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Here is a rarity in the realm of GetReligion: a report in which the ghost is secularism — or, as Rolling Stone’s E.J. Dickson might write — “the ghost is quite literally so-called ‘secularism.’ ”
On the day after the inferno that swept through Notre Dame Cathedral, Dickson delivered brisk roundup of perspectives from historians of architecture about what was lost and what perhaps ought to replace it.
Problems - Sentence - Yesterday - World - Horror
The problems begin in her first sentence: “Yesterday, the world watched in open-mouthed horror as Notre Dame Cathedral, an 800-year-old monument in Paris, France, burst into flames.”
Of all the ways one might describe Notre Dame, “an 800-year-old monument” is bland and tone-deaf, and it reflects Dickson’s consistent theme of the cathedral mostly as a symbol rather than holy ground. It’s similar to what our tmatt noted in his national “On Religion” column this week:
Television - Networks - Viewers - Art - Artifacts
… American television networks solemnly told viewers that “art,” “artifacts” and “works of art” had been retrieved from this iconic structure at the heart of Paris. In a major story about the fire, The New York Times noted that Notre Dame Cathedral had “for centuries … enshrined an evolving notion of Frenchness.”
That’s an interesting way to describe the world’s second most famous Catholic cathedral, after St. Peter’s in Rome. Then again, is a container of what Catholics believe is bread consecrated to be the Body of Christ best described as a “cultural artifact”? Is “in shock” the best way to describe Parisians praying the Rosary and singing “Ave Maria”?
Rolling - Stone - Paragraph - Drew - Concern
As you would expect, this Rolling Stone paragraph in particular drew concern from Catholics, such as Raymond Arroyo of EWTN, who appreciate the cathedral’s primary identity as one of Christianity’s most sacred spaces:
But for some people in France, Notre Dame has also served as a deep-seated symbol of resentment, a monument to...
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To despair is to turn your back on God, you can never despair.