On April 15th the Notre-Dame caught fire shortly after closing for the day. The church was being upgraded and the cause of the fire is still unknown.
All around the world people took notice of this fire. That is because of the history of the church. The church was built on the grounds of a church that had been built in the 4th century. The first church was built in memory of Steven, the first martyr in the Christian faith.
In the year 1160, it was decided to build a larger church. It was decided to be built in the Gothic style that was popular in that time. The building was finished in 1345. Almost 200 years.
The building has extreme historical significance. For one example in 1431 on December the 16th King Henry VI was crowned King. He was only 10 years old!
About 12 million people visit the church each year.
So it was not a surprise that people were horrified at the sight of the church burning. I am not a Catholic, I am a lover of history, and I could not watch the building burn.
Almost right away Catholics and history lovers began donating money for the rebuilding of the church. Before the building was safe to enter one billion dollars had been donated to rebuild the Church. It took about five minutes for the outrage to start. Actually, I have seen more outrage about the money donated than the fire.
The Memes were all the same. One side a little girl starving, on the other side a Church. And the captions were all similar...
Why give money to a church when people are starving?
If we can raise 1 billion dollars in a few hours for a building we can solve the world hunger problem.
There are lots of different versions of this meme. But the point is the same. Shame the people who donated money to the Church, and blame them for the problem of world hunger. I think every other post on my social media feeds was one of these memes.
So here is an unpopular opinion.
Not only is it fine to donate money to rebuild Notre Dame, but it is also a good thing.
Here are five reasons.
1- The west gives to the poor.
One of the memes I read said: "What would it look like if we donated to the poor instead of a building?" Well, I think we do know what that would look like. Every time there is a natural disaster, a flood, an earthquake, a tsunami, the west donates billions of dollars in aid.
Christians from the west leave their homes, move to third world countries and open orphanages. People travel to third world countries to build homes, schools, hospitals, digging wells, and loving on the people.
We donate billions of dollars to organizations such as Compassion, Action against Hunger, Villiage Reach, K.I.D.S, and many many more. There are even organizations you can donate money to who buy slaves from slave markets and give them their freedom.
So, the west, and more importantly the Christians in the West, have been doing more than their fair share of helping the poor.
2- The building has to be rebuild
What do you think is supposed to happen to this Church? Do you want it to just stand half burnt as the focal point of Paris? Would you want that as the focal point of your town?
The Church is a major reason people travel to that area of Paris. It means shops, cafes, and hotels need the church to rebuild. The rebuild needs to be at the same beauty and magnitude of the original church if it is going to continue to be a tourist attraction.
Now the Church could demand the taxpayers pay for the rebuild. It would make sense, the taxpayers use the Church and gain money from the tourists who visit. But the taxpayer is not going to pay for the rebuild. Donations are going to be used to rebuild it.
3- There is a Bible Story about this exact situation
About ten years ago I was part of a church that was going through an addition. Someone donated these beautiful elaborate wooden doors for the sanctuary. They were honestly the most beautiful, elaborate wooden doors I have ever seen. I was giving a friend a tour of the building a few weeks after the completion of the renovations. I pointed out the beauty of the doors. My friend said it would be better to give that money to poor people instead of spending it on something useless like a door. I thought that was pretty rude, but I took the time to think through how I felt about that. Was he right.
As I look through the Old Testament I could see that God was not only O.K. with elaborate designs on the Tabernacle and the Temple, He required it.
In the New Testament, there is the story of the woman who comes to Jesus and pours expensive oil on His feet. One of the disciples becomes angry. That disciple says, why would you spend so much money on something like that when there are poor people we could feed?
Oh, that disciple was Judas.
I know that now as Christians we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and God does not demand elaborate expensive Churches. But I also don't see anyplace in the New Testament where God condemns it.
4- If you were posting this, I can prove you don't believe it yourself
Do you have a flat screen TV? Nice clothes? Have you done renovations in your home? How much money in your personal budget goes to the poor? If you spend money on your personal home to make it look better, be more comfortable, upgrade your appliances, that is all the money you could have spent on the poor.
Our churches here in Canada don't have the elaborate buildings, but we spend a lot of money on lighting, sound systems, gymnasiums, fancy comfortable chairs, and coffee. All of that is fine, but if your church spends money on that don't mock the church that spends money on beautiful art elaborate buildings.
Answering some questions.
Am I going to donate money? Nope. I am not Catholic. I would like to visit it one day. The history behind it is pretty amazing.
Where did the money come from for the original building? A lot of it came from indulgences. Money was taken from poor people by convincing them they would get to heaven if they gave money. It was pretty bad. So bad it started a revolution... And that's how Protestantism was born.
Doesn't that mean it shouldn't be rebuilt? If it was built on the backs of poor people? That was 6000 years ago. And no one is asking poor people to donate money to it now, the very rich people of the world are the ones donating. That is kind of a beautiful thing. A fresh start.
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