Diverse Thoughts on the Burning of Notre-Dame

This article has a soundtrack:

This music may sound strange to our ears. But it is music for an adult mind.

Q: You and JD Hall get along well. What did you think about the recent Pulpit & Pen article on the burning of Notre-Dame?

A: I agree with this article on JD Hall’s website, Pulpit & Pen.

I would not detract from the article. But I would add to it. The destruction of the symbol is interpreted differently, depending on what you understood it to be a symbol of.

Some take Notre-Dame as a symbol of Catholic heresy and oppression. That is fair enough.

I take it as a symbol of Christianity and Western Civilization in general (which does include those evils, but also many values). So we assign different symbolic weight to the destruction of the monument.

Part of the difference is in artistic background.

I was a music major. I studied Gregorian chant and medieval motets in depth. This is my favorite music. It is the music of my soul.

It was composed at Notre-Dame.

Many people in the church at that time were not corrupt. Catholic history is part of my Christian heritage.

Thomas Aquinas is one of my favorite thinkers. He likely spent significant time at Notre-Dame.

Victor Hugo was one of the West’s greatest artists; one of his greatest works takes place there. Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris (1831) is perhaps the beginning of romantic fiction.

The cathedral is a symbol of Paris itself, and thus a symbol of the West itself.

I take the cathedral as a symbol of nearly everything I am fighting to preserve:

  • Beauty
  • Rationality
  • Truth
  • Worship of God
  • Christian Society

Ignore the latest tripe from the so-called Gospel Coalition, and instead listen to Michael O’Fallon’s heartfelt podcast episode here. Michael O’Fallon and I are of one mind.

A third perspective is also worth considering.

Michael Foster pointed out:

God smashes the idols of apostates and He often does so by the hands of pagans.

Foster’s remark is not a celebration. It is an observation. He refers to something God spoke to the prophet Habakkuk (1:5–7):

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.
For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not their’s.
They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.

The West is Apostate.

We are experiencing the judgment of God. Like the prophets who understood what they saw, we lament.

Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it? (Amos 3:6)

We lament for what was lost.

And we lament because we deserved to lose it.

In the burning of Notre-Dame de Paris, we see where all our good intentions lead when we, the children of the West, fail to keep ourselves from idols.