St. Mother Teresa

by Brad Nelson9/2/16

Kevin Williamson has a good article that brought to my attention that Mother Teresa of Calcutta will, on Sunday, be recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church. Kevin thoughtfully writes:

Mother Teresa was an uncompromising opponent of putting the unborn to death in the service of sexual and economic convenience, and for that many people will never forgive her. Her critics will make the same argument made by Margaret Sanger, the eugenicist who founded Planned Parenthood and enshrined her pseudoscientific views therein: Think of all the misery that might have been averted if the people suffering from that misery had never existed! “I am going to make you wish you were never born!” is a bully’s threat, not a philosophy of community life. But that idea remains very much with us, and, these being perverse times, it is the people who oppose that idea who are denounced as cruel, inhumane, or fanatical.

Mother Teresa’s challenge was twofold: to help those suffering avoid falling into the error of being sorry they had been born, and to help the rest of us avoid falling into the error of being sorry that had been born, or merely acting as though we were sorry they had been. When anti-abortion activists talk about the “seamless garment” of human life and human dignity, this is what they are talking about.

But we like finding the seams.

Poverty, contrary to the bedtime stories we like to tell ourselves, is not ennobling. It is a safe bet that many of the people Mother Teresa and her sisters have helped over the years were not especially good people, and that some of them were simply bad people. Perhaps you’ve seen something like this yourself, volunteering at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. For many people, the main problem presented by doing charity work is the sort of people one encounters. We are not supposed to talk about it, but the people helped by food banks and the like have a strange and powerful talent for changing one’s mind about the virtue of helping people at all. That certainly has been my experience, which is one of the many reasons you can pencil in my canonization for never.

Rest in splendid peace, St. Teresa. May you be standing with the angels.


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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8 Responses to St. Mother Teresa

  1. Gibblet says:

    Save the snail darter,
    holding progress in its net.
    Save the spotted owl,
    which I haven’t spotted yet.

    Save the little puppies,
    from their awful plight.
    Save the noble whale,
    hunting seal with bloody bite.

    Save the nat, and save the bee.
    Pet the bison, hug a tree.

    But if the poor
    should look to thee,
    Oh, the heartbreak!
    Turn and flee.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Very nice, Gibblet.

      I’m a smug son of a bitch. I’ll admit that. I say that because I think some appreciation for Catholicism must now come from non-Catholics, especially considering how much of Catholicism has been given over to Cultural Marxism where entire economies and traditional worthwhile ethical systems are being overturned to accommodate that always-glamorous and deserving entity, “the poor.”

      Williamson nails it when he writes:

      Poverty, contrary to the bedtime stories we like to tell ourselves, is not ennobling. It is a safe bet that many of the people Mother Teresa and her sisters have helped over the years were not especially good people, and that some of them were simply bad people.

      One is not a saint necessarily because one has helped poor people. If that were so, Ronald Reagan, Bill Gates, or any number of high-flyers, who have done much to unleash the benefits of market capitalism and thus reduce poverty, would deserve sainthood. They have helped far more people escape poverty than Mother Teresa or frauds such as Obama or Hillary Clinton who profess deep care for “the poor” but do little but ensare people in entitlements.

      And I say that not to diminish Mother Teresa but to point out that helping the poor in the way she helped the poor is a task accomplishable by nothing less than a saint. I challenge anyone to spend any amount of time helping “the poor” and I know for sure you will run smack-dab into the reality that Kevin Williamson talks about.

      We’ve come to glamorize “the poor,” even make them victims. But many of “the poor” are simply drunks, drug abusers, drifters, bums, or vagrants. Many are “poor” precisely because they are not nice people or people who have been inculcated with traditional beneficial and benevolent values.

      By canonizing Mother Teresa, at least from my vantage point, we are not glamorizing the poor but recognizing that even bums, vagrants, drifters, and drug abusers are worthy of human compassion.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I rather like Gibbet’s response. It’s a good example of the paradox of liberal “compassion”.

    Back in the 70s, a couple of friends worked as bank tellers (one was in management training) in a bank in the West End, home of many welfare-oriented blacks. Both had very negative reactions to the clientele. One commented that he now supported forced busing (a big issue in Louisville then) because if he had to put up with blacks, everyone else should have to as well. (Oddly enough, we once went bowling at an alley in that area with a couple of his black co-workers. I don’t think he was talking about them.) The other noted people who would come in with extra welfare checks, which they referred to as their “back pay”.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I believe all the religious talk in the world is just babble compared to the sacrament of service that Mother Teresa took part in. In fact, I think most religious babble is a simple replacement for such service, an alleviation of guilt for not taking the path that is clearly outlined.

    I also think, despite the deranged ravings of secular nitwits such as Christopher Hitchens, that people such as Mother Teresa have a different view of reality than you or me. I’m not saying they are “enlightened” or any kind of idiotic buzzword such as that. I mean that, despite her doubts, her faith was real. It would have to be in order to overlook the veneer of human behavior…or at least to see that behavior as a mere veneer.

    I believe that people such as Mother Teresa see every life as a song, a melody, with some lives, of course, made up of discordant notes particularly as many people insist on continuing to strum those off notes. But it would be the belief of someone with the perspective of Mother Teresa that those vibrating strings which are our lives are attached to a Divine bridge (keeping with the guitar metaphor) and that together they make a complete song, each person playing their part in the orchestra. Some songs are sad. Some songs are actually bad. But the note of pathos can be as beautiful as that of joy.

    Although the motives may be mixed, I believe it is right and proper for the Church to recognize those people who are flying a little higher than the rest of us, who are as different from normal humans as a normal humans are (or should be) from a wolf.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Religion, at least Christian religion, is supposed to bring one to a different level of being, for all intents and purposes. It’s not supposed to be a profession of “Jesus magic” whereby the most faithful and devoted are the best at citing chapter and verse rather than living chapter and verse.

    Intellectualism is a disease that spares no one. One of the most renowned intellectuals was Christopher Hitchens who showed the true trait of intellectualism which was being masterful with language as a thing unto itself (although in service, of course of a second layer of wishes and emotional needs).

    Here’s a man whose head blew figuratively apart when the vacuousness of his long-practiced materialism/atheism (not to mention his vapid intellectualism) hit something as nonintellectual (in a good way) as Mother Teresa. The long and the short of it is that Hitchens, supposedly a smart person, could find no other category for her but to call her a whore.

    Those committed to an evil ideology cannot do anything but dump their venom on the good. Here’s a quote from Hitchens:

    “Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”

    “Many more people are poor and sick because of the life of Mother Teresa: Even more will be poor and sick if her example is followed. She was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions.”

    Now a couple quotes from Mother Teresa:

    “If you can’t do great things, do little things with great love. If you can’t do them with great love, do them with a little love. If you can’t do them with a little love, do them anyway. Love grows when people serve.”

    And…

    “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile.”

    Here’s a brief summary of her life.

    So….let us a call the woman who helped those who needed help a “whore” because she didn’t back abortion which, presumably, would end all suffering (by ending existence, of course).

    Those who have swallowed down the poison of materialism/atheism have little to do but besmirch a gentle nun who served in the way she thought best. All that some others can do is pontificate and distance themselves from their own feelings of guilt and corruption but shouting loudly about the whore from Calcutta.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Note that Hitchens, if he had been a decent person, could simply have said that her ideas were useless for eliminating poverty, however good she may have been at ameliorating it for those she dealt with. He had no need to condemn her as a fraud (even if wrong, she no doubt was sincere). And yet he did, and that says something about Hitchens, not Mother Teresa.

      The goal of Johnson’s War on Poverty was to eliminate poverty, which it resoundingly failed to do. It did have some ameliorating effect, but at the price of worsening it. Indeed, Johnson and his policies did more to maintain poverty (by encouraging single-parent families) than Mother Teresa may have done. She at least didn’t make that mistake. I wonder if Hitchens realized that on that issue, she was right and Johnson was wrong.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Note that Hitchens, if he had been a decent person, could simply have said that her ideas were useless for eliminating poverty, however good she may have been at ameliorating it for those she dealt with.

        He could have said such a thing. But I was not aware the Mother Teresa was trying to “eliminate poverty.” (As you noted, that was the stated intention of malignant people such as LBJ.) She saw a need in a dive called “Calcutta” and did the work she thought was required of a decent human being, especially one claiming to follow Jesus.

        Who knows? Maybe an army of nuns like her really could “eliminate poverty.” But it seems unlikely and it seems unlikely that was her goal because she was well aware of the inherent nature of human suffering.

        Criticism from confused people such as Hitchens are of the type “So, you helped that old lady cross the road but what are you doing to cure old age?”

        Going to Calcutta and alleviating (and certainly not curing) the misery of backwater areas of a country is not the only way to help people. But it is one way. And I can’t help thinking that Hitchens’ own guilty conscience was the real issue, as well as his embrace of the evil doctrine of the Left.

        The first step in righting this nation, or any nation, is being able to tell the difference between good and evil. Hitchens, for all his supposed intellectual acumen, had a hard time with that. He used his brain power often for dubious causes. A lesson for us all.

        On the other hand, Mother Teresa saw a man in a gutter who was ill and she helped him. Damn her for not also forwarding the cause of abortion.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    When I pitch my ear to listen to the dead air, I think I’ve heard more praise from Christians for Donald Trump on this site than I have heard for Mother (soon to be saint) Teresa. Tell me why I shouldn’t conclude that most of you are phonies?

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