Gary Longdon writes in reply to Janine Love’s article published on Monday (→Fire). The relevant paragrph is this and Gary’s reply is elequent and adds a new and important dimention to th eorginal post. Thank You Gary.
“I’m at a loss to understand why people offer a spiritual explanation for the destruction. And why would Jesus be seen in the flames? The French President vows to rebuild the monument. He need not concern himself: Many benefactors will provide funds to build a new monument of hope and peace. I cannot be the only person who sees people acting and speaking in self-interest when referring to the fire”
There has been much discussion amongst my friends about this. Many are critical of a RC Church worth 33 Billion dollars seeking anything from the general public. They see a preoccupation on possessions rather than people. They see philanthropic donations, both corporate and personal, as being self serving when the money could be put to better use elsewhere.
I have visited Notre Dame on several occasions. I also believe in Animism – that buildings and landscapes can hold memories. Notre Dame has been present since it was started in 1160. It has seen dozens of Kings and Queens, wars, peace, cultural and scientific achievement. It is part of what made us. It has value far beyond those who worship in it.
The British connection is strong. The French have owned what is now English soil, and vice versa. King Henry 6th was crowned there, Mary Queen of Scots was married there. If all the French living in London were counted it would be the sixth largest French City. The British learn French, it is still the most visited foreign city and favoured destination for school trips. In an era of Brexit division it is a symbol of what unites us.
Mankind is capable of greatness, and great folly. Sometimes excellence and beauty are worth pursuing in their own right. Notre Dame epitomises that. Just because we cannot do everything does not mean we cannot do something.
I believe the test comes in the renovation. It took a hundred years to finish Notre Dame. During that time building techniques changed, craftsmen changed and improved, favoured materials will have changed. It was a building that evolved. The 18th and 19th Centuries saw major alterations.
Do we look back now? (They did not before) Or look forwards to put a twenty-first Century statement to the building? I do hope that Note Dame is not “Disneyfied” by creating a facsimile of the past, but instead offers the very best of what we have to offer today.
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