A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Communityby Sister Simone Campbell
Driving for faith, family, and fairness
In the summer of 2012, Sister Simone Campbell and a group of fellow Roman Catholic nuns toured parts of the country to rally support against Congressman Paul Ryan's budget, a plan that cut vital social programs for the hurting poor and the struggling middle class. Prayer groups turned into rallies, and small town… See more details below
Driving for faith, family, and fairness
In the summer of 2012, Sister Simone Campbell and a group of fellow Roman Catholic nuns toured parts of the country to rally support against Congressman Paul Ryan's budget, a plan that cut vital social programs for the hurting poor and the struggling middle class. Prayer groups turned into rallies, and small town meetings became national media events. Sister Simone became a galvanizing force for progressives of all stripes and remains a driving force for programs and policies that support tolerance, equality, and justice.
Rooted in a deep spirituality of compassion and service, Sister Simone gives voice to the hunger, isolation, and fear that so many people in America feel. She shows how we can create real transformation in our communities through the contemplative life of prayer. These powerful, inspiring stories from the Nuns on the Bus tour and from Sister Simone's own life offer a fresh vision for a lived spirituality that is at the heart of today's progressive Christian movements working for change.
Campbell—activist, attorney, and nun—mixes autobiography with a strong call for justice in this brisk-paced, crisp, inspiring account. Having grown up in a Catholic family in California in the 1960s, college-aged Campbell joined the Sisters of Social Service, an especially "modern" order, whose sisters were very much involved in the world. ("Aren't those the quasi nuns?" asked her mother.) Campbell earned a law degree, first practicing low-income family law, and then taking the helm of NETWORK, a Washington, D.C.-based organization of sisters promoting economic justice. Under Campbell's leadership, NETWORK advocated health care reform, work that garnered censure from the Vatican, which claimed that NETWORK was devoting too much time and energy to social justice. "Well, yes, social justice is what Catholic sisters do," Campbell tartly writes. In order to advance the organization's mission in the wake of this Vatican censure, Campbell and other nuns took a nine-state bus tour, highlighting the struggles of low- and middle-income people. Throughout this account, Campbell writes with wisdom, charity, and backbone. She offers a nuanced position on abortion, and issues a rousing call for Americans become involved in the public square. The volume is marred only by a self-indulgent appendix of rather pedestrian poems. (Apr.)
Optimism, passion, and resilience pervade Campbell's candid account, written with journalist Gibson, of her California roots; vocation as a Sister of Social Service, a Catholic community in the Benedictine tradition; and 18 years practicing family law with the working poor in Oakland, after receiving a University of California-Davis law degree. After performing leadership within her religious community, in 2004 Campbell became executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby in Washington, DC. NETWORK, founded in 1971 by 47 Catholic sisters promoting social justice, focused its advocacy in 2012 on health-care reform (opposing Congressman Paul Ryan's budget cuts) with an influential public letter signed by 59 sisters in leadership. That year, the Vatican revealed an investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States, of which Campbell was a longtime member, asserting its promotion of feminist themes incompatible with Catholic faith. Major media attention and the sisters' two-week bus trip advocating health-care legislation (2,700 miles, nine states) ensued. A similar trip in 2013 focused on immigration reform. VERDICT Progressive, pro-life, favorable to Pope Francis, Campbell intelligently argues for the poor. Recommended for anyone promoting social and economic justice.—Anna Donnelly, St. John's Univ., Jamaica, NY
- HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author
Sister Simone Campbell is the executive director of NETWORK, a nonprofit Catholic social justice lobby in Washington, D.C. In 2012, Sister Simone organized NETWORK's Nuns on the Bus campaign that has attracted an avalanche of media attention in the United States and other parts of the world. Sister Simone, who in 1978 became an attorney and founded a community law center that served the legal needs of the working poor, is a long-standing member of the Sisters of Social Service and has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, The O'Reilly Factor, PBS with Bill Moyers, and all of the national radio and TV networks, and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
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