Wednesday, April 13, 2011

looking for a few good iconoclasts

I was reading last night and came across the word ‘ICONOCLAST’. At least I think I came across it, because about 30 minutes later I couldn’t find it again. I couldn’t remember what it means but I like the sound of it, and seem to remember hearing the word before, probably in a church history course.

I know that ‘icons’ are images of some sort, but couldn’t remember what the suffix might mean. Luckily we no longer live in the “Age of Aquarius”, but rather in the ‘age of Google’, so it didn’t take more than a few keystrokes to discover that an ‘iconoclast’ is, according to, a nonconformist, a rebel dissenter or radical; “a breaker or destroyer of images, especially those set up for religious veneration’; or someone who attacks cherished beliefs and traditions.

And as I thought about the definition, I came to the conclusion that being an iconoclast might be fun.

Although most people probably don’t know the meaning of the word, they have either been involved in some iconoclastic behavior, or have been the target of it, in the sense that it’s their cherished beliefs that are being attacked.

Remember I mentioned church history? Back in the 8th and 9th centuries there was a disagreement over the Greek Orthodox practice of using icons, or images, in the church building, and in worship. The iconoclasts wanted to destroy the images.

Today the term isn’t used so much to describe destruction of art work, as it is to describe someone who dares to attack the sacred cows. It’s the person who comes up with a good idea, which is probably a good thing, except for the fact that it means changing the way we’ve always done it. You’ve dealt with those people before: they want to get rid of the things that you’ve worked so hard to preserve. They want you to get rid of the typewriter in favor of a computer. They thought kerosene lamps should be replaced with electric lighting, the horse and buggy could be put away in favor of a car, and even the barges on the canal system had to go in favor of trains that went at the breakneck speed of 15 mph, scaring women, children and livestock.In the past 30 or years they've asked you to go from record albums to 8-tracks, to cassettes to CDs. You finally got used to the walkman and now you're supposed to get an I-Pod. They even want you to have a cell phone so you can be in constant contact.

The past is fascinating, and it teaches us valuable lessons, but it’s the past, and if we hold on to it too tightly, we miss the present and eliminate the possibility of a future.

Are you an iconoclast, or have you had to deal with one?

No comments:

Post a Comment