Monday, April 15, 2019


The fire at Notre Dame in Paris is terrible and it's touching to read the tributes and outpourings of sorrow it has occasioned.  Of course there have been some absurd reactions too -- and some that go way beyond that:
Like James Poulos above, I cannot see this as anything other than a sign. The only church in all of Western civilization more important than Notre Dame de Paris is St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The consuming fire is likely to have been started from a construction accident. I hope that is the case; if this was terrorism, then France is in for unimaginable spasms of violence. Nevertheless, if this was an accident, it still symbolizes what we in the West have allowed to happen to our religious and cultural patrimony. What happened in Paris today has been happening across our civilization. 
It happens whenever we fail to live out our baptism, and fail to baptize our children. It happens by omission, by indifference, and it happens by commission, from spite. It happens in classrooms, in newsrooms, in shopping malls, in poisoned seminaries and defiled sacristies, and everywhere the truths that Notre Dame de Paris embodied are ridiculed, flayed, and destroyed in the hearts and minds of modern men. The fire that destroyed Paris’s iconic cathedral made manifest what we in the West have been doing to ourselves for over 200 years.
This may be the nuttiest thing Rod Dreher has ever written, and that, my friends, is saying something. At one point he compares the fire, as yet not proven to be anything but an accident, to 9/11. (He also keeps saying he hopes it's not terrorism, which, ha, we've all caught your act, guy.) Also:
For you in the West who are not religious, I hope you will reflect on what this cathedral meant in artistic, architectural, and cultural terms, and that you will think hard about what we are losing as we collectively repudiate our patrimony.
Me, I'm thinking about what we're losing when we collectively repudiate basic fire safety. It's like the inside of Dreher's head is a bad editorial cartoon where the spark that set the blaze is labeled "secular humanism." And I'm waiting for Peggy Noonan to tell us she saw "the face of the Evil One" rising in the smoke. Who knows, maybe even Trump will get with it and say something like, "Many people are saying that the devil actually set this fire, like it was Halloween. I don't know if they're right or not. Personally I think it was whatshisname, the guy in Venezuela we're supposed to go to war with."

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