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Commercial use of Icons

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#1 Herman G.

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 05:11 AM

Forgive me if this is the wrong sub forum, but what is the acceptable use of icons for commercial purposes? For example, if a winery wanted to name a wine in honor of a saint and they placed a photo of the icon on the label.

#2 Olga

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 01:18 PM

Wines named after saints are commonplace, not least in southern Australia where I come from. :)  While not all are Orthodox saints, St Henri, St Hugo, St Helga, and others have lent their names to wines, as have the Three Holy Youths from the book of Daniel. There is also a very popular range of brandy called St Agnes.

 

Naming wines after saints is also time-honoured in the "old" countries, with St John's Commandaria a well-known dessert wine which is also often used as a communion wine, and a Greek grape and wine variety called Agiorgitiko, meaning of St George.

 

However, IMHO, featuring icons on wine labels crosses an unacceptable line. There is the practical problem of the disposal of bottles with labels attached, and the general risk of the regard by the general public of icons as merely decorative works of art, and not the holy and revered images they truly are. I feel the same way about icons printed on T-shirts, coffee mugs, and other everyday items, and even the increasingly popular icon bracelets. Icons are neither "art" in the common sense, nor a fashion accessory.



#3 Herman G.

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 02:13 PM

Thank you for your reply, Olga. I had wondered about icon bracelets as well after seeing one for sell in a popular Orthodox gifts catalog.

 

What would one say to someone who feels that such an item could be compared to a prayer rope bracelets, something that gives comfort or focus in time of prayer? Also, could it be used as a witnessing tool for our faith? Cross necklaces are quite common in America, so something like an icon bracelet would certainly stand out.



#4 Olga

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 02:24 PM

There are various problems with icon bracelets, some are:

 

 - the wear and tear of something worn on the wrist is inevitable. I feel it's wrong for icons to be subjected to this. The little icon plaques fall off quite easily, and, even if they stay put, is it right that they be knocked around?

 

 - their incorporation into a bracelet, which is, after all, a decorative item, designed to be visible.

 

While baptismal crosses could also be classified as jewellery, more often than not, these are worn under our clothes, reflecting Matt. 6:6 : But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. I find prayer ropes worn on the wrist which is not covered by a long sleeve, and often made in bright colours, to be similarly problematic.



#5 Herman G.

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:39 PM

Are Western/Renaissance paintings of the Apostles considered something different? I've seen bracelets done in these styles as well.



#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:09 PM

To support Olga's opinion regarding wearing prayer ropes, I recall being told how the superior of the monastery here, when a young deacon, wore a chotki and was then told by Elder Sophrony to put it away out of sight.

 

'Western/Renaissance paintings of the Apostles' are different inasmuch as they are not icons but one could feel nonetheless that the commercial use of images of such paintings, especially as fashion accessories, is inappropriate.



#7 Max Percy

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 09:07 AM

I share people's misgivings about the use of images of icons in a commerical way, also as covers of books...

I was wondering if an image of an icon is an icon if it has not been blessed?



#8 Olga

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 11:08 PM

Placing an icon on the cover of a book, such as of the life of a saint, or of liturgical or pastoral texts, is a longstanding custom. Such books are unlikely to be mishandled or abused by those who acquire them. Indeed, there are accounts of miracles wrought where the person invoking the saint prayed to the icon on the cover of the book of the saint's life. I doubt very much that the front cover of the book had been blessed beforehand. ;)

 

Should a book featuring an icon, either on its cover, or within its pages, be irreparably damaged or otherwise deteriorate, then it should be respectfully burned or buried, as is recommended for any holy object whose usefulness has passed.



#9 Max Percy

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 12:00 PM

Thank you Olga for those reflections. I don't doubt that God can use anything at all to work miracles and communicate God's presence and love, no matter how unworthy or improbable... God could even use me.  Is an icon always an artifact only, or does it have a necessary ecclesial/liturgical relationship as well?  My suspicion is the latter, but I could easily be misguided or wrong.



#10 Olga

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 02:37 PM

Icons are by no means merely objects or artifacts. They do indeed have a "necessary ecclesial/liturgical relationship". Icons are the visual equivalent of what is taught and proclaimed by the Church, most accessibly and clearly in her hymnography: what is read, chanted and sung at every service in the liturgical cycle, not just the Divine Liturgy. There must be complete harmony between what is depicted on an icon, and what the Church teaches and espouses.

 

Moreover, icons are censed, venerated and, on occasion, carried in procession during services. They are by no means merely decorative.

 

Even during the conducting of personal devotions at home, icons are treated no differently. They are censed, they are prayed before, they are venerated, in some cultures, an icon is hung in the corner of every room in the house. It is said that an Orthodox household is a "little church". Therefore the regard and place of icons at home and in church should be the same.



#11 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 03:59 PM

To echo and expand a little on what Olga says, we can say that icons (and wall paintings) are indeed an organic component of Orthodox liturgy.  The Divine Services are so called because they, and above all the Divine Liturgy, are the type on earth and in earthly time (chronos) of the heavenly worship in divine time (kairos).  The icons play their role with the texts, music, vestments, incense, candles, and movements of the clergy to make present the complete theological and spiritual vision of heavenly worship.  Icons reflect and correspond to the transfigured reality of the events and saints depicted therein, and we are to contemplate them with both our earthly and our spiritual eyes.



 



#12 Olga

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 04:35 PM

Here is a wonderful homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and the place of icons in worship and our lives. It is perhaps the finest short work on the matter I've seen for many a year:

 

http://janotec.typep...y-of-icons.html



#13 Max Percy

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 12:41 AM

So, give these respnses by Olga and Andreas, it would seem that the answer to Herman's question is that coomercial use is trivializing and inappropriate in that it functionally severs this necessary liturgical relationship, no?



#14 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 01:32 AM

Yes, exactly.  The eternal and divine is characterised as temporal and ephemeral.



#15 Kusanagi

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 02:20 AM

Thank you for your reply, Olga. I had wondered about icon bracelets as well after seeing one for sell in a popular Orthodox gifts catalog.

 

What would one say to someone who feels that such an item could be compared to a prayer rope bracelets, something that gives comfort or focus in time of prayer? Also, could it be used as a witnessing tool for our faith? Cross necklaces are quite common in America, so something like an icon bracelet would certainly stand out.

 

a monk from Sihastria monastery in Romania told my wife when she used to wear them to not wear them anymore, telling her how can you be respectful to saints when you go to the toilet and do your business?

Or in some cases some people move the bracelet up their arm which doesnt really help the situation.

 

Speaking of commercially use of icons, i seen some for ipad covers which i like but then it will end up being scratched during prolonged everyday use of carrying it around.






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