Monday, March 24, 2008

Almost a Monk, Pt. 2

In general, icons are a difficult thing for Protestants. It all goes back to the Iconoclast controversy in the 8th and 9th century. One side condemned icons as idols that people inappropriately venerated -- and they had a point. The other side laid out theological arguments advocating the paintings as mere wnidows or tools to help the worshiper to focus on the true realities of God behind or beyond the image -- they had a point, too.

While I avoid venerating objects, I have no problem honoring works of art which help people reflect or express their devotion to God. I use songs and hymns in the same way. We Protestants just come from a tradtion that is very weary of the arts, and that's too bad. It is said that the first Reformed churches often had blank white walls in their sanctuaries with only the pulpit and the proclamation of the Gospel as decoration. That sounds nice, but also boring. And I personally don't think that Gospel is boring. Therefore, as long as one utilizes the icon/image for appropriate purposes and keeps Christ at his rightful place of Lordship, I see no problem in enjoying works of art for what they are -- paintings and sculptures expressing the mysterious attributes God.

Here are several examples at the modest monastery I stayed at:

A really tiny depiction of the Lord's Supper hung in my room.

This was a wood carving hanging in the library.

This is a well known icon that I personally love.

Brother Francis mentioned this small statue as portraying that the monk's life is centered around the Word of God.

Of course, this is where Protestants get fussy -- Mary and the Pope. Sure, I obviously disagree with some of their doctrines (Ex Cathedra, Mary as Co-Redemptrix, etc.), but I don't think the Pope is the anti-Christ and I think Scripture portrays Mary as an extraordinary woman.

I liked the colors on this one.

Not really an icon, but come on, these are totally cute. They're like ascetic Cabbage Patch dolls.

This statue of Mary was just hanging out in the middle of the woods.


This was another statue of Mary outside the Abbey.

These little cherubs were on the base of the statue.

It had just rained, but I thought this was pretty.

There you go. My trip to the monastery proved more than just bland silence and solitude. The monks also gave me some colorful stuff to look at while I walked around. Coming walk through the woods.

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