9780060937072 / 0060937076

For the Love of God: The Faith and Future of the American Nun


Publisher:Harper Perennial



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About the book:

The American nun population reached its peak of more than 181,000 in 1965. Now, at the turn of the millennium, there are only about 84,000 American nuns, according to author Lucy Kaylin, who set out to investigative this dwindling clan of women. As most environmental activists know, one of the best ways to protect an endangered species is to help humans appreciate its place in the world. And this is exactly what Kaylin does for this unique order of women.

Using her strong narrative skills, Kaylin takes us inside the altruistic world of nuns. We learn of the true grit involved--the tough inner-city service jobs as well as the rugged rural chores. We witness vulnerable moments, such as the time when Vatican II allowed nuns to shed their habits and women were faced with learning to style their hair for the first time in adulthood. One of her most tender chapters speaks to the myths and realities of nuns' sexuality, where sisters speak of the struggles and comfort that come from their profound vow to chastity. By the time Kaylin addresses the future of nuns, readers of all denominations are wholeheartedly rooting for their survival. This is where Kaylin hits the hardest--challenging the church to accept women in the ranks of the clergy, "thus ensuring them full participation in the faith to which they have devoted themselves utterly". Ultimately, this is a feminist, spiritual and heartrending piece of investigative writing that captures the importance of nuns' ongoing existence, hopefully before it's too late. --Gail Hudson

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