Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A Fire in a Cathedral? Why So Sad?

Only those who hate any sign of Christianity or the roots of Western culture will be pleased about the fire at Notre Dame. However, I can’t help but react to the response of some (but not all) Christians to this event.

I will begin by saying that I’m not pleased this has happened either. I am very glad that no one, as far as I know, has been hurt. But I don’t share the despair that some many seem to have expressed about this being a symbol of the demise of Christian culture. This is not a new or rare event. Cathedrals, as with all aspects of the culture, are temporary and we can’t expect any of them to last forever. They have burned down before many times and it will happen again. The only remarkable thing is how rare such an event is nowadays.

The response of Christians in the past was to see it as an opportunity. They rolled up their sleeves and tried to build a new more glorious church. As an example, St Martin’s in Utrecht is the equal of Notre Dame, Paris, and would not be there if the previous cathedral had not burned down.
Christians despair today, I suggest, because we can’t or won’t respond in a similar way. Instead, we whine about French government intentions for the rebuilding project. It is fair to criticize what we think is wrong, of course, but we should pause for a moment. It strikes me that perhaps the bitterness that some seem to display is the attitude that has caused so much of our current demise in the first place. Instead, let us follow the example of our forebears and work to rebuild the culture! It is silly to blame the French government or secular philosophies for replacing a Christian shrine with a secular one, if that’s what they intend. They are stepping into the space that we have vacated. Let’s look at ourselves before we blame others.

We can renew the liturgy, beginning with our own approach to worship, in our icon corner at home if we have no influence at the local church, and build a Christian culture around that.

Then we can have dozens of glorious churches more beautiful than Notre Dame, Paris.

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