Mother Teresa couldn’t find Jesus, which proves that he was there

Susan Jacoby takes a look at those doubt of Mother Teresa’s (thanks to Frederick Crews for pointing the article out to me).

The media frenzy over Teresa’s apparently unending crisis of faith offers a spectacular and comical example of the irrationality, credulity, and unwillingness to face facts that inform all conventional wisdom concerning religion and holiness…I have no doubt that excerpts from the letters will appear in future case studies of well-known individuals who combine masochism with narcissism…I would think that someone who observes extreme human suffering on a daily basis would have more doubts than most about the existence of a benevolent deity. But what is striking about Teresa’s doubt is that it is all about her: it has nothing to do with the dissonance between belief in a loving God and the suffering she sees.

Ah – that would explain the policy on painkillers then.

In a reverential and sanctimonious cover story in last week’s issue of Time magazine, psychonanalysts and priests are quoted. Guess what? Both the shrinks and the reverends think that Teresa is even holier because of her overwhelming doubts.

Ah again – so…doubts make you holy, and ‘faith’ makes you holy, so…what would make you not all that holy? (No, wait, don’t tell me, I know – militant atheism! That’s it!)

The agreement of priests and psychoanalysts is not, after all, very surprising. Both Freudian psychoanalysis and Roman Catholicism are faiths whose central tenets have nothing to do with evidence.

Nothing to do with evidence! What can she mean? There was all that evidence that Freud collected – when he told people what they were fantasizing about and then wrote it all down in a book. Completely different from Roman Catholicism.

What does a rational person, as opposed to someone who has a deep need to believe in the unprovable or the obviously false, do when doubt raises its insistent head? When a rational human being is confronted by evidence that contradicts his or her beliefs, then the belief must be modified…An irrational person–let us say, for the sake of argument, someone dedicated to becoming a saint who suffers for eternity–refuses to acknowledge that there may be good reasons for her doubts.

That’s the advantage of being an irrational person, see – you don’t have to modify your beliefs when you’re confronted by evidence that contradicts them. You think that’s not convenient? Think again.

Her “Home for the Dying” in Calcutta provided no modern medical care–not even modern painkillers–for the terminally ill. Indeed, Teresa’s true mission seems to have been the glorification of suffering…Teresa never showed any concern, in India or elsewhere, about the root causes of poverty – including lack of education, corrupt dictatorships, inequitable distribution of wealth, bigotry against social, ethnic, or religious underclasses, and contempt for women.

Wellll…so she was a little myopic; nobody’s perfect.

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