Monday, April 20, 2009

Speech (Im)Pediment??

Earlier last week officials of Georgetown University converted the stage at Gaston Hall, into a presidential venue, at which the President gave a speech on the economy. In the midst of adding opaque backdrops and the obligatory phalanx of flags, they complied with a request to also cover a pediment (the triangular feature atop certain classical columns, and other facades) containing the traditional monogram of Jesus, "IHS." This was accomplished, it appears, with the aid of some painted plywood.

The debate and question: should Georgetown, the oldest Catholic University in the country, have covered the pediment containing the monogram IHS? And, perhaps in the context of the recent, legitimate uproar over Notre Dame's invitation to the President?

It appears to me to have been an effort to simplify the backdrop, and not necessarily a consciously insidious plan to strip the stage of its theological symbology. There are, after all, stained glass windows clearly visible behind the stage, and apparently the monogram appears in many other places in the Hall (and remained uncovered).

So, what do you think? Innocent and typical presidential stagecraft; concession to remove any distraction from the President; or yet another slap in the face to Catholics, by liberal Catholic "educators?"


J. Thorp said...

given the camera angle shown with our fearless leader, i can see why they might have removed it. but still ...

Rich B said...

Maybe not a slap in the face, but an unnecessary compromise.

Think about it, in light of recent statements, "we are a country of values, not a Christian country" and the uproar with Notre Dame, the University should have been overly sensitive to anything that down plays its Christian identity. The President should be allowed to speak, (although I disagree that the forum is a Catholic commencement speech for which he is awarded a degree), but hiding our own symbols of faith is a form of repression, silencing decent.

He wants the Catholic vote without the Catholic values. He wants to appear faithful without believing in anything specific or tangible. Catholic Universities should ask him to debate, not give him photo opportunities and honorific degrees. Let him state what his core values are and defend them in free discourse. Our values are spelled out point by point for anyone to read. Catechism of the Catholic Faith.

J. Thorp said...

I don't disagree with Rich -- but having helped set up press/photo opps, I can tell you that the camera folks probably wouldn't want anything -- sign, symbol, fire sprinkler -- showing up around his head like a giant bug.

That said -- is that the only angle they could've shot him from?

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

It kind of was a scary angle. I think it was stoopid to block it out like that. If it was so offensive (to sensibilites, or personally) then why didn't they just set up the podium SOMEPLACE ELSE? It is offensive to have to change who you are (or what you stand for) to host the president anyplace. Would a Jewish temple cover their signs of holiness? Would a mosque or a Moslem school?

Joshua 24:15 said...

If I understand it correctly, it wasn't really "shot" at only one angle, in the sense that it was live, and videotaped, and then of course still-photographed. So some of the photos take on that lookin'-up-at-the-big-boss angle (imagine the school girl giddiness of the reporter who got THAT assignment), and happen to show the pediment "behind" his head.
Trust me, I am the last one to offer Obama an excuse, but I do wonder if we might be discussing who in the you-know-what he thought he was, with a big IHS above him while he spoke.
I think leaving the stage completely unmodified, with maybe a couple of American flags on it, would have been preferable.

Rich B said...

Father Pacwa's thought on the subject:

During President Obama's visit to Turkey he denied that the United States of America is a Christian or Jewish or Muslim country; it is a country of citizens. This is a rather odd proclamation in a secular Muslim country where conversions away from Islam are not illegal, but they can definitely be punished outside the rigors of national law. That is why the Catholic converts there have to keep a very low profile and the Church keeps quiet about the new Catholics there.
Another denial came from the White House after President Obama, the elected citizen leader of a nation of citizens, bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: they denied the obvious fact before the eyes of millions of viewers and told us that the citizen president did not bow to a Muslim king.
A third denial from the White House after President Obama had requested to address the economy at Georgetown University. The prominent displays of IHS - the first three letters of Jesus in Greek, which form the center of the seal of the Society of Jesus - were all covered up for his speech. While Georgetown officials say the White House requested this cover up, the White House denies that it made the request. However, hiding the Name of Jesus during a presidential speech would help promote Obama's agenda to deny that the nation is Christian.
I strongly disagree with the university's compliance with the request. If the White House wants an environment free of Jesus, there are plenty of government buildings available. Perhaps the administration would feel more comfortable in a mosque, unless they make the mistake of asking the mullah or sheikh to cover the words of the Quran which form the typical decoration of a mosque. I doubt that the Muslims would cave to such a rude request as asking the hosts - to whom you had requested the use of their facilities - to hide their identity.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other government officials now assert that human made tragedies or problems will be the term of choice instead of calling the perpetrators of terror on innocent victims "terrorism." Such convoluted redefinitions usually have an ideological agenda hidden within them. We will watch and see how that agenda gets spun by the government as time passes.
A far more ominous redefinition comes from the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. While the pro-life people of Arizona are rejoicing that she has departed their state to serve in the present administration, the rest of us have reason to be concerned. An April unclassified document which was not meant for public viewing has recommended U.S. Security forces to examine terror threats from right wing extremists. Napolitano has apologized for including armed forces veterans as terror threats, though her apology did mention the example of Timothy McVeigh, a veteran of the first Gulf War, as a dangerous terror threat that supported her original contention of fear (McVeigh was convicted of bombing a Federal office building in Oklahoma City, a skill he acquired in the military, according to Napolitano's apology). However, note that the staunchly pro-abortion Napolitano has included pro-life activists among the domestic terror threats, along with people who strongly favor states' rights over against the federal government.
Due to her assertions, I now sympathize with Al Qaeda - I, too, have become a terror threat because of my religious convictions. I want to flaunt my convictions all the more and let any federal official know that my desire to save the lives of unborn children, desperately sick and dying people, and the mentally or physically handicapped is a terror threat to Napolitano and her department.
However, the real terror threat comes at the end of life for those who promoted friendship with death as a solution to the world's problems. Such people will find the army of those innocents they have killed or helped kill standing before them. More terrifying still will be the Judge of our souls, who will take sides with the innocents who were killed to promote a political or economic or pseudo-religious agenda. His name may have been covered up at Georgetown, but it will be proclaimed with fierce boldness at the judgment. The best preparation for avoiding the terror of displeasing Him is to proclaim His holy Name more boldly in this life and live His Gospel with absolute conviction that reward comes from Jesus and His Saints and Angels, not from Obama and his cohorts.

In Christ Jesus,
Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J.

For more information on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and her list of potential terrorists, please see the Thomas More Law Center at: