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This column addresses three topics of great importance, in reverse chronological order. The originally intended subject comes last, after two of perhaps greater relevance and general interest. This is good stuff (great, even); read on:


International Desk: Only the Building Burned. The Church is Adamant, the French Spirit Indomitable.


You’ve heard the news. The world knows. Paris’s landmark, 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral suffered extensive fire damage on Monday, April 15th.


I learned of the tragedy while, of all things, leading a discussion en Français with a group of talented young people. My first thought was, “that’s a maintenance accident!” Thus I thought because the inferno was emanating from the roof and attic. And, I’ve seen this exact scenario before in Athens, Georgia, of all places.


On a summer day in 1995, I traversed North Campus. Smoke I smelled and then saw. Brooks Hall, then home to the Terry College of Business (the same MB goes on about) was burning. Bad. They had been conducting roof renovations and some jackleg ignited the attic whilst welding. We lost two floors that day.


So it most likely was in Paris. Notre Dame’s roof is a thin cladding of lead over centuries-old timber framing. Dry, dry, dry wood possibly treated with pitch or tar(?). The lead requires soldering from time to time but they have to be extra careful given what lies beneath. On Monday something slipped. Bad. You know the deal – the central spire collapsed, the roof is gone, and complete destruction was narrowly averted by 500 doggedly determined firemen.


I am not yet ready to embrace any theory aside from this obvious scenario. Yes, I’ve seen some pictures. And, y’all know I have a keen sense of affairs and a vivid imagination. As is, I don’t (yet) buy the Islamic Jihad or false flag angles. I have, however, sensed a tremor in the force of Western Civilization.