Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Would Mother Theresa Have "Gotten" Junk Thief?

Mother Theresa, it turns out, wasn't an absolute saint after all, and my opinion of her has gone up a few notches. Although I would never characterize her categorically as a bad person, she has never been what I would consider to be a model life if only because her absolute devotion to her cause demonstrated what most personal coaches would have been screaming at her as being an unhealthy work/life balance. Something tells me that she would not have been sneaking off to watch JunkThief TV on YouTube had it been around back in the 1980s and 1990s.

An article by Richard Rodriguez and Mary Ambrose
in the current issue of The Nation takes on this re-examination of her life and concludes that her moments of doubt are perhaps her most redeeming quality. I've long felt that doubt is one of the most defamed of human emotions and one that can ultimately unite and redeem us, and one that ultimately leads me to belief in a higher being. Rodriguez, who is a gay, doubting Catholic, argues that "The Left" has made a huge mistake by generally running in horror from anything remotely linked to faith. He goes so far as to disdain the likes of Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens for what he calls their "farts in the chapel" of dogged irreverence and seeming obsession to debunk anything with the slightest affirmation of any belief system.

I tend to agree with this assessment but ultimately come back to questioning many of the motives of Mother Theresa and the need to assign saintliness to her behaviors that were often condescending, showed a lack of faith in human potential and fatalism. I have met many missionaries in my travels through the years, and they tend to live in a bubble and always let you know that there is ultimately a wall between them and those they serve no matter how dirty their hands may get in the process. And there never seems to be much joy, much humor and enough doubt in them for me to believe that they have taken even a second to listen to those whom they feel they are helping.

A wealth of books and celluloid have been dedicated to this topic through the years, but my favorite is undoubtedly Black Narcissus, or as I prefer to call Nuns Gone Wild. The disdain the one sister has for the titular perfume worn by Sabu's character seems to me to signal the ultimate fissure in the faith of such missionaries. It is not their doubting of their faith that will lead to their inevitable fracture, but the implosion caused by its hermetically sealed exclusion of any contradictory idea. Sometimes by looking into the face of the absolute opposite, that which one most fears or fears one could become, does faith grow stronger.

The recent faltering of the Ted Haggards, Larry Craigs and their ilk demonstrate the frailty of steadfastness, a single course menu that lacks the nourishment needed for anything remotely resembling a healthy life.

Had we met, I would hope Mother Theresa might have taken a moment to view at least one episode of Junk Thief TV or at least sat with me and enjoyed a drink and Gravy on a Stick.

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5 Comments:

At 6:51 AM, Blogger Dave said...

"...they tend to live in a bubble and always let you know that there is ultimately a wall between them and those they serve no matter how dirty their hands may get in the process."

I've met quite a few missionaries in my own travels, and may I just say to the above quote: A-fucking-men.

 
At 7:23 AM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

Dave - Indeed. I was actually being unusually mild and kind to them. They make USAID and the World Bank look "not that bad".

 
At 11:35 AM, Blogger J. David Zacko-Smith said...

Darling, it's like I always say, anything taken to extremes becomes it's antithesis.

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

JDZS - That would certainly apply to homophobic Republican politicians, no? 'Scuse me while I pick up this piece of toilet paper...

 
At 1:23 AM, Blogger simon said...

well written, affectionate, and interesting blog.

if you ever get the chance, come visit me

Best,

Simon

my blog is http://nastypredator.blogspot.com (not nearly as menacing as it sounds :-) )

 

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