Most famous women of the 20th century

¶ … Life of Mother Teresa


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One of the most famous women of the 20th century in any sector, Mother Teresa has captured the minds and hearts of many. This reading helped provide me with some important biographical and background information on Mother Teresa. It was particularly interesting to learn how she received her calling to God and the Church, and how she went from being an ordinary nun to being one of the most powerful and influential members of the Catholic Church in the world. Clearly, it was her compassion and empathy that initially caused her to devote her entire life to helping the poor. The level of poverty in India might have overwhelmed some people, but Teresa was instead inspired to take action.


I also found it interesting that Mother Teresa started by focusing on providing education to girls and others who had not had the opportunity to receive an education. She continued to provide education, but she later claims to have received a calling to work exclusively in the slums to help the most destitute and desperate in ways that extended beyond teaching and included provision of medical care services. Her life is truly saintly.


When it comes to Mother Teresa’s views on abortion, it is clear that she was indoctrinated fully into the Church and genuinely believed that abortion was a sin. Rather than criticize Mother Teresa for her views, readers should celebrate her commitment to Church values. Mother Teresa lived in one of the most overpopulated countries in the world, and still firmly believed that abortion was not the answer. Christ’s love was the answer, and she never wavered from her belief. The life of Mother Teresa teaches us that the mundane world, the world of science and measurement, is not the only reality. There are realities far greater and more important, and those who are in touch with these spiritual truths can have the incredible power to help others in meaningful ways.


Reframing the Discussion


The mainstream media presents a biased view of Islam. It is refreshing to read alternative views, particularly the views of Muslim women. Both Dana Olwan and Sophia Azeb claim that the debate over whether Islam can coexist with feminism needs to be reframed. The questions that are being asked are the wrong ones. Instead of presuming to know what is right or best for all women, it is far more productive to include a diversity of voices and opinions in feminist discourse. The voices of Muslim women, whose worldviews will be inherently different than European Christian women or any other women, are equally as valid as any other.


Olwan and Azeb also show that feminism cannot be neatly separated from related issues such as racism and oppression. Feminism is human rights. A person cannot be a feminist and a racist at the same time, because feminism means a fundamental belief that all human beings have equal value and worth. This reading is powerful because it does not use language from the Quran or any other spiritual text to prove a point. The arguments are logical.


Genesis 16:1-16, 21:1-21


These two passages in Genesis reveal some of the ways the Bible can be used as a history or literature text, but not as a guide to daily life. After all, Genesis 16:1-16 depicts a life in which slavery is tolerated, and in which the rights of women are systematically denied by the patriarchal system. Abraham and Sarah could not have children together, so Sarah agrees to let Abraham have a baby with the slave girl Hagar. Neither Hagar nor Sarah have rights, but Hagar is especially stripped of hers as a slave. Genesis 21:1-21 then shows how Sarah became jealous of the son Abraham had with Hagar and sends both Hagar and the boy Ishmael away. God is sympathetic to Hagar and Ishmael, but Sarah is presented as being selfish and vindictive. Moreover, this story is important in the sense that it is still used as a metaphor for the split between the two “peoples of the book.”

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