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"A good story and first-rate social science."—New York Times Book Review. A sinisterly funny modern-day Through the Looking Glass that begins with cyanide poisoning and ends in strawberry ice cream. The idea of the Native American living in perfect harmony with nature is one of the most cherished contemporary myths. But how truthful is this larger-than-life image? According to anthropologist Shepard Krech, the first humans in North America demonstrated all of the intelligence, self-interest, flexibility, and ability to make mistakes of human beings anywhere. As Nicholas Lemann put it in The New Yorker, "Krech is more than just a conventional-wisdom overturner; he has a serious larger point to make. . . . Concepts like ecology, waste, preservation, and even the natural (as distinct from human) world are entirely anachronistic when applied to Indians in the days before the European settlement of North America." "Offers a more complex portrait of Native American peoples, one that rejects mythologies, even those that both European and Native Americans might wish to embrace."—Washington Post "My story, the story of 'how I became a nun,' began very early in my life; I had just turned six. The beginning is marked by a vivid memory, which I can reconstruct down to the last detail. Before, there is nothing, and after, everything is an extension of the same vivid memory, continuous and unbroken, including the intervals of sleep, up to the point where I took the veil ." So starts Cesar Aira's astounding "autobiographical" novel. Intense and perfect, this invented narrative of childhood experience bristles with dramatic humor at each stage of growing up: a first ice cream, school, reading, games, friendship. The novel begins in Aira's hometown, Coronel Pringles. As self-awareness grows, the story rushes forward in a torrent of anecdotes which transform a world of uneventful happiness into something else: the anecdote becomes adventure, and adventure, fable, and then legend. Between memory and oblivion, reality and fiction, Cesar Aira's How I Became a Nun retains childhood's main treasures: the reality of fable and the delirium of invention. A few days after his fiftieth birthday, Aira noticed the thin rim of the moon, visible despite the rising sun. When his wife explained the phenomenon to him he was shocked that for fifty years he had known nothing about "something so obvious, so visible." This epiphany led him to write How I Became a Nun. With a subtle and melancholic sense of humor he reflects on his failures, on the meaning of life and the importance of literature.
In 1950 the Ivanhoes were a stable family living in the oil town of Bakersfield, California. An oil geologist father with a secure job at Standard Oil and a wide circle of friends. Then calamity struck! Their teenage son was sent to Juvenile Hall for stealing. Overcome by shame, unable to face their friends, the family moved. From job to job, from country to country, uncertainty and frugality ruled their lives for decades. An arrest in Moscow by the KGB. In Poland, a fight for restitution of a stolen suitcase. Such events colored their travels. When the gypsy wonderers finally decided to retum to California, the author, with little money and no hotel reservations but lots of moxie, travels alone to Tehran, Bangkok, Manila, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Vancouver. Rocks in Her Head is an unembellished personal story told with humor, sincerity and candor as the author describes her dynamic life of travel and determination in diverse lands. What a trip! Youll love every page, every mile Helen Smart takes you in her charming and yes, very wise true story remaking her familys lives Laird Koenig
This is the story of Sister Chiara, the socialite who became a Franciscan nun. Born into the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, presented at court and married to an army officer, Chiara Hatton Hall set up a riding school for the international social elite. Her students included the young Princess Royal, Princess Anne. At the age of 42, after the death of her husband, Chiara found her vocation as a religious and exchanged her jodhpurs for a Franciscan habit. Embracing a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, she was later to become an instructing judge on a diocesan marriage tribunal. Then, at the suggestion of an imaginative superior, she took up the reins again - this time to work for Riding for the Disabled, travelling the world to teach riding instructors how to bring confidence, self-respect and joy to mentally and physically handicapped adults and children. Now in her 80th year, Sister Chiara looks back on a life of dramatic contrasts that were ultimately reconciled by embracing the spirit of St Francis.
A collection of extraordinary oral histories of American nuns, Habits of Change captures the experiences of women whose lives over the past fifty years have been marked by dramatic transformation. Bringing together women from more than forty different religious communities, most of whom entered religious life before Vatican II, the book shows how their lives were suddenly turned around in the 1960s--perhaps more so than any other group of contemporary women. Here these women speak of their active engagement in the events that disrupted their church and society and of the lives they lead today, offering their unique perspective on issues such as peace activism, global equality for women, and the clergy sexual abuse crisis. The interviewees include a Maryknoll missionary who spent decades in Africa, most recently in the Congo; an inner-city art teacher whose own paintings reflect the vibrancy of Haiti; a recovering alcoholic who at age 71 has embarked on her fourth ministry; a life-long nurse, educator, and hospital administrator; and an outspoken advocate for the gay and lesbian community. Told with simplicity, honesty, and passion, their stories deserve to be heard.
A unique coming-of-age story, this entertaining memoir recounts a young woman’s experience becoming a nun in the '60s, a decade of serious change not only for America but also for the Roman Catholic Church. In 1964, 18-year-old Karol Jackowski joined the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Indiana, beginning what would be a seven-year journey towards her final vows. In that time, the Second Vatican Council decided to change liturgy to allow sisters to preside with priests at the altar, permit young nuns to keep their birth names, and modify the traditional black habit, among other advancements meant to put women on equal footing with men. Alongside this, Jackowski writes of her appreciation of the more traditional aspects of her vocation, such as silence, contemplative prayer, and the three-fold vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She mixes these lessons with humorous anecdotes—such as the time her high school friends unsuccessfully attempted to smuggle a bag of vodka-laced oranges to her—to craft a memoir marked by both spiritual enlightenment and hilarious candor.
In a culture where beauty is currency, women’s bodies are often perceived as measures of value and worth. The search for visibility and self-acceptance can be daunting, especially for those on the cultural margins of “beauty.” Becoming Women offers a thoughtful examination of the search for identity in an image-oriented world. That search is told through the experiences of a group of women who came of age in the wake of second and third wave feminism, featuring voices from marginalized and misrepresented groups. Carla Rice pairs popular imagery with personal narratives to expose the “culture of contradiction” where increases in individual body acceptance have been matched by even more restrictive feminine image ideals and norms. With insider insights from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, Rice exposes the beauty industry’s colonization of women’s bodies, and examines why “the beauty myth” has yet to be resolved.
In recent years Buddhist nuns from Asia and the West have met together to become more active in improving their status in the female sangha. At "Life As A Buddhist Nun," the 1996 conference in Dharamsala, His Holiness the Dalai Lama supported this effort of Buddhist nuns to clarify their purpose in taking vows, widening their context, broadening community beyond their own abbeys, and supporting one another on their quest to achieve greater equality. This book gathers some of the presentations and teaching at this conference. Coming from many different countries and backgrounds, these women show ways they have found to embrace group practice in an era when most societies extol individualism. Their passion for earned wisdom should inspire lay practitioners and other nuns seeking the essence of Buddhist practice.

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