The Emergence of Mother Teresa as a Religious Visionary and the Initial Resistance to Her Charism/a: A Sociological and Public Theology Perspective

in International Journal of Public Theology
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Abstract

The article focuses on the emergence of Mother Teresa as a religious visionary and the hostile treatment she received at the Loreto order in the late 1940s. Mother Teresa’s early career as an ‘independent’ nun is a useful case study to look afresh at some traditional views on the revolutionary nature of charisma, the initial reception of the ‘natural’ and charismatic leader, mainly the ‘deviant type’, and the ‘proofs’ expected from and provided by the ‘bearer of charisma’ in modernity. This article contends that approaching Mother Teresa’s charism/a from a sociological and public theology perspective reveals both the potential and the need for interdisciplinary research to explore the publicness of religion and engage further the academy with the life, work and legacy of this twentieth century religious leader.

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References

2

Charles Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 3.

3

Ibid., p. 6.

4

Zygmunt Bauman, ‘Sociological Enlightenment: For Whom, About What?’, Theory, Culture & Society, 17:2 (2000), 71–82 at 78–9.

5

Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology (London: SCM Press, 1967), p. 305. The book was first published in German in 1965.

7

Albert Huart, ‘Mother Teresa: Joy in Darkness’, Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflections, 64:9 (2000), 645–59; Joseph Neuner, ‘Mother Teresa’s Charism’, Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflections, 65:3 (2001), 179–92; Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the ‘Saint of Calcutta’, ed. B. Kolodiejuchuk (New York: Doubleday, 2007); Teresa, Where There Is Love, There Is God.

12

See Kathryn Spink, For the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God: Mother Teresa of Calcutta, her Missionaries of Charity and her Co-Workers (Godalming: Colour Library International, 1981), pp. 16–18; Kathryn Spink, Mother Teresa: An Authorized Biography (New York: HarperOne, 1998), p. 3; and Anne Sebba, Mother Teresa: Beyond the Image (London: Orion, 1997), p. 13.

14

Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 184. Ferdinand Périer was born in Belgium on 22 September 1875 and died in India on 10 November 1968. He was Archbishop of Calcutta from 1924–1960.

16

Neuner, ‘Mother Teresa’s Charism’, 181.

17

Huart, ‘Mother Teresa’, 659.

18

Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo Events in America (New York: Vintage, 1992), p. 57.

19

In December 2011 and January 2012, I contacted several individuals who knew Mother Teresa in person to inquire whether ‘charism’ or ‘charisma’ is the most suitable term to apply to her. They all believe that a distinction needs to be made between Mother Teresa and celebrities in general and that one way of doing this is through employing ‘charism’ and not ‘charisma’ to distinguish what was unique about her personality and why her order, the Missionaries of Charity, was successful from the start.

20

See Bernstein, Nuns, p. 268.

22

Desmond Doig, Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work (London: Collins, 1978), p. 48.

23

Malcolm Muggeridge, Something Beautiful for God: Mother Teresa of Calcutta (London: Collins, 1971).

24

Unattributed article, ‘Saints Among Us: The Work of Mother Teresa’, TIME Magazine, 29 December 1975, <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,945463,00.html> [accessed 28 May 2013].

26

See Alpion, Mother Teresa, pp. 157–82.

30

Teresa, Come Be My Light, pp. 133–4.

31

Ibid., p. 134.

32

Chawla, Mother Teresa, p. 34.

33

See Porter, Mother Teresa, p. 63.

34

Bharati Mukherjee, ‘Mother Teresa: The Saint’, Time, 14 June 1999, <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,991258,00.html> [accessed 12 January 2012].

35

See Alpion, Mother Teresa, p. 197.

38

Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 143.

42

See Teresa, Come Be My Light, pp. 82 and 90.

43

Ibid., p. 90.

46

See Charlotte Gray, Mother Teresa: The Nun whose ‘Mission of Love’ has Helped Millions of the World’s Poorest People (Watford: Exley, 1990), p. 20; Doig, Mother Teresa, p. 53; and Edward Le Joly, We Do it for Jesus: Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1977), p. 18.

47

Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 109.

49

Sebba, Mother Teresa, p. 35.

50

Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 109.

52

See Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 371 n. 9.

54

Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 97.

55

See Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 108.

56

Ibid., p. 118.

57

Ibid., pp. 21 and 25.

59

Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 76.

60

Ibid., p. 369 n. 26.

61

See Teresa, Come Be My Light, pp. 49, 51, 92 and 94.

62

Ibid., p. 62.

63

Ibid., pp. 54–5.

64

See Bernstein, Nuns, p. 127.

65

Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 63.

66

See ibid., p. 54.

67

Ibid., p. 63.

68

See ibid., p. 80.

69

Ibid., p. 55.

70

Ibid., p. 80.

71

Ibid., pp. 48 and 96.

72

Ibid., pp. 51 and 66.

73

Ibid., p. 143.

74

Ibid., p. 137.

76

Ibid., p. 143.

77

See Teresa, Come Be My Light, pp. 109 and 137.

79

Spink, Mother Teresa, p. 8.

80

Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation (Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1999), p. 3.

81

Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 62.

82

Ibid., p. 124; see also pp. 125–6.

83

Ibid., p. 126.

84

Ibid., p. 129.

85

Ibid., p. 143.

86

Bernstein, Nuns, p. 270.

87

Karl Jaspers, Psychologie der Weltanschauungen (Berlin: Julius Springer, 1919).

89

Alpion, Mother Teresa, pp. 217–20.

91

Teresa, Come Be My Light, p. 118.

92

Ibid., p. 67.

95

Ibid., pp. 1111–12.

96

Muggeridge, Something Beautiful for God, p. 60.

98

Moltmann, Theology of Hope, p. 304.

99

Ibid., pp. 304–305.

100

Doig, Mother Teresa, p. 48.

102

Spink, Mother Teresa, p. 77.

103

Kalyan Chaudhuri and Parvathi Menon, ‘For the Poorest of the Poor: People the World over Mourn the Death of Mother Teresa’, Frontline, vol. 14, no. 19, 20 September to 3 October 1997.

104

Jürgen Moltmann, Experiences in Theology: Ways and Forms of Christian Theology (London: SCM Press, 2000), p. 185. Moltmann is using ‘he’ in the generic sense here and could equally have used ‘she’.

105

Ibid., p. 186.

106

Ibid., p. 188.

107

See Teresa, Where There Is Love, p. 188.

110

See Patrick, ‘Public Theology’; Simon Speck, ‘Ulrich Beck’s ‘Reflecting Faith’: Individualization, Religion and the Desecularization of Reflexive Modernity’, Sociology, 47:1 (2013), 157–72.

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