Twice a week I post a quote from saints from the Episcopal Calendar of Saints that week. They are to be meditative and mindful, playful and thought inducing. I hope they are helpful in your spiritual journeys.
John of Damascus (676-750)
Hymn-writer, Defender of Icons
In John's time there was a dispute among Christians between the Iconoclasts (image-breakers) and the Iconodules (image-venerators or image-respectors). The Emperor, Leo III, was a vigorous upholder of the Iconoclast position. John wrote in favor of the Iconodules with great effectiveness. Ironically, he was able to do this chiefly because he had the protection of the moslem khalif (ironic because the moslems have a strong prohibition against the religious use of pictures or images).
The dispute about icons was not a dispute between East and West as such. Both the Greek and the Latin churches accepted the final decision.
The Iconoclasts maintained that the use of religious images was a violation of the Second Commandment ("Thou shalt not make a graven image... thou shalt not bow down to them").
The Iconodules replied that the coming of Christ had radically changed the situation, and that the commandment must now be understood in a new way, just as the commandment to "Remember the Sabbath Day" must be understood in a new way since the Resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week.