We're having a pretty good discussion over at Amy's about what constitutes a wasted life. (Yes, this is a conversation that revolves around our shared interest and belief in Bronze Age 'mythologies'.)
As you'd expect with any conversation invoking the names of God and Dr. John Piper, it's taken a lot of twists and turns. And I think now is the time--and my blog is a better place--for this particular rant.
Apologies in advance to my many Catholic friends and readers.
Mother Teresa was not who you think she was. I have deep-seated anger toward the way Mother Teresa perverted the gospel of Jesus and tortured thousands of Indians.
Whenever people want to invoke the image of a saint walking among us, they invariably default to Mother Teresa. And you cannot blame them. She's had wonderful press. To those who are just going by the glossy shots, she is someone who cared for the sick and dying in the slums of Calcutta, all in the name of Jesus. When I say "Mother Teresa", I'm betting your first thought is of a woman holding a sick baby. And then your second thought is of a woman clasping hands with Princess Diana.
Here's what you may not know. And this is the important part.
Mother Teresa was a devotee of the doctrine of redemptive suffering, and created a mission to embrace that. Her fundamental belief was that watching the suffering of other people can bring a person closer to God.
From the Saint Of The Gutters website:
In 1952, she established a home for the dying poor - the Nirmal Hriday (or "Pure Heart") Home for Dying Destitutes. There, homeless people - uncared for and unacceptable at other institutions - were washed, fed and allowed to die with dignity.
Reading that closely, you may notice something missing. The sick were washed, fed and allowed to die with dignity. They were not in any way treated for their illness. Pain medication was withheld. So that "the Saint of the Gutters" could experience a spiritual contact-high as she watched the homeless die in excruciating pain. But hey, at least they were clean and on a cot, instead of lying in the gutter. Shouldn't that count for something?
I truly don't believe we can acheive salvation through works. I think Mother Teresa is the perfect example of that. I'm fairly sure that she's in heaven now--but only through the grace of God. The works she did were certainly far from holy.
If you're interested there are others who have written much longer, more thorough pieces on this topic. Unfortunately, I don't see many Christians on the Mother Teresa Debunking train. I wish I did.
Christopher Hitchens in Slate
Vijay Prashad on the the Ethics of Mother Teresa