Michael Jackson ’16 - One cannot truly comprehend the complexity of a cathedral and then relate that dynamically didactic relic to the modern world unless the person physically takes their person to that space. Having just returned to the hotel from Saint Julien with the experience fresh in my mind, the connections between this strikingly grandiose structure and similar structures within the modern world imitated in this shadow, skyscrapers, creates a stark juxtaposition between human and divine that reflects a restructuring of Saint Thomas Aquinas’ hierarchy depicted in La Somme Théologique.
As I reflected upon the excursion to Saint Julien on the train back to Paris, a recent trip I had taken to Chicago immediately surfaced within my mind, more specifically the service I attended at the local church that Sunday morning and Trump Tower I had seen later that afternoon. I did not think anything of it at the time, but having just seen the immense structure that is Saint Julien, I cannot help but think that the modern era is trying to ‘Trump’ God by ascending to a sphere above him, or in other words, we are attempting to assert our dominance and independence by literally Towering God’s institutions with the structures we build; granted, some of this phenomena is nothing more than humanity testing its prowess in engineering, but a heavy sensation from within feels as if modern humanity might purposely, or accidentally, be striving for this new hierarchy because we believe we have become greater than God.
This sensation, I believe, comes from the certainty of God’s grandiose existence embodied and personified by the cathedral(s), coupled with the lack of certainty or desire to discern a possible truth in Him by much of the modern world.Moreover, modernity rejects God and tries to ascend beyond His realm of existence, be it fictitious or not, through its use of technology, both in creating almost unfathomable structures in terms of height and complexity and in ameliorating and deducing physiological problems. For this latter claim, I draw on my time shadowing a heart surgeon: for the first time in a man’s 67 years of living, a machine was keeping him alive by reoxygenating his blood with a machine so the surgeon could perform a double bypass on a now still and empty heart. Basically we are adopting the role of God as both creator and healer and eliminating the need for Him.
In summation, I’m claiming the modern man has lost his faith in God and lost the desire to even wrestle with the idea of discerning the truth surrounding Him. Food for thought: man will inevitably die, so can you afford to not win favor with a Being who can give you eternal life or damnation? And, in the event that He does not exist and to nothingness we go after death, is it that horrible to sacrifice some secular pleasures in life so to improve the quality of life for another?