The Chaplain as Spiritual Guide * * * Rev. Douglas S. Hardy, PhD Professor of Spiritual Formation...
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The Chaplain as Spiritual Guide* * *Rev. Douglas S. Hardy, PhD
Professor of Spiritual Formation Director, DMin ProgramNazarene Theological [email protected]
i - words
i - dol
i - con
An icon (eikon) is a religious painting or picture, which is understood to act as a window through which the worshipper may catch a closer glimpse of the divine than would otherwise be possible. (McGrath, 60-61)
Psalm 964For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.5For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Idols IconsMirror WindowLook at Look with (or through)Self & now Presence of culture the divine Create Discover
Icons in Eastern Orthodoxy have served the Church as spiritual guides helping form a sensibility to the presence of the divine inviting persons to commune with a personal sacred presence
The Chaplain as Icon (Not Idol) helping form a sensibility to the presence of the divine (Emmanuel, God-with-us) inviting believers to commune with a personal sacred presence (the risen Christ)
The Chaplain as Icon (Not Idol)1. we look at those we serve (so their gaze can meet ours)2. we invite them to actively participate in the gaze (to see and be seen)3. we help create a new space between us for experiencing God
The Chaplain as Icon (Not Idol)4. we model for & tutor them in waiting and receiving5. we model for & tutor them in unkowing and mystery 6. we help them to recognize the many things that can be(come) iconic for them
Sources:Garcia-Rivera, Alejandro. Aesthetics. The Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality, Arthur Holder (editor). Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.Heib, Marianne. Icon Space and Spiritual Direction. Presence 2:2 (1996).McGrath, Alister E. Christian Spirituality: An Introduction. Blackwell, 1999.
**Thanks to Apple, we now have in our vocabulary many i words: ipod, iphone, ipad, etc. There are, however, two other important i-words from the perspective of religious faith.*The first is i-dol. A helpful way to understand what idol means is to consider the verb form: idolize. When we idolize something or someone, we honor, admire, even worship them. Understood theologically & biblically, an idol is anything or anyone that replaces God as the only rightful One worthy of ultimate worship. *The primary biblical example of idolatry is described in Exodus 32, the story of the golden calf. *But the language of idolatry has moved outside of religious contexts and into the broader culture, as evidenced in the wildly popular television series American (Canadian) Idol.*There is another i-word that is critically important to a healthy understanding of how idolatry works: i-con. Here is a helpful definition.*The Old Testament is full of rich examples of icons: the burning bush that called out to Moses; the pillar of cloud and fire that accompanied the children of Israel at the Exodus; the ark of the covenant; the tabernacle.*The ultimate Christian icon, of course, is Jesus (cf. John 1:14, Colossians 1:15-20), which is why Eastern Orthodox iconography primarily features images of Christ. Rublevs icon of the Old Testament Trinity is another example of the primary goal of iconsto put us in touch with the presence of the divine.*But the language of icon, too, has moved outside of religious contexts and into the broader culture, primarily through the explosion of microtechnology and the development of computer language.
*Idol and Icon. Two words that, although they name differing & distinctive realities, belong together. One might consider them two sides of the same coin, two expressions of a fundamental human dynamic in relationship to God. Consider for example the ways in which Scripture speaks both against idolatry and for the value of icons: Psalm 96:4-5.*To summarize, consider how idols and icons function: (1) Idols act like mirrors, reflecting back to us ourselves and our immediate culture; icons act like windows, through which we can see into worlds beyond our own. (2) Idols call us to look at them, keeping the focus there; icons invite us to look with them or through them to something beyond or greater. (3) Idols focus on the concerns of self and whatever is most selfishly immediate in ones culture; icons primarily serve & facilitate the presence of a divine Other. (4) Idols elicit the creating function of human capacity (e.g., psychological projection); icons elicit the discovering function of human capacity (psychological maturity).*Who has functioned as an icon in your life, helping to form in you an awareness of divine presence and an encouragement to risk responding to that divine presence?*One of my favorite icons is this depiction of Marys visit to Elizabeth as recorded in Luke 1:39-45. Here we see an iconic representation of the dynamics of encouragement and response to God that others can elicit in us.*Consider, now, the challenges you face in your professional work as a chaplain. How might you serve as an icon to others, avoiding the dangers of becoming an idol?*1. **