Christian Iconography and the Art of Rewriting History

Iconoclasm and the Art of Rewriting History

Iconoclasm has always been an integral part of revolution. In revolution, a previous paradigm is eliminated, making way for the new. Statues are torn down, buildings and works of art are destroyed, people are slaughtered through riots and the resulting famine, and religious revival—or dissolution—is inevitable. History books reflect the triumph of the victors, while the […]

Liturgy and Icon

Liturgy and Icon

There is an important connection between our liturgical services and holy icons. In many ways, it’s difficult to imagine how our Liturgy could subsist without icons. They are an irrevocable part of the life of the Church. Ouspensky notes (Theology of the Icon, vol. 1, p. 8): It is absolutely impossible to imagine the smallest liturgical rite in the Orthodox Church without icons. […]

The Beauty of Logos: Towards an Orthodox Aesthetic

The Beauty of Logos: Towards an Orthodox Aesthetic

What is the purpose of ‘beauty’ in the Eastern Orthodox faith? Are these mere externals, or is there something deeper behind our colors, shapes, and forms? We could start by considering Dostoevsky’s famous line (from The Idiot): Beauty shall save the world. “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60) Struggling with this very task, […]

St. Theodore the Studite against the Iconoclasts

St. Theodore the Studite against the Iconoclasts

During the iconoclastic disputes of the ninth century, a priest-monk named Theodore was instrumental in the orthodox defense of icons. Like St. John of Damascus a century earlier, Theodore was a ‘voice in the wilderness,’ fighting against the unorthodox views of the corrupt, Imperial leadership. A leading monk at the Studious monastery in Constantinople, Theodore wrote three different […]

Iconoclasm: The Heresy of Heresies (Part Two)

Iconoclasm: The Heresy of Heresies (Part 2)

In Franks, Romans, Feudalism, and Doctrine, Fr. John S. Romanides suggests: The schism between Eastern and Western Christianity was not between East and West Romans. In actuality, it was a split between East Romans and the conquerors of the West Romans. By the end of the seventh century, whole areas of the western part of the Roman Empire were […]

Iconoclasm: The Heresy of Heresies (Part One)

Iconoclasm: The Heresy of Heresies (Part 1)

It’s not surprising that iconoclasm persists in contemporary Christian culture, and especially in America. Without a proper understanding of both the Incarnation and the deeper purpose of creation—throughout which God is ‘everywhere present and filling all things’—we are left with a worldview that is distorted. With no emperor or royal family to honor, we venerate celebrities, pornographers, amoral politicians, and […]

The Triumph of Jesus Christ in the Triumph of Orthodoxy

The Triumph of Jesus Christ

The first Sunday of Great Lent is celebrated as the Triumph of Orthodoxy. This is connected with the victory of the iconodules (those who supported the veneration of sacred images) over the iconoclasts (those who opposed their veneration). The heart of the victory of Orthodoxy in the restoration of iconography—as well as our veneration of […]

Symbolism and the Devil

Symbolism and the Devil

For many, a symbol is roughly defined as “an illustration whose purpose can be termed pedagogic or educational.” It merely points to or teaches about an idea, but offers no real connection to anything beyond itself. In Orthodoxy, however, a symbol is a gateway or ‘window’ to something beyond; it truly connects us with that which […]

Iconography in Ancient House Churches

Iconography in Ancient House Churches

I have recently written about the archaeological discoveries of ancient Christian house churches in the middle east. In that piece, I discussed how the manuscripts found at these sites shows us that a central practice within these early church communities was the sacrificial mystery of the holy Eucharist (along with baptism), and very much in […]

The Western Critiques of Christian Iconoclasm

The Western Critiques of Christian Iconoclasm

Introduction As most historians recognize, the central events related to Byzantine iconoclasm in both the eighth and ninth centuries unfolded in and around the imperial city of Constantinople. Nevertheless, the churches of the West—and especially in the city of old Rome—were intimately involved in combatting this new, imperially-sanctioned heresy. In a piece last May on […]