January 18, 2021

My Gear (2)

Just in case you haven’t picked up: this is a chance for readers to comment on things that are meaningful to them in spiritual practice. No one is being told they are a bad Christian if they don’t see Jesus in the toast. Human beings aren’t quite as unattached to matter as some of our gnostic-fundamentalist friends would like us to think. Little things that give our senses a connection to what we believe are meaningful. Just like some of you tear up when you hear a song or see a family Bible or church cemetery.

Top Picture: Pantocrator Jesus icon. From my classroom. Available from Conciliar Press, who really ought to be advertising here. A wonderful icon of Jesus that I try to keep close to me when I’m teaching.

Middle: A very nice Franciscan cross that is in my classroom. It prompts a lot of discussion. I have a poster of a larger one. This cross has a lot of the Gospel witnesses on it as well as other symbolism. It reminds me that God spoke to Francis to “rebuild” from the ruins, not to build a megachurch from scratch.

Bottom: A collection of items from the house. From left to right at the top:

1) Unusual candle with hanging crosses. I really think it’s a treasure. A co-worker found it in the junk and gave it to me.
2) Lottie Moon. Southern Baptists will understand.
3) Chalice I’ve had for many years and used in many communions throughout my ministry.
4) Mary and Child Icon from Conciliar. I gave it to Denise for Christmas last year.
5) A communion set I had made special for the home worship fellowship I led for over a year, soli deo. It’s a chalice and plate that can be stacked together. A very special possession for me.
6) A Celtic Cross that I recently received as a gift from my friend Dan. It’s made of glass.

In front, from right to left

7) Treasury of Daily Prayer. The best devotional resource anywhere, bar none.
8] A Franciscan Cross I bought from Toscano. It’s been in our home for several years.
9) The Benedictine Breviary of Daily Prayer that I often take with me to school and when I travel. It’s Roman Catholic, but just barely. Mostly arranged scripture and the Church Fathers. A few Marian bits to launder if you’re Protestant. Great way to have the hours in one book for the whole year. (If you don’t know the year or the hours, this will take a bit of work, but very much worth it. And it’s small. TDP is a very big book.)


  1. Oh Dear. I am afraid you have just confirmed all the worst rumors.

    What are we to do with you?

    After thinking about this more, I have come to see more “icons” in our Family –

    most of them are the seasonal kind – the things my wife brings out every year for certain events

    Even though my eldest is now 24, and perhaps not living as we dreamed he would, he still wants them out and used – a touchstone to the past, to a shared history

  2. treebeard says

    “Human beings aren’t quite as unattached to matter as some of our gnostic-fundamentalist friends would like us to think.”

    That’s a great line, iMonk.

    I only recently understood the concept of gnosticism, at least in its modern Christian form, and realized that I had become one. For years I looked down on any items or articles like the ones you are showing. I also looked down on Christians who wore a crucifix. And I felt guilty for enjoying good but secular music.

    It’s great not to be so pseudo-spiritual anymore. And thanks for sharing these items that mean so much to you.

  3. MAJ Tony says

    I believe the cross is a copy of the San Damiano cross, which is the cross he was praying in front of when he received his commission to rebuild the Church.


    Here’s a wonderful, and oecumenical prayer.


    St. Francis of Assisi

    We adore you,
    Lord Jesus Christ,
    here and in all your
    churches in the whole world,
    and we bless you,
    because by your holy cross
    you have redeemed the world.


  4. MAJ Tony says

    BTW, if you don’t open the link to the website, you miss out on the meaning of the icons on the cross.

  5. MAJ Tony: Yes, I could teach a whole week, just on that cross.

  6. A picture of my gear is here http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_ebB-wkx6Z7s/SdZwfLqaHjI/AAAAAAAAABU/uG2RuS5LsDo/s1600-h/DSC02663.JPG

    My “gear” is real simple. A candle (usually scented vanilla), a Bible, and my knotted cross prayer rope. The prayer rope was originally just a cross necklace that I tied knots into. The knots I use to pray the Jesus Prayer while the cross and the large knot I payer the Lord’s Prayer.

  7. Nice collections, y’all.
    Question Imonk: what exactly is it that makes the TDP better as a devotional resource than others like the BCP or book of hours? (Besides their sponsorship of you, of course :P)

  8. What? No WWJD bracelet? How old are you?


  9. Christopher K says

    I’m a simple guy. I have a titanium cross my wife gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. I’m attending a Christian college, so I have plenty of books already, but last fall I went to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA and picked up “The School of Prayer: An Introduction to the Divine Office for All Christians,” in hopes to read up on the DO. It gave a good overview and commentary on the structure and individual prayers, but I’ll have to take a look at the Benedictine prayer book.

  10. I have a rosary I had a friend bring back for me from Israel. It is made of olive wood. I carry it in my pocket.

  11. dkmonroe says

    Lovely collection, iMonk! You’ve got almost as many icons as I do.

    Your point about gnosticism is a very salient one. Few Christians realize how iconography serves as a refutation of Christianity’s oldest enemy philosophy.

    I wonder how many viewers are going to mistake Lottie Moon for Buddha? I did a double-take at first!

  12. MAJ Tony says

    I had the great fortune of finding a Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church in Las Vegas when I had a school at Nellis AFB. It included Holy Week of 2005. I learned a bit about Icons. Most importantly, they are not snapshots like typical western art, but they tell a story over time. Some are like a complete history of Jesus’ life on earth. Very good theology lessons.

  13. Just realized that I have another piece of “gear”, too, my Stuart Townend cd, THERE IS A HOPE. His “Behold The Lamb (Communion Hymn) is my focus point. I guess I’ll have to buy an iPod, though, if I want to carry it in my pocket.:)

  14. I have my (Australian) Anglican Prayer Book, a Book of Hours, a small wooden cross my father bought me in Betlehem, a wall-hanging cross from El Salvador with bright pictures of creation themes painted on it, and after this week’s discussion I am planning on getting some beads and string.

  15. I realize I’m late to the party, but…

    I’ve been helped significantly by the use of prayer bead in the past year. A friend gifted me a set of muslim prayer beads from the Kurdish region of northern Iraq and I thought they were so beautiful I crafted them into a set of Christian beads for myself. There’s a pic here:


  16. ProdigalSarah says

    “I wonder how many viewers are going to mistake Lottie Moon for Buddha? I did a double-take at first!”

    Is it a Chinese interpretation of Lottie Moon? Just wondering if that would explain the Buddha resemblance, which would be interesting…

    So where is the cardboard fan with the funeral home ad on the back? Yeah, I know I’m showing my age. I was just talking to my sister and we decided the cardboard fans were as close to anything tactile in the church of our childhood.

  17. I just posted my gear at the other thread, but here’re some pictures and a related blogpost from my blog (in Hungarian tho, but pictures will be pictures). http://wiredance.blogspot.com/2009/04/gear.html

    I’d love to get a Pantocrator icon one day! I also have the famous Creation scene fresco from the Sistine Chapel framed on my wall – I love it.

  18. Being a Pentecostal, I never think of the things we have around the house as being icons, just decorations. However I do have, just inside my front door, a thick steel cross (about 12″ x 9″) that my wife and I bought in the Bazaar del Mundo in San Diego’s Gaslight District. On the cross is an engraving of Jesus in full halo embracing two children (a boy and a girl), which appealed to my wife the Supermodel, since she’s a schoolteacher.

    The irony: we had no kids at the time we purchased it. Now we have two … you guessed it, a boy and a girl.

  19. TDP isn’t a collection of church services. It is designed primarily for daily prayer. (There are service formats, but the majority of the book are the daily lectionary readings, hymns, etc. It is the hours done in the Lutheran tradition and organized perfectly for an individual or family.

    Theologically, I’m very happy with it and I think most evangelicals would be, even with a strong representation of Lutherans in the readings.

  20. My “gear” is pretty much a chaplet, a kipa (cap) and tallit (prayer shawl), and two pictures of Jesus—the “Christ Pantocrator” ikon from St. Catherine’s, and the “Buddy Christ” from Dogma (which I hung in my classroom for three entire years and got away with it). I have other Jesus junk, but those things help focus me in prayer; the rest have little sentimental value.

    The contrasting images of Jesus remind me to take Him seriously, but—quoting the movie—”Christ didn’t come to give us the willies.”

  21. The Guy from Knoxville says


    I posted my rosary photos on my Facebook page under Devotional Gear. Both are there – the Anglican rosary and the Catholic rosary. I’ll
    get my books together and put them there as well.

    Thanks for these two posts – really enjoying them and realizing more and more how many things I have in common with folks here and knowing I’m not the only one on this journey and in recent weeks I’ve come to realize that I should have been here long before I was. So many things becoming clearer and my walk with God is already being strengthened in a
    way that it hasn’t been in quite awhile. It’s really neat!


  22. May I ask, what is a gnostic-fundamentalist?

  23. The Guy from Knoxville says


    You have my email – could you send me a link to the photo site that you use for your photos. I probably need to do something like that since FB requires requesting/confirming friends so not everyone here could access on my Gear photos.



  24. RM:

    I post some photos at flickr, but these are just on the IM server.



  25. Gnostic-fundamentalist:

    Many of us who have been part of evangelicalism now or in the past find it unbalanced in regard to knowing with the mind vs experiencing/using the world of matter. Gnostics said the key to spirituality was knowledge. Fundamentalism insists on a narrow view of knowledge in order to be a Christian, rejecting the Christian profession of those who disagree with them.

    A gnostic fundamentalist would someone who believes relationship with God is entirely right belief and would have no toleration for relationship with God also incorporating the material: water, bread, wine, art, food, etc.

    Many of us find that parts of our relationship with God are balances of faith/belief and matter/experience, such as the eucharist, baptism, icons, art, music and yes, even those pesky little crosses and beads.

    I can’t speak for all of us, but many of us feel we were unbalanced in our previous belief that Christianity is solely about belief/doctrine/information.

  26. iMonk, I like your definition of gnostic-fundamentalism. I think one of the first “breaks” from that type of thought was Richard Foster when he published “Celebration of Discipline” way back when. He helped to bring back a different way of looking at the world and at sanctification.

  27. The Guy from Knoxville says


    Many of us find that parts of our relationship with God are balances of faith/belief and matter/experience, such as the eucharist, baptism, icons, art, music and yes, even those pesky little crosses and beads.

    I can’t speak for all of us, but many of us feel we were unbalanced in our previous belief that Christianity is solely about belief/doctrine/information.

    Amen and Amen – you’ve got it and the lights are
    coming on for me… you hit it straight out of the park – Home Run!! Thanks much!

  28. I have both of your Icons shown above plus a few more. I invited a Byzantine-Ruthenian Priest in to discuss the Eastern Church to my eighth grade CCD class and he also devoted a bunch of time to the intricasies [sp] of icons (he brought about a hundred with him).

    I am an engineer by profession but work from home so instead my office is in the church where I run the CCD program part-time. Along with the icons I also have a few depictions of the Last Supper and some really old looking portraits of Saints (the particular building used to house a group of nuns).

  29. Hmm, I actually have an NIV Bible and the entire first Left Behind adult series. I also have the book “Evidences that Demand a Verdict,” by Josh McDowell.

    Well, I am assuming that everyone already must know that I have icons, prayer ropes, candles, incense, etc. So, if iMonk can share his Orthodox/Catholic bling, I suppose I can share my Evangelical/Fundamentalist bling.

  30. I love that term “gnostic fundamentalist.” I’m gonna use it from now on. And “gnostic dispensationalist” while I’m at it… though maybe that term is a bit redundant.

  31. “Well, I am assuming that everyone already must know that I have icons, prayer ropes, candles, incense, etc. So, if iMonk can share his Orthodox/Catholic bling, I suppose I can share my Evangelical/Fundamentalist bling.”


  32. to your definition of gnostic fundamentalist I would add has a tendency to venerate the bible at the expense of the holy spirit – because the bible is controllable and the spirit is not. After all, they truly know the bible, but are afraid of the spirit

  33. My gear is, except for the books, clipped to my car mirrors and my dashboard. The books are also in my car.

    A combo St. Chris, Crucifix, Guardian Angel medal-clip

    A Resurrected Jesus medal-clip

    Buddy Christ dashboard statue

    Madonna & Child medal-clip

    St. Michael medal-clip

    The quality KJV Bible that Grandmom gave to me, a James Jordan mini-commentary on Revelation & sometimes the latest copy of Our Daily Bread.

  34. That’s quite a collection. I really need to get on the stick with this gear thing. 😉

  35. I think IMonks point is we all have a whole lot more “gear” than we like to think we do, including us baptist types. It tends not to be the RC type, so we get to be smug and oh so right compared to those nasty RC

    But the point it is we actually do have it, and for many of the same fundamental reasons the RC do

  36. For scared protestants I would highly recommend two books by the Archbishop of Canterbury on praying with icons.

    “The Dwelling of Light” – on icons of Christ
    “Ponder These Things” – on icons of Mary

    Contrary to some conservatives, the Archbishop is robustly orthodox,and his Trinitarian theology is incredibly moving, steeped as it is in his deep understanding of Eastern Orthodoxy.

  37. Louisiana Catholic says


    First time here and a Catholic and I want to say this a very good blog Imonk, without the polemics being directed among Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants.

    Not trying to be the “theological police” but Gnostcism, in its historic forms dating back to the 2nd century was inherently dualistic and anti-Matter, and among the first major heresies proposed by it was a rejection that Christ became flesh (a rejection of the incarnation.

    Catholic Doctrine, and I would say Eastern Orthodox as well [Fr. Ernesto can correct me on the Eastern interpretation] all of it, connects the Doctrine of Incarnation with the Doctrine of the Cross, which of course are pointing to the resurrection. Sacraments are tied to both Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery (Passion, Death, Resurrection, etc). Pope Benedict’s great quote from his book Jesus of Nazareth where the Pope links Incarnation and Cross Together make this point.

    Pope Benedict in “Jesus of Nazareth (p.269)” states “In this Chapter the theology of Incarnation and the Theology of the Cross come together; the two cannot be separated. There are thus no grounds for setting up and opposition between Easter theology of the Synoptics and St. Paul, on one hand, and St. John’s supposedly purely incarnational theology, on the other. For the goal of the Word’s becoming-flesh spoken of by the prologue is precisely the offering of his body on the Cross, which the sacrament makes accessible to us.”

    Thus, Incarnational theology and the theology of the Cross are linked and both point to the resurrection where are bodies will take on a new reality similar to Christ’s glorified body (seen in the Transfiguration, cf. Mt 17:2) and Christ body after the resurrection.

    So, in rejection of the Gnostic doctrine, “Matter” does “matter”. Catholic worship (Liturgy) as Pope Benedict writes in “Spirit of the Liturgy (p.220) is a Liturgy of the Word made Flesh-made flesh for the sake of the resurrection. Pope Benedict continues stating that and even more important way matter comes into Liturgy [differentiating it from icons/sacramentals such as candles, bells, altar cloths, holy fire of Easter night, etc] is through the sacraments, the sacred actions that go back to Christ himself. The Psalmist writes “you give us wine gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen his heart (c.f. Psalm 104:15).

    These elements [matter] become, by God’s power, the signs used in the sacraments in which God gives us grace. In the sacraments, Christ releates to our entire person [body and soul] and we have communion with God.

    Icons then are related to the doctrine of the Incarnation and the rejection of them [Inconoclasticism] was rejected as a heresy at the 7th Council of Nicea (787AD).

    In closing, those of you evangelicals embracing Icons are returning to a more orthodox expression of Christianity. Once you embrace Icons, I think all of your will start to rethink your views of sacraments and Liturgy. In the end, I think many of you will start moving towards a more Liturgical and Creedal expression of Christianity. Perhaps it will be towards a Confessional Protestant Tradition (Traditional Anglican, Lutheran or Reformed/Presbyterian]that has a higher view of Liturgy and Sacraments than say evangelicals, pentecostals, and other modern developments within Protestantism. Or, perhaps it will be towards the Catholic Church or Eastern Orthodox Church.

    Sorry about the long post and have a great Holy Week

    Pax et bonum

  38. There was a book published a while ago with the title “Against the Protestant Gnostics” (portions of which are easily available via Google Books). I’m not sure about all of it. I think a better study could be done under the title “Against the Protestant Nominalists”, but maybe that’s just me. But to concur with Louisiana Catholic, the final acceptance of icons (the “Triumph of Orthodoxy”) was when Christianity finally kicked out the Middle Platonic dualism which deemed matter useless. The theological debates which led to this are complicated, obscure, and mostly untranslated, but very interesting.

    I really like that Pantocrator icon…

  39. I suppose I can share my Evangelical/Fundamentalist bling.

    Love it!

  40. Louisiana Catholic:

    Thank you for your excellent comment. Two things.

    1) It’s the commenting policy here that we don’t in any way encourage folks to leave their communions and join ours. We can brag or critique or own and we can talk about interactions between them, but I actively discourage any posts that say “you are coming to us” or “When you get X worked out you’ll become one of us.” You didn’t get to that, but I could see it around the corner.

    2) I’m aware of historical gnostics and don’t know many. I know a lot of functional gnostics, and that was my intent in using the phrase about some fundamentalists.



  41. Louisiana Catholic says


    Thanks for the post. And in the future, I will respect the policy you cited and make sure I read it and conform to other blog rules.

    Regards and Christ’s peace

  42. Great looking Prayer Altar. I am tempted to buy the Treasury of Daily Prayer but wonder how it compares to The Book of Common Prayer? (My constant companion in prayer and I try to collect every version of the BCP I can get!)

  43. What? No Precious Moments statues? No gaudy Thomas Kinkade paintings? How can this be real spirituality?

  44. When I was 16 I pierced my own ear as sort of a OT bond servant reminder type thing. Don’t remember when I took it out, but it was a long time ago.

  45. I wrote a post about my own “gear”: http://meditativemeanderings.blogspot.com/2009/04/my-gear.html

    I really love your gear, Michael — great stuff! My own gear makes me feel so much closer to Jesus and reveals Him to me so clearly.

    Susanne 🙂

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