Good Rowan

I have finished my review, and am sitting on it for a night to decide whether it could not be softened or improved; in any case, here is a passage where Rowan is actually doing what he sets out to do and knitting together literary and theological criticism in simple and powerful prose:

Fyodor Karamazov offers to spit on his wife’s beloved icon, as if the lack of any visible sanction or punishment that would prevent him doing this is a demonstration of the lack of “real presence” in the image, but he has failed to grasp the fundamental factr-to which all Dostoevsky’s stories of desecrated images point—that it is in the nature of images to be capable of desecration, and that what makes images sacred is not some kind of magical invulnerability or supernatural protection but their capacity to retain in themselves the real energy of another world, transmitted into the world of isolated and death-bound agents. The icon is in this sense a “powerless” image, in that it is not safe from what history may do to it; the crucifixion of the fully incarnate image of God lets us know that. But a vulnerable image is not an empty one.
The way in which he overloads the idea of an icon here is really impressive.

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