Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bible as Literature, Icon as Art

It's not entirely uninteresting when Stanley Fish (arguably the nation's preeminent postmodern theorist), and Albert Mohler (arguably the nation's leading evangelical polemicist) emphatically agree.

Their converstation, sparked by Fish's New York Times editorial, regards the Bible as literature in public schools, and can be heard here (start at 11min. 11sec.).

I imagine that Pavel Florensky, also known as the "Russian Leonardo" for his cross-disciplinary genius, would have agreed with them as well. In the best one-stop book on icons available, he wrote that those seeking, from a materialist perspective, to appreciate Byzantine icons for their cultural or pscyhological significance
"entirely oust the ontological meaning of Being as found in ancient idealist philosophy, with the result that the contemporary defenders of the icon have won a victory long ago lost by the eighth-century iconoclasts" (71).
Or, to put it more tartly, "The icon - apart from its spiritual vision - is not an icon at all but a board" (64). No audio link for Florensky as his Christian conviction earned him a bullet from Stalin's henchmen in 1937.

UPDATE: Along these same lines, I listened to a haunting performance of Bach's St. John's Passion last night (Good Friday), and was overcome with the realization of how absurd, or at the very least how utterly strange it would be to listen to it for the music's sake alone.