There is Hope in the Flame of Notre Dame

Is history really that important?

In answering this query for an online assignment back in college, I decided to play Devil’s Advocate. The teacher clearly wanted everyone to affirm that history was vital; it was a history course, after all. And, like little ducks in a line, all the students did.

If there is one thing I cannot consistently stand, it is following after all the little ducks.

No, I argued, history is not important. We don’t actually need it.

  1. No one learns from the past. The proof is in the repeated mistakes.
  2. Conditioned to luxury and entitlement, we behave as Huxley predicted and always seek for what is new.
  3. History is written by the victors or their fans, and is redacted and altered by current social climates. 1984 (George Orwell) proves that.

Though I did not make the following points, I could reasonably add two more for our modern times:

  1. We have a glut of information and lack time for the general public to ingest it. So, instead, most people only follow useless, instantaneous fluff.
  2. Technology has the capacity to 3-D print what we need, thus eliminating paltry ideas like stonemason or architect skills.

The online repartée with my professor ended unfavorably, by the way. He acknowledged all comments in a general, summarizing paragraph at the end of the week. He specifically mentioned “one student” who had argued this and that against his statement, said I’d referenced 1984 erroneously because it undermined my main point (it didn’t), and suggested I ought not to argue too far out lest I “find the branch cut off behind (me).”

I’m still sore that I had no way to post a counterargument.

That aside, I do not believe that history is not important nor that we ought not to learn it. Instead, I lament that most people do not respect history. Most do not seem to know its significance or beauty or work …until it is removed. Stolen. Ripped away. Burned.

This morning I had intended to write a different post. I thought to list my hectic schedule, thereby garnering a few commiserating comments and explaining my abysmal online presence. Instead, in catching up (somewhat) on blogs I follow, I read a very-well written piece about the recent Notre Dame catastrophe. The Feathered Rose, in “To human ingenuity,” described “both the stillness and the motion in (her) thinking” as she contemplated her feelings about history.

A friend of hers suggested that Our Lady will be rebuilt and will continue on as she has. Other buildings of historical significance have undergone changes and rebuilds, right?

“My friend, speaking through the words of Douglas Adams, is correct that, once rebuilt, the Cathedral will continue to serve its purpose. Architects, historians, engineers, builders – these people will no doubt admirably restore the ideaintentiondesign, and essence of the building. Tourists will continue to flock there. The faithful will continue to pray…”

So, really, what’s the big deal? Why was the horror of destruction not sated by the consolation of repair? Fortunately, she finds and gives us an answer:

“Human ingenuity isn’t only about intangible progress. It’s also about the evidence of our past.”

That is one sentence stolen -ripped, burned- from paragraphs she wrote of beautiful reminisces of history. Reminders of what the past means and why we need it. Pasting any more of her post would require at least half a page, but I highly encourage everyone to read it.

I love the voice she gave to my own unrest. I love the poetry of her memories.

If given a chance to state my enduring and authentic hope for history today, I would counter-argue my previously-stated points:

  1. We all learn from the past, though we may take a few revisits to retain what it taught.
  2. The flashy and new appeal to the young and inexperienced. Once they run out of money or solid chairs to sit upon, they will change to old and reliable.
  3. History may be written less-accurately, but all information must be taken with a pinch of salt. Assume bias, watch for author’s flavor and preference, and remember your own colored glasses.
  4. The general population will always grab at fluff; the important and durable information will endure.
  5. A handmade work is impressive and appreciated, and even a computer needs to be ‘taught’ the skills.

Why do we walk the halls of the past? Sometimes it is merely to feel the echoing footsteps of the people who came before. Wouldn’t you wish for the same, of those who will come after?

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How has the destruction of Notre Dame touched you? Is the past important enough to retain what we may for the future?

—————-

Here is what I wrote last week. I intend to take the remainder of the week in stride, as I really am quite busy:
Wednesday, April 10: Spent a happy reminiscence discussing children’s picture books with “Picture Books Are Always in Season.

Thursday, April 11: “The Cure for Depression: Get Some Sleep!,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, April 12: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Everyone who entered!

Saturday, April 13: Announced the 22nd Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is an acrostic of the person you detest. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, April 14: “In The Beginning, There Was Distraction,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Slipped in a tongue-in-cheek poem titled, “(Real) Life Advice.

Monday, April 15: A book quote from Something Wicked This Way Comes. I am slowly, very slowly getting through this one.

Tuesday, April 16: “Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety.”

Also, posted, “Mental Illness Really Sucks” over at JES’ site.

Wednesday, April 17: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Religion in the Home” and a fantastic poem titled, “A House(work) at War.”

I’ve a part-time job writing stuff for Kids Are the Worst‘s blog now; and publish scintillating works like “10 Actually Easy Easter Crafts for Kids.” I intend to keep things real and funny over there.
Speaking of writing jobs, I see that one of my vacuum reviews is online and it’s not even the re-write DumbFace demanded. Funny world.

 

Photo Credit:
Maxime Naillon

What Do I Believe?

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“If you go with the Calvinistic or traditional Christian notion, after Adam’s fall, everybody is totally depraved, and often virtues are just masked vices, and even a good deed done is grace. A personal relationship with God is the right thing… As far as people are concerned, yes, there are a few people who will stand by you, come what may, and they’re worth finding and keeping.”
-Nitin, Fighting the Dying Light

There are frequent times I am faced with a question I’d rather not answer. These queries all seem to fall beneath the subject of categorization.

How old are you?

Where do you live?

What are your political leanings?

What is your writing experience?

What do you believe?

For one so inclined to choose brutal honesty in conversation over tact, my hesitancy to answer these questions might seem odd. I also participate in an online community that may very well be read across the street -or, across the world. Why hold back on some issues?

I might choose to remain in obscurity. Who would care, really? However, many of the writers I follow have recently come out in declarations of belief. If I admire their honesty, surely others will not desert me based on what I admit.

So, what do I believe?

The truth is that I grew up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A few years ago, however, I read the very entertaining The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. If one ever needs his faith dissolved in a few peals of educated laughter, he is welcome to read it.

This is not to say that Dawkins is fully credited with my disillusionment and departure. His voice merely allowed for more enlightened means by which I might attain answers to forever-niggling doubts and concerns. I have since realized the human mind passes through many ‘ages;’ many changes of perspective. I believe that doubt and a removal from the faith of our upbringing happens to most, if not all.

As a child, I was very much susceptible to the explanations and teachings I was given by my parents and religious instructors. These ranged from paranormal to superstitious to wonderful. I trusted that the doubts I had would, as I was told, be resolved with time and faith.

My pre-teen years were spent in rigid conformity of a self-imposed nature. I was, in colloquial terms, a Molly Mormon. I was a Christian Girl, controlling my thoughts and feelings and emotions to the extreme. I exulted in my perfectionism and delighted in my absolute obedience.

That all changed around the teenage years of hormonal outbreak. This may all be tied into mental issues, but the pendulum of perfectionism swung a bit to the opposite side…

As I said, I’m a very honest person. At times I have thought to not attend church because of my personal feelings. I have prayed, consulted scriptures, and argued with a God who sometimes answers.

Most of the time, I withdraw.

I believe my decision to consider atheism may not have been the best, because it seems driven by a desire to self-protect. Others may read about God and conclude that He loves them and holds their life in His hands. I, instead, wonder at the birds He not only allowed to fall but also burned to death in the breath of His voice or the wrath of His hand.

I truly do wonder why bad things happen to good people, or to any people.

I have come back to faith, but from a wary distance. When I think of trusting The Almighty I often feel sick inside. He might take away those I love, remove my health, smite me blind, or cause any number of calamities. And I am expected to say, “Ah. It was God’s will.”

Where I stand on the faith spectrum is somewhere in-between.

Yes, I know that is the lukewarm place where adherents will be spewed out. Yet I also know it is where I am. A toe here or there causes me to shrink back protectively. The middle is the safest place.

Which may also answer a query regarding political leanings.

If one is to set my person on a judgment stand, to vote whether he may or may not listen to my thoughts and opinions, hear this: we are all of us human. It is human to doubt, to question, to make mistakes, and to act based on feelings. It is human to change; to hopefully grow.

My religious life may have its ups and downs, but I’ve come to some revelatory conclusions because of that path. And, as much as I tried to deny it, those conclusions could not have been solely my own.

People like to sidestep a bold embrace of the idea of God by saying, “God,” “A Spirit,” “Your happy feeling,” “Nature,” or, “Whatever you believe.” Fine. None actually knows for certain what is out there. I mean, for certain certain. One can only know based on his personal feelings affirmed by a core spiritual feeling of closure -and that same feeling can be experienced in another person about a completely opposite issue.

And so, like a child, I wait. I trust. I fully expect The Answer of our eternal end will involve a breaking of our consciousness into reusable matter of a collective-mind sort -but, of course, I do not know for certain.

Now that I’ve borne my religious soul, what about all of you? Do you still talk to God? What have you concluded?

Heavenly Upheaval

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Miniscule man, pleading    up    up     up
To heaven’s crying firmament;
Sobbing down cemented sides
Of the citadels of shadowed faith.

No comfort here, outside halls of hell
Topped by stone-shaped demons;
Leering, spouting speakers are they,
Grotesquely grinning a gurg’ling flow.

Their curling tongues lick sewer lies
That wash no sin, only pointed horns;
Artistic expressions of monsters
Spitting heaven’s waste   down    down     down.

Timid heaven-bound thoughts falter,
Deluged in gargoyle vomit:
Mocking faith-dead mental misery
With beast-retched waste water words.

 

In response to The Literati Mafia.