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  • Author or Editor: Diane Apostolos-Cappadona x
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A mode of creative expression, communication, and self-definition, art is fundamental to human existence and to religion. By visualizing doctrines, dogmas, myths, and rituals through signs and symbols, art helps orient the human within the horizon of a community, world, and cosmos. Art renders the human situation — origin, existence, death, and afterlife — comprehensible through visual representations. Art communicates religious beliefs, customs, and values through iconography and depictions of the human body. For some religious communities, art is fraught with danger and has a dubious, if not negative, connotation. For others, art is a primordial expression of the human and reflective of the divine. The contemporary challenges to art and to religion come from globalization, pluralism, secularization, and technology. ⸙

Iconoclasm is traditionally understood as the violent destruction of images for religious reasons. Yet the term has become used more broadly to refer to the suppression or annihilation of images, whether the motivation is cultural, political, religious, or social. Not limited to Christianity, the study of iconoclasm in religions around the world sheds light on more general issues concerning the embedded religious and cultural valuing of images. The generic “power of images,” especially in relation to the human body and sexuality, is as central to the nature of iconoclasm as it is to religious doctrine. ⸙