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Archive for April 19th, 2019

Readers who follow me on Twitter may have noticed that I had very little to say about the news that Notre Dame de Paris was heavily damaged by fire this week.  I equally ignored those lamenting the loss of an architectural masterpiece, those using the tragedy as an excuse to pontificate about the many sins of the Catholic Church, those failing to comprehend why there was no anguish when recent and unsophisticated buildings used as churches burned down, and those complaining that the destruction of other medieval architectural gems not located in the exact center of one of the greatest cities of the West was not publicized by Western media.  In fact, the only comment I made on it was to tweet that this article in The Onion was the only one I had seen that approximated my feelings on the matter.  Though I agree that the building is gorgeous and understand the sense of loss, and I find rejoicing in the destruction of an artwork to be an act of incredibly bad taste, I also understand what many others are choosing to ignore: that no matter what is done to restore the cathedral, it will eventually burn down again or succumb to some other disaster.  And the same is true of the Eiffel Tower, the Tower of London, the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House, the Taj Mahal, St. Basil’s and every other building in the world.  Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only one is still standing and it, too, will eventually crumble, as will every building in every city on Earth.  In Oklahoma, my ranch was situated on the top of what was a mountain a hundred million years ago, and the very shape of the continents has changed dramatically in that time.  Similarly, people wring their hands and moan lugubriously about the extinction of animal species, despite the fact that a species is nothing more than a temporary configuration of genes; it is as permanent as a sand dune, albeit on a much longer time scale, and we can no more “save” a species than we could freeze the column of smoke from a burning cathedral into some interesting or beautiful shape.  As I remind my readers every November 1st, all things must pass, and although we may lament those which happen to pass in the flickering moment we exist upon the Earth, they are no more or less mortal than those which have already passed before we were here to see them, or those which will pass in the uncountable eons after we ourselves are gone.

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