• David McNitzky

Off With Their Heads

Last week Pam and I visited Notre Dame, the famous cathedral in Paris. Since it is still undergoing renovation work because of the fire in 2019, we were unable to go inside. However, as we stood outside the construction fence our guide pointed out some of the interesting features on the outside of the cathedral. She noted the statues of twenty eight kings. Back in 1793 at the height of the French Revolution, mobs used ropes to pull the statues down and beheaded those statues just as King Louis XVI had been recently beheaded. It seems that the crowd thought that these statues represented kings of France and so they decapitated them in their zeal and anger. Actually, these statues represented twenty eight biblical kings of Israel. The mob had actually decapitated Saul, the first king chosen by God; the wise temple builder Solomon; Josiah the reformer; and brave Hezekiah who stood against the Assyrians. They had even decapitated David, the conqueror of Goliath and ancestor of the Messiah.

My wife observed that the French mob “threw the baby out with the bath water.” Exactly. It reminds me that we must guard against ignorance- we should make sure in our zeal for righteousness that we have the whole story and not a set of alternative facts. Furthermore, this event teaches me that it is easier and more dangerous to be against something than it is to actually articulate and support what we are for. Lastly, it reminds me that being loud does not make a group right and being a part of a crowd is no guarantee of acting wisely.


Two hundred and thirty years later, that crowd actually looks foolish. I wonder what future generations will make of the loud and uncivil behavior of our day?


~David

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