Dear Fr. Christopher, your blessing.
Iím considering buying a small statue of Buddha that I recently came
across online. Of course, the only reason why I want it is to add a
nice, hand-carved item to the decoration of my room. Iím not going to
use it for praying or mediation under any circumstances, as Iím an
Eastern Orthodox, not a Buddhist. However, my mother doesnít like the
idea because she thinks it would seem as contempt to our own faith or it
could even bring bad luck. Whatís your opinion on this?
Answer to Question 101.
I'm inclined to agree with your mother, not that the statue of a buddha
would bring bad luck, but however pretty it might be, it is first and
foremost an item of worship. In recent years we have seem such items and
even Icons and Crosses used purely as decoration pieces which indirectly
show a disrespectfulness to the faith from which they are taken. Items
of worship and prayer aids should not be used as jewellery or decorative
items, they make a statement of faith. Wearing a cross makes the
statement that the person wearing it believes that Jesus Christ who died
on the Cross and Resurrected from the dead is our Lord, God and Saviour.
Yet this very symbol of our faith has been used by a certain female
singer as jewellery in a most disdainful way which can even be termed as
blasphemous. The Orthodox prayer rope used as an aid to prayer makes the
statement that we are people who practice the Jesus Prayer yet in recent
years it has been adopted by the youth simply as a decorative bracelet.
Icons are visual aids that help us connect, pray and give honour to the
person depicted on it, they are not idols and we do not worship them,
they make a statement that the one True God became flesh and lived as a
human being. They also depict visually the words of the Bible. Yet we
see this religious item used purely as a piece of art.
In a similar manner the buddha depicts a deity of another faith. It is
not a decorative piece; it is an idol and is an object of worship of
that faith. You may not use it as an object of prayer and meditation,
but by having it in your room you are making a statement that you are
sympathetic to that faith which in Orthodox understanding has demonic
You say that you mother disagrees with you purchasing this item. If you
are still at home living in your mother's house then that is another
reason not to purchase it. You should respect the fact that by bringing
an object of worship of another faith into your mother's home would make
her feel uncomfortable. For you it may be simply a decorative piece, but
for your mother it would be like bringing in the devil into her home.
With love in Christ