Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns

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"When reporter Cheryl L. Reed set out to examine the lives of nuns, she was fulfilling a personal quest, discovering for herself what was behind the mysterious image instilled by her Protestant upbringing and reinforced by Hollywood cliches, misguided speculation, and her Catholic friends' childhood stories of unyielding figures in black." "So began a journalistic pursuit of an enigmatic subculture, during which Reed interviewed more than three hundred nuns of diverse beliefs and lifestyles - from cloistered and isolated to untraditional and
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Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns

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Overview

"When reporter Cheryl L. Reed set out to examine the lives of nuns, she was fulfilling a personal quest, discovering for herself what was behind the mysterious image instilled by her Protestant upbringing and reinforced by Hollywood cliches, misguided speculation, and her Catholic friends' childhood stories of unyielding figures in black." "So began a journalistic pursuit of an enigmatic subculture, during which Reed interviewed more than three hundred nuns of diverse beliefs and lifestyles - from cloistered and isolated to untraditional and activist - from more than fifty different orders across the country. Is the sisterhood still a viable option for women in today's society? Why had so many of these women entered the strict, habited orders? How could they possibly exert their own identity in a world of such conformity? And why were they so willing to give up material pleasures, money, the company of men and sex? The answers not only changed Reed's perspective on nuns, they changed Reed's perspective on herself and on her life." She lived and prayed with them, observed their daily lives, and participated in silent worship. She witnessed their vow ceremonies, mourned with them, celebrated and drank with them. They welcomed questions no one had ever dared ask before. Reed listened to their personal stories and candid musings about love and sex, life and death, faith and joy, loss and regret. In the end, the nuns Reed had approached with suspicion and curiosity ended up reaching her more about motherhood, relationships, and feminism than she ever gleaned from the outside world.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Journalist Reed (Chicago Sun-Times) undertook a four-year journey to visit as many religious houses, convents, hospitals, and schools as she could in order to immerse herself in the "nun world." Her quest-to discover why a woman would choose a peculiar lifestyle, community, and commitment that function against the prevailing culture-serves as the meat of this participant-observer account. Reed details dozens of interviews with sisters who run the gamut from cloistered, habited nuns to social-justice activists to pro-life clinic workers. Each short account provides small insights into the calling and rationale behind this seemingly countercultural movement. Reed provides the questions as well as the answers and analysis, which sometimes begs further exploration (for example, why are habited orders growing?). She also tends to valorize religious life without adequately critiquing its negative impacts on the family, society, or even the individuals themselves. The work is not a systematic, academic consideration of the issues but is shaped more by the author's journalistic curiosity than by anthropological research techniques. That said, it is a remarkably accessible, very readable account. Recommended for women's studies and popular religion collections everywhere.-Sandra Collins, Univ. of Pittsburgh Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425195116
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/2/2004
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Cheryl L. Reed is a former editorial page editor, books editor, and reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times and was previously a staff writer at several other newspapers.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prologue: Life Before the Nuns
Pt. 1 Community
1 Beyond Stereotype 3
2 Sisters in the 'Hood 26
Pt. 2 Obedience
3 Politics of the Habit 52
4 Sisters with Attitude 74
5 The Elastic Cloister 104
Pt. 3 Chastity
6 The Sensual Sisters 132
7 A Divine Intimacy 157
Pt. 4 Poverty
8 The Last of the Monjitas 183
9 Teaching on the Rez 211
10 Among the Down and Out in L.A. 235
Pt. 5 Spirituality
11 Spiritual Protests 259
12 The Mystic Mother Superior 279
13 Finding the Future, Seeing the Past 298
Epilogue: Life After the Nuns 323
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2005

    A Fascinating Peek

    I could not put this book down! Cheryl Reed presents a very diverse picture of Catholic women religious in the United States. Provocative and insightful, she pushes the envelope on things like church politics and sexuality and tells it like she observed it. It is not a scholarly study, nor a sugar- coated advertisement, but an honest exploration of the question 'Are nuns relevant to today's world?'

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