Morgan‘s book titled The Sacred gaze:Religious Visual Culture in Theory and Practice is an intriguing read. I was tempted to judge the book by its cover and in fact, at first glance, I wondered what Gandhi, an Avatar of possibly one of the Hindu faith goddesses and an image of Jesus, have in common? My sight was confronted with a moment to think through the differences or similarities. This is why the lyrical phrase “oh be careful little eyes what you see” is the heading of this piece, since along with gazing at anything comes the need to exercise caution. In Christianity and certain religions particularly, there are warnings about syncretism, sometimes to the detrimental ends of instilling a fearful and legalistic faith in people. Case in point, a good friend once shared with me about the prohibition against dancing in their family Christian upbringing. At the age of 56 years old, my friends wants to dance, but still sees the words “oh be careful…” My suggestive idea to my friend was, “just go have fun, dance your socks off my friend and start with a ballroom dance!!”
I gravitated to inquiring about commonalities of the figure heads on Morgan’s book cover because they are sacredly revered in particular traditions. Gazing on icons in my opinion is a spiritual and social experience. The initial visual images on Morgan’s book, readily present an opportunity for the reader to engage in the intellectual and imaginative dance with the subject matter in his writings. I have always believed that all life was created scared but have at times also struggled with certain theological persuasions especially when I see what we as human beings are capable of doing to one another. For example, the wars we fight against one another, theologies of dominance and the current beheading in the media etc. The ability to keep one’s gaze on biblical truth is paramount because truth informs human development with sound values and can nurture environments of freedom. Morgan’s chief argument, “… is that seeing is an operation that relies on an apparatus of assumptions and inclinations, habits and routines, historical associations and cultural practices. Sacred gaze is a term that designates the particular configuration of ideas, attitudes, and customs that informs a religious act of seeing as it occurs within a given cultural and historical setting. A sacred gaze is the manner in which a way of seeing invests an image, a viewer, or an act of viewing with spiritual significance.”
The stewardship of sight in all is forms are a dance we all perform in the ballrooms of this world filled with all sorts of images. What people look at, perceive or not gaze at, is a question of discernment. Morgan’s perspective on gaze ashes in a sense of depth to perception and how crucial it is to humanity. Of gazing Morgan writes it, “… encompasses the image, the viewer, and the act of viewing, establishing a broader framework for the understanding of how images operate. A gaze is a practice, something that people do, conscious or not, and a way of seeing that viewers share. By gaze I mean not just on domain of vision, such as “the male gaze,” but rather an entire range of ways of seeing.”
Such an outlook might aid the appreciation that believing can be a form of seeing, but seeing is also crucial for one’s belief. I am reminded of Jesus Christ’s question, “do you have eyes but fail to see…? Images help me see words of truth that might not sometimes be obvious in other media systems of perception. Such were my experiences when I visited Greek orthodox churches. I agree with Morgan that theologians and ministry practitioners of all backgrounds should be open to demonstrating the usefulness of imagery in spirituality. Morgan notes, “unless scholars are able to show that they learn something more about religion by understanding how it happens visually, the visual culture of religion has little to recommend it as a field or method of study”.
 David Morgan, A Sacred Gaze: Religious Visual Culture in Theory and Practice (Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2005), 3.
 Ibid., 5.
 Ibid., 257.