T Nation

Notre Dame Basilica Fire

#1

In all of the wall to wall coverage over the last 24 hours on this story, I’ve noticed 2 things are missing:

1.) the recognition that this is a house of worship revered by 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide (myself being one of them) and not just some historical artifact, work of art, tourist attraction or architectural marvel. Every story I’ve read so far almost painfully goes out of its way to neglect to mention or downplay the obvious RELIGIOUS significance of the destruction of the basilica. I know that it’s 2019 and that the largely secular world views traditional organized religion and our traditions and beliefs as, at best, quaint or outdated, and at worst dangerous. But, believe it or not, many people watching the footage yesterday were chiefly saddened by the destruction of a HOUSE OF GOD whose beauty, magnificent proportions and artistic treasures was ALWAYS and ONLY ever meant to glorify Him and Him alone and not the power of man.

2.) the rush to immediately report that the fire was caused accidentally during the renovation work being done without giving any details as to how exactly it occurred. I don’t like to traffic in conspiracy theories but, I’m a little suspicious of this explanation when viewed in light of the string of arsons, and desecrations perpetrated on Catholic Churches throughout France over the last 4 months. Most recently, the St. Sulpice cathedral in Paris had its entry way burned down by an arsonist within the last couple weeks. Also, churches have had crosses made of feces drawn on their walls, altars and statues burned and consecrated Eucharist thrown in the garbage and scattered on the ground. Also, only 2 months ago, French police reported breaking up a terror plot to DESTROY NOTRE DAME BASILICA in Paris as reported in Newsweek. Hopefully my cynicism is unfounded and shortly a plausible explanation of the accidental cause of the fire will be reported but, it saddens me that the journalistic profession has deteriorated to the degree that it is afraid to report on news angles out of the fear of offending someone. On the other hand, this IS France where an office of journalists was gunned down for drawing a cartoon so…

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#2

You just looking for opinons here, or what?

I think it’s a very tragic loss of art and architecture. I hope they’re able to salvage it and that damage is kept to a minimum.

That being said, I don’t care about the religious significance. And I’m a Christian. Doesn’t bother me because of that. A few black churches in Louisiana have been burned down by an arsonist, and no one’s talking about those. Catholics burned down my ancestors (Native Americans) homes and “places of worship” (not churches) and comitted many atrocities to indigenous people across the Americas. I have family members alive today who were raped by priests at the boarding schools.

So, I stand by my original statement and think it’s too bad that such a famous landmark was destroyed. I’d feel the same way about the Great Wall of China, Eiffel Tower, and Petra. I’m not really going to look at this from a religious viewpoint and feel saddened about it. I don’t hold any grudges against Catholics, but this has happened all over the world, all the time.

#3

For sure the Catholic Church has been the perpetrator of numerous horrible crimes throughout its history. And, as is evidenced by the ongoing clerical sexual abuse scandals throughout the US and the rest of the world, they still are. As a catholic, I’m ashamed and horrified by some of the things the church has done over the years and by their repeated attempts to obfuscate or cover up their crimes or at the very least, their failure to take ownership of them. However, I reconcile my continued faith in the church by understanding that the sinfulness and sometimes downright evil of the messenger doesn’t debase the truth of the message.
I guess my purpose in posting this was to see if anyone else has noticed the lack of coverage of the religious significance of the fire or, if I’ve just gotten my back up over nothing. Maybe I’m just being hypersensitive and am noticing something that doesn’t even exist. However, when a litany of articles have been written covering the fire as a tragedy from every other angle but the obvious one, it seems ridiculous and deliberate to me.

#4

I was tempted to post as a one off in some PWI or Off Topic this news event.

I thought I heard something over the last little while about the other church fires in France, and also the black churches in the US.

Notre Dame was undergoing renovations, and I seem to remember a number of years ago a news story out of Toronto about some roofers who were applying a membrane roof to a flat section of a church in the Parkdale neighbourhood and what do you know, it caught fire despite it being a house of God

There are something like 50 fire investigators looking into this in Paris and we have to be careful about using it as a flashpoint. Such was the case with the Trans World Airlines plane that blew up off the East coast of the US and after a lot of anti muslim sentiment it was determined faulty wiring going through a fuel tank caused the explosion.

This is big because it took about 100 years to build Notre Dame, and it was a major centre for the Parisians and an example of architecture that is still standing from the 12th century. The walls are going to have to be tested to see if they are still sound after the heat exposure, but there is no shortage of money pledged for the restoration.

It would be a prime target for terrorists, as the World Trade Centre was twice, I just don’t think this early we should be beating the war drums about it.

#5

What ever channel is on at work has consistently recognized it as the catholic and spiritual center of France, as have all of the people interviewed.

It’s not like some far conservative or religious channel either. It’s just like local channel 4 or something.

I’ve done some (quite a bit) restoration work on these churches too. I know that in the long run it will be ok.

That’s me doing one of a set for St. Kateri in the mid west after a tornado destroyed it.

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#6

I totally agree with the idea of not beating the war drums at an early stage. I tried to make the point that it was early and hopefully a plausible explanation for an accidental cause of the fire would quickly be given. Also, I understand that France for the last few years has been a powder keg of social and religious tensions where any rush to judgment or condemnation could literally result in people’s deaths. However, in light of the very recent attempts to destroy and desecrate churches in France including terrorist plots to destroy Notre Dame, I find it odd for the media to not even broach this subject. I guess my main problem with the whole thing is the deliberate crafting of the message by the news media. I’m a firm believer in just giving people the facts and letting them make up their own minds about things as opposed to trying to influence their thinking. I live in Canada and we have the CBC here which is the publicly funded broadcaster that is supposed to be impartial as most of its revenue is derived from taxes. In reality, much of its coverage is very “progressive” in nature to the point that it is hard to watch (other than Hockey Night in Canada). I’m all for differences in opinion but I hate when I feel I’m trying to be manipulated, even when it’s by people whose views I share.
/rant

#7

So awesome that you get to work on restoration projects like that. It has to be very rewarding to see the finished product.

#8

It was. I moved on a couple of years ago, but it still holds a place in my heart.

Who knows? Might end up back at it again.

#9

Yes, pretty much all international media emphasized the religious angle.

I believe one of the reasons why the Notre Dame conflagration caused such an emotional reaction among the French people and Europeans in general is that it provided a way to articulate their anxiousness about various issues - whether it’s immigration, rising inequality or a protracted death of the middle class. They’re not necessarily mourning the cathedral per se, but Europe of yesteryear.

I’ve worked on one catholic church as well. It’s the same as working for a coked up Russian oligarch - the issue of how much everything costs was never raised. Stainless steel mesh for reinforced concrete? You bet. Even the gardening shed in the surrounding park in the church grounds had a oak hardwood floor.

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#10

What I find really interesting is what this seems to suggest about how strongly attatched to their cultures people are.

Less than 24 hours after the blaze started and there has been over £300m raised towards the renovation work.

There are crisis going on all over the world with an actual human death toll that havent raised a scratch of that.

Not saying this is correct or not, people feel what they feel where they feel it.

Another interesting point is that the catholic church is clearly very very wealthy, over £30 billion is the number I saw, so the question is do they need the donations as much as other causes?
I mean if Elon Musk’s beachfront property was hit by a tsunami, would there be an outcry for funds to help him repair it?

As I said, just something I find interesting, not a condemnation of those donating, I too think its a travesty and would love to see it restored to its former glory.

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#11

This is exactly why I choose to buy donuts and gym memberships instead of using that money to donate to any kind of charity or cause.

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#12

I was always a couple steps removed…

From the money.

I hear you on the fears though. Even though the malice and human loss of the Twin Towers is absent, seeing a cultural icon like that come down can shatter people and seem like the manifestation of all that they fear.

We really are in a period of iconoclasm.

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#13

No, they have raised a lot more.

How much of that wealth is based on real estate and art value?

No, but if he were a 19 year old woman who wanted money to pay for her breast implants I’m sure someone would donate to her gofundme.

I’m not sure how the Musk situation is even relevant to this discussion. You are comparing private property to public property as France owns the cathedral, not the Church.

#14

Some have, some haven’t.

You make some valid points, but you present them as if they directly contradict mine, which they don’t.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with donations to the cathedral, I feel I made that point quite clear, I’d like to see it rebuilt / refurbished, Feels like you are trying to pick a fight so I’m not going to engage further.

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#15

You may have said that there is nothing wrong with donating to Notre Dame but you also made it clear that you think it’s a trivial cause in relation to others. You even questioned the morality of giving which is you contradicting yourself.

#16

I did not, because I hold no such belief.

Again, no, I did not and do not think its immoral.

Either I wasn’t clear enough or you misunderstood. Either way you are arguing against points I’m not making so, yea, not going to argue it.

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#17

Probably some drunk kids from USC. Always been Notre Dame’s biggest rival.

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#18

Worst. Joke. Ever.

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#19

…and Vanna white gets paid millions (net worth $50M) to silently push buttons on WOF. It’s a fucked up world in a lot of ways.

#20