Thinking Out Loud

September 4, 2017

The Degree to Which We Confer Celebrity

Filed under: Christianity, media — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:18 am

For several years while it was in its heyday, it was my custom to try to catch part of a slightly delayed broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show on WHAM-AM radio in Rochester. Some of it resonated; some did not. I am a fiscal conservative though I recognize its liabilities and pitfalls.

At the time, Limbaugh would often be away and leave the program in the hands of a guest host. That was the case on Friday, September 5th, 1997. I’m sorry I don’t know the name of the fill-in, but will add it here if someone can document it for me.

On the previous weekend, the world had woken to the news of the death of Princess Diana in the very early hours of Sunday, August 31st in Paris. Days later, the outpouring of public grief continued and the guest host was asking the provocative question — radio being an entertainment medium after all — “Would we be paying as much attention if, for example, Mother Teresa had died?” Calls poured in. The contrast was well-chosen; the Catholic nun was revered worldwide, but hardly had experienced the paparazzi chasing here each time she ventured out.

And then it happened.

Coming out of a commercial break, words to the effect, “I’ve just been informed that the thing we’ve been debating here has in fact happened. Mother Teresa had died.”

It was eerie.

You probably found out some other way, but that is how I learned of the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, founder of Missionaries of Charity. You know how they say you always know where you are when ______ died? Well that’s my story.

The similarities and differences between the two women were striking. That is probably better left to better writers than I. The criteria for celebrity is always intriguing. 20 years later, the death of Diana still overshadows the death of Mother Teresa, whose passing two decades ago might appear as a footnote on tomorrow evening’s network newscasts; though I expect greater mention in Europe than what we see in the US and Canada.

Which brings us to…

Tomorrow morning on the blog we have an exclusive, full-length article about the Dalit people of India. I have been in development with this with the author for about a month, and we’ve met twice to discuss it. For security reasons he cannot be named.

I could have run it anytime in the last 72 hours, but being the Labor Day Weekend in this part of the world, I told him that I would hold it until Tuesday, never realizing the coincidence of the tie-in to Mother Teresa’s death 20 years ago tomorrow.

Be sure to check back.


Image: The New Royalty World (click picture to link)

October 5, 2015

Eric Metaxas Gives the Women Equal Time

In a publishing environment where branding is prized, it was somewhat inevitable that at some point after the 2013 release of Seven Men and the Secret of their Greatness (which we reviewed here) there would be a sequel. The former book was diverse: A President, two politicians, two athletes, a Pope, and a scaled down version of the author’s epic-length biography of Bonhoeffer. With Seven Women… the geography is perhaps more diverse, but the women all are crusaders of one type or another.

Seven Women and the Secret of their Greatness - Eric MetaxasA book like this allows you the opportunity to read the sections in any order, but in the end, I proceeded in the order the chapters occur; partly because the first four stores — Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, and Maria Skobtsova — were less familiar to me. That left Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa, stories with which perhaps you also are more acquainted with.

Biographies by necessity entail a certain amount of biographical data. In this case, one encounters some of the dry stuff that Wikipedia pages are famous for, only to turn the page and discover Metaxas has linked some aspect of the woman’s life to things we experience in the 21st Century. So with Wesley,

Much of what she taught them [her children] was for the purpose of helping them see through — and therefore be able to resist — the secular doctrines of that time. So she may be regarded not only as the inventor of homeschooling, but also of what today is sometimes called “worldview teaching,” something modern Christian parents in the West have begun embracing as they raise their children in an increasingly post-Christian culture.

And if you’ve ever attended a church where the attendance dips noticeably on the Sundays the Associate Pastor (or Youth Pastor) is preaching, the paragraphs concerning her husband’s curate will certainly resonate. You might add to the above-mentioned accomplishments that she foreshadowed a time when those skipping church would stay home and listen to a podcast.

The story of Maria aka Saint Maria of Paris carries with it both Orthodox and Catholic history. (If you don’t know her, see the quotation we ran yesterday.) Of course, Mother Teresa’s story is overtly Roman Catholic, while Joan of Arc includes elements of Christian Mysticism. Her faith and prophetic gifts are rather amazing.

Hannah More is an inspiration to all the poets, playwrights, novelists and songwriters who wonder if they can make a difference through their art, but again, the story contains references to More’s ability to work the political system of the day.

Corrie ten Boom’s story is better known to Evangelicals, as Rosa Parks’ name is known to anyone remotely aware of U.S. history. You could make these into a movie. Oh, wait… And Mother Teresa’s life example never gets old.  Again, I found the people whose stories were new to me most beneficial, and plan to return to those first four chapters for a second round. 

Some have criticized Mother Teresa for being all about social justice with little attention to proclamation, even to the point of doubting her salvation. Metaxas gives us two insights on this however, one being “the fine line Mother Teresa had to walk as a Christian missionary in a Hindu country;” the other being quotations from a clear statement of the gospel given in her 1979 acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

What is the secret of the greatness of all these women? Often, Metaxas leaves it to the reader to infer or extrapolate such principles, though in the book’s context, their Christian faith is an obvious factor that goes without saying. He is content to wear a historian’s hat for this project, and to vary from that would probably result in a book double the size. As it is, the book gives each figure about 30 pages making this a practical resource for both adults and students.

Frankly, I hope the ‘brand’ continues. Seven More Women… or Seven More Men…? Based on the first two books, I’d place my pre-order today.


A copy of Seven Women was provided by Laura at HarperCollins Christian Publications in Canada. The Eric Metaxas Show airs Monday to Friday on the Salem Radio Network, or you can listen to past episodes at this link. Joan of Arc was, as it turned out, not Noah’s wife.

February 16, 2014

Mother T. on Prayer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 3:28 pm

Dan Rather: “When you pray, what do you say to God?”

Mother Teresa: “I don’t say anything. I listen.”

Dan Rather: “Well, okay…when God speaks to you, then, what does He say?”

Mother Teresa: “He doesn’t say anything. He listens. And if you don’t understand that, I can’t explain it to you.

If someone knows a source for this, I’ll print it.

September 29, 2009

Why You Should Have a Church if You’ve Been Shot (and more links)

I was thinking out loud today about the importance of having a church, a church family and a pastor if you get home from work and take off your shirt only to discover that there’s a hole in your stomach.

“I think I’ve been shot;” I announced to my wife.

Our immediate concern was for the shirt I’d been wearing which, although it is already dark red, is my newest shirt and one that I like very much.

“The funny thing is;” I said to her, “I don’t remember being shot.” I certainly didn’t feel anything.

She produced a paper towel and some warm water and determined that I had probably scratched at some kind of mole earlier in the day.

Still; if I had been shot, I realized that nobody would come to visit me and I wouldn’t appear on a prayer list at any church on Sunday, let alone make it on to a prayer chain.   It would be nice to pretend that somebody cared.

So all you freewheeling readers out there who are currently “between churches” should definitely get one soon.

Today’s Links:

  • Kathy aka Kaybee quotes an excellent piece of poetry from Mother Teresa in this post, Who is Jesus to Me?
  • More thoughts on Bible meditation, this time from a site with a name similar to ours, Thinking With Purpose; part of a study on Spiritual Meditation.
  • Sherry at the blog Soiled Wings would get along great my wife, who has made an art form out of dodging the greeters at the door of the church.   Sherry spiritualizes it however in this post, God, Greeters and Germs.
  • It’s been awhile since we linked to Nashville pastor Pete Wilson’s blog.   In this post, he talks about the expectations we have for people in our churches, that they will fit into a certain mold; or as he calls them Cookie Cutter Souls.
  • Despite my attempts at trying to sell a “booklet” which is shrinkwrapped into packages of four or five, it’s been suggested again that The Pornography Effect, really could use more chapters, or some serious padding, if we’re going to find a publisher.   So in a new chapter (ignore the post date) we look at the idea of Detoxification.

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