Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mother Teresa, the Empire State Building, and Tolerance

If You Like to Act First, Think Later, Here's a Petition:

"Support Mother Teresa"
Catholic League For Religious and Civil RightsI converted to the Catholic Church.

If you're like me, you don't sign things before reading them - and thinking a bit. I'll get back to that petition.

My take on Mother Teresa, the Empire State Building's Clueless Officials, and Some Rambling

Knowing that it wasn't a particularly "American" institution.

The word, "catholic," means "free from provincial prejudices or attachments." (Princeton's WordNet) The Church is for all people: not just Italians and Irishmen, of folks who like a particular sort of music. We're not all warm fuzzy feelings of togetherness: But I've discussed that before. (April 19, 2010)

I was born in America, and don't think this country is perfect. On the other hand, although I've thought about emigrating a few times: I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

But I can understand why people prefer to live in other countries. I do not think that America is the 'only decent country in the world.' Wait a minute: I've discussed that before, too. Recently. (April 29, 2010)

One thing I like about America is the way we tolerate people who don't believe exactly what we do. Bottom line: tolerance is a good idea. (August 3, 2009)

Some folks need a little more encouragement than others to get with that program. That's (finally!) the point of this post:

Empire State Building Officials Ignore Mother Teresa of Calcutta

You may not have seen this on the evening news. It isn't 'important?'
"Thousands Sign Petition Protesting Empire State Building's Snub of Mother Teresa"
FOXNews (May 13, 2010)

"A nationwide petition has been launched by the Catholic League after the Empire State Building denied a request to commemorate Mother Teresa's 100th birthday.

"Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic civil rights organization, submitted an application to the Empire State Building Lighting Partners in February to have the skyscraper feature blue and white lights -- the colors of Mother Teresa's congregation -- on Aug. 26 to commemorate her centennial. The request was denied without explanation last week, and more than 6,000 people have signed a protest petition in just one day, Donohue told

" 'I'd like to find out what's driving this,' he said. 'But I'm confident it's just a matter of time before we win on this thing.'

"Donohue noted that the iconic building in midtown Manhattan changed its colors to red and yellow last year to honor the 60th anniversary of China's Communist Revolution.

"Yet under its founder, Mao Zedong, the Communists killed 77 million people,' Donohue said in a statement. 'In other words, the greatest mass murderer in history merited the same tribute being denied to Mother Teresa.'..."
I'm not entirely sure that Mao Zedong's regime killed the most people. There was quite a bit of competition for 'most genocidal regime' during the 20th century.

Here's the start of what the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights had to say today, about Mother Teresa and the Empire State Building:
Catholic League (May 13, 2010)

"Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the latest developments regarding the decision by officials from the Empire State Building to deny Mother Teresa the honor of having her colors of blue and white shine from the building's tower on August 26, the day the U.S. Postal Service is commemorating the 100th anniversary of her birth:

"Daniel Hernandez, a PR specialist hired by the Empire State Building, has a nice job: he was hired to say he doesn't know anything [click here]. When asked by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, an investigative journalist reporting for Fox News, about the decision to stiff Mother Teresa, he repeatedly said 'there is no issue here.' Oblivious to the obvious—why would a reporter call about a non-issue—he continued by saying he has been directed not to comment. The reporter then noted, as we did earlier, that it is ironic that the Empire State Building paid tribute to the 60th anniversary of the genocidal Chinese Communist regime last fall, but won't honor the saintly nun. Hernandez parroted, 'I'm only telling you what I've been directed to say.'..."
Since the Empire State Building bosses have decided that if you ignore those Catholics, they'll go away - I don't know why they won't light up the skyscraper for Mother Teresa's 100th birthday.

I'd think the Empire State Building authorities had a policy of not commemorating anything religious - but then there's the times it's lit up in green for St. Patrick's Day (Behind the ersatz Irish accents and green beer, it's the feast day of Saint Patrick). And, in 2007, The Empire State Building lit up for Eid, the last day of Ramadan: a Muslim observance.

Maybe they figured, as some addled academics have, that celebrations involving religions other than Judaism and Christianity aren't "religious:" they're "cultural," and so must be actively promoted. Multiculturalism and all that.

So, why this diffidence about Mother Teresa of Calcutta? Maybe they ran out of blue light bulbs - or white ones. Or they thought blue and white clashed with Manhattan's ambiance. Or they don't like women who aren't young and beautiful.

Or maybe space aliens are planning an invasion August 26, and don't want extra lights illuminating their landing craft. (No, I don't think so, by the way.)

I Signed the 'Mother Teresa' Petition

I suggest that you read it, think about it, pray about it - if that's something that doesn't offend your sensibilities - and sign the thing.

Just a suggestion.

Here's another link:

Catholic League's Rhetoric is a Little Over-the-Top

Mr. Donohue isn't particularly diffident in the way he expresses himself. I think there's more reasons for lighting up the Empire State Building for Mother Teresa than 'you did it for Mao.'

But that is an emotional appeal, and feeling sometimes motivate in situations like this.

No Lights for Mother Teresa - Why?

I'm still curious about why the officials blew off the Mother Teresa lights - with no explanation.

Not that they must, but it would have been nice to know.

As it is, I'm left wondering if they maybe didn't want to have their building involved with religious stuff like a nun's birthday. I sort of see their point: quite a few business owners don't like to discuss religion - they figure they run the risk of offending somebody.

I think they've got a point. It seems like there a noticeable number of people in the population who consider a day wasted, if they haven't been offended by something.

That would explain why the Empire State Building has only been lit up for nice, safe, secular commemorations like the People's Republic of China's anniversary, St. Patrick's Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, New York winning the World Series, and Eid.

What, no Rant about Non-Catholics?

America isn't, thank God, a 'religious republic.' I understand some of the reason that Europe had state churches - and I don't think we need that kind of trouble again.

I'm not upset that the Empire State Building has been lit up for Eid and Hanukkah - and for the American observance of St. Patrick's Day.

The green beer, now: that's an insult to a fine beverage. And completely off-topic.

America has practicing Christians in a variety of flavors; devout Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists - I'm not going to try to catalog all the faiths. It'd take too long, and there's a good chance I'd miss someone.

Provided that nobody's forced to join a religious observance, I think putting up signs - or lighting up a building - is okay. If nothing else, it adds a bit of color and variety to the day's routines.

You may have heard rants against wicked unbelievers who aren't like 'pastor Bob's' followers. I won't do that. I think it's a bit silly - and, more to the point, I'm a Catholic. One of our standing orders is to love everybody. Including Americans.

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