I am a historian. I revere the past. Artefacts that allow us to touch the centuries touch a deep place in my heart. Having lived in Paris, I feel a personal connection to Notre Dame: Not only is it an 850-year-old artifact full of beauty but it is also the site of some very happy memories for me with students and especially with my family. My wife nursed our firstborn in Notre Dame. I have been in shock and mourning all day over the fire. And yet ... I have also been thinking about C.S. Lewis's words from "The Weight of Glory": "You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat." My reason tells me he is right, but my emotions don't agree. To take it a step further, if the thing that gives human life value is the Image of God, if we are really the crown of God's creation, isn't human life more important than the ancient artefacts that I revere? Why then do I get more upset at the loss of things whose longevity is "to ours as the life of a gnat" than I am at the dehumanization of people made in God's image, at abuse and murder? As horrified as I am by those things, why do I feel the loss of ancient artefacts more? I don't have a good answer, and I'm not looking for one, but pondering the significance of the fire at Notre Dame has gotten me thinking about these questions.
CreationCulture/InstitutionsHistoryNotre DameThe ArtsWorldview
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