from the Orthodox perspective, some things are holy owing to their clear association with things divine, and not because they have been set aside by human hands.  Examples would be the Mother of God, the Cross, the tomb in which Jesus' body was placed, etc.  No human had to set aside those things as holy.  I suppose one could argue that God's hands set those things and persons aside to be holy.  If so, it's not always explicit.
Humans set things aside, God sets things aside. Holy people are holy until they defile themselves. objects are holy until they aren't being used in the relationship between God and His people (or until they're defiled). That doesn't mean the holiness is just a function with no ontological import, but it also doesn't mean that holiness has some kind of immutable character completely apart from people.

Maybe my view is too simplistic, but it's what makes the most sense to me at this moment.
Does the holiness of an object "fade" with time as humans no longer utilize it, or is it more like a light switch? What kind of waiting period is there?
Does bread and wine turn into the Body and Blood of Christ gradually, or is it more like a light switch?
You've helped my point. It's a mystery, but they don't change back into wine and bread when man isn't interacting with them.
 

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Antonis said:
minasoliman said:
Antonis said:
NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
To be honest, we need to stop associating iconoclasm with "monophysitism" even if not directed at Copts, Syrians, and Armenians.  I find this idea to be based on mere polemic and not facts, and at best a spiritual contemplation on "graced material".  There is no clear evidence as far as I am reading that iconoclasm was ever associated with some form of docetism.  It can be more accurate to consider the Islamic influence at the time though, which grew very quickly around the same time as the iconoclastic controversy.

I would prefer modern "Islamic/Protestant" spirit if a iconoclastic association is needed in a discussion.

With that in mind, we also do need to recognize veneration has its limits.
You can speak to Mor Ephrem about that one, he was the first to make me think in those terms when we were sitting down over coffee.  :p

I think it is safe to say that there is a certain monophysitic spirit when it comes to doubting that matter--relics and their reliquaries, to be precise--can be sanctified. Just because the historic iconoclastic movement did not grow out of docetism does not mean there can't be a docetic spirit in iconoclasm.
But that's my point.  It's a neat spiritual contemplation at best.  It's theoretical and Orthodox, but has no basis on history as far as I am aware.
 

minasoliman

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Just to offer an example of "litholatry", when I see groups of Orthodox Christian getting into fist fights over particular land near the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, I tend to think "litholatry".  When you receive terrorist threats from the burning of particular holy books, that's "litholatry".  When we care more about ancient artifacts than lives of people dying daily in Syria, that's "litholatry".

Can one be justifiably sad at selling plots of land that belonged to a monastic community?  Absolutely!  Should all hell break loose because of it?  Deep down inside, I think the answer should be "no".
 

minasoliman

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This is:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,69049.0.html
 

Volnutt

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minasoliman said:
Just to offer an example of "litholatry", when I see groups of Orthodox Christian getting into fist fights over particular land near the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, I tend to think "litholatry".  When you receive terrorist threats from the burning of particular holy books, that's "litholatry".  When we care more about ancient artifacts than lives of people dying daily in Syria, that's "litholatry".

Can one be justifiably sad at selling plots of land that belonged to a monastic community?  Absolutely!  Should all hell break loose because of it?  Deep down inside, I think the answer should be "no".
I agree.
 

Volnutt

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Antonis said:
Volnutt said:
Daedelus1138 said:
JamesRottnek said:
I don't think they are quite the same (plus, some Lutherans DO have holy water).
I asked the local Lutheran pastor about this subject, about holy objects.  He is a member of the ELCA, but grew up in the LCMS, and said things are only holy in their use.  He also seemed to not be very affirming of the idea of holy water, though he admitted that he opened the baptismal font sometimes (which is admittedly small, just big enough for sprinkling... BTW, I've never seen it used, that tells you about the demographics of the parish) but it was more of a "reminder of baptism" than the water having any kind of special power.

The difference I see is that Volnutt is saying that a thing is not holy, off by itself, apart from actual use.  Something that has no will, and no capacity for action cannot be holy unless it is set aside (and used) as a holy thing.  That's actually in the meaning of holy, something set apart, something different.
It seems from the Orthodox perspective, some things are holy owing to their clear association with things divine, and not because they have been set aside by human hands.  Examples would be the Mother of God, the Cross, the tomb in which Jesus' body was placed, etc.  No human had to set aside those things as holy.  I suppose one could argue that God's hands set those things and persons aside to be holy.  If so, it's not always explicit.
Humans set things aside, God sets things aside. Holy people are holy until they defile themselves. objects are holy until they aren't being used in the relationship between God and His people (or until they're defiled). That doesn't mean the holiness is just a function with no ontological import, but it also doesn't mean that holiness has some kind of immutable character completely apart from people.

Maybe my view is too simplistic, but it's what makes the most sense to me at this moment.
Does the holiness of an object "fade" with time as humans no longer utilize it, or is it more like a light switch? What kind of waiting period is there?
Probably light switch, if we're being reductive. Though I don't think it bares a helpful relation to the Real Presence. Icons are still wood, not the Body of Christ.
 

Mor Ephrem

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minasoliman said:
Antonis said:
minasoliman said:
Antonis said:
NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
To be honest, we need to stop associating iconoclasm with "monophysitism" even if not directed at Copts, Syrians, and Armenians.  I find this idea to be based on mere polemic and not facts, and at best a spiritual contemplation on "graced material".  There is no clear evidence as far as I am reading that iconoclasm was ever associated with some form of docetism.  It can be more accurate to consider the Islamic influence at the time though, which grew very quickly around the same time as the iconoclastic controversy.

I would prefer modern "Islamic/Protestant" spirit if a iconoclastic association is needed in a discussion.

With that in mind, we also do need to recognize veneration has its limits.
You can speak to Mor Ephrem about that one, he was the first to make me think in those terms when we were sitting down over coffee.  :p

I think it is safe to say that there is a certain monophysitic spirit when it comes to doubting that matter--relics and their reliquaries, to be precise--can be sanctified. Just because the historic iconoclastic movement did not grow out of docetism does not mean there can't be a docetic spirit in iconoclasm.
But that's my point.  It's a neat spiritual contemplation at best.  It's theoretical and Orthodox, but has no basis on history as far as I am aware.
I certainly never intended it to be a historical observation.  It was, in your words, "a neat spiritual contemplation".  If we're seriously concerned about history, I was probably more interested in getting Antonis to pay for lunch.
 

minasoliman

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I think it was St. Philoxenus of Mabbugh who said that Nestorianism and Eutychianism are two sides of the same coin in that they both deny that God became man.  So you're in good hands making contemplative comparisons ;)
 

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Antonis said:
NicholasMyra said:
Is the monastery in use by people, or is the reaction another case of litholatry?
Of course not. Patmos is an extremely significant location. It is inhabited and active and is a very popular place of pilgrimage.

Our God sanctified matter, accusations of "litholatry" and related skepticism towards relics strike me as a modern monophysitic spirit.
I believe that since monotheism is invariably tritheist by implication, the modern Mormons are the modern day Monophysites, the true heirs of Eutyches, since they profess faith and baptize in the name of the Teinity but insist the Trinity are three separatel coequal Gods.  Each of which has one nature; we in turn have one nature and by parricipating in strange rituals in their sanctified temples, we can also become Gods.  So if "litholatry" (or a better word might be architectonicalatry, since the obsession some people have with sacred places like the Temple Mount is not directed at one or two buildings but at the exact configuration; the Muslims offer lithodoulia to the Rock in the Dome of the Rock and Architectonicodoulia to the whole complex, if not litholatria and architectonicalatria), the Mormons probably practice it.  They have their involate sacred spaces including a Holy of Holies.

Believing a place like Patmos, or the Holy Sepulchre, to be holy, on the other hand, is doulia but not latria.  These are holy places.

Also mina, I would not that the worship Muslims appear to offer to the Quran could be considered a species of Bibliolatry, it is not the Bible, but Bible simply means book, it is a book, and they worship it.  But ironically it was never originally a book but an oral recitation. 

I believe Sikhs venerate their scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, with far more intensity, conaidering there is only one authorized place where rhe books can be printed, and the books when concesecrated and installed in a Sikh temple (not the correct word, but you get what I mean) are placed on a raised dias and venerated, alomg with icons of the last guru and various weapons.

~

In protesting the sale and desecration of monastic land through the building of a mosque, we are not engaging in litholatry; those who say we are flirt not with monophyitism but with Gnosticism, denying the sanctity of matter.
 

minasoliman

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I think he meant to say Monophysitism
 

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minasoliman said:
Just to offer an example of "litholatry", when I see groups of Orthodox Christian getting into fist fights over particular land near the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, I tend to think "litholatry".  When you receive terrorist threats from the burning of particular holy books, that's "litholatry".  When we care more about ancient artifacts than lives of people dying daily in Syria, that's "litholatry".

Can one be justifiably sad at selling plots of land that belonged to a monastic community?  Absolutely!  Should all hell break loose because of it?  Deep down inside, I think the answer should be "no".
I also would agree with this.  Very well said.
 

Daedelus1138

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minasoliman said:
Just to offer an example of "litholatry", when I see groups of Orthodox Christian getting into fist fights over particular land near the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, I tend to think "litholatry". 
I see your point, and I agree.  It's a bigger sin to not love your neighbor than it is to not honor a place that may or not be holy.  The divine image dwells in every human being, after all... surely no object or place can be more sacred than that.

Sometimes I think some Orthodox have a problem understanding ethics, perhaps due to a more mystical focus of the theology, perhaps it is cultural.  Asceticism and piety aren't a substitute for ethics.  The whole epistle of St. James has this as a central theme.

 
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