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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

The Letters (aka Letters from Mother Teresa) movie review: utter nunsense

by MaryAnn Johanson

The Letters red light

A fatuous argument for Mother Teresa’s sainthood; credulous and willfully ignorant, and disregards everything about her beliefs that was nasty or skeptical.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): not a fan of Mother Teresa

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

We talk about films being hagiographic, but this one wins it. Not that that’s a good thing. The Albanian nun Mother Teresa has already been “beatified” by the Vatican, and will be declared a saint once a second miracle has been attributed to her. This fatuous movie thinks it has mounted some sort of support for her sainthood… though it has no choice but to do so by being wholly credulous, absurdly reverent, willfully ignorant, and disregarding absolutely everything to do with the life and beliefs of the former Anjezë Bojaxhiu that is nasty, skeptical, or unpleasantly fundamentalist.

The Letters opens in the late 1990s with Vatican investigator Benjamin Praagh (Rutger Hauer: Batman Begins, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) peeking in on the Indian woman whose claim that Mother Teresa healed her abdominal complaints from beyond the grave is considered the nun’s first miracle. He doesn’t actually investigate, like, say, by talking to the woman’s doctors — who have, indeed, roundly debunked her claim of a miracle; she was cured by good old-fashioned scientific medicine. Praagh just accepts with awe the woman’s story.

And this sets the stage for the rest of the film, based on a collection of letters Teresa wrote to her spiritual advisor, Father Celeste van Exem (Aapo Pukk as a young man, Max von Sydow [Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Robin Hood] as the elder version). Never mind that the letters were published after her death despite her request that van Exem destroy them. The film does mention this, though not with any understanding of what a fantastic PR opportunity Teresa was and continues to be for a Vatican beset by bad publicity, and that there are many selfish reasons for Teresa’s sainthood to be manipulated, such as by skipping the required waiting period of five years after someone’s death to begin the process; the Pope jumped right in. (The fantasy Vatican of this movie is full of kindly old men in fancy gowns just doing right by a kindly little nun.) Then again, Teresa was not one for heeding people’s wishes: her hospices in India were known for baptizing Hindus against their will on their deathbeds, when they couldn’t object. So perhaps the unwanted publication of her letters is only poetic — or literary — justice. It still sucks, though.

Forced baptisms? Nowhere to be found here. Just kindly young nuns in the thrall of Teresa (Juliet Stevenson: Diana, A Previous Engagement) holding the hands of wretched poor people as they die. Squalid conditions? Unwashed needles? Children tied to beds? Didn’t happen. But look! Here’s Teresa teaching slum kids to read and reading them stories, awww. None of the documented horrors of Teresa’s establishments in India are to be found here. Of course not: they contradict the glorious myth of the white savior and ultimate poverty tourist Teresa was. (She went to nice clean modern American hospitals when she herself was sick.) Does Praagh ask elderly van Exem, when they visit and chat about Teresa, why her organization had tens of millions of dollars in bank accounts — some of the dough accepted from terrible people like Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier — and yet the people she was “helping” were still in desperate straits? Nope. Does anyone suggest that it was perhaps because she found the suffering of the poor “beautiful” and Godly — she really said these things, publicly and with no shame — and wasn’t actually motivated to end their suffering? Ha.

Instead, we get Teresa accepting her Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and though we are ostensibly presented with her entire speech, nowhere is what she actually said about abortion in the reality-based version of that speech, that it is “the greatest destroyer of peace.” Even many Catholics today would find that unpalatable. So it ain’t here.

Even the one potentially positive aspect of Teresa’s life is overlooked in The Letters, perhaps intentionally, though more likely it simply wasn’t even recognized as a thing: Teresa found a way to do what she wanted when she was supposed to be an obedient nun doing what other people told her to do. She was ambitious, and she realized that if she just declared “God told me to do this!” she could get permission from her male betters to go outside the cloistered convent and live as she pleased; she eventually even convinced them to give her her own order! In an institution that is loathe to grant authority to women, she wrested some for herself. The movie doesn’t seem to recognize what a coup this was for Teresa (or that perhaps this is why the Vatican continues to support the myth of her saintliness, because they can’t be seen to have been wrong about her). Only the sour-faced mother general (Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal: Such a Long Journey) of Teresa’s original convent appears to know what she’s up to; she might have let on to writer-director William Riead.

Riead, by the way, has only two other feature credits to his name, and they’re a couple of low-budget schlock flicks. So it’s probably not surprising that The Letters is clunky, obvious, and heavy-handed. It’s probably not surprising that it is cheap, stagey, and artificial. (Why is Teresa carrying a lantern around to “light” her way in a building that clearly has electric lighting?) It’s probably not surprising that the movie is badly acted, full of stilted dialogue delivered with amateurish halting, though it is surprising that usually reliable actors such as Stevenson, Hauer, and von Sydow are so terrible here.

What is almost unforgivably surprising, however, is that the film cannot even be true to Teresa herself. Toward the end of the film, Praagh makes a little speech about how Teresa’s amazing letters demonstrate “depths of holiness” in her, particularly in how she continued to do what she believed was God’s work even though a “spiritual darkness” was growing inside her and that she felt “abandoned by God.” We don’t hear the actual content of most of these letters, and we never have any idea what she could have meant about being abandoned by God: everything looks peachy keen as far as the movie is concerned, what with her constantly receiving permission from the Vatican for all the outrageous and un-nunlike things she keeps asking to do. In fact, what some (apparently not connected with this movie) consider the most extraordinary thing about Teresa’s letters — as Time magazine described her state of mind in a 2007 article about Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, the book of collected missives — is that “she spent almost 50 years without sensing the presence of God in her life,” that she even doubted the existence of God. Nothing in The Letters comes close to hinting this, or comes close to examining such a fundamental contradiction in its subject. This is such a complete botch of a film that it daren’t even ask the questions Teresa asked, or voice the doubts she voiced.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of The Letters (aka Letters from Mother Teresa) for its representation of girls and women.

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    Canonisation is always a fiercely political thing, even if the sides are often unclear, and I guess this film is the equivalent of an “election communication”. What a waste of good actors, though.

  • common_sense_is

    You are legitimately a terrible human being. Mother Teresa was an amazing and selfless woman. I will pray for you.

  • common_sense_is

    And abortion is the most definitely the greatest evil on earth today. Every Catholic I know agrees with that.

  • ninjaandy

    Wow. Your Mother Theresa hate is truly irrational. Posting nothing but leftist sources, which twist facts to justify a narrative, doesn’t help establish your point.

    On the other hand, this movie looks boring as all hell, and I am also not a fan of hagiographic films. So while I suspect I’ll agree with you about the lack of merit the film has *as* a film, even in comparison to other hagiographies like, say, Gandhi, I wish you wouldn’t be quite so proud of your factually incorrect biases.

  • Morgoth

    Boo hoo. I like to eat babies for breakfast. Go cry me a river.

  • Danielm80

    Hi, MaryAnn. Can I suggest that we close comments on this topic before it turns into a war zone?

  • brekanarts

    This article was written by some ill-educated and emotionally disturbed individual.

    It’s a pathetic attempt at destroying a good person’s character. I can accept Hollywood doing a posthumous bashing of Lou Reed or John Lennon (as they were intrinsically selfish and had little qualms about this). But to write these hateful words about a woman who was absolutely altruistic and unselfish?? Unreal.

    I’d like to see this writer try to treat a malaria victim who’s thrashing with fever in a bed. Any reasonable caregiver in that situation, would tie the delirious patient to the bed to save their life and keep them in quarantine (from spreading the disease).

    This writer illustrates Mother Theresa as the Marquis de Sade… Like she was actively out to torture Hindus into conversion…. Absolutely shameful and dishonest reconstruction of historical events and an attack on Mother Teresa’s life mission.

    This “review” is little more than another thinly-veiled attack on God and His servants on Earth. It nothing to say about the artistry of it’s filmmaking nor the quality of the actors performance.


  • Amado

    Dang! A bit harsh there https://youtu.be/3bImBBTaPDY

  • Danielm80

    Good news, MaryAnn. If you keep this thread going, you’ll get lots of free psychological analysis. You won’t have to pay a therapist for months.

  • brekanarts

    Chicken shit

  • Bluejay

    Not a very Christian response. Why don’t you just go away and silently pray for us lost souls? And please pray privately, behind closed doors and without announcing it, the way Jesus told you to.

  • Citations needed.

  • Charming. I’m sure Jesus would approve.

  • a woman who was absolutely altruistic and unselfish

    Citations needed.

  • Should be interesting.

  • And why not?

  • brekanarts

    I’m Jewish and I’m throwing stones. Fuck you.

  • brekanarts

    You can shove your opinion up your camel toed ass! :D Have a great day!

  • If it turns into a war zone, I’ll delete the offenders and close the comments. But I’d rather not do that preemptively. I’d like to trust that we can have a reasonable discussion.

  • Mitchigan66

    There are ways to present a criticism or argument so that it doesn’t sound absolutely repugnant, turning off anyone who was willing to read your pile of vitriol. This review showed a clear anti-Catholic bias as well as a complete lack of class. You could’ve told us it was a bad movie without insulting the Catholic faith and their beliefs.

  • Truthteller

    Anti-Catholic bias? Oh, come on. The review is talking about Mother Theresa and her controversial reputation.

    It is well-established that Mother Theresa had some rather dark, brutish and selfish approaches to her “ministry.” It’s precisely the problem with making human beings into saints, which this film clearly supports: it encourages people to blindly accept a carefully curated image of a person while ignoring the unflattering flaws.

    Here, that’s more than just bad filmmaking; its intellectually dishonest.

  • Peter DiDonato

    Ms. Johnson, I admire the fact that you admit your biases before your reviews. I wish more critics did that. We all have our own biases and they can easily affect our opinions. Stating that you have a bias is honest and something admirable. I just want to point out something though; the bit about her baptizing Hindus used Wikipedia as a source. The Wikipedia page linked did not cite sources for the part about baptizing the dead. I was taught in high school that Wikipedia is not a legitimate source, so I strongly recommend that you use a different source. Best regards.

  • If I wanted insult the Catholic faith, believe me, I could have gone on at length. But I didn’t even begin to do that here.

  • Nathan

    I’d argue that the factors that lead to late term abortion are what’s evil. You know what else is evil? Repressing research that could eliminate such things from happening. Women don’t want to kill their babies, but some have to make that decision… and it’s people like you who make them put it off until they have to go through the trauma of borderline euthanasia. If contraception was readily available this shit wouldn’t happen. Leave those poor souls alone, it’s binary moralists like you who gun down women and children… because you want to save babies.

  • Nathan

    Well, it’s hard to when some Catholics are pushing polytheism with their odd deification of well-known individuals.

  • Nathan

    I don’t get why people are afraid to bash on Religious beliefs nowadays. There’s a grand tradition of bashing on religion, dating back to way before the Protestant reformation. Philosophical debates are fun, especially when petty violence an name-calling is involved. :P

  • Nathan

    You don’t understand Ms. JohAnson, she was saving their immortal souls. I was taught in SFA (Spiritual First Aid) that if the victim is already mostly dead (in a spiritual sense) it is your duty to save them by any means necessary. Get them into waist deep water stat, it’s time to completely ignore the point of baptism completely.

  • Asura

    Mother Teresa was a legitimately terrible human being. If hell exists, she’s burning down there.

  • ninjaandy

    This is not the sort of dispute one fights with citations alone, though of course scholarly or otherwise reputable citations are sometimes helpful. But that’s kind of my point about the review itself — you admit to your bias, which is good, but then don’t justify it beyond citing some things that you found on the internet.

    But why do you trust those sources? Have you personally visited the hospices in Calcutta? Have you really looked into Hitchens or Chatterjee, the primary sources for the modern claims about how “bad” she is, or examined their claims beyond what they’ve said? Do you understand the biases that Hitchens and Chatterjee themselves brought to their own research?

    Acknowledging bias is great, but it doesn’t absolve anyone from responsible journalism. Quite the opposite, in fact — when you have a known bias, it becomes your duty to be *absolutely sure* that your statements on the bias subject, if you intend them to carry weight and be taken as anything other than mere opinion or rant, are even more carefully vetted than usual.

    So look: I’m not going to argue with you that Mother Theresa was a perfect human being, or that her often underfunded hospices in the poorest parts of Christian-hostile India were sometimes staffed by people who meant well but didn’t have the training or resources they should have. *Some* of the facts you cite/allude to are accurate.

    But the conclusions you appear to draw from them, that Mother Theresa is some kind of charlatan or false friend to the poor Indians she worked with and for, are quite the stretch. It seems likely that, like Hitchens himself, you don’t like her faith and thus are much more likely to impugn her motives for reasons which are flimsy at best. I don’t know whether that’s true, but it seems likely from the way you present your case.

    That is all I’m going to say on the subject beyond what I said; I’m not interested in going through a step by step historical deconstruction of your ideas about Mother Theresa, and I doubt you are either. Just understand that there’s much, much more to the subject of her life than one can safely garner from a wikipedia article or a Hitchens piece, or from other peoples’ words based on those things.

    Apologies if you have a deep and learned knowledge of Mother Theresa and her work beyond having read a few articles, and simply haven’t bothered to present them. But in that case I would argue that your bias is *so* strong, it’s blinding you. And in that case there’s even *less* point discussing this with citations.

  • Danielm80

    If you’re going to claim that MaryAnn’s information is inaccurate, you probably ought to provide some evidence, beyond a vague claim that her sources are biased. (And I’m not certain that Time magazine and the Washington Post qualify as hotbeds of radical leftist activity.) After all, you’re biased, just like the rest of us, so it would be helpful to see some proof for your claims.

    Also, while it’s a good idea to be skeptical about everything you read, that doesn’t mean that you can never trust anything in a book or a news article. If we had to personally investigate every news report or research document, we’d never be able to believe anything at all.

  • bronxbee

    i know a hell of a lot of catholics (friends and family) who *don’t* agree with that, or with the ban on contraception… and who don’t bow down the minute some guy with a white cassock and a pointy hat says to…

  • It seems likely that, like Hitchens himself, you don’t like her faith

    I don’t give a flying fig about her faith. I only care about what she did… or didn’t do.

    But I’d love to hear of your experiences at Teresa’s hospices in Calcutta. I presume you have extensive firsthand knowledge of them, and are not simply drawing on your own biased opinion of her.

  • source full

    Ms. Johanson, in 1991 I spent 3 weeks in calcutta, Ibackpacked through africa, india, nepal and most of southeast asia over a 2 year period. While in calcutta a friend of mine and i went to visit Mothers mission each day for about 10 days. We helped out cleaning linens, cooking, changing nettings, hauling water. A lot of labor intensive work in the late afternoon we would all gather in a large hall and say prayers with mother. There were always children around, local kids some would call untouchables….. I played games with them helped clean them up at the local fountains. Don’t get me wrong I went there because the friend I was with I had just met in Kathmandu she was hot and very spiritual. I was always religiously skeptical. But what i saw really touched my heart that this woman had dedicated so many of her years to ease the suffering of these people. I am still skeptical of religious organizations and overly pious individuals. I had many hours a day to observe mother tending next to the other nuns and volunteers. Our last day there was an earthquake in Bangladesh, Mother approached my friend and i and asked if we would like to join her. I was not that committed to my new found charitable ways. I did not see the horrors that you wrote of or that have been claimed. Then again i did not spend 50 years around a woman who devoted her life to her cause. But take into consideration this at times great people do terrible things and terrible people can do great things. the line can be very thin. just like you are probably good person who took a movie critics view of a definitely sub par movie acting, directing, script, storyline and chose to attack the character of the individual being portrayed. The movie, the Washington post articles these are all opinions written by individuals with there own objectives selling papers, butts in seats. You can’t do that without sensationalizing your narrative as you have done. Mother a Saint? I don’t believe in Miracles. Have her achievements driven more people to be compassionate over the years than most peoples selfish acts? definitely.

  • Danielm80

    I think it’s wonderful that you got to know Mother Teresa, however briefly, and that you had a chance to work with her during a time when she was making so much effort to help and encourage people. But if she drove you to be more compassionate, I don’t understand why you’re so willing to ascribe cynical motives to anyone who criticizes her. As you said: “…at times great people do terrible things and terrible people can do great things.” Isn’t it possible that, however admirably she acted during your three weeks in Calcutta, people who knew her at other times in her life saw other sides of her?

    Journalists and researchers are obligated to report the facts they learn, even when those facts are unflattering. That doesn’t mean that the person they’re describing never did great things, only that the terrible things may be an important news story. If the facts are well-documented and compelling, then people can report them without sensationalizing anything—as their professional ethics require them to do.

    Film critics are required to give their honest opinions each time they review a film. If they’re reviewing a biopic, and they know that it deviates from the facts about a person’s life, they may feel obligated to point out the errors. Many people felt that Saving Mr. Banks misrepresented P.L. Travers, and that Selma misrepresented LBJ. In those cases, they were defending the subjects of those movies. In this case, MaryAnn is criticizing Mother Teresa, but it comes from the same instinct, the desire to see an honest portrayal of a historical figure. She’s not being malicious. She’s doing her job as a film critic.

    If you knew Mother Teresa when she was in Calcutta, you may feel obligated to talk about the kind, considerate things you saw her do. That’s also an honest, accurate portrayal of a historical figure, and your perspective on her life is an important part of the record. But lives are complicated, and sometimes we need to hear lots of different perspectives, even the ones that make us uncomfortable.

  • ninjaandy

    As I said, this isn’t something I’m interested in going into great depth in on a message board, with someone who also doesn’t appear interested in an objective discussion. She’s formed her opinion, and clearly isn’t interested in hearing another one, as evidenced by her snarky and purposeful missing of the point in her second response to me.

    I will address your point about my use of the term “leftist”: Time Magazine absolutely qualifies, and I won’t even bother arguing that point other than to advise you to look through their editorial history, and the stated views of their journalists, over the last two decades.

    The Washington Post is more reasonable (thought still “to the left”), but they’re not doing the research themselves — they’re reporting on someone else’s work and doing what they often do, which is take another’s words at face value without vetting. Still, you’re right that “leftist” is too strong a term for them, especially as what I’m accusing them of here is, unfortunately, basic media practice across the board, everywhere from MSNBC to Fox. So I’ll retract my use of that term for the Post, sure.

  • ninjaandy

    I see. Not judging her based on her faith at all, despite ridiculing the Vatican, the sainthood investigations, the baptisms, and claiming that the one good thing about her was that she was, essentially, disobedient. Got it.

    And your bit about my own experiences with Mother Theresa, or lack thereof — did you really read my response as saying that *only* firsthand experience is of value? That we should *never* consider other people’s accounts? That seems like a very passe reading from someone who’s supposed to be a thoughtful critic.

    Or perhaps you’re just trying to make yourself look smart and confident to your readers by ridiculing me instead of addressing my point — that your bias has led you to accept an uncritical view of the fringe works of others, because they happen to be saying what you already think. Either that, or for whatever reason you formed your opinions of Mother Theresa and her work *based* on what Hitchens, et. al. said about her, which would mean you hold a very strong opinion based on a minimum of research, or on an unjustifiably strong trust in the words of people who wrote clear hit pieces.

    Whatever the reason, I can’t take you seriously on this. Deceive yourself, if you wish, about how much thought and effort you put into forming your opinion about Mother Theresa. But I’ve said what I came to say. Let anyone reading decide for themselves.

  • Danielm80

    You’ve now written 16 paragraphs on this comment thread. You keep saying that this isn’t the place to have an in-depth discussion, but maybe you could post one actual piece of evidence supporting your claims, rather than just tossing around the words “biased” and “inaccurate.”

    Also, you might want to learn how Mother Teresa spelled her name.

  • Bluejay

    Saying “the other side isn’t interested in objective discussion” is an easy excuse for not providing any objective sources for your own assertions.

  • But take into consideration this at times great people do terrible things and terrible people can do great things.

    I do. This movie does not.

  • despite ridiculing the Vatican, the sainthood investigations,

    I think you confuse belief with the institutions that have grown up around it.

    But if you are really so concerned about Teresa’s faith, why aren’t you upset that this movie completely ignores the doubts she had, including doubting the existence of God? Or does faith only matter when it accepts God, not wonders whether God exists at all?

    It is not “opinion” that Teresa’s organization had millions of dollars banked. It is not “opinion” that her hospices were staffed by untrained people doing appallingly unhygienic things.

    I can’t take you seriously on this

    I’m heartbroken.

  • ninjaandy

    Fortuitously, this article appeared today on Huffpo, and it’s a useful primer written by someone who isn’t sympathetic to the teachings of the Catholic church, but who worked with Mother Theresa’s organization. It’s a good primer:


    And here’s the BBC quoting a bunch of Indians, Catholic and otherwise, who knew and worked with her and her group, defending her legacy and person:


    The information is all over and easy to find.

  • ninjaandy

    I posted this below, but here it is for you again, a good start on understanding what Mother Theresa’s organization was all about, from someone who worked with her group:


    And then there’s this from the BBC. Makes you wonder what these people who worked with her knew, that Hitchens didn’t:


  • ninjaandy

    Movies can’t cover everything about everyone, but as I said in my original post, I would likely agree with you that this movie, as a movie, isn’t very good. Theresa’s doubts were attributed to what Catholics call “the dark night of the soul”, a very interesting spiritual phenomenon shared, coincidentally, but both other popular St. Theresas — Theresa of Avila and Therese of Liseaux. I would have loved for the film to cover Mother Theresa’s “dark night”. Alas, it doesn’t. We agree; that’s a shame.

    As for the money and the health care, I already agreed that some of your facts are correct, but you’re doing what Hitchens did: interpreting facts in the worst possible light (making an astute reader wonder why he, and you, would do that). Every large charity banks millions, everything from Red Cross to Susan G. Komen to the Knights of Columbus. Should we stop giving to all large charities because they have a huge amount of liquid funds?

    Likewise the hygienic care — there are plenty of responses to that factoid other than assuming it meant Mother Theresa was a Bad Person. For that I’ll just leave you this article, coincidentally posted today on Huffpo:


    And I’m sorry you’re heartbroken, but I’m sure you’ll get over it in time.

  • Danielm80

    Neither of those articles disproves the firsthand observations in the New Statesman piece. In fact, their responses are fairly superficial: She was a really nice person who wouldn’t do that, or, India is different than other places, or the rather callous, It’s better than dying in the street. Even if Mother Teresa’s organization didn’t have the money to build state-of-the-art clinics, it was wealthy enough to ensure the basic standards of hygiene that should be available in any medical center.

    The New Statesman writer may or may not be a leftist, but his politics don’t discredit his reporting, unless you have evidence that he fabricated the evidence wholesale out of liberal bias.

    Your reporting, however, doesn’t give me confidence in your opinion. You’re continuing to misspell Mother Teresa’s name every time you type it, and you said that a 2013 article was published just today. (Or was that misplaced sarcasm?) For someone who places a high value on accuracy, you haven’t made much effort to achieve it.

  • From that HuffPo article:

    She cherished every single life on this planet more than anyone ever did

    This is not objective reportage. Neither is this:

    The sick and dying do not receive appropriate care, despite the amount of money donated to the charity each year: this has been an ongoing criticism of the Missionaries of Charity. One simple answer: yes they do care for them appropriately

    She offers absolutely no evidence for this. And she does suggest that lots of people *did* complain about the situation in those clinics but were dismissed:

    They couldn’t possibly adapt to everything that volunteers would complain about, using big words like “human decency” or “truly helping the poor,”

    This sounds like satire. “Human decency” is an abstract concept that doesn’t apply in the slums? That’s outrageous.

    This essay reads like something The Onion would come up with as a “defense” of piously justified horrors.

    And that BBC piece does absolutely nothing to refute criticism of Teresa.

  • Neither of those articles does what you suggest they do, unless the reader is entirely credulous. And utter credulity is how the mystique of Teresa is perpetuated.

  • Movies can’t cover everything about everyone

    Of course not. But what is left out is often an indication of the intent of the filmmakers.

    Should we stop giving to all large charities because they have a huge amount of liquid funds?

    If they misuse the funds or don’t use them for the intended purpose, we should absolutely stop giving them more money! How is that even a question?

  • robmack

    Saw the movie yesterday, great story, amazing street scenes from India, and very good acting.

  • robmack

    you are one sick puppy

  • Can you share with us what you found great and amazing and very good about these things?

  • ninjaandy

    The irony of you accusing *me* of extreme credulity is not lost on me. But I’m afraid you take it very seriously.

  • ninjaandy

    First things first: my mistake on the “posted today” point — it was tagged as having been posted that day, then updated as having been originally posted in 2013, then updated again in 2013 for some reason. I don’t know why that happened, but it is now definitely saying 2013. So . . . does that really matter?

    Beyond that, the New Statesmen reporter certainly is leftist, and you denying the significance of that is telling. But even setting that aside, it’s one person’s experiences which you are relying on. And yet I *also* posted one person’s experiences (the 2013 article) which you (and Mary Anne) discounted immediately. Wonder why that would be?

    So let’s set aside both accounts — the Huffpo positive piece, and the Statesman negative one. How many more negative firsthand accounts of Mother Theresa (a perfectly legitimate spelling of her name, but if you want to complain about niggling little things like you seem to enjoy doing here, I also regularly spell it “Chattarjee” instead of “Chatterjee”) can you find? And how many positive ones do you think are out there?

    Your argument (and Mary Anne’s) consists primarily of relying on biased and limited sources AND believing them without question, semantics, and hypocrisy in accusing me of bias which I freely admit to, without accepting your own. If that doesn’t signal the end of a discussion, nothing does. So I’m going to follow my own advice and be done now.

  • BraveGamgee

    I’m not really joining into the main argument here, but I believe that spelling of names IS an important thing. You’re misspelling Mother Teresa’s name, and also MaryAnn (unlike the beloved girl from Prince Edward Island, there is no “e”). Please respect the way people choose to spell their own names :) My two cents

  • Danielm80

    What bothers me about the errors is that ninjaandy seems to think it’s perfectly okay to make up your own facts:

    (a perfectly legitimate spelling of her name, but if you want to complain about niggling little things like you seem to enjoy doing here, I also regularly spell it “Chattarjee” instead of “Chatterjee”)

    An accidental misspelling is understandable. But if you’re consistently wrong about the most basic fact about Mother Teresa’s identity, and you don’t see that as a problem, then you are no longer a reliable source of information.

  • ninjaandy

    She was born “Anjeze”, an Albanian name I can’t even type properly because I have no idea how to make little dots over letters, like hers has somewhere in there. Her middle name, which escapes me at the moment, meant “little flower”, and so she wanted to take the name “Therese” (another name with a speech mark over one of the letters, which I also can’t produce) after Therese of Lisieux, also commonly referred to as “Little Flower”.

    But since another nun at her convent already had chosen that name, Anjeze went with an alternate spelling, “Teresa”.

    I don’t mention all this to be a jerk. I mention it because a) Anjeze wanted a different spelling of her chosen name anyway, and b) it’s the height of semantics to dismiss someone’s argument or position, over something as insignificant as how they spell a name. The fact that Anjeze herself didn’t stress over her name emphasizes the point in a particular way — what matters is substance, not semantics or word games.

  • catherine

    she gave comfort to dying people…good enough for me. i do not give a rats’ A** about sainthood duh? or religion…are we so bazaar that we must pull everyone down. she served the people dying in misery…i love her.

  • Bluejay

    I love bazaars.

  • christopher

    I just watched the movie on my amazon. It was not a perfect movie, and Mother Teresa was not a perfect woman, maybe some things were left out, but the movie brought a tear to my eye and I really liked it. A human being unselfishly devoted to serve her fellow humans beings is rare and to watch a movie about it, instead of the usual Hollywood tribble, was something special.

  • Millions of dollars in bank accounts that didn’t go to serve the poor. How is that unselfish?

  • christopher

    Where that money went and exactly how much, I do not know, but it did not go into Mother Teresa’s pocket. She wasn’t living in mansions, driving a Lamborghini, or partying in Hollywood. She wasn’t decked out in jewels and Armani. As I said Mother Teresa was not a perfect woman. She had a dark side and great spiritual pain came with her struggle. Some of her methods were antiquated. Her views on poverty weren’t very empowering, but as young girl she was fascinated with stories of missionaries and decided to dedicate her life to helping the poor. She descended into the abyss alone. She went into the most wretched filthy slum to comfort and aid the poorest of the poor. The sick lepers, homeless stricken with malaria, parasites and tuberculosis, how is that unselfish? Why don’t you do it?

  • Why don’t I keep sick people in deplorable, unhygienic conditions, reuse needles, wash cooking utensils in the same sinks as feces-soaked clothing? Because that would be criminal.

    No one is holding me up as a saint. But nice straw man.

    She wasn’t living in mansions, driving a Lamborghini, or partying in Hollywood.

    No, she only flew to nice clean American hospitals when she needed medical help, and hung out with celebs:

  • christopher

    A deplorable hospital, in a deplorable slum, in a deplorable country, go figure, and it was the celebs that sought her out. Whatever sins Mother Teresa did commit, she spoke out against the most heinous, vicious, deplorable crime in human history. The wholesale slaughter of human life in abortion. The turning of the womb into a death chamber, and when she warned President Bill Clinton about his penchant for infanticide. Clinton’s only reply was “there is nothing I can say to you.” Looks like there is nothing I can say to you either straw lady.

  • amanohyo

    Preach it brother! Life begins at conception – when God waves his magic wand and detaches a fertilized egg from the uterine lining, which He seems to do at a consistent rate of around 60%, we should mourn the death of that beautiful life, snuffed out so tragically at such a young age.

    But question not the will of God, for sometimes He is in a rush when, in His infinite wisdom, He composes His plan: “Step One: Your life begins. Step Two: You fail to implant and die. Step Three: Your corpse is laid to rest in landfill, wrapped in the angelic wings of a maxi pad. The End?” But don’t worry those spermblessed eggs totally still go to heaven – it’s zygote party central up there, and the party don’t stop. All you can drink cytoplasm, every membrane is semi-permeable if you catch my drift, everyone just livin’ la vitro loca for eternity.

    In fact, I have it on good authority from the G-man Himself that life begins at ejaculation. That’s why I freeze all my sperm immediately and never masturbate. Alas, one night, I had a particularly saucy dream about the girl who works the register on Wednesday nights at Goodwill, and awoke in horror to see millions of lives struck down by my impure thoughts. They turned their heads toward me, twitched their flagella weakly one last time in unison, and were suddenlly silent. I buried the victims of the Goodwill Genocide at sea; the pastor’s eulogy brought me tears, but I know in my heart that they’re all still swimming up that big fallopian tube in the sky waving down at me. I’m so sorry little guys. Just keep swimming. Just… keep… swimming. *sniff*

    But then I learned that God had created parallel universes, and I realized that life begins at conversation. Every time I talk to a woman and we don’t end up dating, getting married, and having children, I am murdering children in God’s divine multiverse. I shudder in shame at the countless lives I’ve ended by selfishly refusing to be fruitful and multiply with my ex-girlfriends.

    Yet still my crimes do not end there, for logically life begins at imagination. Whenever I see an attractive woman, and I fail to choose a path that leads to marriage and children, I am callously killing our dozens of potential offspring. I have therefore decided to blindfold myself and always immediately propose to any woman who talks to me. It’s really the only sensible thing to do – if they say no, they’re the murderers, not me.

    (EDIT) Wait a sec… I just read the Bible – turns out it doesn’t actually say anything about abortion, is oddly ambiguous on the issue of murder in general, and seems to really dig human slavery. So, I guess life truly begins at indoctrination. One thing Jesus is super clear on though is people who claim to be helping poor people, receive millions of dollars to help poor people, use those millions of dollars to line their own pockets instead of actually helping poor people, and then tell those poor people that their suffering and poverty are noble instead of helping them to climb out of poverty and end their suffering all in a cynical effort to promote their own brand of dogma. Jesus is pretty clear about where people like that go after they die, and it sure ain’t zygote party central.

  • christopher

    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

    “Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee in the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things.” Isaiah 44:24

    All cultures in human history had slavery including the historical accounts of the Hebrews in the Bible. The Bible does not condemn slavery, nor are we commanded to own slaves. Slavery is optional.

    Before food stamps and welfare, for many millions of our ancestors, slavery was better than starving.

    For millions alive today who work like dogs just to put food on the table. It’s not slavery, but close.

    After reading your comment I came to the conclusion that you are a sick twisted soul. “The blessing and malediction are before you.” You are free to choose eternal destruction.

  • amanohyo

    “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.” Geisel 48:12

    And God said unto Moses, “I hereby decree slavery is optional!!!” The benevolent all-powerful infinite ruler of the universe continued, “but shellfish and pork? That shit is an abomination yo! My Son and I have also been watching you have sex, and we’ve compiled a list of all the holes you aren’t allowed to use and the thoughts you aren’t allowed to think during sexual congress.”

    “I know, I know, it sounds creepy, but it’s not because We love you. You love Me too right? Riiight? I hope so, because I reeeally don’t want to have to torture you for eternity… but I will. Well, actually the Devil will, and I guess I could stop him from doing it, but I won’t because we have this arrangement where he gets to live in the basement and I get the upstairs, and we share the kitchen and living room. It just works out smoother that way. Plus torture is kinda my thing.”

    Jesus nodded at Himself and continued, “Also, not saying that I’m gonna do it soon or anything, but if I did decide to come back down to Earth and I saw poor people using food stamps to feed themselves and welfare to seek medical care, I’d be totally bummed! Don’t leech off the government for that stuff, just get on your knees and ask me and my Dad. We won’t actually do anything, but you’ll feel a loooot better. I thought We were pretty clear about all that in Our book.”

    The Holy Ghost wailed in agreement and went on, “Yoooou are correct christopher – millions of people doooo live in abject poverty that is close to slavery, and the ideal solution to that problem is to outlaw aaaaall forms of birth control. I don’t know how it could be any more oooobvious.”

    Then the Holy Ghost propelled Mother Teresa high into the air with a puff of holy smoke and she gave God the highest high five of all time before dunking all over Jesus with a sick 360 tomahawk jam. God covered His mouth with His divine hands, “Daaaamn girl, that shit was nasty!!! No wonder they canonized you. cuz you just slammed that rock like a cannonball!” Teresa helped Jesus back to His feet and patted His buttock with infinte patience and affection. “No shade, Dog. I be straight trippin’ on yo heavenly love boo.” And they all went out for ice cream and cake. THE END

  • christopher

    We are no longer under the Mosaic law. I read your comment up to “And God said to Moses.” I am not interested in anything you have to say. Let’s end it here.

  • amanohyo

    Fair enough. I did get a little too silly, plus I stole an old Onion premise. That goofy “now that I’m an atheist, nothing can stop me from being evil” line in Don’t Breathe got me all riled up, and I took my frustrations out on your sincerely held beliefs which was a dick move. Bizarre as they are, you seem to take your beliefs seriously and are familiar with your Holy text which is admirable.

    In all seriousness though, if life does truly begin at conception, do you believe zygotes have a soul? And if so, where do those souls go after they die and what do they do once they get there? Do they continue to develop into a person? Are you whatever age you want to be in heaven, or do people become beings of pure energy beyond all concepts of age and time? And how would that be better than mortal life on Earth and isn’t a infinite existence outside the laws of space and time impossible to imagine by its very nature? It’s all very mysterious and weird, and no one seems to agree on any of the answers or have any reliable evidence for any of their assertions. I honestly just don’t know, and the Bible seems to have been written by people who don’t know either.

  • And you’ve just told me that I no longer need to engage with you. Thank you for that.

  • Your Jesus shouting is not welcome here. Go sell your fantasy somewhere else.

  • christopher

    Why are you heathens so angry? I surmise it’s because deep down inside in the bleak emptiness of your atheism is an intense struggle to hold onto the absurdity of your beliefs. To make sense out of a creation so stupendous that it is an overwhelming miracle that the human eye can behold it.

  • RogerBW

    B-5, N-1, and a distinct hint of N-4. Want to try for some more?


  • Bluejay

    Angry? You’re the one calling people sick and twisted.

    Why don’t you just be a good Christian and love us, pray for us (privately, behind closed doors), and leave us to our fate. Say hi to St. Peter for us when you see him.

  • bronxbee

    uhhhh. no.

  • Why are you so angry? I suspect it’s because you haven’t accepted into your heart the truth about Thor/Ra/Quetzalcoatl/Rassilon/the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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