I didn't have much opinion on the cathedral a week ago. Places of worship that have become mostly art and history retain some religious value, as we can contemplate those who built them, the "countless legions of the faithful, crossing every generation, hand-to-shoulder, in an unbroken line." From those vantage points, and supported by the art and architecture if they are done right and we are prepared, we can see God more clearly as well. However obscured a place becomes by culture and the ambiguities of history, that is not a small thing.
Yet it's not everything, and had I ever visited Paris I would likely have visited Notre Dame more out of obligation, or to see the art work, than for spiritual desire. Other, obscurer houses of worship may have been more important in the cause of Christ over the centuries. I can understand it meaning more to Roman Catholics. I can well understand its importance to those who have a desire to preserve Western, especially French culture, even if they are now largely secular individuals.
If we are preserving something, that doesn't mean we are changing it. adapting it, or reinterpreting it. Change, adaptation, and reinterpretation will happen on their own, and we needn't hasten that. Unless, of course, our desire is not to preserve something, but merely hollow out its insides and put it on as a mask. Dave Burge said that better:
1. Identify a respected institution
2. kill it
3. gut it
4. wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect.
Because of the ridiculous things that have been said about how to rebuild the cathedral, or more precisely, the ridiculous things about how not to rebuild it, I find myself drawn to having an opinion after all. Roman Catholics should have more say than others - odd, that this is not obvious. The French (and I do not mean self-appointed spokespeople) should also have their views count for more than others. Again, obvious, except apparently not. One could argue that those two groups, and especially their intersection, should have controlling authority and everyone else should bug out. After that other Christians, other Europeans might be allowed to speak if not vote at this town meeting. The rest of the crew - the artists, other religions, historians, architects and the like are free to speak up. File amicus briefs (to switch metaphors) if they like.
Yet this looks like everyone is going to want to get their Spelling Reform in. The design should reflect a stronger environmental concern. This has previously been such a male-dominated place, we should stress the involvement of women. Well, yes. Catholic women and French women, I think. The point deserves some explanation. If I, a Protestant, were asked or allowed to offer some opinion on what they should do, I would restrict myself to whatever general Christian insight I might have. That would certainly be influenced by my Protestantism - can't help that, even with effort - but I would not dream of trying to intentionally make it more Protestant. That would be cheating, intrusive, deceitful. French women and Catholic women might indeed see things a little differently than men, and that may come out in their opinions and contributions. That's not only okay, it is good. That is the sort of change and adaptation that is inevitable and allowable. But an American female architect, speaking on behalf of women in general, should have no audience. Speak as an American, and the tiny voice that gives you, or an architect, and the tiny voice that gives you, and then also as a woman in general - but understand that this is also a tiny voice. Just because there are a lot of women in the world doesn't mean that those who appoint themselves spokeswomen should be listened to.
My method gives the current Pope far more say than I would like in this, but I don't see anything else for it. The priest who ran into the fire to save relics - maybe they should just give him the final say on everything. Let him choose the architects, the advisors, the committees. Yes, that's my revised opinion: Fr Jean-Marc Fournier is in charge of it all.