Saturday, November 25, 2006
The Hitch and Mother Teresa...
I read Xtopher Hitchens' exposure of the arch reactionary Mother Teresa of Calcutta yesterday (see link). I know it is a few years old but it's still worth a read for those who still harbour any illusions of the saintliness of this character.
I had long disliked her brand of Christianity - one that proclaims itself 'apolitical', one that advocates the giving of charity yet never questions a system which allows so many people to starve or die of treatable diseases, while others have many times what they need. This type of Christianity is in fact not 'apolitical' but is in fact deeply conservative, as Hitchens stresses.
It rests nicely with the status quo and big capitalists have no issue with it - in fact they actively praise and encourage it. At times they donate to its adherents to assuage their guilt, to salvage their reputations, or to buy favour from the Lord.
However, the crimes of MT go further than this. Her 'apoliticism' proved itself to be a sham when on a visit to Nicuagara in the 1980s she criticised the Sandinistas while remaining silent on the crimes of the US backed Contras. Despite the existence of weapons of mass destruction, racism and all the other ills in the world she explicitly believed that abortion and contraception were 'the greatest threats to world peace'. Although I deem it extreme and untrue to hold abortion to be *the* greatest threat to world peace, I can somewhat see the logic behind such an idea. But contraception?? Yet MT's opposition to birth control did not spur her to oppose Indira Ghandhi's coercive population control policy, which involved forcible sterilisations. You'd think someone who believed birth control to be such an evil would have something to say about such a practice going on in the very region where they work. But not MT. Clearly her desire to curry favour and praise from her host government (one of this world) was stronger than her professed ideals.
Not just this but she accepted money from white collar thieves while she ran her shelters on an ethos not unlike that of the Victorian workhouses. Money lay in her bank account while orphans under her care led an existence not unlike that of Oliver Twist. She refused painkillers to the terminally ill in her 'shelters for dying destitutes' due to her belief that suffering was holy, those dying in agony from cancer being united with Christ's sufferings on the cross. However, the Christian religion teaches that holy pains such as poverty and fasting should be voluntary. Jesus could have avoided death on the cross but he chose not to as he believed it to have been part of his mission. Jesus healed the sick and relieved them of pain, he didn't tell them to accept it and suffer as it would somehow purify their sin and hence unite them with his future suffering on the cross.
Hitchens is a declared atheist but that doesn't discredit his arguments. The paragraph above should show it to be possible to be a believing Christian while opposing the hypocrisy and obnoxious theology of Mother T.