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Web Letter

I'm am sure that the mother had doubts. We all do, for it is human nature. What I paid the most attention to is that she never doubted God's existence and she continued on her path to serve and live as the poorest of the poor. That takes love. Bless you, Mother. I envy you. You were a rare jewel.

P.S. It is a kingly act to assist the fallen. {I assure you this is no easy accomplishment.)

Kimberly McCaa

Monro, LA

Jul 13 2008 - 11:42pm

Web Letter

Doubt in God and faith seems extremely myopic if limited to a Catholicism vs. atheism inquiry. True doubters ought to explore the entire panoply of religious possibilities: Judaism, Mormon, Islam, Buddhism and Hindu, among many others. Too bad Mother Teresa did not explore fully where her doubts may have lead her, but she must have been far too busy caring for the sick and dying. God bless her soul. Namaste.

John Siqueiros

Long Beach, CA

Sep 18 2007 - 1:16am

Web Letter

"She washed the sick. She touched the untouchable. She sat with the dying." What tripe. She never challenged the conditions that produced this suffering and in fact was complicit with the powerful, whether the Duvaliers, the Albanian dictatorship or the Pope, whose reactionary and deadly nonsense on contraception and condoms she consistently upheld.

Rodriguez serves up the typical caricature of atheism and agnosticism one expects from professed Christians. He acts as if one cannot marvel at nature or experience a sense of transcendance of the mundane without recourse to belief in supernatural beings.

If Christopher Hitchens and Bill Maher are to be criticized for anything, it is for spending so much time and energy debunking patently absurd religious notions. But then given the pervasiveness of religious absurdity in our time, one can't fault them too much.

And as a gay man, what did he expect from Catholicism but anathemas, bigotry, and cruelty? The Catholic Church's antipathy to all forms of sexual expression except procreative heterosexuality is hardly new and is in fact intrinsic to Catholicism. I am gay, of southern Italian background. I broke with Catholicism, and religion in general, many years ago. I pity queer Catholics like Rodriguez who, like a child craving love from cruel and loveless parents, still entertains futile hopes that the Catholic Church will one day respect his and his partner's humanity.

I recommend to Mr. Rodriguez Katha Pollit's bracing critique in the current Nation of religion and its political uses.

George De Stefano

Long Island City, NY

Sep 10 2007 - 1:47pm

Web Letter

One of the major problems concerning Mother Teresa's doubt was her belief in the Catholic Church. Throughout the Bible you will see doubts expressed by God's people on if, when, where or how God would act, but never any doubt in the existence of God.

There is a problem, though, when you have a man other than Jesus Christ acting as the earthly representative of God Himself. Jesus said that he would send the Spirit to be with His church, not a human representative. It's no wonder she had doubts. Despite all the earhtly good she did while alive, she was living with two totally conflicting views of what God is doing and how He is doing it.

Frederic Thompson

Mililani, HI

Sep 6 2007 - 4:10pm

Web Letter

Mr. Rodriguez makes the traditional Catholic rejoinder to this revelation. I have the other reaction: Mother Teresa had doubts because she had a brain. The "dark night of the soul" is nothing but a mind that is struggling to suppress its own rationality. Why that's a good thing is beyond me. I imagine my exposure to Catholicism was the same as Mr. Rodriguez: education through high school in a Catholic, and then a Jesuit, environment. Many times, my brain would knock up against some inconsistency in what I was being taught, and I would see a priest and be told it was all a mystery, after all, and that I shouldn't have such arrogance to think that a mere child could outthink 2000 years of believers, and so on. At about 17, it all collapsed, and I walked away. Haven't missed it for a minute.

I vary from being agnostic to atheist. The wonders of nature fill me with awe, as do the minds of great human beings. But I don't see organized religion as being anything but a totalitarian demand to suppress reason; and finally, Mr. Rodriguez takes a political position that is indefensible: that the left jump in bed with religion as enthusiastically as the right has.

If we as progressives try to take any position on religion other than the First Amendment, we venture into the same swamp as the GOP. I do remember the brave pastors who marched for civil rights, as well as the contributions that religionists made to the antislavery movement and so on. But their ability to take moral positions does not give religionists any more credibility than any other moral person.

Jim Hassinger

Glendale, CA

Sep 4 2007 - 2:17pm

Web Letter

As a lifelong atheist I am constantly shocked and offended when every time there is a public challenge to faith, as the book on Mother Teresa clearly is, even progressives feel the need to find a defender. Why not examine how the revelations about Mother Teresa show that faith is not the principal motivator for altruism (a favorite defense for faith)?

I reject all the arguments for faith that the author sets forth. Being "faithless" is not to live without doubt. I doubt that faith can bring happiness, peace or any lasting good into the world. I don't know this for certain, but the evidence surely points in that direction. I don't consider the doubts that believers have as a moderation of extremism but as glimpses of the truth, that with the help of powerful religious institutions and a compliant media are easily squashed.

Is The Nation just appeasing believers with this piece, or do you truly believe as the author does, that atheists are all fundamentalists? I don't know how to be fundamentalist about something that does not concern me. Atheism is not a denial of faith, just an acknowledgment of indifference to it. Is that more "dangerous" then trying to have it both ways?

Howard Mandel

Greentown, PA

Sep 4 2007 - 12:32pm