As news spread of the fire consuming the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the first reaction of most people was shock and sadness. You don’t have to be Catholic or French to feel as if some part of you has been lost. That was not just an old building or a historically important place. It was a symbol of Western civilization. Stand inside a great church and you feel the awe and power that inspired the builders. That cathedral was the primal roar of a people celebrating their creator and the essence of who they were as a people.
I am sorry, but Notre Dame was not‘a symbol of Western civilisation’, but of Western Christian civilisation. Big difference, as explained in one of the essays, excerpted on this site under the title ‘The Red Giant’, that moved me to start a blogging career.
In ‘The Red Giant’ the term ‘Western Christian civilization’ is repeated twenty-eight times, in contrast to ‘European civilization’. As the author put it:
It’s the Western Christian civilization that feeds all these processes (population explosion etc.). So the Western Christian civilization is in fact the worst enemy of what I call European civilization: another reason for wanting the Western Christian civilization to go away.
Even sophisticated intellectuals of the Alt-Right cannot see the difference between Western Christian civilisation and European civilisation, the latter so beautifully expressed in the sculpture of Apollo or in the immense temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders that I would call the Notre Dame of the Ancient World. In fact, not even Lord Clark himself, the author of the 1969 TV series Civilisation, could distinguish between the two.