As the Notre Dame cathedral burned, many mourned—some for the destruction of history and beauty and others because it was one of the world’s most iconic houses of Christian worship, where for centuries, French Catholics lifted up prayer, song, and sacrament to God.
As of now, the devastating fire has been ruled an accident, but earlier suspicions that the blaze may have been deliberately set weren’t unfounded. In the months prior to the Notre Dame fire, historic churches across France were set ablaze, altars and crosses and statues were knocked down, and treasures were looted, all by vandals. Some churches were even fouled with human excrement. By some reports, over 800 churches were hit just last year.
In fact, there’s been a startling surge in church desecration worldwide. Back in January, the Guardian reported on a new wave of anti-Christian persecution in China. Hundreds of churches have been shut down, defaced, even demolished by the Chinese government. Last year, officials in Shanxi province dynamited the sanctuary of Golden Lampstand Church, one of China’s largest houses of Christian worship.
And that’s not all. Here in the States, a Louisiana man was just charged with setting fire to three African American churches in St. Landry Parish. And just last week, in the wake of the Notre Dame fire, New York police arrested a philosophy professor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral who was “carrying cans of gasoline and lighter fluid.” Heaven only knows what he had planned.
Of course, in addition to hundreds of people tragically killed by Islamic militants in the Sri Lanka terror attacks on Easter Sunday, many church buildings were devastated too.
Godless governments, racists, radical Islamists, and common arsonists seem to understand that places matter, especially sacred spaces. But before the smoke had even cleared above Notre Dame last week, well-meaning Christians took to social media to remind us that the Church isn’t a building, it’s a people.
Of course, that’s true… in the same way that a family isn’t a house. But that doesn’t make it less tragic, painful, or awful when someone’s house burns down! Why are so many, especially evangelical Christian, so quick to dismiss the importance and value of tangible beauty and creative expression, including sacred space?
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris