Monday, April 22, 2019

Cathedrals "Overburdened With Meaning?"

                The Cathedral of Notre Dame was heavily damaged by fire recently. As of this writing the cause is not yet known, however the fire came hard on the heels of the vandalization of two other prominent Paris churches, St. Sulpice and the Basilica of St. Denis, leading officials to quickly proclaim that it was extremely unlikely the fire was started by anyone who wished to harm the cathedral.
                Money has been pledged to rebuild the ancient edifice, the center of Catholic life in France for over 800 years. This has upset many who want the money to be spent on more important things, namely themselves. Some French people see the Cathedral of Notre Dame as a literal monument to “an idealized Christian European France that arguably never existed,” according to Rolling Stone. Well, that France certainly doesn’t exist today. Some of them wish to see the structure rebuilt along more modern, secular lines. Patricio del Real (!), an architectural historian at Harvard University, stated: “The building was so overburdened with meaning that its burning feels like an act of liberation.”
                The burning of a beautiful cathedral that opened in 1345, an architectural marvel with staggering historical and cultural significance, “feels like an act of liberation?” Only a college professor would say that.
                Who really cares about that stodgy old reminder of a time when a common French identity prevailed? And God is just a figment of backward, traditional people’s imaginations, no more real than a unicorn or Peter Pan, right? So, hell, let’s rebuild Notre Dame as a modern-day edifice. If there are still stained-glass windows, let’s make them in the colors of the transgender flag. In the interest of energy efficiency, the rebuilt structure should be outfitted with solar panels. It should be crowned with wind turbines in lieu of spires, steeples and towers. It must have no dead spots for Wi-Fi reception, and be generously bedecked with smart-phone chargers. It should serve a range of alcoholic beverages rather than just red wine and serve as a marijuana dispensary. It also should sport a series of drive-up windows, yet have plenty of green space surrounding it where people could just chill or camp out.
                In related news, a 37-year-old man was arrested and charged with attempted arson just a couple of days after the Notre Dame fire when he entered the historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City carrying two cans of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and two butane lighters. The suspect had a good excuse, however, saying that he was just taking a shortcut through the church to get to his minivan, which he claimed had run out of gas. (Come to think of it, that doesn’t explain the matching number of lighter fluid bottles and butane lighters). The man was identified as Marc Lamparello, a former music director at a Roman Catholic church in New Jersey, and a part-time college philosophy professor.
                Surely, he was just there to engage in “an act of liberation,” to help us all lead lives less burdened with meaning.
                St. Patrick went to Ireland to instruct the natives, most of whom practiced a nature-based pagan religion, in the ways of Christianity. Those, like Lamparello, now targeting Christian churches, want to do the reverse.
                It is time they face the music.

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