Thoughts on the Burning of Notre Dame de Paris

The building itself was a work of art, one that is irreplaceable.  Its power as a symbol of a country, of a sect of the Christian religion, of beauty, of an idea of divinity was ironically powerfully reminded by its destruction.  Luckily, we know that the roof, including the magnificent spire, and much of the hundreds year-old wood interior were destroyed or greatly compromised whereas the stone skeleton and the North/south rose windows remained.  They even saved the relic which they advertise as the crown of thorns that Jesus of Nazareth wore for his coronation, uh crucifixion... 

The world-wide response and sadness were palpable.  It was also revealing, especially here in the United States...I am something of a Francophile, having studied the French language since a first-grader growing up in Louisiana.  This is ironic because the concern for the people of France and the building that symbolizes that countries heart (located at it's political and cultural heart on the Ile de la cite in the center of town and the middle of the Seine) seemed to erase the news and concern for the news of 3 church burnings in my home state of Louisiana.  These churches service black congregations.  Church burning is a long time strategy of active white supremacy to terrify black folks in safe spaces. It is a communal lynching, cowardly, and absolutely deplorable.  It impressed upon me that the "spiritual" services any church provides is subject to the value that that congregation holds in society.  There really isn't anything godly about it.  Religion is about power and influence, not souls.  Notre Dame is the soul of a Nation due to the audacity of its beauty, but its location geographically and culturally, and the long history.  It would seem to me that if god is everywhere, it is no more in Paris under a cavernous, sweeping, arching ceiling than a simple country church in the middle of what many would consider nowhere on the map    

I began developing my photographic eye during a month-long stay in Paris in my dear friend's Constance Hauman's apartment at 9 Rue St. Martin in the Marais, summer of 2010.  All I had was a small cute Kodak point-n-shoot (I still use from time to time).  I worked that device to the max.  Paris is one of my magic places.  Notre Dame Cathedral is a miracle of design and execution.  It was designed to create awe, wonder, and instill the fear of god for those that entered it in 1260.  It is a testament to human engineering, dedication, and ultimately imagination to fill it with simple faith.  Those simple churches in Louisiana were built to concentrate the simple faith of the congregants, and build beyond the ceiling, a moment of unity in faith, creating awe, hope and community.  Sounds like cathedrals to me...and yet, silence. 

I have attached some pics of Notre Dame from that 2010 trip.  Apparently, she will be rebuilt, what will she look like then?  Not the same, for sure.  Feel free to politely comment and share the pics. 

All the best, 

Patrick

  

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