Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

“Problematic” icons


  • Please log in to reply
193 replies to this topic

#41 Tom Denich

Tom Denich

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 25 posts

Posted 21 November 2010 - 06:43 PM

Today's bulletin, printed by Vestal Publishing in New Jersey has an affiliation with the Antioch church. It is widely distributed here in the midwest for the Sunday bulletin. The cover this morning has Christ Teacher icon but instead of a blessing hand and Gospel book, he offers 2 wedges of bread to illustrate today's lesson on the Sacrament of Communion. Is it any wonder that Orthodox are confused when we support publications that pervert our imagery?

#42 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,821 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 21 November 2010 - 11:56 PM

Is it any wonder that Orthodox are confused when we support publications that pervert our imagery?


I hope it is simply a case of honest ignorance, Tom. To outsiders, iconography is the one, unique, facet of Orthodoxy which distinguishes it from all other Christian traditions. Yet, all too often, it is the least-understood aspect of Orthodoxy by those within Orthodoxy.

#43 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,821 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 November 2010 - 12:19 AM

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??

Mother of God of September 11

The person who painted this has produced an array of perfectly acceptable icons. These are her own words on this aberrant image:

“OUR LADY OF SORROW” A Tribute to 9/11

This modern composition incorporates themes of the 9/11 tragedy. With its unique composition and artistic quality, this icon is definitely a collector’s item.

This icon depicts the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ as our Lady of Sorrow. She is looking at the viewer with unbearable pain in her face. She is shown with outstretched hands, which express sorrow for the innocent people who lost their lives due to the terrorist attack. The oval shape in front of her body, also referred in Byzantine iconography as the mandorla, depicts the two towers of the World Trade Center during the terrorist attack. The mandorla is an iconographic symbol in the shape of a circle or an oval signifying heaven, Divine Glory, or Light. In the golden background, three angels are struck with grief and despair. The presence of the angels emphasises her significance, as being above the angels more honourable than the cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the seraphim. The lower left side of the icon shows the Pentagon, another target of the terrorist attack, while the lower right side of the icon shows the remains of the plane crash in Pennsylvania. A firefighter is placed in the right side to honour all firemen and policemen who put their lives in danger to help other people. The lighted candles are symbolising the eternal memory of the people who died during the attacks.


[Lady_Sorrows.jpg

The motif of the outstretched hands in icons of the Mother of God of the Sign denotes prayer and supplication, not sorrow. Even in icons of the Crucifixion or the Deposition from the Cross, one rarely sees such a level of grief in her face. This piece appropriates what is beyond time to depict and serve a sociopolitical event. There is even an American flag flying over the Pentagon. Mother of God of September 11 indeed ... what next? Mother of God of Hiroshima? of Dresden? of the Indian Ocean tsunami? Even worse is the presence of the burning Twin Towers over her body, instead of Christ Emmanuel. Did she give birth to the buildings? Was the World Trade Center the incarnation of God?

Priests are not infallible

I understand the following is the work of a Greek Orthodox priest and iconographer, who, while he has painted acceptable icons, has also produced this “innovation”. It is a modernist rendering of the icon of the Resurrection of the Lord. This painting is located at one of the churches or chapels at the Orthodox Centre in Chambesy, Switzerland.

3751.jpg

In proper Resurrection icons, Christ is shown rising from Hades, pulling Adam and Eve from their graves. Standing on one side of Him are St John the Baptist, and the Old Testament prophets and righteous ones. On the other side are those who have come to know Christ through Him and His Apostles and their successors, i.e. the people of the Church of the New Testament period.

What do we see in this “icon”? Adam and Eve are recognisable, but the other haloed figures are generic, with no reference as to who they represent. And what are we to make of all the disembodied heads and the flocks of birds in the sky? What is their significance? Which are the scriptural and liturgical references corresponding to these motifs?

It bears repeating that an iconographer works as an instrument of the Church, the works of his hands rightly proclaiming the word of God’s truth. He is not an artist who has the luxury of giving free rein to his creative impulses. No-one, let alone an Orthodox priest, and one who has been called “an authority on iconography” has the right to strip out so much meaning and doctrine from any icon in order to indulge in fantasies of reinterpretation. This mangling of the icon of the Resurrection, the Feast of Feasts, deserves the strongest condemnation. This is no mistake made in honest ignorance. What on earth possessed this man to paint such an image and presume to call it an icon? It is the pictorial equivalent of taking creative liberties with Orthodox hymnography.

Readers might be aware of the case in late 2004 of a Roman Catholic priest in the Australian city of Brisbane who, of his own volition, performed a number of baptisms in the name of the Creator, Liberator and Sustainer, instead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not surprisingly, the Archbishop of Brisbane ordered the errant priest to cease and desist. An investigation was also instituted to determine the sacramental validity or otherwise of these baptisms, and the ruling from the Vatican was that these baptisms had to be “regularised” using the correct Trinitarian formula.

As it is improper to alter the words of liturgy or sacrament without ecclesiastical approval, so it is also for iconographers to allow “innovation” on the basis of political correctness or artistic licence. Hymnography and iconography are not artistic playthings. The hymnographer’s pen and the iconographer’s paintbrush must be picked up with humility, fear and trembling.

Edited by Olga, 24 October 2015 - 09:43 AM.
Restored broken links


#44 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,821 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 November 2010 - 12:41 AM

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?? part 2

God on our side

 

xsa-stFwELc.jpg
 

Hilarious and tragic, all at once. This work was commissioned as part of the joint bid by Poland and Ukraine to hold the Euro 2012 football/soccer tournament. Laughter at the sheer absurdity, both in its commissioning, and at its contents, was my first reaction to it, until, to my horror, I discovered that this “icon” was jointly blessed by a priest from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and by the bishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church. Video footage and photographs of this blessing can be found online.

Much could be written about the iconographic nonsense present in this image, from the ball between Christ’s hands (looks like He’s just saved a goal – I can hear the stampede of team managers rushing to sign Him up – and what a great slogan: “We have GOD on our side!”), to the Mother of God pointing to the soccer pitch as the way of salvation. But wait – she’s pointing to the Polish side of the pitch! Oooh, that might upset the Ukrainians …

All that’s needed now is for some wag to write an akathist to the Mother of God “Patroness of Football” …. Don't laugh, folks - remember, akathists have been written for Rasputin.

To conclude:

To a non-Orthodox person, it is iconography which is the single most visible and definitive element which distinguishes the Orthodox Church from all others. It is our responsibility to ensure this holy and priceless treasure of our Church is preserved and defended against the influx of elements foreign to Orthodox belief and doctrine. The iconodules who suffered and often paid with their lives during the iconoclastic upheavals of past centuries deserve nothing less in their honour.


Edited by Olga, 24 October 2015 - 09:55 AM.
Restored broken links


#45 Johannes

Johannes

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 14 posts

Posted 22 November 2010 - 12:59 AM

As a catechumen, I find some of the patterns in iconography troubling. The repetition of triangles, inverted triangles, circles, pillars, and serpents seems reminiscent of alchemical symbolism. I read here or elsewhere that constantinople tolerated alchemy, and I wonder is this blasphemous pseudoscience in any way influenced iconography. Can anybody shed light on this?

#46 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,821 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 November 2010 - 01:09 AM

Johannes, could you provide any examples or links to icons which have features which you find troubling?

#47 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,821 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 November 2010 - 01:29 AM

There is only one canon of the ecumenical and/or regional councils that even deals with icons (apart from their general reaffirmation at the 7th Ecumenical Council).


Nick, this is not quite correct. There are canons from several regional councils which do specifically deal with icons. These include the Stoglav Council (Council of One Hundred Chapters) of 1551, the Great Council of Moscow of 1666-67, another council of the Russian Synod of 1722, and the decrees of the Moscow Patriarchate in May, 1935, and by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in October of the same year (these latter ones were concerned with the sophianist imagery which had enjoyed a revival, through the popularity of the writings of Soloviev, Florensky and Bulgakov). Another was a council held in Constantinople in 1722, if memory serves.

#48 Johannes

Johannes

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 14 posts

Posted 22 November 2010 - 01:53 AM

Johannes, could you provide any examples or links to icons which have features which you find troubling?


Specifically, the icon of St. Stylites + Stylites the younger. The icon depicts the two atop their pillars next to one another, with a diamond shape above them. I've seen this exact configuration on a masonic apron, commemorating the pillars of Solomon's Temple, Boaz + Jachin.

The Panagia also is configured such that the arms of the Theotokos create an inverse triangle, and the stars on her head and shoulders are arranged in a triangular formation.

Again, as a catechumen I know little about Iconography. I am a convert from the Protestant tradition, and am already somewhat uncomfortable with mystical symbolism.

#49 Father David Moser

Father David Moser

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,581 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Cleric

Posted 22 November 2010 - 01:55 AM

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??

Mother of God of September 11

The person who painted this has produced an array of perfectly acceptable icons.Mother of God of September 11 indeed ... what next? Mother of God of Hiroshima? of Dresden? of the Indian Ocean tsunami?


It seems to me (a complete ignoramus when it comes to the technical aspects of iconography) that rather than using the "Mother of God of the Sign" as a model for something like this that it would be more appropriate to take as a type something like the Mother of God of Mt Athos or going even more basic something along the "Protection" image. But even with using a separate type, I have to agree with Olga that icons with "political" or "social" messages (even when they are about "church politics" like the infamous "ark of salvation" travesty) are completely out of place.

Fr David Moser

#50 Nick Katich

Nick Katich

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 39 posts

Posted 22 November 2010 - 09:57 AM

Nick, this is not quite correct. There are canons from several regional councils which do specifically deal with icons. These include the Stoglav Council (Council of One Hundred Chapters) of 1551, the Great Council of Moscow of 1666-67, another council of the Russian Synod of 1722, and the decrees of the Moscow Patriarchate in May, 1935, and by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in October of the same year (these latter ones were concerned with the sophianist imagery which had enjoyed a revival, through the popularity of the writings of Soloviev, Florensky and Bulgakov). Another was a council held in Constantinople in 1722, if memory serves.


Olga: Thank you for the reminder, but I was referring to the Ecumenical Councils and those Regional Councils that have been accepted by them. These are primary sources. The others are often, and quite properly, referred to as secondary sources. Although instructive in many ways, I would not call their decrees as binding until they are universally accepted. Some to which you refer are strictly local. Others, e.g. The Great Council of Moscow 1666-67 were indeed Pan-Orthodox, but so was the Constantinople Council of 1923 (which goes to show that Pan-Orthodox participation does not guarantee validity). We have to be careful when we use the terms canon, canon law and canonicity.

#51 Kusanagi

Kusanagi

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 716 posts

Posted 22 November 2010 - 12:47 PM

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??

of the Indian Ocean tsunami?



There was an icon of the Mother of God when Indonesia had their tsunami back ni 2005. I think i have that icon somewhere.

Even worse i feel are the "icons" of pop stars or non Orthodox religious figures or political figures.

http://prosopa.eu/

Edited by Olga, 24 October 2015 - 10:00 AM.
Restored broken link


#52 Ryan

Ryan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 837 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 November 2010 - 02:36 PM

Specifically, the icon of St. Stylites + Stylites the younger. The icon depicts the two atop their pillars next to one another, with a diamond shape above them. I've seen this exact configuration on a masonic apron, commemorating the pillars of Solomon's Temple, Boaz + Jachin.


Which icon are you referring to? Do you have a link?

The Panagia also is configured such that the arms of the Theotokos create an inverse triangle, and the stars on her head and shoulders are arranged in a triangular formation.


You're reading too much into some innocuous patterns which, I ween, have more to do with principles of composition than anything else. The Panagia appeared long before Freemasons (despite the Masons' claims to be oh-so-ancient and responsible for just about everything interesting in history).

Again, as a catechumen I know little about Iconography. I am a convert from the Protestant tradition, and am already somewhat uncomfortable with mystical symbolism.


I think many of us Americans need to unlearn a puritanical mindset.

Regarding alchemy, I don't think it's possible to make a blanket evaluation of it. Some of it was occult/ demonic in nature but other forms were just an extension of natural philosophy, much like astrology. "Pseudoscience" is a loaded term that tends to assume that the only real science is that which conforms to the contemporary Baconian/Newtonian epistemology.

#53 Jason H.

Jason H.

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 428 posts

Posted 22 November 2010 - 04:58 PM

Olga,

I'm impressed with all your knowledge about iconography. Perhaps you should go on tour and talk about this. Or write a book. I am very saddened that one of my favorite icons is not canonical :-(

-Ignatios

#54 Herman Blaydoe

Herman Blaydoe

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,157 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 November 2010 - 05:07 PM

There was an icon of the Mother of God when Indonesia had their tsunami back ni 2005. I think i have that icon somewhere.

Even worse i feel are the "icons" of pop stars or non Orthodox religious figures or political figures.

http://prosopa.eu/



Woohoo! He even has Frank Zappa! How groovy is that?

But do NOT click on the link at that website for "Saladin" or your eyelids will start bleeding from an overdose of irony. You have been warned.

Herman the FDA-approved Pooh

Edited by Olga, 24 October 2015 - 10:01 AM.
Restored broken link


#55 Johannes

Johannes

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 14 posts

Posted 22 November 2010 - 05:27 PM

Thank you for your response. Here are some side-by-side comparisons.

Which icon are you referring to? Do you have a link?


Attached File  1emulationUGLE.jpg   72.41K   220 downloads

To be clear: Only the first image is an icon. The others are masonic.

Attached Files


Edited by Father David Moser, 22 November 2010 - 07:54 PM.


#56 Michael Stickles

Michael Stickles

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 1,438 posts

Posted 22 November 2010 - 06:19 PM

Sorry, Johannes, but I can't see enough parallelism to link the Stylites' icon with the Masonic image. The differences look to be at least as significant as the similarities.

#57 Jason H.

Jason H.

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 428 posts

Posted 22 November 2010 - 07:37 PM

I see lots of Masonic imagery in those icons.

#58 Jason H.

Jason H.

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 428 posts

Posted 22 November 2010 - 11:22 PM

Shoot, I should have clarified, as was pointed out to me, that obviously the first one does not have any masonic symbols in it.

#59 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,821 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 November 2010 - 01:12 AM

Thank you, Johannes, for posting the icon of the two St Symeons.

On the supposed masonic imagery in this icon:

1. These saints were pillar-dwellers. They spent many years living at the top of stone pillars, in isolation from the world. This is not speculation, but historical fact. Traces of the pillar of St Symeon the Elder still exist in Syria. If folks wish to read masonic meanings into it, that's their problem.

2. The motif at the top of the icon is a medallion of Christ blessing the saints, with two unfurled scrolls extending downwards and diagonally from it. This is not a rare motif in icons. A variant of this is the medallion of Christ, and two planks or boards extending diagonally from it. These boards are derived from icons of the Resurrection of Christ, and from icons of His Baptism. Christ stands on them, arranged in an X shape, in both icons, representing the power of the Cross in destroying the gateposts of hell. If folks wish to read masonic meanings into it ....

3. The mountains in the background are a very common motif in icons. They represent the wilderness in which these ascetic saints spent so many years. If folks wish to read masonic meanings into it ...

What helps immensely in understanding the content and symbolism in icons of saints and feasts is the hymnography, particularly of Vespers and Matins, for those saints and feasts.

Edited by Olga, 23 November 2010 - 01:34 AM.


#60 Olga

Olga

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,821 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 November 2010 - 01:49 AM

Christophoros wrote in post #18:

It should be noted that there are those who consider the "The Ark - The Mystical Icon of the Church" to be acceptable. Canonical Russian and Serbian Orthodox sources distribute the icon

If these “canonical Russian and Serbian sources” are indeed honestly and understandably unaware of the shortcomings of this image, then some careful and gentle correction is in order. If these sources are aware that this image is problematic, but continue to distribute it, I would be very interested in hearing their justification for doing so.

(though not the edition produced by Dormition Skete)


It doesn’t matter which version is being distributed or promoted. I have at least four versions of this image on file, with slight variations between some of them. However, all are based on the same premise: that those outside of Orthodoxy (including those Orthodox who do not conform to their particular ecclesiology, notably the churches which have adopted the Revised Julian calendar) are beyond redemption, they are the enemies of Orthodoxy, and are actively conducting a sustained campaign to destroy the Orthodox Church. This is not theology, this is virulent propaganda.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users