The day the cathedral burned, I wrote this one (Quin):

We mourn today with France, with Christians, with all mankind:

Aujourd’huinous sommes tous français.

Today, we are all French.

Today, we gasp, we ache, we mourn. Today, we feel a nauseating sense of loss. Today, we weep.

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is surely, along with St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, among the three most famous Christian churches in the world. And with good reason. It is — it was — magnificent.

The sheer size of the cathedral was stunning. For it to have been commissioned 850 years ago, and finished, largely, 700 years ago, makes its achievement even more mind-boggling. A person would walk through and say out loud, “How did they do this without motorized cranes, without modern alloys to help lift the stones and beams, before the flowering of knowledge and science that was the Renaissance?”… [The full column is here.]

The next day, I wrote this:

In rebuilding la Notre Dame, Europe can renew its soul:

As the world mourns the destruction of a large part of Notre Dame, we should nonetheless hope and pray that the project of rebuilding it will also inspire the regeneration of faith and religion in a spiritually moribund Western Europe.

For the better part of a decade, thinkers on the Right have warned repeatedly that Western Europe is committing “cultural suicide.” Among the commonly cited indices are the rapid rise in immigration of nonacculturating Muslims, the feeble economic growth (apart from Germany and Great Britain) surely caused in part by welfare-state habits, and the frighteningly decliningbirth rates of native Europeans.

Underlying all of these, though, is the remarkable decline of both organized religion and of more amorphously defined religious “faith” in the cultural heart of what was known as “Christendom” (or, more broadly, of Judeo-Christian civilization). It is sickeningly ironic, for example, that the same French people who love their cathedral do not find much relevance in the god the cathedral was built to honor.

Only 18% of today’s French describe themselves as “church-attending Christians.” Another 46% say they are nonpracticing Christians, and 36% are “unaffiliated” or “other.” So, for some 82% of the French, not even the glories of their Gothic cathedral can lead them to think Paris is worth a mass….

[The full column is here.]



Tags: , , , ,