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August 2017

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curiosity

Speaking Of Prohibited Images

Why do Christians make so many images.

I'm a Witch. I can worship as many graven idols as I want to. But for people who go on about believing in Ten Commandments and wanting to put them up in public buildings Christians don't seem interested in actually following them.

Exodus 20:4 "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth"

Seems pretty clear to me, just like the Muslims say, no pictures of anything.

Comments

You know, I honestly don't know. I have lots of Greek Orthodox friends and I think I'll ask them about this.
Christians generally don't follow the Old Testament laws unless they want to.

Cherry picking values

Yes...but they have been making a big deal about posting the Ten Commandments in public buildings lately.

Ten Commandments Commission Helps New Mexico Pastors Catch Vision for Renewed America
By Dave Bohon -- WDC Media News
2006-02-07 -- WDC Media News

Local support strong for Ten Commandments bill
Democrats: Are taxypayers ready to ante up court costs?
02/05/06 by Tim Carlfeldt

Re: Cherry picking values

Yep.

But that's because posting the Ten Commandments to admonish others is much easier than living by them.
That explains why there are not the vast quantity of Mohammed films as there are Jesus films.
Yeah.. some Christians can be real hypocritical. The bible is like a salad bar to them. They can just pick and choose what rules they want to follow.

Then condemn others for choosing their own belief systems..

How many of them feel the need to go to church on Sunday and not shop or do much else on the Sabbath? Then my personal favorite is the whole 'adultery' thing, as well as not coveting other women. So all those married men out there that I find when looking at dating sites are all SINNERS!!!

I suspect...

...that the key words in the verse are "unto thee." Granted that this is the King James, and I'm not as up on my 15th century language usage as I maybe should be - I believe the prohibition isn't against making pictures or statues or whatever, but against worshipping them. Note the many times earlier in the Bible...well. There isn't much "earlier" at that point, but there are many mentions in Genesis of "household gods."

Also, the meaning beneath the command is "worship the Creator, not the creation."

Any "creature" or creatd thing can become an idol, even the Bible itself. You may or may not have heard the term Bibliolatry, to describe a kind of slavish and almost superstitious literalism. There are people whose devotion - if you poke it hard enough - is more to the book and the words in the book than to the God they point to. They never lift their eyes from the cold, dead words on the page to behold the Living Word active in the world.

They are more than likely to try to inhibit the action of God's spirit in the world - because the Holy Spirit goes where it will and does what it will, and is not in any way bound by the words in the book. By the leading of the Holy Spirit, we have learned that all human beings, regardless of race or gender or orientation, are human beings and deserving of dignity and respect - but the people who worship the book say, "It says in this verse" yada yada yada, and refuse the possibility that God is doing a new thing.

Idols - whether they're statues or pictures or books or money - are ways of putting Divine in a box. Divine, like any sensible creature, tends to resist this.

Besides, in my experience even the witches I know don't actually worship the images.

Think about it: in magic, you first sanctify space. Then you ask the Divine in the form of the God and Goddess to be present and assist you in your intention, whether it be healing or celebration or whatever. You ask help from other assistants (the Guardians) as well. Most times you celebrate a ritual meal, that symbolizes the unity of Divinity even as it proclaims a duality, and that joins the group in fellowship. You thank the Divine and the Guardians for their presence and their assistance.

In Eucharist, we sanctify space (we sing, we recite particular "opening prayers"). We ask God to be present with us. We read or hear about things God has done before, for other folks who aren't at bottom too unlike us. We celebrate a ritual meal, in which we mystically become members of one body, one family. We thank God for being present.

In both worship settings, there may be images, statues, representative objects - but I've never seen those objects made the actual thing being worshipped. They are pointers, reminders - windows, tangible connections to what is ultimately intangible.

Take icons, as another example. Until somebody else needed it more than I did, I had an icon of the harrowing of hell. This is a stylized picture of what the Orthodox believe was going on between when Jesus died on Good Friday and when he rose again on Easter Sunday. Jesus in this picture is standing on the doors of hell, which he has just kicked in. With one hand, he's got Eve by the arm, and with the other he's got Adam, and he's clearly indicating that it's time to blow this popsicle stand.

I carried it as a reminder - of what God had done for me, of the personal hells he had reached into to rescue me, of the truth that there is no place so dark that God can't get to me and help me. A window on a truth, a reminder of it, a way to meditate on it.

Did it "protect" me? No. Would something horrible happen to me if I wasn't carrying it when I traveled? No. Would it miraculously cure me of disease or heal wounds? No.

The icon was not what rescued me, or protected me, or healed me. Divine rescued me. Divine protected me. Divine healed me. The icon was there to remind me of that, in a tangible way.

It's easy for icons to become idols; I think of that every time I hear about some statue of Mary weeping, and people attributing all kinds of "miracles" to the statue. Statues don't do miracles. Statues remind us of the One who does.

Re: I suspect...

That'll teach me to make a casual observation.

It does seem that the very clear prohibition against images is generally subsumed under the comandment "No other gods" Although my born-again sister does not have any images or representations of Christ because of the danger of idolitry. And I once saw some cross coins in a store that came with a detailed explaintion that they were *not* magical talasmins just "reminders" of faith.

The charge of "Idolitry" has always seemed a bit of a pantomine to me. In cultures that do have a lot of statues they don't really believe the statue is the god any more then we mistake a picture of a friend for the actual friend.

And there are the people who aren't particularly bright. I have a friend who works at an observatory and she once got a call from a woman who wanted to know if they had ever "seen God" through the telescope. As if he was just hanging out there in space.
Quick answers:
1) The rules in the OT are for Jews. We don't follow them. And actually, Jesus simplified the ten commandments down to two, in a very clear exchange - love God, and Love your neighbor (which he goes on to define in a very broad way, in the Good Samaritan story).

2) Perhaps more importantly, in a time when not everyone was literate, and there were many languages spoken by people in the new faith, pictures were very important.

As was said above - it isn't the picture that damns or blesses - it is the intention with which the picture is viewed.

Thanks for the very intelligent comments on the Muslim cartoon thread, by the way.

Quick reply

1) isn't consistant with the "Post the Ten Commandments in courthouses" and homosexuality is an abomination, position of many modern Christians (and not just the "way out there" ones).

2) But that was when the rule was made, I don't get your point.

Re: Quick reply

1) That is correct - they are being selective biblical literalists. (Abomination is also the term applied to many of the infractions - for example mixing fibers in clothing!)

2) "The rule was made...." I was pointing out a functional support for the continuation and reinforcement of the use of imagery in Christianity. The rule wasn't made by Christians, but by OT jews (and I say OT, since it was after the time of Jesus, in Antioch, where Christians were first known by that word. There waas a real blur about whether the new Church was merely a sect of Jews, who thought the Messiah had come.

3) There are many Christianities.

ok- back to work for me!
Well, actually, you know, idols are merely illustrative examples. They are needed only as long as the concept isn't clear in the mind of the person for whom the concept is being illustrated. Once the concept is understood, there is no more need for idols.
That's all. I really won't ever understand why some religions make such a song and dance about it.