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on 12 June 2000
'New Habits' brings to light the real humanity of women who are nuns. It dislodges all those previous concepts of what a nun is, ie locked away from the world, condemning of sex and sexuality, unapproachable, humorless, stern and ALWAYS Roman Catholic. In nearly every woman's story I saw pieces of myself. An alarming fact at first! Isabel Losada has done a wonderful job in her interviewing, bringing out the woman in the nun. The photo and intro to each woman gives the reader a sense of sitting and having a private chat, in which there is laughter and an unstuffy, spiritual awareness. I am sure for some of them it was a difficult decision to speak in such a public way and I take my hat off to each one of them for doing so and allowing us, the public, a glimpse behind those Convent doors, which are not so firmly closed anymore. The reader cannot help but be touched by and hold respect for each one of the women and their very personal journeys. I was so enchanted by the book that three months later I picked it up and read it again, slowly this time, allowing myself to realise and absorb the idea that I too could be and may be a nun some day. This book CAN change lives - it has changed mine.
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on 11 November 1999
This book, it's like a walk through a beautiful garden on one of God's many exquisite days -- all that makes the Universe radiant and miraculous is there. Every half hour we meet one of Isabel's ten novice nuns -- women she has interviewed who have chosen a life of service and prayer, simplicity and love. And we walk wtih them for a while. These women are magnificent, not because they have chosen a 'noble' life but because they remind us, in the simplist and purest sense, of how precious and fragile life is. The author allows her novices to speak for themselves, and each is so eloquent in sharing with us why she has chosen to 'have time with God.' And the most wonderful thing about the book -- aside from the pleasure of meeting them -- is the peace one feels in the company of these women, that is to say in the presence of human beings who have consciously chosen a life relationship with that which is divine and eternal. In meeting them, we are invited into their world and enriched by their humanity, their centeredness and wisdom, their simple and profound appreciation for the power of Love, which is God, in the Universe. Our walk with them in the garden is a healing moment. Thank you, Isabel.
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on 9 December 2001
This collection of interviews with ten novices in different Anglican Orders gives a great insight into life within a convent. I would recommend this book to anyone who is considering becoming a nun, of any denomination, as a realistic portrayal of what it is like to be a novice. It is a 'warts-and-all' portrayal but is positive about the Religious Life. Isobel Losada writes this well, allowing the novices to tell their story, it is not her view of their lives and she stays out of the picture. This would be a good book for anyone but especially for the families and friends of anyone thinking of entering the Religious Life.
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on 28 October 1999
Surprised, enlightened and challenged. I came to this book as a rather sceptical non Christian, who's perception of nuns was, to say the least, somewhat stereotypical. I also appraoched it with the eye of someone who is curious about why people do what they do, and someone who is looking for a greater sense of balance in my life, less rush, more quality etc. What really impressed me was the challenge of the sisters who had entered into enclosed communities. The prospact of being cut off from all the easier parts of life which I take for granted, would terrify me and most of the people I know and yet here are women who have such faith in their god, and such trust in him that they have the confidence to take the leap (albeit after spending some hard time preparing themselves for it). I read the book in two sitting, found it to be very easy in style.It left me with the impression that the nuns interviewed were very "normal", well adjusted and likeable people, with a sense of humour and the courage to do something which for them has real meaning and real challenge. I am still a non Christian, but with a far greater understanding of why someone would want to do this, and contemplating a retreat of my own into a monastery! Maybe they have the answer.
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on 12 November 1999
Challenged by a close friend of hers who one day announced she was going to become a nun, Isabel Losada decided to find out what really motivates relatively young women to try kicking their old habits in favour of a whole set of new ones. Discovering that some of these novices were far from 'not missing what they'd never had' this book reveals ten women from widely different backgrounds positively embracing a radical lifestyle which far from being outmoded, offers a number of challenges to the way many of us live.
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on 10 November 1999
What a concept! So often these days it seems that we only hear from those people who are unhappy and seem to want to make everyone else feel unhappy too. And these women share something deep and meaningful about what is really important in their lives. And to be able to say that what is so meaningful is God! I am truly amazed. I enjoyed the book very, very much.
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on 6 November 1999
I wish this book had been around when I was a young girl being taught by Catholic nuns. Ms Losada succeeds in unravelling the mysteries surrounding, and sometimes the stigma attached to, these incredibly dedicated, happy and well-adjusted women. I give 5 stars to each of the nuns for their candour and their willingness to share themselved with us, and 5 stars to the author for giving them the venue to do so. I only wish the author had had more to say because her writing style was insightful, humorous, and refreshing. I hope there is more to come from her.
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on 10 September 1999
New Habits is awe inspiring. These 10 women really open their lives to the interviewer giving a very honest account of how and why they decided to join a Religious Community and the impact of that decision on their own lives and the lives of those they love.
They each share a very personal story with an unexpected generosity. The common thread is a very evident love for God, their sisters and the world in which they live. To Christians this is a book that challenges our understanding of prayer and community, to those without a faith it is a challenge to see beyond our expectations and prejuduces and discover the transformations faith can make in peoples lives. It isn't running from the world but running to God that is evident here. Read it and be surprised.
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on 3 December 1999
Why would any woman in today's world become a nun?
I spent six years in a Roman Catholic religious order, from 1966 to 1972, because I experienced a strange and unsettling call. Those post-Vatican years generated a wind sweeping through the world of Catholic nuns, monks and priests, a vast raising of dust in the corners of our self-consciousness. We wondered if religious life was "relevant" to a future-shocked society as we deliberated whether to saty or leave. Refreshingly, that kind of sociological navel gazing is entirely absent in New Habits.
Rather, ten Anglican novices of varying ages and orders reveal with warmth and intimacy the core of commitment to God. This personal quality, rather than a stab at psycholsocial analysis, distinguishes the book. Sister Lynn, for example, typifies the ingenousness of the novices: "What I most love about the life here is the freedom. It sounds weird because I was just moaning about the restrictions and the timetable and stuff, but at the same time community has allowed me to be who I am. I don't have to pretend." Ten women, ten stories, ten souls laid bare. No pretense. And Losada graciously stands in the wings and allows each nun center stage.
What do we imagine about nuns and their lives? New Habits rings with faith, honesty and simplicity as each woman conveys her profound inner reflections and her humdrum daily experiences. The parallel format of the interviews - personal history followed by insights into poverty, celibacy and obedience - lends a mantra-like rhythm to the book. Through this gentle repetition, what comes across is the goodness of a life dedicated to enjoying and manifesting God's love in a faith community - which thus becomes its own excuse for existence. Relevance? Who cares? That every sister in the book was an active participant in life prior to her vocation cannot be doubted. That each of them is currently fulfilled is equally obvious. Thy will be done!
New Habits may not send any readers into the convent, but minimally it satisfies our curiousity. Beyond that, it makes it eminently clear that whatever fun,joy and accomplishment life in the lay world has to offer, something intangibly deeper and quietly ecstatic lurks within convent walls, in God's world, where only a few of us ever savor it. I've had both, and I know.
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on 15 May 1999
Very interesting book which put paid to the idea of nuns escaping from the world. All of the nuns spoke of their calling and how it affected them simply and the result was very moving.
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