Wednesday, September 03, 2014

if nuns ruled the world


religiondispatches |  What inspired you to write If Nuns Ruled the World?
Around 2009 I started spending a lot of time around nuns. I was finishing a thesis for my masters over at NYU and the topic was how Catholic nuns used social media. I started traveling around the country to meet with nuns who blogged and tweeted.

Despite having gone to an all-girls Catholic high school I had just as many stereotypes of Catholic sisters as anyone does. But the nuns I met on the road began to shatter those stereotypes. They weren’t these stuffy, ruler-wielding automatons. They were independent bad-asses. And each of these bad-ass nuns led to another bad-ass nun. I would come back home from some of these trips and share their stories at dinner parties and people were just so surprised. They’d never heard of nuns doing so many amazing things. In fact, they hadn’t heard that much about nuns at all. That’s when I knew there were stories here that needed to be told.

What’s the most important take-home message for readers?
Nuns are the true embodiment of the way that Christians believe Jesus Christ wanted us to live. They are right there fighting on the frontlines of social justice for the people who live at the margins of our society. They rarely get banner headlines or magazine covers or even recognition from their male peers, but they do it anyway.

In my book I talk about Sister Jeannine Gramick’s fighting for the rights of gay Catholics for the past four decades, Sister Joan Dawber running a safe house for victims of human trafficking, Sister Donna Quinn fighting for a woman’s right to have an abortion and Sister Simone Campbell leading the Nuns on the Bus to lobby for political justice for the poorest of the poor in America. These are women whose praises we should be singing from the rooftops.

For a good portion of my career I covered the entertainment industry and celebrities. One of my goals here was to elevate the incredible work of the nuns so that we will consume their stories as hungrily as we consume content about celebrities.