The Guardian

Notre Dame reminds us how the Bible stories have shaped our civilisation | John Barton

Great cathedrals and the gospels stand for so much more than religion – evoking human endurance and a quest for beauty
Inside Notre Dame cathedral after the fire. Photograph: Bastien Louvet/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

Cathedrals belong to everyone. In vox pop interviews in secular France after the Notre Dame fire we heard so often: “I’m an atheist, but Notre Dame is part of me.” Reactions in Britain would be the same: a great cathedral stands for so much more than religion, narrowly conceived. It represents human skill, the quest for beauty and the continuity of communities over a length of time far greater than even many lifetimes. Attendance at cathedral services now bucks the national downward trend in the Church of England, but does not necessarily signal a widespread conversion to Christianity.

At Easter, it seems natural to commentators to

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Guardian

The Guardian10 min read
The Best Things In Life Are Free … But Where Are They?
From amber fishing in the Baltic to mushroom hunting in Russia, there’s lots of stuff that doesn’t cost a penny
The Guardian2 min read
Why The Joke Facebook Page Calling For People To Storm Area 51 Went Viral
More than a million people have actually RSVP’d – and the military have issued a serious response.
The Guardian2 min read
Permafrost Thaw Sparks Fear Of 'Gold Rush' For Mammoth Ivory
Prospectors in Russia dig up remains of extinct animals for trade worth an estimated £40m a year