Monday, August 27, 2007

Mother Teresa's deception

So, the big story in the atheist blogosphere right now is revelations of Mother Teresa's inner religious turmoil. My first thought when I saw this is it gives a whole new angle to Christopher Hithcens' expose of her back in the 90's (The Secular Outpost has good links there). But one thing needs to be said loud and clear (from Daylight Atheism):
Despite her intense inner turmoil, Teresa always kept up a facade of cheerful piety in public, professing religious sentiments which she did not truly feel. Her letters reveal that this was a fully conscious act of deception. She called her smile "a mask", and wrote privately to a confidant about one public appearance: "I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love… If you were [there], you would have said, 'What hypocrisy.'"
So many people are sucked into Christianity by promises of happiness--they need to know that many of the promising testimonials are faked.



Jeremy said...

The thing with Catholicism, though, is that the emphasis is not on faith but rather on THE faith, aka the Catholic faith, and doing what one can to be a good Catholic. Mother Teresa is a good example, I would say, of how many, if not most, within Catholicism think and feel. As a Protestant Christian, I see this as a problem, but I also see it within my own faith tradition, in particular the tradition I was raised in. The mentality is that as long as one intellectually claims agreement with the tenants of the faith then they are "saved." And this causes a lot of problems in my opinion.

Transplanted Lawyer said...

From the reports I've read, the entries in her journal indicate that she entertained grave and serious doubts about her faith, but she did not take the final step of admitting to herself that she had lost it. It seems likely to me that by the time she had got herself into a place internally where she could have said, "I don't believe a word of this," she was a world celebrity and felt reliant upon the religious trappings of her charity work to sustain the flow of money needed to support it. Which is kind of sad, especially if her fear was true and she kept up the facade just to keep the dollars flowing.

exapologist said...

I think it's direct experimental disconfirmation of Johannine and Pauline Christianity, which make predictions about "peace and joy in the holy spirit", and "rivers of living water" flowing out of one's inmost being, if one abandons the self in discipleship to Jesus. Mother Teresa conducted a 66 year experiment on that, and the results came in against the hypothesis making that prediction. (Notice that I'm talking about *sanctification*, which *does* require that one do something, and not *justification*, which Protestants take to be an act of faith. I suppose that one could deny that Mother Teresa had "the right kind" of faith, but that's of course batshit crazy).

Add to this the experimental disconfirmation of the effectiveness of prayer, and Johannine and Pauline christianity start to look like degenerative research programs.

Anonymous said...

Mother Teresa was human just like the rest of us and she had spiritual battles just like the rest of us Christians. The Bible says that Christians "will" be tempted and tested by the evil one (a.k.a. Satan). That is a promise, a sure thing. But despite her doubts, she kept right on doing what she believed to be right in God's eyes. That's true faith. Believing that something is true even when you can't see it or feel it.

If you want an example of a successful "experiment" then check out Brother Lawrence's life in which he experienced continual joy:

"For about thirty years his soul has been filled with joy and delight so continual..."