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Author Topic: Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites  (Read 417 times)

Sefiru

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Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites
« on: April 19, 2019, 07:29:02 pm »
I think we've all heard by now about the fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Talk about restoration work has already begun, and it has me wondering: will they rebuild it as closely as possible to the original, or will they go with more modern designs or materials?

I could see it going either way. It's not the first time this has happened. St Peter's in Rome burned down in the Renaissance and was rebuilt in the then-contemporary style. The idea of historical preservation of buildings is fairly recent, and was in part inspired by Notre Dame itself (and the novel that was written about it).

So a historical reconstruction would be a propos to the building itself. On the other hand, Notre Dame is not a historical artifact; it's still very much in use as a church. So there's an argument to be made that a restoration should reflect the living community.

This also got me thinking more broadly about restoration of religious sites. I was reminded of an old documentary about restoring Tibetan temple paintings, particularly this bit:

Quote
Sanday's conservators did not intend to restore areas where painted images had flaked or eroded away, but in some cases they needed to rebuild and prepare sections of walls for painting or line drawing. The Raja, or King, of Mustang and the townspeople of Lo Monthang stressed that they wanted to worship entire, not incomplete divinities. It was agreed that, in order to meet international restoration standards while accommodating the wishes of the local people, some of the lost areas would be plastered and painted, to form linkages and continuity across small gaps. More expansive lost areas, often the lower portions, were completed only as line drawings without color fill, however, in order to restore the functional integrity of the paintings without attempting a "restoration."

So there was disagreement there between the 'preserve as-is' attitude of the conservators and the local people's view of the paintings as part of their current religious practices.

Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2019, 02:47:30 am »
Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

It's a religious site first and a historical site second; as long as it can function for the former, the specifics of how it's rebuilt don't really matter in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong, I care a lot about historical preservation, but a living religious community and its needs take precedence over secular academic concerns.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

Yei

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Re: Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2019, 03:28:30 am »
I think we've all heard by now about the fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Talk about restoration work has already begun, and it has me wondering: will they rebuild it as closely as possible to the original, or will they go with more modern designs or materials?

I could see it going either way. It's not the first time this has happened. St Peter's in Rome burned down in the Renaissance and was rebuilt in the then-contemporary style. The idea of historical preservation of buildings is fairly recent, and was in part inspired by Notre Dame itself (and the novel that was written about it).

So a historical reconstruction would be a propos to the building itself. On the other hand, Notre Dame is not a historical artifact; it's still very much in use as a church. So there's an argument to be made that a restoration should reflect the living community.

This also got me thinking more broadly about restoration of religious sites. I was reminded of an old documentary about restoring Tibetan temple paintings, particularly this bit:

So there was disagreement there between the 'preserve as-is' attitude of the conservators and the local people's view of the paintings as part of their current religious practices.

Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

That's a very interesting question. I don't think there is a 'right' answer. Sometimes of course, there are structural/safety reasons for a change, although these do not necessarily require mayor design changes.

On the other hand, restoring the building to its previous state may not be a huge problem. Sure, it is part of a living tradition, but were there any issues with its previous design? Or were people fine with it?

In theory, it would be possible to modernise the building, while preserving its aesthetic integrity. Not that this would be easy.

PerditaPickle

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Re: Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2019, 06:53:11 am »
So there was disagreement there between the 'preserve as-is' attitude of the conservators and the local people's view of the paintings as part of their current religious practices.

Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

I feel like this is a good argument for holding a consultation with the people who live locally and actually used the building as a church to see what the consensus of their views indicated.
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Sefiru

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Re: Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2019, 06:24:47 pm »
In theory, it would be possible to modernise the building, while preserving its aesthetic integrity. Not that this would be easy.

It gets fuzzy, too, because Catholicism puts a lot of stock in upholding tradition and all that.

Personally, I'm hoping they go for rebuilding in the original style ... but that's mostly because the 'modern' cathedral I'm most familiar with is the Sagrada Famiglia in Barcelona, and I think it's an ugly pile. :P

EclecticWheel

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Re: Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2019, 06:28:52 pm »
It gets fuzzy, too, because Catholicism puts a lot of stock in upholding tradition and all that.

Personally, I'm hoping they go for rebuilding in the original style ... but that's mostly because the 'modern' cathedral I'm most familiar with is the Sagrada Famiglia in Barcelona, and I think it's an ugly pile. :P

In some ways it does, but Catholicism has been largely modernized in aesthetics, liturgy, and doctrine, so it's not nearly as traditional as it once was.  So I'm waiting with curiosity to see what happens.
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Sefiru

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Re: Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2019, 06:32:21 pm »
Don't get me wrong, I care a lot about historical preservation, but a living religious community and its needs take precedence over secular academic concerns.

By coincidence, there was a segment on 60 Minutes this week with a third example of this question:the Moai of Easter Island. They interviewed several local people. Among the things mentioned was that some of those who revere the Moai as their ancestors can't practice the way they used to, due to the sites being treated primarily as tourist/archaeological sites. And one of the interviewees suggested that the best way to preserve the tradition of the Moai was to construct new ones.

Zlote Jablko

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Re: Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2019, 10:09:13 pm »
By coincidence, there was a segment on 60 Minutes this week with a third example of this question:the Moai of Easter Island. They interviewed several local people. Among the things mentioned was that some of those who revere the Moai as their ancestors can't practice the way they used to, due to the sites being treated primarily as tourist/archaeological sites. And one of the interviewees suggested that the best way to preserve the tradition of the Moai was to construct new ones.

I love this. There’s a reason I love continuity with the past more than strict adherence to it. What many people really want is to be able to trace something back to their cultural origins. Anything that is built there will be fine, as long as it inspires a sense of continuity.

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2019, 08:29:12 am »
And one of the interviewees suggested that the best way to preserve the tradition of the Moai was to construct new ones.

Makes sense to me. If for some reason Hindus couldn't use our temples anymore due to tourism or archaeological concerns, I am certain that we would build new ones. We build new temples with a pretty high frequency anyway, though not to replace older ones.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

Sefiru

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Re: Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2019, 06:41:13 pm »
Makes sense to me. If for some reason Hindus couldn't use our temples anymore due to tourism or archaeological concerns, I am certain that we would build new ones. We build new temples with a pretty high frequency anyway, though not to replace older ones.

Honestly I think the only reason it was presented as surprising in the segment was because the public-at-large may not be aware that there are still people who follow that tradition.

(Can you imagine the response if it were suggested to restore a Greek or Egyptian temple to working condition and resume holding services?)

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Notre Dame fire and restoration of religious sites
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2019, 07:40:08 pm »
(Can you imagine the response if it were suggested to restore a Greek or Egyptian temple to working condition and resume holding services?)

Bloody hell. Yeah.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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