St John Chrysostom is "perhaps the best loved in the Orthodox Church, and the one whose works are most widely read." He's also the Bishop of Constantinople that Theodosius managed to get exiled when the churches were fighting for their rank of importance.
*sigh* Even the churches?
Was this quest for supremacy not already played out and addressed in Scripture with Jesus teaching his disciples that the greatest among you is the one who serves? Why then do we always fall into this temptation to assert ourselves as the top dog? Why this Alexandrian challenge to Constantinople's new place as number two (knocking Alexandria down to third) even in Church history except for the fact it is further proof of man's - even so-called 'righteous' man's - attempts to raise himself above others? The Bible teaches that GOD exalts the humble and resists the proud, however, it appears even these Church leaders gave little importance to Jesus' message!
That said, these are the top 5 - the Pentarchy - of Orthodox in order of honor
Rome -- I wrongly thought the talk against the Pope in the intro meant the Orthodox gave little importance to Rome and by extension the Pope. They just don't give the Pope the supremacy title the Roman Catholics do nor to them does the doctrine of Papal authority apply. To the Orthodox the Pope has a primacy of honor - the first among equals - because Orthodox realize Peter and Paul were both martyred in Rome and they believe Peter was the head of the church established there. Also when the "other Patriarchates wavered during the great doctrinal disputes, ...Rome for the most part stood firm." (pg. 28)
Constantinople -- The New Rome (Rome minus the stain of paganism)
Alexandria -- which hated it was bumped from second place when Constantinople was created as the new capital
Antioch -- like the previous three, this city was important to the Roman Empire
Jerusalem -- "added because it was the place Christ had suffered on the Cross and risen from the dead" (pg. 26)
The next section deals with icons and its chief champion, John of Damascus. The author notes that there have been debates even within Christianity concerning their importance. Is it idolatry? Are icons graven images such as are forbidden by God in the Old Testament? The author states the Orthodox position that they are not committing idolatry simply because they are not worshiping a piece of wood or a metal or art. They are using those items as symbols. It is "veneration towards the person depicted."
The second point in favor of icons is probably my favorite: someone who cannot read the Bible, could theoretically see the story of Jesus with the help of icons. I saw this firsthand when we were in Syria at the chapel of St. Paul (this post). In fact we went around the chapel telling Samer the story of Paul by using these pictures hung around the chapel.
|A picture I took in St. Paul's Chapel, Damascus|
The third point is that while "God cannot be represented in His eternal nature" (the Bible says "no one has seen God at any time"), the "Incarnation has made a representational religious art possible: God can be depicted because He became human and took flesh." (pg. 33) As I read in another book explaining this topic some months back, Jesus was an icon!
(I found these from Amber's blog concerning icons. Part 1 and Part 2 -- They are really good!)
Due to the importance of the first seven councils, the Orthodox often refer to themselves as "the Church of the Seven Councils." The author notes, "next to the Bible, it is the seven councils which the Orthodox Church takes as its standard and guide in seeking solutions to the new problems which arise in every generation." (pg. 35)