by Bil Aulenbach

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The Notre Dame Museum

I didn’t call it the Notre Dame cathedral for a reason. I’m with the yellow vests in France who are protesting the outrageous amount of money dedicated to rebuilding the fire-damaged Notre Dame rather than to helping people.

I think France should clean up the cathedral but not rebuild it and then turn it into a museum.

When Annie and I travel, we like to visit one cathedral a day at most. Our motto is “A cathedral a day keeps the devil away.” (It doesn’t always work.) We have contests and rate the churches in different categories, with one being the highest score and ten the lowest. Most received a seven or eight for cleanliness. The majority of the cathedrals stunk like stale mold and received an eight for overall smell. Then we asked, How easy was it to find a statue or painting of Jesus? One church received a ten—Mary was all over the place, but Jesus was nowhere to be seen.

I have no idea what Mary has to do with Christianity. She had little to nothing to do with her son’s revolution.

Cathedrals are all over the place in Europe. Most of them are empty, even on Sundays. I can’t ever forget that they were all built on the backs of the poor and the selling of useless indulgences, especially to wealthy people who wanted to buy their way out of hell or purgatory. I smell fraud because there is no heaven, hell, purgatory, or buying salvation.

To me, grand cathedrals represent the worst of humanity (slavery and deception), have done next to nothing to alleviate human suffering, and are antithetical to the message of Jesus.

Instead of building cathedrals, the church should have constructed hospitals, schools, universities, affordable housing, farms to grow food, and businesses to employ people.

I have been to Notre Dame de Paris at least half a dozen times. I’ve climbed the bell tower stairs to the roof and walked around it. I probably would have enjoyed it more as a museum where I could spend time leisurely exploring it instead of being herded through like cattle.

France has plenty of other cathedrals to use for religious purposes—if they even need one. Notre Dame would make a wonderful museum. Charging admission fees could make it self-funding.

The French government needs to concentrate on its people. France should work to destigmatize Arab immigrants (mostly Muslims), who are treated like dirt and have little opportunity to escape poverty, crime, gangs, and injustice. The billion-plus euros earmarked for Notre Dame would be better spent on people in desperate need of education, jobs, birth control, medical help, justice, and equality.

I suspect Jesus would agree with the yellow jackets and me. People are more important than ambitious clergy, misguided politicians, and buildings that have nothing to do with creating the kin-dom of agape here on earth.

I hope the yellow jackets win this battle. They certainly are determined. I also hope they remember that nonviolence is much more powerful than destructive rioting.

Any thoughts?

Image courtesy of Michael Derr (CC BY 2.0)

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