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60 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The superior of all mothers is brought down., 21 July 2007
This review is from: The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (Paperback)
This book is a tremendous indictment of one of the most over praised women in the last hundred years. Referring to various acts of cynicism and callousness Hitchens wages a concrete but brief attack on her reputation; her support for the notorious Duvalier Family, her support for the crook Charles Keating who rightfully should have the title of the American Maxwell. But the biggest and most shocking judgement passed on her holiness is her appalling treatment of the people whom she was lauded for supposedly serving. While many may claim in her support that she fleeced the bad to aid the good there is no evidence that she was a 20th century Robin Hood. She may have been good at taking from the rich but she never quite managed to get around to giving it to the poor.
There are two key points here, which are at the centre of this book. One, what actually was her deeds and there effects? Also more importantly the fact that any kind of demand for proof of her greatness has never been demanded before this book. In the first area he unearths that she did not in fact direct her fundraising cause towards helping the poor but actually channelled it into her cause of catholic fundamentalism. Her famous Calcutta home for the dying was literally that. This was a theological death camp where people under the order of Mother Theresa were not even allowed to sympathise with those for whom they were meant to care. There never was more poignant evidence of her cynicism than the pictures of this place; the money she had collected instead of being deployed to buy medicine or pay for better conditions was used to militarise thousands of nuns of her order. It is very convincingly proved here that because of her actions thousands perhaps even millions of people suffered and died because of what she did and poverty has been made more prevalent not less so because of her actions.
But more fundamental to this book is the analysis of the cultural attitude towards her. Christopher Hitchens does a fine job of showing how the liberal establishment will fall down at the feet of any person based on the thinnest of Chinese whispers. For in the end this book ironically is not about Mother Theresa or even religion, it is about the cowardliness of the secular who applaud the so-called good works of people like Mrs. T for cynical and credulous reasons. Here's a book that asks us whenever someone has disproportional amounts of acclaim heaped upon them to ask why? That's a start.
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