The recent revelation that Mother Teresa of Calcutta suffered from long periods of spiritual desolation in which she felt utterly abandoned by God has—to say the least—met with a mixed response from the media.
She died on Sunday, after a month of dateless days that began on Halloween and ended just short of Thanksgiving. We went from the hospice admitting office to a Halloween party in the family room, where volunteers offered us fruit punch, orange cupcakes and orange and black balloons. Three toddlers in identical ladybug suits were dancing on the faux-parquet ballroom floor to the electrically amplified folk songs of a long-haired balladeer.
One of these All Saints Days our names will be read. We are the potential saints for future generations. We are the shoulders on which others will stand. Will we be ancestors who sat on their hands or ancestors who raised their hands? Sometimes we forget that we aren’t just living our busy lives. We’re also laying a foundation, molding a future and establishing a legacy. How is it going?
Scholars can be like children in a schoolyard. We push one another around, turn our noses up and have our cliques. On the terrain that I know best, the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, today’s Gettysburg is the struggle between readers who see play and misdirection everywhere in Kierkegaard and those who are inclined to read him as a philosophically and poetically gifted evangelist.