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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Vatican needs a rethink
This was a distressing read but I couldn't put it down. As far as I'm aware Mother Teresa has been beatified but not yet canonised (made a saint). I am not religious and find the idea of human beings making other human beings saints laughable and absurd. But that aside Christopher Hitchens has amassed so much evidence regarding her 'treatment and care' of the sick and...
Published 15 months ago by AnnA

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too short, lacking real bite
I'm a huge fan of Hitch, but the series of 5 star reviews are obviously for the man and the memory of him, not for this particular book.

The book itself only makes 100 pages because of the large font used, and the small page size. Its not surprising that it was published AFTER hitch passed on.

The contents are not exactly hard hitting. The dissmissal...
Published on 28 Oct. 2012 by Logorrhea.ie


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Vatican needs a rethink, 22 April 2014
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This was a distressing read but I couldn't put it down. As far as I'm aware Mother Teresa has been beatified but not yet canonised (made a saint). I am not religious and find the idea of human beings making other human beings saints laughable and absurd. But that aside Christopher Hitchens has amassed so much evidence regarding her 'treatment and care' of the sick and dying, all of it verifiable and from external witnesses who saw this standard of care for themselves, truly shocking. Especially as MT herself flew out to costly clinics for treatment of her own health issues. Can we begin to imagine the furore if a fraction of this happened in an NHS hospital? It wasn't as if money wasn't available. Millions of pounds were donated by wealthy individuals and by governments - sometimes corrupt governments. Where did the money go? In any other circumstance there would have been a thorough investigation. Perhaps there has ....... How can the Vatican proceed with this canonisation??

As I said at the beginning I myself am not a churchgoer but it would seem to be a hugely damaging step for the Church's credibility if it continues with the process. I would also have thought the Catholic Church itself would like a few more answers and more than one decidedly dubious "miracle" to create a saint. Hitch has done a brilliant job putting this well written and well researched book together. Let us hope it was to good purpose.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hell's Angel, 14 Dec. 2014
By 
Rough Diamond (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (Paperback)
With a merry sizzle, Christopher Hitchens gleefully tosses another sacred cow onto the barbecue in ' The Missionary Position', his brilliant and unanswerable takedown of Mother Teresa. If you define the task of the journalist as bringing to light things that someone, somewhere would prefer you not to know, then in that respect alone this is about as good as journalism gets. It takes a real leap of contrarian imagination to tackle as figure as proverbially saintly as Mother Teresa. But, layer by layer, Hitchens peels away the myths that surround the erstwhile Agnes Bojaxiou to reveal a deeply and shockingly compromised figure. Hitchens distils his anger and outrage into a splendid cocktail of Swiftian disgust and Juvenalian disdain, delivered with his characteristically razor-sharp phrasemaking.

At just over 100 pages of largish print, this is undeniably brief, but brevity of course is the soul of wit. There's not an ounce of fat on this brilliant polemic, which which hits bullseye after bullseye with unfailing precision, and says no more than it needs to. It's a miniature masterpiece, and hats off to Atlantic books for republishing it as a stand-alone volume. Thoroughly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hell's Bat or Hagia Teresa?, 30 Mar. 2015
By 
Mr. G. Morgan "wes" (Haywards Heath, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (Paperback)
Although this short book nowhere touches the heights of his great first two collections of essays (see my highly enthusiastic reviews; The Hitch's best two books must be read), this is close and the only reason I reserve the final star is because it is a short if scorching polemic. Of course there must be redeeming features for the Old Woman of Calcutta but like Germaine Greer (who outraged people by selecting Teresa as a Villain in a regular Independent feature), Hitchens will have none of them. He goes out of his way to be offensive, which will almost certainly not persuade anyone who believes that she is indeed a Saint, of her flaws. She's on the first rung to Sainthood and will be expedited, be sure of that: the requisite miracle by her posthumous Intercession is logged. (And it's a disgrace, a dubious 'Cancer' of a simple Indian 'cured' by rubbing the tumour with a photograph of Mother T., a dangerous precedent in Mumbai, where mountebanks and charlatans abound). It is as laughable as the 'miracle' the credulous Malcolm Muggeridge attributed to her and which is here exposed with exemplary clarity. Hitchens intends to shock anyone remotely dubious of the claims made for her and her famous Calcutta Missionaries of Charity institution and he is wise to subject the myth to scrutiny. The well informed will be aware that there has been a trickle of ex workers there disenchanted at the lack of palliative care; at the proto saint's concerns for the souls of rather than the living bodies of the dying at her feet. That she consorted with a number of dubious, and invariably Right Wing types in a quite shameless search for money is on-the-record and should be more widely known. Once he has told you, then you will doubtless try to shake Hitchens' deliberately nasty imprecations off of the putative Saintly personage born Agnes in Skopje, [Yugoslav] Macedonia (see, even her provenance isn't what you thought). Shouldn't the selfless work she undoubtedly did entitle her to greater respect than The Hitch will allow her? That he causes you to think before coupling her name with the hagiopoly is a measure of his success. Hell's Bat it might well be then...
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279 of 305 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb expose of a deeply hypocritical woman, 12 July 2008
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During her lifetime, Mother Teresa was as close to canonization as it was possible to get without actually being dead. The front cover of Time magazine called her a "Living Saint". A cult of holiness surrounded her and in the eyes of the media and many politicians she could do no wrong. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and awarded numerous honors in the countries she visited.

The facts however didn't match the illusion and public perception and Christopher Hitchens had the courage to say so. He exposes her revolting attitude towards the dying, namely that they were there to die and to suffer; in that way they became closer to Christ. Care, compassion and alievement of pain were practically non-existent in her `clinics'. Standard clinical procedures and medical diagnosis was also spurned because they were materialistic. Provenance was to be preferred at all times. Hitchens also shows deceit was practiced as a matter of course towards those of other religions who were secretly baptized without their knowledge by sisters who were supposed to be caring for them.

Then there is her fawning over politicians, including some of the worst despots of the latter twentieth century. The Duvalier's of Haiti and Hoxha of her native Albania were amongst the most notoriously repressive regimes, yet as Hitchens documents, this living saint was there giving them her blessing. If she could preach her message against abortion and her present advocacy of unlimited population growth at the same time, so much the better. Not so much reducing the suffering in the world as adding to it would appear to be Mother Teresa's legacy.

There is also the little matter of money and as Hitchens points out, there is rather a lot of it, that was handed over in the name of charity or humanitarian support. Very little of this ever went to benefit the poor for whom it was intended. Rather it disappeared into unaudited bank accounts. One account in the Bronx had over $50 million dollars, yet Mother Teresa was on record as saying she wouldn't accept altruism. She was quite happy to accept money from fraudsters such as Charles Keating, but ignored a letter from the man investigating Keating's massive thefts requesting its return. It might also be asked where the money came from which allowed Teresa to fly around the world often at short notice. As far as I know, the world's commercial airlines have never operated a policy of free seats to the religious.

Hitchens' book does not set out to be a hatchet job but he has not surprisingly received a fair amount of criticism for writing it. However there has never been any convincing explanations put forward by Teresa's apologists to any of Hitchen's criticisms, yet there has been much silence since he former living saint was hoisted to a higher plane following beatification in 2003. For those who are determined to see Mother Teresa as the embodiment of religious holiness nothing will convince them of anything untoward. However, if you do have doubts about the abuse of religious power and the ways in which all manner of lies are justified on the back of adherence to religious dogma, this book will provide a most illuminating window into a highly corrupt world.
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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important reading for any christian thinker, 27 Jun. 2011
As a child I prayed for Mother Theresa and donated money to her without question.
Without malice, but with rational reporting, Hitchens shows how her work is not the saving of the sick, but some bizarre 'worship cult' whereupon the input are the gullible and ill, the process is their suffering and the output is the imaginary concept of humility to god. As an aside, another product of this perversion is many millions of dollars of real cash which cannot today be accounted for.
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93 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A boy's best friend is his Mother..., 25 Sept. 2010
By 
Amazon Customer (South West England) - See all my reviews
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Elizabeth Bennet, upon learning the true natures of Darcy and Wickham, muses: "one has got all the goodness, the other all the appearance of it." It is a moment of clarity. A moment when one of literature's more famous "bubble reputations" is burst asunder and the young miss Bennet sees the bounder Wickham for what he truly is. And if it is satisfying, in fiction, to have a bubble burst and the stench of true character to come wafting off the page, then when the book in question deals with a real person, it is even better than that.

When Diana Spencer was killed the media were so obsessed with her cult of personality (or, perhaps, just her cult if you want to look at it that way) that Agnes Bojaxhiu, when she checked-out a few days later, received the briefest of mentions in the press. I complained to anyone who would listen. That Diana gets fawned over whilst the "blessed Teresa of Calcutta" - an old gal who, if nothing else, knew what a day's work was, gets a miserly couple of inches on page six was thought a disgrace by your humble servant. I did not bother to detail Mother Teresa's good work and use it in my argument that she was more worthy than Diana because the whole planet knows what good work this woman did. She needs no introduction. Her name is enough: Mother Teresa. Oh, yes, she gave her life to caring for the suffering and the poor. That Mother Teresa. Interesting, then, to read the following:

"The rich world likes and wishes to believe that someone, somewhere, is doing something for the Third World. For this reason, it does not inquire too closely into the motives and practices of anyone who fulfils, however vicariously, this mandate."

One can almost smell the coming expulsion of puss from the pricked bubble. Hers, it seems, was a cult of personality that would have embarrassed Stalin.

Mother Teresa told a man riddled with cancer and racked with pain that he was suffering as Christ suffered on the cross, so Jesus must be kissing him. (An offer of cancer drugs or pain-killers was not forthcoming from the wrinkled one, and the terminal patient was left with nothing to ask for other than for Jesus to stop kissing him.) This was the Mother Teresa approach. Suffering is good; pain is good; poverty is good. Her missions across the globe may have been sat on millions of dollars of donation money, but this was never reason enough to pay for a resident doctor or buy carpets. The way to salvation (which was the same for elderly, cancer-stricken men and women and hungry, orphaned babies) was through suffering in all its forms.

Many things are taken for granted, which doesn't mean just that we assume they will always be around or be true, but taken for granted in that we don't bother to question them in the first place. Who questions that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west? That the sun does no such thing doesn't matter - we all know it's "true". We read declarations on our packaged food which tell us the products contain genuine colours, flavours and chemical preservatives; so, if the establishment can swindle us into eating chemicals - and make us think we are doing the exact opposite - why not have a look at the reputation of the most venerated female the planet has known and see if there is any justification for the gushing and fawning? The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in theory and practice, does just that.

The diminutive walnut-with-legs was a fanatic; a religious zealot who would happily advance the misery of those unlucky enough to fall into her clutches in the name of organised superstition. It was never the poor she loved, it was poverty she adored. Of this we can be sure, her words confirm it.

"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."

Is this the mind of a kindly, generous old lady, motivated by, and dedicated to, easing suffering among the wretched of the earth?

I think not.

The enforced misery for the powerless, the money from the worst dictators - Duvalier and Hoxha, to name but two - the private jets and expensive clinics when she was ill, all show that there were two Mother Teresas: The pathetic humble and hunched nun, and the vicious, nasty money-grabber, playing the world stage and offering the touch of one of her talons to a slobbering politician eager for an image boost.

If you are the conservative type, the type whose thinking is restricted by pride and predjudice, who trembles at the idea of challenging a long and firmly held belief lest you may actually learn something, I would suggest you avoid this book.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding work, 26 April 2012
By 
Robert Sanford "Black_Adder12" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This is an incredibly important, if difficult book from a Christopher Hitchens.

We project our own hopes and desires on people such as Mother Theresa, and do not question the image that the media portrays of her. We need to think there is someone in the world doing all the good that we ourselves are failing to do. We want to believe that by supporting this work, we will be absolved, at least in part, for our lack of greater contribution to healing the world's ills. What we forget, however, is that the mission that we wish to see is not necessarily the one that Mother Theresa was undertaking.

It is exceedingly well written, balanced and all his assertions are backed up with verifiable facts. It makes for very uncomfortable reading which will (as you may expect if you have raed any Hitchens before)challenge your world view.

I highly recommend that everyone reads this.
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75 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at Mother Teresa's dubious ethics & motives, 9 Sept. 1997
By A Customer
Bravo to Christopher Hitchens for writing a story that needed to be told. Too bad Mother Teresa's many supporters and apologists will probably never read this book. This book's a must for anyone who's concerned about instant myths-in-the-making.
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70 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting examination of the Mother Teresa story, 21 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
Hitchens, columnist for "The Nation" and "Vanity Fair," offers open-minded readers an iconoclastic take on the Mother Teresa phenomenon. She is judged by her reputation, not by her deeds, and the majority of the media unfortunately puff up her image and never examine her actions.
Particularly memorable is Hitchens' recounting of the "discovery" of Mother Teresa by Malcolm Muggeridge, whose 1970 BBC documentary with the title of something like "Miracle for God" contained Mr. Muggeridge's testimony of what he believed to be a genuine miracle. But on the word of a noted cinematographer (who worked, incidentally, on Kenneth Clarke's series on PBS entitled "Civilisation"), the supposed miracle had more to do with the Eastman Kodak filmstock than it did with any divine intervention. Muggeridge's praise of Teresa at that time created the reputation surrounding the saint of Calcutta which lives to this day. And yet the public thoughtlessly accepts this stuff. The general approval of the Mother Teresa industry is merely a manifestation of an affluent West's wanting to have some way to ease their guilt for their own attitude toward the unfortunate of the world. Hitchens' prose style, as well as his rather unusual (though quite reasonable) examination of his subject matter is a true joy to read. Hitchens' work is very definitely journalism, unfortunately not practiced by most of the hacks who work in the media today.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too short, lacking real bite, 28 Oct. 2012
By 
Logorrhea.ie (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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I'm a huge fan of Hitch, but the series of 5 star reviews are obviously for the man and the memory of him, not for this particular book.

The book itself only makes 100 pages because of the large font used, and the small page size. Its not surprising that it was published AFTER hitch passed on.

The contents are not exactly hard hitting. The dissmissal over the "miracle" has already been offered in God is Not Great. It acknowledges that she accepted donations from dictators and fraudsters. It points out that she preached according to catholic doctrine (blame the church not the woman). Most imnportantly it clarifies that she did very very little to stop the suffering of the poor she was supposedly championing. Thats pretty much it. There is actually little to offer in defense of his thoughts, but thats not surprising as this is not a complete book. Its a magazine article from 1994, reprinted in hardcover.

God is NOT Great, Hitch-22 ...... these are proper 5 star books. This one? No. In my opinion, its just a publisher milking the name of a great man and diluting the work he has done.

If your a fan of Hitch, pick it up. If not, read God is Not Great, then come back when your a fan :)
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The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice
The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hitchens (Paperback - 5 Dec. 2013)
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