Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Obama at Georgetown, and the hidden IHS

The IHS log draped from viewHere's a topic for conversation, especially among Sophians, as Sophia University is a Jesuit (also Catholic!) University like Georgetown. Compare the picture above with the picture below... Do you see any difference in the background/setting?

The IHS Logo as it normally appearsWhen President Obama recently visited Georgetown University to give a lecture on the state of the economy, the university was told to cover the famous Jesuit logo IHS that is prominently displayed behind the podium in Gaston Hall. Many dignitaries give lectures and conduct workshops in this ancient hall, and the distinctive Georgetown University eagle and IHS logo with a Cross have been there for all to see. For whatever reason President Obama's Office had requested that the IHS logo be covered up and Georgetown University graciously complied.

Perhaps there is nothing sinister or significant in all this; but several bloggers and media pundits have criticized Georgetown University for being unchristian and denying its Jesuit identity. Critics of Obama too have taken this as a sign that he is not a 'true' Christian. As a matter of fact, his lecture did contain indirect references to some New Testament passages, but the critics point out that he did not mention Jesus by name.

As seems to be routine whenever a Catholic 'issue' comes up, some in the media immediately called up Thomas Reese, S.J., the former editor of the Jesuit magazine America, for his opinion about the case. His response to Julia Duin of The Washington Times was quite straightforward: "It is more for camera quality than anything else... They don't want distractions that would make the eye wander. I don't think this is motivated by theology, but by communications strategy."

Perhaps Sophia University will have nothing to worry about when inviting dignitaries like President Obama, for it doesn't have any Jesuit logo, statue, or symbol to cover up! Although Sophia clearly asserts its Jesuit and Catholic identity in PR materials, the university itself is bereft of Christian icons and symbols.

Leaving aside the Jesuit logo controversy, you can watch President Obama's full address at Georgetown University by clicking the picture below.

Click here to watch Obama's Lecture at Georgetown University
For more on the story, see
Baier, Bret. Religious Symbols Covered Up When President Obama Spoke at a Catholic University. Fox News.
Duin, Julia. Obama at Georgetown: The mystery of the missing sign. [The Washington Times]
Eden, Dawn. UPDATED?Obama's messianic jargon hits 'rock' bottom ...
and G'town removes the Holy Name to accommodate The One.
[The Dawn Patrol]
Houston Chronicle, The. Georgetown's Cover-Up

[Thanks to a Washington correspondent for bringing this story to my attention.]


Sofia, Washington D.C. said...

Thank you for bringing out to the readers of your blog this sad topic on not only how disloyal catholic institutions of higher education are to the Church but also how they betray our Lord in such a cheap way.
G.K. Chesterton brilliantly points out that the Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age (The Catholic Church and Conversion) and that the Church often has to go against the current. It looks like this however does not apply at all to Georgetown University in Washington D.C. One is tempted to say to Georgetown leaders “you are just acting like Judas.” Sadly, this Jesuit university is totally emerged in the current, most likely for some contemporary profits and benefits. Its leaders lost the perspective on life. Chesterton also said that the dead thing goes with the stream but only a living thing can go against it.

Catharina CS said...

I think it is extremely rude even for the President of the United States to ask the hosting institution to hide its logo for whatever reason. Would you still feel honored to have the President on campus who'd deny the most important identity of your institution? Or is this one step forward for Georgetown to declare that the university has nothing to do with the Jesuits and the Catholic Church?

Sophian said...

Hi Sofia and Catharina CS,
Thanks to both of you for entering your comments. Of the motivation of Gu and the President Obama's Office, I'm ignorant... so I tend to give a more charitable interpretation...!

Anonymous said...

I am sure Sophians have more important things to worry about. What a storm in a teacup!

Is IHS a Jesuit motto? Does it mean "In Hoc Signo" or the first three letters of the name IESOUS in Greek? There has been a lot of confusion about this.

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