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Scenes of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris being engulfed in flames have been spread worldwide through far-reaching T.V. and online broadcastings, and have left people in shock and sadness. Donations from French brands like LV, Gucci, numerous global enterprises, and even individuals have poured in to help reconstruct the centuries-old Parisian landmark, a symbol of impeccable human artistry.

Initially, most people will undoubtedly consider the fire “catastrophic.” After all, it took 200 years to construct the 850-year-old grand structure that has survived wars as well as political and social upheaval. As one of the supreme artistic achievements of the ages, the cathedral had inspired people worldwide with its delicate carvings and spectacular structure. A place of authentic culture, art, and faith, the burning spire sent shock and pain throughout many.

However, over the past few days, the global concern and support has allowed us to see the more significant meaning behind the event; that is, authentic art and beauty that have been overlooked should be brought back to human memories so as to occupy their minds and hearts.

Commentator Greg Garrett (Theologian in Residence at the American Cathedral in Paris, and a professor of English at Baylor University) released an article on the event. The following paragraphs are quoted from his release:

“Theologians argue that ultimately our quest for beauty – whether it is sacred or secular – leads us back to the same source. Augustine of Hippo wrote that whatever is true and beautiful is of the Lord.”

“But you do not have to be a formally religious person to recognize that a thing of beauty offers us an experience that takes us out of our little lives and links us to something larger than ourselves, whether that thing is human artistry or a connection to human history or to what some people call God.”

“We might say that the Divine is also speaking to us through Shakespeare or Toni Morrison, through the music of Bach, or Ella Fitzgerald, or …., and certainly through a transcendent building like a cathedral.”

The Chinese have a saying:, “Sometimes misfortune is a blessing in disguise.” it might be useful for us to comprehend this event through such a lens. Though it appears like a catastrophe, it can also serve as a global focus point on the beauty of authentic art and culture that often is overshadowed by metropolitan business and overwhelming tourism. The fire has caused an outpouring of global concern and sadness. Sighs of disappointment were swiftly followed by calls for reconstruction and a rebirth of what was once a divine beauty.

For those more spiritually minded, this fire could also be viewed as one purposefully arranged by Heaven. Though it appeared like a wild blaze, in fact, it burned neither the essence of the cathedral nor the authentic human history, culture, or artistry, that was contained inside, such as the Holy Crown of thorns. Instead, it has burned awake people’s forgotten passion and love for authentic, traditional arts and true aesthetic beauty.

Notre Dame is located at the beginning of French road network, Paris Point Zero. Hopefully, this fire could serve as a starting point for the revival and celebration of authentic arts and traditions.

Author : Jiang Qimin

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