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Wednesday, February 11, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

The apostle Paul wrote that the cross is an offense to those who are not saved. It is the symbol of redemption to the saved.

The cross divides mortals to right and left, just as Jesus posited the goats to the left and sheep to the right at the Second Coming Judgment.

Now the cross—crucifix—is causing a ruckus at Roman Catholic Boston College, sadly.

The crucifix has been added to all classrooms. That is at it should be, since BC is a Catholic institution. Do not people get that basic message?

No. Of course not. There are those who want to attend BC—knowing it is Catholic—while at the same time order BC to remove its fundamental Christian symbol. Hubris at its height, nevertheless to be expected from those who despise the cross and Christ’s sinless sacrifice upon it.

If I were attending a Jewish institution, I would not complain about Jewish symbols covering the walls. I would expect it and honor it.

But when it comes to the cross, the devil is in the opposing detail.

“At Boston College, the placement of Christian art, including crucifixes, in classrooms over winter break has stirred some intense discussions over that particular expression of the Roman Catholic (and catholic) university’s identity. And over whether it’s undergoing an identity crisis.

“’A classroom is a place where I am supposed, as a teacher, to teach without any bias, to teach the truth. And when you put an icon or an emblem or a flag, it confuses the matter,’ said Amir Hoveyda, the chemistry department chair.

“’For 18 years, I taught at a university where I was allowed to teach in an environment where I felt comfortable. And all the sudden, without any discussion, without any warning, without any intellectual debate, literally during the middle of the night during a break, these icons appear,’ Hoveyda said” per Elizabeth Redden at Inside Higher Ed.

There are some faculty who say they are going to look for jobs elsewhere. Good riddance.

The reality is that there were classrooms with the crucifix. There were some without them. Then recently all classrooms displayed the crucifix, hence the fuss.

“The process was described by some as gradual, but one faculty member deemed it a ‘tsunami’ of religious art that appeared in classrooms over winter break. And while most discussions on this matter have been private, opinions seem to run the gamut.

“In a statement provided through Dunn, Rev. T. Frank Kennedy, chair of the committee on Christian Art, wrote (in part): ‘ suppose a question might be posed to Boston College as to what purpose this Christian Art serves?

“’In a world that is pretty successfully driven by media (imagery) ours is a response that seeks to pose the age-old invitation of Christ to enter into love – a love that is made perfect in its unselfishness.

“’John Paul II spoke of the crucifix on September 15, 2002 saying ‘It is the sign of God, who has compassion on us, who accepts human weakness, who opens to us all, to one another, and therefore creates the relation of fraternity.’

“The Pope also went on to say that though this symbol has been abused in history, it is the Christian’s duty to reclaim that symbol as an invitation to love. An invitation to love, and an invitation to faith is exactly that, an invitation.

“’One is not required to respond, one can decline, and one can have many reasons for declining the invitation, but to imply that a Jesuit and Catholic university is not free to offer this invitation is simply an impossibility.’”

Read “Crucifixes in the Classroom” at