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For the Life of the World

An Eastern Christian Approach to Nature and Environmental Care


Robin Gibbons

For the Life of the World: An Eastern Christian Approach to Nature and Environmental Care explores climate change and global ecological issues via the ability of Christianity—one of the world’s most frequently practiced religions—to provide insight. Author Robin Gibbons outlines the tradition of prior Christian involvement in the issue, drawing upon ideas of freely given care and human stewardship of the world. Recently, the issue of climate change and the Christian community’s inability to act against it has been characterized by a disconnect between human life and nature, with the biblical model of human stewardship subsumed by politics, business, and greed. In contrast, this book advocates for embracing an older model of Christian thought, theoretically surmounting the consequences of climate disaster through care and respect for nature.

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Chapter 4. Perspectives on the Environment—The Icon, Doors of Perception



Perspectives on the Environment—The Icon, Doors of Perception

I. The Icon: Door to the Sacred

One area which connects us both to the lived environment and the Kingdom, is that of the detailed and important field of byzantine iconography. There are of course other iconographical traditions in Christianity, the Copts have their own style of icon painting as do the Ethiopian Churches, Latin Christianity shared much of the tradition in its Romanesque style and amongst some scholars there is a debate about a ‘tradition’ of iconography within the western Catholic Church.1 In recent years a much greater appreciation for this art form has emerged in more Protestant Christian communities, but to see the development of an art form that is deeply theological and liturgical, we must examine the context of the byzantine tradition because it is there that its role as a medium of the sacred is most clearly established.2 In this setting of the liturgical and prayerful dimension of byzantine worship, the Icon has always been spoken of as the ‘doorway to heaven’ or ‘doors to the sacred’, it is not only an art form but an indispensible expression of Orthodox faith.3 If we invert the phrase and see the icon not only as a door to the realm of God but as a doorway to human and earthly life, we can also perceive it as the connective point where God, in←75 | 76→ one of the many aspects of presence,...

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