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Mother Teresa's lengthy, unresolved crisis of faith
August 23, 2007 7:54 PM   Subscribe

From a Time magazine article: A new, innocuously titled book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works. The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book's compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, "neither in her heart or in the eucharist." Previously on Mother Teresa's doubt, more generally.
posted by ibmcginty (110 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just don't know about this.
posted by yhbc at 8:00 PM on August 23, 2007


What Hitchens said.
posted by dhammond at 8:16 PM on August 23, 2007


The church will, of course, come up with an explanation of how this meant God existed all the way along.

In their worldview, you can't really be good if you don't feel God; the fact that Mother Teresa did so very much while not really believing will be a powerful source of discomfort, and they'll rationalize some explanation or other.

My view: Mother Teresa saw the reality of life more intimately than nearly anyone who has ever lived; she saw no kind and benevolent God because it doesn't exist. Kindness and benevolence comes from us, not an invisible superhero in the sky, and there wasn't much of it to be found toward her chosen charges.

I suspect she would likely have found her inevitable sainthood wholly repellent.
posted by Malor at 8:16 PM on August 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


... and we all still wonder where all that money went she got? Since her order was so big on suffering as a way to spiritual enlightenment I am sure it didn't go to the poor and dying people ...
posted by homodigitalis at 8:18 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Her death was overshadowed by the death of Diana Spencer. That's all one needs to say about it. It covers the whole deal, folks.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 8:22 PM on August 23, 2007


Her death was overshadowed by the death of Diana Spencer.

That's a shame. I'd say both were equally adept at providing meaningless comfort to flocks of humans the world over.
posted by dhammond at 8:25 PM on August 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Indeed.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 8:26 PM on August 23, 2007


So we do become the thing we hate. Hitchens must have doubts on the Iraq debacle now. Yet he continues on driven by a faith that is never answered except by more disappointments. He waits just like Mother Teresa for a transcendent moment that will bring meaning and a conclusion to the great mission. In the end though there is just another dying beggar, or truck bomb to punctuate the day.
posted by humanfont at 8:31 PM on August 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


So we do become the thing we hate.

However misguided, Hitchens' support for the war is really more about his long-standing affinity for the Kurds, coupled with a vehement hatred for all things tyrannical, especially when borne out of religious ideology. So maybe (okay, probably) he's wrong about the majority of Bush's actions in the "war on terror" but I don't think it's because he's a staunch ideologue. He's just a bad ass drunk motherfucker who hates dictators.

/derail

posted by dhammond at 8:38 PM on August 23, 2007


"...But to the U.S.'s increasingly assertive cadre of atheists, that argument will seem absurd. They will see the book's Teresa more like the woman in the archetypal country-and-western song who holds a torch for her husband 30 years after he left to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned."

I'm "just" agnostic, and yet I find this deeply offensive. Some people will see it that way, sure, because some people are cynical through and through.

But being part of the vast non-christian conspiracy doesn't mean we're unable to recognize a good person when we see one. If her devotion to her faith despite her doubts is what led her to work so selflessly for mankind, then who the hell am I to dismiss it that casually?
posted by Riki tiki at 8:43 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


then who the hell am I to dismiss it that casually?

A big part of Christianity is doubt, actually, and I hope her skepticisms are actually discussed among religious people vis a vis the concept of free will (especially Catholics). Not holding my breath, though.

What's unfortunate about Mother Teresa is that she seemed more concerned with racking up souls for the lord than actually working with humans on an individual level and helping them through the struggles of their faith.
posted by dhammond at 8:51 PM on August 23, 2007


If her devotion to her faith despite her doubts is what led her to work so selflessly for mankind, then who the hell am I to dismiss it that casually?

That would be a good question if Mother Teresa's work had been as good as is commonly believed. Check out this thread for the real story on her life's work. In the hospital she ran, patients dying of cancer were offered aspirin instead of morphine and were told to offer up the pain to God. Dying patients were baptized regardless of what their religion was. Mother Teresa got a donation from one of the men involved in the Lloyd's of London mess and would not return it despite knowing that it was stolen money. Instead she told the victims to forgive the people responsible for the theft. She was fanatically opposed to birth control. She turned every donation her hospital got over to the Vatican - meanwhile, her hospital was criminally undersupplied. If Mother Teresa didn't believe in God anymore, what was her excuse for maintaining the Catholic line?
posted by orange swan at 8:56 PM on August 23, 2007 [10 favorites]


for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever

This only embiggens her further in my eyes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:56 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why this is any business of ours. This is the worst kind of voyeurism.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:01 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Except that, as Hitchens documents, she didn't work selflessly for mankind. She was a sick, twisted suffering fetishist who raised millions of dollars that were split between building more places to die (and that's literal- the "shelters" she built are horrible hellholes) and the Vatican coffers and cavorted with dictators. She was a horrible individual, and her veneration is a symbol of all that's wrong with the Church and all that's wrong with modern humanity.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:06 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


It isn't entirely clear that Mother Theresa really helped the world in a net fashion.

If she cared about people, why wouldn't she be trying to improve conditions for the living? Or treat people who had a chance of living?

Here's an article by the annoying Christopher Hitchens where he claims that her clinic withheld painkillers (I heard from somewhere else the claim she said, "Their pain is an offering to God," which is pretty horrible if so.)

It seems to me that she was an ambitious and aggressive woman pushing her own agenda, which was evangelism, using her clinic as a figure-head.

It certainly accounts for the loss of God in her life!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:07 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


no mr. den beste, a far worse voyeurism would be watching a mother teresa sex tape.
posted by bruce at 9:07 PM on August 23, 2007


Grr, the Hitchens article already came up. Never mind...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:08 PM on August 23, 2007


for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever ...

"But Lord, at the hardest times, I only saw one pair of footprints!"

"Listen punk, that's when I was carrying your self-entitled whiny slacker ass! Now go make me a sandwich!"

... At least, that's how I remember how it ends.
And if it doesn't, it really should.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:20 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why this is any business of ours. This is the worst kind of voyeurism.

Now, wait a tic. Someone spends all of their very long life trying to push their viewpoint as publicly and aggressively as they possibly can, becoming one of the most public figures in the world.

Then it's revealed that the entire basis of her actions is hollow -- as she's a candidate for sainthood.

Why is this "voyeurism," please?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:22 PM on August 23, 2007


Now, wait a tic. Someone spends all of their very long life trying to push their viewpoint as publicly and aggressively as they possibly can, becoming one of the most public figures in the world.

Then it's revealed that the entire basis of her actions is hollow -- as she's a candidate for sainthood.

Why is this "voyeurism," please?


Because "I don't like having the people that I hold up as moral exemplars being revealed as hollow shams" sounds a lot more whiny and self-involved than "This is the worst kind of voyeurism", which shifts the blame from Mother Theresa for being a scam and on to us for pointing that out.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:27 PM on August 23, 2007


Yes, religion is just a big lie. Time to move on people.
posted by disgruntled at 9:28 PM on August 23, 2007


Wow, orange swan - thanks for the link to that thread, I never knew that Mother Teresa was so Machiavelian.

It almost sounds like she was brainwashed (I guess, indoctrinated would be another way to put it) into the benefits of recruiting and fundraising for the faith and that this conditioning was strong enough to overrule her rational mind.

I really hope the Vatican doesn't get into cahoots with the CIA.

(Hmm, does the Vatican have a "sanctioned," publically stated intelligence service?)

As to the (dead-tree) correspondence, do employees/members of the Catholic church have the right to demand that their correspondence be destroyed after their death? It's, like, company correspondence/records.

If I asked for my lab books to be destroyed after a left a position I'd be laughed at.
posted by porpoise at 9:28 PM on August 23, 2007


If Mother Teresa didn't believe in God anymore, what was her excuse for maintaining the Catholic line?

Almost all overt religious figures have NPD.
posted by Brian B. at 9:30 PM on August 23, 2007


This reminds me of San Manuel Bueno, mártir. Now there was a messed-up dude.
posted by silby at 9:32 PM on August 23, 2007


It's good to learn she was depressed and anguished over the lack of god and such, but it's too bad she had to take it out on all those desperately poor people, many of them with no stake in her particular school of voodoo.

Nuts to her.
posted by kenlayne at 9:33 PM on August 23, 2007


I don't think the fact that Teresa went decades without feeling the presence of God is unusual. I know many deeply committed ministers and priests, but few of them have ongoing deep experiences of the divine presence. What is unusual about Teresa is that she had such a vivid experience of Christ when she was young--the vision that led her to Darjeeling, and that resulted in the creation of the Sisters of Charity. After such a remarkable experience, the half-light shadowy kind of faith that comprises daily existence for most believers seemed to her the greatest darkness. I don't go about my life despairing that I don't have a deep sense of God's presence. I don't often feel God with me, but it doesn't greatly bother me. It drove Teresa to despair. Personally, I like that about her. She came close enough to God to miss him when he seemed absent. That's pretty much my working definition of a saint.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:36 PM on August 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

--from the crucifixion account in the gospel of Matthew

It's not as though feeling distant from God is unattested in Christian tradition. Far from it.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:41 PM on August 23, 2007 [12 favorites]


do employees/members of the Catholic church have the right to demand that their correspondence be destroyed after their death? It's, like, company correspondence/records

It is "like" company correspondence, I guess, but not very much like it. There's not a set of "From The Holy See to You" Vatican Stationery issued to every member of the Catholic Church. Often, members of the Catholic Church just write things like, "Bunglin, how have you been, son? It's been so long since you called."
posted by bunglin jones at 9:47 PM on August 23, 2007


Wow. Flawless Victory, Pater Aletheias.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:51 PM on August 23, 2007


Protestants will lick their chops at this. Sola fide, as they say.

Hitchens' comment also seems to be a terrible misreading of the text (at least based on what we've been provided, Theresa's struggle was very poignantly with her personal relationship, not a universal one), but you gotta give the guy credit for being a never-ceasing book-promoting machine.
posted by pokermonk at 9:52 PM on August 23, 2007


the "shelters" she built are horrible hellholes

Mate, hospitals in India are horrible hellholes.

As for the rest of the accusations against her - forced conversions, passing money to the Vatican, etc - I'd heard of such things & heard them both asserted & denied in equal measure, so I think I'll sit on the fence for now, as to whether she was a force for good or not, overall.

I also tend to wonder whether the fact that she was ostensibly religious has anything to do with peoples' apparent eagerness to tear her down. It seems as if they are unable to do the lolxtian thing, so are forced into evilxtians! instead.

One thing, though: spending a lifetime among the sick, poor & dying in India is pretty far from my idea of a holiday.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:19 PM on August 23, 2007


The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever...

Huh? Didn't Teresa ever look down and realize that Jesus was totally CARRYING her? It's weird, but that guy just really likes to carry people around. Did she never notice that during her frequent tropical vacations her single set of footprints in the sand always looked like they were made by a tall, bearded white dude? I mean, I've had to tell him to stop carrying me, actually... I really do need the exercise more than he does... him being invisible & dead and all. And walking around in the sand is really good for building up the calves...
posted by miss lynnster at 10:21 PM on August 23, 2007


It's not as though feeling distant from God is unattested in Christian tradition. Far from it.

Is not acting like a Christian, a la Agnes Bojaxhiu, part of the Christian Tradition?
posted by bardic at 10:22 PM on August 23, 2007


(For me, her greatest sin would be a staunch refusal to endorse birth control in an area where it would have demonstrably improved the quality of life for many people. The situation was certainly one she couldn't solve all by herself, but IMO actively encouraging poverty is a pretty grievous sin.

Oh, and her penchant for sucking up to dictators would be up there too.)
posted by bardic at 10:27 PM on August 23, 2007


Is not acting like a Christian, a la Agnes Bojaxhiu, part of the Christian Tradition?

Whaddya mean, "part"?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:29 PM on August 23, 2007


"I don't understand why this is any business of ours. This is the worst kind of voyeurism."

I have noticed something about your thought-processes. They are dominated by the urge to repress. The urge to repress that which is unpalatable to you, in all its forms; to argue it away or bury it rather than integrate or contend with it in a productive way. You don't want to face things you don't like, & you'll go to great efforts to avoid it, try to banish it from discussion by others, often under declarations of taboo. In this case it's 'voyeurism', which is something quite harmless, in fact. This seems highly amusing to me. Your 'karma' is to live in a world in which your efforts to change it are always futile.

It's valuable for human beings to discuss such things as the subject of this thread. Because it provides insight into successful evolutionary tactics for survival, essentially. Society learns from such things. Well, some of us do.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 10:31 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


She was a sick, twisted suffering fetishist who raised millions of dollars that were split between building more places to die (and that's literal- the "shelters" she built are horrible hellholes) and the Vatican coffers and cavorted with dictators. She was a horrible individual, and her veneration is a symbol of all that's wrong with the Church and all that's wrong with modern humanity.

honestly? you seriously have got to be fucking kidding me.

so she took money from criminals and dictators? even if only a fraction of that went to helping the poor, what the hell is bad about taking money away from thieves, and using at least some of it to help sick people? end result: bad people have less money, lepers get a hug and a shot.. who loses here?

so the buildings she built and the works she did aren't good enough? isn't dying in a shelter better than dying on the street? isn't getting at least aspirin better than getting nothing at all? isn't, at the very least, providing comfort to someone in their last moments better than letting them die alone? so the hospitals were "criminally undersupplied"? isn't one patient treated better than zero patients treated?

it may seem obvious to you now that the slums of calcutta are miserable, but a good deal of her work involved raising worldwide awareness of what life is like for these people, which in turn leads to further help, and not just through the church.

you people who turn your distaste for organized religion into some kind of fucked-up vindictive smear campaign against anyone involved with a church are repulsive. yes, it was done in the name of the roman catholic church. yes, it was missionary work, which is about converting those who are most desperate.

it also is about helping those people, in real and needed ways. that it was not up to your standards of perfect and unflagging altruism doesn't diminish the good deeds that were done.

question the notion that mother teresa devoted every second of her life to helping others, if you want. question the notion that she was perfect, for i'm sure she wasn't. we all have failings. she was human and did her deeds in the name of a church that causes a good deal of problems. but she DID THEM, at least, which is a lot more good put into the world than, say, sliming a dead woman on the internet all night.

unless the help she has given out has simply been completely fabricated from top to bottom, calling her a "sick, twisted, horrible individual" is seriously the most perverse and insane distortion of morality that i have ever heard in my entire life.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 11:32 PM on August 23, 2007 [9 favorites]


I also tend to wonder whether the fact that she was ostensibly religious has anything to do with peoples' apparent eagerness to tear her down. It seems as if they are unable to do the lolxtian thing, so are forced into evilxtians! instead.

You don't feel comfortable asserting that she's a force for good, but you do feel comfortable asserting that those who claim otherwise are just "evilxtian" bigots?

Perhaps they're just better informed than you. Perhaps you're the bigot.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 11:37 PM on August 23, 2007


helping the poor

This is the crux though. From my understanding (yes, derived through Hitchens), she had a fetish for human suffering. She had no interest in dealing with the structural factors that kept people poor, sick, and starving (lack of birth control, lack of education), if not a downright hostility towards these notions.

Add to this the fact that she did suck up to dictators, and yeah -- it's not surprising that many people think she did far more harm to the poor than good.

"Ye shall know them by their fruits." Was setting up her own cult of personality at the expense of the long-term well-being of her flock a very Christian thing to do?
posted by bardic at 11:43 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


you people who turn your distaste for organized religion into some kind of fucked-up vindictive smear campaign against anyone involved with a church are repulsive. yes, it was done in the name of the roman catholic church. yes, it was missionary work, which is about converting those who are most desperate.

it also is about helping those people, in real and needed ways. that it was not up to your standards of perfect and unflagging altruism doesn't diminish the good deeds that were done.


It's no trick to find starving people to eat crumbs out of your hand, especially if it furthers a worldwide conversion agenda. Regardless, exploiting poverty with a clinic or two around the time of death as part of a worldwide anti-birth-control campaign is in its own class of depravity. If the common idiot somehow gets the idea that people who sit comfortably in productive jobs and who want the causes of such poverty are somehow not walking the walk, then the religionists have succeeded in spreading their disease.
posted by Brian B. at 11:51 PM on August 23, 2007


You don't feel comfortable asserting that she's a force for good, but you do feel comfortable asserting that those who claim otherwise are just "evilxtian" bigots?

Perhaps they're just better informed than you. Perhaps you're the bigot.


To be a bigot, you need to have an identifiable race, religion, gender, sexuality etc to demonise.

I am responding to nameless, faceless people who - for whatever reason - choose to overlook a hefty body of world belief that Mother Teresa was an exceptional human being, perhaps one of the loftiest of the 20th Century, and who seem to be bending over backwards to criticise her life's work on one grounds or another.

This, in spite of the fact that she is revered not only in Kolkata, but indeed across all of India, where you would think that people would be sensitive to proselytisation (they are, acutely) or mistreatment of the poor, sick & dying. It is not uncommon to see her image displayed reverently alongside those of the gods, or popular gurus like Sai Baba.

And yet, some people in the west just want to tear her down. I find this interesting, and suspect that there is something else at work here, but am far from reaching any conclusions.

Why don't you re-read my earlier comment, and take especial note of the following terms (highlighted for your benefit): tend to wonder, ostensibly, anything to do with, apparent eagerness & seems as if.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:14 AM on August 24, 2007


UbuRolvas: It is not uncommon to see her image displayed reverently alongside those of the gods, or popular gurus like Sai Baba.

Speaking of cans of worms and tarnished heroes...
posted by kid ichorous at 1:03 AM on August 24, 2007


Your Role Model Sucks because of "citation", and "citation."

I mean, come on.
posted by bam at 1:08 AM on August 24, 2007


no mr. den beste, a far worse voyeurism would be watching a mother teresa sex tape.

After the Dhalsim sex tape I think India's had enough, don't you? I'll swear I'll never look at downward-facing-dog pose the same way.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:13 AM on August 24, 2007


Because "I don't like having the people that I hold up as moral exemplars being revealed as hollow shams" sounds a lot more whiny and self-involved... etcetera

I'd like to make clear that I've been an atheist for 40 years. And I don't hold up Mother Theresa as a moral exemplar etcetera.

What I do wonder is why so many of my fellow atheists think they have to be anti-theist. Just because you yourself don't believe in any gods, why must you despise everyone who believes in a deity? Why do you treat being religious as indication of mental failing and moral breakdown?

Why not mind your own business?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:30 AM on August 24, 2007


Mother Teresa opposed and blocked access to the very things--condoms, pain medication, education--that would have brought the most help to the people she was supposedly trying to comfort. Perhaps she enjoyed watching people suffer, or maybe she was just reinforcing her job security. Whichever it was, Mother Teresa was not interested in helping people.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:36 AM on August 24, 2007


Just because you yourself don't believe in any gods, why must you despise everyone who believes in a deity? Why do you treat being religious as indication of mental failing and moral breakdown?

Well, the loud ones certainly. Because people voicing and acting on those ill-considered, arbitrary religious beliefs so frequently make life worse for everybody else. Mother Theresa, queerbashers and meth-taking, man-loving preachers, Mr Bush, various Kansas Schoolboards, prophylactive deniers, HIV deniers and other assorted witchdoctors and faith healers, SPUC, money-siphoning spiritualists...

Of course, that's not everyone, but the ones who don't make a fuss, how would we even know they were of the Woo in order to get our despising on?
posted by Sparx at 3:47 AM on August 24, 2007


It is a fascinating philosophical problem and Mother Teresa is only one instance of it. Many of us have feelings of inadequacy. We go to the movies or read books and we see examples of heroic lives--Jesus, Einstein, Payton Manning--whatever. The particular hero is a trivial point. But you can never see inside another person's head.

What if Jesus had tortuous doubt?
What if Einstein was bored with Physics?
What if Payton has a low pain threshhold?

You actually would have to perform the impossible task of taking a test run inside the hero's head to find out factually that your own life sucked at all in comparison.
posted by bukvich at 3:50 AM on August 24, 2007


So basically the cancer patients had to ride the pain all the way so that god might pay her some attention?

Paris Hilton making a sex tape is class compared to MT.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:38 AM on August 24, 2007


what a bunch of sickening, churlish hipster wankers. you really epitomise what Indians mean when they say "people in the west - they are so clever" (the last word almost spat, sarcastically)

To prepare to work with the poor, Mother Teresa took an intensive medical training with the American Medical Missionary Sisters in Patna, India. Her first venture in Calcutta was to gather unschooled children from the slums and start to teach them. She quickly attracted both financial support and volunteers, and in 1950 her group, now called the Missionaries of Charity, received official status as a religious community within the Archdiocese of Calcutta. Members took the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but they added a fourth vow - to give free service to the most abjectly poor. In Mother Teresa's own view, the work of her group was very different from that of secular welfare agencies. She saw her nuns ministering to Jesus, whom they encounter as suffering in the poor, especially those who are dying alone or who are abandoned children.

The Missionaries of Charity began their distinctive work of ministering to the dying in 1952, when they took over a temple in Calcutta that previously had been dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. The sisters working there had, as their main goal, filling with dignity and love the last days of poor people who were dying. The physical conditions of this shelter were not imposing, although they were completely clean; but the emotional atmosphere of love and concern struck most visitors as truly saintly. When the sisters were criticized or disparaged because of the small scale of their work (in the context of India's tens of millions of desperately poor and suffering people), Mother Teresa tended to respond very simply. She considered any governmental help a benefit, but she was content to have her sisters do what they could for specific suffering people, since she regarded each individual as infinitely precious in God's sight.

The Missionaries of Charity received considerable publicity, and Mother Teresa used it rather adroitly to benefit her work. In 1957 they began to work with lepers and slowly expanded their educational work, at one point running nine elementary schools in Calcutta. They also opened a home for orphans and abandoned children. In 1959 they began to expand outside of Calcutta, starting works in other Indian cities. As in Calcutta, their focus was the poorest of the poor: orphans, the dying, and those ostracized by diseases such as leprosy. Before long they had a presence in more than 22 Indian cities, and Mother Teresa had visited such other countries as Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Australia, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Italy to begin foundations. Although in most of these countries the problems of the poor seemed compounded by uncontrolled population growth, the Sisters held strongly negative views on both abortion and contraception. Their overriding conviction was that all lives are precious, and sometimes they seemed to imply that the more human beings there were, the better God's plan was flourishing.

In 1969 Mother Teresa allowed a group called the International Association of Co-Workers of Mother Teresa to affiliate itself with the Missionaries of Charity. This was a sort of "third order, " as Catholics sometimes call basically lay groups that affiliate with religious orders both to help the orders in their work and to participate in their idealistic spirituality. These Co-Workers were drawn to Mother Teresa's work with the very poor, and their constitution specified that they wanted to help serve the poorest of the poor, without regard to caste or creed, in a spirit of prayer and sacrifice.

Dedication to the Very Poor

Mother Teresa's group continued to expand throughout the 1970s, opening works in such new countries as Jordan (Amman), England (London), and the United States (Harlem, New York City). She received both recognition and financial support through such awards as the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize and a grant from the Joseph Kennedy Jr. Foundation. Benefactors regularly would arrive to support works in progress or to stimulate the Sisters to open new ventures. Mother Teresa received increasing attention in the media, especially through a British Broadcasting Corporation special interview that Malcolm Muggeridge conducted with her in London in 1968. In 1971, on the occasion of visiting some of her sisters in London, she went to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to pray with the Irish women for peace and to meet with lan Paisley, a militant Protestant leader. In the same year she opened a home in Bangladesh for women raped by Pakistani soldiers in the conflicts of that time. By 1979 her groups had more than 200 different operations in over 25 countries around the world, with dozens more ventures on the horizon. In 1986 she persuaded President Fidel Castro to allow a mission in Cuba. The hallmark of all of Mother Teresa's works - from shelters for the dying to orphanages and homes for the mentally ill - continued to be service to the very poor.

In 1988 Mother Teresa sent her Missionaries of Charity into Russia and also opened a home for AIDS patients in San Francisco, California. In 1991 she returned home to Albania and opened a home in Tirana, the capital. At this time, there were 168 homes operating in India. Later in 1995, plans materialized to open homes in China.

Despite the appeal of this saintly work, all commentators remarked that Mother Teresa herself was the most important reason for the growth of her order and the fame that came to it. Muggeridge was struck by her pleasant directness and by the otherworldly character of her values. He saw her as having her feet completely on the ground, yet she seemed almost unable to comprehend his suggestion (meant as an interviewer's controversial prod) that trying to save a few of India's abandoned children was almost meaningless, in the face of the hordes whom no one was helping. He realized that Mother Teresa had virtually no understanding of a cynical or godless point of view that could consider any human being less than absolutely valuable.

Another British interviewer, Polly Toynbee, was especially struck by Mother Teresa's lack of rage or indignation. Unlike many "social critics, " she did not find it necessary to attack the economic or political structures of the cultures that were producing the abjectly poor people she was serving. For her the primary rule was a constant love, and when social critics or religious reformers chose to vent anger at the evils of structures underlying poverty and suffering, that was between them and God. Indeed, in later interviews Mother Teresa continued to strike an apolitical pose, refusing to take a stand on anything other than strictly religious matters. One sensed that to her mind politics, economics, and other this-worldly matters were other people's business. The business given by God to her and her group was simply serving the very poor with as much love and skill as they could muster.


"Perhaps she enjoyed watching people suffer, or maybe she was just reinforcing her job security. Whichever it was, Mother Teresa was not interested in helping people."

"people voicing and acting on those ill-considered, arbitrary religious beliefs so frequently make life worse for everybody else. Mother Theresa, queerbashers and meth-taking, man-loving preachers, Mr Bush, various Kansas Schoolboards, prophylactive deniers, HIV deniers and other assorted witchdoctors and faith healers, SPUC, money-siphoning spiritualists..."

"Paris Hilton making a sex tape is class compared to MT."

just wow. when i grow up, i wanna be a clever hipster iconoclast, too.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:07 AM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


(actually, "clever" is not voiced sarcastically - it's more a sense of not seeing the forest for the trees, by paying too much attention to smart intellectual constructs, to the detriment of the larger picture)
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:14 AM on August 24, 2007


You may be past the age of growing up, UbuRoivas.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 5:15 AM on August 24, 2007


i hope so.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:26 AM on August 24, 2007


posted by UbuRoivas (actually, "clever" is not voiced sarcastically - it's more a sense of not seeing the forest for the trees, by paying too much attention to smart intellectual constructs, to the detriment of the larger picture)

Perhaps you can explain to us all how and why Mother Teresa claimed to be helping people while simultaneously blocking their access to condoms, pain medication, and education--the things that would have benefitted them the most by easing their suffering and stopping the spread of the diseases from which they suffered.

Mother Teresa was many things, but she was no saint, and she richly deserves every bit of scorn and derision heaped upon her.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:37 AM on August 24, 2007


I too make my comment without sarcasm, UbuRoivas. You seem enamoured with the old MT image, of before the criticism started to surface about her. You dwell on the detectable instances where the vast resources channeled to MT actually helped the suffering poor, and not what proportion of it did so. You suggest "not seeing the forest for the trees". I propose that the idea of having others suffer for a god that you don't really feel anymore to be one of the few things below pointless torture. I propose that if MT's intent was to help the poor, such actions would be repugnant to her. I propose that sainthood-like goodness must be absolutelly consistent, otherwise it is a scam. That is my vision of the forest.

Not to mention the whole "god wants your suffering" part. Yeah those are the kind of ppl we should unleashing on the helpless.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 5:38 AM on August 24, 2007


Religion didn't work for her. It remains to be seen whether it works for anyone. It also remains to be reasoned out whether "working" involves delusion or not.

Helping the poor is great if you like that kind of thing. Let's not pretend it's a universal value though. Helping others doesn't seem an antidote for suffering either.

While she worked to temporarily or otherwise relieve the physical suffering, and perhaps spiritual suffering, of others, she was unable to relieve her own spiritual suffering. No one seems to have been able to help her.

Maybe she was in the wrong line of work.
posted by ewkpates at 6:05 AM on August 24, 2007


Christopher Hitchens is a "badass" and Mother Teresa is "despicable"...clearly, I've wandered into one of those phildickian pockets of alternate reality that appear like sinkholes now and then here on the surface of the blue. This better have fixed itself by the time I get back with my coffee!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:06 AM on August 24, 2007


sergeant sandwich, the whole point is that yes, her "helping" the poor is almost completely a fabrication. She did nothing to help the poor other than build them slightly less hellholish places to die than the places they were already dying. Hell, don't take it from me, or from Hitchens. Go read the first-person accounts from disillusioned members of her order. Mother Theresa benefited from the misery and suffering of the desperately poor and, thanks to her knack for marketing herself as a saint, became internationally known for work she didn't actually do. I mean, shit, look at this:

Another British interviewer, Polly Toynbee, was especially struck by Mother Teresa's lack of rage or indignation. Unlike many "social critics, " she did not find it necessary to attack the economic or political structures of the cultures that were producing the abjectly poor people she was serving.

That's so thoroughly damning. Mother Theresa didn't give half a dying rat's ass about fixing poverty or helping people out of it or anything nearly so noble- her entire ministry was focused around the idea that the poor should thank God for their misery and "give it to God as an offering". That's not helping the poor- that's making sure that they will continue to be in pain and misery. I've argued before that Christianity's "blessed are the meek" doctrines can easily become a method of keeping the poor in their place so that they can continue to be used and abused by the powerful- given her consorting with dictators, I get the impression that Mother Theresa saw it, too.

What I do wonder is why so many of my fellow atheists think they have to be anti-theist. Just because you yourself don't believe in any gods, why must you despise everyone who believes in a deity? Why do you treat being religious as indication of mental failing and moral breakdown?

This has nothing whatsoever to do with hating Mother Theresa because she was a theist, and it is so typically disingenuous of you to suggest that that it comes as no surprise. Mother Theresa built a reputation as someone who helped the poor and raked in millions of dollars for the Vatican while actively working to make things worse for the poor. While it does make me angry that she was a religious scammer, it's the "scammer" part that angers me and not the "religious" part. She would have been equally vile had she been an atheist raising money for Amnesty International.

just wow. when i grow up, i wanna be a clever hipster iconoclast, too.

If you're going to do a text dump accompanied by ad hominem, you might want to ensure that the text dump doesn't reinforce the point of those you're attacking.

Helping the poor is great if you like that kind of thing. Let's not pretend it's a universal value though. Helping others doesn't seem an antidote for suffering either.

And it would have been awesome if she'd actually done that instead of denying painkillers to those in agony and working to maintain the conditions that cause poverty and suffering.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:46 AM on August 24, 2007


Except that, as Hitchens documents, she didn't work selflessly for mankind. She was a sick, twisted suffering fetishist who raised millions of dollars that were split between building more places to die (and that's literal- the "shelters" she built are horrible hellholes) and the Vatican coffers and cavorted with dictators. She was a horrible individual, and her veneration is a symbol of all that's wrong with the Church and all that's wrong with modern humanity.

It's a pretty rare day when I agree with Pope Guilty on anything. The veneration of Mother Teresa is about image, which is fitting since she tended to her own quite carefully. Hitchens points out a few occasions where there was a calculated intent for her to match her audience's expectations. She catered to the desires of the wealthy and would not change her program to better meet the needs of those around her. Even her devotion to doctrine would take a back seat on occasion, at least it might if it could make one of the world's rich and powerful feel a little better.

A brief excerpt from the Hitchens interview that says a lot:

"During the Divorce Referendum the Irish Catholic church threatened to deny the sacrament to women who wanted to be remarried. There were no exceptions to be allowed: it didn't matter if you had been married to an alcoholic who beat you and sexually assaulted your children, you were not going to get a second chance in this world or the next. And that is the position that Mother Teresa intervened in Ireland to support.

Now shift the scene: Mother Teresa is a sort of confessor to Princess Diana. They have met many times. You can see the mutual interest; I'm not sure which of them needs the other the most. But Mother Teresa was interviewed by Ladies Home Journal, a magazine read by millions of American women, and in the course of it she says that she heard that Princess Diana was getting divorced and she really hopes so because she will be so much happier that way.

So there is forgiveness after all, but guess for whom. You couldn't have it more plain than that. I was slightly stunned myself because, although I think there are many fraudulent things about Mother Teresa, I also think there are many authentic things about her. Anyway, she was forced to issue a statement saying that marriage is God's work and can't be undone and all the usual tripe. But when she was speaking from the heart, she was more forgiving of divorce."

She came close enough to God to miss him when he seemed absent. That's pretty much my working definition of a saint.

Simone Weil has written about the absence of God in considerable depth. All faith is rooted in the lack of presence. It is by God's withdrawal that there is room for our own spiritual longing. To get to the point, I don't think there is anything special about missing God when he is absent. It is at the very heart of the religious world view.

Coming back to Mother Teresa, someone claiming to have a religious vision does not validate them. I mean this with all respect to the religious. It is important to distinguish between the mentally disturbed and those who have been strengthened by their religion. Visions and peak experiences at the end of the day don't mean much. If that's your thing you can get there through drugs or extreme physical activities. Insane asylums are full of people hearing and seeing things. Mother Teresa was a zealot with a simplistic view of the world. Now I don't need heroes, but the people whose suggestions I take seriously are those who acknowledge their own ignorance, the limits of belief (that is, opinion), and look to become more responsive to the world in all of its complexity. This isn't about Christianity or Catholicism, it's that there isn't anything there past a sound bite.

just wow. when i grow up, i wanna be a clever hipster iconoclast, too.

From your posts in this thread it looks like you are well on your way. Look at you bucking the conventions of your community!

Irony is rarely laugh out loud funny, but you mentioning Mother Teresa's image occupying a similar position of reverence as Sai Baba is hysterical. I may think her reputation is overblown but I would never consider her anything like the kind of parasite Sai Baba is. I have seen no evidence that the Indian people are wary of proselytization. On the contrary, Sai Baba being adored across India is a damning indictment of their gullibility and the ease with which they might be taken advantage of by any charlatan in religious trappings that comes down the road.
posted by BigSky at 6:48 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


When Rush Limbaugh goes after MetaFilter, this is the thread he'll quote.
posted by athenian at 7:03 AM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


isn't dying in a shelter better than dying on the street? isn't getting at least aspirin better than getting nothing at all? isn't, at the very least, providing comfort to someone in their last moments better than letting them die alone? so the hospitals were "criminally undersupplied"? isn't one patient treated better than zero patients treated?

The point most of us are trying to make here isn't that Mother Teresa did nothing of any value, but that she decided not to do so much that she so easily could have done. Her organization literally received hundreds of millions of dollars in donations. She chose to turn it all over to the Vatican rather than buy pain medications, or even basic supplies like needles - which in her hospitals were "sterilized" by running them under running water and reused until they were so blunt the patients would scream when they were given a shot. Her staff were expected to go without routine medical or dental care — do you have any idea how important it is to have healthy people looking after the sick?

If I took a desperately sick homeless person into my home and people gave me far more than enough money to buy him or her the medical supplies that were needed, but I turned all the money over to the Vatican and expected my patient to suffer agonies and just be happy to have enough to eat and a clean, warm bed to sleep in, I would be morally culpable. If I take charge of a sick person or a child, I am then morally responsible for giving them a reasonable standard of care so far as it is reasonably in my power to give it.
posted by orange swan at 7:04 AM on August 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


What I do wonder is why so many of my fellow atheists think they have to be anti-theist. Just because you yourself don't believe in any gods, why must you despise everyone who believes in a deity? Why do you treat being religious as indication of mental failing and moral breakdown?

I do see that often here on MeFi, Steven, and I object to it as well, but I don't think any criticism of Mother Teresa in necessarily rooted in "anti-theism". I hold everyone responsible for their own actions, I expect a certain integrity of profession and action, and I expect people who subscribe to ideologies — any ideology — to keep their brains switched on and to understand that every ideology has its limits and that it must allow for functionality. Mother Teresa failed on several of these counts. I don't care if you're Christian, Buddhist, Communist or Druid, if you deliberately let someone in your care scream in agony when you are fully able to relieve his or her pain, you are morally responsible.

Why not mind your own business?

I hate this "mind your own business, it's not our place to judge" line of argument. People are social creatures. We're interested in each other, in issues, in thought, and experiences apart from our own narrow sphere. We wouldn't have anything resembling society or community if we didn't.

And people make do value judgments constantly. It's how we get through life, how we choose what relationships to be in, what street to cross, how to vote, how to help others, so saying "Don't judge" is like saying "Don't breathe". It's certainly important to remember we don't know everything, that we may not have considered carefully enough what we do know, that we are probably wrong much of the time, that we shouldn't actively meddle in matters that truly belong solely to other people.

But telling people to mind their own business in a discussion forum is a silly line of argument. If you were truly minding your own business, you wouldn't be in this thread telling people to mind theirs. What you're really doing is trying to shut down the conversation because you don't agree with it. It's a hypocritical and misguided attempt to take the high road. Tell us we're wrong and tell us why, take issue with our arguments, but don't try to dictate what we should and should not take an interest in.
posted by orange swan at 7:05 AM on August 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


UbuRolvas: It is not uncommon to see her image displayed reverently alongside those of the gods, or popular gurus like Sai Baba.

Speaking of cans of worms and tarnished heroes...


When I worked at the House of Blues in 1994, a good portion of its profits went to the Sai Baba. Most people don't know that. The founder of the HOB was a devout follower and there was even a giant photo of Sai Baba near the ceiling in the dining room. Creeped me the hell out.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:39 AM on August 24, 2007


The Founder of the House of Blues
posted by miss lynnster at 8:41 AM on August 24, 2007


Another British interviewer, Polly Toynbee, was especially struck by Mother Teresa's lack of rage or indignation. Unlike many "social critics, " she did not find it necessary to attack the economic or political structures of the cultures that were producing the abjectly poor people she was serving. For her the primary rule was a constant love, and when social critics or religious reformers chose to vent anger at the evils of structures underlying poverty and suffering, that was between them and God.

I don't get this at all. I haven't spent much time thinking about Mother Teresa, ever, but I cannot understand a person who could watch hundreds (thousands, through the years, I suppose) suffer and die and not take any action to change the system which causes the suffering and dying. And to not give as much comfort and pain alleviation as possible? How? Why?

There's a hospice organization here called Maitri, which was founded by a Buddhist monk named Issan Dorsey; one day, he found a young homeless man dying of AIDS in the street, and he took him into his room and cared for him.

People who work with the poor and homeless here in San Francisco don't just hand out sandwiches and blankets; they also advocate for affordable housing, medical treatment, job training, and so on. How could you not? What was that thing about giving a starving man a fish, or teaching him to fish? I'm sure I've read that somewhere...
posted by rtha at 8:53 AM on August 24, 2007


Turning millions of dollars over to the Vatican (which then, presumably, used it to pour more pate de fois gras down the wattled throats of degenerate Italian cardinals) rather than feeding the poor? Lined people up in cots and forcibly baptized them? Made them pray the rosary before they received pain medication? Merely fed, clothed, educated, and sheltered the poorerst of the poor, and did not start a revolution which ended poverty globally?!?! For shame.

Seriously, I thought this sort of kneejerk anti-Catholic bigotry went out with Protestant revisionist historians and Gothic potboilers.
posted by Wavelet at 9:02 AM on August 24, 2007


The point most of us are trying to make here isn't that Mother Teresa did nothing of any value, but that she decided not to do so much that she so easily could have done.

exactly ... with a keyboard, a computer, internet access and 5 bucks to matt, she could have become one of the world's moral authorities and changed the future ... instead of pissing around india oppressing the dying on the streets poor with shelters, aspirin and condoms

we all know that every time someone posts to metafilter a kitten rises from the dead ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:17 AM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


"She had no interest in dealing with the structural factors that kept people poor, sick, and starving (lack of birth control, lack of education), if not a downright hostility towards these notions."

Well, it's important to see her as a counter-point to the Liberation Theology of Latin America that was concerned with those very things. One could argue that, in light of the new evidence outlining her lack of divine presence, she turned her doubts into a more dogmatic adherence to the tenets of Catholicism, both good and bad.

But of course, we can't disagree on policy points with Mother Theresa without calling her the worst person to ever live, the Hitler to the Hindus, Attila the Nun, etc. can we? God forbid that philosophical differences be caused by anything less Manichean than her absolute evil (atheists abandon God but not the vicious judgementalism that comes often with religion).
posted by klangklangston at 10:22 AM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


exactly ... with a keyboard, a computer, internet access and 5 bucks to matt, she could have become one of the world's moral authorities and changed the future ... instead of pissing around india oppressing the dying on the streets poor with shelters, aspirin and condoms

This "well, you're just wanking away posting to MeFi so what gives you the moral authority to criticize someone who actually did anything at all" argument is asinine. If you're implying that MeFi is a complete waste of time, Metafilter is a forum designed specifically to give people ready access to interesting ideas and to allow us to discuss them, which is a perfectly valid and worthwhile end in itself and can be a very educational and enjoyable part of any good world citizen's life. If you're assuming that all the people here do nothing other than post on MeFi to the exclusion of helping others or doing their bit to make the world a better place, you're wrong.

And Mother Teresa did not give out condoms.
posted by orange swan at 10:22 AM on August 24, 2007


God forbid that philosophical differences be caused by anything less Manichean than her absolute evil

Yeah, well, the problem with that is when our society is willing to say that it counts ("Mother Theresa clearly had philosophical differences that led her to cause people to suffer, so that's OK"), and when it isn't (You know who else had philosophical differences that led them to cause people to suffer?)

If we're actually willing to admit that differences in philosophy justify what our culture would normally call atrocity or evil, then there is no such thing as atrocity or evil anymore. Which is fine by me, but then, I don't believe in universal morals to begin with.

As for this:
What I do wonder is why so many of my fellow atheists think they have to be anti-theist. Just because you yourself don't believe in any gods, why must you despise everyone who believes in a deity? Why do you treat being religious as indication of mental failing and moral breakdown?

Being anti-Christian is not the same as being anti-theist. It is quite possible to object to Christianity based on the tenets and beliefs involved, not merely the vague notion of a deity. This is where I'm at -- Christianity is as to my preferred moral system as the plague is to the human system, but there are several other theist systems that aren't as harmful. Not coincidentally, most of them were wiped out by the Christians...
posted by vorfeed at 11:36 AM on August 24, 2007


"Yeah, well, the problem with that is when our society is willing to say that it counts ("Mother Theresa clearly had philosophical differences that led her to cause people to suffer, so that's OK"), and when it isn't (You know who else had philosophical differences that led them to cause people to suffer?) "

ZOMG HITLERZ! THAT PROOVES SHE WAS EVIL!
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 AM on August 24, 2007


This is where I'm at -- Christianity is as to my preferred moral system as the plague is to the human system

Well spoken, Marilyn Manson.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:03 PM on August 24, 2007


Well spoken, Marilyn Manson.

Yes, yes, if you find Christianity repugnant, you're a rebellious teenager looking to shock people! It couldn't be that you find the doctrine of salvation to be offensive to human dignity! It couldn't be that you find telling people in slavery and bondage to love their oppressors and refuse to rise up and claim their rights as human beings! It can't be that you have any valid objections to Christian morality!

Oh, no, it's got to be that people who find Christianity repulsive are shallow teenagers looking to shock people. After all, there's nothing there that one could possibly find offensive to one's morality!
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:25 PM on August 24, 2007


Seriously, I thought this sort of kneejerk anti-Catholic bigotry went out with Protestant revisionist historians and Gothic potboilers.

No matter how hard you want it to be so, that's not what this is about. If she'd swapped out Catholic rites for Protestant or Jewish or Islamic or Buddhist or Hindu rites while refusing to provide earthly succor to her charges, she'd still be the same piece of shit.

...though come to think of it, those religions don't have the worldwide structure necessary to make a con job like hers possible.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:28 PM on August 24, 2007


ZOMG HITLERZ! THAT PROOVES SHE WAS EVIL!

Um, I know it's kind of difficult to actually read what I wrote, but come on, make an effort. I'm not saying she's Hitler, I'm saying that the same excuse you're using to explain what she did applies equally to Hitler, or to anybody else, for that matter. If you're OK with that, that's one thing, but I suspect that you're not, and that you're applying some sort of double-standard.

Well spoken, Marilyn Manson.

If you're actually interested in finding out what I mean (hint: I'm serious, and I'm not just saying it for "shock value" or to rebel for-rebellion's-sake), drop me an email or ask for clarifications here.

Otherwise, fuck off. Your one-liner bullshit isn't going to change morals I've spent a lifetime discovering.
posted by vorfeed at 1:10 PM on August 24, 2007


"I'm not saying she's Hitler, I'm saying that the same excuse you're using to explain what she did applies equally to Hitler, or to anybody else, for that matter."

Only, again, if you willfully ignore any sense of proportion and good faith.

And sure, I can say that I agree with some of Hitler's goals (restoring national pride after the unfair Versailles gutted Germany) without endorsing his methods (you know, that Holocaust thing).

But arguing that the idea that I'd have philosophical differences with both Hitler and Mother Theresa makes them comparable on any intelligent level is so farcical that it can't be answered by anything but a HITLOLZ reply (leaving aside that for one so concerned with being misconstrued, you obviously didn't bother to comprehend my previous point before launching into your broad rhetorical flourish).

"Otherwise, fuck off. Your one-liner bullshit isn't going to change morals I've spent a lifetime discovering."

What the fuck is this, Carebears hour? That you've spent a "lifetime" discovering your morals has nothing to do with their validity. Oh, and PS— might wanna hold off on demeaning one-liners and sloganeering in the face of strongly-held beliefs, so long as you want to toss out shit like Christianity being a plague on the body public.
posted by klangklangston at 1:34 PM on August 24, 2007


posted by Pope Guilty though come to think of it, those religions don't have the worldwide structure necessary to make a con job like hers possible.

More accurately, those religions don't subscribe to the world-view that people should be forced to endure pain and suffering.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:39 PM on August 24, 2007


I'm not really interested in finding out what you mean, because I don't know you other than as someone who posts bombastic statements to message boards. You may be a much more interesting person than that implies, so much so that I just gotta know how you came to this conclusion, but I don't know that yet, so I'll reserve my request for more info until such a time as I do. Re: your above statement -- Pope Guilty admonishes me thusly:

Yes, yes, if you find Christianity repugnant, you're a rebellious teenager looking to shock people! It couldn't be that you find the doctrine of salvation to be offensive to human dignity!

And I reply that it could be all kinds of things, but it actually sounds like a rebellious teenager looking to shock people, and if that is not the way you, vorfeed, would like to sound to people, you may wish to tweak your style of discourse rather than telling people who poke fun at it to "fuck off". Because that kinda maybe doesn't make you sound as mature as you might maybe think it does.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:40 PM on August 24, 2007


you may wish to tweak your style of discourse rather than telling people who poke fun at it to "fuck off".

You didn't "poke fun". You dismissed him/her, in a way that expressed not only a contempt for his/her beliefs, but for the poster him/herself. "Fuck off" is precisely the correct response to that kind of idiotic shit. If you want respectful responses, be respectful. Don't slap someone in the face and act like the aggrieved party when you're slapped back.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:11 PM on August 24, 2007


I'm not really interested in finding out what you mean, because I don't know you other than as someone who posts bombastic statements to message boards. You may be a much more interesting person than that implies, so much so that I just gotta know how you came to this conclusion, but I don't know that yet, so I'll reserve my request for more info until such a time as I do.

In other words: "I'm not actually interested in discourse, just cheap-shot insults."

And I reply that it could be all kinds of things, but it actually sounds like a rebellious teenager looking to shock people, and if that is not the way you, vorfeed, would like to sound to people, you may wish to tweak your style of discourse rather than telling people who poke fun at it to "fuck off". Because that kinda maybe doesn't make you sound as mature as you might maybe think it does.

Sorry, but I don't think "Well spoken, Marilyn Manson" is any more mature than "fuck off". Nor is hiding behind "maturity" as some kind of shield, while all the while refusing to engage in debate or discussion.

Lastly, If you can't handle response in kind, maybe you should tweak your discourse style.
posted by vorfeed at 2:12 PM on August 24, 2007


says rosary: thou shalt not post while drunk or fried, thou shalt not post while drunk or fried, thou shalt not post while drunk or fried *am i up to 100 yet? ah, whatever, that's good enough...
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:14 PM on August 24, 2007


"I'm not saying she's Hitler, I'm saying that the same excuse you're using to explain what she did applies equally to Hitler, or to anybody else, for that matter."

But arguing that the idea that I'd have philosophical differences with both Hitler and Mother Theresa makes them comparable on any intelligent level is so farcical that it can't be answered by anything but a HITLOLZ reply (leaving aside that for one so concerned with being misconstrued, you obviously didn't bother to comprehend my previous point before launching into your broad rhetorical flourish).


I don't think vorfeed is arguing the idea you assign. Here's my understanding of vorfeed's point. Person A considers certain of Mother Teresa's actions to be immoral, e.g. flattery of Duvalier and her use of the best health clinics while refusing to upgrade health services at her own centers. Mother Teresa's actions are defended on the grounds of 'philosophical differences'. If 'philosophical differences' alone can absolve one person then they absolve all. 'Philosophical differences' is just another way to bring in a relative standard for judging morality. Comparing Mother Teresa to Hitler is grotesque, and there is no such comparison. vorfeed is claiming that to excuse on grounds of relative morality would excuse Hitler as well. This isn't about proportion, it's about what constitutes a valid excuse.

For most of those who believe there is such a thing as absolute morals, some of her actions are unacceptable. Either the standard exists and applies to all or it doesn't exist at all. She created a gate to bring money and attention to some of the world's poor and then chose not to lessen their pain. You can call that policy if you want but many consider that choice a morally significant act and would use stronger language.
posted by BigSky at 2:33 PM on August 24, 2007


pyramid termite writes exactly ... with a keyboard, a computer, internet access and 5 bucks to matt, she could have become one of the world's moral authorities and changed the future ... instead of pissing around india oppressing the dying on the streets poor with shelters, aspirin and condoms

if i went around ... asking people to call me ... st. bardic ... and send me ... lots of money to help ... the poor ... and then i didn't ... you'd have ... a ... point

Funny thing here is, I've seen plenty of ad hominem attacks against Hitchens, but not a single poster who actually tries to refute his basic point -- that she was a fraud.

Your favorite religious charlatan sucks until you can demonstrate otherwise. I'll grant that if you take a person on death's door and put them under a roof and give them some personal attention during his last few days, that's better than letting him die in the street. But on the whole, building up self-propagating institutions of suffering where real medicine, real health-care, real contraception, and real concern for the long-term plight of the poor were absent far outweighs the former aspect of her "charity." Seriously, just read what orange swan wrote above. What she built her "career" on? Pretty sick stuff.
posted by bardic at 2:41 PM on August 24, 2007


But arguing that the idea that I'd have philosophical differences with both Hitler and Mother Theresa makes them comparable on any intelligent level is so farcical

AGAIN, I am NOT saying that "having philosophical differences with both Hitler and Mother Theresa makes them comparable". What I am saying is that that statement "philosophical differences explain or justify atrocity" applies to both. They're comparable in that your excuse applies to them, nothing more. Furthermore, I don't think that further excuses like "proportion and good faith" erase the problem in Mother Theresa's case, because these are subjective factors that could also be applied to both parties (and clearly would have been, given a different outcome in WWII). You won't do so in only one of the cases, which is why I think you're operating under a double-standard.

Either morality is relative, or it's not -- if it's not, Mother Theresa is in trouble. Under a non-relative moral system, the fact that she has a different personal value system is irrelevant.

What the fuck is this, Carebears hour? That you've spent a "lifetime" discovering your morals has nothing to do with their validity.

Of course not. It does, however, have a lot to do with their seriousness, which is what I was trying to emphasize.

Oh, and PS— might wanna hold off on demeaning one-liners and sloganeering in the face of strongly-held beliefs, so long as you want to toss out shit like Christianity being a plague on the body public.

I never actually said that. I said that Christianity is to my preferred moral system as a plague is to a human body. This is an entirely true statement, whether you like it or not, and has nothing to do with "the body public". It's also no more a "demeaning one-liner" or "sloganeering" than is "atheists abandon God but not the vicious judgementalism that comes often with religion". If you want to talk about deeply-held beliefs, you're going to offend; there's no way to say what I want to say without being offensive to Christians. That's because what I believe is offensive to Christians, in and of itself, just as Christianity itself is offensive to me. Also, there's a difference between an honest statement of belief that offends somebody who holds a different belief, and a straight-up insult aimed at a specific person. The Marilyn Manson thing was the latter, and I think "fuck off" is a perfectly valid response.

On preview: Thank you, BigSky, you got it in a nutshell.
posted by vorfeed at 2:45 PM on August 24, 2007


almost done with penance now *puts down cat'o'nine tails*

*recites The Troll's Prayer*

Our Founder
Who art in Oregon
Haughey be thy name
Thy five bucks come
Thy will be done
In post as it is in comment
Give us this day our filtry timewaste
And send us not into banishment
For thine is the blue, the green & the grey
Until bought out by Google

Alol

posted by UbuRoivas at 3:15 PM on August 24, 2007



"If Mother Teresa didn't believe in God anymore, what was her excuse for maintaining the Catholic line?"

I'll answer that quote with another.

"If nothing that we do matters, the only thing that matters is what we do." - Joss Whedon
posted by ZachsMind at 3:57 PM on August 24, 2007


bukvich: "What if Jesus had tortuous doubt?"

Garden at Gethsemanie. He did.

Pyramid Termite: "we all know that every time someone posts to metafilter a kitten rises from the dead"

My posts kill kittens.

Athenian: "When Rush Limbaugh goes after MetaFilter, this is the thread he'll quote."

People still listen to Rush Limbaugh? By the sound of it, I thought he was one of the anonymous blowhards posting in here!

Orange Swan: "Her organization literally received hundreds of millions of dollars in donations. She chose to turn it all over to the Vatican..."

SHE WAS A NUN!!!! They're catholic! They turn their rec'd funds over to --wonder of wonders!-- THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!!!!

You think they take their orders from Billy Name in Poughkeepsie???

I know this is just a handful of bored freaks trolling this thread but I'll bite anyway. This is all in good fun, right? Pouring condiments on a dead woman's grave? The worms are probably long since finished with her carcass by now but we just can't stop digging into her can we?

Ooh! She was a nun who told people not to fornicate outside of marriage or use addictive drugs! She should have had her habit stapled to a lawnmower. How atrocious!

Don't hate the playa people: hate the game. The roman catholic church ruled out condoms. Duh. They want to perpetuate the human species, not let it selfishly recreate itself into extinction. Ya wanna know why there's more catholics than aetheists in this world? Cuz catholics don't believe in birth control. HELLO! Do the math, geniuses!

She was doing the best she could for those she served, within the confines of the limitations placed upon her by her superiors, and by her beliefs. She may have questioned her faith in God, but so what? She was trying. That's more than I can say of any of you. Or me for that matter, but then I'm not going around claiming to be more morally legitimate that Mother effin' Teresa!

You sure nobody put nuthin' in yer Corn Flakes? Trolls!??

Saint or no, in her lifetime, Mother Teresa did more for the unfortunate than all of us in this thread put together. Maybe she didn't do it the way you woulda, if you'd get off your butt and stop spraying the Internet with your ineffective venom against her, but she DID something. All you got is spray.

If you think you can do better, there's airplanes heading to India every day. Hopalong there, Cassidy!

Or maybe just walk down to a soup kitchen in your own neighborhood and save humanity one mouth at a time, instead of just spitting garbage out your own piehole.

Methinks some over-active, ill-informed, agenda-ridden, ignorant pobuckers in here got telephone poles in their eye sockets and need to stop pluckin' at the pennies on a dead woman's face!

Her actions still speak louder than her words, even after her death, which is more than I can say for the lot of ya. Your words speak louder than your actions and in the scheme of things, your words ain't makin' all that much more sound than a whisper that can't be heard cuz of the wind.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:55 PM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Saint or no, in her lifetime, Mother Teresa did more for the unfortunate than all of us in this thread put together.

I disagree, and this is what makes Mother Teresa a pin-up for conservative influences. Their program is all about supply-side charity because they believe poverty is permanent and ideal, which dovetails with their economic and volunteer-only policies. They are directly opposed to a demand-side elimination in poverty and suffering, which they reject, because it entertains too much talk of equality.

"If nothing that we do matters, the only thing that matters is what we do." - Joss Whedon

Philosophers were once obsessed about what a good citizen ought to do, until they realized that the better question was, rather, what a good citizen ought to be.
posted by Brian B. at 5:22 PM on August 24, 2007


Why would someone conceivably treat C Hitchens as a reliable reporter? Because he says what you want to hear?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:30 PM on August 24, 2007


Zachsmind, to quote the great cinematic work Billy Madison, "Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

Nobody can dispute the fact that Mother Theresa tried to help the poor. What can be argued, and what you conveniently managed to avoid addressing, is that her "help" took a very specific, very questionable form. IMO, and in the opinions of others who have studied her life more than I have, including but not limited to Hitchens, she had a figurative hard-on for human suffering of all sorts. She didn't want to end the suffering, so much as prolong and idolize it in very strange ways. Again, everyone is talking past everyone now, but I'll attempt to reitirate orange swan's analogy from above -- if I take a homeless person into my house, and feed him just enough to keep him alive, and even though I have literally millions upon millions of dollars in resources to a) give the person some job training b) give the person access to condoms so they don't have children who will inevitably grow up in the same sort of poverty, but I don't do either of these things, that would, in many people's eyes, make me a pretty twisted person.
posted by bardic at 7:19 PM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Orange Swan: "Her organization literally received hundreds of millions of dollars in donations. She chose to turn it all over to the Vatican..."

SHE WAS A NUN!!!! They're catholic! They turn their rec'd funds over to --wonder of wonders!-- THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!!!!


She was given that money to use for her work with the poor and chose instead to give it to the Vatican, who in return doled out insufficient monies for her to run her hospital properly. I don't care WHAT organization anyone is part of, that is a breach of trust on several counts. You don't get a free ride morally for that sort of thing because "that's just what people in my organization do". Teresa wasn't a robot programmed to do specific things. She presumably had a brain and a conscience all her own. She of all Catholics had the clout to break the mold and do the right thing, and she didn't.

Don't hate the playa people: hate the game.

Games originate in their players' consent and participation. Catholic theology didn't withold morphine from patients dying in agony; Mother Teresa did. I don't hate her, but I do hold her responsible for what she did.

The roman catholic church ruled out condoms. Duh. They want to perpetuate the human species, not let it selfishly recreate itself into extinction. Ya wanna know why there's more catholics than aetheists in this world? Cuz catholics don't believe in birth control. HELLO! Do the math, geniuses!

I think you should do some math. Multiply the current world population by its current rate of annual population growth to see where we'll be in 50 years or so. Then take the amount of current food production and multiply it by the current rate of food production. Then adjust that number to allow for the deterioration of our planet's environment. Then take that projected population number and divide it by the projected food production level. And that's just food - we haven't even gotten to the calculations for providing clean drinking water, sanitation, clothing, shelter, fuel, medical care, education and so on. I predict all these numbers will be very grim.

Then, if you still thirst to do more math, calculate the probabilty of human extinction via the intelligent and widespread use of birth control. Abysmally low, isn't it? Given that, how likely is it the Catholic church is really concerned with the human race will become extinct through "selfishly recreating itself into extinction"? I'd say far below nil. I'd say the Catholic church is much more concerned with ensuring that there are lots of young and future Catholics.

And in your "arguments" there is a strong element of "Catholics do x or y because that's just what Catholics do and how can you reasonably expect otherwise". I expect otherwise because we each have a duty and an obligation to behave like moral, thinking citizens of this world instead of blindly following the extremely problematic dictates of religious leaders. Plenty of Catholics use birth control. Plenty of other Catholics would use it if they had access to it. I don't give a shit if that's what Catholics have always believed. They're just as capable of changing their minds as anybody else, and if they're wrong, if their actions are hurting others, they have a moral obligation to do so.

Maybe she didn't do it the way you woulda, if you'd get off your butt and stop spraying the Internet with your ineffective venom against her, but she DID something. All you got is spray.

You don't have the slightest idea what any of us do when not on MeFi.
posted by orange swan at 9:05 PM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Funny thing here is, I've seen plenty of ad hominem attacks against Hitchens, but not a single poster who actually tries to refute his basic point -- that she was a fraud.

and then you say ...

Nobody can dispute the fact that Mother Theresa tried to help the poor.

you can't even keep yourself straight on this ... those two statements ARE contradictory ... and his and your attacks ARE ad hominem ... speaking of which

you can just stop quoting hitchens ... whatever else you might say about mother teresa, she didn't have the blood of hundreds of thousands of iraqis on her hands like he and the people he supports do

she had this idea in her head about helping the poor and downtrodden, even if you believe she had the wrong ideas or carried them out poorly ... your hero hitchens has this idea in his head about bombing the fuck out of the poor and downtrodden and calling it right

but you defend him and condemn her?

charlatans? ... all you people are is people who type a lot on the net ... get over yourselves, your facile hipsterism sucks and will be remembered as one of the worst aspects of our era decades from now

All you got is spray.

zach's mind is right

She didn't want to end the suffering, so much as prolong and idolize it in very strange ways.

life IS suffering ... your inability to accept this is the reason you're having such difficulty here

truth - you can't END the suffering ... you can transform or change or overcome it (or, yes, offer it up), but you can't END it ... mother teresa knew this ... you don't

don't expect to understand much of life until you do
posted by pyramid termite at 9:22 PM on August 24, 2007


Oh pt, so much zeal for the strawman mefi atheist terrorists, so little in the way of reading comprehension. I know you aren't a fan of complete sentences, but I used them to make my argument, so please refrain from selectively quoting me only in clauses.

The larger moral issue is that while none of us can look into her soul, Agnes Bojaxhiu probably thought she was doing very good things for the poor of India. However, in practice and on the whole, she wasn't.

And I haven't quoted Hitchens here, I've just referenced the fact that he's written an article and a book that pretty much destroyed the myth that everything Agnes Bojaxhiu did was all sweetness and light. Much to the contrary, she was demonstrably not interested in ending the long-term suffering of poor Indians. She needed their suffering, because it fulfilled her sado-masochistic instincts, her "version" of Catholicism so to speak.

As for Hitchens on Iraq, I don't agree with him at all. Funny thing about adults and ideas though, we tend to be fairly complicated, if not downright contradictory, beings at times. I mean, Jefferson owned slaves. I guess that means we should ignore the fact that he wrote the Declaration of Independence?

pyramid termite writes truth - you can't END the suffering ... you can transform or change or overcome it (or, yes, offer it up), but you can't END it ... mother teresa knew this ... you don't

Funny, an ostensibly non-religious charity like this one disagree with you. So does this one. But I know how you love setting up all-or-nothing scenarios. Because life is hard, the quality and long-term viability of any given form of charity can never be judged? What a completely asinine argument. Then again, I'd expect no less from you.

Anyways, you're not going to be able to comprehend any of this, but I'll go ahead and try to clarify my position for the final time. Agnes Bojaxhiu was a fraud. Not because she was religious or specifically because she was Catholic, but because she was a fraud. As mentioned, she had the opportunity to improve the long-term health and lives of many, but she squandered much of that chance in order to appease her Vatican masters. I've been pretty circumspect in saying that it isn't that she didn't do anything for the poor (the best defense of her legacy would probably put a lot of weight on the fact that she at least brought attention to their plight), but that on balance, in eschewing real medicine, clean needles, education, and contraception, she became the face of the idiotic notion that the poor will always (and must always) be poor.
posted by bardic at 9:44 PM on August 24, 2007


posted by ZachsMind Her actions still speak louder than her words

Indeed they do. As I and others have repeatedly pointed out in this thread, Mother Teresa said she was helping the poor, the sick, and their families, but she acted towards ensuring the poor, the sick, and their families would remain poor and sick.

Mother Teresa's "help" is exactly the kind of help the poor and the sick don't need, and the world is a better place now that there's one less person of authority opposing the things that would most benefit the poor and the sick. Fuck you, Mother Teresa. Good riddance.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:18 PM on August 24, 2007


Agnes Bojaxhiu was a fraud.

Nobody can dispute the fact that Mother Theresa tried to help the poor.

you still can't keep it straight ... why debate you when you're so busy debating yourself?

Funny thing about adults and ideas though, we tend to be fairly complicated, if not downright contradictory, beings at times.

yeah, but that's only allowable if you're not a catholic nun who's trying to help the poor, right? ... they're not allowed to be complicated or contradictory, are they?

Funny, an ostensibly non-religious charity like this one disagree with you. So does this one.

wrong ... is your understanding of suffering confined to the material? ... do you believe that the worthy amelioration of these physical conditions is actually going to END suffering?

you're totally avoiding the point ... you're in total denial about it

life is suffering ... prove me wrong ... you can't

But I know how you love setting up all-or-nothing scenarios.

what was that you were saying about strawmen?

Because life is hard, the quality and long-term viability of any given form of charity can never be judged?

you're not judging, you're using her as a whipping girl for your prejudices to the point where you call her a fraud and then turn around and say she was sincerely trying to help the poor

you're not being rational and your self-contradiction is proof of this

but truly, all i'm seeing here is the mediocrity of people who can only match the great by trying to cut them down to their level

now type out some more words to "prove" your superiority to her
posted by pyramid termite at 10:24 PM on August 24, 2007


she became the face of the idiotic notion that the poor will always (and must always) be poor.

got proof that this is an idiotic notion? ... according to my history books, there's yet to be a civilization without poor people in it

believe otherwise? ... PROVE it
posted by pyramid termite at 10:28 PM on August 24, 2007


pt writes life is suffering ... prove me wrong ... you can't

Thanks for projecting your inadequacies onto the rest of us.

Suffering is obviously a part of life. Trying to end suffering for the greatest number of people is a pretty good starting place for morality (cf. Utilitarianism). Having the resources to alleviate suffering and consciously not using them is immoral, period.

Or let's consult another person, who famously said that is you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

Wow, what kind of sputtering idiot could have voiced such a retrograde opinion? If he'd worked for Agnes Bojaxhiu, she'd obviously have had to fire the guy. I'm sure she'd have hired a swell guy like yourself in a second, however.
posted by bardic at 10:58 PM on August 24, 2007


Agnes Bojaxhiu was a fraud.

Nobody can dispute the fact that Mother Theresa tried to help the poor.
--
you still can't keep it straight ... why debate you when you're so busy debating yourself?


She tried to help the poor in appalling and stupid ways that did bugger all long term and exceptionally questionable short term good because her brain was infected by catholicism. No contradiction. Nuance, PT, Nuance. Don't be over-literal poodle.
posted by Sparx at 12:10 AM on August 25, 2007


pyramid termite,

Are you drunk? Seriously. What is this?

"you can just stop quoting hitchens ... whatever else you might say about mother teresa, she didn't have the blood of hundreds of thousands of iraqis on her hands like he and the people he supports do"

This makes no sense. We're talking about who is right on a specific topic. If Hitchens is correct on an issue then it doesn't matter if he also happens to be raping baby penguins in his spare time. As long as baby penguin rape is a separate issue then we can take his word at face value. Mother Teresa and Iraq War Round II? Separate issues. It sure would be convenient to dismiss Hitchens on these grounds but unfortunately for the Mother Teresa fans, what he has to report is pretty well documented.

"life is suffering ... prove me wrong ... you can't"

I'm not going to "prove" anything. I'll simply point out that millions of people subscribe to a world view where one of the central tenets is, "The cessation of suffering is attainable." (The Third Noble Truth). This presupposes a distinction between suffering and pain but I'll leave that for your own investigation. When it came to pain, there was a lot Mother Teresa left undone. Did you read orange swan's post? Blunt hypodermic needles that have patients close to death screaming? But we dare not criticize? Please.

"don't expect to understand much of life until you do"

Heh. I suspect that you don't understand much of what makes a person look like a condescending twat. If you did, your posts wouldn't read like they do.
posted by BigSky at 7:09 AM on August 25, 2007


but you defend him and condemn her?
posted by Brian B. at 8:30 AM on August 25, 2007


but you defend him and condemn her?

Considered the same in this context. Either way, I'm noticing a shift from arguing about her methods to being chastised for not worshiping her for various reasons, even if only a little bit. She has definitely won the job as the new idol for the poor, and implying that poverty is the context for people to be godly will always make me vomit.
posted by Brian B. at 8:37 AM on August 25, 2007


"life is suffering ... prove me wrong ... you can't"

Which means we tried to pry one of your coping mechanisms from you. Thought so.
posted by Brian B. at 8:45 AM on August 25, 2007


pry is like ask for something, when someone pry, can recive someting. Shoulde be possible!
posted by pubblicitae at 4:53 PM on August 25, 2007


i have no idea what in the hell is going on in this thread anymore, but pubblicitae is easily my new favorite metafilter user. welcome!
posted by sergeant sandwich at 11:03 PM on August 25, 2007


Uh...hey, no internet access all weekend, but I just wanted to throw in: No, YOUR mom. Yeah. You know who you are. Peace!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:01 AM on August 27, 2007


Uburovias wrote: To be a bigot, you need to have an identifiable race, religion, gender, sexuality etc to demonise.

Incorrect.

Bigotry is simply intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself. As in, "Those people believe something different than me, therefore they are probably 'lolxtian's".

You're a bigot. Get over it.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:38 AM on August 29, 2007


And FWIW, I think Mother Theresa is simply guilty of failing to see the forest for the trees.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:47 AM on August 29, 2007


Bigotry is simply intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself. As in, "Those people believe something different than me, therefore they are probably 'lolxtian's".

Do you see there how it comes back to an identifiable group? Merely disagreeing with somebody does not make one bigoted, unless one's opposition is tied in with opposition to a perceived socioeconomic / racial / cultural / gender etc group. Was Galileo bigoted because he held a different cosmological belief to the church at the time?

Agree with MT not seeing the forest for the trees, though. My bottom line on her is that she was probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer, not unlike Diana. When I hear that she was some peasant from some bog town in some loser country, I think, hey - that figures. Somebody with a little more intelligence & education might have made more of her position, but she struggled along with a limited vision & encumbered maybe by some hokey beliefs, that prevented her from seeing the larger picture (unlike her contemporary liberation theologists in Latin America who did some great stuff, and were often tortured & assassinated for it).

And people who eat your favourite Mexican snack food suck.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:24 PM on August 29, 2007


"life is suffering ... prove me wrong ... you can't"

Which means we tried to pry one of your coping mechanisms from you. Thought so.


Well, it is the first of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths, so I guess it's part of a 'coping mechanism', although prying it from somebody who knows their stuff might be a slipperier task than you imagine...
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:27 PM on August 29, 2007


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