By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
The Missionary Position
By Christopher Hitchens (Allen & Unwin, $19.99, softcover, 105 pages)
It appears that nothing is sacred anymore and so (could it be?), in the interests of accountability, Christopher Hitchens asks what makes Mother Teresa so divine.
In the first instance, the book’s title will produce a chuckle, but it doesn’t take long before you realise that closely tracking its attitude is the subhead: ‘Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice’.
Nobel Peace prize recipient, who was born Agnes Bojaxhiu, the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta maintained that earthly rewards were important only if they helped her help the world’s needy.
Hitchens rejects the premise that Mother Teresa somehow represented the best of humanity and highlights that she was “overrated because of the adulation from the public and the press.
The foreword by Thomas Mallon sheds further light in this way:
“Far from being some cackle of defilement, or even just a bit of bad-boy blasphemy, The Missionary Position is, in fact, a modest, rational inquiry, a calm lifting of the veil that drapes its sacred subject”.
The author examines his subject’s public pronouncements, her finances, projects and associates and states “… it remains less a polemic than an investigation rooted in personal passion”.
Hitchens (1949-2011), who has also written excoriating critiques of Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger and Diana, Princess of Wales, covers a lot of ground to highlight Mother Teresa’s imperfections.
Included is her alleged negligence of the ill under her care and her association with wealthy and ‘unethical’ individuals including Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and his wife Michèle and enigmatic quasi-religious figure John-Roger.
This ‘attack’ is not necessarily malicious, but the arguments delivered by Hitchens are rational with controlled analytical inquiry.
“All claims by public persons to be apolitical deserve critical scrutiny … And all claims made by those who affect a merely spiritual influence deserve a doubly critical scrutiny.”
Edition 406, 22 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.