icons

Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Pissing on the Moon (16th C). Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp.

I foresee churches with their Jesuit bureaucrats open daily from 9-5, closed on weekends. Georges Bernanos
Jesuits are blameless here but the point stands. The debacle at Our Saviour is a symptom of bureaucratic conditions more critical than any clash of taste in church décor. Umbrage over “the integrity of the art” is a red herring. If that were the essential factor, this would be a minor local foofaraw. But it is not minor; and the breach of trust on display extends beyond locale to the temper of our clerical bureaucracy itself. Continue Reading
Ken Woo. Christ Pantocrator in situ behind the altar.

Something unedifying is under way at the Church of Our Saviour, on lower Park Avenue in Manhattan. This alert from a knowledgeable source came Tuesday morning and has been circulating:
I am informed that having [been] officially appointed Pastor of COS, Father Robbins is in the process of removing the other icons and also wants to remove the large Pantocrator. The demolition is in process, and the intention is to finish it before anyone can protest. So immediate action is needed.
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Dodging the Sacred

MODERNITY OFFERS SECULARISTS TWO SEDUCTIVE HEDGES: aestheticism and Buddhism. New York’s Rubin Museum yokes them together in a pictorial fantasia on the New Age-y theme of universal spirituality. No divisive truth claims mar the view from the $100 million monument to Multi-Plan founder Donald Rubin’s own purchasing power and those acquisitive cravings that Buddhist doctrine decries. All contradictions and irreconcilable differences disperse in the solvent of art appreciation, that distinctly Western ideology at the heart of museum culture. Embodying the Holy: Icons in Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Tibetan Buddhism is a visually splendid, conceptually shallow, exhibition. Continue Reading
Sacred vs. Religious Art

MICHAEL QUENOT, AN AUTHORITY on the art and Orthodox theology of icons, insists on the primacy of two dimensional images in the visual expression of religious conviction. In The Icon: Window on the Kingdom, he wrote that the two-dimensional iconographic image is “more accessible to mystery.” It is an irritating point to anyone who marvels at the possibility, attested to by modern physics, that we live in ten, possibly eleven, dimensions. We experience three of them—height, length, depth—directly through our senses. Continue Reading