Who Was The Real Mother Teresa?

The Catholic icon,  Mother Teresa, had much in common with sleazy evangelist, Franklin Graham.

After the disastor in Haiti, agencies were rushing supplies and medical help to Haiti.  I remember being astounded by a press release in ChristianPost from Graham’s organization bragging that his trip to Haiti was to save souls for Jesus, not to delivery anything else.

Mother Teresa was a public relations gift to the Catholic hierarchy.  When it was bogged down with sexual scandals, it could divert attention from that to this saintly woman.

The real Mother Teresa was more complex.   Like Franklin Graham, she was obsessed with life after death.  She felt is was more important to save the souls of the poor than help them leave poverty.  She was also very concerned about her own future after death.

The attached link is an interview with a former member of Sister Teresa’s Order.  Her assessment is Teresa had good traits, but her focus was not on addressing the problems of being poor.

I know there are large and successful programs sponsored by the faith to both aleviate hunger and help lift people out of poverty.  It’s unfortunate there are also parts that have little interest in anything other than the myths of heaven and hell.  People of faith, and everyone else, are at their best when they do good deeds leave it at that.

Mother Teresa is a lesson in both the good and bad of religion.  All of us can learn from her story.


31 Responses

  1. Brad

    Mother Teresa seems to have a status equivalent to that of Ghandi, or other saintly figures. But at the end of the day, she was just as human as anyone else.

      1. Michael Ross

        I’ll bet you wouldn’t say that if she was a humanitarian do-gooder and not a woman of faith.

        1. entech

          There is some evidence that she had to a large extent lost her faith. Google something like ‘vatican publishes Mother Teresa letters’ and you will see a variety of newspaper stuff on the subject.

  2. Michael Ross

    I believe Mother T did as much as any single person possibly could to help the plight of the impoverished. Poverty will not effectively dealt with until nations, not just individuals and churches, covenant with God. Anyone that believes in eternal life would have a concern about where it will be spent. That does not mean they are not concerned for this life and the well being of others.

    1. entech

      Perhaps if more had been spent on hospitals and less on convents you might have had a case.

      1. Doubtful

        What does the spending of the Catholic Church have to do with Mother Teresa? There is much disinformation being spread in the link Jon posted and in Jon’s interpretation of it. MT did not set out to be famous and did not change when she became famous. She was always an individual, often at odds with her superiors in the church. It is astounding to have ignorant westerners act as if this one woman was supposed to provide AMA approved health care to the poor of Calcutta or she should do nothing.

        1. entech

          I was talking of the money she personally attracted for the poor but which was used to create convents in India and trying to attract more converts instead.

  3. I believe that catholic nuns, priests, monks and popes live an abnormal life that causes them to be incapable of making sound judgments because they do not understand the full range of human behavior. Their attraction to a life of servitude, I believe, is founded on their personal psychological pathology. Something is fundamentally wrong with their makeup. They engage in aberrant behavior which society tolerates in the name of religion, but would think odd in other people. The presence of abusive priests, for example, is an unsurprising development. Other forms of aberrant behavior including masochism has been in evidence among catholic religious groups for so long they are considered a stereotype. Mother Teresa is just one in a long list of damaged psyches who have achieved notoriety. Isn’t it strange that a religion requires such psychological gymnastics from it’s followers? I wonder what happened to make Mother Teresa think that perfect suffering was an ideal to be achieved? Sad woman.

    1. Formerly Fargo Bob

      Mark, it’s impossible to prove negative assertions. Prove to me there ISN’T an invisible pink unicorn in my back yard. Can’t do it? Prove to me that pixies, faeries and elves AREN’T in charge of the universe. Can’t do it? This has to be one of the worst strategies that theists use to prove the existence of their god. All sorts of things can’t be disproven to exist, but that provides zero justification for believing that they actually do exist.

    2. Mark 12:02 “Do you have evidence God doesn’t love you?”

      I don’t have evidence of any god at all. You raised the concept there is a god. I did not. The burden of providing evidence is on you.

      Say a doctor tells you you have incurable cancer. Someone on the street comes up to you and says, “I have one pill to cure your cancer. Pay me $100,000 and I’ll you can take one.” You would ask, “What evidence is there it would work?” The person would answer, “What evidence do you have it will not work?” Not having any such evidence, by your logic you would be obligated to pay him $100,000 for whatever he was selling.

      This is by way of explaining the curious habit of the faithful. They use one line of logic in their secular lives and another in their religious ones.

      1. entech

        There seems to be a slightly dishonest approach here.
        Some one makes and assertion (existence).
        I say I don’t believe you.
        The retort is prove me wrong.
        Not my job the person making the assertion is the one that needs to back up the assertion with proof.

      2. Wolfy32

        Be careful here with stating you don’t have any evidence… You simply reject the evidence that’s been thus far submitted as evidence as insufficient proof. Which I can respect that. Some evidence is not evidence, and other stuff is questionable and mostly circumstancial.

        So, yes, it’s o.k. to question Dogma, rituals, and question the “facts” presented. I think we as a sentient race have right to question these things to discover the truth for ourselves.

        So, I present a different question… What if, we had all the evidence we needed to support there is a being out there?

        What would happen? Would everyone just willy nilly bow down and worship it now that it’s confirmed it exists? Would we say until you give us everything we want and ask for we’re not going to worship you? What would the arrival and/or evidence of a God garner us?

        I suspect, we would still question it, fight it, and / or reject it? Would we not? What would this “god being” need to be able to do in our eyes for us to believe it’s real and/or deserving of God hood? Is there a list of requirements for God to be God? No, not thinking from Religion here, thinking from the perspective, o.k. a ball of light appears in time square and announces in everyone’s heads that it’s God and here to reclaim his creation…

        What would we want from it to believe? Poke it with a stick? Try injecting it with drugs and/or shooting it with weapons to see if it’s truely immortal? Would anything we did or it said be sufficient evidence of anything more than just another cosmic creature confirming we’re not alone in the universe?

        To be honest, I don’t think any evidence would be sufficient. So, if there is a being… What point would there be in it revealing itself until it’s decided that it’s time for it to intervene in our existence and separate the godly from the ungodly?

        What does any being have to gain by revealing itself? Just saying…

        1. Wolfy 4:34 re: there will never be adequate evidence of a god

          I disagree. There are countless things we cannot see but have agreed upon evidence of their existance. Gravity is a simple one.

          “What does any being have to gain by revealing itself?”

          Have to gain for itself??? I thought the almighty was supposed to be there for us, not for its own benefit!

          Society gains when benefits to them are revealed. Healthy habits, for example. If the god figure is there to benefit to us, we would be better off knowing it existed. But, you are right in saying it would not benefit itself. Those who use the god concept do not benefit by explaining what it is or how we are to recognize it. They gain power by vagueness–making up things. Nevertheless, I enjoyed your post.

        2. entech

          Interesting question Wolfy. What evidence has been submitted? Words from an old book and the creation story of an old tribe. There are other books and tribes, older and just as convincing. It always comes down to why is one true rather than one of the others.

          Assumption all the evidence to support the existence of some being becomes available. Still good to see you are not being too specific:

          What is there to say that should a creator entity exist that it would be the demanding and jealous god of the Judeo/Christian/Islamic mythology? Would such an entity require that everyone bow down and worship? I would hope that if such a being does exist it is rather more mature than the anthropomorphic egocentric creation from man’s imagination
          The main thing we would get would be certainty. But I expect/suspect that amongst our more fundamentalist and the creationists especially that this entity would not live up to their expectations and would be rejected as a device of satan.

          Not quite sure what you mean about what the “god being” would need to do. You have already postulated “all the evidence we need”. The rest of the paragraph sounds like a science fiction or scientology scenario. (Actually a bit redundant there, scientology is science fiction).

          Poking it with a sharp stick, not a good idea if it were a god like being, you may get a few bolts of lightening back from the mighty hand of {your choice here}: on the other hand an extraterrestrial being capable of reaching earth would be more than likely be able to put up a defense.

          Any evidence at all would be seriously considered, more likely to be accepted by someone starting from an unbelieving position than one with expectations which may not be real.

          Last paragraph. What indeed a revealed god could never live up to the hype and expectations imposed on it by people who claim that it has already revealed itself, to them personally, and to them alone.

      3. Henry

        Jon:“I don’t have evidence of any god at all.”

        Sure you do. It is the created world. You just can’t see it with your evalootion goggles on.

        1. entech

          I have long had a sympathy for the Hindu religion. Just looking at the universe around me and listening to you makes me closer to being convinced that Brahman really did wake from his sleep and start the current cycle in the never ending cyclic universe.

          Or, perhaps it is simply a cyclic universe without Brahman.

          I see no evidence that the world around us is “created” and certainly none that it is your personal God that created it for you personally.

  4. Wanna B Sure

    A little off topic I know, but; Today I see that Joe Biden is telling “faith leaders” to get involved with “gun controll as a moral issue”. Question; Is the seperation of church and state only a one way street? Should “faith leaders” stay out of politics, while politicians solicit support from those same ” faith leaders?” And then there is the impression that supporting a favorite issue of a particular politician is identical to publically supporting that particular politician, election or not. Getting close to encouraging “faith leaders” to violate the church/state laws of tax exclusion of churches, by the Vice President of the US. Of course, this is not about specific politicians, but specific politics. The line of distinction is becoming blurred when the shoe is on the other foot. Just saying.

    1. entech

      Assuming America has the same aphorism, “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”, sounds like fair comment here.

  5. Formerly Fargo Bob

    The idea of an afterlife has been used to control people for centuries, and it devalues the life we actually know we have. If we’d focus more attention on the problems of this life and not expect that god will somehow sort them out in the next, we’d most likely be a lot further along in our development.

  6. Henry

    Jon:“Who Was the Real Mother Teresa?”

    A sinner, who through the blood of Jesus Christ is made a saint.

  7. Mark


    It’s each individual’s responsibility to weigh the evidence with an open mind. You should know that, your a free thinker.

    I can’t prove God exists, you can’t prove he doesn’t…. Yadayadayada

    By the way, I am 100 percent sure God loves you:)

    1. SDS

      Right on Mark! 100% percent aggreed God does love Jon! Now, I am not judging Jon, but judging the argument. I wonder if self-proclaimed freethinkers can provide 100% evidence, even some where between 5o and 100% evidence that God does not exist. The one line of logic self-proclaimed freethinkers have for the existence of God is prove it, so in return all a Christian has to respond is prove that God does not exist. Their argrument has no grounding and out of fear or a need to argue based on their own word of mouth saying that God does not exist they have no proof, they know it, and you can have very little conversation with them ; ). Of course, freethinkers would probably come right back and say the same about Christians because we don’t have sufficient “evidence” to convince them. Freethinkers are unable to provide even .5% evidence that God does not exist! Of course Jon’s follow up argument might be along the lines of give me even .5% evidence, perhaps 50-100% evidence that God exists and loves me. Then again, he might actually have some “evidence” up his sleeve that God does not exist. Reality, check just because one has not experienced God and his love for you does not mean it’s not possible.

      “We have not come into the world to be numbered; we have been created for a purpose; for great things: to love and be loved.” —Mother Teresa

      “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”—Mother Teresa

      Are “self proclaimed” freethinkers capable of loving and accepting Christians who freely think and believe that God loves them possible?

      1. SDS 1:45 Thanks for the spirited first time post.

        As entech pointed out, discussion of a god comes from a very old book which recorded tribal myths. That’s it. It was written by unknown people who were not present when the events alleged took place.

        Those of us who are skeptical of the reiability of such stories do not have an obligation to prove they are not real. That burden falls on people asserting that something no one has ever see actually exists. Skeptics are not asserting something which no one has seen exists.

      2. entech

        SDS. Interesting piece but not quite right. After going through the he said, I said prove it, prove it not supposed logic, do you mind if I try and simplify and express my own view in my own little way, as a hypothetical conversation between you, SDS and AF (a freethinker)

        SDs: God loves you AF.
        AF: I am sorry but your statement implies the existence of a God, I do not believe that this God is real, actually exists.
        ~~~ this should actually be the end of the conversation SDS makes a statement that god exists, AF says I do not believe that. SDS makes a definitive statement AF expresses an opinion that is in opposition to SDS statement.

        Now, from my point of view I do not see any need to justify my opinion on anything, it is a personal opinion, a foible if you like. That I say I prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla ice cream, there is no discussion, it is my opinion. On the other hand, if I say categorically that chocolate is better than vanilla I would have to offer some evidence for my reasoning.
        The apologist is in the same position if you care to say “I sincerely believe that there is a God that loves you and me”, I can only reply along the lines that “that is a nice idea, unfortunately I cannot bring myself to believe that this god you proclaim exists”; two opinions and the basis for a rational discussion (the basis, not always a possible rational discussion as some hold their beliefs more firmly than others, and some even believe their opinions are sacrosanct) .

        Now if one party changes from stating an opinion to asserting that it is not an opinion it is a fact, that we get to the stage where to be a fact a statement must be verifiable. Evidence must be presented.

        All who have said God loves Jon are making a statement that God exists, it is quite legitimate to ask for verification.
        No one here has said there is no God, opinions on how likely existence is or is not will vary, no one here has denied the existence of God. No one can be expected to verify what is just an opinion. Opinions can be right or wrong, facts can be true and verifiable, if they cannot be verified they are not facts merely opinions.
        In fact, the only person I know of that does make such a categorical statement is the physicist Victor Stenger and he wrote a book about it called “The failed Hypothesis”; discussing this book Christopher Hitchens said “even I would not be so brave as to say ‘there is no god'”.

        I wonder how frequently we will be presented with this false reasoning. A fact is a fact and can be demonstrated or it is not a fact, an opinion can be right or wrong and has no relevance to the truth or falsehood of that which is stated to be a fact (in the case the fact of the existence of God).
        When I or Jon or anyone else makes a statement that there is no God then you can ask for contrary evidence until the it is up to you to justify your statement.

        “Such deep longing for God — and … repulsed — empty — no faith — no love — no zeal. (Saving) souls holds no attraction — Heaven means nothing — pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything.” —Mother Teresa

        “I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love,” she wrote to one adviser. “If you were (there), you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy.'” —Mother Teresa

        Like preachers who no longer believe but remain as preachers because they don’t know what else to do, you have to have sympathy for Mother Teresa.

        Are “self proclaimed” freethinkers capable of loving and accepting Christians who freely think and believe that God loves them possible? I can’t speak for everyone, I can, I have friends and relatives with whom I have discussions on this subject, sometimes heated discussions, but I can affirm I love them dearly and it is my opinion that they love me in return.

        1. re: on “proving there is no god

          Just read yet another article saying Jesus might have been gay, or, married, or, both.

          Using the logic of some here, Christians who have a problem with Jesus being gay (no all Christians would have a problem with this) should be requred to prove he was not gay–without that they need to conclude he was.

          1. Wolfy32

            The assumption is that the wine wasn’t fermented and Jesus wasn’t a sexual being like the rest of us…

            However, he was human.. So that God could see what it’s like to be human. But not be a sexual being….. If A = B and B = C yet, A C ? How can that be? Jesus is human — A = B. Humans are sexual Beings — B = C… Then how does Jesus — A, not be a sexual being C… If he’s B -fully human…

            Genesis even says that the Angels took humans as mates… Well, if that’s true, then…. Even if Jesus wasn’t human he may have had sexual tendancies…

            The same people believe the wine wasn’t fermented…

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