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Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood

Cultural commentary Archives

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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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 […]

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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. […]

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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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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) […]

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 […]

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 […]

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” […]

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 . . […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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! […]

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  

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Best New Intro to World Religions: Stephen Prothero’s “God Is Not One”

posted by Jana Riess

Stephen Prothero was everywhere last month as one of the principal talking heads on PBS’s interesting and balanced series God in America.  Hearing his comments and reading his newest book as part of a blogger roundtable for the Patheos book […]

Thank You, Jane Austen’s Editor! Today Is Hug Your Editor Day

posted by Jana Riess

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a fledgling author in possession of raw talent must be in want of an editor. That’s what we now know about Jane Austen, one of the world’s (and my) favorite novelists. Although her […]

“Every Damn Day”: Guest Blogger Elizabeth E. Evans on Finding Hope After Jon Stewart’s Rally

posted by Jana Riess

Friends, I’m in Atlanta for the AAR and so I wasn’t able to attend Saturday’s Rally to Restore Sanity. (My husband attended and sent me jealousy-inducing text messages from D.C.) In today’s post, guest blogger Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans, who writes […]

What Good Is God, Anyway? A Q&A with Philip Yancey (Part One)

posted by Jana Riess

Last week I was privileged to have a long phone conversation with one of my favorite contemporary writers, Philip Yancey. Interviewing authors each Wednesday is easily my favorite part of blogging, and this opportunity was a real highlight. Philip Yancey’s […]

Does God Hate Clutter? Ellen Painter Dollar Used To Think So, But . . .

posted by Jana Riess

This week over at Episcopal Cafe, Ellen Painter Dollar (at left) has a great post on a question that plagues me perpetually: how much is too much? Why do I feel more virtuous today, when I hauled a bed frame […]

Harry Potter, Christian Hallows, and C.S. Lewis: A Q&A with Greg Garrett

posted by Jana Riess

I’ve been listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows again in preparation for the movie next month–which releases in 45 days, but who’s counting? In listening I have come once more to realize why it is one of my […]

How Much Can We Know About God?: Blog Tour Review of Ken Howard’s New Book “Paradoxy”

posted by Jana Riess

Earlier this week on Flunking Sainthood, a fellow Mormon was offended by an offhand remark I had made about some General Authorities not appearing to read widely. I was not surprised by someone taking offense, which is a regular occurrence […]

Before You Attend Jon Stewart’s Rally, Read This from James Calvin Davis

posted by Jana Riess

If you’re like me, you’re cheering about the national rally that Jon Stewart is planning for October 30 in Washington, D.C. With all the fearmongering and hatred being spouted these days, we need Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” (as well […]

The Best Value Hotels, Rental Cars & Dream Destinations from the Budget Travel Readers’ Choice Awards

posted by Jana Riess

Have you noticed that as the magazine industry heads into freefall, it’s turning more and more to reader-generated content? In 2008, This Old House had an issue filled with reader tips and renovations, and Budget Travel did an issue where […]

Islamophobia After 9/11: Enough, Already!

posted by Jana Riess

You know how on Facebook, you sometimes overhear other people’s conversations that you wish you hadn’t? Well, this one came up on my Facebook news feed because one of my friends (the last and only sane individual in this conversation) […]

The In-Box That Ate Manhattan: Setting Limits for Facebook, Twitter, and Email

posted by Jana Riess

No, I haven’t yet read The Shallows, the recent non-fiction book that everyone’s talking about. It claims that the more time we spend on the Internet, the more shallow and ignorant we become. I wouldn’t know. I’ve been too busy […]

Which E-Reader Should I Buy?

posted by Jana Riess

It’s time. It’s finally time! This fall, I am going to buy an e-reader.  I want your advice. Kindle or Nook? Or — wallet gulp — iPad? I know a lot of book people believe in their stout paper hearts […]

Is the Bible Pro-Immigrant?: A Q&A with Ben Daniel about “Neighbor”

posted by Jana Riess

This month, Westminster John Knox is pleased to publish the new book Neighbor: Christian Encounters with “Illegal” Immigration. Author Ben Daniel sits down with Flunking Sainthood to discuss his book, the role of immigration in the Bible, and the new […]

Digital Explosion! New Stats on the Information Revolution

posted by Jana Riess

The back page of Newsweek often has some interesting factoids about cultural change. In the July 26 issue, the focus was on exactly how much the digital revolution has changed our lives in just the last ten years. I was […]

Dear Chelsea Clinton: Unsolicited Advice from the Trenches of Interfaith Marriage

posted by Jana Riess

Dear Chelsea, Congratulations on your new marriage! I know that some people are upset that you and your new husband have broken with tradition and chosen to have an interfaith marriage. Some people seem to be blaming you personally for […]

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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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