"If missionaries were high on themselves, why do they give up the comforts they have of living in the US and to out into the middle of nowhere and live in a grass hut?"
Ed: So long as they don't move into the grass hut next to mine, just so they can knock on my door, tell me what a sinner I am and try to noodge me into their Bible class so that I can learn all about how my soul will fry eternally unless I believe and act as they do. Personally, I think that missionaries of the sort I've just described (rather than the strictly medical and educational kind), are nuisances par excellence. And yes, those kinds of missionaries probably DO get quite a kick out of seeing others convert to their faith, it empowers them and makes them happy in ways that money and fame do not. And in that sense YES, it is a selfish endeavour to constantly have to prop up your soul and beliefs with "missionary work."
Or as Nietzsche once pointed out, even self-despisers grow proud of the very fact that they have learned to despise themselves.
"Look at Mother Theresa...who is my role model. She was a nun...but she also chose to live in poverty, among those who had nothing....she didn't take money from anyone, and if she did, she used it to help those she worked with. She was the perfect example of Christ and what missionaries are supposed to do."
Ed: Heavens! Mother T. your role model!? According to many Indians [people living in India] she is exactly what is WRONG with western inspired Christian missionaries. Like many such missionaries she has a good heart. And she was doing well as a teacher. But when she became a medical missionary she started to mess things up, not due to her heart growing evil, but due to her supersitious religious views concerning things like the truth of her own faith above all others, are unequivocal opposition to contraception (which she viewed along with population control as evil) and her unequivocal praise of physical pain for the very people she treated (which she viewed as Jesus kissing them, and hence good), and the way she and her order grabbed headlines and monies when so many other charitable organizations were also doing good things, and the way she refused to spend the money that kept pouring in to her sisters of charity, on the poor, but just kept asking for more and more money and stockpiling it in bank after bank, and asking for yet more. Today her sisters continue to reuse the same blunt dirty needles on their patients, over and over again, not because they can't afford clean ones, but because pain is good for the soul, and, they continue to not give anyone any pain killers, again because pain is good for the soul, as Mother T. told the reporters, including a story she told of a man suffering terribly from cancer, she told him, "Jesus is kissing you," to which the man replied, "then I wish he'd stop." She chuckled after repeating the suffering man's genuine heartfelt response. Mother T. herself when she was ill, was treated to the most up to date and modern treatments, but the banks filled with monetary contributions to her work have tons of money that the sisters refuse to spend it to help relieve pain and suffering and to heal. Her sisters of charity basically amounted to untrained nuns, not even treating people medically, but just picking up people near death so they can wipe a wet cloth over their forehead and SECRETLY BAPTIZE THEM in the name of Jesus. And even those who survived usually got treated to having their wounds wiped by the same dirty rag that had just wiped a baby's bottom, or wiped another suffering person, or got treated to the same needle used on someone else.
It was the interview she had with Malcolm Muggeridge that put Mother T. on the charity map. During the interview Malcolm was taken by her sincerity and simplicity and in the film editing room they noticed a "halo" around her head, a common camera effect, and not a miracle at all, as was later proved. But Malcolm by that time had been so taken by the person and her simple beliefs and sincerity that he had converted to Christianity and became a major media spokesperson for her, eventually winning her a Nobel Peace Prize for her "work."
I have file at home with lots of different articles about Indian charity groups that are helping their fellow Indians FAR MORE than Mother Teresa's sister of charity EVER will. For instance, there is much poverty in India and pain because the poorer women keep conceiving child after child and none of the children get cared for enough, many die. But it has been proven that after learning birth control, the women's body is not so worn out and the children they produce are healthier, and the woman has more time with her increased health to better her own life and that of her family as well. Mother T., however, and the Catholic Church as a whole resists this finding, and continues to resist birth control resolutely.
And the way Mother T. and her Sisters deliberately moved themselves into the media in many cunning ways, hogging the spotlight for themselves and their organization, like going to the Bophal disaster when cyanide gas spilled and wiping a few foreheads with wet rags, they got an unbelievable amount of coverage in the press and news, while so many other relief groups that did MUCH MUCH more to help the disaster victims received little or no press. The whole matter and the way the sisters suck up the spotlight disgusted many Indians.
I can point you to some websites on this matter of the controversies that Mother T. has raised and the wrong and misunderstandings her order continues to perpetrate in the name of Christ.
MORE ON MOTHER T
The Happy Heretic
Defending Mother Teresa
They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. But when it comes to writing anything controversial, your success can probably be judged by the caliber of your critics. So I'm flattered.
On January 17, 1998, Clark Morphew, syndicated columnist for Knight-Ridder, took aim at the winter issue of Free Inquiry because of two articles it contained that were highly critical of the late Mother Teresa. One was written by Susan Shields, a former Missionaries of Charity sister who worked with Teresa. Shields revealed that part of her job was to help keep track of the millions of dollars donated to Teresa's "charity" work. Unfortunately, most of that money sat unused in various bank accounts while the sisters had to beg for food from local merchants. If the locals couldn't help out, the soup kitchens did without. This is "charity?"
The other article was written by me. I compared the late Carl Sagan's genuine, almost immeasurable contributions to humanity with Teresa's contributions. Hers consisted of little more than telling people that suffering was good for them, and prattling on inanely about how God will provide, as starving children dropped like flies all around her. I also pointed to the brazen hypocrisy of Teresa's denying her "patients" the most rudimentary care, including simple comforts and pain killers, while she herself checked into posh hospitals to have a pacemaker implanted and blood vessels cleared. Her own health and comfort were apparently quite important to her.
Morphew was obviously upset with the articles, but his defense of Teresa was surprisingly halfhearted and ambivalent. In his opening paragraph Morphew predicts that criticism of Teresa will continue until "some serious reform comes about." But if Teresa's generously financed clinics were running smoothly, honestly and compassionately, why would any reform be needed at all? Likewise, after describing Shields' knowledgeable charges about the idle millions of dollars that helped no one, Morphew suggested that since Sister Nirmala has taken the reigns, "grand changes could happen." Again, why should they, unless something was wrong to begin with?
Seeming to want it both ways, Morphew presents Teresa as "one of the most obvious candidates for sainthood," but then concedes that among Tersa's beliefs were the ideas that suffering is good and that despite staggering overpopulation, birth control is always wrong. He also noted that wiping out poverty and illiteracy was not Teresa's focus. If all of that is true, it places Teresa somewhere between sadistic and stupid. (Which, interestingly, is where "saint" appears in the dictionary.) I have never heard of a compassionate person who thought that human suffering was ever a good thing, and I think compassion would be the bare minimum to expect in anyone being considered for "sainthood."
Morphew also pointed out that Teresa "never pretended to be a doctor who could wipe out or even soften the pain of death." This I challenge fervently. So too would the Columbia University Press Encyclopedia (1995) in which they say about Teresa: "In 1948 she left the convent and founded the Missionaries of Charity, which now operates schools, hospitals, orphanages, and food centers in more than 25 countries." How would Morphew define "hospital?" There is no ambiguity whatsoever about the activities Teresa presented to the world as hers. The problem is that what she said she was doing was not what she was doing.
If Teresa was offering spiritual comfort only, and not trying to "soften the pain of death," (and why on earth not?!) there should have been no drugs dispensed and no drug paraphernalia of any kind on hand at her "clinics." But there were. Her employees and volunteers used and reused un-sterilized syringes to administer ineffective drugs and mild antibiotics to terminally ill people, who suffered the resulting agonies. This is called practicing medicine, and why such malpractice was
allowed to go on so long, with no legal challenges, highlights the power, and abuse of power, that is vouchsafed to organized religions. Especially the big ones with a lot of money.
But if, as Morphew asserts, Mother Teresa never intended to offer medical care to the ill, feed the poor, or educate the illiterate, but rather planned only to offer spiritual solace to dying people, then at the very least she was a fraud. Those millions of dollars were donated by caring people to offer medical care to the ill, feed the poor, and educate the illiterate-not to sit in bank accounts earning interest for the Roman Catholic Church, which has been a multi-billion dollar enterprise for decades now. And there are laws about raising charitable contributions for one thing and then using the money for another-as Teresa did. Apparently her goal was to hoard the money, like Midas and his gold. To what end, though, is anybody's guess.
There is a disquieting possibility, however, that presents itself in hindsight. She collected her millions "in the name of God." (And then promptly hid them away like a squirrel readying for winter.) She also converted souls "in the name of God," many just before they expired. I wonder, did she keep a rough tally of those souls? What I'm getting at is I wonder if in her simplistic view of things, anything she did for God would earn her big-time Brownie Points in the afterlife. For her, perhaps, this world had no meaning whatsoever, and was just some sort of challenging religious maze, designed by God to determine who gets the best bits of Paradise. If so, it might explain, since nothing else can, how she could be so callous as to sit on her millions while children, in her own part of India, were dying of starvation. This defies rational explanation, and I challenge anyone, from Morphew to the Pope himself, to explain it.
I am also very surprised that no one came forward sooner to talk about Teresa's questionable practices-but then that's what everyone said about priests raping little boys, isn't it? The Roman Catholic Church's power is unbelievably intimidating.
Whatever the motives of the woman from Calcutta, I have seen enough human suffering in loved ones to recoil in horror at the thought of terminal, tormented people being told that their suffering is a good thing. Suffering is never a good thing-except to sadists. Especially today, when we have the capability to alleviate so much pain, the mental image of those unfortunates who ended up in a Teresa "clinic" makes me cringe with nausea.
I know I am whistling in the wind to ask this, but-When, oh when, will we stop inflicting pain on each other in the name of some God?!
© 1998 Judith Hayes
Order Judith Hayes' book, In God We Trust: But Which One?
Mother Teresa used to say, "God always provides. He provides for the flowers and the birds, for everything in the world that he has created. And those little children are his life. There can never be enough." On the other hand, scientists who study birds have found that one-third of adult birds and four-fifths of their offspring die of starvation every year. (David Lack, "Of Birds and Men," New Scientist, Jan., 1996).
- Frank Miele, "Mother Not So Superior?" The Skeptic, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1996
YET MORE ON MOTHER T.
THE WISDOM OF MOTHER TERESA (AND SKIP CHURCH)
Mother Teresa On Aids: It is the retribution for "improper sexual misconduct."
(Then what were the Black death, smallpox, influenza, polio, and TB "retribution for?" - Skip)
Mother Teresa On Poverty: It is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot. The world is much helped by the suffering of poor people.
(And the more poor people who "accept" their suffering, the more rich people there will be who manipulate them to their own greedy ends. The rich complain that the poor want something for nothing. But the rich often stop at nothing to get everything. - Skip)
Mother Teresa On the Intense Pains of a Man with Cancer: You are suffering like Christ. Therefore Jesus must be kissing you.
(Mother Teresa, who happens to be against the use of anesthetics, told this story herself, during a taped interview, and even repeated the suffering man's reply to her. When she said, "Jesus must be kissing you," the man replied, "Then I wish he'd stop." - Skip)
Mother Teresa On Overpopulation: There is no problem of overpopulation, only of God's will.
(So if you live in a developing country whose population growth is outpacing its food production and economic growth, then you ought to throw away those rubbers and birth control pills, folks, and get down on your knees and embrace starvation and poverty, because according to Mother T. that's "God's will." - Skip)
- Mother Teresa's statements are drawn from The Missionary Position by Christopher Hitchens
AND HERE'S SOME STUFF ON MISSIONARIES
People need religion like they need a lift in their shoe. If it makes them feel a little taller and happier about themselves, fine. But if you keep that lift in your shoe all the time, as you walk, jog, play sports, then you can wind up sore, or maybe even crippled.
And, PLEEEASE, let's not send folks to other countries to nail lifts onto the natives' feet!
- George Carlin
I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"
"No," said the priest, "not if you did not know."
"Then why," asked the Eskimo earnestly, "did you tell me?"
- Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creed
Of all the failures of which we have any history or knowledge, the missionary effort is the most conspicuous. The whole question has been decided here, in our own country, and conclusively settled. We have nearly exterminated the Indians, but we have converted none.
- Robert Ingersoll
Mayan scribes in Central America wrote: "Before the coming of the Spaniards, there was no robbery or violence. The Spanish invasion was the beginning of tribute, the beginning of church dues, the beginning of strife."
Missionaries fought among themselves. In Japan and China, the Dominicans fought bitterly with the Jesuits. In the Near East, the Franciscans fought with the Capuchins. And in India, the Jesuits fought several wars against the Capuchins. A Seneca Indian chief asked of a Moravian missionary in 1805, "If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it?"
Missionaries often took part in the unscrupulous exploitation of foreign lands. Many became missionaries to get rich quickly and then return to Europe to live off their gains. In Mexico, Dominicans, Augustinians and Jesuits were known to own "the largest flocks of sheep, the finest sugar ingenios, the best kept estates."
- Helen Ellerbe, The Dark Side of Christian History
Hi, we're from America! We've come to decimate your jungle, convert your youth, and make you feel inferior!
- Crow, Mystery Science Theater 3000
There are a quarter of a million missionaries in the world today; their annual expenditure is almost equal to the American foreign aid budget. To some, missionaries are heroes, representing the ideal of human endeavor. To others, they are self-righteous zealots who wreak irreparable cultural damage. BBC reporter, Julian Pettifer has filmed a six-part series, Missionaries, in which he forcefully points out that for the past 500 years at least, white Europeans have been invaders and conquerors driven equally by greed and Christian zeal.
- VISION network, programming guide, Sept./Oct. 1993
It is a curious kind of spectacle to see thousands of evangelical Christians paying thousands of dollars a year for the purpose of discussing in seminary such great questions as: "Was Adam the first man? Who was Cain's wife? Has anyone seen a map of the land of Nod? Where are the four rivers than ran through the groves of Paradise? How did the snake get around before it was cursed to crawl on its belly? What language did it speak?" This turns a church into a kind of nursery, makes a cradle of each pew, and gives to each member a rattle with which he can amuse what he calls his mind. Great minds in evangelical seminaries across the country continue to dispute among themselves as to what is to become of the heathen who fortunately died before meeting any missionary from their institutions.
- Robert Ingersoll
A Christian mother's first duty is to soil her child's mind, and she does not neglect it. Her lad grows up to be a missionary, and goes to the innocent savage and to the civilized Japanese, and soils their minds. Whereupon they adopt immodesty, they conceal their bodies, they stop bathing naked together.
The convention miscalled Modesty has no standard, and cannot have one, because it is opposed to nature and reason, and is therefore an artificiality. In India the refined lady covers her face and breasts and leaves her legs naked from the hips down, while the refined European lady covers her legs and exposes her face and her breasts. In lands inhabited by the innocent savage the refined European lady soon gets used to full-grown native stark-nakedness, and ceases to be offended by it. A highly cultivated French count and countess - unrelated to each other - who were marooned in their night clothes, by shipwreck, upon an uninhabited island in the eighteenth century, were soon naked. Also ashamed - for a week. After that their nakedness did not trouble them, and they soon ceased to think about it.
- Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth