You all noticed that, in every store that you enter, you see on the walls all kinds of posters, paintings, banners, one prettier than the other, more colorful, more vivid, all having as purpose to send a message, to change an opinion, to promote a brand. Besides, the banners in the hypermarkets, in the salons, in shopping malls or in different stores, we see them also at the TV, on the streets or in the newspapers. Their aim is to create in us the idea of familiarity, to enter in our consciousness as a brand that actually belongs to the entire community. The commercial that we see for “Dodo” pate that we see on TV every night makes us believe, or have the feeling, that a lot of people eat “Dodo” pate and that it is a good product.
The finality in promoting a product is that the brand of the product will find a place in your mind. Thus, when you first get to the supermarket and see 10 types of pate from 10 brands, among them you will discover amazed the “Dodo” pate, that you think you heard of, and you will think it is better than the others and you will buy it. The advertisement fulfilled its duty.
Advertising images are meant to enter the consciousness of the community, to make a certain product familiar to everybody, even if the product has a low quality or if it is expensive or less necessary.
The same is in churches, there are icons everywhere, paintings of Saints, with their lives, with Jesus Christ’s activity when He was on Earth, with the miracles, with His life, His death and His resurrection. Icons do the same thing, they promote in people’s consciousness the heaven, the relationship with God and the Saints, the kingdom of God, hell, good, evil etc.
Exactly how the images with those pretty girls from the posters hanging in the salons have as aim to induce to the girls and women the idea that they can look as good as the models on the walls, so the saints’ faces in icons, on the walls of the churches have as aim to make us want the eternal life and the joy that we cannot even imagine.
The problem is that icons have a great disadvantage: they are not advertised in the society. We don’t see icons on TV, we don’t see icons in big banners on buildings or in supermarkets, we don’t see icons in magazines etc. This being considered, think of what would have happened if the “Dodo” pate had been advertised only in the supermarket and not also on TV or in the media: it would have remained anonymous, “Dodo” wouldn’t have been as interesting and the consumer wouldn’t have been attracted to buy it.
The same is with icons, they are publicized only in church and rarely in museums and nowhere else. This is why the lack of interest towards the Church and God is very big. The image of the church inside doesn’t have an echo in society anymore.
How would it be if tomorrow appeared in the media advertisements like: “Would you like to be as Saint John Chrysostom, would you like to be as one of the greatest orators of the world? Then sign up at the History, Theology and Philosophy Faculty at Bucharest University…” and in the clip would appear icons with St. John, paintings from churches with his life, his icon among the 2 other great theologians of the world and so on. If that happened, then those who watch TV could immediately connect with what they saw in the church, they would understand that church is not just a non-profit organization, where everybody comes and volunteers, but they would see the Church as a great family of the world, and all of us as God’s children.
We Christians should be the advertising clips that promote the Church and the love that God gives to people, we should be the “walking” banners, showing God’s existence from our actions.
More aggressive advertising images invade our brain and consciousness and they eliminate, step by step, the image of the Saints, God’s and Virgin Mary’s face from our heads. That’s why a lot of people say that the Church is outdated, that it doesn’t adapt to the society. The Church is not promoted in the society, the Church does not have a place in the consciousness of today’s modern society. And modern doesn’t necessarily mean good, but just de-sanctified, lacking the sacred character, only physical, without soul.
I remembered that walking on the corridors of the Paris metro I saw a poster that promoted an exhibition of Byzantine icons at a certain museum. That poster was everywhere, I saw it several times, it had on it the face of an angel, I think Archangel Gabriel. Every time that I saw the ad I had a great joy, I was calming and I actually started praying immediately after seeing it.
If icons would be promoted in the same way as products or services then churches would be too small for the people. The Orthodox Church doesn’t advertise, doesn’t look for adepts, but waits as a kind and patient mother for her children in order to show them the love and affection of the Father. But just like Cristi Chivu* is the image for Bergenbier, Razvan Lucescu* for Audi, Gheorghe Hagi* for Mercedes and Andreea Marin* for UNICEF, the same we are the image of the Church everyday, through all that we do, in front of everyone.
*Note: they are famous people in Romania, advertising for big brands.