Friday, August 31, 2007

What is Teresa teaching us?

Time magazine's recent (excellent) piece on Mother Teresa's dryness and "dark night" experiences during most of her spiritual walk has made quite a stir. And I have indeed been stirred by the realization that her faithfulness, love and service stemmed completely from grace, not even assisted by those moments of joy and spiritual consolation that most of us think we need in order to keep our spiritual lives on track.

The uber-predictable Christopher Hitchens, who has made a lucrative profession as an Atheist, has a slightly different perspective.
So, which is the more striking: that the faithful should bravely confront the fact that one of their heroines all but lost her own faith, or that the Church should have gone on deploying, as an icon of favorable publicity, a confused old lady who it knew had for all practical purposes ceased to believe?

Well, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Mr. Hitchens seems to believe that everyone is on the lookout for the Main Chance and is ready to leverage all for personal advantage. Ergo, I believe, his rather energetic and hysterical responses over the years to Mother Teresa as the epitome of all things Christian. More fool, he.

But another sort of reaction takes me more by surprise. TSO wrote a lovely post in response to the Time article. In a headstrong moment, he sent it to a local Baptist minister with whom he has swapped ideas in the past. The minister's response is, um, puzzling.
I am absolutely astonished at the "spin" people are putting on this!!! I simply can't believe what I'm reading. To live a life devoid of peace, joy, faith - is nothing to be admired. Her works, absolutely - but the life described in her writings is the polar opposite of the entire New Testament.

I am blown away by the rationalization I am reading from people simply trying to defend the undefendable.

As I said - I am truly astounded. And I honestly, sincerely mean that.


I find this stupefying. "Rationalization"? "Undefendable?" Is he saying she was in a state of sin and separation from God? That it's evidence that she wasn't really a Christian? What on earth would he suggest that she do? Go out and manufacture some better feelings? Drown her sorrows in whiskey and be less honest with her confessor? Learn to like Gilmore Girls to take her mind off her troubles?

It makes me want to throw things.

Where is this man coming from? Help me, please. I don't want to sin against this guy.


Therese Z said...

That minister IS missing something: the cross. It's only half a faith if joy is the only goal.

Who is easier to reach, the one who wants only joy in faith, or the one who wants no faith at all? Sometimes, I think maybe the second, because somewhere in the inevitable anguish that meets everybody in life, they may cry out for help. But the "joyful" may be content to stay where they are.



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