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My Latest on Lapido — Mother Teresa

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — writing about Mother Teresa as a balancing act ]

My latest post on LapidoMedia, Mother Teresa: the making of a saint, opens thus:

‘MOST blessed Father, Holy Mother Church, beseeches your Holiness to enroll the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta among the saints, that she may be invoked as such by all the Christian faithful.’

With these words, Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints petitioned Pope Francis to declare Mother Teresa of Calcutta a saint.

There are five stages in the Catholic Church’s ‘canonization’ – the declaration that a saint is in heaven, and that their name may be included in the roll of the names of saints.

In my article I write, “As with many people considered especially holy, Teresa’s life has often been discussed in terms of hushed veneration – and also harshly criticised by the unimpressed.” I’m not too convinced either by the hagiography with which the Church tends to surround her, nor with the vituperatuve criticism with which Christopher Hitchens, her chief detractor, attacks her.

I have tried to write Teresa up in a way which balances the two. In my own quiet way, and reading it somewhat between the lines, my article attempts to bridge the two by suggesting that her specific “charism” or gift — the “wavelength” of love of which she is, for the Church, the examplar — was explicitly to bring spiritual, not medical, love to the dying, and that she accomplished this task, while her failure to accompany it with sound, even basic medical care — her clinics, for instance, commonly reused needles without sterilizing them — was the cause of much of Hitchens’ criticism, and has indeed been remedied by her order of nuns since her death.

Christian theological discussion often distinguishes between the Historical Jesus and the Christ of Faith. It may well be that the historical Teresa will stand as a warning to missionaries to be adequately prepared for the proper medical treatment of those to whom they minister, while the Teresa of faith can be a beacon of hope and love in the lives of many. We can hope that the order of nuns she founded, the Missionaries of Charity, will take note of her work at both levels.

Read the whole piece here on the Lapido site.

Muhammad Ali, the Navaho and the Tibetans

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a knockout triple DoubleQuote from Maidu country ]


Ali mandala of victory

reminds me of this:

Sand Painting Jeff King

but also of this:



In fact, we have three potential DoubleQuotes here:

  • the stytlized figures in Neil Leifer‘s celebrated photo of Muhammad Ali evokes the stylized figures of Jeff King‘s sandpainting for the Navaho war ceremonial Where the Two Came to Their Father.
  • Jeff King‘s Navaho sandpaintings in turn easily summon memories of their Tibetan Buddhist equivalents, shown here in a photo of the Drepung Loseling monks.
  • And the symmetries of the overhead shot of Ali and that of the Drepung monks forms yet a third pair.
  • **

    Muhammad Ali at one point wanted “his people” to return to Africa, away from the deadly white man, and no doubt it has occurred to some Navajo from time to time to wish the white man would return to Europe — while Puebloans may on occasions have wished the Navajo had remained with their Athabaskan kin in Canada..

    But then, I’m Scots by heritage, British by subsequent conquest, and have invaded the United States myself in person, with a view to finding what American poet Gary Snyder calls “a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at” here in California.

    In what I understand to have been Nisenan Maidu country.

    Monastic drums

    Monday, August 8th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — sounds resounding, Romania and Korea ]

    Romanian Orthodox:

    Korean Buddhist:

    Contemplative Fire

    Thursday, August 4th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — two poems, one from Thomas Merton, one from today ]

    About an hour ago I posted Economics as if spirit matters most, with a DoubleQuote drawing a parallel between Zen Buddhist monastic tradition and that of the Desert Fathers of the Church.

    Here’s another Buddhist / Christian juxtaposition, this time in the form of excerpts from two longer poems about fires — one of which, the Soberanes wildfire between Carmel and Big Sur, is still raging as we speak:

    SPEC DQ contemplative fire


    Anam Thubten is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, and it is his Sweetwater Sanctuary retreat that was destroyed in the Soberanes fire. Thomas Merton was a Catholic Trappist monk, and the barn that burned was at his home monastery, the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsamani in Kentucky.

    Both poems are worth readong in full.


  • Anam Thubten, Dancing With Nature’s Wrath
  • Thomas Merton, Elegy for the Monastery Barn
  • Economics as if spirit matters most

    Thursday, August 4th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — Zen Buddhist monasticism and the Desert Fathers concur ]

    SPEC DQ no work no food


    I’m grateful to Grurray for pointing me to the Desert Fathers quote, which reminded me to chase down the Suzuki.


  • DT Suzuki, Selected Works, Vol III, Comparative Religion
  • Dylan Pahman, The Monk as Merchant: Economic Wisdom from a Desert Hermit

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