Saturday, 2 March 2013

Mother Teresa's Was No Saint - New Paper In Canadian Journal Studies in Religion

Mother Teresa (source)
Canadian scholars Serge Larivée and Genevieve Chenard of University of Montreal's Department of Psychoeducation and Carole Sénéchal of the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Education will soon be releasing a paper in the journal Studies in Religion/Sciences religieuses that will echo much of what Christopher Hitchens has said about the less-than-saintly life of Mother Teresa.  The paper is discussed in a press release on the University of Montreal website on Friday.

Mother Teresa: anything but a saint...

In the paper, they lay out some all-too-familiar charges against Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu.
The missions have been described as "homes for the dying" by doctors visiting several of these establishments in Calcutta. Two-thirds of the people coming to these missions hoped to a find a doctor to treat them, while the other third lay dying without receiving appropriate care. The doctors observed a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions, as well as a shortage of actual care, inadequate food, and no painkillers. The problem is not a lack of money—the Foundation created by Mother Teresa has raised hundreds of millions of dollars—but rather a particular conception of suffering and death: “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ's Passion. The world gains much from their suffering," was her reply to criticism, cites the journalist Christopher Hitchens. Nevertheless, when Mother Teresa required palliative care, she received it in a modern American hospital. 
Mother Teresa was generous with her prayers but rather miserly with her foundation's millions when it came to humanity's suffering. During numerous floods in India or following the explosion of a pesticide plant in Bhopal, she offered numerous prayers and medallions of the Virgin Mary but no direct or monetary aid. On the other hand, she had no qualms about accepting the Legion of Honour and a grant from the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti. Millions of dollars were transferred to the MCO's various bank accounts, but most of the accounts were kept secret, Larivée says. “Given the parsimonious management of Mother Theresa's works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?”
The summary goes on to point out just how warm and fuzzy Western media were with her and how  "the media coverage of Mother Theresa could have been a little more rigorous.” All of this is essentially echoing charges against the now-beatified Teresa levelled by Christopher Hitchens.

Those on the other side have wasted no time trying to discredit the paper.  Over at Science Codex, an unnamed blogger has already posted Atheists in the humanities tear into Mother Teresa again.  Facts and references be damned, it's those darned atheists in the humanities.
Despite atheists criticizing her, Mother Teresa gained an image of holiness and infinite goodness. According to the three academics, her meeting in London in 1968 with the BBC's Malcom Muggeridge, an anti-abortion journalist who shared her "right-wing Catholic values" - being against abortion - was crucial. Further revising history and even telepathically knowing the motivations of people they never met, they declare Muggeridge decided to promote Teresa. In 1969, he made what they call 'a eulogistic film' of the missionary, promoting her by attributing to her the "first photographic miracle," when it should have been attributed to the new film stock being marketed by Kodak.
This Muggeridge fellow is not invited to my dinner party.  He, like Mother Teresa, saw nothing in this world more beautiful and noble than human suffering, than misery.  For me, this makes him and her both enemies of humanity.

As for the miracle, Hitchens had refuted it repeatedly.  The camera man himself couldn't understand why Muggeridge was so impressed by the performance of a new kind of film from Kodak in dimly lit rooms.  Not a miracle, technology.
The miracle in question was “a photographic miracle” of “divine light” which brilliantly illuminated BBC cameraman Ken Macmillan’s footage of Mother Teresa’s dimly lit Home for the Dying, but which Macmillan attributes, instead, to a new and better variety of filmstock recently shipped from Kodak. “It is the first unarguable refutation of a claimed miracle,” Hitchens wrote, “to come not merely from another supposed witness to said miracle but from its actual real-time author.”
But go ahead and refute until you're blue in the face.  Some people are no interested in having their illusions broken.

I may just pick up a copy of this article myself.  It's nice to hear more scholars standing up and pointing to the ugly facts when it comes to this woman and the suffering she so lovingly cherished in this world - the suffering of others that is.

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