After the first shared shock and horror over the news of Notre Dame’s burning, the survival of the medieval rose windows and stone facade comforts us and we are encouraged by France’s determination to rebuild. But some are not so optimistic, such as syndicated columnist L. Brent Bozell, reprinted in the Nashua 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’ t 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 stain glass, and guardian gargoyles. If you visited and you observed, you would see 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.
France supports and encourages art not only because it is intrinsic to the soul but because France has quantitative data on how much the arts contribute to the economy. They are often innovative in their restoration projects in order to add to the meaning of the traditional, as with the new glass pyramid entrance to the re-organized Louvre. ( I suggest a subtle but meaningful change for Notre Dame: add Mary Magdalene to the circle of apostles. 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, that they will be able to celebrate a beautiful restoration.