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The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  9,324 ratings  ·  776 reviews
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
Paperback, 1st Edition, 98 pages
Published April 17th 1997 by Verso (first published October 17th 1995)
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Dave Clarke nothing, that's kinda of the point, in her twisted ideology, pain and suffering brought you closer to her imaginary friend in the sky ... …morenothing, that's kinda of the point, in her twisted ideology, pain and suffering brought you closer to her imaginary friend in the sky ... (less)

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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
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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: ...more
Dec 14, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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
Mikey B.
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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
Judith E
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, audible
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
 photo savetheplanet_zps1b4b5e50.jpg (view spoiler)

04:09:2016: The day she was made a saint, I revisited Hell's Angel["br"]>["br"]>
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
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
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
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
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
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,

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
Michael Perkins
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Sam Quixote
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Caroline by: Mikey B
Notes: (view spoiler) ...more
Kurt Pankau
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Brendan Monroe
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Peycho Kanev
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
HOLY COW! (literally)
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing

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.

"I think it was Macaulay who said that the Roman Catholic Church deserved great
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more

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
Leigh Jackson
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: godlessness, bio, reviewed
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
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
A Man Called Ove
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Elsa Rajan Pradhananga
Christopher Hitchens’ gripping exposé of the saint of the gutters who apparently did nothing much to change the circumstances of those she took under her care to garner the fame she did. As apolitical as she claimed herself to be, she was no better than a white savior under spotlight acting on behalf of the Catholic Church and preaching about its stands at every possible opportunity. The book sheds light on how Mother Theresa denied dying destitutes the medical attention she could have given the ...more
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Christopher Eric Hitchens 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 talk shows and lecture circuits. He was ...more

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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.” 33 likes
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