If there is a topic that everyone has taken the liberty to have an opinion on, it is about how to replace the Notre Dame spire, which was destroyed by a terrible fire (we are still waiting to know the cause or perpetrators of this fire!) on the night of April 19-20, 2019. We have already seen many projects; and a major international architectural competition has been launched on this matter. It is indeed the responsibility of the French State, and not of the Church, pursuant to a 1905 French law.

For some, the spire should be rigorously and identically rebuilt to its previous form; for others, it should be innovative, modern, and the original spire that was engulfed in flames should be replaced by a new spire made of contemporary materials, and of a shape adapted to our times; many shapes have already been proposed. For my part, I plead for a third and much more radical solution: we should not replace the spire.

The spire that was destroyed was not placed on the Cathedral until August 1859, to replace an earlier spire, which had been erected in the middle of the 13th century, just above the crossing of the transept. That spire served as a bell tower: it indicated the time; and this was not the case for the spire that Viollet Le Duc was allowed to rebuild, which is only an ornament, and that I find aesthetically questionable, if not incongruous (for my part, while I am upset by what happened to the cathedral, I have always found this protrusion to be ugly).

Moreover, the original spire had a very precise political meaning: by telling the time to the city, it affirmed that the Church was the master of human time. This is the reason why, in all churches in Europe, the spire was generally located above the highest point of the building, which is itself the highest point of all the surrounding buildings.

Since this period, the time of the cathedrals has passed, and with it the omnipotence of the Church has weakened. Other, more secular powers have emerged; and they have built bell towers that are taller than cathedrals. It is therefore not surprising that, when Viollet Le Duc was rebuilding this spire, in the middle of a 19th century, a period when the merchant bourgeoisie triumphed, Viollet Le Duc did not want to put bells back in it, so as not to give the Church control of time: in his time, this control had long since shifted toward the bell towers, which symbolized the power of civilians, and this power also started to shift to train stations, which symbolized the power of merchants.

Furthermore, today, rebuilding the spire as it was originally intended, that is to say, with bells, would not make sense: the Church has already accepted that she is no longer the master of time.

But should it be rebuilt as it had been in the 19th century, thus ratifying and upholding the distribution of powers of that time? On the contrary, would it not be better to acknowledge that, in the minds of human beings today, the desire for freedom is reflected in the willingness of each individual to have control over his own time, not to let it be imposed by anyone? Not by the Church, not by politics. Not by money.

And what better way to say it than by not rebuilding the spire? Nothing would be more modern than to explicitly give mankind control over his time, within the limits of their own lives; to make them understand that it is their responsibility to build their freedom, here and now.

And to make it known that the greatness of transcendence and strength of faith are not in an illusory desire to subject men to the iron law of a religious calendar, but in their ability to help each human being be wiser, freer and happier. To surpass your potential, and reach the highest level of the best version of yourself. Like a spire.