Icon Protfolio

Icons of Enlightenment and Wisdom

I recently completed to miniature icons one of Jesus Christ as  Sophia/Wisdom known as the Holy Silence or blessed silence. and the icon of Saint Mary Magdalene Apostle to the Apostles both icons are related to enlightenment and wisdom.

The icon of the Holy Silence represents Jesus Christ as Wisdom, or as Paul says the Wisdom of God.

In the Icon Saint Mary Magdalene is holding a red egg and jar of Myrrh she brought to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body according to Jewish custom. The egg symbolizes resurrection, new life, and enlightenment. The red egg also is connected to two stories associated with St Marry Magdalene’s hagiography. According to one tradition Mary Magdalene had brought eggs with her to the tomb in a basket. After finding the tomb empty and encountering the resurrected Christ, she ran with the basket of eggs to Jesus’ Apostles to announce the Resurrection. When explaining the resurrection she went to use the egg as an illustration, and found all the eggs had been turned blood red. The other tradition is of her preaching before the Emperor Tiberius, using the egg to illustrate the meaning of the Resurrection. Tiberius remarked sarcastically that the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was as likely to have happened as Mary Magdalene turning the egg she held in her hand red. After Tiberius said this the egg turned red. This is why it is traditional among the Orthodox to give out eggs died red at Easter.

The icons are available on my Etsy shop

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Currently At Priestly Goth Icons

Lent is just about a week away, which means we are in that period of transition from the seasons of the incarnation, celebrating the birth and various epiphany’s of who Jesus of Nazareth was during his life.  This means we are in the time of Carnival and Mardi Gras.  Priestly Goth Icon Carnival /Mardi Gras sale 15% off any purchase through February 18th, 2015. Use coupon code MARDIGRAS2015 .

I have listed the first two Wall crucifix icons made from reclaimed wood.   In this series of wall icon crucifixes I’ve taken wood recovered from construction sites leave the wood rough showing it was used and discarded. The crucifix and cross are themselves strange objects of beauty and devotion showing an implement of torture and death, and Christ’s suffering.Crucifix icon1  The beauty of the crucifix is what God was doing and has done from the crucifixion of Christ, that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, have shown God’s love to us in the cross and in that love is victory over the powers of sin, death and oppression.

I now have a number of listings that are made to order of icons I have done in the past: Available made to order at this time are Saint Monica; St Michael the Archangel; Mary the Mother of God Who Shows the Way: Jesus Christ the Light of Life.

Lastly, a reminder that I take commissions – to commission an icon use the “Custom Order Button” in the Priestly Goth Icons shop.

Longing for Justice in Absence: #StayWokeAdvent

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that WIN_20141130_143419the mountains would quake at your presence–
as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil– to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!  (Isaiah 64:1, 2)WIN_20141130_143444

This cry for God to act from the lectionary  for the First Sunday of Advent seems very fitting.  Calling on god to tear open the heavens.  Tear down the barrier between heaven and earth that keeps the kingdom from coming and God’s will from being done on earth as it is in heaven.

But what if this has happened?  What if the heavens were torn open and God has come down? (As depicted in these iconic depictions of the heaven opening.)  In Advent what we wait for, what we are awake to is that God has come in the incarnation of God in Jesus of Nazareth.WIN_20141130_143332

The tearing of the heavens and God coming with justice happened. It happened in a very strange and nearly imperceptible way.  The nations, the powers, have been shaken.  Yet, we can be unaware, live as though all is lost.  Admittedly, in times like these, it doesn’t seem like this story has much relevance or meaning.  If true what good has it done for those who continue to suffer injustice, oppression, and death.

Isaiah, a few verses below the words above, wonders why God doesn’t act as in the time of Egypt , when God delivered Israel from the oppression of  Pharaoh and Egypt, the empire and power of the day. But think with me on that story:

Did Israel’s freedom from enslavement and oppression at the hands of the state power and government come because Pharaoh gradually made reforms and improved the conditions of the Hebrews?  Did the justice Isaiah recalls and longs for come from Pharaoh, or even with Pharaoh’s help and co-öperation?  No, it was wrested from pharaoh by God.

But in that wresting from Pharaoh the freedom of the Hebrews, God remained apart from humanity and creation in that moment of liberation.  God crushes the power of oppression, destroying its ability to exact its legal penalties, and it’s justice.  It was fearsome and violent, and at Mount Sinai the Israelites weren’t so sure what to make of all this shaking.

Now, when we speak of God’s advent, we are no longer speaking of the shock and awe that Isaiah is longing for in the tearing open of the heavens and God coming down. Yet, even so the heavens have been torn open and God has come down.

WIN_20141130_143456It is worth noting that this didn’t happen only once: God tore open the heavens in the incarnation, and then again as the Spirit came upon those followers of Jesus, to form the Church, on Pentecost.

Even so, none of this has brought a permanent end to injustice.  The heavens have been torn open and God descends… and then what… disappears?

Christians, (perhaps even the Church), are, and have been as much a part of oppression and injustice as working for liberation and justice.

There are questions… is something awakening?

We wait in darkness with not much light.  This is Advent and a place of deep longing.

For now lets sit with heavens torn open and God come down, but seemingly little shaken, and ask what is the source of justice and liberation?  What are we looking for, and who are we looking towards to provide it?


Theophany – Baptism of Christ Icon

Stages of the Nearly completed Theophany icon.  If interested in this icon it will be available in my  Priestly Goth Icons Etsy shop in September.

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Progress on Jesus Christ, Pantocrator (Reconciler)

This is one of the icons I was working at the Glenwood Ave. Arts Fest.  If you are looking for an icon or would like to commission an icon, Use the contact form here, or visit my Etsy shop, and click on the Request Custom Order button.


Work in progress: Hand of Blessing, Pantocrator, St Michael

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Icons in Stock

Hand Painted Icons in my Etsy shop:

A Sampling of my Icon work

Velvet Elvis and the Mystery of the Church

In my current research I’m reading Rob Bell. I began with Velvet Elvis. When Rob Bell published Velvet Elvis and was talking about repainting Christianity I was quite literally painting: writing icons.  He was questioning what he had received. He was “repainting”  his understanding of the Christian tradition. I was seeking to receive a tradition that wasn’t mine and to paint it true.    There is something compelling about the answers that Rob Bells comes in his re-visioning of Evangelical Christianity (the tradition he had received), and they reveal so much.

Bell has a brief discussion of the Church in Velvet Elvis. Bell describes church in two very different ways.

One is very human, a collection of individuals, an institution run by those humans and which reflects the attitudes and activities of those human beings.  As such this institution, these groups of people, exist to live out the ideals of the Gospel.  Rob Bell says this of this church or these churches  “…is like a double-edged sword.when it’s good… it’s like nothing on earth.  A group of people committed to selflessly serving and loving the world around them? great but when it ‘s bad all that potential gets turned the other way.”

Then Bell also says this  about the Church: “She’s indestructible. When she dies in one part of the world, she explodes in another. She’s global, She’s universal. She’s everywhere. And while she’s fragile, she’s going to endure…. Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against her. That’s strong language… She will continue to roll across the ages, serving and giving and connecting people with God and each other.  And people will abuse her and manipulate her and try to control her , but they’ll pass on, and she will keep going.”

The connection between these two very different, even contradictory, claims isn’t accounted for.  The first claim certainly seems to be an accurate description of my experience of congregational or parish life, and even of much of the history of Christianity.  The second describes something (or is it someone?) that  transcends the frailty of Christian, individuals, groups, and leadership.

I have some questions though.  By saying that the church is a group of people committed to selflessly serve and love the world around them, seems to make the reality of the church dependent upon the works (and yes I intend the baggage of that word to be heard) of the people that make up the church.  The Evangelical mind wants to call both realities church.  And on some level they are.  However, in the first meaning of church, church is dependent upon the accomplishment of a goal (which contradicts, a description of the church Rob Bell that of  a journey not a destination).  The second though Rob Bell doesn’t come out and say it is dependent upon the work of God, not human beings.  Rob Bell recognizes  that the church transcends a body of believers:  it will survive the vicissitudes of history.  He recognizes this transcendence as part of his  repainting, a reworking of the tradition out of which he comes.  He of course in Velvet Elvis is attempting to creatively stay within that tradition, so the emphasis is on the church as a group of Christians who do certain things, mainly things consistent with Jesus’s teachings, but here at the end of this chapter and near the end of the book, he suggests that something else might be going on.

Not surprisingly I want more than Velvet Elvis’ brief flirtation with the mystery of the Church. I want to sit and listen to those who claim that something else is going on.  I don’t simply want to put a very human view of the church (the church is merely what its members make of it) alongside an assertion that  somehow the church is more than the collective effort of individual Christians, and say no more.

Jacques Maritain articulates this mystery as the difference between the personnel and the person of the Church (note the singularity, “person”).  I don’t know if I agree with Maritain, but it begins to articulate the longing I’m attempting to express here.  If church is just the people and not also something that transcends and binds us together and nurtures in us the mind of Christ, then I despair of this thing we call Christianity. However if the church is more than our collective action and activity and is being, (a being) that can be who we are beyond what we do,then there’s grace and then there is the loving call to be a saint.