Notre Dame

The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris was a work of architectural art, a glorious cultural icon. France has lost a significant part of her cultural heritage.

However, that church building’s real value was as a beautiful offering of art to the glory of God, an offering made by the generations of Christians who built and improved and maintained it as a house of worship. The fire may wreck the building, but cannot erase those centuries of worship.

Forgetting Why

Joel Kotkin has an essay posted at Tablet titled Why Social Justice Is Killing Synagogues and Churches. He begins by noting that as religious organizations become more focused on “social justice” their membership invariably declines.

However satisfying to its practitioners, the emphasis on social justice is clearly not attracting more worshippers. Almost all the religious institutions most committed to this course are also in the most serious decline, most notably mainstream Protestants but also, Catholics and Reform and Conservative Jews. The rapidly declining Church of England, which is down to 2 percent share among British youth, is burnishing its progressive image by adding the use of plastics to its list of Lenten sacrifices, but seems unable to serve the basic spiritual and family needs of their congregants.

Judaism and Christianity both teach that we should treat one another fairly and with compassion, but that is not the central point of either religion. Both rest on the first principle of their shared scriptures—

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

All their other teachings are commentary on that fact, explaining how to go about living in a proper relationship to the Creator. We are called to good works as part of a loving relationship with God and, by extension, our fellow creatures. When people neglect that vertical relationship with God and focus only on the horizontal relationship with each other, they ignore the reason that were called by God. They have wandered away from what should be their real common purpose.

Ultimately, … religions … can only hope to thrive if they serve a purpose that is not met elsewhere in society.

Just so. Society cannot do for us what God can.

Don’t Know Much About History

She Guevara tweeted this—I was going to write a post discussing her tweet, but Andrew Klavan has a tweet that sums up my views more succinctly.I’ll simply add that Joseph had to briefly take his family beyond Herod’s reach, but after Herod died, the family was able to quickly return to Judea for Mary’s purification sacrifice at the Temple (on the 40th day following the birth) and then go home to Nazareth. They were not immigrants seeking long-term refuge in a foreign land.