Sr. Teresa has been taking somewhat of a beating lately for her opposition to the H1N1 influenza vaccine. Probably the hardest hitting article came from El País. Titled "Desmontando a la monja-bulo" ("Deconstructing the nun hoax", updated 11/1/2009), the article essentially portrays Sr. Teresa as a conspiracy theorist with questionable scientific knowledge about the subject of immunization, a nun who is distant from her religious community. It quotes other scientists who have opposing views to Sr. Teresa's about the safety of the vaccine and questions her claim that the WHO significantly changed its definition of a pandemic.
As she was getting slammed in the Spanish press, Sr. Teresa participated in another forum on "The pharmaceutical companies and H1N1 A influenza" in Caracas, along with Venezuelan Minister of Commerce Eduardo Samán. While Samán defended Sr. Teresa, I'm not sure her credibility was helped by sharing the stage with someone who questions hand-washing as a vehicle for preventing the transmission of the flu virus. According to El Universal, Samán actually insinuated that the recommendation was made in order to enable Kimberly Clark to sell more antibacterial gel.
So I suspect Sr. Teresa is looking for a different role than being the poster child for the anti-vaccination campaign. That vehicle was provided this Sunday in an episode of RTVE's "El Escarabajo Verde" nature documentary program, titled La Nostalgia del Fuego ("Nostalgia for Fire") which examines the relationship of nature and religion. The entire program, which not only features the nuns from Monestir Sant Benet but also segments from different religious traditions including Islam and Tibetan Buddhism, is worth watching in its entirety and can be seen here.
The program shows a Sr. Teresa very much integrated and at home in her monastic community, her respect for and knowledge of the mountains that surround her. The producers also posted an outtake from their interview with Sr. Teresa on their blog (reproduced below). It is even more interesting because Sr. Teresa has the time to explain her understanding of what nature can teach us. For example, she draws a parallel between the way rocks become round and polished by rubbing against each other with how life within the Christian community smooths our rough edges. She admires her mountains, the idea of their height pointing the human spirit towards the Divine, and yet cautions against what I like to call the temptation of the Transfiguration -- the desire to remain on the mountain rather than go back to where we need to be to serve the people of God.
As I watch this interview I understand why I am drawn to share this sister's views with you, even when some might dismiss her as just a kook. To me, she has a lot of wisdom and I want to keep listening to her.