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Redeemed at Countless Cost

The Recovery of Iconographic Theology and Religious Experience from 1850 to 2000


Stewart A. Dippel

This book traces a recovery of iconographic religious experience and theology in the nineteenth century. In contrast to a logocentric religious focus, which privileges texts and their analysis, an iconographic focus emphasizes the visual and narrative attributes of religion. The introduction sets the stage by discussing the profound disquietude in the wake of Britain’s Religious Census of 1851, along with the various responses to a perceived decline in religiosity. Two subsequent chapters deal with the resurgence of iconographic religion from the perspective of theology proper, arguing that contemporary theologians, such as those represented by the Yale School of Divinity, held to a more holistic as opposed to a fragmentary approach towards scripture. In doing so they came to center the scriptural stories on the events surrounding Christ’s passion. The remaining chapters trace the recovery of iconographic religion through American, Russian, and British culture throughout the nineteenth century. Ultimately, this book argues for a revision on the standard ‘read’ regarding these artists and writers which holds that they were predominantly secular in orientation.

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Chapter 6. The Iconographic Dimension of British Popular Culture Fin-de-Siecle: Plays and Painting



The Iconographic Dimension of British Popular Culture Fin-de-Siecle

Plays and Painting

Iconographic religion is experiential. That is to say, it tends to be dynamic rather than static. Logocentric religion is attentive and reflective. Quakers quietly sitting in their meeting houses waiting upon the spirit personifies a static religious orientation, as do the faithful sitting in their pews in a traditional, as in the seventeenth- or eighteenth-century, Presbyterian church patiently attentive to their pastor working through point by point, in accordance with the principles of Ramist logic as elucidated by William Perkins around the turn into the seventeenth-century, the doctrine and applications, or uses, of his text.

By contrast, churches which are preeminently iconographic incorporate movement, movement which often actively folds the laity into liturgical motion, into their services. Think here especially of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican traditions. This emphasis on motion is clearly manifest in the activity regarding the preparation and administration of the Eucharist. It finds expression elsewhere as well. The English church during the medieval and on into the early modern era through the seventeenth-century, and so covering both its Roman Catholic and Protestant identities, celebrated Rogation week every year. The priest, accompanied by cross and Eucharistic host, would lead his flock throughout the parish, offering up prayers and blessings←141 | 142→ for hearth and field for the coming year. Somewhat of that tradition survives today when, on or about St. Francis’ feast day on October 5th,...

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