The curse of Mother Teresa

March 28, 2011

2010 marked 100 years since the birth of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu; Mother Theresa. She is a Catholic heroine, beatified by the Catholic Church in 2003 at St Peters in Rome by Pope John Paul II, and given a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She is known the World over for her aiding the impoverished people of India, and in particular, Calcutta. She is often idolised, considered a wonderful, caring, selfless human being.

I could not disagree more with that perception.

There are a great deal of those beatified who are certainly worthy of such high admiration. Anne-Marie Javouhey is perhaps one of my favourites. She founded Institute of Saint Joseph of Cluny at Cabillon in the early 19th Century, dedicating her life educating the poor and slave populations across the World. She was an emancipator, far before my most revered emancipator, Charles Sumner was even born. Javouhey worked tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of the poor and the ill. For this, she deserves all the admiration that the Catholic Church bestowed upon her.

There are also a great deal of those beatified, who do not deserve it, and should be absolutely condemned. Isidore of Seville is a Saint, made so by Saint Clement VIII. Isidore once wrote an essay calling for the Christians to take Jewish children away from their parents by force, and educate them in the Christian way. A wonderful study by Bat-sheva Albert called “Isidore of Seville: His attitude toward Judaism and his impact on Early Medieval Cannon Law” shows that Isidore was concerned with writing instructions for the clergy to adhere to, and those instructions were unusually marred with vicious language aimed directly at Judaism, and perpetuated the persecution and suspicion of Jews during the Medieval period. We could claim that Isidore lived in the 6th Century and that we’re typically viewing and condemning him through 21st Century vision. The problem is, Isidore’s views on taking children away from their parents simply for being Jewish, were radical even for the 6th Century. Because the rational conscience of humanity is often at odds with the irrational immorality hell of organised religion.

Unfortunately, Mother Theresa is not even close to being as admirable in any way, in comparison to Javouhey, and actually closer in terms of the destruction to human life, to Isidore of Seville.

Her order, the “missionaries of charity” did more to inflict suffering, pain and poverty on people needlessly, than the actual causes of that suffering and pain and poverty itself. She believed that poverty was a virtue to brought one closer to God. The more a person suffers, whether they ask for that suffering or not, the closer they are to God according to the warped fantasy of Mother Theresa, recently beatified. Primitive equipment was used to treat wounds. No pain killers were used at all. Unsterilised needles equipment was used. People died far sooner than they would have had Mother Theresa actually bothered to recommend actual medical treatment for the poor that she was apparently “helping”.

Her use of fairy tales to promote suffering and pain should be viewed with the contempt it deserves. She believed suffering was good, abortion was wrong, and birth control was evil. In a country like India, villifying birth control is reckless at best. According to a freelance writer, Judith Hayes, Mother Theresa once told a cancer patient in her care that she did not need pain killers, because:

“You are suffering like Christ on the cross, So Jesus must be kissing you.”

How else would someone come to such a positively dangerous position that does nothing but cause unnecessary pain and suffering, if not for belief. Why would a sane human being refuse pain killers to a dying lady in pain, other than a belief in a God. And what a poor argument for an all loving God that would be.

Mother Theresa sat on a fortune. Banks accounts all over the World, filled with millions upon millions in donations. People were led to believe that they were giving money to alleviate suffering. Instead, the millions of dollars sat unused, like a bottle of water and loaf of bread hanging over the mouths of the starving, being held just out of reach by an insane Nun who wallowed in her feet being kissed by impoverished “Calcutteans”.

Calcutta itself, the capital of West Bengal, is home to far more people than it can sustain. Almost 6 million live in Calcutta and the streets are paved with the homeless. 6 million people, in 71 square miles, is ridiculous. That being said, it has cultural heritage that far surpasses anything else in India. Mother Theresa tried to persuade people against the use of condoms. In a city vastly overpopulated, she was attempting to ban condoms, and persuading people that abortion was a great evil; even for victims of incest and rape. Millions of people were being put at risk, because Mother Theresa and the Catholic Church indulged in an irrational campaign against the use of contraception.

In New York, a homeless and poor shelter was going to be installed in the Bronx. The plans included two storied building. The City Planning Commission insisted that for the disabled, their must be an elevator. The Nuns applied for a waiver of the Disabled Access Laws, on grounds of nothing else but “religious belief”. Mother Theresa and the Nuns refused to allow an elevator to be installed because their religious beliefs forbade them from using “modern conveniences”. When the Commission refused them the waiver, Mother Theresa and her Nuns threw their toys out of the pram and abandoned the project. They would rather let people suffer, than install an elevator.

Susan Shields, an ex-member of the Missionaries on Charity tells her story, about what she witnessed when she was a Sister in the organisation run by Mother Theresa:

When Mother spoke publicly, she never asked for money, but she did encourage people to make sacrifices for the poor, to “give until it hurts.” Many people did – and they gave it to her. We received touching letters from people, sometimes apparently poor themselves, who were making sacrifices to send us a little money for the starving people in Africa, the flood victims in Bangladesh, or the poor children in India. Most of the money sat in our bank accounts.

The flood of donations was considered to be a sign of God’s approval of Mother Teresa’s congregation. We were told by our superiors that we received more gifts than other religious congregations because God was pleased with Mother, and because the Missionaries of Charity were the sisters who were faithful to the true spirit of religious life.

Most of the sisters had no idea how much money the congregation was amassing. After all, we were taught not to collect anything. One summer the sisters living on the outskirts of Rome were given more crates of tomatoes than they could distribute. None of their neighbors wanted them because the crop had been so prolific that year. The sisters decided to can the tomatoes rather than let them spoil, but when Mother found out what they had done she was very displeased. Storing things showed lack of trust in Divine Providence.

Mother Theresa once claimed that doing good for the sake of altruistic reasons, is wrong. She claimed:

There is alwayst he danger that we may become only social workers or just do the work for the sake of the work. … It is a danger; if we forget to whom we are doing it. Our works are only an expression of our love for Christ. Our hearts need to be full of love for him, and since we have to express that love in action, naturally then the poorest of the poor are the means of expressing our love for God.

She was essentially saying that the only moral course a person must take in regard to charity, is to extol the virtues of poverty, let the sick and dying suffer, abandon painkillers, and ban birth control, all because it will take us closer to “Jesus”. It is virtually impossible to reason with someone who is so shockingly unreasonable, it borders on psychopathic.

When Mary Loudon, a volunteer in Calcutta asked one of the Nuns responsible for patient “care” why she was not sterilizing the needles, the nun replied:

There is no point.

And continued to wash the needle under a cold tap.
Loudon then tells a story about a fifteen year old boy who went from having a simple kidney problem, and by the time she was writing this, he was dying. The Nuns had refused to give him antibiotics and would not allow him to be taken to the local hospital. He needed operating on and was just being left to die, whilst the delusional Nuns of the order of Mother Theresa prayed for him. The Nuns argued that if they did it for one, they’d have to do it for all of them. Not withstanding the fact that they were running a shack with unsterilized equipment, they also were sitting on millions of dollars; enough to build a top class hospital. The decision not to use that money to help people, was entirely down to religious belief.

People in the care of Mother Theresa, were given no painkillers, treated with dirty implements, given no specialist care, no professional diagnosis, and more often than not, died because of easily curable injuries and disease. They were indoctrinated to believe that if they doubted Mother Theresa, they were doubting God, and would be punished in the afterlife. They died, for the sake of a multi millionaire religious fundamentalist.

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The English Renaissance

April 29, 2010

The European Renaissance was a breeding ground for absolutely magnificent Italian painters and sculptors. Carravagio, an early Rembrandt, is a particular favourite of mine, his macabre use of shadowing is stunning. Bernini’s sculptors in the centre of Rome, define the city for me. But the likes of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Donatello and Botticelli are synonymous with fantastic art work. Especially when you view them up close. Standing in the centre of the Sistine Chapel and gazing at Michelangelo’s handy work, is simply incredible.

So one wonders, why were there no great English Renaissance artists? Why did we miss out? I honestly cannot name one great English Renaissance artist up until the Hellenism of the Eighteenth Century; but even then, our artists were nothing in comparison to our Poets who invoked Antiquity when speaking of paradise. Lord Byron and John Keats among those.

Oscar Wilde wrote of this particular brand of English Renaissance as:

“of the vision of Homer as of the vision of Dante, of Keats and William Morris as of Chaucer and Theocritus. It lies at the base of all noble, realistic and romantic work as opposed to the colourless and empty abstractions of our own eighteenth-century poets anti of the classical dramatists of France, or of the vague spiritualities of the German sentimental school”

He shows here that 18th Century Romanticism, and Hellenism of the pre-Raphaelites were essentially the English catching up to the methodology of the Italian Renaissance artists two centuries previous. The essence, being a passionate romantic humanism. You can see this very essence, in the works of Millais and Rossetti. Works that take their inspiration from Antiquity, and Renaissance Europe. If you go to Tate Britain, you will see “Ecce Ancilla Domini” by Rossetti. You could be forgiven for thinking it was created in Ancient Greece or Quattrocentro Italy, or Renaissance Florence; it was produced in 19th Century England. And whilst these works certainly take inspiration from the Italian Renaissance (despite the Pre-Raphaelite’s apparent disdain for Renaissance artistry), they still have a wonderful individual quality of their own, that separate them into something entirely new, yet I can never quite figure out what that quality is. It is simply there. The Pre-Raphaelites represented a lost idea of spirituality, in an age of enlightenment. We can safely say, that England gained it’s Renaissance, two or three centuries after the rest of Europe.

But that still begs the question, why wasn’t England producing any art of any worth during the 15th, 16th, and 17th Centuries. I’d suggest, it was all because of Religion.

The Italian Renaissance artists of the 15th-17th Centuries, were all Roman Catholic. They followed the Catholic tradition to it’s very fundamentals. And whilst the art itself may have presented Holy figures as mere mortals, the grandeur of those Holy figures, was supremely Catholic; colourful and striking, romantic backdrops and visions of the Divine with human emotion and imperfections. The artists were commissioned by Popes and grand Catholic nobles like the Medici. Renaissance art in Italy, was Catholicism on canvas.

England, around that same time, had spent the 1530s breaking with Rome, and separating ourselves entirely, from the Continent. Catholicism became a dangerous practice. Even the Catholic Queen of England, was lucky to have survived it. Queen Catherine just so happened to be a close relative of the powerful Holy Roman Emperor, who was a staunch Catholic. She had his support. If it wasn’t for that relationship, she would have been almost certainly executed during the English Henrician reformation. Catholicism was dangerous in England in the 16th Century. Catholic extravagance, including it’s art, were not appreciated in England. The Reformers considered them to be the same sort of anti-Bible sentiment, as idol worship. The Pope, the great art work commissioner, was considered an anti-Christ, in the eyes of the English reformers. And so, by that logic, i’d argue that any attempt at such elaborate and extravagant art works used for the eminence of the Catholic Church, would have been utterly obscene, to the English Court.

The Court painter, the man behind the great portraits of Thomas More and Jane Seymore, was Hans Holbein, a man who followed the writings of Luther, and Erasmus. Holbein was a humanist, and gradually became very anti-Catholic. Perfect for the Tudor Court.

Catholicism, whilst it has been rather violent, and has a history of very unchristian-like viciousness, has undoubtedly produced some of history’s most beautiful works of art. One wonders what great works of art may have been produced throughout England, had the break from Rome not happened, and had Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon produced a son and heir in the first place.