Dear Father Vasiliy,
My priest has mentioned in passing that it might be a good idea to get an electronic picture frame and display JPEGs of icons for people to venerate on the icon stand in the center of the church, instead of buying actual icons. I told him this didn’t sound right somehow. We agreed to ask you and abide by your decision.
Signed, Uncertain in Umatilla
This is excellent idea! Let us to take pictures of all existing icons and put in electronic picture frames! We will never have to pay iconographer again! Iconography will become thing of past! Think of money church will save! Then think of who will write icon of next saint to be recognized after last iconographer dies? Or maybe your priest thinks it will not be any more saints? Is not outrage, is stupid!
This priest is American convert, isn’t he?
What is icon? Digital image is not icon. Icon is holy object. Holy objects do not go away when they are being unplugged, or power lines are being knocked down by storm. When lights go out we have holy beeswax candles to burn. But where is icon? Is outage! (You see what I am doing there?) And please not even to mention “batteries.”
Is not just arrangement of colors in image on front of icon that is holy. Entire icon — wood, paint, gold, gesso, and other stuff (I admit I am not iconographer and it is many years since I take iconography class at seminary) — this all is holy. So, photograph of icon is not icon. Digital copy of photograph of icon is not icon. Screen displaying digital copy of photograph of icon is not icon. Was it screen displaying digital copy of photograph of icon in nineteenth century Russia? You are knowing answer to this.
I am thinking this priest is watching too many “holodeck” episodes of Star Trek. Icon is not virtual reality. Icon is real reality.
Icon is window to heaven, not window to hard drive.
Signed, Father Vasiliy
P.S. If priest has question about what to do, person to ask is bishop, not fictional priest agony uncle on satire rag. -O.B.