On Slaughtering Old Trees While Rebuilding an Endangered Cathedral

Yesterday we proposed that a toxic masculinity may lie behind the folly committed by two governors to remove all masking — just as we are beginning to see hope on the horizon, with the Biden government acting like a government, listening to and organizing the scientists (imagine that!), with inoculations on the rise.

Mississippi Gov. Jonathon Tate Reeves defends decision to lift mask mandate. Uploaded to YouTube by CNN International.

With hope in sight, these governors seem to go out of their way to invite yet another surge of infections.

We considered the reasons behind these politicians wanting to appeal to their constituents by dropping masks prematurely contrary to what all scientists are urging. One reader came up with an apt and wonderful phrase, “mask-ulinity.” I love it!

On Sunday we told the sad and sick story of French re-builders of Notre Dame Cathedral choosing to chop down 1500 very old trees from private and public forests to replace the spire of the Cathedral.  But the spire wasn’t even part of the Cathedral for 700 years!  It was about 150 years old.  These trees are rare and precious and diminishing in numbers, but now the slaughter has begun.  See this article.

The original spire of Notre Dame Cathedra: a 19th century addition to the 853 year old building. Photo by Pedro Szekely on Flickr.

Now I ask: Is a sick masculinity masking itself (pun intended) as doing a sacred thing for a supposedly sacred building behind the rush to denude French forests of their most ancient trees?  Is this act of colonialism and rape of Mother Earth and her olde forests part and parcel of such scandalous decisions? 

Is this what “real men do” like “real men eat beef” and “real men go to Tehran” (the call by uber male politicians to make a war with Iran since the destruction of Iraq had turned out so lovely)?  Do “real men” kill diminishing forests and rationalize it with the claim, “we’re doing it for a house of worship?”

Do real men chop down old trees to resurrect a place to encounter the sacred?  Do real men commit sacrilegious acts in the name of what is sacred?  Why?  To erect a tower to imitate a previous tower only 150 years old? 

What is going on here?  Have the French—so generous in having gifted the world with art, architecture and creativity over the centuries—lost all their creativity? 

On Monday, March 8, 2021, tree surgeons and lumberjacks began the task of felling hundreds of centuries-old oak trees whose timber will eventually be used to reconstruct the famous #Paris#cathedral​ true to its form before the blaze. Uploaded to YouTube by FRANCE 24 English

Can they not find an alternative to cutting down the few remaining sacred trees in their midst?  A scandalous failure in imagination (including moral imagination) is afoot.  The French have fallen a long way if this endures.  It is also a failure in spirituality.

Where are architects in France (or beyond) with an expanded and ecological consciousness that can step in and save the day?  And save the trees!  A spire doesn’t have to be of old wood.

Shame! This is not the spirit of creation spirituality that I learned while studying 3 years in France.  This is not spirituality at all.  The Cathedral will be haunted by this sacrilege for generations to come.  It could seriously diminish the sacredness of the place inside. 

Please sign the petition below if you haven’t already.  And spread the news.  Interfere.  That is what prophets do.

On the sacredness of trees, see Matthew Fox, “The Green Man,” in Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine,” pp. 19-32.

Banner Image: Foret de Quesmy, France Photo by LisArt on Flickr.

The government of France plans to fell 1500 ancient oaks to rebuild the spire of Notre Dame.
See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/16/france-centuries-old-oaks-rebuild-spire-notre-dame-fire-trees;
See https://savetheancientoaks.netlify.app/  
Also https://dailymeditationswithmatthewfox.org/2021/03/07/eco-justice-and-notre-dame-cathedral-an-urgent-call-to-resist/
Please take action to save these Standing Elders! Sign the petition HERE
If the link does not work, please copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://www.change.org/p/president-emmanuel-macron-restore-notre-dame-without-sacrificing-ancient-oaks

Meditate on the sacredness of trees—how the tree people assist in so many ways, from having exited the oceans to dry land and learning to stand upright and defy gravity (like us); to sheltering us with shade and processing our air and housing birds, animals, insects and more and supporting us with fire and campfires and the building of houses and fences and so much else.  And so much beauty. What are we giving them in return?  How else do trees bless us?

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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3 thoughts on “On Slaughtering Old Trees While Rebuilding an Endangered Cathedral”

  1. Avatar

    “The Overstory” by Richard Powers is a marvelous hymn to the beauty of trees and our need to appreciate and glory in their gifts rather than destroying them. I am so sorry that the French have desecrated our trees for a so-called sacred place. Nothing good can come from it.

  2. Avatar

    Thank you for bring this to our attention. Trees have always given me comfort with their shade and beauty. This is just one purpose God had in creating them. I am learning so many more. they speak so much more to me than an spire ever can.

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