Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns

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9780425195116: Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns

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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About the Author:

Cheryl L. Reed's articles have appeared in Time, U.S. News and World Report, Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, Salon.com, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, among others. She is the recipient of the Harvard University Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and the Edgar Allen Poe Award from the White House Correspondent Association. She is currently a visiting professor at the University of St. Thomas.

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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