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Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood

Bio

Jana Riess is the author of Flunking Sainthood, a 2011 book about failing at twelve different spiritual practices. She is also currently working on The Twible, a three-year Twitter project with humorous daily Bible updates for your amusement (find her on Twitter as @janariess). She has a few silly degrees from swanky schools but was never once able to climb the rope in gym class. Her spiritual director is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Thank You, Flunking Sainthood Readers!

posted by Jana Riess

OK, I admit it. I have a Google Alert on the title Flunking Sainthood, so that the search engine lets me know when there are new reviews or discussions about the book. In the last few weeks it has been […]

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NYC Conference on Mormonism & American Politics, February 3-4

posted by Jana Riess

“First Mitt won Iowa, then he lost Iowa? That’s a classic Romney flip-flop.” –Stephen Colbert     Working with the theory that there hasn’t been nearly enough attention to Mormonism and politics this year, what with it being in the […]

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Writing Retreat

posted by Jana Riess

Friends, I will be offline until January 23 for a writing retreat. I’m bringing my computer, but the place where I am going doesn’t have email access, which is one of the reasons I love it. So if you are […]

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Fun with the Book of Lamentations

posted by Jana Riess

Actually, no. That title was just a teaser. There really aren’t any fun moments in the Book of Lamentations, which is why I had to make my own with the Twible. As you’ve probably guessed, Lamentations is a bit of […]

Washington Post on Faith: Is Romney Mormonism’s JFK?

posted by Jana Riess

I have an article today in the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog, tackling the question of Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and how it fits into American political history. Now that the Republicans seem to be holding their noses and voting for […]

Why Do We Do Spiritual Practices?

posted by Jana Riess

I’ve been editing a superb book recently by Lynne Baab on spiritual practices. (Called Joy Together, it’ll be out in the fall.) After exploring what congregations and churches can do to grow with God together by trying contemplative prayer, Sabbath-keeping, […]

Authors Behaving Badly

posted by Jana Riess

I caught an interesting episode of the Diane Rehm show today featuring Lori Andrews, author of I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did,a new book releasing today about social networks and the rapid erosion of privacy. […]

“Flunking Sainthood” on NPR This Morning

posted by Jana Riess

Just a quick note to say that I’ll be interviewed live today on Michel Martin’s NPR show “Tell Me More” at 11:20 a.m. This is all thanks to Kelly Hughes, the best book publicist ever. (She even flies around in […]

Print Book Sales Down by 9% in 2011 . . . But There’s Good News Too

posted by Jana Riess

PW and Publishers Marketplace are both reporting that print book sales were down by about 9% in 2011, with the heaviest hits being in paperback fiction (-17.7%) and mass market paperbacks (23.4%). In almost every category, print sales were down […]

Mormons Who Can’t Help Cheering for Mitt Romney

posted by Jana Riess

I have a confession to make: even though I knew I had to wake up at 4:30 this morning to catch a flight, I stayed up well into the night for the nail-biting final results of the Iowa caucuses. I […]

A More Spiritual 2012: Failing Forward with God

posted by Jana Riess

Happy New Year, friends. This year on my blog (which, BTW, is moving locations! More on that soon), I’ll be talking at least once a week about spiritual practices and how/whether to implement them. Why do we pray, give to […]

What the Christian Century’s Top Stories of the Year Say about Protestant Anxiety

posted by Jana Riess

I just found out that my autumn Christian Century story on “The Mormon Moment” was the magazine’s second-most popular article of 2011. But this isn’t because the article was particularly well-written or insightful; it wasn’t. I tried to do too […]

Twenty Years Married . . . Really?

posted by Jana Riess

Twenty years ago today, I stood at the altar and married my best friend. It was a beautiful candlelight evening wedding that we put together on a shoestring budget of $2,000. (Two thousand dollars for the entire wedding and cake-and-punch […]

The Yucky Underside of the Nativity: Or, What You Won’t See in Next Year’s Christmas Pageant

posted by Jana Riess

A friend of mine recently pointed out that tomorrow is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Don’t know what that is? Neither did I. In a nutshell, it marks that icky, violent part of the nativity story that every Christmas […]

Mormon Conversions, in History and in the Heart

posted by Jana Riess

I was 23 and in divinity school when I converted to Mormonism. You can imagine that it was an unexpected choice for someone studying to become a pastor. I was perhaps the most surprised of all; God does crazy stuff […]

Thoughts on sainthood with a Lower-Case S

posted by Jana Riess

No grand cohesive post today, just a couple of musings on what it means to be a saint. What I’ve found through researching (read: screwing up) and writing Flunking Sainthood is that many people (read: my friends and I) have […]

Busy Women, Advent Conspiracies, and the Countdown to Christmas

posted by Jana Riess

I love this post from Ellen Painter Dollar over at the Introverted Church blog. She hits upon something fundamental about the irony of December: the Advent season encourages us to slow down and embrace silent reflection even as the wider […]

For Fans of Children’s Fantasy: “The Flint Heart”

posted by Jana Riess

Do you have a 4th-7th grader who enjoys fantasy fiction? For fun this month I listened to The Flint Heart, a middle-grade fantasy novel by Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia) and her husband John. They “freely adapted” this from an […]

Bonhoeffer, Week 3: “Your Redemption Is Drawing Near” in Advent

posted by Jana Riess

In Week 3 of Advent, our Wednesday devotion from Bonhoeffer brings ever closer the question of redemption: what does it mean for us? Clearly, we’re looking for “something different from the anxious, petty, depressed, feeble Christian spirit that we see […]

CFP for New Book on Joss Whedon and Theology!

posted by Jana Riess

Friends, over at Theofantastique is a CFP for a proposed volume on Joss Whedon & theology: CALL FOR PAPERS Joss Whedon and Theology The works of Joss Whedon — from his hit television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and […]

How American is “All-American Muslim”?: Not Enough

posted by Jana Riess

The news is filled today with reports that Lowe’s and other major corporations have pulled advertising from the new TLC series All-American Muslim, caving to the demands of the right-wing Florida Family Association. The FFA says it is concerned that […]

On Anti-Mormon Prejudice

posted by Jana Riess

Today was my first monthly blogging gig over at Emergent Village’s new multiblogger site on Patheos. I’m grateful to be asked to join, because as I mention in this first post (which is admittedly a weird calling card with which […]

Bonhoeffer, Week 2: The “Wonder of All Wonders” in Advent

posted by Jana Riess

This is our second week of Advent Wednesday devotions from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas.  Today’s theme is how God makes himself meek and lowly in order to be with us. Why can’t […]

“Still Alice” and the Specter of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s

posted by Jana Riess

This month my book club read Still Alice, neuroscientist Lisa Genova’s haunting novel about a Harvard cognitive science professor who discovers, at age 50 and the height of her career, that she is succumbing to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. My take […]

Flunking Deadlines, Setting Limits

posted by Jana Riess

Someone told me recently, “I don’t know how you do it all.” I’ve heard this before and it’s nice that I fooled that person, but here is the truth: I am going a bit barmy with overcommitment. This weekend I […]

Cincinnati Booksigning Tomorrow

posted by Jana Riess

Just a quick post at the end of an incredibly busy day. Whew! I will be signing copies of Flunking Sainthood tomorrow afternoon from 2:00 to 3:30 at the Bookshelf shop on Camargo Road. It’s in the Madeira neighborhood of […]

25 Books Every Christian Should Read. Plus A Few More They Forgot.

posted by Jana Riess

I have a soft spot for guides like 25 Books Every Christian Should Read, which has been reviewed by multiple bloggers recently as part of the Patheos Book Club Roundtable. I tend to like books that direct me to other […]

Bonhoeffer, Week 1: “Christ Is Standing at the Door” in Advent

posted by Jana Riess

As I did last year, I’m going to spend Wednesdays during Advent posting snippets from a devotional I compiled from some of the writings and sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Today, he preaches about the challenges of waiting for Jesus . […]

A Joel Osteen Reality Show . . . Seriously?

posted by Jana Riess

Today on Twitter a notice flashed by about a Joel Osteen reality show, and I thought it was a joke. It’s actually not. Or if it is, it’s not intended to be. Entertainment Weekly reports that Osteen, who pastors a […]

“Flunking Sainthood” on Sale for $2 for 2 Days

posted by Jana Riess

Attention Bookmart shoppers. Just wanted to let you know that the Kindle and Nook editions of Flunking Sainthood are on sale right now for $1.99! This expires on Wednesday, so act soon if you’ve been interested in purchasing a copy […]

15 Holiday Reading Suggestions

posted by Jana Riess

Last week at a book conference, I attended an intimate dinner to celebrate the forthcoming publication of my friend Lauren Winner’s memoir Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis. At the table, we all introduced ourselves by telling about some of […]

iThanksgiving

posted by Jana Riess

Today is the first major holiday of my life that I will spend entirely alone. The good news is that I have plenty of fine books to read, and the house is warm and peaceful. The bad news is that […]

Book Giveaway of “Flunking Sainthood”

posted by Jana Riess

This week on Margaret Feinberg’s blog, she will be giving away three copies of Flunking Sainthood! Her question: How do you relate to being a “flunky” of sainthood? Her three favorite responses will win a free copy of the book. […]

Masada’s Women: A Review of Alice Hoffman’s “The Dovekeepers”

posted by Jana Riess

When I was nineteen years old I traveled for a month in Israel as part of a college Wintersession experience. Israel is always a contentious place, but especially at that time during the height of the intifada; any naïve idealism […]

Uncovering Joseph Smith’s Journals: A Conversation with Two LDS Church Historians

posted by Jana Riess

A couple of weeks ago when I was in Salt Lake City I had the privilege of sitting down with two historians who work with the Joseph Smith Papers project, an ambitious documentary history effort that’s seeing another volume in […]

The Mormon Skeleton in My Family’s Closet

posted by Jana Riess

Every family has one, right? The skeleton in the closet. The story that doesn’t get told. I just didn’t realize that my own family’s story would involve a touch of shame about my religion. I’m an adult convert to Mormonism, […]

Charity Never Faileth . . . Especially When Mormons Tell Official Versions of Relief Society History

posted by Jana Riess

By Sarah Hogan The history of the Relief Society is riveting stuff–seriously–and a book that recounts what Mormon women have accomplished should be both fascinating and inspiring. Daughters in My Kingdom duly provides some of each. Readers are cautioned in […]

“Flunking Sainthood” News and Video

posted by Jana Riess

I’m feeling very humbled and grateful today and wanted to express that on the blog. Thanks to everyone who has helped to make these last two weeks so special in my life as a writer, either by dropping me a […]

Jesus and Superman: Do We Really Need the Backstory?

posted by Jana Riess

Here’s a fun and quirky Friday musing from my buddy Leighton Connor, a Comicon fanboy and thoughtful Christian who’s part of my writing group in Cincinnati. I especially love the last line: “I like my Jesus like I like my […]

Jacob Black, Pedophile?

posted by Jana Riess

With the Breaking Dawn movie coming out in a couple of weeks, hundreds of thousands of Twi-hards will be revisiting Part 1 of the conclusion to Stephenie Meyer’s saga of romance and the undead boy next door. Most of them […]

The Moral of “Colonial House”: Academics Like Me Are Entirely Useless

posted by Jana Riess

As part of our family’s homeschooling in American history, I’ve been revisiting the old PBS series Colonial House, in which about two dozen contemporary people recreate New England of 1628 by living for several months in a replica colony that […]

Our Monsters, Ourselves: Great Halloween Reading

posted by Jana Riess

I’m not much of a horror film aficionado, but of course I enjoy some of the darker sci fi, like the feminist fairy tale that was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So I was intrigued to pick up the new book […]

Why Won’t 22% of Americans Vote for a Mormon Candidate? Help Some Filmmakers Find Out

posted by Jana Riess

Most Americans know enough about our national history to realize that no politician running for federal office should ever have to take a religious oath or pass an orthodoxy litmus test. It’s in that pesky Constitution: Article VI, paragraph 3. […]

Signing Today at Books by the Banks

posted by Jana Riess

Hey Cincinnati! If you love to read, stop by the Books by the Banks celebration today from 10 to 4 in the Duke Energy Center downtown. (Which is not technically by the banks, but we’ll work with it.) Here’s a […]

Mormon Women Get Upper-ity: This Week’s News & Commentary

posted by Jana Riess

Whew! Lots of Mormon items in the news this week, but here are my three favorite stories from around the Bloggernacle. 1)  The intrepid Cynthia L., who had that great BCC post a couple of weeks back raising the issue […]

Ragamuffin Brennan Manning Teaches That “All Is Grace”

posted by Jana Riess

Everyone loves a reformed sinner, and Brennan Manning provides that in spades in his new memoir All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir. On second thought, I think the Irish-American Catholic writer might borrow from Protestant reformer John Calvin in adopting […]

Flunking Contemplative Prayer . . . Where Was Richard Foster When I Needed Him?

posted by Jana Riess

I got an F in Centering Prayer. I truly thought I would love that particular spiritual practice. I enjoy—even crave—silence as a part of every day. Also, I liked the notion of a deep prayer that would transcend the checklists […]

“Flunking Sainthood” Now Available

posted by Jana Riess

I never thought I would write a memoir, and still maintain that no one ever should. There are far too many memoirs published already. But … well, there it is. I wrote one, and it’s out this week. I hope […]

“One Thousand White Women” and Religious Stereotypes

posted by Jana Riess

Last month, the Cincinnati library system (which is outstanding, in case you’re not lucky enough to live here) chose One Thousand White Women as the book for the city to read. By happenstance, one of my book clubs chose it […]

If You Love Books, Take This Survey (You Might Win a Kindle Touch!)

posted by Jana Riess

A couple of scholars are doing a national study on reading habits, and specifically on why people read. Is it for escape? For education? For social reasons/book club participation? And how does religious belief and practice affect what people read […]

Publish Your Book on Amazon: A Q&A with Tony Jones (Part 2)

posted by Jana Riess

  Yesterday we talked with Tony Jones about the content of his new book, The Church Is Flat. Today we’re doing a behind-the-scenes look at why he decided to self-publish for the first time, and what he learned from the […]

The Church Is Flat: A Q & A with Tony Jones (Part 1)

posted by Jana Riess

When I think about my favorite folks in the emerging church conversation, one of them is certainly Tony Jones, one of the movement’s founders. It was Tony’s book The New Christians that first introduced me to the idea of church […]

Mormon News & Commentary, from General Conference to The Bachelorette

posted by Jana Riess

Lots of news to report this week. First, hooray for new temples in South Africa, Colombia, and the D.R.C. as well as two in the American West.  Apparently the prototype at left is the preferred redesign among my Facebook friends […]

Becoming Gods: What Mormons Won’t Hear in This Weekend’s General Conference

posted by Jana Riess

This week, the cover story in the Christian Century is one I was asked to write about the “Mormon Moment” in America today, and all the attention given to the LDS faith in the wake of Broadway’s Book of Mormon […]

Why I Hit the “Dislike” Button on the New Facebook

posted by Jana Riess

I love Facebook, as and I’ve explained before, I think the idea of social media has strong theological import as well as pure entertainment value. (I admit there’s not much theological insight to be gained from looking up ex-boyfriends, but…there […]

A Muslim Wedding and an American Life

posted by Jana Riess

In July, I attended my first Muslim wedding, and it was an unforgettable occasion. The bride has been a good friend of mine for almost a decade, and in that time I’ve heard about the ups and downs of halal […]

New Podcast: NT Scholar NT Wright on Revelation

posted by Jana Riess

So it turns out that N.T. Wright gets almost as irritated as I do when people say “Revelations” and not “Revelation” to refer to the final book of the New Testament. I’m always delighted to be joined in my pedantry, […]

Try Your Hand at the Twible

posted by Jana Riess

Hi friends — This past weekend when speaking at a retreat, I presented some highlights from the Twible project and then had workshop participants try their hand at tweeting some chapters. We had a fantastic time and I think people […]

Buffy & Religion: Fun with Podcasts!

posted by Jana Riess

I’ve recently had the privilege of being interviewed for John Morehead’s TheoFantastique podcast, which explores the intersection of sci fi/fantasy and religion. We had a great conversation over Skype about Buffy, Buddhism, postmodern cafeteria religion, and the commodification of the […]

Mormon Women Advance through Retreating

posted by Jana Riess

I’m coming off a weekend high: a fabulous New Hampshire retreat with my peeps, an opportunity to try out scenes from my forthcoming book Flunking Sainthood on a new audience, and a chance to hang out with three of my […]

Hold the Phone: I Was Wrong about the “Inactive/Less Active” Terminology

posted by Jana Riess

A couple of days ago I blogged about the LDS Church encouraging Mormons to phase out the terms “inactive” and “less active” from their vocabulary. This is a story I had reposted from Wheat & Tares, which had a first-person […]

No More “Inactive” Members and a 9/17 Day of Service? This Week’s Mormon News & Commentary

posted by Jana Riess

Thoughts on four Mormon items in the news this week: 1) When was the last time you heard the terms “inactive Mormon” or “less active Mormon”? Over at Wheat and Tares, there’s an interesting post about a change brewing in […]

Revisiting My September 11 Sermon

posted by Jana Riess

This afternoon I dug into my computer files and found this old sermon that I gave on September 16, 2001, the Sunday after the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked. It was surreal to read it again a decade […]

Palmer Chinchen on Why He Hates Regret

posted by Jana Riess

Here’s a guest blog post from activist Palmer Chinchen, author of the new book God Can’t Sleep. Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about it: GOD CAN’T SLEEP: Waiting for Daylight on Life’s Dark Nights Palmer Chinchen. David C. […]

The Serpent Beguiled Me, and I Did Tweet: A Twible Presentation

posted by Jana Riess

Here’s a 12-minute talk I gave last month about the Twible project, with some of my favorite tweets from the Old Testament. Hope you enjoy it.

Sesame Streetwalkers: Peggy Orenstein on the Sexualization of the American Tween Girl

posted by Jana Riess

My daughter is not a pink-princess kind of girl, but we’ve had enough glimpses of fairy wings and pixie dust to make me interested in reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Peggy Orenstein’s incisive and funny exploration of the “new girlie-girl […]

Can Mormonism Make a Place for Same-Sex Marriage? Guest Blogger Brad Carmack Says Yes

posted by Jana Riess

“Hi, my name is Brad Carmack, calling on behalf of Protect Marriage Maine.  Will you vote to maintain the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman?” This was my phone pitch in October of 2009.  Calling […]

Ecclesiastes: For Everything, There Is a Season. Even for Contradictions.

posted by Jana Riess

“I had no idea how cynical the Book of Ecclesiastes could be,” I told my writing group a couple of weeks ago. “It also contradicts itself over and over again: Life sucks, and then it’s beautiful. There’s no reward in […]

What We Can Take from “The Mormon Moment”

posted by Jana Riess

Today’s “Talk of the Nation” broadcast will be devoted to Mormonism: what it is, what it’s not, and why so many non-Mormons are afraid of it. I don’t know who all the guests are, but I’m thrilled that one of […]

Burying Dad

posted by Jana Riess

Tomorrow, I am burying my father’s ashes in a little cemetery in southern Illinois, where he can be laid to rest near his parents. It’s an odd kind of closure. Some of you know that my father crashed back into […]

Please Read: In the Garden of Beasts

posted by Jana Riess

Over the weekend I finished Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, which still ranks in Amazon’s top twenty after almost three months in release. I predict a long (and well-deserved) […]

Have You Hugged a Proverb Today?

posted by Jana Riess

This morning I tweeted the last chapter of the Book of Proverbs: #Twible Prov 31: Dawn to-do list: Buy estate. Make winter coats. Weave cloth 1st. Make family look good. Be strong. Get Michelle Obama arms. As I worked my […]

If the World’s Getting Better, Why Do Americans Need Xanax?: Bradley Wright Falls Short with “Upside”

posted by Jana Riess

With riots in London, a nosedive in the stock market, and Michelle Bachmann dominating the airwaves, it’s hard to believe that the world is actually getting better. In fact, declension seems all but assured. Yet continuous improvement is the thesis […]

Ask a Mormon: FAQ

posted by Jana Riess

Today on Rachel Held Evans’s blog, I attempt to answer her readers’ top questions about Mormonism. You can also check out prior interviews in her “Ask” series, in which she’s talked to an atheist, a Catholic, and an Orthodox Jew. […]

Mormon Testimonies, Religious Kitsch, and Chieko Okazaki

posted by Jana Riess

I’m traveling this week, so there’s not much time to blog today. At the FAIR conference, I caught the second half of a fascinating presentation this morning on the LDS Church and immigration policy. At the Sunstone Symposium I’ve had […]

Print Books Aren’t Worth Fighting For

posted by Jana Riess

In this morning’s Chicago Tribune, guest writer Aaron Gilbreath, a bookseller at the esteemed indy stalwart Powell’s Books in Oregon, tells publishers that we should “fight dirty” to save our industry from the onslaught of ebooks. “Why hasn’t America’s publishing […]

Alabama Churches Fight New Anti-Immigration Law

posted by Jana Riess

Yesterday in Alabama, leaders from the Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, and Methodist denominations filed suit to halt enforcement of the state’s harsh new immigration law. (Apparently they’re in good company:  late yesterday, the justice department of the federal government also sued […]

Ask a Mormon . . . But Which Mormon?

posted by Jana Riess

Last night at dinner, a visiting 7-year old was trying to explain to me that duck-billed platypuses (platypi?) are actually mammals, even though they lay eggs. “But doesn’t the fact that they lay eggs automatically disqualify them from being mammals?” […]

Blogcation

posted by Jana Riess

This blog is on vacation for the last two weeks of July. It is going to Blog Camp where it will see its friends and brainstorm some new ideas. See you in August.

Quiverfull, the Duggars, and Reading Psalm 127

posted by Jana Riess

Ever heard of the Quiverfull movement? Chances are you have and just didn’t know it. If you’ve ever watched 17 18 19 Kids and Counting with the Duggar family, you’ll be familiar with the basic premise: don’t use birth control, […]

Polygamy by Numbers: How Many Mormons Were Really Involved?

posted by Jana Riess

  Last week I discussed the question of polygamy’s role in Mormon theology and whether the LDS concept of heaven still suggests it will involve plural marriage. I’m intrigued by the apparent gender breakdown of the comments on this post, […]

We Are More Than Halfway through the Twible…

posted by Jana Riess

I don’t have any pithy thoughts on this week’s rather random collection of Psalms from the Twible, but I do want to say this: 1) We are almost finished with the Psalms. I love the Psalms, but man, I need […]

Hells Bells! Francis Chan Erases Hell, and Refutes Bell, in New Book

posted by Jana Riess

For someone who doesn’t actually believe in hell, I’ve spent a lot of time reading about it lately, a prurient pastime that I’ll leave others to psychoanalyze. In the last two years there have been some fascinating books on the […]

My Polygamous Heaven . . . Not

posted by Jana Riess

A couple of weeks ago, I received a lovely email from a woman who used to be LDS, and eventually left the Church over several issues, including the persistence of polygamous theology among Mormons. I’ve been meaning to answer some […]

Learn Your ABCs: Big Bible Fun with Acrostic Poetry!

posted by Jana Riess

Remember when you were a kid and you had to make little “poems” where the first letters spelled out a word, like your own name? Here’s an example: Twible is a Winsome but Irritating Bible for Left-Leaning Evangelicals and others. […]

Gush, Gush . . . I Got to Interview Barbara Brown Taylor!

posted by Jana Riess

This month’s WJK Radio podcast has been posted, and I am all aflutter. Barbara Brown Taylor is one of my favorite spirituality writers, so it was a great honor to get to talk to her. You’ll be impressed with how […]

Cruising in Alaska, Part 2: Shore Excursions

posted by Jana Riess

We once again interrupt our regularly scheduled Beliefnet programming for a cruise update. An earlier post was a review of the Sapphire Princess (short version? Fantastic cruise), while today’s gives some highlights of various shore excursions our family took.   […]

Are Younger Evangelicals More Respectful of Mormonism than the Old Guard?

posted by Jana Riess

As I mentioned recently on Flunking Sainthood, I had the opportunity earlier this month to be a guest on the Mormon Matters podcast with LDS blogger Joanna Brooks and evangelical pastor John Morehead, talking about theological differences between our religions. […]

Happy Psalms. P.S. Ask Your Doctor Before Reading the Bible

posted by Jana Riess

Since I began the Twible project, people have sometimes asked me what the hardest parts of the Bible are to tweet. I didn’t have an answer for them at that time, but now I do, and it’s an unexpected one: […]

Americans and Vacation: How Do You Find Balance?

posted by Jana Riess

Over at The Jesus Creed blog today, Scot McKnight raises an important question about Americans and vacation. Here are some stats: Germany requires employers to give their workers at least four weeks of vacation. Finland, Brazil and France (no surprise) […]

Amazon + Audible.com = Amazing: A Marketing Story

posted by Jana Riess

Last week I succumbed to the “lure of the free.” I saw on Twitter that Audible.com was offering Kindle users  a limited-time promotion, in which Samuel L. Jackson‘s 6-minute audio rendition of the new sensation “Go the F**k to Sleep” […]

Wake Up, God, and Get the Hell Out of Bed

posted by Jana Riess

In doing the Twible recently I’ve come across a whole genre that I like to call the “Wake Up, God, and Get the Hell Out of Bed” Psalms. These are the Psalms for when God feels impossibly far away at […]

YA Fiction Review: “Wicked Lovely”

posted by Jana Riess

Our summer of frothy fiction continues with Wicked Lovely, the first in a YA series about faeries and the high school girls who . . . don’t quite love them. The trivia: Grade: B+ Age group: Suitable for 14 and […]

When Theological Disagreement Spills over into Anti-Mormonism

posted by Jana Riess

Over the last few weeks we’ve seen a maelstrom over at Patheos, which published Warren Cole Smith’s article “A Vote for Romney is a Vote for the LDS Church” on May 24. As this follow-up interview makes clear, Smith believes […]

Netflix and the Burden of Too Much Choice

posted by Jana Riess

I’ve got a post up today at Gathering Voices on how Netflix is complicating my life. According to psychological research, too much choice can actually paralyze us from making any choices at all. Hmmm. So it would seem . . […]

YA Fiction Review: Jennifer Donnelly’s “Revolution”

posted by Jana Riess

It’s summertime here at Flunking Sainthood, which means that I’ve put away any heavy theology tomes for the time being and am reading fiction. Lots of fiction, including YA. So each week in June I’ll be reviewing a YA book […]

Mormon Women, Twilight, and Internalized Sexism

posted by Jana Riess

A couple of years ago, I published a BYU Studies article about Mormon themes in Twilight that was picked up by Meridian, an LDS website. I received some feedback on the piece, mostly positive, though several readers took issue with […]

Thank You, Psalm 88

posted by Jana Riess

What do we make of Psalm 88? We saw last week that the Psalms of lament are a beautiful, if misunderstood, part of the Psalter, and that they serve a clear spiritual purpose. I talked about how much I liked […]

Authors, Have You Joined Amazon’s Author Central Yet? You Should.

posted by Jana Riess

Here’s an email I sent to all my WJK authors today, encouraging them to join Amazon’s free Author Central program. I joined myself earlier this week. One thing I learned is that the state where my books sell best is […]

Cruising in Alaska, Part 1: The Sapphire Princess

posted by Jana Riess

Home from Alaska! (I know I didn’t actually tell you all that I was going on vacation. I was going to do this, and let you know where the valuables and the spare key are kept, but then I had […]

One Year Later, Bruce R. McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine”: Buh. Bye.

posted by Jana Riess

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the quiet removal of Bruce R. McConkie’s compendium Mormon Doctrine from Deseret booktores. All references to it had already been expunged from the Gospel Principles manual brought back into use for priesthood and […]

Psalms for When Your Life Completely, Totally, and Utterly Sucks

posted by Jana Riess

Ah, the Psalms of lament. In terms of the “big categories” of Psalms, this one is the granddaddy. It seems I’m not the only one who likes to complain about life occasionally. Or daily. Here’s a sampling of some of […]

Al Hsu Says God Is an Editor. Love This.

posted by Jana Riess

“An editor has an eschatological hopefulness that in the end a manuscript can become much more than it presently is; that it can find fulfillment and fruition in new and unexpected ways.” –Al Hsu Al Hsu (pronounced “shee”) is an […]

Social Media “Friending” as a Spiritual Practice? A Q&A with Lynne Baab

posted by Jana Riess

I’ve been a fan of Lynne Baab‘s writing since I read her book on fasting a few years ago. I draw from it in the fasting chapter of Flunking Sainthood and highly recommend it. Now, I also have the pleasure […]

Where Are All the Mormon Retreats?

posted by Jana Riess

Last weekend I talked too much, ate too much, enjoyed much-needed laughs, reconnected with friends, reflected more than usual about my faith, and got (a little) more sleep than usual. I was with a group of about 50 Mormon women […]

Psalms of Shame for an Achy-Breaky Heart

posted by Jana Riess

#Twible Ps 69: G, I know you don’t really want my enemies to triumph here. It would make you look like a total wuss deity. Man up, please. There’s a whole lot of shame in the Psalms. I guess it’s […]

Where Is God in Chronic Illness?

posted by Jana Riess

As we continue with our Thursday Spirituality series for May, we draw from what I thought was one of the most powerful essays in Allan Cole’s anthology A Spiritual Life. I had not heard of Elizabeth Damewood Gaucher before, but […]

May 21: It’s the End of the World As We Know It. Again.

posted by Jana Riess

Well, I’m going to be a little snarky here and hazard a prediction that the world will not really end on Saturday. Or even that the rapture will occur, taking 3% of the world’s population now before the world really […]

Is the Movie Ever as Good as the Book?

posted by Jana Riess

I have a short post up at The Thoughtful Christian this week about my dilemma about whether to see the movie Water for Elephants. I just read the book and was enthralled by it, but am wondering whether the book’s […]

Lauren Winner on Why She Is A Christian

posted by Jana Riess

As we continue our Thursday Spirituality series for the month of May, we draw another excerpt from Allan Cole’s newly published book A Spiritual Life. This comes from my friend Lauren Winner, who is asked all the time why she […]

So You Want to Be a Mormon Novelist?

posted by Jana Riess

I recently wrote an essay, posted today at the Association of Mormon Letters website, about whether it’s more difficult for Mormon novelists to get published than it might be for other authors. I argue that it most certainly is. (Note […]

The Bible in Legos!

posted by Jana Riess

This past Sunday I spoke about the Twible project at an Episcopal church, with a Power Point presentation that drew heavily on images from The Brick Testament. And you thought the Twible was a quixotic project . . . ha! […]

Novelist Gail Godwin on Writing as Prayer

posted by Jana Riess

On this, our National Day of Prayer, it seems fitting to kick off our Thursday series for the month of May. Each week, I’ll be featuring a short excerpt from Allan Cole‘s book A Spiritual Life, which is a new […]

Mormon Women & Equality, In Stereo

posted by Jana Riess

I recently wrote a spirited blog post about Mormon women. I argued that, contrary to two recent assertions by the LDS hierarchy, Mormon women do not have full equality in the Church (even though these women are, as both speakers […]

What Inspires You?

posted by Jana Riess

Yesterday my husband and I woke up early to partake in an annual tradition: cheering on the runners and walkers in Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon. We got to the race in time to catch the latter half of the first […]

Part 3: Still More Live Royal Wedding Blogging

posted by Jana Riess

10:40: Settling in to eggs, toast, and pilfered Easter candy. Oh, NOW the dog wakes up. 10:48: Not only does the queen look wonderful in yellow, but it seems a symbolic choice, like she has high hopes that this union […]

Part 2: More Royal Wedding Live Blogging!

posted by Jana Riess

9:41: Hey, good news!  Apparently it’s not just British women who can carry off great hats. Carrie from Ohio has a little red top hat. Ohio women like me have all been rehabilitated. Everyone, drink your tea. 9:47: Aaaaaaaw, it’s […]

Live Blogging the Royal Wedding

posted by Jana Riess

3:37 a.m. Aaaaugh! Insomnia again. Well, at least there’s something interesting to watch on TV. Forget about my plans to TiVo the royal wedding and see it tonight. Now I will be watching with millions of other people! It’s, like, […]

Cover art for “Flunking Sainthood”

posted by Jana Riess

Got my cover art today! I am so pleased with what Paraclete came up with. Here is the second draft, with some more small tweaks on color & text to come. –JKR  

Mormon Women Are Men’s Equals, Kind Of Sort Of Maybe

posted by Jana Riess

There’s a brilliant piece of Mormon satire up at By Common Consent today — all the more brilliant because judging from the initial comments, few people realized that the author, Kristine Haglund, was being satirical at all. Here is the […]

Pastor Brady Boyd on the Shootings at New Life Church and the Hope of Easter

posted by Jana Riess

On this, the anniversary of the Columbine high school shootings, I’m giving space to a book excerpt from Brady Boyd, a pastor in Colorado who has seen his own share of violent tragedy. In December 2007, a gunman opened fire […]

What Evangelicals Might Learn from Mormons … and Mormons Should Learn from Rob Bell

posted by Jana Riess

Rob Bell is my kind of heretic. His new book Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived has been loudly branded as heresy by fellow evangelicals Mark Driscoll and John Piper. […]

This Week in the Twible: Psalms to Fling at Enemies

posted by Jana Riess

#Twible Ps 35: G, please kick the asses of my enemies. Don’t hold back. Stab ’em with the spear, then the javelin. That’s the ticket! imprecation [??mpr??ke???n] n 1. the act of imprecating 2. a malediction; curse I don’t remember […]

Remembering Edwin Gaustad, 1923-2011

posted by Jana Riess

I learned this week that my former professor and mentor, Edwin Gaustad, passed away near the end of March. (Here is the obit from the New York Times and another from the Washington Post.) I was lucky enough to study […]

The Civil War and America as a Christian Nation

posted by Jana Riess

The Civil War began 150 years ago today, an anniversary marked by the rebroadcast of Ken Burns’s masterful PBS series and a kajillion re-enactments this year. As we pause at this sesquicentennial commemoration we would do well to think of […]

Why We’re Still Peeking Upstairs and Downstairs with the BBC

posted by Jana Riess

I’ve got a post today over at The Thoughtful Christian about the enduring popularity of British class melodramas (Upstairs, Downstairs; Downton Abbey; The Cazalet Chronicles) in America. Why, in an allegedly classless society, do these stories about interclass tensions have […]

Psalm 24-31: This Week in the Twible

posted by Jana Riess

Actually, these were from a couple of weeks ago, not this week, but there is grace for Twiblers everywhere. My personal favorite from this batch is Psalm 31. Enjoy –JKR #Twible Ps 24: “Lift up your heads, O gates! Be […]

Half the Sky, Half the Church: Carolyn Custis James on Christian Women

posted by Jana Riess

If, like me, you were fascinated by Half the Sky, Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof’s gripping account of women’s oppression and liberation around the world, you may be interested in Half the Church, Carolyn Custis James’s new book on a […]

Chatting with Brian McLaren, Part 2

posted by Jana Riess

Brian McLaren talks about the 12 spiritual practices that can change your life, the future of Protestant denominations, and how he brings his books to life.   Today we continue the Q&A we started yesterday with Brian McLaren, one of […]

Chatting with Brian McLaren, Part 1

posted by Jana Riess

Brian McLaren talks about Rob Bell’s critics, his own controversial writings, and what it’s like to be in the evangelical hot seat. Also on tap: his brand-new book Naked Spirituality. One of the greatest aspects of blogging is that I […]

“Morning-After” Conference Ambivalence

posted by Jana Riess

I admit that I have a love-hate relationship with General Conference. I dislike the passive format of it all, the stark and depressing maleness of all those dark suits, the conspicuous absence of women from public leadership. The conference often […]

Satan Sues Rob Bell for Defamation; Seeks $18B in Damages Over “Love Wins”

posted by Jana Riess

April 1, 2011 Satan announced today that Hell has filed for civil damages against HarperOne author Rob Bell, whose new book Love Wins hit shelves in March and has raised, well, hell. In the book, Bell asserts a universalist theology, […]

Good Reads: Thrift Store Saints

posted by Jana Riess

Have you ever preferred to simply write a check to charity rather than get involved in people’s messy, desperate lives? I confess that I have. Thankfully, some people are more courageous and compassionate than I am. One of them is […]

Radio interview on Mormonism & Popular Culture

posted by Jana Riess

With two major events last week dealing with Mormonism and popular culture (the opening of the Book of Mormon musical on Broadway and the finale of the HBO series Big Love), I’ve been asked a lot of questions lately on […]

Megachurch Pastor Tony Evans on God, Football, and Racial Unity

posted by Jana Riess

Tony Evans, pastor of the 8,000 member Oak Cliff Bible Church in Dallas, has become a popular voice in evangelicalism. His new book Oneness Embraced explores the theme of racial reconciliation in American Christianity, arguing for God’s “team” to include […]

My Unlikely Love Affair with the 23rd Psalm

posted by Jana Riess

When I was a kid growing up in an atheist/agnostic family (my dad was the atheist and my mother the agnostic), I did not learn about the Bible at home. Or anywhere else, really. My mom took us to Quaker […]

“Book of Mormon Musical” Co-Creator Bobby Lopez on Why He’s Fascinated by Mormons

posted by Jana Riess

As I’ve already shared here, I loved the new “Book of Mormon” musical on Broadway, which officially opens tonight on Broadway. As I was discussing it last week with my amazing college roommate, she dropped the bombshell that she’s friends […]

A Mormon Reviews Broadway’s New “Book of Mormon” Musical

posted by Jana Riess

I was prepared for scatological humor, generous doses of the F word, and off-color bawdiness—this is South Park without network censorship, remember?—but I wasn’t prepared for my Mormon faith to be lampooned with any sensitivity. I was happy to be […]

Did David Write the Psalms?

posted by Jana Riess

Short answer: no. Read on if you want to know why. Some Jewish and Christian traditions consider David the author of the Psalms, possibly all 150 but especially numbers 3 to 41, which are thought to comprise a collection. (They […]

Sex & Young Adults: Thoughts from Guest Blogger Michael F. Duffy

posted by Jana Riess

College and young adulthood: an exciting time, a confusing time. One of the most exciting and confusing aspects is sex. How far is too far? What is “moral” behavior — and how do we define what we mean by morality? […]

Thoughts on Flunking Sainthood

posted by Jana Riess

I recently did a Q&A interview with fellow blogger Matt Litton, author of Mockingbird Parables, about my life as a religion writer. The interview was part of the “Five Good Answers” tradition he has on his blog every Friday, where […]

Stuff Mormons Believe

posted by Jana Riess

Many years ago a woman in my ward asked me to explain the theology of the Left Behind series to her. She had heard about the books’ phenomenal popularity and wanted to be sure she understood what they were teaching […]

The Top Five Types of Psalms

posted by Jana Riess

In seminary I took a course on the Psalms. As I go through the Psalter now in the Twible, I am rediscovering all the marginal notes I made in my Bible of things I apparently knew back in those days […]

Unbroken: New Book from “Seabiscuit” Author Laura Hillenbrand

posted by Jana Riess

Everybody loves an underdog story, which is why readers thrilled to Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand‘s unexpected megaseller about a prizewinning horse in the Depression. But while she was researching that book, Hillenbrand kept coming across references to another underdog: Olympic runner […]

If You Agree with Rob Bell, Check Out Greg Garrett’s New Book

posted by Jana Riess

If, like me, you’ve been following the brouhaha over Rob Bell’s alleged universalism in the last week — and if, like me, you wonder why it is such a big deal that a pastor might choose to emphasize a theology […]

What Are You Doing for Lent?

posted by Jana Riess

Well, it’s Fat Tuesday, and amidst all the consumption of Paczki and Pancakes and such, I need to decide today what I’m doing for Lent. Which — gulp — starts tomorrow. And I want your help. In the past, I’ve […]

Changes to the Mormon Temple Experience

posted by Jana Riess

This weekend I perused the first half of Devery Anderson’s The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History. The book will be released on March 24 and it’s quite a scintillating collection of primary source material about how […]

How Do You Like That Kindle?

posted by Jana Riess

It’s been almost three months now since my husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday. I had asked for one because I thought it would be fun to see what all the fuss was about, even if I wasn’t […]

What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?

posted by Jana Riess

Recently on WJK Radio, I had the pleasure of co-interviewing Martin Thielen, author of the new book What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? The book is taking off as a group study guide for churches. […]

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

posted by Jana Riess

As many of you know, I am a daily Twitter person, tweeting out a chapter of the Bible every day with humorous — okay, sometimes snarky — commentary. For the last year and a half I’ve been deeply interested in […]

Were America’s First Presidents Christian?

posted by Jana Riess

Today is Presidents’ Day, and while we’re debating key points like where to put the apostrophe in Presidents’ Day (I vote for the plural form, as we are celebrating many presidents), we can also take a moment to think about […]

Elvislessness: What’s the Music of the Rising Generation?

posted by Jana Riess

Today at Gathering Voices I have a new post about the “Elvislessness” about the college students I’m teaching this term. In my course on Religion and Popular Culture, there are plenty of cultural touchstones in terms of film, television, and […]

Blog Vacation

posted by Jana Riess

This blog is currently sunning itself on a tropical island, and will not be thinking about religion or writing for a little while. I wish I were with the blog, but unfortunately I am still here in the wintry Midwest […]

Religion and Bob Dylan

posted by Jana Riess

The Gospel According to Bob Dylan? Well, why not? Author Michael J. Gilmour sits down to explain why “Bobheads” continue to find spiritual meaning in Bob Dylan’s music almost 50 years after Dylan’s debut album was released. –JKR So, why […]

The Best Christian Books of 2010

posted by Jana Riess

Christianity Today has come out with its annual book awards for the best Christian books of last year. There are serious theological books by the likes of Alister McGrath, new religious fiction by Anne Rice, and a book I hadn’t […]

Does God Promise Justice? Job 24-30

posted by Jana Riess

Does God promise us justice? The short answer seems to be no. Well, maybe. Probably not. The Book of Job, which we’ve been delving into in the Twible these past few weeks, raises all the requisite questions about suffering — […]

Dealing with Chronic Pain: Melanie Thernstrom’s “The Pain Chronicles”

posted by Jana Riess

I’ve never had an experience of chronic pain, the kind where you want to die most of the time because your suffering is so terrible. I have had brief experiences with pain like that, like the time I decided to […]

Christians Should Be Slaves: Guest Blogger John MacArthur

posted by Jana Riess

All your childhood, when people asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, I’m guessing you didn’t say “slave.” But according to evangelical writer and pastor John F. MacArthur, that’s what every Christian should aspire to. It’s […]

Religion vs. the Individual in “The King’s Speech”

posted by Jana Riess

I’ve started to write about pop culture a couple of times a month at Gathering Voices, a new blog from The Thoughtful Christian. I’m in great company with fellow bloggers like Greg Garrett, Adam Copeland, Lynn Baab and Don McKim. […]

Mormon Women Who Wear Pants to Church: A Manifesto

posted by Jana Riess

A few weeks ago at church, a visitor from another ward stayed after Relief Society to chat with me. After talking for several minutes about important things like suffering, prayer, and healing, she threw me for a loop with a […]

I Know That My Redeemer–Uh, Make That Avenger–Lives: Job 25

posted by Jana Riess

In my church we sing a beautiful hymn called “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” based on a famous passage from Job 25: 25: 25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter […]

Click Here to Help Haiti!: A Q&A with Haiti Partners Co-Director Kent Annan

posted by Jana Riess

You may have heard Kent Annan in the news recently, whether blogging for CNN about the first anniversary of the Haiti earthquake or describing the social perils of “poverty tourism” in the Huffington Post. As the co-director of Haiti Partners, […]

Homosexual Acceptance = Spiritual But Not Religious? “American Grace” and the Rise of the Nones

posted by Jana Riess

There’s an interesting Q&A over at the Faith and Leadership Network today with Robert Putnam, co-author of the book American Grace, which I and others have blogged about recently. One of the book’s most surprising findings is the dramatic increase […]

Do Some Mormon Hymns Promote Religious Violence?

posted by Jana Riess

In the wake of the Tucson shootings, Grant Hardy asks whether Mormons are doing everything they can to tone down the rhetoric of hatred and violence. It’s a particularly important question as we celebrate Martin Luther King Day today. And […]

Does God Respond When We Suffer?

posted by Jana Riess

In the months that I’ve been doing the Twible, there have been a few times when the Twible entries have spoken to a situation in my own life. That’s never been more true than now, as I push through the […]

“Blood Libel” and The Rhetoric of Hate in the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting

posted by Jana Riess

Given today’s angry backlash about Sarah Palin’s controversial comment about “blood libel” in the mainstream media, this post — which I commissioned from ethicist Scott Paeth earlier this week — has all the more resonance. Words matter. Even if a […]

What Changes Have You Seen in College Teaching?

posted by Jana Riess

Tomorrow I start teaching my course on Religion and Popular Culture at Miami University. I am excited about teaching — and particularly about the course topic, religion and popular culture. This gives me an excuse to watch too much television […]

Christian Faith Reignited . . . At a Mosque? Leanna Tankersley’s Story

posted by Jana Riess

I’m always looking for interfaith stories, and this one is beautiful. Healing words like Leanna’s are especially needed nowadays, when many of her fellow evangelical Christians are deeply suspicious of Islam. –JKR “A Borrowed Abaya and a Middle Eastern Mosque” […]

I Hate the SyFy Network

posted by Jana Riess

Warning: Rant to ensue imminently. This week marked the sudden demise of SyFy’s series Caprica, a spinoff prequel to Battlestar Galactica that starred Eric Stoltz as the troubled scientist who first created Cylons. It would have been nice to know […]

The Vast Virtual Body of Christ: Cancer Patient Deanna Thompson on the Beauty of the Internet

posted by Jana Riess

Stage 4 cancer at 42? That was the diagnosis for Hamline University theology professor Deanna Thompson, who has blogged elsewhere about the diagnosis and her faith. Here she ruminates on how cancer opened her up to receive blessings from people […]

Epiphany with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Week 6

posted by Jana Riess

Happy New Year! And, perhaps more importantly, Happy Epiphany. In the Christian tradition, Epiphany is a time of “showing” (epiphany means “appearance”); it celebrates the arrival of the Magi, who traveled from afar to bring Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, […]

Gross or Net Blessings? Mormon Tithing

posted by Jana Riess

Mormons spend a great deal of time and energy thinking about the ins and outs of tithing: Gross or net? Cash or appreciated stock? Weekly, monthly, or annually? For example, check out Kevin Barney’s excellent blog post at By Common […]

Attention Publicists, Authors, and Bloggers: Opportunities to Guest Post

posted by Jana Riess

Friends, as many of you know, I am going to be teaching part-time during the spring semester at Miami University of Ohio. I’m excited about this opportunity, but since this is in addition to my regular job as an acquisitions […]

Ingalls Gone Wilder: Tania Rands Lyon on Three “Little House” Tell-All Memoirs

posted by Jana Riess

For Christmas this year, my daughter received a two-episode DVD of Little House on the Prairie Christmas shows. We watched one yesterday, and I was all a-blubber. Thanks to guest blogger Tania Lyon for reminding me of why I loved […]

Christmas with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Week 5

posted by Jana Riess

Merry Christmas! Our devotions from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas have passed through the waiting and mystery of Advent to the joy of Christmas. Much of that joy, at least for me, comes […]

The Princess Diaries: This Week in the Twible, The Book of Esther

posted by Jana Riess

Fun Facts About Esther: • Esther is the only book in the whole Bible not to speak of God. • Esther is the only book in the Old Testament that’s not also in the Dead Sea Scrolls, because lots of […]

RIP, Christmas Cards. Sniff.

posted by Jana Riess

Every year I have a little white box for that year’s Christmas cards. When we decorate the house for the holidays, I label a new box for that year, and as the cards arrive throughout December I read them and […]

Ira Craddock, Victorian Sex Therapist and Spiritual Seeker: A Q&A with Biographer Leigh Schmidt

posted by Jana Riess

When I was a graduate student in American religious history, I had the privilege of taking a couple of classes with Leigh Schmidt at Princeton University. Now at Harvard Divinity School, Leigh has continued his stellar career with several more […]

Advent and Christmas with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Week 4

posted by Jana Riess

God becomes human. How weird is that? We are so accustomed to the sweet baby in the manger, the innocent and non-threatening infant. But according to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others, there’s more going on here. Frederick Buechner once wrote that […]

Why Do Mormon Men Want Women to Have the Priesthood More Than Women Want It for Themselves?

posted by Jana Riess

By Grant Hardy Here’s your chance to be a sociologist. The next time you meet an LDS male over the age of 18, ask him this: “Do you think Mormon women should hold the priesthood and share equally in the […]

Invisible Walls: This Week in the Twible, Nehemiah 7-13

posted by Jana Riess

So it turns out the reconstructing a community is a lot more work than reconstructing a temple. Stones are more flexible than people. Did we know this? While the first half of the Book of Nehemiah was taken up with […]

The Secret of Happiness: Dan Buettner’s Research Sheds Light on How to Thrive

posted by Jana Riess

Dan Buettner made headlines with his book The Blue Zones, which looked at the longest-lived cultures in the world and the kind of life that contributes to living past 100. He noticed during that research that many of the world’s […]

From Holy Day to Holiday: A Q&A with Donald Heinz about Christmas

posted by Jana Riess

In his new book Christmas: Festival of Incarnation, Donald Heinz argues that for all its commercialism, Christmas is still best understood as Christianity’s key holy day. I’m so pleased to welcome him here for a Q&A. You can also watch […]

Advent and Christmas with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Week 3

posted by Jana Riess

Redemption is not a theme we normally associate with Christmas, but with the heaviness of repentance and Lent. The cross is where Christians believe our sins were forgiven, so the Lenten and Easter seasons are the times we reflect on […]

Why Are Mormons the Third-Most-Hated Religious Group in America?

posted by Jana Riess

Everyone is talking about the sociology of religion doorstopper American Grace by David Campbell and Bowling Alone author Robert D. Putnam. I read it this summer and am re-reading parts of it now. It’s a great book that will be […]

The Engineers’ Bible: This Week in the Twible, Nehemiah 1-6

posted by Jana Riess

Big picture: Another wave of exilees is retuning to Jerusalem. Under the guidance of Nehemiah, the governor, they work furiously to rebuild the city walls. And I do mean furiously. The Bible claims the walls were reconstructed in 52 days. […]

Slowing Down: Five Ways to Reduce the Stress of Christmas

posted by Jana Riess

It’s Thursday, and I am now finished with my to-do list. The one for this past Monday. It’s probably true that with two jobs and a family and a writing career and a church calling, my life is busier than […]

Advent and Christmas with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Week 2

posted by Jana Riess

I hope you’re having a quietly joyous Advent. Last week on Flunking Sainthood, our Bonhoeffer theme was waiting, a condition that Bonhoeffer knew all too well — waiting for the war to end, waiting to be released from prison, waiting […]

Shiksas Go Home: This Week in the Twible, The Book of Ezra

posted by Jana Riess

This week we begin exploring Ezra-Nehemiah, which was a single document back in the day, but which we have divided into two because our attention spans are very, very short. Ezra was a scribe, priest, and acting mayor who led […]

WJK Radio Podcast: The Pain of Miscarriage

posted by Jana Riess

I know I have blogged–okay, bragged–about Elise Erikson Barrett’s book before, but I wanted to provide a link to the most recent WJK Radio podcast in which she is interviewed about her new book, What Was Lost: A Christian Journey […]

Saved by Depression: Guest Blogger Eric Wilson on How Darkness Saved His Soul

posted by Jana Riess

If you’re unlucky enough to be depressed, our society tells you to pop a pill and put on a happy face — anything to avoid wallowing in sadness. But today’s guest blogger, Eric G. Wilson, suggests in his new memoir […]

Advent and Christmas with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Week 1

posted by Jana Riess

I recently had the pleasure of editing a devotional of Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s writings for Advent and Christmas. Culling together Bonhoeffer’s Christmas sermons, letters, and other writings for God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas helped me to […]

The Best Mormon Book of 2010: Grant Hardy’s “Understanding the Book of Mormon”

posted by Jana Riess

It’s Cyber Monday; do you know what you’re getting your favorite geeky Mormon for Christmas? If not, let me make a suggestion: Grant Hardy’s Understanding the Book of Mormon, which came out earlier this year from Oxford University Press. It […]

And This Little Piggy Stayed in Babylon: This Week in the Twible, 2 Chronicles 34 to Ezra 3

posted by Jana Riess

If you just had the text of Ezra and Nehemiah to go on (and, FYI, they were probably written by the same person and intended as one book–another piece of Twible twivia I’ve amassed in doing this project), you’d think […]

What’s the One Food You Simply Must Eat at Thanksgiving Dinner?

posted by Jana Riess

And it’s no fair to say “turkey.” I’m talking side dishes, pies, gravies, stuffings, casseroles, the works. Or, if you have nontraditional or international foods at the table, let us know. What are the favorite foods that you look forward […]

The (HIV) Positive Pastor: A Q&A with Memoirist Shane Stanford

posted by Jana Riess

AIDS isn’t much on people’s radars anymore, at least not in the United States. Combination-therapy drugs have made what was once a death sentence–an HIV positive diagnosis–into a manageable, if debilitating, condition. But what’s it like to live with the […]

Mormon Teens, Sexism, and Sex

posted by Jana Riess

If you haven’t read it already, check out Kathryn Soper’s gorgeous post about Mormon girls and sexuality over at Patheos.com. It brought back memories for me of being in the Young Women presidency and trying to walk that line between […]

Is It Just Me, Or Is G Getting Nicer?: This Week in the Twible, 2 Chronicles 27 to 33

posted by Jana Riess

Remember that vengeful and smite-y G from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and just about every other book we’re explored in the Twible so far? I think he’s becoming an old softy. Sure, G still practices tough love, as we’ve seen with […]

Twilight Is Bad News for Girls and Women

posted by Jana Riess

Over at Patheos today, WJK author Elaine Heath has posted a persuasive essay on the troubling messages that Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight novels send to girls and women. Issues Heath raises in her 2011 book The Gospel According to Twilight are: […]

Wake Up, Oklahoma: You Can’t Ban Sharia Law

posted by Jana Riess

Oooooklahoma! Where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plains . . . and Muslims need to check their religious beliefs at the state border. This week there is a firestorm of debate over whether Oklahoma voters should have been able […]

Previous Posts

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Flunking Sainthood. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Fellowship of Saints and Sinners Happy Reading!!!

posted 3:12:01pm Jul. 05, 2012 | read full post »

Thank You, Flunking Sainthood Readers!
OK, I admit it. I have a Google Alert on the title Flunking Sainthood, so that the search engine lets me know when there are new reviews or discussions about the book. In the last few weeks it has been exciting -- and humbling -- to see the many different kinds of people who are reading and talking

posted 12:41:10pm Jan. 25, 2012 | read full post »

NYC Conference on Mormonism & American Politics, February 3-4
"First Mitt won Iowa, then he lost Iowa? That's a classic Romney flip-flop." --Stephen Colbert     Working with the theory that there hasn't been nearly enough attention to Mormonism and politics this year, what with it being in the news every single day and all, Randy Balmer and I

posted 11:09:19am Jan. 23, 2012 | read full post »

Writing Retreat
Friends, I will be offline until January 23 for a writing retreat. I'm bringing my computer, but the place where I am going doesn't have email access

posted 8:47:20pm Jan. 14, 2012 | read full post »

Fun with the Book of Lamentations
Actually, no. That title was just a teaser. There really aren't any fun moments in the Book of

posted 11:33:13am Jan. 13, 2012 | read full post »

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