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Covering up the Real Rock at Georgetown (What Obama was really communicating in his speech)
Insight Scoop ^ | April 16, 2009 | Carl Olson

Posted on 04/17/2009 10:21:05 AM PDT by NYer

This news about President Obama's speech at Georgetown, reported by Catholic News Service, is causing a bit of a stir:

Georgetown University says it covered over the monogram “IHS”--symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ—because it was inscribed on a pediment on the stage where President Obama spoke at the university on Tuesday and the White House had asked Georgetown to cover up all signs and symbols there.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the “IHS” monogram that had previously adorned the stage at Georgetown’s Gaston Hall was still covered up--when the pediment where it had appeared was photographed by

“In coordinating the logistical arrangements for yesterday’s event, Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage,” Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president for communications at Georgetown, told

More of the story, along with photos, are available on the CNS site.

Julia Dunn of The Washington Times' Belief Blog provides some helpful quotes:

Julie Bataille from the university's press office e-mailed me that the White House had asked that all university signage and symbols behind the stage in Gaston Hall be covered.
"The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they've done for other policy speeches," she wrote. "Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn't high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross above the GU seal and it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context."


Not every Catholic institution would have caved to quite this extent. Victor Nakas, spokesman for Catholic University, e-mailed me to say several presidents have visited CUA and the most recent administration official to speak there was then-Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I can’t imagine, as the bishops’ university and the national university of the Catholic Church, that we would ever cover up our religious art or signage for any reason," Mr. Nakas wrote. "Our Catholic faith is integral to our identity as an institution of higher education.

But, of course, the prize for Obamaccommodation, goes to a usual suspect:

I called the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Institute at Georgetown University, who was at the speech, as to what he thought.

"It is more for camera quality than anything else," he surmised. "They don't want distractions that would make the eye wander. I don't think this is motivated by theology, but by communications strategy."

Students "were dying to get into the hall," he added. "There is this great enthusiasm for Obama especially among Catholic young people. The conservatives don't know how to deal with this. 

"The audience wanted to cheer and cheer this very professorial address. He played Professor Obama. He's a damn good professor but not even he could make economics a barnraiser."

And what, exactly, was being communicated? As Daniel Pulliam of the Get Religion blog points out, it was a message about economic policy based, in part, on a biblical metaphor—and not just any metaphor, but the metaphor of "The House Upon a Rock":

Most news stories I have surveyed on President Obama’s speech Tuesday on the economy (among other things) have mentioned his use of the biblical metaphor of the nation’s economy being built on a rock, but few have gone beyond the message’s surface. (See here, here, here, here, here, and here.) For starters, none of the stories I read mentioned that President George W. Bush used a lot of religious metaphors and was at times criticized for using such language.
Obama has used the Sermon on the Mount before in his political rhetoric, (namely to express his support for civil unions), but this is one of the first times that I remember where biblical passages have been used for an area outside the social issues:

Here is the pertinent part of the speech:

Now, there's a parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that tells the story of two men.  The first built his house on a pile of sand, and it was soon destroyed when a storm hit.  But the second is known as the wise man, for when "the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, it fell not:  for it was founded upon a rock.

It was founded upon a rock.  We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand.  We must build our house upon a rock.  We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity -- a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.

It's a foundation built upon five pillars that will grow our economy and make this new century another American century:  Number one, new rules for Wall Street that will reward drive and innovation, not reckless risk-taking -- (applause); number two, new investments in education that will make our workforce more skilled and competitive -- (applause); number three, new investments in renewable energy and technology that will create new jobs and new industries -- (applause); number four, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses; and number five, new savings in our federal budget that will bring down the debt for future generations.  (Applause.)
That's the new foundation we must build.  That's our house built upon a rock.  That must be our future -- and my administration's policies are designed to achieve that future.

It's worth looking at the larger context of the passage used, from Matthew 7:

"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' "Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it." And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matt 7:21-29)

All of this, I think, is quite ripe with ironic, even surreal, qualities: The President of the United States goes to the oldest Catholic university in the U.S., has the university cover up the monogram of the name of Jesus Christ, then gives a speech in which he prominently uses (or misuses) a biblical passage about the necessity of building one's house on Christ and His teachings in making his case for "the new [economic] foundation we must build" in the United States. And then a prominent Jesuit crows about the "great enthusiasm ... especially among Catholic young people" for a man who appears to be purposefully subverting the words of Scripture for his political ends. Audacity, indeed.

All of which begs a simple question: upon what, exactly, is Georgetown built? And who, exactly, does it serve? And for what end?

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Moral Issues; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: catholic; fivepillars; georgetown; islam; obama
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To: Dallas59

61 posted on 04/17/2009 7:48:02 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: humblegunner

No really.

62 posted on 04/17/2009 7:50:01 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: PghBaldy

I too am beginnig to wonder what he really is,if anything but an enormous ego.

63 posted on 04/17/2009 10:34:14 PM PDT by red irish (Gods Children in the womb are to be loved too!)
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To: MarkBsnr; humblegunner

Catholic Encyclopedia or not, that’s too complicated for most normal people. Just remember that it originated from using the first three letters of the name of “Jesus” in Greek (not Latin), which is IHS. (Although the Greek writing can sometimes make the first letter look like a J, but it’s the same letter.) So IHS means “Jesus” because it’s the first 3 letters of His name in Greek, period.

St. Ignatius of Loyola used this symbol to honor Christ, and the Jesuits and all Catholics have traditionally done so for centuries. You see “IHS” still (I hope) on altar linens, vestments and in older church mosaics and carvings.

There are about a dozen other explanations floating around since this Georgetown controversy brought the abbreviation, or monogram at it’s usually called, to the attention of the general public, most are some poetic but incorrect version of history. (The “By This Sign” is also incorrect.) I think the cutest, and this might be a good message for our time anyway, is that it’s an acronym for “I hate sin.”

64 posted on 04/17/2009 11:08:07 PM PDT by baa39
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To: baa39
I just posted this thread because of the stuff floating around. Catholic [and Christian] Symbols
65 posted on 04/17/2009 11:17:41 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: PghBaldy
He said "five pillars." If this was Match Game, the next words would be "of Islam":

I think you are the first one to point this out; I haven't seen it anywhere in the MSM, of course, but it is a positively blatant reference to Islam.

66 posted on 04/18/2009 7:00:37 AM PDT by livius
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To: PghBaldy
Like most leftists of his ilk, Obama is a secularist. He regards religion in general as ignorant superstition. However, he regards Christianity with particular disdain because it has been the traditional faith of Western Civilization for two thousand years.

I don't think he worships Allah or gives a whit about Mohammed. He worships himself and his leftist worldview. But since Islam is at war with the West, he has sympathy for it as an ideological battering ram against what he regards as the world's true evil, Western Christendom. He will thus tolerate and even defer to Islam if convenient, just as militantly atheistic European leaders do. He will bow to Islamic leaders if it will "piss off the Bible thumpers" back home.

It is very important for him to deligitimize, and ultimately stigmatize, the idea that America and Christianity have some type of link. For that reason, he couldn't allow himself (the highest ranking American government official) to be seen in a Christian venue. Of course, politically expedient exceptions can be made as needed, such as making the rounds of the black church circuit when he's up for re-election in 2012, but in general he wants to obliterate the idea that America is a part of Western Christendom. He wants us to be an EU-type nation at war with its own heritage.

67 posted on 04/18/2009 7:18:28 AM PDT by puroresu (Enjoy ASIAN CINEMA? See my Freeper page for recommendations (updated!).)
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To: puroresu

Good post. Explains well the people I know. He has a special case of it though- missing daddy and all.

68 posted on 04/18/2009 11:18:45 AM PDT by PghBaldy (Obama raised Muslim, bows to Saud, removes Christ from GU, says "Five Pillars...")
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To: puroresu
But since Islam is at war with the West, he has sympathy for it as an ideological battering ram

I think this is true, but bear in mind that Islam is the one truly theocratic religion: that is, the religious law and the secular law are one and the same, and the religious rulers are also the secular rulers.

I think the only time this was tried in Christianity was by Calvin, but it didn't work because Christianity is not theocratic and maintains the distinction between God and Caesar, and Geneva became a failed experiment. Christianity spontaneously rejects theocracy.

Bambi and most Marxists would actually be fine under Islam, because they can impose their Marxist collectivist economy and enforce the ultimate Islamic control, which is both secular and spiritual.

69 posted on 04/18/2009 5:29:16 PM PDT by livius
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70 posted on 04/18/2009 6:53:51 PM PDT by Coleus (Abortion, Euthanasia & FOCA - - don't Obama and the Democrats just kill ya!)
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