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View Diary: Christopher Hitchens (61 comments)

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  •  She had it coming... (2+ / 0-)
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    nyy26wc, XNeeOhCon

    ...she didn't use all that donation money to improve the condition of the poor people she "helped". Instead the money went straight to the Vatican, while sick people languished untreated all around her. And while she glorified poverty, she didn't mind getting modern, expensive treatment herself...

    •  What kind of fool sends money to a nun and (1+ / 0-)
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      doesn't expect it to go the Vatican?

      "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

      by burrow owl on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 02:51:21 PM PDT

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    •  I don't think she glorified poverty (0+ / 0-)

      except that she saw suffering as a means of getting closer to Christ. We can dispute the validity of that view, but she was raised a Catholic and schooled in a convent and this would have been the predominant way of thinking in that environment. As a nun, she sought permission from the Vatican to establish her order and to minister to the poor. The Catholic Church generally keeps a tight rein on its religious orders and it is natural that she would have taken direction from the Vatican and not presumed to place her own desires above the wishes of the Church. She would look to Rome to tell her how to best serve Christ. The Church does not encourage independent thinking or action and the role of women in the Church was even more subservient when she started out than it is now. And having known nothing else, she would have accepted the situation without complaint. Her religion was perhaps more of a hindrance than a help to her work and that may be why she faced a spiritual crisis. You have to remember that she was born in 1910 when society was much less permissive and the Church even more restrictive than it is now. She would not have even thought of doing anything without the blessing of the Vatican. I think we have to look at her work in light of all of these factors.

      •  if you're reading Hitchens on someone's (1+ / 0-)
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        "spiritual crisis", you're, ahem, reading someone whose point of view is as crabbed as the worst stereotype of a religious fundamentalist.

        Let's just take one example. The Vatican invited him to talk about Mother Theresa and give his views in the the process of beatification.

        I doubt Hitchens would return the favor to his enemies, which are numerous.  Oh, and I'm sure the Vatican doesn't consider Hitchens an enemy. They'd probably gently suggest he cut down on the Scotch.

        One can read about spiritual crises, if one wanted to know more about Mother Theresa really than just pad Hitchens' book sales, by reading such authors as St. John of the Cross, etc. Hitchens knows what he's up to, and he's counting the money.

        Atheism: the religion devoted to the worship of one's own smug sense of superiority. -- Stephen Colbert

        by Belvedere Come Here Boy on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 06:18:04 PM PDT

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        •  I've only read excerpts of Hitchens (1+ / 0-)
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          Belvedere Come Here Boy

          and sporadic accounts in various newspapers. But they all hint of some sort of spiritual conflict which may or may not have been a crisis. I certainly wouldn't expect Hitchens to recognize a spiritual crisis if it slapped him in the face. He has neither the will nor the insight to understand what motivates religious people as evidenced by his claim that Mother Teresa was flawed because she did what she did to serve Christ rather than to help the poor. It makes you wonder why the Vatican sought his opinion on Mother Teresa unless it was a joke.

          But Mother Teresa did have moments when her faith seemed to fail her. She wrote to Rev. Michael Van Der Peet in 1979:

          Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear. The tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak.

          More than 40 of her letters have been published in the book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light edited by her friend Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk. These letters reveal just how human Mother Teresa was and far from impeding her canonization as Hitchens might have hoped, it proves how strong her faith had to be to overcome these bouts of despair and continue her charitable works.

          •  Hitchens was asked to play Devil's Advocate (1+ / 0-)
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            Literally. In the process of canonization, the Vatican will examine the negative as well as the positive. I saw him joke in a way about this. Can't remember if it was on Maher or not. Probably.

            But it goes to show, even though Hitchens would disagree with the result, that the Church let him in the door and say whatever he wanted.

            Good post on your end. Hitchens seems to think you can't have doubt and have faith. Pity he didn't remember St. Thomas and, ahem, Jesus was there. Or so we believe.

            Peace out.

            Atheism: the religion devoted to the worship of one's own smug sense of superiority. -- Stephen Colbert

            by Belvedere Come Here Boy on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 07:48:41 PM PDT

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            •  He didn't remember (0+ / 0-)

              St. Thomas, because the story is fictional....

              •  off-base again (0+ / 0-)

                Here we go again. You don't have to believe the NT story at all.

                Hitchens seems to think you can't have doubt and have faith.

                For those who have faith, there is no problem having faith and doubt. The believer goes back to St. Thomas. You don't have to. Because Hitchens doesn't believe it's possible, doesn't mean Mother Theresa or any other believer didn't think it was possible. So he is imposing his value judgment on someone else.

                I appreciate you trying to inject your bias into every possible discussion. What we are talking about here is not the reality of the NT story. What we are talking about here is Hitchens' blatant inability to understand something he claims to talk about.

                Much like you. Have a better one. One hopes yours can only get better.

                Atheism: the religion devoted to the worship of one's own smug sense of superiority. -- Stephen Colbert

                by Belvedere Come Here Boy on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 06:19:27 AM PDT

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    •  wow, you read 1 book on Mother Theresa (0+ / 0-)

      And it was by Hitchens!  What a surprise.

      As Alexander Cockburn, former friend of Hitchens, has said of the brouhaha, he certainly thought you'd have a better chance of getting a sandwich from Mother Theresa than Hitchens.

      Atheism: the religion devoted to the worship of one's own smug sense of superiority. -- Stephen Colbert

      by Belvedere Come Here Boy on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 06:14:09 PM PDT

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      •  Poison the well all you want (0+ / 0-)

        Hitchens is clearly a drunk ass, but that is a poor defense of Mother Theresa.

        Actually, I haven't read Hitchens' book, you silly person. Mother Theresa's silly position on suffering as  a goal, and a good thing in and of itself, her extreme statements on abortion, and the general idea of converting masses of people to a religion that hampers any shred of hope for solving their problems (birth control, anyone?) have been in the public record undisputed for years.

        •  thanks for the reply (0+ / 0-)

          I don't have a problem with talking about Mother Theresa's record. I have a problem with Hitchens' agenda, admittedly, which I think is over the top.

          As I am no expert, I am wondering if population control as such is the real issue. I'd have to dive in and see, but it may be a function of economics and India's role with the IMF and WTO, etc. Many developing countries have not grown out of poverty because of that I believe.

          It seems India has had a population policsy since the 1950s, and I don't think Mother Theresa has had that much of an overall impact. Here's the link from which the quote below is taken

          I'm not saying that's the be-all and end-all. But I'm wondering if criticizing Mother Theresa on birth control when there is such a policy by the Indian government is really the main topic.

          Peace out.

          Food for thought:

          Population growth has long been a concern of the government, and India has a lengthy history of explicit population policy. In the 1950s, the government began, in a modest way, one of the earliest national, government-sponsored family planning efforts in the developing world. The annual population growth rate in the previous decade (1941 to 1951) had been below 1.3 percent, and government planners optimistically believed that the population would continue to grow at roughly the same rate.

          Implicitly, the government believed that India could repeat the experience of the developed nations where industrialization and a rise in the standard of living had been accompanied by a drop in the population growth rate. In the 1950s, existing hospitals and health care facilities made birth control information available, but there was no aggressive effort to encourage the use of contraceptives and limitation of family size. By the late 1960s, many policy makers believed that the high rate of population growth was the greatest obstacle to economic development. The government began a massive program to lower the birth rate from forty-one per 1,000 to a target of twenty to twenty-five per 1,000 by the mid-1970s. The National Population Policy adopted in 1976 reflected the growing consensus among policy makers that family planning would enjoy only limited success unless it was part of an integrated program aimed at improving the general welfare of the population. The policy makers assumed that excessive family size was part and parcel of poverty and had to be dealt with as integral to a general development strategy. Education about the population problem became part of school curriculum under the Fifth Five-Year Plan (FY 1974-78). Cases of government-enforced sterilization made many question the propriety of state-sponsored birth control measures, however.

          During the 1980s, an increased number of family planning programs were implemented through the state governments with financial assistance from the central government. In rural areas, the programs were further extended through a network of primary health centers and subcenters. By 1991, India had more than 150,000 public health facilities through which family planning programs were offered (see Health Care, this ch.). Four special family planning projects were implemented under the Seventh Five-Year Plan (FY 1985-89). One was the All-India Hospitals Post-partum Programme at district- and subdistrict-level hospitals. Another program involved the reorganization of primary health care facilities in urban slum areas, while another project reserved a specified number of hospital beds for tubal ligature operations. The final program called for the renovation or remodelling of intrauterine device (IUD) rooms in rural family welfare centers attached to primary health care facilities.

          Despite these developments in promoting family planning, the 1991 census results showed that India continued to have one of the most rapidly growing populations in the world. Between 1981 and 1991, the annual rate of population growth was estimated at about 2 percent. The crude birth rate in 1992 was thirty per 1,000, only a small change over the 1981 level of thirty-four per 1,000. However, some demographers credit this slight lowering of the 1981-91 population growth rate to moderate successes of the family planning program. In FY 1986, the number of reproductive-age couples was 132.6 million, of whom only 37.5 percent were estimated to be protected effectively by some form of contraception. A goal of the seventh plan was to achieve an effective couple protection rate of 42 percent, requiring an annual increase of 2 percent in effective use of contraceptives.

          Atheism: the religion devoted to the worship of one's own smug sense of superiority. -- Stephen Colbert

          by Belvedere Come Here Boy on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 09:42:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Again, another deflection (0+ / 0-)

            First you argue that the criticism of Theresa is invalid because the criticizer's not so cool himself.

            Now you argue that the Catholic stance on birth control is moot because India has completely botched its approach.

            Yes India started with sterilization, then went to putting birth control on back burner behind other "related" issues, and is now punishing states with population growth. It's dumb.

            But you still keep deflecting from the main issue.

            •  I appreciate the spluttering over your port (0+ / 0-)

              but I stated that Hitchens is biased. It'd be nice if he had footnotes in his book so you could check his claims, but he doesn't. But what the heck, who needs footnotes?

              The quote didn't say, nor did I argue, that the Catholic stance on birth control is moot. What I am illustrating by the quote is that Mother Theresa's position on birth control is not the reason for India's population problem. You can argue that it would exacerbate the problem. Others would argue that it's economics. That's why it was prefaced as "food for thought". You don't have to think if you don't want to, no one's forcing you.

              If you want to argue Mother Theresa's philosophy, rather than her lifetime of demonstrated good works, feel free. As far as:

              Mother Theresa's silly position on suffering as  a goal, and a good thing in and of itself,

              This reflects you don't understand Catholic doctrine and beliefs. Suffering is not "a goal" and is not a "good thing in and of itself". I will give you a hint. The Church's "goal" isn't that. Hm, what could it be? You'll have to do some reading, if you care to be accurate at all.

              her extreme statements on abortion

              One person's "extreme" is another's "respect for life". You may advocate abortion. A large portion of the population advocates the opposite. This is extreme only insofar as it is a judgment by you, and it isn't due to a tiny small amount of people. You're free to advocate aborting up unti the ninth month since you may perceive it as a "good", but that would be extreme, given popular views.

              , and the general idea of converting masses of people to a religion that hampers any shred of hope for solving their problems (birth control, anyone?) have been in the public record undisputed for years.

              Actually it offers a solution, it's just not your solution.  And it hampers any shred of hope? That certainly is the voice of moderation. That's ridiculous on its face, since Mother Theresa was the representative of these poor people to the West and raised funds and awareness that would not have been as forthcoming without her. I doubt the dying picked off the streets in India felt that they were being hampered by her. Once again, birth control may not be the problem. Economics just might. You could check out Matthew Connelly's Fatal Misconception on all that. I'm not saying you'd have to agree with it. But there's a difference in assuming birth control is the problem and investigating whether that's the case.

              I'm sure you're typing away in Mumbai in the few snatches of free time you have while helping the poor. I know there are atheists/agnostics/anti-Catholics who have done more than I have for the world's poor. It's nice to fine one so I can thank you. Just like I thank the thousands upon thousands of Catholics who give up all comforts of their own to aid the poor around the world.

              Your last post quite clearly illustrates you're more about bashing than discussing. So, considering that, I'll leave you to it.

              Atheism: the religion devoted to the worship of one's own smug sense of superiority. -- Stephen Colbert

              by Belvedere Come Here Boy on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 07:51:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Kettle... (0+ / 0-)

                ...Your signature pokes fun at the self-superiority of atheists...

                ...and yet your posts reek of the same flaw...

       talk about how others fail to understand...

                ...and yet you accuse people who don't agree with you of failing to think, or understand, or to be discombobulated port drinkers...

       accuse others of being her to just "bash" others...

                ...and then you cynically bash others on their assumed level of charity...

                I see that you are religious, and interested in discussing politics... may I suggest a career in politics?

                Your doublespeak would serve you well.

                For the record, I'm not anti-faith, or anti-religion per se. I just objected to your insulting tone.

                I also think it's a cop-out to not question "god's" morality, but that rather we should hold "god" to our highest morals.

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