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)

6 Responses to The Notre Dame Museum

  • Excellent comments. Thank you.

  • I couldn’t agree more!

    Large imposing churches are more show instead of help for people. Even in America, huge churches are mostly for show. The French are not alone. The congregation sits among hundreds and are simply “pew sitters”, most forgetting entirely the mission of Jesus to help people in desperate need. They are there to hear about “salvation theology” for their own good. Salvation theology was likely formulated like indulgences to salve people’s conscious and “buy” their way of a hell that doesn’t even exist except here on earth due to the terrible decisions of our leaders as they lead us into one war after another and allow citizens unlimited use of guns so they can.. in a fit of anger or carelessness, get one and kill someone.

    And here we herd immigrants who are here to escape tyranny in their own countries into deplorable camps and separate the children from their parents…perhaps forever.

    Some of the most “Christian” people I know are in favor of that and other terrible Trump decisions that are going to help destroy our environment and clean air…such as it is.

    Congregations should be no larger then 100 people and their mission as Christians should be to do what Jesus would do…whatever they can to assist the poor, sick and lonely.

  • Sounds good to me……one comment about empty cathedrals: I have Ukrainian friends who tell me that on a recent trip there, their churches are overflowing and Ukrainians wait to have their turn to go in and pray? Have you heard this……

  • Naive to think the yellow jackets wont return to violence. Working men and women don’t have much time to spend on protesting. Full bellies sleep better, i agree, so work is needed.

  • Thanks again Bil….I agree that the Notre Dame is a “show piece” and flies in the face of what Jesus’ vision of what can be, especially in a perfect agape world. However, it is an icon beloved by many and a financially supported repair job by the extemely wealthy takes some of the burden off taxpayers. I would like to see the cathedral remain an icon but as an international multi faith educational museum attracting scholars from all over the world. But reality suggests that the French empire isn’t interested in the opinion of an old guy like me from a small town of ten thousand where chuches have garage sales to keep the church doors open.

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