People are endlessly fascinated by the mystery of nuns as they walk among us in the world.
In The Calling, Catherine Whitney follows the daily routine of a Dominican community for a year. She reveals a rare inside view of these lives of devotion, while answering the questions that most fascinate the lay public. The Calling is Whitney's search for answers from a community that has existed for centuries but is still evolving. The story contains elements of romance, personal heroism, suffering, existential anxiety, and boundless joy. It is a human tale cloaked in a superhuman mantle.
©2008 Catherine Whitney; (P)2008 Brilliance Audio
The style of this supposedly non fiction book is very odd, as the setting of the scene is descriptive in a style I tend to only come across in novels. Really didn't enjoy this - not a good look at what the book perports to be about.
The subtitle of this book is quite misleading. Halfway through the book we have yet to begin the year-long journey with the nuns. The book is more a memoir of the author's life than anything else, and that is not why I purchased this book. I purchased the book out of an interest in the lives of those who chose religious vocation as a lifestyle. I have no interest in the author's life, and she doesn't convince me that I should.
Once I accepted the listen for what it is, it became an entertaining light read. I had expected a more academic, documentary type audiobook or a deeper spiritual meditation; however, this was a personal memoir as entry into and exploration of the subject, and as a reviewer below states, the subtitle is misleading. It's as much an overview of growing up Catholic, American style, in 60s and 70s told in a chatty magazine style as an explanation of "the call." The last hour and a half were interesting, but mostly superficial reflection. A listener looking for a deeper book on "the call" to spiritual life might do better to download Thomas Moore's "Meditations for the Monk who Dwells in Everyday Life" or James Finlay's "Meditation for Christians" or Kathleen Norris'"Cloister Walk."
I almost stopped the listen during the first hour because of the description of dreary and authoritarian 1960s Catholicism (well, much of it was dreary and authoritarian, but there was also the Vatican II wind blowing at the time, mention of which the author omits until 2 hours into her fundamentalist and parochial version of Catholicism). The author becomes a bit more comprehensive later in her narrative as she updates herself on contemporary expressions of Catholicism, but never gets beyond light weight magazine depth.
Because of the changing time frames in the narrative, a listener who doesn't know the difference between pre and post Vat II religious life might not be able to sort out when anecdotes happened and misconstrue post Vat II Catholicism and community life of nuns.
"A religious path not taken"
The author, who herself considered becoming a nun in her early years of a Catholic education, gives an inside look at what it means to be nun today, and how that meaning has evolved over the last few decades.
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