From Publishers Weekly
Although the title of this book hints at a possibly salacious expose, Reed offers a generous, loving and thorough treatment of contemporary North American nuns. What is most arresting about her portrait is the tremendous diversity among the women she profiles. In one chapter, we meet habited, cloistered Passionist nuns who rise at 2 a.m. to pray, flog their bare skin, and speak for only one hour each day; they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with activist sisters who teach in universities, work as prison chaplains or minister to drug addicts in urban safehouses. Reed acknowledges that the numbers of active women religious are down to almost a third of what they were in the mid-1960s, and that their average age today is a superannuated 69. However, she doesn't allow these grim statistics to tell the entire story, introducing us to sisters so dedicated and fascinating that we become optimistic about the future of women religious. Reed, a non-Catholic, writes from the best tradition of investigative journalism, but she doesn't pretend to be unmoved by the stories of everyday heroism displayed by the women she describes, and chronicles her own spiritual journey throughout.
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Perhaps no group of women has been so perpetually shrouded in mystery as Catholic nuns. By turn the objects of fear, reverence, suspicion, and respect, nuns have been misunderstood and misrepresented by generations of Catholic school children and their public-school counterparts. Seeking to literally and figuratively lift the veil of secrecy surrounding these communities of women, Protestant-born Reed traversed the country, interviewing and interacting with more than 300 nuns from various orders. Unexpectedly, she learned that these women represent an astounding cross-section of backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, and ritualistic practices. Irrevocably shattering the stereotypical, cookie-cutter image of saintly women, she provides an enlightening glimpse into a vibrant female subculture that is richly diverse, faith-filled, and often supremely rewarding. From the cloister to the convent to the public arena, these women answer a host of intriguing questions about life, love, sex, prayer, faith, and spiritual empowerment. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.