I recently discovered Philip Harland’s blog about Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean. He offers podcasts of his lectures on topics such as “The Historical Jesus in Context”. I very much like his historical approach.

Overall, he has four series so far. Currently I am listening to the first one on Paul and the second one on the different gospels.

Series 1: Paul and his communities (12 episodes, Oct 2007 – Feb 2008 release)
Series 2: Early Christian portraits of Jesus (11 episodes, Feb 2008 – Sept 2008)
Series 3: Diversity in early Christianity: “Heresies” and struggles (16 episodes, Oct 2008-June 2009)
Series 4: The Historical Jesus in Context (Sept 2009- )

For me it is easiest to pick them up from the archive. I played around with podcatchers but somehow that does not work for me. I cannot quite see the point: direct download seems to be so much faster and less hassle. But maybe I am missing something here.

… my favourite blogger will take a break to turn his blog into a book. I will miss his stories and comments. He is running a homeless shelter under an overpass. His posts tell about the strangeness of everyday life at the shelter and of the meaning of it all. As he says, it’s ” both beauty and abyss, comedy and tragedy. Very much recommended (even the archives).

I use a wooden board covered with 15 (or so) layers of foundation (this was the bit that Jan did and I was fortunate enough to just take the prepared board.) The board still had to be sanded — this involved A LOT of dust and is better done outside. Rougher sandpaper and then gradually finer ones. The goal is to have a surface like a mirror. Hm, well. It is now kind of smooth enough.

Using the copy machine, I enlarged a copy of the the icon from the book onto paper so that it would fit nicely on the board. Then I fixed the paper and some old-fashioned black copy paper onto the board and traced the outline. You can also put pigments on the back of the paper copy and then trace it. The resulting outline on the board is then traced again with a sharp nail so that the outline is cut into the outer layer and remains somewhat visible after painting several layers. This outline in turn was traced with red paint (will look up which one it was)

You can see that I changed the wings and the outer frame a bit and made the icon show more of the legs. I wanted the person to be as large as possible on the board.


I read somewhere that the first layer should be burnt Siena over the whole icon in crosshatches. You can see the result below. Two comments on this step:

Firstly, I would probably not do it again as not all of the next layers are very opaque and the crosshatches are showing – it took me a long time to apply enough layers so that this first layer would not show anymore. Other books do not seem to mention this layer.

Secondly, I did the crosshatches all wrong. You are not actually doing little cross hatches but you go in tiny short lines all over the icon in one direction and then in another layer you go the same but with the icon turned. And then again and again. So somehow there are hatches but not necessarily crosses. In the end it would just fill the whole icon. Still not convinced as the dark color may shine though (see above).


All icon posts in the right order and with more images on my icon page.

as promised, here are the first stages of my icon writing. I put the details on a separate page and just give brief updates here. I really don’t quite know what I am doing with the icon but try and continue as best as I can.
We had a workshop that other people attended but I could not get to. Now I joined their group and hope to pick up as much as I can from them and from books and webpages.

Here is where I started: I looked for an icon I liked – the icon of the Holy Silence. I found it in a book I bought in Germany. It is sometimes called Holy Wisdom. I like the wings and the colors and the idea of Holy Wisdom.

Holy Silence

Holy Silence

I copied the outline onto a prepared board. Thanks to Jan for patiently preparing the board and for giving it to me so that I could join in without long preparations.



More details and bigger pictures on my icon page.

says a times online article. Very interesting thoughts. I have to admit that I had a similar attitude to it missionaries — if it motivates them to do good things so be it but their faith as such does not matter. I always found (and still so) the conditional help that comes packaged with a bible to be dishonest.

Finally Rosemary talked me into joining their icon writing group one Saturday a month at the cathedral. I have never done anything like it and did not expect to like it very much at first — very slow and meticulous work. But I discovered that it is fascinating! I was lucky as Jan gave me one of his prepared boards so I did not have to go through all the work in preparing the board myself but could get started with sanding it right away. We have a number of books that all explain the process slightly differently. For my first one I decided to use acrylics. I will just try to find out as much as I can and try it out.

I found only one other page that shows a step-by-step icon writing at the Lamp of Beauty (you see her last step of gilding here, earlier steps go back in her blog). A number of descriptions for egg tempera are also online. Seeing lots of examples of work in progress helps me a lot. My progress with the icon will be posted here.

The conference has just finished and I am sitting in the Mezze Bar in Auckland to recover from two days of listening and talking to people from different faiths. I still have to think about what I make of it all. We also bought an interesting looking book ‘The quiet revolution’ by Peter Kirkwood.

Perhaps as a first feedback: It was good to see that there are successful projects, such as the interfaith centre in Brisbane (at Griffith University) and the multi-faith centre in Darby. Will check out links later. Need a coffee now.


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