Art and architecture

I think we can sometimes go overboard looking for ill intent in comment from “the other side”, whichever side that may be. Some conservatives did just that, in my opinion, over some comments about the Notre Dame fire.

The Supreme Court will be hearing 3 cases next session that will be part of a continuing effort in this country to reconcile the rights of various groups of sexual identities and preferences (groups that seem to be created daily) with the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

Mentioned links:

Ilhan Omar’s Response To Notre Dame Cathedral Burning Down Draws Criticism

Supreme Court takes 3 religious liberty versus LGBT rights cases

Supreme Court to Hear Cases Involving Firings of Gay, Transgender Employees

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Show transcript

The cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris burned on April 15th, 2019. Thanks to the efforts of fire fighters and others, this was not a total loss of either the building nor the art and artifacts inside. Whether you’re a Catholic or not, whether you’re a Christian or not, the loss certainly could be felt by many in France and around the world. One person summed it up this way on Twitter: “Art and architecture have a unique ability to help us connect across our differences and bring people together in important ways. Thinking of the people of Paris and praying for every first responder trying to save this wonder.”

This is so true; there are still things regarding beauty that we can all agree on. And it’s wonderful to hear affirmation of those who were trying to save it. There was so little injury in this effort, and I appreciate prayers from folks to that end.

Now, this could almost be a segment of “Name That Quote”, but I want to emphasize, not so much who said it, but the reaction to it. And there were many on the Right that criticized those sentiments, especially the way they were worded. I’ll start by revealing that this tweet was from Representative Ilhan Omar; yes that Ilhan Omar.  She’s the one who minimized the 9/11 attacks by referring to it as “some people did something”. Now, there’s very little that I agree with her on, but the reaction to this tweet was, I think, way over the top. With her antisemitism and 9/11 remarks fresh in their minds, some pretty big names on the Right were too quick to pounce on this.

Dana Loesch tweeted in response, “Well, the “architecture” that the art was housed in is a cathedral. While Biblically Christ is wherever His people are, Notre Dame is a significant and storied icon of faith.” While that is true, it doesn’t change the fact that the art and architecture of Notre Dame is indeed something that could bring us together in admiration of beauty, especially beauty created to honor God.

Former congressman and radio host Joe Walsh said this, “Art & architecture? It was a house of worship. A Catholic Cathedral. It wouldn’t have been difficult for you to acknowledge that.” Maybe not, but is it required? Are we now at the point that we on the Right, and more so the Christian Right, require that those who do not share the faith of those for whom a building was built make sure to refer to it by the terms we choose? That’s the very same kind of language policing we decry from the Left, where you must use their terminology in the way they want or else you’re racist. Or something.

Look, there are so many things Omar says that are far worse, that we should at least take a breath or two and pick our battles. There will be plenty to come. Otherwise, we begin to sound like the Left who cry “Wolf!” with their accusations of “Nazi” or “racist” or “white supremacist” which they do at the drop of a hat. That is not us.


Next fall, the Supreme Court will be taking up 3 cases that are very similar. In all of them, the question will be whether the 1964 Civil Rights Act protections include sexual orientation and gender identity, even though the law does not specify those categories.

These cases will be part of a continuing effort in this country to reconcile the rights of various groups of sexual identities and preferences (groups that seem to be created daily) with the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. This certainly has the potential to be a defining moment in that tension.

But even beyond that, here’s a bigger issue I see with this. Regardless of the specifics of the cases (which you can read about from the link in the show notes), I find it incredibly dangerous to allow a government to redefine a law when it feels like it. The problem is that, while a new law requires the Legislative and Executive branches to debate and possibly compromise on the extent of the law, something like this requires 5 men and women to decide what they want it to say. At the heart of these cases are whether, when the law bars discrimination on the basis of “sex”, it also means “sexual orientation and gender identity”. Are we going to allow the overloading of a word’s meaning, a word with a specific meaning when written in the 1960s? When it comes to legal documents, don’t words mean things?

Now, you may agree that the law should say that, and you’d be free to work to get the law amended. In fact, activists have been trying to do just that and have failed for 25 years or so, during which they’ve certainly had some very favorable legislative situations, especially during the early Obama administration. These lawsuits are their attempt to shortcut around these failures rather than try to convince the nation’s representatives of their ideas.

Basically, they’re trying to do what they say their opponents try to do; shove their ideas down our throats. The results won’t be known until 2020 but stay tuned.

Filed under: Human SexualityJudiciaryPartisanshipReligionTransgender