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Among his many books, perhaps none have sparked more outrage than The Missionary Position, Christopher Hitchens's meticulous study of the life and deeds of Mother Teresa. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient beatified by the Catholic Church in 2003, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was celebrated by heads of state and adored by millions for her work on behalf of the poor. In his measure Among his many books, perhaps none have sparked more outrage than The Missionary Position, Christopher Hitchens's meticulous study of the life and deeds of Mother Teresa. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient beatified by the Catholic Church in 2003, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was celebrated by heads of state and adored by millions for her work on behalf of the poor. In his measured critique, Hitchens asks only that Mother Teresa's reputation be judged by her actions-not the other way around. With characteristic elan and rhetorical dexterity, Hitchens eviscerates the fawning cult of Teresa, recasting the Albanian missionary as a spurious, despotic, and megalomaniacal operative of the wealthy who long opposed measures to end poverty, and fraternized, for financial gain, with tyrants and white-collar criminals throughout the world.


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Among his many books, perhaps none have sparked more outrage than The Missionary Position, Christopher Hitchens's meticulous study of the life and deeds of Mother Teresa. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient beatified by the Catholic Church in 2003, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was celebrated by heads of state and adored by millions for her work on behalf of the poor. In his measure Among his many books, perhaps none have sparked more outrage than The Missionary Position, Christopher Hitchens's meticulous study of the life and deeds of Mother Teresa. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient beatified by the Catholic Church in 2003, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was celebrated by heads of state and adored by millions for her work on behalf of the poor. In his measured critique, Hitchens asks only that Mother Teresa's reputation be judged by her actions-not the other way around. With characteristic elan and rhetorical dexterity, Hitchens eviscerates the fawning cult of Teresa, recasting the Albanian missionary as a spurious, despotic, and megalomaniacal operative of the wealthy who long opposed measures to end poverty, and fraternized, for financial gain, with tyrants and white-collar criminals throughout the world.

30 review for The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    I liked this book when I read it twenty years ago, appreciating it as a wicked piece of invective. Now, though, after I have—like all of us—endured twenty years of Christian assaults on our democracy, from both Protestant dominionists and Catholic irredentists, who conceal their political daggers beneath the simple peasant cloak of morality, I respect Hitchens’ criticism of Mother Teresa much more than I did before. He shows us a woman who, although she claimed to be apolitical, never met an oppr I liked this book when I read it twenty years ago, appreciating it as a wicked piece of invective. Now, though, after I have—like all of us—endured twenty years of Christian assaults on our democracy, from both Protestant dominionists and Catholic irredentists, who conceal their political daggers beneath the simple peasant cloak of morality, I respect Hitchens’ criticism of Mother Teresa much more than I did before. He shows us a woman who, although she claimed to be apolitical, never met an oppressive right-wing party she didn’t like, provided of course that it opposed abortion and contraception: Haiti’s “Baby Doc,” Ethiopia’s Dergue, the royalist survivors of Franco’s Spain, and the supporters of the contras of Nicaragua and the death squads of El Salvador--all have contributed to her efforts and received her praise. Although she solicited no money, she—like an old school New York cop—accepted it freely whenever it was offered, even if it came from two-bit cultists like MSIA’s John-Roger or major economic felons like Charles Keating, who stole $252,000,000 from investors during the Savings and Loan Scandal of the ‘80’s. (Keating donated 1.25 million dollars to Mother Teresa. When Keating’s co-prosecutor Paul Turley wrote to Mother, offering to put her “in direct contact with the rightful owners of the property now in your possession,” Mother failed to write him back.) Perhaps even more damning—if I may be forgiven the use such a word in this context—is how Mother permitted her religious beliefs—particularly her belief in the spiritual benefits of suffering and a good death—to affect her sisters’ treatment of the poor, particularly in regard hygienic, palliative and even medical standards. Hitchens quotes eyewitness testimony: needles merely rinsed, not immersed in boiling water; the pain of terminal cancer treated with aspirin or other analgesics; the failure to transfer eminently treatable cases (in one instance, a boy of fifteen) out of the “Home for the Dying” before it was too late. This, Hitchen’s says, occurs because “the point is not the honest relief of suffering but the promulgation of a cult based on death and suffering and subjection.” Let us continue, in Hitchens’ own words: Mother Teresa (who herself, it should be noted, has checked into some of the finest and costliest clinics and hospitals in the West during her bouts with heart trouble and old age) once gave this game away in a filmed interview. She described a person who was in the last agonies of cancer and suffering unbearable pain. With a smile, Mother Teresa told the camera what she told this terminal patient: “You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you.” Unconscious of the account to which this irony might be charged, she then told of the sufferers reply: “Then please tell him to stop kissing me.” There are many people in the direst need and pain who have had cause to wish, in their own extremity, that Mother Teresa was less free with her own metaphysical caresses and a little more attentive to actual suffering. Personally, I think Hitchen is a bit too hard on Mother Teresa. Although, like Hitchens, I value reason and abhor superstition, I am more sympathetic to her core beliefs--if not her politics--than he is, and I am convinced that it was a sincere conviction that led her to her nursing philosophy (however wrongheaded it may be). Also, I am certain many poor people would have died alone, without any comfort or companionship,, if it had not been for the ministrations of Mother and her sisters. Still, this is a powerful and memorable book, and cautions all of us to be suspicious of religious beliefs when they are summoned to service and then applied to a particular political agenda. “She is, finally,” as Hitchens says, “the emissary of a very determined and very politicized papacy. Her world travels are not the wanderings of a pilgrim but a campaign which accords with the requirements of power.” It is as Lord Acton--a Catholic, by the way--once said: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

  2. 4 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Money Does Smell (Usually Badly) Puncturing the self-inflated balloons of hypocritical cant is always entertaining. And Mother Teresa is right up there with Donald Trump when it comes to the latest fashion in imperial new clothes. Charity is its own reward or it is bunk. And anyone who sets charity up as a business becomes a huckster and seller of snake oil whatever they started out as. This is a law of nature and Hitchens confirms it magnificently in this wonderfully written case study. It is emp Money Does Smell (Usually Badly) Puncturing the self-inflated balloons of hypocritical cant is always entertaining. And Mother Teresa is right up there with Donald Trump when it comes to the latest fashion in imperial new clothes. Charity is its own reward or it is bunk. And anyone who sets charity up as a business becomes a huckster and seller of snake oil whatever they started out as. This is a law of nature and Hitchens confirms it magnificently in this wonderfully written case study. It is empirically verifiable that authentic spiritual enthusiasm, or any idealism at all, has a limited half-life and degrades rapidly into obsession with ‘the numbers’ immediately upon the loss of an important customer or a major benefactor. At that moment the ‘mission’ no matter what it has been heretofore becomes bigger than oneself, an objectified, independent entity, that must be protected. This is the point when the idealist becomes the victim of his own hubris. And also the point when others are enrolled in the cause. As every entrepreneur knows, organisations are a bitch. They sap your strength and immerse everyone involved in political conflict. Jesus discovered this cruel reality - the immediate distortion of himself and his message - as soon as he had assembled his motley Apostles and sent them on the road. Whatever they told the folk round about, it wasn’t very well received. And the Apostles themselves were clearly confused about the points to be made and their authority to make them. Eventually that confusion would be resolved by calling for devotion to the Church as the message. The result, we understand now, is a fixation on corporate reputation with practical consequences that range from the promotion of religious warfare to the protection of paedophilia. Not that Mother Teresa started with motivations as pure as those of Jesus. From the start of her crusade to use the poor of the world to her best advantage she was “a religious fundamentalist, a political operative, a primitive sermonizer and an accomplice of worldly, secular powers.” She had a shibboleth for every occasion and press conference, usually using the word ‘love.’ She consciously used her stature and dress to create an effect of supplicatory humility. She was also a malicious control freak who imposed what she regarded as a therapeutic level of suffering on her charges as well as her staff. Mother Teresa is in contention with Billy Graham as the world’s most successful televangelist. Certainly their claims to special personal revelation are on a par with each other. Their abilities to harvest the loose change of the rich and famous are comparable. Their affinities for right-wing government thugs are hard to distinguish. But at least Billy Graham kept accounts and was audited on occasion. No one knows how much Mother Teresa collected in her global ministry, how it was spent, and where it is now. Only one thing is certain: little of it went to any sort of palliative care for her inmates, who, according to numerous eyewitness testimony, were treated as living sacrifices to the God of pain. “The conjurer is only the instrument of the audience,” says Hitchens. Although, the cheerleaders for MT’s audience differ from those of Trump’s (Hillary Clinton and Oprah are big on Mother Teresa), the bulk of the paying audience is about the same demographic in both cases - under-educated, evangelical idealists who would love to get their revenge on those in charge, in the next life if not in this one. But only after donating what they can’t afford to their respective campaigns for canonisation. Certainly Hitchens’s comment applies equally to both MT and DJT: “It is time to recognize that the world’s leading exponent of this false consolation is herself a demagogue, an obscurantist and a servant of earthly powers.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    Actually, this is a follow-up read to Mother Teresa: The Untold Story by Dr. Aroup Chatterjee, where he took apart the myth of this modern day saint with great precision. There, this book as well as the documentary by Hitchens were mentioned, which immediately whetted my appetite to read it. But whereas in Dr. Chatterjee's book, the approach is pedantic and clinical, Hitchens's tome is a no-holds-barred attack on the icon. In cricketing parlance, Mother Teresa: The Untold Story is a test match: Actually, this is a follow-up read to Mother Teresa: The Untold Story by Dr. Aroup Chatterjee, where he took apart the myth of this modern day saint with great precision. There, this book as well as the documentary by Hitchens were mentioned, which immediately whetted my appetite to read it. But whereas in Dr. Chatterjee's book, the approach is pedantic and clinical, Hitchens's tome is a no-holds-barred attack on the icon. In cricketing parlance, Mother Teresa: The Untold Story is a test match: this book is a 20/ 20 hitabout. Hitchens's aim is clear. He is out to discredit the saintly icon built up over the years by the international press and the Catholic church, and he is not going to do it gently: because he is a rationalist and an atheist, and demands hard answers to questions left unasked. Who would be so base as to pick on a wizened, shriveled old lady, well stricken in years, who has consecrated her entire life to the needy and the destitute? On the other hand, who would be so incurious as to leave unexamined the influence and motives of a woman who once boasted of operating more than five hundred convents in upward of 105 countries—“without counting India”? Lone self-sacrificing zealot, or chair of a missionary multinational? The scale alters with the perspective, and the perspective alters with the scale. Indeed. Also, this is only a small part of the continuing offensive of reason against blind faith. This is a small episode in an unending argument between those who know they are right and therefore claim the mandate of heaven, and those who suspect that the human race has nothing but the poor candle of reason by which to light its way. *** The book opens with Mother Teresa's gushing endorsement of Mme. Duvalier, the wife of the Haitian dictator Jean Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, a cruel and corrupt blackguard of no small proportions. It also touches upon her friendship with John-Roger, the leader of a dangerous cult. There are many rascals that this saint has endorsed: Why? Is it plain naivete, as her devotees claim? Or is it the fat cheques (or other favours) that these individuals are willing to contribute to the Mother's mission? We will discover Mother Teresa keeping company with several other frauds, crooks and exploiters as this little tale unfolds. At what point—her apologists might want to permit themselves this little tincture of skepticism—does such association cease to be coincidental? Or to put it more simply - when do we start calling a spade a spade? *** If we look at the title of this book, we may take it to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to a sexual position - but Hitch's mean humour goes much deeper. As the subtitle makes clear, Mother Teresa is a missionary bent on proselytisation. That is her aim in life - all else, the hospitals, the orphanages, the care for the destitute and dying - are only the tools of the trade. According to the author, the myth of the saintly mother was created by Malcolm Muggeridge through a dubious "miracle" - and he also built up her reputation as a kind of angel patrolling the streets of a hellish Calcutta; and in the process of building her up, he trashed Calcutta. Muggeridge did such a good job of propaganda in his movie so that anyone who looks critically at Mother Teresa's reputation does so at his own peril. Ever since Something Beautiful for God, the critic of Mother Teresa, in small things as well as in great ones, has had to operate against an enormous weight of received opinion, a weight made no easier to shift by the fact that it is made up, quite literally, of illusion. But according to Hitchens, "Mother Teresa has never pretended that her work is anything but a fundamentalist religious campaign." And he uses the remainder of this short book to expose her real agenda: 1. The conversion of as many people as possible to Catholicism. 2. A relentless campaign against abortion and contraception. For this, she used all the tricks of the trade - and her proximity to powerful political figures and crooked capitalists helped her along. Hitch spends the remaining part of the book in detailing, with evidence, Mother Teresa's real mission and how she went about it. (And Pope John Paul II, who was beatifying and canonising with a sort of divine frenzy, couldn't wait to convert her into a saint.) It makes for fascinating reading. *** There are enough documented examples in this book to leave any neutral person with no doubt about the Mother. The faithful will no doubt find loopholes in all of them: blind faith is like that. But that should not prevent those who think rationally from subjecting her myth to the harsh light of truth. As Edward Gibbon observed about the modes of worship prevalent in the Roman world, they were “considered by the people as equally true, by the philosopher as equally false and by the magistrate as equally useful.” Mother Teresa descends from each element in this grisly triptych. She has herself purposely blurred the supposed distinction between the sacred and the profane, to say nothing of the line that separates the sublime from the ridiculous. It is past time that she was subjected to the rational critique that she has evaded so arrogantly and for so long. A short and pithy read for questing minds.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cwn_annwn_13

    I really didn't need to read this book to figure out that Mother Teresa was just another globalist tool and a propaganda/fundraising cash cow for the Catholic church but Missionary Position does a good job of driving that point home and giving good solid evidence to that fact. To give a few examples, the millions she took from the mega swindler Keating and never returned, her response to the Dupont chemical spill in India instead of seeking justice and calling to make Dupont acountable was telli I really didn't need to read this book to figure out that Mother Teresa was just another globalist tool and a propaganda/fundraising cash cow for the Catholic church but Missionary Position does a good job of driving that point home and giving good solid evidence to that fact. To give a few examples, the millions she took from the mega swindler Keating and never returned, her response to the Dupont chemical spill in India instead of seeking justice and calling to make Dupont acountable was telling people to "just forgive" so as not to cause any problems with the globalist corporats. Then of course there were the notoriously deplorable conditions in her hospitals and shelters, totally filthy, where they not only reused needles but their idea of sterilizing them was washing them with cold water! Also people were not given proper pain medication (Mother Teresa had this idea that the more you suffered the closer you were to Christ!) So you had things like this going on but at the same time it was found out in just the bank account for her shelters in the New York area there was $50 million dollars sitting idly. When the city of San Francisco donated a fully furnished shelter to her for a shelter for homeless men who had AIDS she promptly had all the couchs, beds and televisions thrown out insuring that the dying would live as comfortless as possible. All I can say is thankfully this cash cow for the forces of evil in this world is dead!

  5. 4 out of 5

    K

    Mother Teresa is probably the last person I'd expect to be the target of an angry expose. In this short volume, Christopher Hitchens includes the following points: 1. Much of the publicity around Mother Teresa is revisionistic and dubious, and her displays of humility are an act. How humble is it to claim a personal relationship with Jesus? 2. Mother Teresa is about saving souls, not bodies. Her institutions are unsanitary and poorly operated despite a plethora of donations which should make better Mother Teresa is probably the last person I'd expect to be the target of an angry expose. In this short volume, Christopher Hitchens includes the following points: 1. Much of the publicity around Mother Teresa is revisionistic and dubious, and her displays of humility are an act. How humble is it to claim a personal relationship with Jesus? 2. Mother Teresa is about saving souls, not bodies. Her institutions are unsanitary and poorly operated despite a plethora of donations which should make better conditions affordable. Mother Teresa's statements about the godliness of poverty and suffering appear to be her justification for this. 3. Mother Teresa uses her influence to promote anti-birth control and anti-abortion dogmas, despite the fact that overpopulation and unwanted children are likely factors in the need for her institutions. 4. Mother Teresa is associated with all kinds of dubious individuals, from Robert Maxwell to Michele Duvalier to Charles Keating. She actually tried to advocate for the latter as he was being prosecuted for fraud; when Keating's prosecutor informed Mother Teresa of Keating's activities and encouraged her to return the funds he donated to her cause so that these funds could then be returned to the defrauded individuals, Mother Teresa never responded. 5. Mother Teresa is a font of unhelpful platitudes which do not hold up to scrutiny but are viewed as profound simply because she said them. 6. Mother Teresa and the West feed off each other. The West feels a need to believe they are helping the poor savages of the East; Mother Teresa publicly fills that need for them independent of the degree of help she is actually contributing. Hitchens' writing is sharp and on-target, and he certainly makes an interesting case. I also appreciated the book's short length. With that, my sense is that Hitchens' anti-religious agenda is the driving force behind this book rather than any actual wrongdoing on Mother Teresa's part. Mother Teresa's alleged false modesty, while hardly admirable, is certainly no crime. Her embracing poverty and suffering at the expense of those she is officially helping is more problematic; at the same time, it's not as if she's using the donated funds for her own material pleasure. Mother Teresa is a religious figure and does not claim otherwise; it's only natural that she would promote anti-abortion views and consort indiscriminately with despised characters, feeling that God loves everybody. As for the inflated and uncritical view of her platitudes, as Hitchens himself remarks, this is "...an argument not with a deceiver but with the deceived. If Mother Teresa is the adored object of many credulous and uncritical observers, then the blame is not hers, or hers alone." Whether or not one agrees with Hitchens' claims, they are certainly provocative and well-articulated, not to mention humorous.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    A forceful and convincing (if somewhat strident) destruction of the myth of Mother Teresa. Christopher Hitchens takes on quite a few angles of the ‘sacredness of Mother Teresa’. One of the most convincing is the squalor of the hospices in Calcutta and elsewhere. Very little of the donated money (and this is in the millions) goes into improving the facilities. Aspirins are the only anaesthetics provided to terminally ill patients. Needles are recycled on different patients. Unremitting suffering i A forceful and convincing (if somewhat strident) destruction of the myth of Mother Teresa. Christopher Hitchens takes on quite a few angles of the ‘sacredness of Mother Teresa’. One of the most convincing is the squalor of the hospices in Calcutta and elsewhere. Very little of the donated money (and this is in the millions) goes into improving the facilities. Aspirins are the only anaesthetics provided to terminally ill patients. Needles are recycled on different patients. Unremitting suffering is seen as ennobling and medical care is not a priority. In these hospices the attendants are not to question their roles – they are part of the Mother Teresa cult. Despite the frugality of her hospices Mother Teresa cavorts with the rich and famous – the English monarchy and the Duvalier’s of Haiti. She espouses the most rigid doctrines of the Catholic Church (as in her Nobel Prize winning speech) – she is against any form of contraceptive use and lashes out that abortion is the worst sin. Perhaps Hitchens’ goes too far in attacking her contacts with world leaders. What has Mother Teresa done to empower the people of Calcutta, to educate them and to prevent them from dying in the streets? She is treating the end effect. Where has all the money gone from the donations?

  7. 4 out of 5

    ~Jo~

    Hitchens does a grand job of taking down the woman that has been worshipped for her apparent saint-like qualities for time, by in particular, the Catholic Church, and obviously, not forgetting, the press. It is without a doubt, that over the years, she built up a huge amount of fame, and within this short book, Hitchens, with his marvellous wit, asks the questions which many others didn't dare to ask. As the title itself consists of a sexual position, Hitchens uses humour beginning from the front Hitchens does a grand job of taking down the woman that has been worshipped for her apparent saint-like qualities for time, by in particular, the Catholic Church, and obviously, not forgetting, the press. It is without a doubt, that over the years, she built up a huge amount of fame, and within this short book, Hitchens, with his marvellous wit, asks the questions which many others didn't dare to ask. As the title itself consists of a sexual position, Hitchens uses humour beginning from the front cover, but have no fear, this is only the start to uncovering who Mother Teresa really was. Many questions are raised, such as these; How can one person publicly claim to have a very personal relationship with Jesus? Why was she obsessed with saving "souls" and not actual people? She advertised her campaign against anti-contraception, and actually, the children in her overcrowded sanctuaries were the result of that campaign. Why did she refuse the use of antibiotics or painkillers, therefore increasing suffering and even death, where it was entirely unnecessary? While she worked with the poor, she didn't actually do anything to improve their situation, such as sanitation. Where did all of those funds go? It is clear that Mother Teresa was hell-bent on converting as many people as she possibly could to Catholicism, and during that, ensuring that people joined her on her ridiculous campaign against abortion and contraception. Hitchens includes many examples of documentation in here, so people who were on the fence about her, probably won't be after this, unless of course, blind faith is involved. This was, in short, an interesting and humorous book, and quite honestly, whether you rate Hitchens or not, truth be told, he certainly was good at what he did.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David

    Hitchens has turned his humbuggery on little old nuns. Well played, Hitchens. Well played. As much as I'd like to just keep the review at that, I feel compelled to continue with an actual review. His complaints focus on several facets of her organization. 1. While she devoted her life to helping the poor, her goal was conversion rather than actually improving the lives of the poor. 2. Despite the millions of dollars donated to her organization, she actively stood in the way of high-quality healt Hitchens has turned his humbuggery on little old nuns. Well played, Hitchens. Well played. As much as I'd like to just keep the review at that, I feel compelled to continue with an actual review. His complaints focus on several facets of her organization. 1. While she devoted her life to helping the poor, her goal was conversion rather than actually improving the lives of the poor. 2. Despite the millions of dollars donated to her organization, she actively stood in the way of high-quality healthcare for her clinics, and kept them poor and struggling to treat those in need (in interest of ascetic soul-strengthening). Much of the donated money went to missionary causes, and there was no transparency to the finances in the organization. 3. She accepted money from anyone, and traded her influence as a "good person" for money from corrupt politicians or political regimes. 4. She actively opposed and spoke out against birth control of any type, despite the fact that Indian overpopulation was one of the contributing factors to rampant poverty in Calcutta. 5. She denied use of strong painkillers or antibiotics on principle. This led to far more suffering than was necessary, and made what should have been minor issues life-threatening due to infection that went untreated. 6. Her repeated rejection of "worldly interests" mostly kept people from critically investigating the work she was doing. It also led to huge donations from governments as well as individuals, which were then not used efficiently to actually help the poor. 7. While working to help the poor, she did nothing to alleviate poverty, and even encouraged the current status quo: "I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people." There were more complaints, but this is all I can recall at the moment. Many of these were due to Mother Teresa's view that God would look after his flock (despite the fact that God's care is what put them in need of help), and that suffering would bring them closer to Jesus. This caused her to turn away medical professionals and expertise in the interest of volunteers who often knew nothing of medicine. Much of the criticism Hitchens quoted came from medical professionals who had visited her clinics and were appalled at the unnecessary suffering of patients. I found this all very interesting, and it seems like a sad example of a major religious figure with seriously skewed priorities. It is sad that her reputation stopped any serious investigation of her methods or motivations. While not a fun read, I'd certainly recommend this. It's a sobering way to temper the traditional saintly view of her.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ashish Iyer

    This book is quite shocking and insightful book for me. A well-researched and excellently written book that exposes the monster and charlatan that was Mother Teresa. It left me disturbed for a while as I digested the information provided to me after years of research and hard work. This book made me think about a lot of things and raised a lot of questions. Mother Theresa had only one thing in mind to "save people for Jesus." She looked upon poor folks only to convert them. The conditions in her This book is quite shocking and insightful book for me. A well-researched and excellently written book that exposes the monster and charlatan that was Mother Teresa. It left me disturbed for a while as I digested the information provided to me after years of research and hard work. This book made me think about a lot of things and raised a lot of questions. Mother Theresa had only one thing in mind to "save people for Jesus." She looked upon poor folks only to convert them. The conditions in her homes was unhygienic and filthy. The sisters of Charity would "baptise" people who were at death's door to see that they "went to heaven". No one had knowledge of medicine. She became a 'Saint' by serving the poor of Calcutta. Christopher Hitchens has removed the veil of Sainthood from the much publicized and adored Nobel Peace Prize winner and looked at her critically by analyzing stone cold facts. They had bulk of money but they wouldn't spend on poor or even improve the facility. In fact, Mother Teresa consistently resisted any moves to have adequate medical care there, while she availed herself of the best hospitals in the Western world when she was battling her own medical ailments. Once you read this book, Mother Teresa will appear to be no more than an opportunistic and religious fundamentalist whose love for religious dogma far exceeded her love for the poor. All facts are right there. Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Judith E

    Christopher Hitchens has penned an affirmation to make sure you know what your money is being used for when you make a donation. Mother Teresa’s image was aiding and rescuing the poor and sick to alleviate their pain when in fact there was very little humanitarian motivation in her work. Her life’s work was dedicated to the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church and its stance of anti-abortion and anti-birth control. She did little to stop this misconception while recruiting millions of dollars most Christopher Hitchens has penned an affirmation to make sure you know what your money is being used for when you make a donation. Mother Teresa’s image was aiding and rescuing the poor and sick to alleviate their pain when in fact there was very little humanitarian motivation in her work. Her life’s work was dedicated to the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church and its stance of anti-abortion and anti-birth control. She did little to stop this misconception while recruiting millions of dollars most of which did not go to healing the sick or aiding the poor. This is a short, informative piece which smartly contests the myth of Mother Teresa and reminds us that sometimes things are too good to be true. An excellent audible listen.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] 04:09:2016: The day she was made a saint, I revisited Hell's Angel["br"]>["br"]> (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] 04:09:2016: The day she was made a saint, I revisited Hell's Angel

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jessaka

    Picking the Dying up off the Streets of Calcutta I read this book several years ago, so I really don’t recall much of it. I had also been an admirer of Mother Theresa. Who wouldn’t admire a person that took dying people off the streets of Calcutta and cared for them until they either died or got well? After reading this book, my thoughts were that Mother Theresa didn’t have the power to give out pain medication to those in pain, which was the complaint in this book, mainly because donations were Picking the Dying up off the Streets of Calcutta I read this book several years ago, so I really don’t recall much of it. I had also been an admirer of Mother Theresa. Who wouldn’t admire a person that took dying people off the streets of Calcutta and cared for them until they either died or got well? After reading this book, my thoughts were that Mother Theresa didn’t have the power to give out pain medication to those in pain, which was the complaint in this book, mainly because donations were gathering up in the bank, probably money she couldn’t touch. But then again, she knew what was going on, and yet she stayed in the Church. Again, it would not be easy for her to leave, and perhaps she just accepted all of its teachings. We do know that she accepted the teachings on suffering for Christ, as if those dying had even accepted Christ and that teaching. Sometimes I thought that it would have been better to have died quickly in the streets instead of prolonging the suffering. I tried going to the Church for a while. Mass was beautiful. Peaceful. Maybe I lasted 2 months. I knew what they believed, and I knew about their problems with priests. I would not join. A woman that I knew went there and was trying to help me. She wanted me to join, but I knew I never would. Then she talked me into going to a class where they taught morals. I went, thinking of how much I enjoyed listening to the Buddhist precepts when I had been a Buddhist. Basically, they were “Do no harm.” This class went like this, literally: I took notes in my head. 1. Homosexuality is very bad 2. Abortion is r bad too, but perhaps not as bad as homosexuality or it would be in first place Maybe that is because there was always a chance that a woman could have a child one day, and a homosexual can’t 3. Birth Control pills are bad because they harm the body. I believe that they just make for fewer Catholics. 4. Plastic surgery is bad. Maybe we were jut not to strive for beauty or maybe it harms the body. or both. Gee, maybe it was because the money for this surgery could have gone to the Church. I wanted to leave during the class but thought that I should stay out of some sort of respect. I talked with their priest later, and he told me to not tell anyone my beliefs, my feelings, especially not to this woman who was helping me with the missal, etc. I had even talked with him earlier about not having as many children due to starvation in other countries. He didn’t like that either. No one tells me what to do, so, I wrote her a letter, telling this woman how I felt about the class. She wrote back saying that homosexuals were accepted in the Church, they just couldn’t have sex. Nothing else was mentioned in her letter. My thoughts were, Priests can have sex and get away with it, but gays can’t even have a normal life. Oh, and she also said that pedophilia had been stopped. I knew it hadn’t, and I was right. Why did I ever go to Mass? Long story. I had been going to the Unitarian Fellowship. Many there are atheists, some are pagans, and some had some sort of spirituality, as they wished to call it. With a mixture like this, very few got along with each other. The atheists made fun of those that believed in God, the pagans, it was thought, just wanted to take over the Fellowship, and the believers kept leaving. I liked the pagan’s monthly drumming circles, but I seldom went to the Fellowship”s boring services. I just liked their discussion group even though it was hectic at times. Most times. Here is an example of a discussion. This one is about Mother Theresa: The leader asked, “Who do you admire?” One person said, Gandhi, another, the Dalai Lama. When it was my turn, I said, “Mother Theresa.” Then one of the atheist men leaned over in his seat and got into my face. This is an act of aggression that is meant to intimidate. I hate anyone doing this, and now I can fight back, back then, I couldn’t. He then began putting Mother Theresa down, quoting from this book. I only replied, “I have read it.” I knew that I couldn’t put down Gandhi or the Dalai Lama, because we were never to put down other religions. Yet, Christianity was always being put down, made fun of. I could have said, “The Dalai Lama is a con. If you only knew about Tibetan Buddhism, their teaching of tantric sex, their abuse of women and children through these sex rituals, etc. Or Gandhi, while freeing India, slept in bed with young girls to prove he could sleep with them and not have sex. Right. And he gave them enemas. How gross is that?” I left that day and stayed away for a while. It took me years to start standing up for myself. There is just no other place to go, so you had better learn. And most of the Unitarians are nice, a few were my friends. Then it happened. Chaos visited the Unitarians. A member had been murdered. People left in droves and never returned. Conflict Resolution Counselors came three times and gave up. Ministers came and then they left. Now there is no minister. That is when I went to Mass just to get away from the chaos. Meet some people and leave with friends. You see, this is a Christian town. If you wish to meet people outside of church, you can join a club, but they meet at night, and I don’t like to go out at night. That leaves the Unitarians. But I do go to a book group that meets once a month during the day, and I have a close friend that goes to it too. I had other close friends from that group in the past, but they have left. You see, I just like discussion groups. I still can’t help but believe that Mother Theresa meant well, I still think Mass is beautiful, and I think that Christopher Hitchens was charming in spite of his atheism. So, while I don’t mind listening to atheist views, it is the MILITANT atheists that I disapprove of. They are like the evangelicals that need to save you and do so in an offense manner.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Christopher Hitchens’ contrarian nature made him suspicious that Mother Teresa’s actual work did not live up to her stellar image. As an atheist, he was not in awe of the Catholic Church and not inclined to overlook hypocritical aspects found in her charities. This book cites numerous instances where Mother Teresa was not the ‘saint’ we all believed her to be—so disillusioning.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Margitte

    From the blurb:Among his many books, perhaps none have sparked more outrage than The Missionary Position, Christopher Hitchens's meticulous study of the life and deeds of Mother Teresa. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient beatified by the Catholic Church in 2003, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was celebrated by heads of state and adored by millions for her work on behalf of the poor. In his measured critique, Hitchens asks only that Mother Teresa's reputation be judged by her actions-not the other way arou From the blurb:Among his many books, perhaps none have sparked more outrage than The Missionary Position, Christopher Hitchens's meticulous study of the life and deeds of Mother Teresa. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient beatified by the Catholic Church in 2003, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was celebrated by heads of state and adored by millions for her work on behalf of the poor. In his measured critique, Hitchens asks only that Mother Teresa's reputation be judged by her actions-not the other way around. With characteristic élan and rhetorical dexterity, Hitchens eviscerates the fawning cult of Teresa, recasting the Albanian missionary as a spurious, despotic, and megalomaniacal operative of the wealthy who long opposed measures to end poverty, and fraternized, for financial gain, with tyrants and white-collar criminals throughout the world.If you're interested you can read my review of No One Left To Lie To: The Traingulation of William Jefferson Clinton to become more acquainted with Christopher Hitchens. He was a one-man-band against the 'evils' of the world and collected a global following which defied logic and common sense. Hitchens initially wanted to title the book, Sacred Cow, which would have been typical of his satirical onslaught. He tackled issues which defines history, and attracted debate and headlines. He was a seasoned Leftist journalist who knew his craft. The results were brutal, leaving no room for prisoners. He left no stone upturned to expose Mother Theresa as no saint, more like a fraud, a liar and a thief. Add his other intellectual warfare against religions as 'despotism of the sky' to the message in this book, and its becomes understandable why Mother Theresa, as the icon for what was noble and holy to the world of the religious enclaves, became one of his primary targets. His book God Is Not Great - how religion poisons everything became an international bestseller. Hitch, a neo-atheist, became a crusader against 'clerical and theocratical bullying'. Religion, according to him, included 'nuclear-armed mullahs, as well as insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools.' Like with Bill Clinton, Mother Theresa is stripped to the bare bones in an eloquent, well-researched, well-documented, fast-reading book. Nothing escapes the crocodile-snapping wrath of Hitchens, and in this case it was as effective as was planned. Hitchens implied in the book that Mother Theresa had a sadistic streak. He used the show-don't-tell principle to illustrate his point. She refused dying people medical treatment, believed in severe pain as a sign of a person's nearness to God, and ripped all items which could make their last days comfortable, from their lives, while stashing millions of dollars away in bank accounts which was meant for the poor and sick in her care. She withheld food from both the patients as well as the volunteers and sisters in her employment. Needles were not sterilized, only rinsed in cold water, etc. To Hitchens she was nothing better than the televangelists who ripped people off under the guise of religion. Mother Theresa was a calculating money-making-machine who knew exactly what she was doing. So if you are interested in this controversial smear against one of the greatest icons of all times, this is the book for you. I have read several rumors about Mother Theresa through the years and was curious. It's that other side of the pancake again. Being a huge fan of Christopher Hitchens' work, I knew exactly what to expect and voilá this book delivered. However, I realized the modus operandi of the author from within his ideological framework and took that seriously into account in rating this book. Therefore, 4 stars it will be.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ailsa

    "The naive and simple are seldom as naive and simple as they seem, and this suspicion is reinforced by those who proclaim their own naïveté and simplicity. There is no conceit equal to false modesty" 2018 is my year of Hitch. What a pleasure. My only quibble is at 100 pages with a large font, it is quite a bit shorter than I was expecting. Surely there was plenty more meat on the carcass for him to sink his teeth into? The Missionary Position is more an extended journal article than a book in its "The naive and simple are seldom as naive and simple as they seem, and this suspicion is reinforced by those who proclaim their own naïveté and simplicity. There is no conceit equal to false modesty" 2018 is my year of Hitch. What a pleasure. My only quibble is at 100 pages with a large font, it is quite a bit shorter than I was expecting. Surely there was plenty more meat on the carcass for him to sink his teeth into? The Missionary Position is more an extended journal article than a book in its own right. Luckily, I have god is not Great on hand to fill the void.

  16. 4 out of 5

    A.J. Howard

    The Missionary Position, by the sake of its cover alone, is arguably one of the most bold polemics in recent memory. The title itself forces you to picture the wrinkled, ancient, and now deceased, woman on the cover.... well, let's just say engaging in an activity that we have good reason to believe she abstained from for the entirety of her life. Let me pause while I shudder quickly. Despite the pure shock power of the title, Hitchens' originally preferred title may have been more appropriate, The Missionary Position, by the sake of its cover alone, is arguably one of the most bold polemics in recent memory. The title itself forces you to picture the wrinkled, ancient, and now deceased, woman on the cover.... well, let's just say engaging in an activity that we have good reason to believe she abstained from for the entirety of her life. Let me pause while I shudder quickly. Despite the pure shock power of the title, Hitchens' originally preferred title may have been more appropriate, The Sacred Cow. Because if you were unaware of Hitchens' argument, Mother Theresa of Calcutta seems to be one of the least appropriate target for such harsh criticism, even when the bile is produced by such a virulent contrarian and secularist as Hitchens. However, Hitchens makes clear that his ire is not directed at Mother Theresa herself, or devout Catholics who consider her a saint. This book is for the secular or casually religious who consider the late nun as the exemplar of charity, compassion, humility, and devoutness. Hitchens argument is that all the modifiers but the latter are inappropriate. Hitchens main point is that the good Mother Theresa did for the world were means to the end of promoting a specific and retrograde worldview, "to propagandize one highly subjective view of human nature and need, so that she may one day be counted as a beatific founder of a new order and discipline within the Church itself." Hitchens also points out that when the welfare of the poor conflicted with any of her religious beliefs it was the former that were sacrificed. This is not only relating to her frequent pronunciations on the evils of birth control. The Catholic Church, and Theresa as one of the most outspoken mouthpieces of the organization on this subject, is liable for the millions of deaths and and an untold amount of suffering worldwide by its unbelievably outdated position on the subject. But wait there's more. Hitchens cites testimonials that make it appear that people under the care of the Missionaries of Charity suffered needlessly not because of a lack of funds, but because Mother Theresa sought to maintain conditions of poverty. Better care for patients under their care was not provided, not because Mother Theresa was unable to provide, but because she was unwilling to provide it. Hitchens also ridicules Mother Theresa's supposed refusal to engage in politics. Of course this was only the case where politics didn't involve moral issues, and she didn't hesitate to give her blessings to demagogues who shilled her line. Also, her supposed non-engagement freed her up to be used as a pawn by thugs, dictators, and crooks who were eager for a photo-op. One such engagement was when she wrote a letter to Judge Lance Ito, appealing for leniency in the sentencing of Charles Keating, the perpetrator of the Savings and Loan scandal. She had the gall to cite how Keating donated money to her charities as proof of his better nature, while never addressing the fact that this money was stolen by Keating through fraud. When faced with calls to return these stolen funds she answered with complete silence. Hitchens has several more bones to pick that I won't get into. Hitch's screed is more of a pamphlet than a book, coming in at just under 100 pages scarcely filled pages that will take at most a couple of hours to read. Because it's so brief, I'm going with three stars instead of four. Hitchens is the kind of guy you would never want to get into an argument you want to win with. Here, he takes aim at the previously unassailable and manages to but a few dents in her secular halo.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I enjoy reading books that plausibly and intelligently challenge commonly held beliefs. That is why I appreciated Diane Johnstone’s “Fool’s Crusade”, which questioned the almost religiously held belief that Serbia was the principal, if not only, malefactor in the Balkan wars that led to the break-up of Yugoslavia during the 1990s. Christopher Hitchen’s book “The Missionary Position” provides a powerful challenge to another belief that began in the Balkans, the Mother Teresa phenomenon. Until I r I enjoy reading books that plausibly and intelligently challenge commonly held beliefs. That is why I appreciated Diane Johnstone’s “Fool’s Crusade”, which questioned the almost religiously held belief that Serbia was the principal, if not only, malefactor in the Balkan wars that led to the break-up of Yugoslavia during the 1990s. Christopher Hitchen’s book “The Missionary Position” provides a powerful challenge to another belief that began in the Balkans, the Mother Teresa phenomenon. Until I read his book, I assumed that this benefactor of the poor in Calcutta, who was born of Albanian parentage in the Macedonian city of Skopje, was a saintly character. Now, I have serious doubts. If we can rely on Hitchen’s evidence as being largely objective, then we must begin to consider the ‘good’ Mother in rather the same light as her somewhat less sympathetic compatriot, the late Enver Hoxha who ruled Albania with a fist of iron for four decades. Both Mother Teresa and Hoxha believed that what they were doing was in order to promote the well-being of their ‘subjects’ or ‘flocks’. Hoxha’s activities were restricted to the small population of Albania, whereas Teresa’s affected not only vast number of poor people of Calcutta but also in many other places across the globe. The main thrust of Hitchen’s argument is that Mother Teresa aimed not to help the bodies of the poor but to save their spirits, to ensure that they gained salvation after they had ended their miserable lives miserably. It seems that little she did actually made much material or physical or medical difference to the poor. Hitchens and others provide evidence that the medical care offered to those who sought her help was largely ineffective if not outdated. Krishna Dutta in “Calcutta: a cultural and literary history” (first publ. 2003) writes: “…many people who worked at Nirmal Hriday, especially foreign volunteers with medical knowledge, were dismayed by the lack of training available to the helpers… and by the lack of commitment to scientific medical treatment.” He also points out, as does Hitchens, that those who were dying were given last rites according to Roman Catholic practices regardless of their actual religion, often Hindu or Moslem. Dutta, incidentally, felt that on balance Mother Teresa was not a bad thing for Calcutta, but felt that her mission would do well by devoting itself to, “… looking after the poor as well as the dying by offering proper medical care.” The word ‘proper’ is important. Hitchens quotes evidence that helpers in the Calcutta mission were instructed to mop the foreheads of the dying as if they were actually soothing them, when in reality they were quietly baptising the sufferers before they passed away. It would seem from Hitchen’s book that Mother Teresa’s principal aims were those of the Roman Catholic Church; proselytising, prevention of abortion, and condemnation of birth control. Whilst proselytising might not harm the poor (many low-caste Indians have benefited materially by becoming Christians), damning abortion and birth-control is unlikely to alleviate the lives of the impoverished. Hitchens emphasises that Mother Teresa’s aim was to improve the spiritual condition of those who sought her help, not their physical well-being. It is interesting that one of Teresa’s friends and admirers was India’s President Indira Gandhi during whose reign strongly encouraged sterilisation and a programme of birth-control was carried out widespread in India. Mother Teresa was a phenomenal fund-raiser - one of the world’s best. Hitchens wonders what became of those funds, but can provide no answers. She was beloved by the rich and famous and also infamous. In the opening pages of the book, Hitchens describes how the good Mother was filmed offering respect to Michèle Duvalier the wife of Haiti’s unpleasant dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier at the occasion when she was happy to receive the Haitian award, the Lègion d’Honneur. This was soon before the Duvaliers fled to the French Riviera. This is one of several examples of Teresa’s apparent lack of discomfort with hob-nobbing with the infamous. Hitchen’s book is well-written, concise, and seems to be based on solid sources. It is essential reading for those interested in modern India, and also of some interest to those interested in the Balkans. Sometime after Enver Hoxha died, Mother Teresa visited Tirana where she laid a wreath on the grave of her compatriot Enver Hoxha. There is no record of her having said a word against this man who tyrannised and killed many of his subjects for over 40 years. Reviewed by author of “Scrabble with Slivovitz” and “Albania on my Mind”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    Foremost, it’s important to understand that this book is not a scathing rant against Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic Church, or religion in general. Rather it’s an impressive piece of investigative reporting, well-written, done in the spirit of the author’s hero, George Orwell. One main issue I’d like to highlight. The claims of poverty by Mother Teresa and her order. The reality, as attested by many former members of her order, is that the organization had millions of dollars in bank accounts Foremost, it’s important to understand that this book is not a scathing rant against Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic Church, or religion in general. Rather it’s an impressive piece of investigative reporting, well-written, done in the spirit of the author’s hero, George Orwell. One main issue I’d like to highlight. The claims of poverty by Mother Teresa and her order. The reality, as attested by many former members of her order, is that the organization had millions of dollars in bank accounts that were at their beck and call. For example, one former member reports that at one time there was $50 million in an account in a Bronx bank. Some of the money came from various prizes Mother Teresa received. Some of the other money came from corrupt sources such as Frank Keating, convicted of fraud in the Savings & Loan scandal of the 1980’s. When Keating was on trial for his crimes, Mother Teresa sent a letter to the court asking for clemency. The lead prosecutor wrote back explaining Keating’s crimes and asked Mother Teresa to return the money Keating donated so it could be given back to the victims of fraud. The prosecutor never heard back. It’s still unclear where all this money coming into the order went. The order’s spartan facilities for the poor, with simple cots, little food and almost no medicine, could have been upgraded with the millions that came in. Instead, Teresa thought it was important for the poor to suffer, some in horrible pain, because this was somehow “redemptive.” Their ticket to heaven was assured. Having been raised Roman Catholic and having a strong knowledge of Church history, I had planned a longer review, however, this is a short book that could be read in an afternoon and urge those who have interest to give it a shot. I will only add that she was very much in league with Pope John Paul II in selling the Church to the world. (I’d like to observe that the canonized JP II is hardly mentioned any more. This is because it’s become clear he harbored Archbishops and Cardinals, such as Spotlight’s Bernard Law, who were the biggest protectors of pedophile priests and that the Pope also shared mutual devotion with the founder of The Legionaries of Christ, The Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, whose resume of crimes reads like that of the Devil himself)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    The great polemicist Christopher Hitchens turns his attention to Agnes Bojaxhiu, aka Mother Teresa, in this searing look into her work that is universally accepted as humanitarian and above reproach. Hitchens presents an image of Teresa that is highly critical of her reputation in this brilliantly argued book on her life’s work. Hitchens recounts Teresa’s relationships with known dictators such as the Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and his wife Michele who all but bankrupted their country The great polemicist Christopher Hitchens turns his attention to Agnes Bojaxhiu, aka Mother Teresa, in this searing look into her work that is universally accepted as humanitarian and above reproach. Hitchens presents an image of Teresa that is highly critical of her reputation in this brilliantly argued book on her life’s work. Hitchens recounts Teresa’s relationships with known dictators such as the Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and his wife Michele who all but bankrupted their country and fled to France. Teresa, despite supposedly caring for the poor, does little for them - she demands that they accept their lot and live with poverty rather than try to help them escape it. This is a woman whose fame rests upon her help with the poor, and yet she failed to use her power and influence to alleviate their suffering by encouraging the many world leaders she met to work on this issue. But she’s not political! you say, as she claimed many times herself. And yet she often involved herself in politics, especially when it came to the subject of abortion. She travelled to Spain to protest when post-Franco legislation was to be passed regarding the legalisation of divorce, abortion, and birth control, and even spoke to Margaret Thatcher about passing a bill that was in the House of Commons that wanted to limit the availability of abortions. Teresa was a fond one for abortion (despite being a virgin and not knowing anything about what it’s like to give birth, and sex, besides the end product) and made it the subject of her speech when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 (a win that remains questionable as to what she actually contributed to world peace or peace in any single country), claiming that abortion was the biggest threat to mankind. Maybe the biggest criticism of Mother Teresa above all is the way she and her order withheld painkillers from the very sick and dying. In a filmed interview, she recounted an exchange she had with a cancer patient who was dying, who she refused to give painkillers to, where she said “You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you”, to which the person replied “Then please tell him to stop kissing me”. Teresa, it seems, was unaware of the irony of that comment. Also, her Homes for the Dying are run by nuns who aren’t medically trained or know anything about palliative care, or even basic hygiene as they wash medical equipment in cold tapwater rather than sterilise them! Hitchens also raises the question of what Teresa did with the millions she received in donations. There will never be an audit because it’s the Catholic Church but given the basic requirements of her homes, it seems likely that a lot of it didn’t go into helping the poor. And a lot of the donations came from questionable sources like Charles Keating, a fraud who was imprisoned for 10 years for his part in the Savings and Loans scandal in the early 90s. He donated $1.25 million to Mother Teresa who wrote a character reference to the judge when he was on trial. It had no effect but the co-prosecutor of the case, Paul Turley, wrote back explaining to her why he was on trial, informing her that the money she had received was stolen from ordinary, hard working people who’re now poor people like the ones she tries to help, and that she should return it on basic principle. He never received a reply to his letter and the money was not refunded. Teresa comes across as a PR tool for the Catholic Church and a political pawn, willingly used for the Church’s own dogmatic ideas and as a fundraising figure. Hitchens has written a fascinating book in “The Missionary Position” which rightly questions a person long held to be untouchable because of her work and yet whose actions remain highly dubious and contradictory. “The Missionary Position” is a highly recommended and thought-provoking read. Also worth checking out is Hitchen’s documentary on Mother Teresa, Hell’s Angel. The first half of this book is basically a retelling of the documentary. It’s available for free on Youtube.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Notes: (view spoiler)[ Mary Loudon, a volunteer in Calcutta who has since written extensively about the lives of nuns and religious women, has this testimony to offer about the Home for the Dying. My initial impression was of all the photographs and footage I've ever seen of Belsen and places like that, because all the patients had shaved heads. No chairs anywhere, there were just these stretcher beds. They're like First World War stretcher beds. There's no garden, no yard even. No nothing. And I Notes: (view spoiler)[ Mary Loudon, a volunteer in Calcutta who has since written extensively about the lives of nuns and religious women, has this testimony to offer about the Home for the Dying. My initial impression was of all the photographs and footage I've ever seen of Belsen and places like that, because all the patients had shaved heads. No chairs anywhere, there were just these stretcher beds. They're like First World War stretcher beds. There's no garden, no yard even. No nothing. And I thought what is this? This is two rooms with fifty to sixty men in one, fifty to sixty women in another. They're dying. They're not being given a great deal of medical care. They're not being given painkillers really beyond aspirin and maybe if you're lucky some Brufen or something, for the sort of pain that goes with terminal cancer and the things they were dying of... They didn't have enough drips. The needles they used and re-used over and over and over, and you would see some of the nuns rinsing needles under the cold water tap. And I asked one of them why she was doing it and she said "Well to clean it." And I said, "Yes, but why are you not sterilizing it; why are you not boiling water and sterilizing your needles?" She said: "There's no point. There's no time." The first day I was there when I'd finished working in the women's ward I went and waited on the edge of the men's ward for my boyfriend, who was looking after a boy of fifteen who was dying, and an American doctor told me that she had been trying to treat this boy. And that he had a really relatively simple kidney complaint that had simply got worse ad worse and worse because he hadn't had antibiotics. And he actually needed an operation. I don't recall what the problem was, but she did tell me. And she was so angry, but also very resigned which so many people become in that situation. And she said, "Well, they won't take him to hospital." And I said: "Why? All you have to do is get a cab. Take him to the nearest hospital, demand that he has treatment. Get him an operation." She said: "They don't do it. They won't do it. If they do it for one, they do it for everybody." And I thought - but this kid is fifteen. Bear in mind that Mother Teresa's global income is more than enough to outfit several first-class clinics in Bengal. The decision not to do so, and indeed to run instead a haphazard and cranky institution which would expose itself to litigation and protests were it run by any branch of the medical profession, is a deliberate one. The point is not the honest relief of suffering but the promulgation of a cult based on death and suffering and subjection. Mother Teresa (who herself, it should be noted, has checked into some of the finest and costliest clinics and hospitals in the West during her bouts with heart trouble and old age) once gave this game away in a filmed interview. She described a person who was in the last agonies of cancer and suffering unbearable pain. With a smile, Mother Teresa told the camera what she told this terminal patient: "You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you." Unconscious of the account to which this irony might be charged, she then told of the sufferer's reply: "Then please tell him to stop kissing me." There are many people in the direst need and pain who have had cause to wish, in their own extremity, that Mother Teresa was less free with her own metaphysical caresses and a little more attentive to actual suffering. Pages 42-44. (hide spoiler)]

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Pankau

    This is an ambitious attempt at iconoclasm from a world-class iconoclast that is absolutely undone by the author's style of writing. From the overly catty title to the confused layout, the book is frustrating when it should be enlightening and only works for about fifteen pages in the middle when substance is finally allowed to triumph over style. Hitchens has some fantastic observations about the misguided ways in which Mother Theresa "helps" the poor but in fact just makes them suffer. Those fi This is an ambitious attempt at iconoclasm from a world-class iconoclast that is absolutely undone by the author's style of writing. From the overly catty title to the confused layout, the book is frustrating when it should be enlightening and only works for about fifteen pages in the middle when substance is finally allowed to triumph over style. Hitchens has some fantastic observations about the misguided ways in which Mother Theresa "helps" the poor but in fact just makes them suffer. Those fifteen pages are worth reading, without question. But he works them towards a flimsy thesis that Mother Theresa was some kind of diabolical genius. In doing so, he assumes that the reader knows quite a bit about Mother Theresa and the Catholic Church already, and disdains them both. He doesn't give any kind of history of the woman until 4/5's of the way through, at which point he assumes that the reader knows the major players in 1930's Albanian politics. His scattershot rambling approach to an argument really does him no justice. It's a boon to his work as an essayist, but it's the reason his books are all slight, pithy, and dense. This book needed to guide the reader, but Hitchens never constructs anything like a narrative. I view this as a blown opportunity. The evidence of Mother Theresa's woes on humanity are not hard to find. You can see a nice overview in the "Criticism" section of her Wikipedia page. Her goal was not to heal but to convert. She would give deathbed baptisms to Hindus and Muslims without their explicit consent. She would deny antibiotics to the sick and painkillers to the dying--she seemed to think suffering was making her charges more Christ-like. She viewed the influx of donations as an endorsement of her methods from God, but the money went unspent and/or unaccounted for. People suffered needlessly under her care. There is no question that she did horrible things and was never held to account by the world at large. But the stronger argument is not that Mother Theresa was a bad person, but that she was an exemplary Catholic and that Catholic doctrine writ large is as great an evil now as it was during the Inquisition. Hitchens dances around this, but never quite nails it. The Catholic prohibition on contraception--largely ignored in the first world--is one of the issues Mother Theresa championed alongside abortion. And to this day those prohibitions are a direct cause of the third world being flush with the starving children that Mother Theresa's nuns look after. The irony is flabbergasting, but Hitchens would have us believe that it's all part of some evil scheme towards beatification, and I don't think he argued it strongly enough. It pains me to rate this as low as I did. I'm a fan of Christopher Hitchens and view his death as a serious loss to the intellectual world. But this is far from his best work. It's too long and too comprehensive to work as an essay, but it's too short and disorganized to work as a book. In the end, I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brendan Monroe

    Christopher Hitchens is at his sensational best here, bringing a sledgehammer to the "scared cow" that is Mother Teresa, and the cult-like fanaticism around here. Hitchens' ire, both here and in a previously aired expose called 'Hell's Angel' on Britain's Channel 4, was enough to send Catholics and non-Catholics alike into a tizzy and even today the mere mention of the suffering and thievery wrought by their icon sends them into a rabid frenzy. But Hitchens doesn't swing blindly. His main beef s Christopher Hitchens is at his sensational best here, bringing a sledgehammer to the "scared cow" that is Mother Teresa, and the cult-like fanaticism around here. Hitchens' ire, both here and in a previously aired expose called 'Hell's Angel' on Britain's Channel 4, was enough to send Catholics and non-Catholics alike into a tizzy and even today the mere mention of the suffering and thievery wrought by their icon sends them into a rabid frenzy. But Hitchens doesn't swing blindly. His main beef seems to be more aimed at a global society which praises and anoints a woman a Saint without being the least bit educated as to her practices. Speaking of the aims of Teresa herself, Hitchens' writes; “the point is not the honest relief of suffering but the promulgation of a cult based on death and suffering and subjection." Everything included here provides more than adequate basis to suspect Teresa of all the things Hitchens' accuses her of. Even those sworn to defend their leader's honor with a cult-like zeal will find it hard to defend her from her own words: “I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.” The reality is that far from being a supposed "champion" of the poor, something Teresa to her credit never claimed to be, the cult and adoration surrounding a figure like Teresa was a product of white guilt at the plight of those in the Third World. Indeed the very nature of missionary work in itself is directed not at the eradication of poverty and suffering, but on the needs of the donor, with an ever nauseating desire to "save souls" thrown in. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, much less those on the "mission" themselves. As Hitchens' writes, "the true address of the missionary is to the self-satisfaction of the sponsor and the donor, and not to the needs of the downtrodden. Helpless infants, abandoned derelicts, lepers and the terminally ill are the raw material for demonstrations of compassion. They are in no position to complain, and their passivity and abjection is considered a sterling trait. It is time to recognize that the world’s leading exponent of this false consolation is herself a demagogue, an obscurantist and a servant of earthly powers.” But Teresa is more than a mere tool for white, upper class guilt. She also prided herself on championing suffering to her poor, helpless wards. During the filming of her "work", an observer sets the scene. “She described a person who was in the last agonies of cancer and suffering unbearable pain. With a smile, Mother Teresa told the camera what she told this terminal patient: “You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you.” Unconscious of the account to which this irony might be charged, she then told of the sufferer’s reply: “Then please tell him to stop kissing me.” So it is that the poor and sickly shouldn't waste their desires and wishes upon the possibility of recovery (which, in Teresa's hands, was unlikely to happen anyway) but to the greater desire of death, death disguised as something to be longed for, to be worshipped, desired as one would desire 'the kisses of Christ'. There's greater outrage to be spent by the truly moral on the cause of Catholicism in general, such as the obsessively blind insistence on preserving unborn life, even as a result of pain and horror. “When mass rapes occurred in the course of aggressive war in Bangladesh and later in Bosnia, Mother Teresa in the first case and the Pope in the second made strenuous appeals to the victims not to abort the seed of the invader and the violator”. Ah, what standards the woman set for us! With love and other divine precepts like these, one has to wonder what the other side is offering. Vehement rhetoric against all abortion is ignorant enough, but equal vehemence against contraception truly wins the prize. Such rhetoric is particularly ironic, as Hitchens' notes: “given how much this Church allows the fanatical Mother Teresa to preach, it might be added that the call to go forth and multiply, and to take no thought for the morrow, sounds grotesque when uttered by an elderly virgin whose chief claim to reverence is that she ministers to the inevitable losers in this very lottery.” Rather than go on, I urge those interested in either learning of the woman's crimes or sick with the longing to defend them to pick up 'The Missionary Position', if for no other reason than the title provides at least a welcome laugh at the the expense of the "thieving, fanatical Albanian dwarf" whose reputation for causing agony and suffering endures beyond her grave.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Shepherd

    "Helpless infants, abandoned derelicts, lepers and the terminally ill are the raw material for demonstrations of compassion. They are in no position to complain, and their passivity and abjection is considered a sterling trait. It is time to recognize that the world's leading exponent of this false consolation is herself a demagogue, an obscurantist and a servant of earthly powers." ~Christopher Hitchens Where Mother Teresa is concerned, there is a professed philosophy and a corresponding public "Helpless infants, abandoned derelicts, lepers and the terminally ill are the raw material for demonstrations of compassion. They are in no position to complain, and their passivity and abjection is considered a sterling trait. It is time to recognize that the world's leading exponent of this false consolation is herself a demagogue, an obscurantist and a servant of earthly powers." ~Christopher Hitchens Where Mother Teresa is concerned, there is a professed philosophy and a corresponding public perception ...and then there is a profoundly abject reality that screams pretense, deceit and hypocrisy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Peycho Kanev

    HOLY COW! (literally)

  25. 5 out of 5

    GeneralTHC

    5-stars My mind is blown. If Hitchens was right, and I know of no reason to believe otherwise, Mother Teresa was actually anything but a good person. Since I happened across this article from Hitchens, which is essentially a good overview of his book and certainly much, much better than anything I could ever write about it, I'll leave it at that. I think everyone should read it. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_an... "I think it was Macaulay who said that the Roman Catholic Church deserved great 5-stars My mind is blown. If Hitchens was right, and I know of no reason to believe otherwise, Mother Teresa was actually anything but a good person. Since I happened across this article from Hitchens, which is essentially a good overview of his book and certainly much, much better than anything I could ever write about it, I'll leave it at that. I think everyone should read it. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_an... "I think it was Macaulay who said that the Roman Catholic Church deserved great credit for, and owed its longevity to, its ability to handle and contain fanaticism. This rather oblique compliment belongs to a more serious age. What is so striking about the 'beatification' of the woman who styled herself 'Mother' Teresa is the abject surrender, on the part of the church, to the forces of showbiz, superstition, and populism. It's the sheer tawdriness that strikes the eye first of all. It used to be that a person could not even be nominated for 'beatification,' the first step to 'sainthood,' until five years after his or her death. This was to guard against local or popular enthusiasm in the promotion of dubious characters. The pope nominated MT a year after her death in 1997. It also used to be that an apparatus of inquiry was set in train, including the scrutiny of an advocatus diaboli or 'devil's advocate,' to test any extraordinary claims. The pope has abolished this office and has created more instant saints than all his predecessors combined as far back as the 16th century. As for the "miracle" that had to be attested, what can one say? Surely any respectable Catholic cringes with shame at the obviousness of the fakery. A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of MT, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumor. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn't have a cancerous tumor in the first place and that the tubercular cyst she did have was cured by a course of prescription medicine. Was he interviewed by the Vatican's investigators? No. (As it happens, I myself was interviewed by them but only in the most perfunctory way. The procedure still does demand a show of consultation with doubters, and a show of consultation was what, in this case, it got.) According to an uncontradicted report in the Italian paper L'Eco di Bergamo, the Vatican's secretary of state sent a letter to senior cardinals in June, asking on behalf of the pope whether they favored making MT a saint right away. The pope's clear intention has been to speed the process up in order to perform the ceremony in his own lifetime. The response was in the negative, according to Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the Canadian priest who has acted as postulator or advocate for the "canonization." But the damage, to such integrity as the process possesses, has already been done. Advertisement During the deliberations over the Second Vatican Council, under the stewardship of Pope John XXIII, MT was to the fore in opposing all suggestions of reform. What was needed, she maintained, was more work and more faith, not doctrinal revision. Her position was ultra-reactionary and fundamentalist even in orthodox Catholic terms. Believers are indeed enjoined to abhor and eschew abortion, but they are not required to affirm that abortion is "the greatest destroyer of peace," as MT fantastically asserted to a dumbfounded audience when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.* Believers are likewise enjoined to abhor and eschew divorce, but they are not required to insist that a ban on divorce and remarriage be a part of the state constitution, as MT demanded in a referendum in Ireland (which her side narrowly lost) in 1996. Later in that same year, she told Ladies Home Journal that she was pleased by the divorce of her friend Princess Diana, because the marriage had so obviously been an unhappy one … This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility? The rich world has a poor conscience, and many people liked to alleviate their own unease by sending money to a woman who seemed like an activist for "the poorest of the poor." People do not like to admit that they have been gulled or conned, so a vested interest in the myth was permitted to arise, and a lazy media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions. Many volunteers who went to Calcutta came back abruptly disillusioned by the stern ideology and poverty-loving practice of the "Missionaries of Charity," but they had no audience for their story. George Orwell's admonition in his essay on Gandhi—that saints should always be presumed guilty until proved innocent—was drowned in a Niagara of soft-hearted, soft-headed, and uninquiring propaganda. One of the curses of India, as of other poor countries, is the quack medicine man, who fleeces the sufferer by promises of miraculous healing. Sunday was a great day for these parasites, who saw their crummy methods endorsed by his holiness and given a more or less free ride in the international press. Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. More than that, we witnessed the elevation and consecration of extreme dogmatism, blinkered faith, and the cult of a mediocre human personality. Many more people are poor and sick because of the life of MT: Even more will be poor and sick if her example is followed. She was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions." —Christopher Hitchens

  26. 5 out of 5

    Raghu

    Christopher Hitchens' book is a blistering indictment of the cult of Mother Teresa. It investigates systematically the innards of Mother Teresa's charity in Calcutta and exposes it mostly as a sham with a great chasm lying between myth and reality. Hitchens is an anti-thiest (as he likes to call himself) and so has no sympathy for religion and belief in God. Still, this book is purely a rational exercise in simply evaluating Mother Teresa's reputation by her actions and words instead of the othe Christopher Hitchens' book is a blistering indictment of the cult of Mother Teresa. It investigates systematically the innards of Mother Teresa's charity in Calcutta and exposes it mostly as a sham with a great chasm lying between myth and reality. Hitchens is an anti-thiest (as he likes to call himself) and so has no sympathy for religion and belief in God. Still, this book is purely a rational exercise in simply evaluating Mother Teresa's reputation by her actions and words instead of the other way around. In doing so, he finds that the Mother is just one more 'holy' person of dubious distinction. For me as an Indian, it is a familiar tale, as India is so full of fraudulent Gurus and Swamis who amass money, selling the idea of Liberation and Heaven to gullible devotees and followers. Contrary to the widely-publicised image of Mother Teresa as a compassionate nun saving countless number of poor Indians from dying, Hitchens demonstrates the following to be the truth: 1. That the Calcutta charity did not like to spend its vast wealth in providing care to save the sick and dying. It rather spent the money on establishing more convents across the world, all doing similar dubious work. 2. That it was a Catholic cult based on glorifying poverty, suffering, subjection and death. The cult was focused on prosyletization above saving lives. The dying poor were allowed to die, but die as Christians, because then only Jesus would save them. Towards this end, sick and dying Indians of other faiths would be brought to the charity and baptized, often without their knowledge, as they lay awaiting death. 3. That the conditions in the so-called 'hospital' of the Calcutta charity were often unhygienic and the staff poorly trained. They re-used needles over and over and washed them in cold, tap water instead of sterilizing them. Many inmates died not because they were incurable but because the charity wouldn't spend the money necessary to save them. 4. That Mother Teresa took multi-million dollar donations from shady and dubious characters like Charles Keating, Papa doc Duvalier and others and repaid the debt by interceding on their behalf. For example, she wrote to Judge Lance Ito in support of Charles Keating, who cheated ordinary hard-working Americans to the tune of $250 million. 5. That she was just a reactionary figure who advocated the rights of the unborn child even as she let adults and children under her care die for lack of desire to spend money to save them; that she glorified poverty and suffering and denounced materialism even as she sought and accepted millions of dollars as donations. There is a thread that links people like Mother Teresa and the other high-profile Gurus and Swamis in India. It is not a surprise that they all tend to be reactionary, have outmoded views and are mostly out of touch with the pulse of society. Most of the Gurus tend to be people who grew up in rural parts of India in the 1930s and 1940s, when the social mores were highly repressive compared to today. Women were terribly discriminated against and constrained, caste oppression was pervasive and illiteracy was rampant. These gurus would have often only had a few years of religious education which mostly reinforced such prejudices. They were often un-exposed to secular science based education. Much later, when they get anointed as Swamis by some vested interests in urban India, they bring all their baggage into their 'liberating' Ashrams. Often, men and women are severely segregated in these ashrams because that is what the gurus know society to be. They are often against women's education and empowerment. They often patronize the rich and powerful and practise caste discrimination. In a similar way, Mother Teresa grew up in a rural Albanian/Macedonian region in the 1930s and had only church-influenced education. She also never had any exposure to the enlightened European education. So, it is not a surprise that she is against contraception in an India that sought to reduce population growth. It is not a surprise that she thought that abortion is the biggest crime. It is not a surprise that she patronized frauds like Duvalier and Keating because they gave her big donations and professed themselves to be good Christians. Christopher Hitchens has done a great service by tearing the mask of such people who think that they have a hotline to God. The book is written in Hitchens' trade-mark style of hard-hitiing prose. One can see it even in the choice of the title. As an example, I would cite the following: Commenting upon the decision of advice columnist Ann Landers to share one of Mother Teresa's prescriptions for improving the world ("smile more"), Hitchens writes," ...it is doubtful whether a fortune-cookie maxim of such cretinous condescension would have been chosen by even Ann Landers unless it bore the imprimateur of Mother Teresa, one of the few untouchables in the mental universe of the mediocre and the credulous". This is vintage Christorpher Hitchens! The book is not a polemic but a well-argued, rational critique. In fact, the foreword to the twelfth edition by Thomas Mellon sums up the book so well that one can hardly do better in a review. I loved it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    dely

    2,5 It was an interesting book, above all the depositions of volunteers that have worked in Mother Teresa's hospital. The rest of the book is interesting too and the author shows how Mother Teresa didn't really worry about the poor and the sick, but wanted only to instill them her religious believes and, above all, the endurance of suffering in order to be nearer to Jesus. No one knows how much money she had, but she never used it for the poor, these had to continue to suffer and to live in pover 2,5 It was an interesting book, above all the depositions of volunteers that have worked in Mother Teresa's hospital. The rest of the book is interesting too and the author shows how Mother Teresa didn't really worry about the poor and the sick, but wanted only to instill them her religious believes and, above all, the endurance of suffering in order to be nearer to Jesus. No one knows how much money she had, but she never used it for the poor, these had to continue to suffer and to live in poverty. Hers weren't real hospitals because there weren't doctors or professional staff; it was only a place where people could die even if in a real hospital they could have been saved or at least suffer less before dying. It's not very Christian this behaviour. She also accepted money from dictators or swindlers and never said a bad word about them and about what they were doing. It's not only an attack on Mother Teresa, but to Catholicism, clergy and Vatican City. All in all, Mother Teresa followed the precepts of her religion. I rated it so low only because it was too short. The best part were the depositions of the volunteers, in the middle of the book. The rest is interesting too but I had the impression the book had no "order", there wasn't a real logic to follow from the start to the end. At the end of the book some things were repeated and about others there was only a quick hint. I would have liked if the author would have deepened many things and I wanted more real depositions. I think that Catholics shouldn't read this book, they would never believe it and I don't think that it would open their eyes.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Jackson

    The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice is Christopher Hitchens's little polemic against Mother Theresa, and let's just say that the old bird doesn't come out too well. Hitchens's main charges against her can be grouped into three broad categories: (1) Despite being ostensibly apolitical, Mother Theresa consistently associated herself with right wing causes and despotic leaders throughout the world. She stumped against abortion at every opportunity, calling it a "threat to The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice is Christopher Hitchens's little polemic against Mother Theresa, and let's just say that the old bird doesn't come out too well. Hitchens's main charges against her can be grouped into three broad categories: (1) Despite being ostensibly apolitical, Mother Theresa consistently associated herself with right wing causes and despotic leaders throughout the world. She stumped against abortion at every opportunity, calling it a "threat to peace." She supported the Duvaliers in Haiti, she backed the right wing contras in Nicaragua. She associated with Reagan and Thatcher. (2) She accepted large sums of money as donations from corrupt businessmen. For instance, she accepted over a million dollars from Charles Keating, who was a prominent (and convicted) player in the Savings and Loan scandals in the 1980s. Then, when he was brought up on charges, she didn't give back the money so that it could be returned to the people Keating had swindled; instead she wrote a letter on his behalf to the judge presiding over the case. (3) Her real mission was never to help the poor and sick improve their lot; instead her true goal was the furtherance of her own preferred version of austere Catholicism, in which suffering was viewed as something that has intrinsic value instead of something that should be avoided or mitigated as far as possible. To aid in this point, Hitchens marshals testimony from medical professionals who had visited the Missionaries of Charity home for the dying in India, who nearly unanimously decried the unacceptable conditions under which people were receiving treatment. The charges grouped in the first category are of varying degrees of severity and relevance, and one gets the sense that Hitchens's personal political views have colored the analysis significantly. While she certainly held some political proclivities that I wouldn't agree with, I'm not sure how valid it is to criticize Theresa for photo ops with Reagan and Thatcher. Her cozy relationship with third world dictators is certainly more problematic, but the whole approach smells too much like arguing guilt by association for my taste. Fortunately, it's not his whole argument. The second group of objections definitely has more validity. If it's true that she accepted money that had been obtained illegally (which appears to be the case), found out how it was obtained (which has to be the case), and didn't give the money back (which is the case) then she has to be considered to have committed a pretty mortal sin. It's hard to see how someone who professes to work for the poor would keep money that was basically stolen from ordinary people. Unless by her utilitarian calculus the greater good is served by the money, of course. Which brings us to Hitchens's most damaging claims against Theresa--the greater good for which she strove was not the reduction of suffering in this world, but rather preparing souls for the next one. The millions and millions of dollars she received in donations weren't spent on giving the dying of Calcutta top flight medical care. The Missionary Position has a number of testimonials about the dirty conditions, re-use of unsterilized needles, lack of appropriate pain medication, and refusal to send people with treatable conditions to the hospital. This doesn't really appear to be something disputed by Theresa's defenders. But could Theresa not have tended both the bodies and souls of the dying? Here is the crux of the issue, and the point on which Hitchens's expose is the most insightful: Theresa had no interest in alleviating suffering because she believed suffering is good. In her own words: I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people. Pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus - a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you. So there it is. Suffering is good for the world because suffering is getting a big wet sloppy kiss from Jesus. And with beliefs like this lunacy, it isn't hard to see why she spent those millions in donations supporting convents all over the world instead of on pain killers for terminal cancer patients. Suffering isn't something to be avoided. It's good for your soul. To make matters worse, as Hitchens points out, she was more or less upfront with these contemptible beliefs from the beginning; but for some reason the media has refused to look at her in any sort of critical way. People from all over the world have donated to the Missionaries of Charity because they think they're helping the poor, sick people from India, when in reality they're funding Theresa's world wide network of convents and death houses whose sole purpose is proselytizing. Every media outlet that uncritically reported on her "good works" has been complicit in propagating her cult of suffering.

  29. 5 out of 5

    William

    Hitchens died this week so I figured it was high time to read his critique of Mother Teresa. Now I'm fighting the urge to go kick some puppies as an encore. In all seriousness, however, Hitchens has written a much-needed critique. He demonstrates quite well that Mother Teresa was the consummate hypocrite when it came to pretty much everything other than abortion and contraception. She does seem to have been very consistent on those issues, although Hitchens' critique of her position suffers from Hitchens died this week so I figured it was high time to read his critique of Mother Teresa. Now I'm fighting the urge to go kick some puppies as an encore. In all seriousness, however, Hitchens has written a much-needed critique. He demonstrates quite well that Mother Teresa was the consummate hypocrite when it came to pretty much everything other than abortion and contraception. She does seem to have been very consistent on those issues, although Hitchens' critique of her position suffers from the false assumptions that almost always intrude on the arguments of those who countenance abortion. Hitchens demonstrates quite adequately that this woman who claimed to be apolitical repeatedly played the game of politics in the worst way in support of the worst leaders and regimes, from Hoxha to Duvalier. She taught salvation through suffering and as a rule denied medical care to those whom she cared for--not even follow the accepted rules of hospice care for the dying--while playing it up to rich people in the West that she was relieving the sorrow and poverty of the world's most miserable people. Nope. She sat on millions of dollars of donations that could have provided the best medical care in India and sat with those in need and told them that their sorrows were the loving kisses of Jesus and that to take away the pain and the poverty was to take away the source of their salvation. Of course, when it came her own health problems, she had no problem blowing off the kisses of Jesus and seeking care in the best medical facilities the West has to offer. When it came to money, on one hand the rule of her order took the firm position that the sisters were to trust in Providence from day to day (in one convent the sisters were berated by Teresa for canning an abundance of donated tomatoes), but on the other hand her order took in millions of dollars given by individuals, corporations, foundations, and governments for the relief of the poor, money that was never used for such purposes and that still remains unaccounted for. Hitchens notes particularly the $1.5 million donation made by Charles Keating--money stolen from his clients, many of whom were themselves of that same class of poor people she claimed to be helping. Hitchens includes a copy of her faux naïf letter to Judge Ito on behalf of Keating during his trial as well as the prosecutor's letter to Mother Teresa suggesting that if she really valued following the example of Christ, she would return the stolen funds Keating donated to the rightful owners--a letter to which she never responded. This is book that needed to be written. Ever since Malcolm Muggeridge's introduction of Mother Teresa to the world more than forty years ago she has lived with a sort of teflon sainthood. To even think of criticising or questioning Mother Teresa leaves most people gasping in shock and outrage. And yet there's an awful lot to be criticised. Hitchens does a good job. In some places his atheism intrudes and his critique is more that of the Church in general than it is of Mother Teresa, but for the most part he sticks to his subject and is fair. The fact is, though, that those who need to read the book are probably the least likely to read it simply because of the fact that it was written by Hitchens and is immediately suspect.

  30. 4 out of 5

    A Man Called Ove

    Having seen Hitchens in Intelligence squared, i know the force of his arguments against religion. But, even if we believe that this is a polemic and the interpretations r wrong, what of the quoted untampered facts ? Beggars belief how this lady got the Nobel Prize or was not asked to leave India and shut down her Missionaries of 'Dying'. Have had first-hand experience of how some Christian missionaries in India try to lure school-children too into reading their scriptures but many of them also p Having seen Hitchens in Intelligence squared, i know the force of his arguments against religion. But, even if we believe that this is a polemic and the interpretations r wrong, what of the quoted untampered facts ? Beggars belief how this lady got the Nobel Prize or was not asked to leave India and shut down her Missionaries of 'Dying'. Have had first-hand experience of how some Christian missionaries in India try to lure school-children too into reading their scriptures but many of them also provide invaluable service to society by running a no. of schools and hospitals too. Service, which, Mother Teresa's organisation(s) didnt do according to the author and were only concerned with getting converts. Secondly, I am a strong supporter of freedom-of-expression and was extremely dismayed at the storm raised when some1 questioned Mother Teresa's credentials and work. Their essence was 'How can u dare to question Mother/Saint Teresa ?'. Well, in this country we question every1 (unless stopped by the threat of beheading ofcourse) be it Mahatma Gandhi or Narendra Modi or Lord Krishna or Lord Rama. If the questioner was wrong, why not point out where he/she was factually wrong ? Why answer with abuses ? Finally in my opinion, this frustrating stifling of free speech in the name of political-correctness got the world Brexit and it will get many more 'Exits' and 'Trumps'.

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