recently read: Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns, by Cheryl L. Reed.
I really, really wanted to like this book. It was particularly well-reviewed and has an interesting premise: a reporter from Chicago interviews 300 nuns to get a perspective on who the the modern nun is. I was interested to see how a non-Catholic would view a distinctly Catholic institution.
Reed’s nuns were all older, mostly un-habited nuns who were very angry and progressive to a fault. She rarely reported on habited nuns and those that she did were angry, repressed, and unwelcoming. Anyone that has met a Sister of Life or a Franciscan Sister of the Renewal can tell you that nuns are not necessarily repressed, angry women.
Many of the “nuns” she interviewed disagree with Church teaching; some do not attend Mass. Others said they do not consider themselves Catholic. Clearly, then, these are not women who are representative of the modern church. I would have liked her to interview younger women, but she wrote that almost no nuns are young women, which is untrue.
What bothered me most, though, about Reed’s book is that she, as a non-Catholic, was trying to find the perfect religious community, but according to her standards of perfection. She was judgmental of nuns with different views and disregarded many orders because they weren’t “feminist” enough. For Reed, the only reason she could see for joining a religious community was to commune with women as feminists. She was dismissive of many of the practices and rituals that Catholics hold sacred simply because she didn’t understand them.
I was angry most of the time while I was reading this book, and it is certainly not because Reed and I have different views, but because she clearly didn’t talk to the right women. Her effort was a good one, but as a young Catholic, she did not capture the Church as I know it to be.