Notre Dame and Civilization

NOTRE DAME is not a myth. Notre Dame is not a theory. Its interest does not spring from ignorance but from knowledge; from a culture complicated with a hundred controversies and revolutions. It is not featureless, but carved into an incredible forest and labyrinth of fascinating features, any one of which we could talk about for days. It is not great because there is little of it, but great because there is a great deal of it. . . . Notre Dame, on its merely human side, is mediaeval civilization.

~G.K. Chesterton: in “Fancies Versus Fads” (1923)

That last word is important: civilization. These days, no one really knows what the Middle Ages were like. They are scorned as a time of ignorance, poverty and oppression. It wasn’t like that, at all. It was a very high civilization – better than any contemporary and better than all that had come before it.

First and foremost, we must remember what it came out of – the destruction of the Roman Empire was a cataclysm such as the world had never seen before. Indian and Chinese civilization had suffered, many times, invasion and conquest. But the barbarians were easily absorbed into the Chinese and Indian civilizations and though there might have been some alterations in how things were done, the basics of each civilization endured. Indeed, were almost entirely unchanged. That is the real oddity of both Chinese and Indian civilization – for 2,000 years or more, there was no real change in how they worked. The underlying ideas behind them just kept going…in a rather sterile manner, but going. When Rome fell, the entire civilization which underlay it went with it.

Some of the barbarian invaders wanted what Rome had, but especially the latter barbarians who finally overthrew Rome were uninterested in any civilization. They were barbarians in the purest sense – only wanting wealth and adventure with no thought for the morrow. When there work was done (say, by about 700 AD) there was very little left. Books were rare as most libraries had been destroyed. Most of the Roman infrastructure (roads, bridges, aqueducts) were in ruins. War and disease and dropped the population to a fraction of what it had been during Rome’s height. And then, schooled by the Church, people got back to work – slowly building an entirely new civilization on the ruins of the old.

Notre Dame was not built by barbarians, but by people of a highly sophisticated civilization. The church, itself, attests to the technical skill of the civilization as well as to it’s artistic excellence. But beyond that, Europe was already filled with scholars expanding the frontiers of human knowledge – and unlike the sterile, nearly unchanging civilizations of the East, the Europeans were rapidly absorbing and adapting every good thing they could come across from other civilizations. These people were eager for knowledge and improvement and were willing to dare greatly. Not for these Europeans was any sort of stand-pat attitude. And Europeans were already greatly curious about the non-European world (Marco Polo made his journey to China in the 13th century, shortly after Notre Dame was completed). And as Chesterton pointed out, Notre Dame was an excellent, enduring symbol of what these highly civilized people were about.

And now its burned down – and the pity is that the civilized people who built it are long gone and replaced by barbarians, who despise Notre Dame because they both can’t understand it as well as being incapable of building something like it. They are very much like the Visigoths and Vandals who threw down Roman civilization in the 5th century. It is sad, I think, what is going to happen: a bunch of people who have no idea of anything are going to place themselves in charge of rebuilding Notre Dame and they are likely to create a savage monstrosity in it’s place. We can only hope that in some future year, civilized people will knock down what they are about to do, and replace the crude, barbaric result with something remotely as civilized as Notre Dame.

Open Thread

The Notre Dame fire has revealed an intense level of hatred among the global left for the West. We knew it was there, but when you see the some on the left cheering a burning church, you know you’ve got a problem. They hate us and want us gone – and they are allying with the most vicious parts of Jihadist Islam. We’re in for some bad times.

Its pretty much a given that the Obama Administration spied on President Trump – the only question remaining is, who ordered it? Does it go all the way up to Obama? It could: it would take a really gutsy subordinate to order such a thing without the President’s knowledge.

Bill Weld (R But Really D-MA) is going to challenge Trump in the GOP primary. Not a single person on Earth, including Weld, knows why.

Jewish voters are upset with the Democrats defense of anti-Semites. I look at it like this: if you’re in any way a Jew, you’re going to abandon the Democrat party. It is as simple as that – just as all real Catholics are abandoning the Democrat party. The Jews (and Catholics) who retain their Democrat registration are no more than nominally part of their religion. You can’t be in a party which rejects everything you believe in.

Steyn points out a rather large SJW flaw.

Valerie Jarrett wrote a book which sucks so bad she had to manipulate sales to show up on the best seller lists. My view: I bet the manipulation was done with the knowledge of the list makers. No way in heck will the Progressives allow someone like Jarrett to fail – she’s all they want: a mean spirited, anti-American creep. As an aside, Matt and I – still making money off Worst nearly 3 years after it came out – wonder how many sports cars and mansions we’d own if a major publisher had picked it up back in 2016. There’s a huge amount of talent out there which doesn’t go anywhere because the people who decide are slaves to the powerful.