Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Iconoclasm kills."

As the tragic dispersion of Iraq's ancient Christian communities continues unabated in the face of the Islamist takeover of the city of Mosul and surrounding areas, news emerges that the Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have started to level Mosul's historic Shia mosques and have used sledgehammers and bulldozers to destroy the tombs of prophets revered by Christians and Muslims alike. Reacting to these latest developments, Father Stephen Freeman offers some thoughts that deserve your attention:
There is a strange spirit of iconoclasm (the Greek for "icon smashing") and it breaks out now and again across human history. It is not just a short period in Byzantine history successfully resisted by the Orthodox but a strange manifestation of human sin that has as its driving force and hence allurement, the claim that it is defending the honor of God.

The icon smashers are as varied as certain forms of Islam or certain forms of Puritanism (and some of its Protestant successors). Some icon smashers direct their attention to pictures or statues, per se, while others turn their attention to even ideological icons such as honoring certain days and holidays. Those Christians who rail against the date of Christmas belong to this latter group of iconoclasts.

What is striking to me is that iconoclasm has almost always accompanied revolutions. I suppose those who are destroying the old and replacing with the new have a certain drive to "cleanse" things. Thus during China’s Cultural Revolution, books, pictures, older faculty members, indeed a deeply terrifying array of unpredictable things and people became the objects of the movement's iconoclasm. As in all of these revolutions – iconoclasm kills.
To read the rest, click here. AMDG.


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