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A Life Worthy of Art
on June 29, 2004
A life such as Mother Teresa's is deserving of an insightful vibrant and skillfully told biography. I found Kathryn Spink's "Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Biography" left wanting. It did not live up to the magnitude of Mother Teresa's life of service and giving throughout the world but especially in India's Calcutta in the formation and running of the Sisters of Charity.
Spink's "Mother Teresa," reads, at times, like a laundry list of events with no coherent effort made to illuminate the person behind the events. The best biographies I have found don't rely so much on the cold hard history to build a story around, but rather insight as to who the person is and how they interacted with the world. I think of skillfully told biographies in which I walked away from the reading of them with insight, motivation, and the feeling that I knew the subject and was engaged in their life. Benson's "John Steinbeck: Writer," and Morris "Theodore Rex," come to mind as examples. Spink's "Mother Teresa," does not do the same.
I credit the writer for tackling some tough issues in the last two chapters. She addresses criticisms of Mother Teresa and the Sister's of Charity co-workers and does so without sidestepping difficult points of contention. Some social work critics fault the work of Mother Teresa for not wielding her influence to address the root causes of poverty and only tackling the end-product of suffering in a simplistic manner. In addition, Mother Teresa was loyal to the Catholic Church and stood staunch in support of difficult traditional stances espoused by that organization to include pro-life in all cases. Spink's does a good job of pitting Mother Teresa's perspective of service and belief to explain why she did what she did and why she believed as she did. However, this isn't until the last two chapters of the book and this illuminating approach could have been begun on page 1.
All in all, I would only recommend this book if you are attempting to delve deeply into the life and times of Mother Teresa and have read other books on that subject. If you want a good read and are just scratching the surface finding out what Mother Teresa's life was all about, look elsewhere dear reader.