On this election day, I would rather be abroad. At least I can write about something other than politics.
Iconography is theology in color, as they say. It seems that iconography plays a more significant role in the Orthodox Christian life than religious art in the West, though perhaps medieval church architecture provided such a role for Western Christians centuries ago. If you ever go to an Orthodox parish, you might experience stimuli overload with all of the iconography; the story of God’s economy is illustrated on every wall, from creation to the martyrs of the Soviet monster. I cannot explain here the richness of the iconographic tradition, but there are many electronic materials online, such as the Orthodox Christian Information Center.
My favorite icon is the Vladimir Icon of the Theotokos:
Aaron and I had the wonderful opportunity to venerate the icon in Moscow. The Soviets confiscated it but, in their shame, did not destroy it. The Tretyakov Gallery is the current custodian of the icon, but the Russian Church demanded it back. The museum struck a compromise with the Church; there is a church next to the museum, Saint Nicholas in Tolmachi, and the museum owns the church, in which the icon is kept. Therefore, the faithful can venerate the icon during liturgical worship, while the museum’s visitors can see one of the most remarkable icons ever written.