Quote of the Day: Phil Rimmer on Notre Dame

Quote of the Day: Phil Rimmer on Notre Dame April 25, 2019

I could Quote of the Day Phil Rimmer very often, and I’m sorry I don’t. Here is a good response to the guest post about Notre Dame that I put up the other day:

The buildings should be restored.

This has nothing to do with current religious usage. It has everything to do with history, with art and with commerce.

Paris is the third highest earner of tourist income of all cities behind London and New York at $17bn pa. Its tiny, 2m people, with huge, dull outlying towns. Its tourist attractions probably work harder than any other such buildings. Nobody is going to risk screwing that up.

If Warwick Castle was badly burned, the we would still restore it as a superb example of the wealth extorted from peasants by kings and barons through the system of feudalism to the benefit of their own self protection. Religion will be like that sooner in France than many places. Shall we lose history though our impatience?

The style is stunning (though I prefer Chartres). In experiencing it you can see how this cutting edge architecture in transition from the tubby bulk of Romanesque would bamboozle even the greatest sophisticate into thinking lofty thoughts that were yet organised. Our metaphorical minds are starkly manipulated. We simply see how it all worked. The conjuring trick.

Because this piece of church history at 654, only the second church in the UK –


a stout stone box in a flat landscape reaching forever is a stunning experience in transition from inside to out, A safe quiet space with the whole world outside. Peering out is daunting.

We need to experience why the con trick worked.

Don’t be ISIS, faced with a seeming wayward past.

And later:

Of course, this expression has been an exercise in futility. Change is not coming. We are weak and insecure…

Speak for yourself. I think we (atheists particularly) are strong and confident. We are able to completely understand the why and the how of religion in the self breeding of our growing up. We are able to see how it worked, even marvel at its affecting achievements, like the Pyramids of Egypt and South America, Stonehenge, Angkor Wat and the exotic Temples of the East and the new Gothic Cathedral in Paris, with Hildegard von Bingen’s latest track playing on the choir.

Understanding the physical experience, the sheer art of its multimedia contrivance is not to be lost. Any church? Not in the least. They mostly make great galleries, bars and furniture emporiums. But those marking the turning points in our cultural story, they need to be experienced.

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