Happy Easter! He is risen!
Today is somewhat of a bait and switch. In light of our Easter celebration of Christ’s defeat of Death, coupled with the tragic fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral, I thought I might offer something uplifting as opposed to funny.
Vision, Faith and Notre Dame
Vision and Faith…Vision to see the possibilities of a distant future and Faith to devote yourself to that vision, knowing that you will not live to see it fairly begun, much less fully achieved. Today, as I offer you some examples of vision and faith, note that the further back in history we go, the more sustained faith the project appears to demonstrate. But is time the key factor? Let us see.
John F. Kennedy had a vision of his country being the first to set foot on our nearest neighbor in space, the Earth’s Moon.
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon
and returning him safely to the earth.”
—JFK to Joint Session of Congress May 25, 1961
July 20, 1969–8 years and a month after Kennedy’s speech to Congress, Neil Armstrong took that “small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Although President Kennedy fully expected to live long enough to see his vision recognized, it was not to be. More sadly, his vision ultimately became a mere goal, not to be repeated since December 11, 1972. Worse, to this day, the United States must rely on its rival and impetus for the space race, Russia (heir to the USSR) to “Uber” our Astronauts up to the International Space Station
Kennedy’s immediate predecessor, President and 5-Star General, Dwight David Eisenhower had a vision he knew could not be completed in his lifetime. Ike’s experiences in the 1919 Army Convoy across America and later as Supreme Allied Commander and architect of victory in Europe, where he saw first hand the defense uses of Hitler’s Autobahn, led him to champion the development and construction of what is known today as the Defense and Transportation Interstate Highway System.
Begun in 1956, Ike’s vision was declared complete in October 1992, 26 years after his death. The U.S Interstate System has arguably had the single greatest impact on our economy, more-so than the Internet—as without a nation-wide network of high speed roadways to take advantage the Internet’s instantaneous communications, its value in commerce would be far less.
152 years before, in May 1804, President Thomas Jefferson sent an exploratory expedition westward. Commanded by Captain Meriwether Lewis with second in command William Clark, the expedition’s mission was to find a water route across the continent and just as important, establish U. S. sovereignty in the westward territories before Great Britain, France & Spain could do so.
To say the 28 month mission was a success, is an understatement. By the time of his death in 1826, Thomas Jefferson’s vision coupled with his steadfast faith to see it through, had expanded the United States from 13 former colonies clinging precariously to the edge of the North American Continent, into a country, a nation of 24 states, spanning from sea to shining sea.
644 years before President Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark off to reconnoiter America’s future, the Bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully decided to demolish an existing cathedral in the older “Roman” design. His vision, to build another in the “Gothic” style. Construction of the Cathedral of Notre Dame spanned 100 years and 7 successor Bishops. Think about what it might take for any one of us to begin a project, a project that would consume our every waking moment, knowing—knowing mind you, that we would never see it halfway done, much less completed.
Kennedy, Eisenhower and Jefferson, each of whom had extraordinary vision, knew that some significant portion of their plans would come to fruition before they passed from this life to the beyond. Such knowledge tends to lessen the need for faith.
Although the the time period and labor required was significantly greater, Notre Dame was remarkably similar to the other three visions. Like the other three, the Notre Dame project used the best technology of the time. Flying buttresses, a fairly new innovation, allowed higher, yet thinner walls with larger windows.
What set and still sets Notre Dame apart, isn’t the people, the technology or the uniqueness of the vision, it’s the faith. Kennedy, Eisenhower and Jefferson, each brilliant in his own right, built their visions—of man, by man and for man. Bishop de Sully on the other hand, began his for the Glory of God—Glory that others following him, would help to achieve.
I would leave you with Mathew 6:19 & 6:20
19: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth
and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
Notre Dame, although residing here on earth, is a treasure for heaven and for the Glory of God. No accident of man can truly destroy that which God treasures.
Happy Easter! He is risen!
Mike Ford is a retired Infantry Officer who writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters.
Follow him on Twitter: @MikeFor10394583
You can find his other Red State work here.