Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen



There would be no Mother Teresa without Malcolm Muggeridge. During his long life, Muggeridge (1903-1990) was a journalist (and author) who was in the unique position of having major access to both the printed media and television, in Britain as well as in the United States. It was Muggeridge who discovered Teresa and it was owing to Muggeridge's incessant efforts that Mother Teresa was built up in those early years; very soon of course, others took up his good work. It is true that Mother Teresa will be remembered long after Malcolm Muggeridge will be forgotten, but it was Muggeridge who brought his own clout (and initially, that of the BBC) to create the world-wide phenomenon that we have today. Five weeks after Mother Teresa died, Catholic Times 1made an unstinted acknowledgement of Muggeridge's role in making her known: '[But for Muggeridge] perhaps even now no one would have heard of her. Maybe she would have been like the vast majority of giving souls whose works are only known to "clients" and to God.'

One would never comprehend the Teresa phenomenon without some knowledge of Malcolm Muggeridge. It is essential to get to know Muggeridge the man, both private and public, in order to appreciate why he was driven to find somebody like Teresa, why he was driven to worship her, and why and how the admiration became mutual.

It is widely believed in the world today that Malcolm Muggeridge was a 'furious atheist and socialist' who suddenly and radically changed on coming in contact with Mother Teresa. This obviously makes a good tale, but would make Muggeridge turn in his grave. Malcolm Muggeridge was never an atheist. He had been a believer, even in his defiant youth. When he was only 19, he enrolled at the Oratory of the Good Shepherd at Cambridge, an association of unmarried Anglican priests and lay people. He was then seriously considering entering the priesthood, and even went on a retreat with a monk to a monastery. Although a practising Anglican at the time, he wrote to his friend, 'The Catholic faith is, I believe, the right faith in essentials but it must grow up inside one, evolve through suffering to have value.'2

He changed his mind about the priesthood when the opportunity to go to India came along - he accepted the offer to teach English at the Union Christian College in southern India. This was Muggeridge's first sojourn in India (1924 - 27). He (rightly) found the business of teaching Shakespeare surrounded by paddy fields ludicrous, and returned disillusioned with the Empire.

There is a kernel of truth in the general belief that Muggeridge was a firebrand socialist - a socialist he was (albeit one with doubts) until he went to the Soviet Union in 1929, which, incidentally, was the year that Mother Teresa arrived in Calcutta. Deeply affected by the terror of Stalin's Russia, Muggeridge wrote a novel on his return, Winter in Moscow (published 1924), about privations and oppression in the Soviet Union. The novel is bristling with anti-Semitism, although Jews happened to be some of the worst affected under Stalin's regime. Even before he wrote Winter in Moscow, Muggeridge had maintained that the Soviet propaganda machinery was oiled by Jews, as evidenced in this letter he wrote home: 'The whole [Soviet Union] arranged like a shop window in the best manner of Semitic salesmanship.' 3 In 1983, a year after he had converted to Catholicism, Muggeridge tried to republish Winter in Moscow. With his unique sense of values, he asked a Jewish Russian historian, Professor Leonard Schapiro, to write an introduction to the new edition. Professor Schapiro politely declined, saying:

But the overall impression is inevitably, if unwittingly, created by the book that Communism was imposed on Russia by Jews thirsting for vengeance for the wrongs suffered under the old regime...There is one remark on page 234 when a particularly vile pronouncement of a Jewess has the effect that 'Wraithby [Muggeridge's alter ego in the novel] understood pogroms' which, forgive me, is in particularly bad taste... 4

1 Catholic Times, London, 12 October 1997
2 Gregory Wolfe, Malcolm Muggeridge: A Biography (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1995), p. 43.
3 Richard Ingrams, Muggeridge: The Biography (London: HarperCollins, 1995), p. 65.

Professor Schapiro, despite being inflicted the indignity to be asked to write an introduction to such a book, remained deferential to Muggeridge, because the latter had by now assumed a saintly air; he was also widely known to be the close buddy of the 'saint of Calcutta'. The world had already come to accept that anybody who was a special friend of Mother Teresa's must be a very special person.

From his early life, Muggeridge would often refer to Jewish women as 'that Jewess' or 'a vulgar Jewess'. Three years before he died, he gave an interview to The Guardian, where he talked about the decline in standards of the Private Eye magazine, 'under its new Jewish editor Ian Hislop.' He then wrote a letter of apology, addressed to 'Leon Hislop'. Muggeridge blamed much of the world's woes on Jews, and believed that they got what they deserved. A little more than five years after the end of the second world war, he wrote in his diary:

They [the Jews] never quite make terms with life - which also is liable to make them highly destructive - two great destroyers of Christian civilisation Marx and Freud, the one replacing the gospel of love by the gospel of hate, and the other undermining the essential concept of human responsibility;

always and irretrievably strangers in a strange land - the terrible image of the Wandering Jew, Ahaseurus, always moving on, never assimilated, bringing woe with him. In a manner therefore, Hitler's mania was justified - he justified it5.

Muggeridge came to Calcutta in September 1934, as the deputy editor of The Statesman. He was by now fairly well known as a journalist in Britain, having been a leader writer for the Manchester Guardian. His decision to come to Calcutta was prompted by financial problems, which he hoped to resolve with the salary of 1500 a year. Back then, Westerners, especially the British, came to Calcutta primarily for the pursuit of wealth - quite the reverse of the post-Teresa culture of coming here to succour God's poor. Calcutta, then, was a bit like the Middle East with style. Muggeridge was appointed the deputy editor of The Statesman, the city's (and the country's) major English language newspaper, and the subcontinent's main apologist for the Raj. The newspaper exists to this day, and pursues a more-or-less conservative agenda. Although currently entirely Indian owned and managed, it remains quaintly genteel, often reminding its readers (and itself) of having seen better days during the Raj. Following Muggeridge's discovery of Teresa in 1969, it has always championed her cause. Although during Muggeridge's brief tenure at the newspaper, the two never met, as Sister Teresa was then an unknown 25 year old nun within the cloisters of the city's Loreto convent. During the 1970s, when Mother Teresa was well known in the West, but hardly an entity in Calcutta and India, The Statesman did its best to raise her profile in the city and the country. The main instrument in this endeavour at the time was the Calcutta born Eurasian Desmond Doig, one of Mother Teresa's biggest devotees, who was on the editorial staff of The Statesman. The late Mr Doig will be best remembered in India as the editor of the now extinct Junior Statesman, the cool and trendy young people's magazine of the 1960s and 70s. Tales of Mother Teresa occasionally appeared in the pages of JS, enlightening westernised Indian youth about the selfless Catholic nun.

Muggeridge's eighteen months in Calcutta was probably the unhappiest period of his life. He had left his wife Kitty back in England with a one month old baby (and two older children), but almost immediately upon his arrival in Calcutta, he began an affair with an Indian woman named Khurshed, the wife of a rich businessman. This was in a way history repeating itself - when Kitty was pregnant with their first son, and recovering from a bout of typhus, Muggeridge had found himself on his own in Russia, and had had an affair with a Russian woman married to an English colleague of his. A few months into his stay in Calcutta, Kitty arrived from England; almost the first thing he did on her arrival was to bring her to see Khurshed and told her what was going on. Ironically however, it was Kitty who lobbed the real bombshell, telling her husband that she was expecting the child of one Michal Vyvyan (1907-1992), a Foreign Office diplomat. A tug of war now ensued between Kitty and Malcolm about abortion, and eventually both agreed that this would be the best course of action, although Muggeridge was a moderately devout Christian at the time, and disapproved of abortion in others. While Kitty was in Calcutta, he took her to the house of the poet and mystic Rabindranath Tagore, where they found 'a German Jew dressed as a Buddhist monk, a German Jewess who had been with Gandhi, spinning while she waited for the old fool [Tagore] to begin.' Muggeridge asked Tagore to comment on celibacy: it is not known what the poet said.

4 Ingrams, Muggeridge, p. 231. 5 John Bright-Holmes (ed.), Like It Was: The Diaries of Malcolm Muggeridge (London: Collins, 1981), p. 426 (entry dated 18 January 1951). 6 Ingrams, Muggeridge, pp. 87-88.

Kitty returned to England but kept her baby, Charles, who was raised as one of the family. Charles Muggeridge tragically died in a skiing accident at the age of twenty. 'Malcolm, however, who had always regarded Charles as a cuckoo in the nest, would seem to have been almost unmoved [at the death].' He did not attend the funeral, a staunchly devout Christian though he had become by this time in his life.

In the summer of 1935, Muggeridge repaired from Calcutta to the northern Indian hill station of Simla. Soon thereafter he began another affair with the precociously talented young painter and sculptor Amrita Sher-Gil, whose parents were a Sikh, and, according to Muggeridge, an 'extremely vulgar Hungarian Jewess'8. Although he found Amrita 'delightful' in more ways than one, he was also found it distasteful that 'she's had an abortion - half a baby, she put it. No more.' 9 He expounded, 'she has a certain genius ... but no values, she belongs to that dead world of moral distintegration, disorderly hands and tangled hair, swollen, seen often as picturesqueness, in which both my feet are planted, but that, with my head outside, I hate.'10 But this did not stop him from carrying on with the liaison, presumably because he continued with his 'head outside'. At the same time that he continued to find Amrita 'delightful' in the evenings, he was writing in his diaries during the day, that he found her 'expressing second-rate ideas with first-rate bitterness, and second-rate aspirations with fifth-rate sentimentality', and also 'entirely egocentric, coarse, petulantly spoilt, almost to the point of physical nausea.'11 This was vintage Muggeridge.

A few years later, on hearing of Amrita's death, he had this to say, 'I heard that she's died rather mysteriously in 1941, when she was only 27. Later I heard her mother had taken her own life. Neither death surprised me.'12 Maybe, to Muggeridge's pious mind, the union between him and Amrita had never happened, as he had 'explained to Amrita how she was really a virgin, because she'd never experienced the spiritual equivalent of a copulation...'13

Muggeridge left Calcutta in September 1935, his days there having been 'the unhappiest I have ever lived ... They are so unhappy that I can't quite believe in them.'14 Calcutta, to Muggeridge, always had an unfavourable connotation - 'I'm so sick of Calcutta and India and politics and journalism and talk and love and hate.'15 He associated Calcutta with his personal unhappiness, especially with the shock of finding out that his wife was carrying somebody else's child. But Muggeridge also disliked Calcutta for its liberal humanism, its anarchic attitude, the violence in its independence movement. He despised the city's independent arrogant upper middle class women; being a white Sahib he could criticise them to their faces - 'I deride Mrs Singh for 19th century feminism. Her breasts pulsate with fervour for birth control and co-education.'16 But above all, he hated Calcutta for its Marxism, which had become popular with the city's intelligentsia by this time. During his previous stay in southern India ten years back, he had patronised the students of Union Christian College, many of whom were themselves Christians, but in Calcutta, he found himself being patronised by sophisticated Bengali intellectuals.

7 Ingrams, Muggeridge, p. 186.
8 Like It Was: The Diaries of Malcolm Muggeridge, p. 130 (entry dated 6 June 1935).
9 Like It Was, p. 130 (entry dated 1 June 1935).
10 Like It Was, p. 133 (entry dated 10 June 1935).
11 Like It Was, p. 131 (entry dated 6 June 1935).
12 Like It Was, p. 135.
13 Like It Was, p. 133 (entry dated 10 June 1935).
14It Was, p. 115 (entry dated 10 March 1935).

In spite of himself however, Muggeridge developed more than a sneaking respect for the city's bourgeois literary tradition. Among the three (male) friends he made there was a fine young poet called Sudhin Datta . He summarised a meal and discussion he once had in Datta's house, thus: 'I shall, however, never forget the spacious house, so quiet, dignified, so made for Calcutta and all that it stands for.'17

After he made his film Something Beautiful for God in 1969, Muggeridge turned increasingly against Calcutta, as he realised that his saintly friend (she was seven years younger than him) was less than a celebrity in her adopted city, and that the people there (even the abject poor) had no interest in Christianity. In the biography of Muggeridge that was published in 1980, Calcutta of the 1930s is described thus:

'Above the city, like a cloud, hung the stench of death in all the world uniquely pungent in Calcutta, where street sweepers dragged the night's corpses to the side of the road, there to be stacked up like packing crates and carted off.'18 The (Canadian) biographer Ian Hunter had never been to Calcutta, but wrote the book with Muggeridge's co-operation. But if he had read Muggeridge's own diaries of his time in Calcutta during 1934-35, he would have found virtually no mention of poverty or death. Apart from describing the author's tortured soul as he conducts his affairs with women, the diaries also show him as having a jolly time at the races, at parties or simply sauntering around Calcutta in his friend Goswami's Rolls Royce.

On his return to London, Muggeridge worked at the Evening Standard until the outbreak of the Second World War. During much of the war, he was an MI6 agent in far away places such as Mozambique - where, needless to say, he carried on womanising, while suffering, in his usual way, from profound angst. After the war, he joined The Daily Telegraph where he eventually rose to be deputy editor. He left The Daily Telegraph to edit Punch, thereby, to his regret, missing the editorship of The Sunday Times.

During the 1950s and 60s, Muggeridge carried on the most celebrated of his affairs - with Lady Pamela Berry, wife of The Daily Telegraph's editor-in-chief, and daughter of Lord Birkenhead, one time Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for India. Kitty Muggeridge remained aware of what was going on. 'Early in their affair, she [Lady Berry] became pregnant (not surprising, in view of Malcolm's distaste for all forms of birth control).' We are told that Pamela lost the baby 'through miscarriage.' 19

All through this period, Muggeridge's Christian piety was increasing at an exponential rate. Also proportionally exploding was his irrational hatred for anything or anybody that was not substantially to the right of centre, whether politically or sociologically. Even in the 1940s, he was outright vulgar about professed Communists, saying that he would 'like to roast them in a slow oven.' 20Tolerance, understanding and relativism in religion became anathema to him more and more; when merely 47, he spouted, 'Liberalism is the greatest of all destructive forces, for its total moral vacuity inevitably leads to terrorist government.' 21Secular liberal values and their proponents he loathed with a passion. In 1953, the year he embarked on his affair with Lady Berry, he said, 'the true destroyer of Christendom isn't Stalin or Hitler or even the Dean of Canterbury [the "red" Dean] and his like, but Liberalism.'22

15 Like It Was, p. 135 (entry dated 6 March 1935).
16 Like It Was, p. 109 (entry dated 30 December 1934).
17 Like It Was, p. 103 (entry dated 10 December 1934).
18 Ian Hunter, Malcolm Muggeridge: A Life (London: Collins, 1980), p. 100.
19 Ingrams, Muggeridge, p. 173.

During his lifetime, Muggeridge maintained an almost chummy relationship with Sidney and Beatrice Webb - subsequently Lord and Lady Passfield - selfless souls who worked ceaselessly all their lives to create a better society for their fellow human beings. They also founded the London School of Economics. 'Auntie Bo' was Kitty Muggeridge's aunt and used to be quite fond of Malcolm, and helped him in various ways, including financial. But after their deaths, Muggeridge publicly sprayed their memories with exceptional venom; his deeply Christian soul could not be called upon to forgive the deceased generous relatives for what he perceived as misdemeanours. Their crime? - They were founder members of the Fabian society, and had espoused a large number of causes for the working class; they were also atheists.

Muggeridge spent the better part of 1956 in organising a disruption campaign against the prospective visit to Britain by the pair of Soviet dignitaries, Marshall Bulganin and General Secretary Krushchev. Apart from his usual paranoia about the Soviets, he called it a battle between 'Christianity and Materialism'. His operation was funded largely by CIA money through the Polish Catholic organisation, Congress for Cultural Freedom. As it happened, Bulganin and Kruschev had visited Calcutta earlier in the same year, and the crowd they had drawn there in the city's Brigade Parade Ground was the largest by any visiting dignitary in any country, surpassed only recently (in 1995) during Pope John Paul II's visit to the Philippines. Muggeridge had not been amused by the reception given by Calcutta (by now deeply enamoured with socialism) to the Soviet pair.

The way Mother Teresa was brought to the notice of Muggeridge (and thereby the world) was thus: one day, in March 1968, he was rung at home in Robertsbridge in Surrey by Oliver Hunkin, the head of BBC television's religious affairs programme. Mr Hunkin asked him if he would be prepared to interview, for the BBC's Meeting Point series (a religious slot), an 'Indian nun' called Mother Teresa, who was then visiting London. It is unknown how Hunkin had heard of Mother Teresa, but of course, it was part of his job to keep abreast of various comings and goings in the city's religious community. Muggeridge was delighted with the offer, as, according to his biographer, 'from this time - the mid-Sixties - religion was to be Malcolm's theme to the exclusion of almost everything else.' The Pamela Berry affair was now over, although, only a few years back, he had brazenly toured the United States with Lady Berry in accompaniment, with his wife's knowledge.

When Hunkin rang Muggeridge in March 1968, the latter had just returned from a religious lecture and television tour of the United States. Muggeridge was by now a darling of the religious right of the United States. His intolerance and fanaticism were alienating him more and more from the British establishment, although British television producers liked him for his ability to provoke and instigate and thereby increase ratings. Only a few months back (in December 1967) he had provoked an interesting debate on television by attacking (from a Christian point of view), Dr Christiaan Barnard, the heart transplant pioneer.

If Muggeridge had lengthened his spring 1968 American tour only by a couple of weeks (as he sometimes had done on other occasions), Mother Teresa could well have remained an unknown nun for ever. He had, by now become so fanatical that many people in Britain, who had previously tolerated him as an endearing eccentric, were becoming a bit tired of him pronouncing ceaselessly about Christ, and against 'lechery' (a favourite Muggeridge word). Anthony Powell called him a 'hot-gospelling fanatic', and Bernard Levin said his was 'a deeply disturbed psyche' that was 'begging the world to stop trying to inflame his withered desires, lest the attempt prove successful!' 24

The beginning of 1968 was also a time when Muggeridge was nursing his wounds from the humiliation he had suffered at the hand of the students of Edinburgh University. The previous year he had been elected the Rector of the university, and in his opening speech he started off with, 'When birth control pills are handed out with free orange juice...' etc. He tried to ban the prescription of oral contraceptive pills by the university's health board, and a major row erupted between him and the students' union. He refused to back down, declaring, in his usual vein, 'It's Christ or nothing.' 'Nothing', it seems, won in the end, and he was forced to resign. However, when it came to pronouncing Anglo-Christian supremacy, 'birth control appliances' and promiscuity were yardsticks of 'civilisation', according to the same Muggeridge: when he wrote about Mother Teresa's work with orphans in Calcutta only four years after he had resigned his rectorship, he said:

Middle-class Indian girls and youths, emulating the civilised West, are beginning to be promiscuous, and, not having yet advanced to the point of civilisation when birth control appliances and abortions are easily available, are liable to produce unwanted children...26

This was a rather strange comment, as Muggeridge never approved of promiscuity and birth control, even in the 'civilised' races - except, of course, for himself - but it does betray his entrenched white supremacist view of life.

For a good few years before 1968, Muggeridge the person, but more importantly, Muggeridge the television presenter, was looking for a Christian person who would be ideal for his tastes - who would be steeped in the most orthodox brand of Christianity accepting the gospel as not only the literal but the only truth; who would have an unqualified and uncompromising view on abortion and contraception; and also, more significantly, who would be 'simple', i.e. not intellectual, who would put faith above thought or education. In Mother Teresa, he found all these qualities, plus others, which endeared him even more to the nun. The concept of the 'simpleton saint' appeals to a particular brand of Christians, and Muggeridge was delighted that he found that Mother Teresa was 'not particularly clever', and he lucidly explained his viewpoint thus:

Imagine Bernard Shaw and a mental defective on a raft that will only hold one of them. In worldly terms, the obvious course of action would be for Shaw to pitch the mental defective into the sea, and save himself to write more plays for the edification of mankind. Christianly speaking, jumping off and leaving the mental defective in possession of the raft would give an added glory to the human life itself of greater worth than all the plays than ever have been, or will be, written.27

Muggeridge's compassion for the meek and weak did not however, extend to those that he perceived to be liberals - when it was revealed in a biography that the former US President Franklin D Roosevelt had had an affair with his secretary, Muggeridge remarked, 'The good Lord did give us a clue, he did. ...in view of Roosevelt's paralytic condition, her name Missy LeHand, yes. The good Lord gave us a clue.'28

Only the year before Muggeridge met Mother Teresa, his search to find simple and robust Christians had taken him to the Santa Maria Abbey at Nunraw in Scotland, where he had spent three weeks living with the Cisternian monks before he made BBC television programme. In the end he did not find the monks simple (i.e., uneducated and coarse) enough for his tastes: 'he found the monks' questions sharp and to the point.'29 The previous year, in 1966, he interviewed his friend, Cardinal Heenan, again for BBC television, while the two strolled in the Vatican Gardens.

When Oliver Hunkin asked Muggeridge to interview 'the Indian nun from Calcutta' he was well aware of Muggeridge's additional qualification in this matter - that he had lived and worked in Calcutta for a whole year, albeit more than thirty years back! He was therefore, to Western eyes, a Calcutta expert, although according to Muggeridge himself, 'though I was nominally living in Calcutta, I was not really living there at all. It was extraordinary how, as a Sahib in India, this could be done.'30

24 Gregory Wolfe, Malcolm Muggeridge, p. 332. 25 Wolfe, Malcolm Muggeridge, p. 353.

Muggeridge and Mother Teresa first met at the Holy Child Convent in London's Cavendish Square, for what was to be Mother Teresa's first appearance before a television camera. It was in March 1968. It is said that Mother Teresa was late for the interview, and Muggeridge got impatient, and when she finally arrived, he whisked her off quickly saying, 'Come along, Mother Teresa.' The seasoned television presenter and man of the world adopted an avuncular attitude towards this shy and wispy nun, who was also much younger. Teresa was nervous at the interview, during the course of which Muggeridge discovered that Mother Teresa was in fact Albanian, not Indian - this pleased him no end, as he had been a champion of Catholicism in eastern Europe, and was connected with underground Catholic groups that worked behind the iron curtain, financed with large chunks of money laundered by the CIA and the Vatican. It also fulfilled his other criterion of a European (albeit just) doing charity amidst the dark races.

The interview left Muggeridge well short of overwhelmed - he was not aware as yet of Mother Teresa's special brand of Catholicism. Mother Teresa did not speak about her stance on abortion and contraception. (It was the only occasion in which she appeared on television outside India, but did not rant about the evils of abortion). That first interview that Mother Teresa gave I find very remarkable indeed. She gave a factual account of her work, especially with abandoned orphans - before abortion had been legalised in India, babies were often left at the doorsteps of orphanages, hospitals and police stations. Mother Teresa talked about it.

During the interview, the more Mother Teresa wanted to talk about her work, the more Muggeridge tried to quiz her about why she was not doing more to spread Christianity. It was as if he was chiding her for letting the side down:

Mother Teresa, will you explain one thing for me? The inspiration for your work comes from the Mass, from your Catholic devotions, from your religious life. Now then, when you have people helping, don't you feel that you must put them in the way of having this same help?

Mother Teresa replied, 'Everyone, even the Hindus and the Mohamedans, has some faith in their own religion, and that can help them do the works of love.' Muggeridge was not at all satisfied. He asked, as if in mild disgust, 'Is that enough?' What was notable in the interview was Mother's forthright, no-nonsense approach, the absence of tear jerkers and sound bites, and the complete absence of 'I pick up people from the streets', which fictitious claim became compulsory in later interviews. There was also no mention of 'when we touch the poor, we touch the body of Jesus', which sentiment was repeatedly invoked later.

The interview was broadcast by BBC television in May 1968 - the public liked it. People sent in a lot of money (9,000), without being asked to. It is not surprising that it touched the masses as Mother Teresa spoke from the heart. It was impossible not to be impressed by this unknown nun, who was patently shy and nervous, and who was doing her best in a faraway land with minimum funds.

Delighted with the response, the BBC repeated the programme soon afterwards. People sent in more money, and the total amount donated following the two screenings came to about 20,000. One reason people were impressed by Mother Teresa was because she did not make any apologies for her Christian faith. We should remember that this was during the high sixties, the decade of dope and Hare Krishna, when Christians in the West were suffering from a deep sense of guilt and unfulfilment; people were flocking to India looking for spiritual salvation - and here was a Christian woman who offered Indians not spiritual but material help - the practical minded British liked this scenario. Muggeridge of course, was deeply critical that Mother Teresa was not doing enough to spread the word of the Lord. She soon saw his point and changed her stance.

The two screenings of the BBC Meeting Point interview caused a ripple which soon died down. Neither a myth nor a star was born. The great British public soon forgot about the nun in the sari perhaps because the British media were largely unimpressed, except for The Observer, which had a brief mention of the interview in its review pages. The Irish Independent also briefly mentioned it, calling it 'another minor incident drawing Muggeridge along his circuitous journey to Catholicism.'

Muggeridge soon found out more about Mother Teresa and her world view, through mutual acquaintances and also by direct correspondence. He was now in a frenzy - at long last he had found a Christian person who fitted the bill exactly - who was dyed-in-the-wool orthodox, uncompromisingly opposed to contraception and abortion, but at the same time 'simple' enough to appeal to the common man and woman. Furthermore, she was also a charity worker. In order to spread his message, he decided to highlight the charity aspect, which would appeal to the man in the street - the natural progression of the publicity brigade from there on, would be to proclaim the beliefs and values of this remarkable woman who did all this charity. I am sure many of us think of such ingenious plans to sell our hobby horses, but few are as lucky as Muggeridge was in having access to some of the world's most powerful media systems in two continents.

Muggeridge decided that the best way to bring his new found heroine to the attention of the world would be through a television film, and he soon persuaded the BBC to agree to a film on her, to be shot on location in Calcutta.

Mother Teresa herself was initially (genuinely) reluctant about the film, but Muggeridge put pressure on her through a mutual friend, Cardinal Heenan of London. She agreed, but was not over-enthusiastic: 'If this TV programme is going to let people understand God better, then we will have it, ..'31 To Muggeridge she wrote, 'Let us now do something beautiful for God.'

The rest is history. Following Mother's cue, Muggeridge decided to call the film Something Beautiful for God, and a year later wrote a book of the same name, which became a best-seller, and is still in print. He donated the entire royalty from the book to the Missionaries of Charity. The film launched the career of Mother Teresa. Even in those early days Muggeridge had foreseen the saleability of Teresa as a potential saint, and had appended 'of Calcutta'. Indeed, the film first appeared on television screen as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, with the subtitle 'Something Beautiful for God'. The 'of Calcutta' suffix, in those very early days, was an immensely clever idea of Muggeridge's - it captured public imagination and stuck. Incidentally, it was used for the first time ever in the film - it had not appeared in Muggeridge's radio interview the previous year, nor had it been used in earlier articles on Mother Teresa in the American Catholic press.

The film Something Beautiful for God was made in March 1969, over a period of five days. The day that had been scheduled for most of the filming turned out to be a day of bandh in Calcutta. This is a Hindi word meaning 'shut down', and the practice of bandh is a political tool used by political parties as a display of strength. The Calcutta of 1969 that Muggeridge arrived in to shoot his film was quite different to the one he had left in 1935. Much of the city was now a battleground between the hard left, the somewhat more moderate left and the right. There would be almost daily skirmishes between these factions resulting in casualties; to the north of the city small tracts would be declared 'capitalist free zones' by the hard left Naxalites (who themselves had about a dozen factions within them) which would then be recaptured by police resulting in more deaths. The Naxalites drew their ranks mainly from the students of Calcutta University.

In such a situation, a particular political party would call a bandh as a show of strength. On the day of bandh, all activities in the city would come to a halt, especially business activities, schools, colleges and entertainments. Private vehicles, if seen, would be stoned by the bandh organisers; public vehicles, if out, could be burnt! The only cars allowed would be those of the emergency services, and of the press. It can only be guessed how many billions Calcutta lost through the numerous bandhs the city endured through the 1960s - tit for tat bandhs by the main political parties became the norm at one time. The ordinary citizens got increasingly fed up with the situation, although the left parties enjoyed a broad base of support in the city - they still do, although the hard left has all but disappeared. Bandhs are no longer that common or that violent - the city has exported the practice to the rest of India, having realised its suicidal impact.

One can imagine that Muggeridge, disgusted at Calcutta's extreme lurch to the left, deciding to teach the city a lesson. Although fictitious gruesome slums were not built for the purposes of the film - Muggeridge had neither the time nor the personnel for the exercise - but the city was presented in a sharply negative light. Later, of course, it became common for British or American film and television companies to build bespoke slums to show Calcutta in a particularly odious light - it was done to chilling and lasting effects in 1987 for the shooting of the Hollywood film The City of Joy. Indeed, the BBC became unstuck in Italy as recently as June 1995 when trying to adopt the same tactic - when filming a 'documentary' about drugs and urban decay, the BBC crew were accused of taking shots of studiously stage managed scenes such as those of syringes 'pulled from a cameraman's pocket and tossed down in front of the lens.' The entire town of Reggio di Calabria protested - filming was abandoned and the television team was recalled to London to answer charges. Calcutta has also protested when Western film units have either exclusively highlighted or invented scenes about its squalor, but since it does not have the clout of a city in the European Community, its protests have fallen on deaf ears. Calcutta is a free for all for the international journalistic community, and it was Muggeridge who started this trend. In his BBC film, in one scene Calcutta is depicted as a smoking wasteland with a corridor in the middle illuminated by a shaft of light, along which Mother Teresa is shown to pass. The film also has a scene (which has been reproduced in the Woody Allen film Alice) where Mother is shown with a blind Indian girl, rubbing her fingers on the child's eyes over and over again - after a while the child's facial expression changes from distraughtness to an angelic smile; the only things missing were the mud and spit Jesus had employed to bring vision back to a blind boy (John 9: 1 - 7) - it is chilling to think that in this very first film such tactics were being adopted. It is also significant that Mother Teresa even in her first full length documentary had no compunction in taking Jesus off. Proves my point that when it came to publicity, she was a born natural.

Muggeridge adopted a unique line to enhance the film's appeal, and make it the subject of international discussion - he said that an 'actual miracle' had taken place during filming. The story, according to him, went thus - he asked the cameraman Ken Macmillan (of Kenneth Clark's Civilisation fame) to shoot inside the home for the dying, which was 'dimly lit by small windows high up in the wall', with film meant for outdoor filming. Mr Macmillan did that and he also shot some footage outside, of the residents sitting in the sun. Now the 'actual miracle', according to Muggeridge, was this: 'In the processed film, the part taken inside was bathed in a particularly beautiful soft light, whereas the part taken outside was rather dim and confused.' And he gave us the reason for this purported anomaly:

I myself am absolutely convinced that the technically unaccountable light is, in fact, the Kindly Light Newman refers to in his well-known exquisite hymn - ... This love is luminous, like the haloes artists have seen and made visible round the heads of saints. I find it not at all surprising that the luminosity should register on a photographic film ... I am personally persuaded that Ken recorded the first authentic photographic miracle. It so delighted me that I fear that I talked and wrote about it to the point of tedium, and sometimes irritation.32

When it came to non-Christian issues, miracles and mysteries were not really up Muggeridge's street, and he was rather proud of the fact that he was a sceptic and a cynic. Staunchly in favour of American war activities, he went to Hiroshima to bust something he considered a myth - he talked to 'an old priest' and came to the conclusion that all those stories about human hands fossilised on walls or of bicycles melting away after the atomic bomb, were just that.33

Muggeridge's photographic 'actual miracle' failed to impress the Catholic Church initially:
Once, out at Hatch End, where Father Agnellus Andrew has his estimable set-up for instructing Roman Catholic priests and prelates in the techniques of radio and television, Peter Chafer and I showed our Mother Teresa film to a gathering of ecclesiastical brass. Afterwards, I spoke about the miracle of the light in the Home for the Dying. It troubled them, I could see. They did not want to hear about it. One or two, hazarded an opinion that no doubt, the result was due to some accidental adjustment in the camera or quality in the stock. They were happy when they moved on to other topics...Roman Catholics as assiduously covering up, or at any rate ignoring, a miraculous occurrence in Mother Teresa's Home for the Dying. I record the matter here in the hope that, in years to come, Christian believers may be glad to know that in a dark time the light that shone about the heads of dying derelicts brought in from the streets of Calcutta by Mother Teresa's Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity somehow got itself recorded on the film.34

Muggeridge died a happy man, knowing that the Catholic church had eventually wholeheartedly accepted his 'first authentic photographic miracle' as such; moreover, as the world has moved more and more towards religious orthodoxy and irrationality, there are fewer today than there were in 1969 who would reject his arguments as calculated disingenuousness.

Following his brush with the supernatural in Calcutta, Muggeridge had another miraculous experience soon afterwards - this was in 1971 in Turkey, when he was filming St Paul's journey to Damascus. While they filmed on a lonely road, Muggeridge and his friend Alec Vidler (a priest) 'were joined by a third [figure], who seemed to walk along' with them in the shimmering heat before quietly disappearing. Allegedly, this had all been captured on film, but alas, 'thinking that it would cause only confusion in the minds of the viewers if it was shown, Chafer cut the sequence from the finished version of the film and it was never seen.'35 Chafer never said all this ever happened.

Neither Ken Macmillan, nor Something Beautiful's producer and director Peter Chafer claimed that there had been any 'photographic miracle' in Calcutta, although when put under increasing pressure by journalists, the church or the public, Mr Chafer would wriggle out of a difficult situation with the quizzical reply, 'The whole of my television life with Muggeridge has been a series of miracles and bizarre, inconceivable happenings.'36 He also wrote, 'I am no authority on miracles, but suspect that in this case they rest, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder.'37

It was not until 1994 however, that Ken Macmillan the cameraman went public about the 'miracle'. He said:

We had some new film from Kodak that we hadn't tried before. When we saw the final print, I was going to say three cheers for Kodak, but Muggeridge turned round and stopped me ... Then the same day, I get all these calls from newspapers in London asking me about the 'miracle' in Calcutta.38

Apart from the 'actual miracle', Muggeridge also came across 'a kind of miracle' (times two) during the filming in Calcutta, one of them being the accidental discovery of Mother Teresa's vehicle 'with the engine turning over' in a place where it was not expected to be! In my driving experiences in Calcutta, I have often wondered if God or some alien power takes over the wheels, for it is a mystery one manages to get from A to B unscathed, or at all.

The film Something Beautiful for God, in trying to market a certain brand of Catholic faith, behaved not unlike a Soviet propaganda film. Muggeridge knew that, and he was apprehensive that the film might fail to click with the public. So, from March until the film was screened on 5 December 1969 (it got a Friday evening prime time slot), he whipped up frenzy in both Britain and the United States, amongst the public and the media by constantly lecturing about 'the first authentic photographic miracle'. In such a situation, curiosity drove many people to watch the film. The week the film was scheduled to be shown, Radio Times (a BBC publication), Britain's only television magazine at the time, carried a large feature on Mother Teresa by Cardinal Heenan (who, incidentally, had never been to Calcutta) - the article, titled 'Loving Someone to Salvation', introducing Mother Teresa to viewers, said that she 'took them [the dying destitutes] to her own home', and also that owing to her influence 'refined Indian women who ten years ago thought that it corrupted them to touch an untouchable now gather them lovingly in their arms' - both points entirely made up. It was hardly surprising that a Roman Catholic Cardinal would tell such a tale about a Roman Catholic nun - what was noteworthy was that a secular publication should publish it. The myth making had begun in earnest. That particular issue of Radio Times also carried a photograph of Mother Teresa - interestingly, she was not shown in her usual 'humble' or charitable postures, i.e., either bending down with folded arms, or clutching an orphan child - she was shown sitting regally in a high chair - possibly the only photograph of its kind; the high chair was soon abandoned, as the PR brigade realised that saints and high chairs did not mix very well.

The film was well received in Britain, but in America it created near hysteria. The Teresa myth was well and truly born. The days of white Christian guilt were over.

Thanks to the film and to further continuos rejoinders by Muggeridge in various media, by the early 1970s Mother Teresa was beginning to be recognised by ordinary street folk in Britain, although she would be utterly unrecognised in Calcutta at the time if she walked down the streets. Edward Finch, who was the Anglican Canon of Chelmsford Diocese in the 1970s, used to talk of about an incident Mother Teresa had told him about in 1973: 'She said she was walking down a London street when a chap selling flowers said, "Are you Mother Teresa of Malcolm Muggeridge?" It made her laugh.'

Now that the myth was born, there was no shortage of vested interests in taking on the task for its reinforcement, and carrying on where Muggeridge had left off - in this the Americans led the way, and they are still the leading protagonists in the Teresa publicity brigade.

Interestingly, many years before even Muggeridge had found her, Mother Teresa twice appeared on the covers of the staunchly orthodox American Catholic journal Jubilee - in February 1958 (when she was utterly unknown, even in the Catholic community in India) and again in December 1960, during the first of her innumerable visits to the US.

Many American presidents have been active publicists for Mother Teresa, some enthusiastically, such as Ronald Reagan, others not so wholeheartedly, such as Bill Clinton. Bob Dole, the one time presidential hopeful, when savaged by a section of his own party for not being right wing enough, invoked the Teresa card - he said that Mother Teresa had endorsed him on the abortion issue. Even Bill Clinton and his wife (who support abortion) have repeatedly played the Teresa card in order to appease the increasingly powerful religious right in the United States. Mr and Mrs Clinton appeared with Mother Teresa on American television for the National Prayer Breakfast Meeting of 1994, where the latter ranted on about the evils of contraception and abortion. Mr and Mrs President could do nothing but smile and shift uncomfortably in their chairs - so powerful had the mystique of Mother Teresa become by our time. Incidentally, Mother Teresa never appeared on stage with Indian dignitaries during a national event in India, or even in Calcutta. Contrary to the public perception of a woman oblivious to media machinations, she had an uncanny understanding of what kind of public behaviour would go down well with the people in which country - in India, for instance, she never publicly spoke against contraception. She knew that to do so would be to commit public relations suicide. If she ever appeared in the Calcutta media speaking against contraception (and abortion), she would not only be ridiculed in the city - she would be verbally lynched from all sides.

Amongst US presidents, Mother Teresa had the greatest admirer in Ronald Reagan, who was also a great fan of Muggeridge. During the 1970s, Reagan was attracted to Muggeridge for his Bible thumping on US television, and the Mother Teresa connection enhanced the attraction manifold. Muggeridge was now feted all over the world, but particularly in the US, as 'the man who discovered the living saint'. In 1974, he was invited by Billy Graham to speak at the Congress of World Evangelisation in Lusanne. Also, around this time he was recruited by the ultra orthodox American Catholic tycoon William F Buckley, Jr. (that same Buckley who once urged that homosexuals be branded on their bottoms to single them out from the rest of the population), the editor of the influential magazine National Review and the presenter of the television show, Firing Line. Muggeridge appeared seven times on Firing Line, where he frequently talked about Mother Teresa and the 'miracle of lights'. In 1980, shortly after Mother Teresa had received her Nobel Prize, Buckley flew Muggeridge over to the Vatican to meet Pope John Paul II, who was a hero to both men. They presented a chat show from the Sistine Chapel, with the pontiff in the rather strange company of Grace Kelly, Charlton Heston and David Niven. The Catholic establishment and more broadly the alliance of the world's right wing - Catholic or not - were always grateful to Muggeridge for 'discovering' (or inventing) Mother Teresa.

President Reagan, for one, was always keen to show his gratitude. One day in 1981, a limousine drove all the way from the US Embassy in London's Grosvenor Square to the Muggeridges' home in Sussex only to hand-deliver a small envelope - a present from Mr President - a photograph signed by the great leader himself, showing Mother Teresa emerging from The White House's diplomatic gate with Ronald and Nancy in tow. Also enclosed was a letter. A couple of years later, Mr Reagan, not generally known for his cerebral activities, wrote an essay entitled 'Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation', wherein he quoted Muggeridge liberally.

Mother Teresa gave Ronald Reagan her ultimate certificate: 'I did not know you love your people so much.' In this case 'people' equalled unborn people. Following Muggeridge's film and then the book of the same name, and their world-wide publicity, Mother's Nobel Prize was almost a fait accompli, the culmination of an unstoppable process. Nevertheless, Muggeridge had soldiered on ceaselessly, writing to established contacts, digging up new contacts, creating more media publicity, writing and talking endlessly in articles, books and on television about his heroine. Way back in 1971, when he was celebrating the launching of the book in London, he said, 'When she wins the Nobel Prize, ...'39 (italics mine). At the time, his comment had surprised even Mother's friend and biographer Eileen Egan. Indeed, according to Muggeridge's old paper The Daily Telegraph40 his groundwork 'was an important element in winning Mother Teresa the Nobel Peace Prize.' According to Mother's biographer, friend and one time leader of her co-workers in Spain, Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado, 'During the 1970s, the pen and microphone of Malcolm Muggeridge, a British journalist, make Mother Teresa famous in the West, not only in Catholic circles but in wider society. As a consequence, she is awarded ... the Nobel Peace Prize.'41

I do not think that anybody would deny that there is a very strong Catholic lobby in the Peace Prize machinations, and in it again the Americans play a big role. During the cold war, it helped for the Nobel Peace nominee to be orthodox, and generally embrace right wing ideology. Mother Teresa was of course not outwardly political, but there is no doubt that she belonged to the right of the political spectrum. Many of her best friends were ultra right wing, including Pope John Paul II, whom she was exceptionally close to. That she came from Albania, the only Stalinist regime in the world at the time (which also officially embraced atheism) helped her a great deal. Giving the Nobel to a deeply Catholic nun from Albania would very effectively cock a snook at the Communist government in that country and at socialist governments world-wide; roughly on the same principles Sakharov had been given the Nobel four years before her, in spite of his involvement with the supremely destructive project of a Soviet hydrogen bomb. It is likely that Calcutta's passion with Marxism was also a factor. After all, it was none other than Lenin who had said in the early 20th century that 'Communism will come to London via Calcutta.' (This was when Calcutta was the capital of the British Empire)

Mother's friends left no room for complacency in waging their campaign before the Nobel committee. They recruited three influential American senators, Pete Domenici, Mark O. Hatfield, and Hubert Humphrey. There were of course others, but these three were at the forefront. Mr Domenici is a pious 'family values' Catholic with eight children who recently (1996-97) voted against employers providing 'family and welfare leave', against government regulations for nursing homes for the elderly, against government funding of retirement, and in favour of Medicare cuts. Devout Mr Hatfield, a former annual fund raiser for Mother Teresa, also voted in favour of Medicare cuts. Both are vehemently anti-abortion and Domenici supports the possession of guns. Senator Hatfield, who went all the way to Calcutta to see Mother Teresa a couple of years after her Nobel, is also notable for being the subject of two ethics probes against him, in 1987 and 1992, for 'receiving improper gifts' related to his position in the Senate Appropriations Committee. And former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, the celebrated Commie-basher, was of course, noted for his trenchant support for the continuation of the Vietnam war. These people were close to Mother Teresa and were personally blessed by her.

A more powerful and war-hungry man had been one of Mother Teresa's strongest allies in her bids for the Nobel Prize - he was Robert Strange McNamara, who was US Defence Secretary during much of the Vietnam war. Incidentally, Mr McNamara came to Calcutta shortly after he left his federal post and became president of the World Bank in 1968 - visiting Mother Teresa was not on the agenda, as she was unknown at the time outside the Catholic world (McNamara, although an evangelical type Christian, is not a Catholic). McNamara's visit is still talked about in Calcutta - the entire city erupted in flames in protest against the 'war criminal', as the students called him. A solid mass of people blocked his way from the airport to the city centre, and in the end he had to be airlifted from the airport and deposited on the roof of the American consulate. Students and workers fought pitched battles with the police at the consulate, and most of McNamara's official engagements had to be cancelled.

Calcutta was one of the major centres for Vietnam war protest in the world in the 1960s. One of the most vivid memories from my childhood is the protest song in Bengali: Amaar naam, tomaar naam,...Vietnaam, Vietnaam. (My name, your name, ...Vietnam, Vietnam.) McNamara obviously did not like the political attitude in Calcutta and never forgot the personal insult.

Robert McNamara was one of Mother Teresa's nominators for the Nobel Peace Prize - he, in fact, nominated her three times - unsuccessfully in 1975 and 1977, later successfully in 1979. Given the Nobel Peace committee's rather unique and warped view of 'peace' I am not surprised that it accepted nominations from one of history's greatest war makers.

Why ultra right wing intolerant politicians and journalists found a natural ally in Mother Teresa was quite obvious - they furthered each others' cause. These were not people who admired Mother Teresa from afar - they actually knew her quite well, and the admiration soon became mutual.

It is not true that it helps to be any Catholic who is also seen to be doing charity to be in with a chance for the Nobel. You have to be a particular brand of Catholic, such as Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa, for your influential friends to rally round you. The case in point is Dorothy Day, the Catholic convert, who did immense work amongst the poor in the United States all her life. She however made the mistake of being a trade unionist, a socialist, and a pacifist, - dirty words all three among the American establishment. She was also a staunch and active opponent of America's war in Vietnam, and was imprisoned numerous times by the US government. She is now all but forgotten not only by the public at large but also by the Catholic Church. Far from being accorded cult status by her church, she is now demoted by them as some kind of second order celebrity, especially during the reign of Pope John Paul II. She has never been nominated for the Nobel. And she is not a saint hopeful - the official reason for this is because she had a child out of wedlock.

Dorothy Day met Mother Teresa at least twice, the first time in Calcutta in 1970, when Day had become something of a popular legend and Mother was a rising star in the US. They did not quite hit it off. Surprised at Day's lack of display of Catholicness, Mother Teresa stuck a big crucifix on her blouse. They two also met at Philadelphia at the International Eucharist Congress in 1976. The situation was now different - Mother Teresa was now a big celebrity in the US (she needed minders to stop her from being mobbed) whereas Day was almost persona non grata amongst conservative Catholics. Both women were scheduled to speak from the same dais on 6 August, which happened to be Hiroshima Day. In her speech, Day rebuked the Congress organisers for not mentioning Hiroshima at all in the proceedings (this was obviously a conscious decision by the right wing organisers, who had included a mass for the military in the programme). Mother Teresa, when she spoke, predictably, did not mention Hiroshima; but she mentioned killing of a different kind - that of the unborn child - which went down very well with the organisers and the crowd. Any talk of Hiroshima would have upset her backers for the Peace Prize.

Given the type of person Mother Teresa was, it was not surprising that the world's conservatives pulled out all their stops to build her up, and to get her the Nobel. But even then she had had two abortive attempts- in 1975, when Sakharov beat her to it, and also in 1977, when she was beaten by the eminently worthy Amnesty International. Why she failed on those occasions is not clear, but even the Catholic church admitted that too many 'spontaneous' letters that kept arriving at the Nobel committee's doorstep at Oslo made their candidate look too well-sponsored for her own good and detracted from her 'humble' image. According to Mother's biographer Eileen Egan, 'someone jokingly remarked that half the nuns of Spain had taken pen in hand.'42

It was obviously not the case that everybody who was taken in by Mother Teresa's charms was a devious ultra right winger with a political agenda. Millions of ordinary decent men and women in the world admired and even worshipped her; honest, genuine people liked and promoted her - most of them did not see her in action, and very few have been to Calcutta. One of those people was Lady Barbara Ward, who nominated her for the 1977 Nobel prize. She actually warned the Catholic establishment against their letter writing campaign.43

The successful 1979 campaign was run professionally, like a sleek party election campaign; indeed, many of the people who ran that campaign were top guns in the US Republican Party.

It is interesting that none of Mother Teresa's nominators or endorsers in any of her three Nobel attempts were from Calcutta, or indeed from India. I do not think she got any letters of support from Calcutta - this was not because she was unpopular there, but because she was not important enough. A Calcuttan would have been embarrassed to write a letter in support of a person who was such a small presence, for a prize as grand as the Nobel.

The 1979 campaign was co-ordinated by Muggeridge, and he was naturally over the moon when the prize was finally announced. It is actually true that the prize meant little to Mother Teresa personally (as she said many a time), but it was important to her insofar as it enhanced tremendously the profile of her Church, and the entrenched values she stood for. Also following the Nobel, her veneration reached such a height that every word of hers was accepted as the ultimate truth by media and public. Mother quickly realised this and more and more when describing her work she frequently crossed the borders between reality and fantasy.

Around this time Mother Teresa spent a considerable energy in having Muggeridge converted. He was still not officially Catholic, and nominally remained an Anglican, although he directed enormous venom against the liberal culture in the Anglican church. The Catholic establishment in general, actually wished for him to remain nominally outside their church, as support always looked better if coming from an outsider. Mother Teresa however, wanted her special friend converted. She never forgot her debt to him, and she never underestimated the value of the media, especially television, after the success of Muggeridge's film - in her own words: 'I can see that Christ is needed in the television studios.'44

Way back in 1970, Mother had written to Muggeridge her famous 'Nicodemus letter':

...you are to me like Nicodemus...Christ is longing to be your food. Surrounded with fullness of living food you allow yourself to starve. The personal love Christ has for you is infinite; the small difficulty you have re His church is finite. Overcome the finite with the infinite.

Nicodemus was the Pharisee who came to Christ in the middle of the night, being convinced by his miracles that he was a teacher from God. Inevitably, Muggeridge overcame the finite with the infinite, in 1982 - after a great deal of intellectual posturing. It was a very public conversion, surrounded by much media hype. Mother Teresa, unfortunately, could not attend. She sent Muggeridge and his long suffering wife this letter:

Dear Malcolm and Kitty My heart is full of deep gratitude to God and his Blessed Mother for this tender love for you for giving you the joy of his coming in your hearts on 27th Nov [1982]. I wish I was with you that day but ... my prayer and sacrifice will be with you that you may grow in holiness and be more and more like Jesus. I also want to thank you for all you have done for Jesus through your writings. Still I get letters and meet people who say that they have come closer to God through reading Something Beautiful for God...Keep the joy of loving Jesus in your heart and say often during the day and night 'Jesus in my heart I believe in your tender love for me. I love you.' God bless you Teresa.

Muggeridge died eight years later, during which time I am not sure if he did 'grow in holiness' and become 'more and more like Jesus.' But he was now rehabilitated by the British establishment and the epithet - St Mugg - that he earned towards the end of his life was more reverential than tongue in cheek. Only a decade before he had been marginalised by society and media alike as a paranoid and maniacal fundamentalist, and had to seek refuge in America. The Teresa connection made the man respectable again. Although a substantial section of the British establishment does remember him as a hypocritical sanctimonious bully.

It is a frightening thought that a man as prejudiced as Muggeridge was allowed such power in an organisation such as the BBC, and in other equally powerful organs of the media. Here was a man who was known to be deeply anti-Semitic (the examples I have given here are an expurgated version as the most trenchant ones were 'blue-pencilled' by him.), whose entire life and actions were determined by prejudices, and who was openly carrying on with extramarital sexual liaisons despite pronouncing pious values. He also tried to use his position to stop other people from using contraception. He was a supporter of the war in Vietnam, and of other American war exercises. He cast doubt on the suffering in Hiroshima; he participated in CIA funded clandestine activities.

Is it fair or justified that such a person be allowed a free hand in large sections of the press and television, which are purportedly neutral? In his television career alone, he chaired or conducted influential programmes such as The Critics, The Brains Trust, Any Question?, Panorama, Let Me Speak, The Question Why, A Third Testament, to name but a few. Over and above, in the most bigoted phase in his life, he was being asked more and more to undertake religious programmes, such as the one in which he 'discovered' Mother Teresa. He had absolutely no room in his psyche for relativism in religion, for tolerance and understanding, and he fervently believed that Christianity should go out with the sword as well as the Gospel to conquer inferior cultures. He would have no hesitation in twisting and bending facts in order to promote Christianity - in this he had an ally in Teresa.

He had reluctantly admitted about her work in Calcutta: 'Criticism is often directed at the insignificant scale of the work she and her Sisters undertake...', and 'It is perfectly true, of course, that statistically speaking, what she achieves is little, or negligible' and also, 'the old fashioned methods allegedly used, are pointed to as detracting from her usefulness.' In a remarkable fit of candour he also remarked on her 'seeming to achieve more than she does, or can.'45

In the next breath, both he (and Mother Teresa) had no hesitation in exaggerating that scale of work, because in his view 'Christianity is not statistical view of life.'46 My own evaluation of Muggeridge is similar to that of Stalin's daughter, Svetlana, who had defected to the West and become a Christian, and whom Muggeridge befriended. The relationship later turned sour, and she wrote to him:

You are one of those obsessed demoniacal creatures who ought to be avoided at all costs; they bring misfortune into the lives of others; they ruin the lives of others. The real good people are humble and silent (like your Kitty is). But beware, God sees all vanity and pride and you cannot fool him.47

I am not surprised that somebody so 'obsessed [and] demoniacal' was attracted to Mother Teresa - there is a multitude of other examples of similar people loving her - all the ruthless South and Central American dictators adored her, as did most contemporary journalists and religious figures from all over the world with deeply held prejudices. For instance, the militant anti-abortionist Benedictine priest Paul Marx, who has been virtually ostracised by mainstream Catholic church in his own country the United States for his utterings against Jews and Muslims (although Pope John Paul II told him, '...you are doing the most important work on earth') is a deep admirer of Mother Teresa - indeed, he wrote to me: 'I have met Mother Teresa many times and have worked with her in India and elsewhere'.

I am not sure how much attraction existed on Mother's side for Father Marx, but what really worries me is that time and time again the rich, the powerful, the vicious, the bigoted, the exploiter have rallied round her. They have propped her and nourished her. These people are not stupid - they would not expend time and money without getting something back. It is not that they change dramatically after coming in contact with her. Muggeridge's bigotries, for instance, became even more entrenched after the Teresa exposure; he now almost justified them as having saintly sanction.

I am not suggesting that Mother Teresa, like Muggeridge, was driven by malice and paranoia. But there is something to be said for a person being known for the company he or she keeps. When I look at Muggeridge's discovery (or invention) of Teresa the person, his veneration of Teresa the world view and philosophy, and I think of the mutual attraction they had for each other, I begin to get worried.

< Epilogue to Chapter 3 >



1.12 October 1997.

2. Gregory Wolfe, Malcolm Muggeridge A Biography (Hodder & Stoughton, 1995), p.43.

3. Richard Ingrams, Muggeridge The Biography (HarperCollins, 1995), p.65.

4. Ibid., p.231

5. John Bright-Holmes (ed.), Like It Was: The Diaries of Malcolm Muggeridge (Collins, 1981), p. 426 (entry dated 18 January 1951).

6. Muggeridge The Biography, p. 87-88.

7. Ibid., p.186.

8. John Bright-Holmes (ed.), Like It Was: The Diaries of Malcolm Muggeridge (Collins, 1981), p.130 (entry dated 6 June 1935).

9. Ibid., p.130 (entry dated 1 June 1935).

10. Ibid., p.133 (entry dated 10 June 1935).

11. Ibid., p.131 (entry dated 6 June 1935).

12. Ibid., p.135.

13. Ibid., p.133 (entry dated 10 June 1935).

14. Ibid., p.115 (entry dated 10 March 1935).

15. Ibid., p.135 (entry dated 6 March 1935).

16. Ibid., p.109 (entry dated 30 December 1934).

17. Ibid., p.103 (entry dated 10 December 1934).

18. Ian Hunter, Malcolm Muggeridge A Life (Collins, 1980), p.100

19. Muggeridge The Biography, p.173

20. Diaries, p.260 (entry dated 19 March 1948).

21. Ibid., p. 422 (entry dated 18 December 1950).

22. Ibid., p. 452 (entry dated 11-12 January 1953).

23. Muggeridge The Biography, p. 200.

24. Malcolm Muggeridge A Biography, p. 332.

25. Ibid., p.353.

26. Malcolm Muggeridge, Something Beautiful for God (Fount, 1977), p. 48

27. Ibid., p. 28

28. Malcolm Muggeridge A Biography, p. 407

29. Ibid., p.345

30. Malcolm Muggeridge, Chronicles of Wasted Time, vol. 2: The Infernal Grove (Purnell), p.

30 31. Malcolm Muggeridge A Biography, p. 356

32. Something Beautiful for God, p. 41

33. Malcolm Muggeridge A Life, p.162.

34. Something Beautiful for God, p. 45

35. Muggeridge The Biography, p. 215

36. Malcolm Muggeridge A Life, p. 234

37. Radio Times, London, 6 May 1971

38. Interview in Hell's Angel, Channel 4 Documentary, telecast 8 November 1994

39. Eileen Egan, Such A Vision of the Street (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1985), p. 217

40. 15 November 1990

41. Jose Luis Gonzales-Balado, Loving Jesus (HarperCollins, 1995), p.148.

42. Such a Vision of the Street, p. 386

43. Ibid.

44. Malcolm Muggeridge A Biography, p.371

45, 46. Something Beautiful for God, p. 28

47. Muggeridge The Biography, p.233.

Chapter Index
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