Hopefully the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral is not news to anyone. I don’t try to cover breaking news and share you heard it hear first stories because many times the first things you hear are wrong. Now that everyone has had a chance to hear and digest the facts, and many people have shared their opinion, I would like to reflect on a few things.
1) I think it’s good that this story matters to people. The people of Paris immediately announced they would rebuild. Salma Hayek and her billionaire husband have famously pledged $113 million toward the restoration effort and that’s just for starters. Media outlets continue to report the story and new developments in the story. Even as the world becomes increasingly secularized, and considering that Europe perhaps France in particular is leading the way, we recognize that a place of faith is important.
2) There are not any trees in France large enough to replace the roof of the cathedral. Looking up toward the ceiling was like looking at a forest. The fact that some of those timbers were 850 years old had a lot to do with the fact the roof went up like a box of matches. The new structure may resemble the design of the original but will likely be made of modern materials. Perhaps wooden veneers could emulate the original appearance while hiding steel and modern building materials underneath.
3) Fun fact: Victor Hugo’s classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame has seen a surge of popularity this week on Amazon France. I don’t even know what to make of that fact but… it is interesting.
4) And now my rant, which is really the point I wanted to make in writing this post. As mentioned, announcements to repair and rebuild were made almost immediately. Every social media post you can find on this story with a comment section has detractors. “There are hungry people in the world right now.” “They’re spending millions of dollars on this building while real people need real help.” My question is What have you done lately to help the poor or feed the hungry? If you have not recently given money or given of your time to feed the hungry, then your criticism is hypocritical. There are always people that begrudge the generosity of others while doing nothing themselves. If all you do is identify the problem, without offering a solution, then you are complaining. The word for that is complaining.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-8 ESV via Bible Gateway
When Judas complained about the waste of resources that could have been devoted to the poor, Jesus replied that we always have the poor with us. The fact that other people have donated to other charitable causes has not harmed you or interfered with your personal ministry in any way. If you want to help the poor, go help them. If you want to feed the hungry, go feed them. If you want to complain about the work other people are doing while doing none yourself, shut up.