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Flunking Sainthood
Cover of Flunking Sainthood
Flunking Sainthood
A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor

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 Reiss 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.

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 Reiss 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.

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About the Author-
  • Jana Riess is the author or editor of nine books, including What Would Buffy Do? Although she is a spiritual failure and was never able to climb the rope in gym class, she has a doctorate from Columbia University and has worked in the publishing indistry for over a decade. She blogs at http://blog.beliefnet.flunkingsainthood/

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 12, 2011
    Punchy humor and unpretentious inquisitiveness combine in this absorbing memoir in which former PW editor Riess (What Would Buffy Do?) commits to both adopting and studying a new religious practice each month for a year, while simultaneously reflecting on her spiritual progress. Choosing such diverse disciplines as fasting “like a Muslim during Ramadan,” exploring lectio divina, observing an Orthodox Jewish Sabbath, practicing Benedictine hospitality, and engaging in the Liturgy of the Hours, the author shares frustrations and insights in a manner likely to amuse and comfort readers, especially those who have attempted such exercises and also found them challenging. For example, Riess’s description of her internal dialogue during Centering Prayer, concludes, “ ‘Shut the hell up!’ yells Spiritual Mind,” while her experience of practicing mindfulness, with annoying help from the never sainted Brother Lawrence, leads to a sympathetic observation that he’s “an underappreciated housewife.” Supporting quotes from saints and writers (St. John Chrysostom, Dorothy Day, Thornton Wilder) pepper the text. The author’s declared “failures” make her a sympathetic witness, while such “successes” as her description of how “ratitude practically tackles me,” prove genuinely moving. A witty, inspiring read.

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    Paraclete Press
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Flunking Sainthood
Flunking Sainthood
A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor
Jana Reiss
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