The Painfully Obvious Symbolism of the Notre Dame Fire

Notre Dame fire
By Antoninnnnn – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

If a novelist wrote this as a plot point in a piece of fiction, his editor would say it was too on-the-nose.

A Christian cathedral that has stood for a millennium at the center of a city known as the “City of Light” is devastated by fire during Holy Week. Also, the country where this happened has been enduring an epidemic of church burnings and vandalisms, which has gone largely without comment because of a combination of indifference and fear. Also, did I mention that the country has spent the last few decades importing waves of non-Western, non-Christian immigrants? And also, the authorities announced that the fire was definitely not arson before the flames were even put out because nothing to see here, no siree [nonchalantly whistles].

What kind of ham-handed symbolism is that? It’s like saying, oh, I don’t know, that there were a couple of really modern looking skyscrapers called the “World Trade Center” and they were attacked by a band of kooks who think we should be living in the stone age, or something like that.

The Notre Dame fire may well be unintentional, but it is definitely symbolic. Landmarks of our culture that have stood for even a thousand years aren’t guaranteed to be there tomorrow. And losing them doesn’t even take intent. It only takes indifference.