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The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  4,695 ratings  ·  410 reviews
"A religious fundamentalist, a political operative, a primitive sermonizer, and an accomplice of worldly secular powers. Her mission has always been of this kind. The irony is that she has never been able to induce anybody to believe her. It is past time that she was duly honored and taken at her word."

Among his many books, perhaps none have sparked more outrage than THE M
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ebook, 1 page
Published April 10th 2012 by Twelve (first published 1995)
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Bryan
Jun 07, 2007 Bryan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Hitchens originally wanted to title this one "Sacred Cow". His publisher wouldn't let him.
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 ...more
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
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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,

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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
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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
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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 ...more
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
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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
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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 ...more
Chuck
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
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James
Curious how quickly the semblance of saintliness affixed to Mother Teresa seems to fade with the author's careful inspection. Hitchens presents a compelling case, with references to first-hand accounts of workers who became disillusioned with the Mother's ostensibly charitable works.
SPOILER ALERT NOW!
In a rational and secular age it is important that polemicists such as Hitchens go to the trouble of highlighting the deficiencies excused, or simply unseen, which taint the endeavours of faithful p
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G. Branden
The fourth or fifth of his books that I have read, I find Hitchens's writing to be consistently acerbic, honed, cultured, and funny. I don't think I've ever picked up a Hitchens title without broadening my cultural perspective a bit, and without learning a new word or two, as often as not some archaic Anglo-Saxonism--case in point, "pelf", meaning "money", from the same root as "pilfer".

As far as the subject of Hitchens's scrutiny goes, unlike his other two book-length polemics--on Henry Kissing
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John
The Missionary Position does a great service in alleviating much of the hype surrounding Mother Teresa. Personally, I think she was probably a very good woman, but it's apparent that her methods in helping the poor were often misguided, to say the least. I would agree with Hitchens that, ultimately, she might have even ended up doing more harm than good. However, I think he goes too far in suggesting that Mother Teresa was motivated by power and greed. Hitchens seems to be just a little too comf ...more
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
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Anna
Nov 29, 2008 Anna rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone willing to take a good, hard look at one of our modern day "saints."
I really want to like Christopher Hitchens, but he kind of gives me the creeps. I had more respect for him when I first glanced at this book on my father's bookshelf (a gift from my step-father) as a teenager, before I'd had to see his rather bloated, snide personage one too many times as a guest pundit on CNN. Now, I find myself not trusting him as much as I would like to, because he makes some good points.

Mother Theresa is not above criticism, and I see in this book much foreshadowing of the t
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Zachary
When someone mentions the name of Mother Teresa, it will often inspire vague characterizations of helping the poor, as being the epitome of selflessness. If anyone is pressed to elaborate on what it actually was that mother Teresa actually did, or why it was that she has been so well enshrined in the annals of history, most will be hard pressed to provide any details and prior to reading this book, I was much the same. Hitchens makes a compelling argument for just about everything one would intu ...more
Loy Machedo

I happen to read 'The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hitchens. But instead of putting up a Book Review - I decided to put this up as an article. Also, this will be the first ever book review I will be using someone elses' Review - Carlos Laflauta’s Review actually – which I think is brilliant. And as a bonus, give you the links to watch the documentary of Hell’s Angels -

(Carlos Laflauta’s Profile on Amazon) http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/...

http://
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Ron
"Mother Teresa in theory and practice." As Hitchens points out, his aim in this little jewel is to convince people to judge her by her actions and not her reputation. And in grand Hitchens style, he proceeds to show us, through facts and witnesses willing to be named and go on the record, a woman who uses her fame to hob-nob with the evil and infamous (Charles Keating, Duvalier, Mariam of Ethiopia, Hoxha of Albania and on and on and on.) A woman who believes that people must suffer, refusing to ...more
Marissa Morrison
In this brief but powerful book, Hitchens lays out his case against Mother Teresa. With righteous--and seemingly rightful--indignation, he notes that she purposefully didn't take good care of the poor and sick. She valued their suffering and felt that it was in service to Jesus. In spite of an enormous cache of donations to her missionary facilities, very little was spent on tools of hygiene, medical remedies, and--most appallingly--analgesics. As if all this weren't bad enough, after letting pe ...more
Ben Benson
I kept making some excuses of Mother Teresa while reading this book, questioning whether she really deserved this attack or not. Then, Mr. Hitchen's wrote that he approached the topic by judging her based on her actions and words and letting that define how he viewed her rather than basing his view on the myth around her and adjusting her words and actions to the myth and I realize I was doing the later of the two. I was letting the societal notion/image of her hold more weight than her words an ...more
Chris
Almost twenty years have elapsed since this book's publication. In the interim, the subject, author, and relevant events have all passed on, so it no longer reads as hard-hitting contemporary political journalism as was intended when it was released. More to the point, the evil people and horrible events in the book have been forgotten, such as Jean-Claude Duvalier, Charles Keating, and Bhopal. And who really cares any more about Mother Teresa herself? She's gone, thankfully, and that's quite a ...more
Stephen Olley
Crikey. The lady ain't no saint.
Likely hundreds of millions of dollars worth of donations left sitting in bank accounts, the Sisters of the order forbidden from spending it on the poor in their care. Children dying of cancer denied any painkillers stronger than aspirin in her flagship hospice (not for lack of funds, they had plenty of money if they were only permitted to spend it). The instructions to perform secret baptisms on dying Muslims and Hindus without consent (which has got to be offens
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Dmitri
Apr 09, 2008 Dmitri rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone but the staunchest Catholics.
Shelves: polemics
This book, written before Hitchens drank the Cool-Aid and re-discovered himself as a conservative---or perhaps discovered that conservatives pay larger speaking honorariums---is the only objective treatment I have seen of the subject. "Mother Teresa" has become a synonym in modern culture, however, after reading this book I would challenge any open-minded reader to justify that synonym's current meaning.
Marcus
Hitchens' criticism of Mother Teresa was bound to be controversial, and bound to be largely ignored. That's a shame, as it does not indict every aspect of the iconic nun's life and character - it isn't really a character assassination. It is, rather, an act of iconoclasm, a tearing down of the idol that has been made of this woman over the past several decades. Mother Teresa was a flawed individual, a woman with imperfect ambitions and at times a perverse understanding of the stance we ought to ...more
Ranjeev Dubey
A textbook example of how a polemic should be written. Anyone seeking to understand the polemic as a literary genre would like to read this one as a very good example.

That said, the work has its limitations for two very good reasons: first because Mother Teresa is criticised as much for the belief system she operates under as anything specific she did out of subjectivity, and second, because the facts on which the argument is based are thin on the ground. How far do you take the argument: I thin
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Tom
Long before the celebrated "Saint of Calcutta" unwillingly outed herself as an unbeliever with the posthumous publication of her private writings, Christopher Hitchens was on Mother Teresa's mala fide ass with this succinct dissection of some of the old lady's more objectionable machinations.

So, just how worthy was she of her postmortem beatification? I can think of no more befitting a union. After all, if you want a miracle, why prescribe medicine when you can administer a prayer? Why build a h
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Prooost Davis
A quote from the book:

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 protest 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 hers
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Lauren
Aug 06, 2014 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with an open mind and a curiosity about the politics of religion
As much as I love Hitch, I went into reading this book with skepticism. How can ANYONE find anything wrong with such a giving and innocent soul as Mother Teresa? After reading it, however, I have once again been reminded that not everything is as it seems, especially concerning the treacherous world of religion. Hitch never fails to disappoint, and in his brutally honest yet tactful and witty way, he has managed to tear the "veil," as it were, off of possibly the world's best con artist. Though ...more
Kathleen
A deservedly scathing condemnation of a supposed saint
She truly used religion as an opiate of the masses when what they needed was morphine.
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Christopher Eric Hitchens (April 13, 1949 – December 15, 2011) was an English-born American author, journalist and literary critic. He was a contributor to Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, World Affairs, The Nation, Slate, Free Inquiry and a variety of other media outlets. Hitchens was also a political observer, whose best-selling books — the most famous being God Is Not Great — made him a staple of tal ...more
More about Christopher Hitchens...
God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever Mortality Hitch-22: A Memoir Arguably: Selected Essays

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“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 or practices of anyone who fulfills, however vicariously, this mandate.” 21 likes
“It is often said, inside the Church and out of it, that there is something grotesque about lectures on the sexual life when delivered by those who have shunned it. Given the way that the Church forbids women to preach, this point is usually made about men. But 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.” 13 likes
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