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Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood

Mormonism 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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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 […]

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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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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?” […]

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, […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

The Mormon Temple Ritual You’ve Never Heard Of

posted by Jana Riess

I had been a Latter-day Saint for many years before I first heard about the LDS temple ritual of baptism for healing.  I was fascinated. Kudos to guest blogger Jonathan Stapley and his fellow researcher Kris Wright, who have recovered […]

Forgiveness and Faith

posted by Jana Riess

This week on By Common Consent, Samuel Brown has a gorgeous post about the reconciliation he was able to have with his father when his dad lay dying. Having recently experienced something similar with my own dad, this touched me […]

Does Mormonism Have Room for Everyone? Tania Lyon on the “Big Tent”

posted by Jana Riess

When I joined the LDS Church, one of my treasured guides was Tania Rands (now Lyon), who loved me through my many questions. She remains one of my dearest friends. Her guest post today is adapted from a talk she […]

When Is It Permissible to Disagree with an LDS Church Leader?

posted by Jana Riess

Last week’s “Mormon Mondays” column on Boyd Packer’s conference talk has generated a fair amount of controversy, to put it mildly. I read some of the comments on the first day and all of the messages and emails that people […]

LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer Is Wrong About Homosexual Relationships

posted by Jana Riess

I had a lovely blog post written for today, which I drafted on Saturday after being deeply moved by the beautiful talks from Elder Jeffrey Holland and Elder Dieter Uchtdorf. The blog today was going to be about favorite General […]

On Elder Marlin Jensen, Proposition 8 Apologies, and the Future of Mormonism

posted by Jana Riess

The Bloggernacle has been buzzing for several days with reports of an uplifting and wonderful pre-stake conference church meeting last Sunday, September 19, in the Oakland, California stake. Carol Lynn Pearson has blogged here at Flunking Sainthood before about some […]

Why Mormons Should Embrace Evolution: BYU Biology Professor Steven Peck

posted by Jana Riess

Recently a young mother complained to me that a non-Mormon family member had given her children the They Might Be Giants album Here Comes Science, which contains a song about evolution called “My Brother the Ape” (check out the great […]

Guest Blogger Stephen Carter on Writing, Repentance, and Choosing to Stay in the Mormon Church

posted by Jana Riess

Stephen Carter lives in rural Wyoming where he edits Sunstone magazine and acts as primary caretaker for the world’s most beautiful baby girl. This excerpt is taken from Carter’s new book What of the Night?, published here by permission of […]

Guest Blogger Matt Bowman on the Metaphysics of Mormon Sacrament Meetings

posted by Jana Riess

The Metaphysics of Mormon Sacrament Meetings, by Matt Bowman The heart of the Great Tait-Riess Worship Smackdown of 2010 seems to me a dispute about how precisely we should understand worship and what worship is supposed to accomplish. Beyond any […]

“Emorgent”: Can a Mormon Be an Emergent Christian?

posted by Jana Riess

Over the last five years I have become passionate about what’s going on in the “emerging church conversation,” a grassroots network of Christian thinkers, mostly skewing younger, who claim a grace-full Christian faith that’s grounded in the teachings of Jesus […]

Mormon Women Talk About Priesthood, Temples, Jobs, and Kids: Claudia Bushman’s New Oral History Project

posted by Jana Riess

Earlier this month I sat down with Claudia Bushman in Salt Lake City, where I had the pleasure of interviewing her about the latest of her many projects: an oral history of Mormon women in the twentieth century. Claudia, a […]

Dull Mormon Sacrament Meetings Revisited: Guest Blogger Lisa Tait Takes Me to Task

posted by Jana Riess

Last month I posted what proved to be a controversial opinion piece about five reasons I feel that Mormon sacrament meetings are not spiritually engaging. Thank you to everyone who read the piece and took the time to offer feedback. […]

Mormon Teens, Protestant Teens: A Review of Kenda Creasy Dean’s “Almost Christian”

posted by Jana Riess

Did you see this article in USA Today yesterday? The upshot is that Protestant teens are skipping church in record numbers. They rarely even come for the pizza anymore. This development didn’t come out of nowhere. Throughout the last decade, […]

What Is the Future of Mormonism?

posted by Jana Riess

This week on Patheos.com, people are talking about the Future of Mormonism. Patheos has solicited guest posts from a number of different scholars and church leaders (a partial list is below; the final group includes LDS Public Affairs Director Mike […]

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 […]

The Gospel Doctrine Teacher: Ben Spackman’s Weekly Podcast

posted by Jana Riess

It’s Mormon Monday again at Flunking Sainthood, and since I am on vacation — well, sort of; I am finishing a book — I’m pleased to point readers toward something of good report in Mormondom. Ben Spackman, a very astute […]

Every Member an E-Missionary: The Updated Mormon.Org Site

posted by Jana Riess

This month witnesses a surprising development in the relaunching of mormon.org, the LDS Church’s website for visitors and non-Mormons. (It runs another website, lds.org, which is primarily geared for church members, with links to lessons, talks, lime Jell-O recipes, and […]

A Glenn Beck Haiku / Contest Can Be Cathartic! / Poetic Justice

posted by Jana Riess

Fun, fun! The Religion News Service blog is reporting that representatives of Jewish Funds for Justice have received over 1,000 entries so far in their Glenn Beck haiku contest.They’re particularly interested in people’s haiku comebacks to Beck’s controversial statements in […]

Why Are Mormon Church Meetings So Dull?

posted by Jana Riess

A couple of years ago I read the memoir Sundays in America by Suzanne Strempek Shea, a Massachusetts novelist. The author’s project was to attend a different religious service every weekend and write about her initial impressions. I felt that […]

Mormons and Gays After Proposition 8: Guest Blogger Carol Lynn Pearson on LDS Efforts to Build Bridges in Berkeley

posted by Jana Riess

By Carol Lynn Pearson Imagine: A room filled to overflowing with LDS Church members there to listen to several gay and lesbian people speak of their spiritual journeys–Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Jewish, Religious Scientist, Quaker, Unitarian Universalist, LDS–and most […]

Yes, Robert Pattinson, There Really Are Mormon Themes in “Twilight”

posted by Jana Riess

I hate to disagree with Robert Pattinson. He’s just so darn beautiful. But when His Hunkiness goes public with ignorant statements like the following, I have to beg to differ. And hope that he won’t crush my skull. “I think […]

Why the Mormon Church is True

posted by Jana Riess

People in my congregation sometimes make reference to the idea that the LDS Church is the “only true Church” on the face of the earth. Such formulations nearly always make me uncomfortable. As I’ve stated here before, I’m basically a […]

The Mormon Domestication of Deborah: What the LDS Gospel Doctrine Manual Did to One Kick-Butt Biblical Woman

posted by Jana Riess

Recently my ward’s Gospel Doctrine class tackled the Book of Judges, which the LDS teacher’s manual handles in one tidy lesson, #19. “Who was Deborah?” asked the teacher. “A prophetess,” piped up our bishop’s wife, who is probably the best […]

Mormons to be Exterminated by Federal Government: An Important Religion Update by the Satireday Review

posted by Jana Riess

Millions of American Mormons are about to be uprooted from their homes and families, according to reports by the Yakima Herald and the federal government. Many will be unceremoniously murdered. If all goes as planned, Mormons will soon be blotted […]

Welcome to Flunking Sainthood

posted by Jana Riess

Welcome! If you’re here, I’m assuming it’s because you enjoy discovering the lighter side in the world of religion, or because you’re interested in reviews of new books and TV shows, or because my mother told you to come and […]

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 ...

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 ...

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, ...

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

Fun with the Book of Lamentations
Actually, no. That title was just a ...

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

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