Redesigning Notre Dame would complete its destruction
April 25, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Some say they saw the figure of Jesus appear in the flames that devoured so much of Notre Dame Cathedral. They felt that Christ was perhaps the reason the whole edifice was not destroyed.
To those hardened doubters concerning the presence of Christ in any way, shape, or form — past, present or future — the people who saw Christ walking among the flames merely give evidence of fatuous credulity. Cynicism is seen as the legitimate destroyer of the supernatural, be it the resurrection or the miracles of Christ. The attitude is nothing new. Even the hardened Nebuchadnezzar saw four rather than three men in the fiery furnace, though he was forced to acknowledge that the fourth man walking among the flames rather looked like a son of the gods.
As one wit suggested, the fact that such skeptics hold beliefs that defy reason and observable facts, making the most arcane beliefs of the wildest religion seem eminently reasonable, matters not a whit. To the scoffers, Christ is the perennial object of scorn, and Christianity is a mere fable devised and promoted by mere mortals whose goal is to stupefy and to control the masses. Religion is for them, to quote a famous man, “the opiate of the people.”
Thus, the destruction of the eight-hundred-year-old cathedral is a non-issue, or even the surely deserved fate for a religion that is a weakened foe of radical secularism in its most current form of postmodernism.
Ah, Notre Dame, Notre Dame.
How we Christians mourn your fate. It seems that it is not enough grief to have wept over the treasures that have been lost or irreparably damaged. Now we must see the dark forces that have often attacked the church plan to turn what should be as exact a reconstruction as possible of the original into a testament to multiculturalism.
Notre Dame, it is being said, must not be overly burdened with Christian symbolism. It must reflect the multi-faceted beliefs of the French citizenry. How about some Arab script here? Perhaps a shrine to the goddess of Reason there. Maybe a statue of Gaia over in that corner. After all, all faiths and all gods are equal.
The response to such polytheistic plans must be a firm and immovable answer: NO. Notre Dame was erected by Christians. It is a Christian site still. Reconstruction, not redesign must be the goal.
Think about this: if the Dome of the Rock were somehow damaged by fire, would devout Muslims be interested in making the rebuilding of their holy shrine a statement of multiculturalism? Would they wish to have a statue of Christ included in the reconstruction? No. And why should they? Their architecture is consonant with their beliefs.
Also think about this: if the temple of Karnak were partially destroyed, what would be the response? Experts on Egyptology would be called in to make sure reconstruction was an accurate expression of the builders who first erected the shrine. The architecture would be consonant with the beliefs of ancient Egypt. The structure would remain the temple of Karnak.
Even so, that is how it should be with the repairs to the Parthenon or the ruins of Palmyra; so it should be with the restoration of any historic monument.
Notre Dame’s reconstruction should be consonant with the milieu of those who built the magnificent structure to the glory of their God. The vision of Abbot Suger, who believed that the cathedral should reflect the divine light, was also the vision of most of twelfth-century France, which was permeated with the Christian worldview. So great was the concern that God alone be glorified that the workmen who built the walls, constructed the flying buttresses, carved the statues, and put the magnificent stained glass windows in place wished to remain unknown in order that God’s name alone was reverenced. Soli Deo gloria.
Ah, France, France.
What are you about to do in the name of all that rejects the holy and ancient? Why will you advocate a way to complete the destruction of the fire? Why will you persist in your destructive, postmodern ways? Why destroy all that Notre Dame once was and the hope of what she still could be?
Why imitate the dreadful political pathologies of the past and present, many of which imitated and still imitate your own revolution against France’s Christian past? Why repeat what the demonic Stalin did as he ordered the blasting of the Cathedral of Christ our Savior — with an eye to demolish even St. Basil’s Cathedral? Why copy what is happening in Sri Lanka, as Christians are detonated along with their houses of worship? Do you think destroying Notre Dame slowly with hideous architecture is better than turning it to ashes by fire?
Why hand over your spiritual treasure to those who despise it and who would trample it as swine stomp on pearls? Why reinforce the current hatred of history and the transcendent? Why construct a cathedral of man that has nothing to do with the City of God that once informed and animated your once magnificent culture?
Notre Dame survived the mad destruction that leveled Cluny and its priceless treasures. It survived the insane ignominies of France’s revolution and the idol of Reason. It outlasted two world wars, including, as some historians say, Hitler’s crazed plan to burn down all of Paris. But will it survive the plans to make it into something it never was?
Stop, for God’s sake. Stop.
Do not be like the Edomites of old, who wanted the Babylonians to complete the destruction of Jerusalem. “Destroy it!” they yelled. “Level it to the ground!”
Call in the knowledgeable. Call in the restorers. Call in those who know how and why she was built, those who will lovingly and faithfully be true to the original plan.
Finally, may the resurrection hope that erected one of history’s most glorious buildings be revived in France and throughout the world.
Fay Voshell holds an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her the prize for excellence in systematic theology. Her thoughts have appeared in many online magazines, including American Thinker, The Christian Post, National Review, RealClearReligion, CNS, and Russia Insider. She may be reached at [email protected].