Have exemplars lived among us?

The Good Christian:

All in the Mind (Jesus and his goodness, that is!)

Jesus Never Existed –  Imaginary Friend

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Kenneth Humphreys


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He who has ears
Let him hear!

Bad Jesus!

5-minute enlightenment for those in a hurry



Why is Jesus never short, fat, bald and ugly?

"He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."

– Isaiah 53.2.

Perhaps Jesus DIDN'T look so sweet?

Who has any idea?





Mind of a Christian

"Christianity is not a religion as much as it is a relationship, for Christ WAS alive and I believe He is alive and will be forevermore and I believe I have a friendship with Him and in living day to day striving to live by the teachings of Christ (of which no bad thing can be said against) I try to make myself more like Him."

– Christian writes to Jesus Never Existed






The Perfect Gift

Brighten your home with this delightful memento and help fund Catholic medievalism.





Mind of a Christian

"God is holy, it breaks my heart to hear otherwise, I cannot believe that people think life would be better without Him or Christianity. He is the ultimate power, the beginning and end, He has power over life and death and cannot stand sin. If it were not for Jesus and His sacrifice we would all be doomed eternally."

Christian writes to Jesus Never Existed



Going through the motions

"Charity means 'Love, in the Christian sense'.. It is quite a different thing from liking or affection ... 'Love' your neighbour ... to please God and obey the law of charity ... It is a state not of the feelings but of the will."

– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.



Charity begins at home

Vast papal palace, Avignon – consumed nearly all the papal revenues during the pontificate of Benedict XII (1334-1342).






Sacred Cow

Fund-raiser for Catholic evangelism with an eye on her own sainthood

Mother Teresa – Albanian nun and honorary American.

"Give until it hurts" she said and amassed a fortune never used for charity work but instead funding convents and nunneries across the world, seducing more young minds with reactionary dogma.

"Mother was very concerned that we preserve our spirit of poverty. Spending money would destroy that poverty ... the millions of dollars accumulating in the bank were treated as if they did not exist."

– Susan Shields, former sister with Missionaries of Charity.


The Glorious Poor

"The poor are great! The poor are wonderful!  The poor are very generous! They give us much more than we give them...

Our food, our dress: it all must be just like the poor. The poor are Christ himself ...

– Gem of dubious wisdom from Mother Teresa.





Calcutta (Kolkata)– NOT all beggars and slums

And the streets are NOT strewn with dead bodies.






A superior kind of nun?

Famed for her work among the destitute of Calcutta Mother Teresa actually spent a great deal of time among the rich and famous.


Abortion – Gravest threat

"Abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace."

– Gem of dubious wisdom from Mother Teresa when awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971.


Photo ops galore.

Teresa happily received the Legion d'Honneur from the dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

Baby Doc, like Teresa, loved the poor and did all he could to keep them that way.


Suffering? That's God

"I see God in everyone, and especially in those who suffer."

– Gem of dubious wisdom from Mother Teresa.




Teresa: State funeral  but no real crowds

"Difficult it may seem to a Westerner to comprehend, but she was not a significant entity in Calcutta in her lifetime."

– Aroup Chatterjee (resident of Calcutta).




Friend of an earlier saint: Serial Killer

Ecclesiastical Tribunal hears confession from one of its own:


It is quite true that I have robbed mothers of their little ones; and that I have killed their children, or caused them to be killed, either by cutting their throats with daggers or knives, or by chopping off their heads with cleavers; or else I have had their skulls broken by hammers or sticks; sometimes I had their limbs hewn off one after another; at other times I have ripped them open, that I might examine their entrails and hearts; I have occasionally strangled them or put them to a slow death; and when the children were dead I had their bodies burned and reduced to ashes."

– Gilles de Rais, Marshal of France, companion of Joan of Arc, and Carmelite monk, 1440.



Much of the "Bluebeard" reputation of Gilles de Rais may owe more to the spite of his enemies, the relish of later fans of the macabre, and tourism, than to historical accuracy. His confession was, after all, extracted by torturers of the Inquisition who, doubtless, coveted his immense wealth.

An "arbitration court" of French academics in 1992 exonerated the notorious Marshal and bogeyman. His burial in Notre Dame des Carmes may be the source of the supposition that he was a Carmelite monk.





Jesus Christ, for all the wondrous elaborations and embellishments, is an idea, an idea that exists, and has only ever existed, in the minds of his devotees. Take for example the physicality of Jesus. Nowhere do the Gospels (nor any other sources for that matter) describe the phantom superstar – and yet we all know that slender frame, the flowing hair, that soft yet troubled face. The vivid image originates not in history but in the human mind, conditioned over centuries by the Church. We conceptualise the Jesus of our hopes, dreams and expectations.

The idea of Jesus is real enough and the idea extends to everything about the superstar – what we think he did, what we think he said, and above all what we think he was. Jesus Christ, in reality, is not an objective fact in the historical record but a "relationship" with our own psyche. Our rational selves might concede that his miraculous deeds are a tad exaggerated; that his words may in fact be taken from other sources, but what he was permits no revision: he was and remains a standard of perfection when real-world people are anything but, and he offers the promise of a life beyond the grave when reality denies any such possibility.


Hocus Pocus – a biological trait ?

"If you don't believe in a God, what's the point to your life?"

"I could never make it through my life without some kind of faith. I think we all need something to believe in, some higher power other than ourselves."

"I believe He has saved me from condemnation, damnation, and eternal hell. He has given me the precious gift of eternal life with Him in Paradise."

– Christians write to Jesus Never Existed.

Belief in a higher power, particularly a benign, protective deity, may have helped the human species to survive. Man, after all, is the only animal that has to cope with the certain knowledge of his own inevitable demise. He alone has had to live with the potentially enervating insight that life itself is transitory. That awareness could, and no doubt did, traumatize many early sapiens into a neurosis of anxiety and inactivity. After all, loss of faith can be quite debilitating and unnerving even today, for all the worldly comforts. What greater reassurance could there be than an eventual "return" to the protective embrace of the Creator, to the surrender of self to a god of infinite love, at one with the cosmos? We believe because we want to believe.

It seems increasingly likely that normal gene mutations within the brain gave evolutionary advantage to individuals who could mitigate the evidence of rational thought and their own senses with a belief in an invisible world beyond the grave. By softening death into an afterlife, those humans retained hope in the face of adversity, gained an invigorated purpose in life and increased their chances of reproductive survival. In time all human survivors inherited the "God genes", predisposing humanity towards belief in a supernatural realm. Dreams appeared to confirm its existence, as did the discovery of psychotropic plants and herbs.

With the propensity to supernatural belief "hard wired" into the human brain religiously organized societies were a natural concomitant. Priesthoods arose that articulated and manipulated the "religious impulse". This ruling caste regulated and sanctioned communication with the spirit world and established control over the ceremonies of death.

Yet rationality and exploration of the natural world advanced man's understanding and provided immediate, tangible comforts. Less the focus of attention be directed away from protective tribal spirits, the priests intruded accentuated dangers and horrors of unbelief into the world of the living and concocted the notion of sacrifice. Ultimately, that sacrifice would be a perfect man, a god in fact, who would come from that invisible world and, in returning, guide those who die to an eternal paradise.


JC and his fans – Impossible Dream meets Grubby Reality

"Be perfect as My Father in heaven is perfect." – Matthew 5.48.

Jesus Christ, we all know, was/is without flaw – 100% perfect in all things. He is because we define him so. JC, perfect man, God incarnate.

The fans of JC, merely human, have no such luck, no matter how hard they strive to emulate their hero. Even if they persevere for a lifetime, the Christ-like qualities they so admire will elude them. A standard of perfection so absolute permits no fleeting moments of weakness and transgression. They remain sinners.

Jimmy Swaggart. Celebrity sinner. All part of the show.

In practice, therefore, all Christians compromise with sin. Perhaps with some, the sin is nothing worse than the occasional selfish or naughty thought. Others have sinned on a truly monumental scale. Quite a surprising number of popes were murderers: Paschal I (817-824); Sergius III (904-911); John XII (955-964); etc. Gilles de Rais, a pious Carmelite monk, was one of history's earliest recorded serial killers. This companion of Joan of Arc and Marshal of France kidnapped, sodomized, tortured and murdered more than two hundred children.

In the twilight zone of Christian absolutes all are inescapably sinners and no amount of saintly behaviour will change that. Fortunately for the brethren the Church has an answer.


Amazing Grace

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
– Ephesians 2.8,9.

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." – Romans 3.28.

At times those who name themselves for Christ have been moved to acts of kindness, to a compassion even beyond the norms of human behaviour. But typically and consistently Christians throughout the history of the faith have been animated to destroy, not love, their enemies; to eliminate their rivals by violence, not suffer privations meekly; to accumulate riches on the earth, not give them to the poor; to sin with more abandonment and less restraint than those not moved by their godman.

Christian orthodoxy has indeed always had a "get out of jail card" which exonerates even the grossest of sinners, a dogma of convenience which masquerades under the anodyne label "Grace". It originated with St Paul himself. Simply put, no sin is so grave that it cannot be absolved by God's freely given Grace (approach Holy Mother Church for application form; send remittance when applying). This wonderful news means that obeying commandments is quite unnecessary – "His grace" is infinite. A "modern" Christian can get down and dirty with everyone else and still sleep happily at night knowing that salvation is assured by his intellectual belief in the godman myth, so on with the party...

For centuries the Church waged a fierce struggle against all sects and heresies which argued for emulation of a Christ-like purity and "Works" of goodness (what a terrible chore). What triumphed was the notion of "Faith" – the simple expedient of "accepting the Lord as Saviour" and submitting to the will of the Church. Catholic orthodoxy made some pretence of "faith shown by works" (such as a crusade against the heathen) but Luther and the Protestants who followed him clarified "justification" (Heaven's entry permit) beautifully:"sola fides" – faith alone. Luther was certain that any attempt to influence God's master plan was an insult to the creator. Calvin went further, arguing the alarming notion that God had already bestowed his irresistible grace and had predestined those who would be saved and those who would be damned. Therefore do what you will, your "works" will not save you.

In the asylum of Christendom, faith without goodness got you into heaven; goodness without faith damned you for eternity.


Sweet Charity – or Saving one's own soul?

"God .. will render to every man according to his deeds." – Romans 2.5,6.

"But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? ... Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." – James 2.20,24.

If faith gets you into Heaven why bother with Christ-like behaviour at all? With a theology that subordinates charity to faith and absolves any amount of sin, including mass murder, it is no surprise that despite having almost two thousand years in which to practice what it preached the Christian Church has never, anywhere in the world, put into practice the ethics supposedly uttered by Jesus.

Of course, to a large extent that is because of those ethics are utterly impractical:

"Take no thought for the morrow"? "Give to him that asks"? "Lay not up for yourself treasures upon earth"? "Resist not evil"? "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you"?

Luther saw the difficulties in these epithets of nonsense: he called the Sermon on the Mount "the devil's masterpiece"!

In any event, no land in history has ever followed the precepts and principles of the Christian godman. Rather, what Christianity has manipulated and profitted from is a very human fear of death. Achieving an immortality snuggled up to Jesus has proved far more of a marketing success than charity for others.


Judgment Day

And yet some Christians are genuine humanitarians, and would have been so whatever faith they had been acculturized into. Because they cloak their humanity in Christian garb they interpret their compassion and charity in Christian terms, imagining that it is the "example of Jesus" that inspires and encourages them. In another place and time it might have been the example of Muhammad or the Buddha. Their humanitarianism, no doubt also programmed into the human genome as a species survival trait, is to be seen in individuals of all faiths – and of no faith at all for that matter.

But also "doing good" is the price ticket some Christians pay to keep in God's good book. Part of the Church's arsenal of terror is the threat of divine retribution. The notion of an individual judgment at the moment of death actually owes more to medieval ponderings (for example, the  1336 Bull "Benedictus Deus" issued by Benedict XII, the heretic hunter) than anything found in scripture. It sits somewhat at odds with the more scriptural "Day of the Judgment" anticipated in both the Old Testament (Joel 2.31, Ezekiel 13.5, Isaiah 2.12) and the New Testament (Matthew 24-25, Acts 10.42) and integral to all early Church dogma (Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, etc.). Theologians for centuries wrestled with the conundrum of where, precisely, were the souls of the dead before the great "universal Resurrection"? Purgatory was one solution, which opened the door to the criminal racket of indulgences.

But whether it's one judgment or two that we have in store, be assured, every thought, every deed, and every word will be judged.

"But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment." – Matthew 12.36.

The pernicious Christian sky god knows every guilty secret, every shameful sin. So surely He's watching our little sacrifices and random acts of kindness? They will all count on the day of judgment! (And if you write nasty things about Jesus you'll burn in Hell!). Many Christians concentrate their "doing good" on and around their favoured church, serving the Lord in his front office and therefore certain to be recognized. Christian charity disguises a selfish desire to cheat death and stack up credits in the hereafter.

But what of those heroes of leper colonies and refuges for down-and-outs, few in number, but lionized and raised to sainthood? What of these paragons of Christian virtue? Do they rise above not only the vast majority of insurance-policy Christians, do they even match the humanitarianism shown by those of other faiths or no faith at all?


A Christian exemplar? – The Saint who lived among us

"In order to be saints, you have seriously to want to be one ... The fact of death should not sadden us. The only thing that should sadden us is to know that we are not saints."

– Mother Teresa, In My Own Words.

Mother Teresa, will soon find herself rubbing shoulders with the very saints in Heaven. A fitting reward for a media star who – according to her well-oiled PR machine, at least – took Christ's message to heart, embraced the leper and lived among the poor and destitute. Here on planet earth (well, at least in the affluent part of it) Teresa enjoyed star-billing for over thirty years. Wizened and wrinkled, her name became a byword for self-sacrifice and patience. She was surely the yardstick by which the entire world measured compassion, generosity, and selflessness. We're talking Calcutta, right? Stinking, crowded, unhealthy ... Who but a saint would live there? All that good work and love for dark skinned babies ... See, that's the sort of goodness that the Lord Jesus inspires. Or does it?


Marketing genius

"There are many who generously have supported her work because they do not realize how her twisted premises strangle efforts to alleviate misery. Unaware that most of the donations sit unused in her bank accounts, they too are deceived into thinking they are helping the poor."

– Susan Shields, former sister with Missionaries of Charity.

An Albanian, born in Skopje, Macedonia, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu at the age of 17 joined an Irish order of nuns, the Sisters of Lareto, so named for the place in Italy that has Jesus's house, flown in specially by angels from Nazareth. Our heroine took the name Teresa (thankfully) and accepted missionary work in India. Twenty years passed before the Vatican allowed her to leave her post in the convent and work directly in the city of Calcutta. Here, under the jurisdiction of its archbishop, the canny Teresa identified a niche market, the dying poor, whose souls at least could be dispatched to the Catholic Heaven. Until her own death in 1997 Teresa spent her life actively seeking publicity – and funds – for her mission.

She formed a group, the Missionaries of Charity, to help street people die with a little dignity and Catholic sacraments ringing in their ears (they were too far gone to realize they were being baptized into a faith they neither knew nor cared for). Her first Home for the Dying opened in 1952 and some 450 others followed, in India and around the world, including an AIDS hospice in New York.

Contrary to popular myth, she did not build hospitals or offer medical care to the sick. Teresa's policy was one of non-intervention, in which God decided who was to live and who was to die. She actually ran a primitive and poorly equipped hospice, where "saved" Indians could meet their Christian maker. Although she preserved her own health at costly Western clinics (and had a pace maker fitted) she forbade the purchase of even basic medical equipment for her clinics.

Teresa was not interested in making the poor less poor (by, for example, helping them restrict family size) but in making them more Catholic.

In Calcutta itself she was all but unknown.


A Media Star for Reaction

The late 1950s and early 1960s was a time of crisis and internal dissension in the Roman Church, as it stumbled towards an accommodation with the modern world. The Second Ecumenical Council (Vatican II - 1962-1965) was either the "springtime" of a new Catholicism or the start of the rot which has seen attendance of Mass decline by 66 per cent and the number of teaching nuns fall by 94 per cent. 

Into this fury of Catholic in-fighting entered "Mother Teresa" and her houses of death, a pinup for the forces of Catholic reaction. Teresa's Christianity was quite simply medieval. She urged the poor to think of their suffering as a "gift from God." She described abortion for rape victims as "pure killing." Her small Calcutta clinics eschewed the use of painkillers in accordance with the primitive doctrine of "redemption of the soul through suffering".

A British media luminary (and pious Catholic) Malcolm Muggeridge now took a hand to elevate to stardom the diminutive zealot he so admired with a hagiographic movie "Something Beautiful for God" (1969), proclaiming to a credulous media circus that "an actual miracle had taken place during filming" (a roll of film took on a "curious" colour cast).

The exemplar of a good Christian was born and was quickly embraced by a papacy fast retreating from the high tide of liberalism. Jet-setting the world went Teresa, her saintly celebrity rallying the faithful in hot spots of evangelism and extracting funds from Catholics who served Christ vicariously through their chequebook. And the money certainly poured in, notoriously from the likes of the Duvalier gang in Haiti and Charles Keating, the biggest fraudster in US history (the Lincoln Savings and Loan scam). Keating chipped in more than a $million for Teresa and she reciprocated with a character reference for his day in court. The Lord sure moves in mysterious ways.

Journalists have estimated the Missionaries of Charity receive as much as US$100 million a year, although no accounts are published. Some maintain that the money is transferred to the Istituto per Opere Religiosi (the Vatican Bank), where it is diverted into non-Christian countries for "missionary work" – more nunneries and convents. A 1991 audit of the UK operation revealed that only 7% of the total income of about US$2.6 million went into charity work. The rest was remitted to the Vatican Bank.


How Reactionary can you get?

Ok, abortion isn't nice; contraception may be unnatural; we might even, in a fuzzy moment, nod in agreement with Teresa's quixotic notion that the suffering of the poor is "something very beautiful." But this does not begin to approach the depths of Teresa's medieval insanities. An escapee from the asylum reveals the cold heart of the world's most celebrated "Good Christian."

"Three of Mother Teresa's teachings that are fundamental to her religious congregation are all the more dangerous because they are believed so sincerely by her sisters.

Most basic is the belief that as long as a sister obeys she is doing God's will.

Another is the belief that the sisters have leverage over God by choosing to suffer. Their suffering makes God very happy. He then dispenses more graces to humanity.

The third is the belief that any attachment to human beings, even the poor being served, supposedly interferes with love of God and must be vigilantly avoided or immediately uprooted.

The efforts to prevent any attachments cause continual chaos and confusion, movement and change in the congregation. Mother Teresa did not invent these beliefs - they were prevalent in religious congregations before Vatican II - but she did everything in her power (which was great) to enforce them."

– Susan Shields, former sister with Missionaries of Charity.


On 5 September, 1997 Teresa died. Her crony, Pope John Paul II, the most prolific creator of saints in history, couldn't wait to get beatification underway. Precisely one year after Teresa's death the required miracle occurred. A photograph of Mother Teresa beamed a light at a Calcuttan woman and overnight she lost a big tumour. Wow! In October 2002, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognised the miracle and a year after that John Paul beatified his old pal. Can any one doubt that the necessary second miracle is just around the corner and a new star will join the firmament?

And that's as good as a "Good Christian" gets.


Christopher Hitchens, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (Verso, 1997)
Mother Teresa, Mother Teresa : In My Own Words (Gramercy, 1997)
Aroup Chatterjee, Mother Teresa The Final Verdict
(Meteor, 2002)
Matthew Alper, The "God" Part of the Brain (Rogue Press, 2001)
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Collins, 1955)
Dean Hamer, The God Gene: How Faith Is Hard-Wired Into Our Genes, (Doubleday 2004)
Susan Shields, Mother Teresa's House of Illusions, (Free Inquiry, Volume 18, Number 1)




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Copyright © 2005 by Kenneth Humphreys.
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