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Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns Paperback – March 2, 2010


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Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns + Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the Making of America + The Habit: A History of the Clothing of Catholic Nuns
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425232387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425232385
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,065,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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.

More About the Author

Cheryl L. Reed is currently senior editor for publications at the University of Chicago Medical Center where she is the managing editor for several publications, including the glossy magazine Medicine on the Midway. She is a former editorial page editor, books editor and investigative reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times and previously a staff writer at several others newspapers. Her freelance articles have appeared in U.S. News & World Report, Salon, Mother Jones, Poets & Writers and other publications.

Her stories have changed national and state laws and won numerous awards, including Harvard University's Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Investigative Reporters & Editors Award for Investigative Reporting and the Edgar A. Poe Award by the White House Correspondents' Association.

Ms. Reed is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism where she received her dual bachelor's degrees in newswriting and photojournalism. She earned her master's degree in journalism from the Ohio State University and is currently working on a master's of fine arts degree from Northwestern University in Chicago. Ms. Reed has taught writing workshops and has been a visiting professor.

When she is not working, Ms. Reed and her husband, Greg Stricharchuk, a business editor for the Chicago Tribune, split their time between their home on Chicago's South Side and a farmhouse in Laporte, Indiana, where she writes in a converted barn. She is currently writing a novel set in Chicago during the recent presidential election.

Customer Reviews

This interesting and informative book is one I'd highly recommend.
lindapanzo
They explained they'd just heard she was coming that morning, that they hadn't agreed to the meeting, and that she could stay overnight and leave the next morning.
olderandwiser
It seems to me that is the question that should be plaguing the Catholic Church!
bedrestmom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Mary C. Tomlinson on March 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a woman religious, I am always looking for books and articles that portray us in the mainstream press well and accurately. "Unveiled: the hidden life of nuns" does exactly that. It is wonderful book with stirring and clear accounts of various Sisters across the U.S. Ms. Reed captures the diversity of our lives, the realities of our Congregations and the challenges in our ministries with a richness and depth that is not seen in most mainstream writings about Sisters in America today.
The fact that Ms. Reed spent 5 years actually visiting and living with Sisters speaks well of her research and the clarity with which she writes. Too often, we are made fun of or talked about with some sort of mysterious "veil" of sanctity that doesn't capture us as real, very human women who have made a choice to live a life that grapples with spiritual questions, while trying to serve God's people in ways big and small. I believe that this is the journey of most people and Sisters (or nuns) are no exception.
I recommend this book for anyone who would like to have a better understanding of who we are and why we have made this choice. We are just regular women who search for the journey of life that allows us to become whole persons and contributors to the overall life of God's people.
Thanks to Ms. Reed for this wonderful book.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
One doesn't have to be a Catholic or a nun to find great satisfaction and life lessons in this revealing book of a subculture of women little known or understood.
Having been raised a Catholic but currently distanced from the Church, I approached Reed's book with curiosity and a bit of trepidation. The title made me wonder what deep, dark secrets Reed would reveal. I imagined the women she profiled would be shown to be uptight, sexually-repressed creatures out of touch with our modern world. This, despite the fact that I was taught by nuns in my high school in the late '70s who were, in fact, vibrant, progressive, socially-conscious and encouraging women. Of course, my fellow students and I always wondered about the path these women had chosen, and why, but it was not our place to ask, we felt.
Reed has answered these questions, and more, in a work of great compassion and depth. Having lived with and shared the lives of more than 300 nuns over several years, she comes away with not only a greater understanding of their complex lives, but with a deeper understanding of her own spirtual life.
From the strictest cloistered nuns to the most radical feminists, Reed describes the choices they made, and why, and how they live their lives today. These women open up to Reed and reveal their daily lives, their joys, their regrets, their faith or lack of it, their frustrations with the Church and their hopes for the future. Their choices and current situations are as varied and complex as those any modern woman faces. Some nuns are passive and joined to escape the world, others to embrace it and make a difference. Some believe they can make the world better through prayer and silence, others through working with the poorest of the poor, the substance-addicted and the hopeless.
Read more ›
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Maureen Magner on June 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Unveiled: The Hidden Life of Nuns was, for the most part, interesting and enjoyable. I learned a lot about what drove women to make the vows of celibacy, obedience and poverty. It was fascinating to `hear' the sisters' perspectives such as "...the kinds of lessons the poor teach" or "You can almost get a sort of addition to religion just as people get addicted to anything else," and the belief that sharing one's spiritual quest is like kissing and telling.

But I was hoping for solid, objective journalism. Statements like, "Now the habit is her shroud of honor, a dig at fellow sisters with advanced degrees," or, "For them, religious life is more about following a list of do's and don'ts and less about achieving a personal relationship with a divine entity," were not supported and detracted from the real research in her work.

By the end of the book I felt like I was buried in detail I didn't want to know. And I grew tired of insensitive descriptions of people that included "pockmarked face," "elfish figure," and "oversized thick glasses." If I saw Cheryl Reed, I'd run for fear of what she'd put into print about me.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mary on May 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
I thought this was a very interesting book, but I felt at times that I was getting more of the author's perspective on religious life than that of the nuns she interviewed. She seemed intent upon zeroing in on "scandalous" information, such as nuns' disdain for the male Catholic hierarchy, or the acceptance of lesbians into their orders. Also, her portrayal and understanding of feminism was very unscholarly and naive. At one point she writes, "In my mind, these women [nuns] are living the ultimate feminist lives--almost totally devoid of men" (xvi). She clearly has very old-fashioned ideas of what feminism is.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By olderandwiser on April 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is well written, and some of the sisters' stories are very moving and interesting. The author's comments are a real turnoff and invalidate the book's worth for me. As another reviewer noted, her repeated reference to the Blessed Sacrament as "crackers" trivializes and insults Catholic beliefs. Her pouting and pettiness that the IHM sisters who had remained refused to speak with her is childish and unjustified. They explained they'd just heard she was coming that morning, that they hadn't agreed to the meeting, and that she could stay overnight and leave the next morning. A big contrast to the love fest she experienced with the ex-IHM sisters in their inclusive community--so inclusive that it no longer qualifies as "Catholic" in my opinion. Still the IHM sisters weren't totally heartless. I trust Ms. Reed had a credit card and could have checked into a nice hotel and deducted it as a business expense. To treat this as "research" is a joke! Ms. Reed is really free with her opinions. She criticizes Sr. Paula for having views on married sex because sister is celibate. But Ms.Reed holds forth on options for childbirth, even though she's never given birth. What's the difference?
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