This wry memoir tackles twelve different spiritual practices in a quest to become more saintly, including fasting, fixed-hour prayer, the Jesus Prayer, gratitude, Sabbath-keeping, and generosity. Although Riess begins with great plans for success ("Really, how hard could that be?" she asks blithely at the start of her saint-making year), she finds to her growing humiliation that she is failing--not just at some of the practices, but at every single one. What emerges is a funny yet vulnerable story of the quest for spiritual perfection and the reality of spiritual failure, which turns out to be a valuable practice in and of itself.
Praise for Flunking Sainthood:
" Flunking Sainthood is surprising and freeing; it is fun and funny; and it is full of wisdom. It is, in fact, the best book on the practices of the spiritual life that I have read in a long, long time." - Lauren Winner, author of Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath
Jana Riess reminds us that saints are different from most of us: They are special, we are barely normal. They get it right, we rarely get it. They see God, we strain to see much of anything. And, Jana is no saint. Rather than climbing to the pinnacle and sitting on a pedestal to tell us how it could be, Jana slides right next to us and reminds us that sainthood is overrated. With humor and insight she whispers to is that our lives matter just as they are. She prods us to never let our failures hold us back. She calls us to something greater than spiritual success - ordinary faithfulness.
Flunking Sainthood is the book I'm giving to my friends who are seeking to make sense of their emerging faith. - Doug Pagitt, author of A Christianity Worth Believing
"Jana Riess may have flunked at sainthood, but she's written a wonderful book. It's both reverent and irreverent, and it will make you want to become a better Christian -- or Jew, or Muslim, or Zoroastrian, or Jedi, or whatever you happen to be." - AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
"Warm, light-hearted, and laugh-out-loud funny, Jana Riess may indeed have flunked sainthood, but this memoir assures us that she is utterly and deeply human, and that is something even more wonderful. Honest and sincere, she will endear you from page one." -- Donna Freitas, author of The Possibilities of Sainthood
"With a helpfully hilarious account of her own grappling with godliness, Jana Riess proves to be a standup historian well-practiced in the art of oddly revivifying self-deprecation. She loves her guides, historical and contemporary, even as she finds them alternately impractical, harsh, or "infuriatingly jolly." The book is freaking wonderful--a candid and committed tale of prayers that resists supersizing and spirituality that has no home save the glory and the muck of the everyday."--David Dark, author of The Sacredness of Questioning Everything
"Jana Riess's new book is a delight--fun, funny, engaging and a powerful reminder that the greatest work in our lives is not what we'll do for God but what God is doing in us." --Margaret Feinberg, www.margaretfeinberg.com, author of Scouting the Divine
and Hungry for God
"Flunking Sainthood allows those of us who have attempted new spiritual practices-- and failed-- to breathe a great sigh of relief and to laugh out loud. Jana Reiss's expose of her year-long and less-than-successful attempts at eleven classic spiritual practices entertains and educates us with its honesty and down-to-earthiness. In spite of Jana's paltry attempts at piety and her botched prayer makeovers, God showed up in the surprising, sneaky ways that only God does.
Jana is the kind of girlfriend I like to have--hilarious, smart, stubborn, irreverent, and totally gaga over God. She writes in the unfiltered, uncensored way I'd write if I had the skill and the guts (Oh sorry, Mom, I meant gumption, not guts.)" --Sybil MacBeth, author of Praying in Color