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Mary of the Wood

June 9, 2013

I used to wonder why the Greek Orthodox were so adamant about not using statues in their worship. From what I was told, you will not see a statue of Mary or Jesus, or any of their saints adorning the assemblies and services within their halls. One who had converted from  Roman Catholic to Greek Orthodox told me how his mother used to put her hands on the statues of Mary and swoon. I read on a public forum on Catholicism where one Rc described those dragging their knees across the rocks and stones, bloodying these, as they bowed and crawled to the statue of Mary, or Jesus. It was clear her point was to present the adoration of this within her Religion, as if this behavior was something to be admired. I have nothing against sculptures, even sculptures of angels, or depictions of bible characters, but I would be concerned to have my fellow believers behaving this way over a statue. I do not believe God expects this as a symbol of our love.


After having experienced four systems of the Christianity, I was brought onto these forums, for I was told that I was to see where it was headed. At first, I understood this to be a looking forward. I thought I was being shown where Christianity is going, and this is partly the case – an image of what will be. But what God had really brought me to see was how Christianity was HEAD-ED, HEEDED, HONED, AND HARVESTED. The 4Hs. I have since learned that most answers are of at least a two fold understanding.

One of the most instructive questions anyone calling himself a Christian today should be asking is, what was born from those claiming to be Christians? I am orthodox spiritual, and do not adhere to any Religion. I find beauty in some of the Traditions in these, understand the need for some, but my purpose as a believer has more to do with the Priestly message, as Truth on the Word, and how the parishes come into spiritual maturity as part in the Body. We must evolve as a body of believers. We must generate new growth. We must come into a fuller understanding of Life in the One. A foundation, or bridge, must be built, a light present in this. Some are instruments in this work, others resist.

To be honest, the Roman Catholic Religion will wane, as it has been. Its imperial legislation will peter, then plummet, for I have been told repeatedly by Catholic members that so few pay attention to the hierarchy. I wish, however, they would pay attention in one area. I wish they would stand up in formative numbers, and refuse to permit those women to die in their hospitals. This is quite the stain, and one day soon, the world will be looking at this as a horrific and senseless loss of life.

I see the Orthodox Religion in a divide, as a New Order comes into Purpose. It is the only way for a safety of numbers, and a soldiering of self-knowledge within believers. Priests will be called into greater service, and will shed the old cloth. Many will desire service in this, but not all will be attentive.  But, it will be enough to hoist that ship, and move it to a better location, spiritually, for it has been suffering from much decay in its present spot. So, I ask, what was born from those claiming to be Christians? I would think one would need to look at the advent of today to understand this. As we move into an increasingly diverse explosion of ideas, does anyone believe in the magic statues, weeping ikons and martyred saints? How much of this is truth and how much is a dressing of sorts? Are those who pray to their saints getting answers on the Way? If they are, what is said? And from whose voice is this ordained? Will that Mary of wood, plaster, plastic and paint be the answer? Or will the focus turn to the demonic, and will those claiming God authority spew the word heretic, and cast out demons from every person not standing on two feet wearing a smudge of grey on his forehead during the Lenten season?

Let’s step away from Tradition for a moment and imagine ourselves in an epic adventure. Suppose you were transported to another plane, and discovered that Mary never gave birth to Jesus … and John the Baptizer never actually existed, for his person served as symbol, much as Mary has served as symbol … and that Jesus never suffered the way the Religions have preached … How would you feel? I guess it would depend on what you believe, and who you believe as Truth. If say, Mary was your God, would you be crestfallen, believing that your world was coming apart at the seams? If Mary was your poster child, your huge draw, your money-maker in your Enterprise, would you decide that you must somehow solidify her standing and gather a council, that would result in a new teaching? Mary as Holy Spirit? Well, as I look out across the plains of man, I see the possibility of many things.

What of the 4Hs, though? How were these fed, and who is responsible for the outcomes? And how will these die in the final hour? Perplexing questions, to be sure. I fear that many youth will not see the joys of childhood, for the world is a courtroom drama. How will the old skin keep them wards of the State, though, and for how long? Ply them with cigarettes and alcohol? We’ve seen this already. What’s deadlier than a wooden Mary to the broken hearts of the young searching for the freedom in love? Instant gratification, whether this be bomb, booze, brothel or bacon, it’s a bride of sorts, nonetheless.


  1. opheliart permalink

    RE:I would say these examples, in your first paragraph (re: devotion to statues, etc) are extremist AND extremely rare.

    I don’t agree that these examples are “extremely” rare. I can’t say that I have personally witnessed anyone swooning over a statue of Mary, but I have grown up being aware of Catholics treating Mary as if she were the Person responsible for the life, protection, and care of family members. I still see statues of Mary in the front of houses and parishes. And I have witnessed the kissing of both Mary statue and ikon.
    This brings me to a question. What do these statues serve? Or, how do these serve? Are they works of art, like one-of-a-kind pieces? Are they teachings, telling a story of a belief within set doctrine? Are they meant to inspire? Or are they merely decoration?

    RE: I read on a public forum on Catholicism where one Rc described those dragging their knees across the rocks and stones, bloodying these, as they bowed and crawled to the statue of Mary, or Jesus. It was clear her point was to present the adoration of this within her Religion, as if this behavior was something to be admired.

    I have seen images of people worshipping in a similar fashion, although I don’t recall any bloodied knees. I would have to tax my brain, but it seems these were part of a ritual in smaller villages, although I do not remember exactly where. I will do a wee search and see what I can find.

    I think what stands out for me in this is the presentation, and how one interprets and uses biblical imagery, and this is not just from a personal standpoint, but from a Religious, as well. Also, what is the difference between a work of art in a sanctuary, and a reproduction?

    • opheliart permalink

      RE: What do these statues serve? It’s no different than the icons.

      This from Orthodox Iconography by Constantine Kalokyris (gifted to me by an Orthodox priest a few years ago)
      “The purpose of iconography in the churches was, from the beginning, one:
      service to the church. Iconography appeared as art not for its own sake, but for the Church. Thus, its content was determined directly by the needs and the profounder purposes of the Church. These purposes, of course, were not material but spiritual, purposes which the Church had to proclaim by every possible means. The foundation of faith in the spiritual reality, in the immortality of the soul and in the blessedness that is in God was primary. The pursuit of blessedness in the present temporal and in the future eternal life was to be achieved by participation in the Mysteries and by the life the faithful would go through in observing all that Holy Scripture and its official interpreter, the Church, commanded.”
      Goes on to mention misinterpretations of orthodox teaching – heresies … her Creed ..

      From the start, what constituted “the Church” in Orthodoxy was proclaimed by [his] interpreters. So too for Roman Catholicism, Protestantism … Each proclaiming what they believe to be Truth on the Word of God. Any art created from Spiritual Experience outside of this was, and is, heretical. It had/has no place in their Churches.

      Therefore, the art created by my hand must be heretical. Unless there has been an abrupt change in these ‘Churches’, my art is “spiritual illegal” to these interpreters (including the Catholics and “Protestants”).
      Thank God it’s illegal here in the US to attack those who experience and paint differently. I don’t know how well I would wear my sandals while nailed to a cross, with flames lapping at my legs.

      Peace and Love

  2. opheliart permalink

    RE: Alas, most of the post Vatican II parishes look more like basketball courts, as opposed to temples.

    I don’t know about your area, but the three areas (city-based) I am most familiar, Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, love their sports. So, to say these now look like basketball courts does not sound all that off base.
    Then again, the architecture itself is a form of art that should not be disregarded. To you, it looks like a basketball court; to the architect, it’s art.

    Despite the hooliganism on the public Christianity forums, where my art was attacked (poster having gone to my etsy site), when the discussion topic was about the wealth of the Vatican, and how the hierarchy enjoys the finest of the finest ( the poster’s insidious efforts to let the public know that Ratzinger’s books have sold far more than my art – [unworthy, despicable, lowly, me] painting ‘sandals’ that nobody buys), I have made the statement that, nowadays, the Catholics are more “protestant” than the “protestant”. This may just be a turning of the tables. The Catholics borrowing the “protestant” way, however you wish to view this. Although, I believe this to be the case for quite some time.
    Later I learned that Thomas Merton had said something similar regarding the Catholics. This made me laugh.

    Cont …

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