Dean Nelson directs the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and the annual Writer's Symposium by the Sea. His most recent book is Quantum Leap: How John Polkinghorne Found God in Science and Religion. 

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The Paradoxes of Mother Teresa

by Dean Nelson 04-25-2018
Like many others, I was moved by her compassion and courage. But that's not what really drew me to her. I was drawn by her doubt.
Photo by John Downing/Getty Images

Photo by John Downing/Getty Images

THE BANNER HANGING from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome showed Mother Teresa, hands clasped, looking out over the 100,000 faithful who had come to celebrate her sainthood. I was part of that crowd last September, and as I looked at that banner I couldn’t tell if her facial expression was a smile or a grimace.

In a museum a few blocks away were glass cases that displayed her sandals, her walking stick, and her blue and white sari, as well as letters, photos, and a timeline charting every major event in her life. In a different cathedral the night before, an orchestra and choir performed a magnificent original oratorio written in her honor.

Under the banner’s gaze at St. Peter’s, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church was seated, along with dignitaries from dozens of countries. I wondered what thought bubble would be most appropriate if one suddenly appeared above Mother Teresa’s depiction on the tapestry. I decided it would be this: “If you only knew.”

Singing for Clean Water

by Dean Nelson 07-01-2006

He seems relatively amused when people quote lines from the most famous song he’s ever recorded, but this day he was pretty serious.

A Cup Of Life

by Dean Nelson 07-01-2006

Healing Waters quenches thirst and builds bridges in the Dominican Republic.