Hey, it’s your buddy Ron Gold.
I was reading how Boston College, a Jesuit, Catholic school, recently filled their campus and classrooms with Catholic symbols in a stealthy fashion:
Students and faculty returned to campus after winter break to find that Boston College had quietly completed, without announcement or fanfare, an eight-year project to dramatically increase the presence of Roman Catholic religious symbols on campus. The additions are subtle but significant, as the university joins other Catholic institutions around the nation in visibly reclaiming its Catholic identity.
The new Catholic imagery includes a few large statues and mosaics, though more obtrusive are the Catholic icons placed in all 151 classrooms, most of which are crucifixes.
There have been no significant objections from the 70% Catholic student body, but some members of the faculty unsuccessfully attempted to get the crucifixes removed. One faculty member explains his distaste:
“I believe that the display of religious signs and symbols, such as the crucifix, in the classroom is contrary to the letter and spirit of open intellectual discourse that makes education worthwhile and distinguishes first-rate universities from mediocre and provincial ones,” Maxim D. Shrayer, chairman of the department of Slavic and Eastern languages and literatures, said in an interview.
However, some of the faculty has been downright giddy over the changes:
“Christian iconography and symbols permeate this place and always have,” said the Rev. John Paris, a Jesuit priest who teaches bioethics at BC. Paris said he finds “offensive” the notion that a crucifix impedes the ability of students or faculty to think critically in a classroom and called the criticism “the narrow and bizarre musings of a few disgruntled folks.”
“This is a small problem for those with small minds,” Paris added. “This is not a serious controversy.”
Of course, Boston College has every right to litter their campus with Catholic symbols, but I don’t see why it’s necessary or a good idea.
Even though the current students don’t appear to be bothered by the new symbols, I could see prospective students being turned-off by them. I know if I were a high school student thinking of enrolling at Boston College, then saw loads of Catholic images while visiting the campus, I would feel unwelcome. Surely, many other non-Catholics would feel the same way.
Also, having crucifixes in the classrooms does nothing to help the ambiance. I can’t be the only one who finds the image of someone being crucified to be mildly disturbing. And for that matter, having a crucifix in a science class as opposed to a miracle class is a bit of a contradictory message.
But in the end, what is Boston College really accomplishing by putting up all of these Catholic symbols, besides isolating non-Catholics? I can see how their big statue of a saint is an appropriate ode to their history, though the crucifixes in every classroom are totally unnecessary. Really, any student who feels compelled to constantly be in the presence of Catholic imagery can wear a cross.