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‘BEAUTY SPIRIT MATTER: Icons in the Modern World’ by Aidan Hart

A long awaited collection of essays on contemporary issues as seen through the theology of the icon, covering subjects such as ecology, the role of the material world in the spiritual life, beauty, the revival of liturgical art, the nature of the human person, and abstract art. 240mm x 170mm  256pp + 32pp colour plates. UK ISBN 9780852447826, Australian ISBN 9781781829882. RRP £14.99. Gracewing Publishers.



Icons and the theology behind them are a crystallisation of what some of the greatest minds and hearts in history have concluded about matter as a mediator between God and man. In this new collection of essays Aidan Hart considers the insight icons give us into a range of such contemporary issues as the role of our bodies in the spiritual live, ecology, scientific knowledge and the nature of beauty. Ultimately, he argues that icons resonate with our innermost being as creatures made of spirit and matter, and awaken within us a nostalgia for paradise.


Some comments:
“Aidan Hart, one of the greatest living icon-painters, reflects in this book of essays on the place of the Icon in the Christian mystery.  Drawing on wide and diverse reading… Aidan helps us to see how the icon reveals a vision in which matter is transfigured, the meaning of mystery reaches throughout the whole cosmos, and human kind, in the image of God, is restored to its role as microcosm and mediator, through God’s embracing matter itself in the Incarnation.  This is a profound and arresting book, full of insights and surprises.”
Revd. Prof. Andrew Louth FBA, Professor Emeritus of Patristic and Byzantine Studies, Durham University UK.

“Historical and poetic, informative and reflective, certainly dedicated to the transformation of the created nature through the gaze of the icon, Aidan Hart’s book offers a unique contribution in iconology. Aidan Hart writes with theological knowledge, but also with the long experience of a practitioner, a man who learned his iconology from the icons themselves. As he mentions in a short anecdote, “we do not judge icons, icons judge us”. In his case they also teach us how to think.”
Revd Dr. Andreas Andreopoulos, Reader in Orthodox Christianity at the University of Winchester.

“Reviving the classical art of the essay, Aidan Hart has also revived a sensitivity for God’s presence in all things—God, one of whose names is Beauty. This book is rich in wisdom drawn from the iconographic tradition, illuminating the material cosmos, history, the virtues, and the challenges of contemporary life.” 

Stratford Caldecott, Editor, Second Spring Journal.

“Aidan Hart’s booked is rich and refreshing. It has a striking spiritual depth, deriving from profound knowledge of the Orthodox theological tradition and the wisdom of a creative artist whose art is rooted in prayer. It also has breadth since he is open to the insights of other Churches and artists from all faiths and none.”
Father Timothy Radcliffe OP, author and from 1992 to 2001 Master of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).

“In this astonishing book Aidan takes us through the icon to the very heart and mind of God and thus of ourselves. Perhaps the most challenging statement he makes is that we have been called to become gods by grace and in this fascinating exploration of the art, meaning and beliefs of Orthodoxy, he helps us understand why this could be the key that unlocks a better more godly future. Read this and the world will never appear the same again – thank God!”
Martin Palmer, Secretary General of Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC).