We can restore Notre Dame
My daughters and I shared shock and horror over the news of Notre Dame’s burning. The saving of the medieval rose windows and stone facade comforts us; we are encouraged by France’s determination to rebuild. But some are not so optimistic, such as syndicated columnist L. Brent Bozell, in the Easter Monday Telegraph. In his article “The End of Cathedral Culture,” Bozell elaborated on historian Victor Hanson’s comments regarding the unlikelihood of restoration because our society cannot build cathedrals, “…because we don’t believe in what they represented … we don’ like the past.”
What do these men believe Notre Dame represents? Do they think only Catholics visit this beating heart of Paris? Or architects studying church vaulting? Many souls across religion, race and ages of time have been inspired and lifted by Notre Dame’s towers, throbbing bells, chest-piercing organ, harmonizing stained glass, and guardian gargoyles. If you visited and you looked, you would have seen people from all countries fascinated by the mystery of one of the most authentic treasures of the world. As an artist, I am sure that other artists and craftspeople will, as in medieval times, find it the greatest honor to contribute to the rebuilding.
And I believe in France, a country that has always valued the arts, taking pride in further artistic accomplishment. France supports and encourages the arts not only because they are intrinsic to the soul but because they have quantative data on how much the arts contribute to the economy. If they decide to create something different, say with the spire, while surrounding it with the saved apostles, it should work as well as the glass pyramid entrance to the Louvre: Although many would disagree as it originally seeming incongruous, the experience of using this new entrance is visually exciting and appropriate for a museum displaying art & artifacts from around the world. (I suggest subtle but meaningful changes such as creating at least one of the female apostles, of whom Mary Magdalene is the most prominent, in the style of the other twelve. She is, after all, the apostle who came to France!) Whatever the discussion and deliberation, the pride of humanity depends on the successful communal restoration. I would like to think, when my descendants read Victor Hugo, they will not be mourning that we can no longer build a cathedral, let alone restore one.