The National Catholic Review
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Lift High the Cross

Students returning to class this semester at Boston College found a surprise: crucifixes adorning their classrooms. This traditional Catholic image has been a lightning rod in many Catholic colleges and universities over the last few decades, as schools struggled to make all students, no matter what their religious belief (agnostics and atheists included), feel welcome and at the same time strove to maintain the elusive goal of “Catholic identity.” The move stirred dissent among some students and faculty at B.C. “I can hardly imagine a more effective way to denigrate the faculty of an educational institution,” said one faculty member to a campus newspaper. In response, William P. Leahy, S.J., the college’s president, said, “By what logic would someone expect a Catholic college or university to be non-Catholic?”

The presence or absence of crucifixes in the classroom has too often proven a cudgel with which one side beats the other. Without them, so goes the faulty logic, a school is insufficiently Catholic; with them, it is resolutely religious. But this is too facile an understanding of the symbol. For some Jewish students, the crucifix is not simply a benign token of another faith, but a sign of centuries of Christian domination over their culture. On the other hand, for some Catholic students a crucifix is not just another symbol, but a visible reminder of a school’s religious underpinnings. At B.C., the move was the culmination of a project begun in 2000 to incorporate more Christian art on campus. Despite the danger of sending a message of exclusion, Boston College deserves applause for returning a central Catholic symbol to its classrooms, and we hope that naysayers will see that the Catholic world is still truly catholic, welcoming all students of good will.

The Curious Case of Steve Jobs

Even before the advent of the iPhone, the founder and C.E.O. of Apple, Steve Jobs, was treated like a god. Macintosh computer users praised his products for their sleek design and ease of use, while techies lionized him for his pluck in taking on the Microsoft behemoth. Today Jobs is a dot-com icon, a father of the digital revolution who also somehow managed to transform the music industry with the introduction of the iPod. His annual Macworld Conference & Expo is anticipated with an excitement usually reserved for bands from Liverpool or movies that begin with the word Star.

Jobs also appears to be a sick man. Five years ago he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but he quickly returned to work after surgery and treatment. This past June, however, he appeared at an Apple event looking gaunt and pale, prompting widespread speculation that the disease had returned. At first Jobs said the weight loss was due to a hormonal imbalance, but he has since admitted the situation is more complex and has taken a leave of absence. Meanwhile, Apple investors have seen their stock prices rise and fall with each health report, and the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Apple is guilty of securities fraud for failing to report accurately Jobs’s condition.

It is a strange story, to be sure, a narrative that combines the personal and the professional in a highly unusual manner. What impresses most is not Mr. Jobs’s accomplishments, remarkable as they are, but the vulnerability of his company in the face of personal frailty—a stark reminder of the ephemeral nature of all of our creations.

Blessed Are the Pure of Breed

The 133rd annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at New York’s Madison Square Garden, held this year on Feb. 9 and 10, once again captivated huge and avid crowds. It is the second-oldest continuously running sports event in the United States (after the Kentucky Derby). More than 2,500 dogs representing over 150 breeds were brought from around the world to compete. The 2009 winner is a 10-year-old Sussex spaniel named Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee (aka Stump). He meets one of the many stiff standards put forth by the W.K.C.—no more than seven parts are allowed in the dog’s name. Without question, there is great prestige attached to membership in this club; but it has set the bar so high that winning breeds quickly become the dogs of choice. This leads to over-breeding (including inbreeding), at puppy mills as well as among “backyard breeders,” to meet demand.

The Pedigree Foundation is to be commended for its sponsorship of the event; their ads on the W.K.C. Web site promote awareness of homeless dogs—25 to 30 percent of which, according to the Humane Society of the United States, are purebreds. Still, seven million adoptable pets in shelters across the country are euthanized each year because of overpopulation. Unfortunately, overemphasis by the W.K.C. on the physical appearance of breeds has in some instances over time had a negative impact on the natural, innate abilities of certain breeds—hunting skills, for example—and posed health problems too. The perfect dog is not necessarily the pampered purebred. You can find him or her at your local animal shelter.

Comments

MAURA DONAHUE | 3/6/2009 - 4:26pm
I'm glad that BC got the "guts" to proclaim its identity. BC is following the University of Dayton (yes, a Catholic university), who over the past few years has insured that all classrooms have at least a simple wood cross on the wall.
Karin | 2/28/2009 - 4:54pm
"seven million adoptable pets in shelters across the country are euthanized each year because of overpopulation. " If this statement were true, the majority of those pets would be puppies and kittens. They are not. With minor exceptions, the animals killed in U.S. shelters are juveniles and adults. Most are brought to the shelter by the family that raised them, willingly kicked out the only home they will know in their short lives. While continued attention to spay and neutering of pets is very important, puppy-mills and shelter euthanasia exists because too many Americans consider their pets to be disposable property that can be gotten rid of when they are inconvenient.
William Rydberg | 2/26/2009 - 10:49pm
I am very happy about his development. Good show Jesuit Fathers!
michelle benedict | 2/25/2009 - 11:14am
I went to a Catholic high school and grammar school. Some of my friends there were not of the Catholic faith but no one complained that basically every room had a crucifix. If I went to Yeshiva University, I would expect to see symbols of my Jewish friends' faith, and so on. However, I think we need more representations of the living, triumphant Jesus or Jesus as the Good Shepherd. We should celebrate our faith. Lastly, I appreciated the article about the dogs. It made me think of St. Francis of Assisi who loved all of God's creatures and who preached kindness to all. As an animal lover, I thank you. Peace.
michelle | 2/25/2009 - 11:11am
I went to a Catholic grammar and high school and we had a few students that were'nt Catholic. We appreciated learning about their faith and no one complained about having a crucifix in a Catholic school. I do agree with some of the other posts as to having a representation of the living Jesus too. We should celebrate our faith a little more. And, although many probably don't agree, I enjoyed the little article about the dogs. Made me think of St. Francis of Assisi who appreciated and made time for the least of God's creation. As an animal lover, I thank you. Peace.
THOMAS WEADOCK | 2/22/2009 - 3:01pm
SHOCKED!!! Absolutely shocked that a Jesuit Universit did NOT have crucifixes in classrooms. I graduated in the sixties from two Jesuit Universities (West Coast & Midwest)and we had crucifixes AND we had Jewish, Protestant, Atheists, and Agnostics...no one complained. Why do Catholic Institutions feel the need for following the Way of The Cross?
Michael R Saso | 2/20/2009 - 8:48pm
Perhaps a Byzantine icon, or the resurrected Christ with a Cross background, would be nore aesthetic than this 19th century more gauche style of a sanitized crucifixion scene, immaculate white waist cloth, from an era when faith was less politically sensitive .
Robert Koch | 2/20/2009 - 5:26pm
Boston College is a Catholic school. The crucifix is a central figure in the Catholic faith. Non-Catholic students know that BC is a Catholic College before the enroll. If they do not like Catholic references, there are thousands of other school they can and should attend. Not only was BC's belated decision to install the crucifix near mandatory, the previous exclusion was shameful. Political correctness run amuck
Mary Keane | 2/20/2009 - 4:47pm
Catholic University of America has small crucifixes in each classroom. I was quite surprised by the commentary of some of my fellow students concerning this practice: one stated that the practice was "hilarious." I was left to wonder whether the speaker would make similar comments to those from other faiths, and indeed, was puzzled as to why this individual chose to attend an institution whose name might suggest religious affiliation. In either case, it appeared that education beyond that afforded in the classroom might be indicated.
Ed Doyle | 2/20/2009 - 4:16pm
I am a 70 year old "cradle" Catholic and Georgetown graduate. Mr. Seale gets it, Fr. Mark does not. I was gratified to read your comment, Mr. Seale, and I am happy to know that we share the same belief about what is important in our faith. I believe that Cardinal McKerrick directed the hanging of the Crucifixes at GU and the local Knights of Columbus said they would buy the Crucifixes and do the actual work of hanging them if GU could not get it done.
rayrice | 2/20/2009 - 4:13pm
Fr Leahy is correct....Jewish ,Muslim and Hindu doctors compete to work at Catholic hospitals where crucifixes are in every room.(they also want to associate with Catholic educational institutions) Why should Catholic colleges give up their identity to please a few who do not appreciate the sacrifices made by Catholic Clergy, Lay people and their friends to make excellent education possible..
Marvin Seale | 2/20/2009 - 3:28pm
I have a wealth of experience in the halls and classrooms of higher education at both public and private institutions, but no exposure to a Catholic college or university. As a recent and, as is so often the case, rather fervent convert to Catholicism, one of my main goals in the course of my remaining career is to work at a Catholic school. I find it incredible that the same constraints I feel on my faith at a secular institution may be imposed there. I will risk sounding naive in an effort to be brief and blunt, but I thought the purpose of a Catholic education was to further one's Catholic education and faith, and the emphasis should be on recruiting and retaining the faithful. If staff, faculty, and even students at BC or elsewhere want to deny or denigrate that cause, could you please move over and make room for me and my children.
MARK HALLINAN SJ | 2/20/2009 - 2:24pm
I am not sure why the editors of America should be celebrating the return of crucifixes to the classroom of Boston College. Here I am presuming that we are speaking of a cross with the a depiction of the dead Jesus on as your accompanying photo suggests. The crucifix, per se, is not a central symbol of our faith. The cross is a central symbol of our faith, but not necessarily a cross with a depiction of the dead Jesus. There is a real question as to whether we, as Christians, want to make the crucifix with the dead Jesus a central symbol of our faith. After all, ours is not a dead God, but a living God. After the Second Vatican Council, there was a salutary movement within the Church to replace the crucifix with a cross that depicted the risen Christ victorious over death. This is, after all, the central message of our faith. Unfortunately, this fell victim over time to those forces within the Church wanting to roll back the changes that flowed from the Second Vatican Council. Now we are told, for example, that only a crucifix may be used as a processional cross. While in certain liturgical seasons it may be appropriate for us to recall the reality of the suffering and death of Jesus, in the ordinary course of our Christian life we would do well to focus on the hope that is central to our Christian faith - that life triumphs over death. This is what modern crosses featuring the risen Christ seek to illustrate and celebrate. If BC had chosen to put up simple crosses,or even crosses with the risen Christ, they would have better served both their own Catholic students and those not of the Catholic faith. Of course, it is bitterly ironic that BC is celebrating its Catholic identity by hanging crucifixes in its classroom shortly after honoring then Secretary of State Rice with an honorary degree. The policies she supported in the Bush administration were often antithetical to fundamental Christian values. In celebrating the introduction of crucifixes into the classrooms at BC, the editors of America demonstrate a surprising lack of thought.
Daniel McGrath | 2/20/2009 - 1:53pm
I appreciate the decision by BC to return the Crucifix to the classroom. If only Georgetown would follow the example. My neice who is attending graduate school there tells me that the undergrad classrooms do feature Crucifixes, but the grad school doesn't. I can't imagine the logic behind that policy inconsistency. I think it patently silly for anyone of any faith attending or teaching at a Catholic learning institution to expect that institution to sweep our art and iconography under the rug in order to make non-Catholics feel less threatened.
ROBERT MCNULTY | 2/20/2009 - 1:51pm
Steve Wozniak was the technical founder of Apple,along with Steve Jobs, marketeer. Jobs has indeed returned to make Apple the giant it IS. Some day some one may write the checkered story of the man whose naame is inscribed on the right wall of the Children's Museum in San Jose "and to the special friend of the children, Steve Wozniak"
M.Keelan | 2/20/2009 - 1:23pm
What an incredibly strange assortment of "Current Comments" with "Comments" and the emphasis in each so perplexing for AmericaMagazine: if Boston College is reinstating the crucifix in classrooms, then, since Christian Art is mentioned as the catalyst,why is that not the main point, or at least of significant importance? It is a brilliant way to achieve many educational and ecumenical goals. If Jobs is sick with pancreatic cancer, why is America Magazine focussing on the rise and fall of Apple stock? And is it really necessary to give such play and precious space to the dog shows and all they signify? If one thinks long and hard enough, then this writer may have some points, but as stated here, they miss the point of their own subjects.
ET Morrison | 2/20/2009 - 1:21pm
Lift High the Cross article is timely, I comment William P. Leahy, S.J., the college’s president, for his stand and hope that they consider future Crucifix's like the San Diamanio Crucifix of St Francis also as it has a story to tell. Expecting a Catholic College to hide their artifacts is like asking a college to not display their seal. What's next hide the american flag because it offends someones legacy, get real folks your on American and BC Catholic soil.
Patricia | 2/20/2009 - 1:17pm
Good for BC----as an alum (SOM '86) from a BC family I think it's great for BC to return to it's roots. Why should anyone, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, or any other faith be offended? They know, or should know, going in that it is a Catholic school in the Jesuit tradition.

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