Developing and expanding on the material in the podcast series, the book From Object to Icon: The Struggle for Spiritual Vision in a Pornographic World has now been published by Ancient Faith Publishing.
From Object to Icon sees pornography as a societal issue with a spiritual root, and is written to encourage all of us to learn to see iconographically rather than pornographically– that is, rather than objectifying others, to see the spiritual reality in everyone we encounter.
The first part of the book, Iconography and Pornography, looks at iconography and our life in Christ, contrasting what we know about the holy use of images with the way people view and understand images in pornography, and setting the scene for considering pornography as shadows in the light of the holy images. It goes on to examine the pervasiveness of pornography in our society, how the internet has contributed to this problem, how society reacts to the issue, and what secular research shows about the effects pornography has on the lives of those who use it.
The subsequent three parts deal with the way we view the world and each other from the different perspectives of masks (part 2), veils (part 3), and finally, faces (part 4). These parts investigate what each perspective tells us about our approach to pornographic imagery and to the icon, and what supports we have at our disposal to move from a pornified way of life into an iconographic one. In Masks, we consider how, in our fallen world, we fail to perceive God through His creation. Veils describes the iconographic way of seeing the world and each other, wherein everything has a meaning beyond its superficial appearance and potentially links us to a deeper spiritual reality. And in Faces, we look at how we prepare for a time when all the masks and veils are stripped away and we gain eyes to see the fullness of truth.
Dr Philip Mamalakis writes in the foreword:
This book invites all of us who struggle with shame and fear, or struggle with pornography, sins, and passions, to direct our eyes toward Christ and purify our hearts that we may see God. It is the Light that overcomes the darkness. A life devoted to resisting temptation is wearisome, but a life devoted toward Christ, toward living in the Light, seeing clearly, and deepening our intimacy with God and others through the ascetic sacramental life of the Church is a path of freedom for all.
This book is essential for pastors and pastoral care providers walking with anyone lost in the confusion of sin that blinds us such that we see but do not perceive (Matt. 13:14). This is also a perfect book to study in groups for those who are interested in the healing that comes when we truly see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and understand with our hearts. (Matt. 13:15) When we truly experience God’s revelation of Himself to the world.
Comments from other reviewers include:
This is a rich book—comprehensive, clearly written, and offering illuminating reflections on how the masks, veils and images we wear can both obscure and reveal God, ourselves, and one another. No words are wasted. The author is intimately familiar with the 3D landscape of spiritual and psychological struggle that occurs between the monological pursuits of soul-deadening lust in contrast to the self-offering dialogue of love between persons infused by the joy of divine Eros. Many books already exist in the psychological literature on pornography addiction. What makes this book unique and what I most appreciate is how the author deftly explores the Orthodox Christian approach to the icon by juxtaposing it with its anti-icon, pornography, in order to reveal way to communion between persons. I plan to recommend it heartily. Don’t miss it!—Fr Stephen Muse, PhD, LMFT,
Pastoral psychotherapist; Author of Treasure in Earthen Vessels: Prayer and the Embodied Life; Being Bread, and When Hearts Become Flame
In this book, Andrew reaches out his hand to a world which, when it has not forgotten God entirely, has often forgotten how to worship Him in the ways that will lead it to freedom and integrity. I pray that for those drawn to read it, his From Object to Icon becomes a key step in their growing closer to Christ.—Dr Timothy G. Patitsas,
Assistant Professor of Ethics, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology; Author, The Ethics of Beauty
From Object to Icon presents the spiritual damage caused by pornography, contrasted with the very demanding path of learning to see and become icons of Christ. It does this from a perspective deeply grounded in Orthodox wisdom, and without sensationalistic stories, egotistical oversharing, culture war tub-thumping, or trivializing bits of pop culture. The book’s topic deserved gravity and wisdom, and for that purpose Andrew Williams has been blessed to be a channel of God’s grace.—Khouria Frederica Mathewes-Green,
Pornography has become the moral and psychological pandemic of the postmodern era… We are grateful to Andrew Williams, as his spiritual view is more than welcome. Sexuality has to be restored to a sacred initiation into the mystery of Divine Economy in which personhood is cultivated, elevated, and sanctified. Juxtaposing carnal images with icons is a fertile path because it pays tribute to our creation “in His image.” In Greek we say “in His icon”; it is the same word, which makes this incredible gift sound more vivid.—Fr Vasileios Thermos, MD, PhD,
Psychiatrist for children and adolescents; Professor at the Ecclesiastical Academy of Athens, Greece
With the epidemic of the indulgence of fantasy and delusion in our society that has fallen for the dead end trap of narcissism, this helpful work will give us a path out of that slavery and into the Freedom won for us in Jesus Christ. Every parish priest and parish bookstore needs this tool.—Fr Barnabas Powell,
Parish priest at Sts Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox Church in Cumming, Georgia; Founder of Faith Encouraged Ministries
Object to Icon is a treasury of spiritual medicine, not only for those in the grips of addiction or attraction to pornography, but for every person who lives in a culture distorted by its power.—Susan Cushman,
Author of Pilgrim Interrupted, Cherry Bomb, and “Icons Will Save the World” (First Things, 2007)
Buy the book:
In the UK, the book from the US print-run (with colour plates) is available at the bookshop of St Nicholas the Wonderworker in Oxford. The print-on-demand book (no colour plates) is available from various sources including Blackwells and Eden. The ebook is available on Amazon, and the audiobook on Audible.
If you have advice on where to purchase in other countries, please let us know!