If it is valid to venerate icons, it follows that it is also valid to venerate each other, seeing as we are also in the image of God and sanctified (or in the process of becoming sanctified) matter. This is appropriate, according to Orthodox teaching, but seems to be rarely done. In the Orthodox church, a dead saint seems to be more worthy of veneration than a live one. If all followers of Christ are in the process of being sanctified, then it would be appropriate to venerate all members of the body of Christ, whether living or dead. Although this seems appropriate, there are definitely some dangers.

151 Ouspensky, 1992, p. 103.

Problems In The Idea of Beauty

Ouspensky suggests that beauty should be inherent to the icon.152 However, beauty is a difficult thing to determine. There is much discussion of beauty in regard to icons (and to art in general); yet, beauty is usually a cultural thing. What one culture perceives as beautiful, especially when it comes to human form, another finds unbeautiful. It is clear that the idea of beauty in relation to icon focuses more on the transcendent than the visceral. Natural beauty is no longer important in the face on an icon.153 But even this understanding has potential problems. Some find images of nature to contain the transcendent. Yet the icon does not focus on the natural. It seems that beauty in the icon, in spite of historical attempts at standardization, is subject to the ideas of people who live in certain cultures and certain times. This is not inherently problematic, however, it does raise some questions around the idea of what transcendent beauty is. It is truly remarkable that the style and appearance of icons have remained so consistent throughout the history of icon painting.