Flunking Sainthood Every Day: A Devotional for the Rest of Us  -     By: Jana Riess
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Flunking Sainthood Every Day: A Devotional for the Rest of Us

Paraclete Press / 2014 / Hardcover

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Product Description

In her memoir, Flunking Sainthood, Riess failed twelve different spiritual practices over the course of a year but discovered to her surprise that even the ones she failed most spectacularly taught her something important. In this beautiful daily devotional, readers who want to go deeper into the twelve spiritual practices will find 365 days of guidance, arranged according to monthly practices such as gratitude, generosity, prayer, Sabbath-keeping, and hospitality. Each day includes a short scripture verse, an inspirational reading from a contemporary or classic spiritual thinker, and a brief prayer, reflection, or follow-up action related to the day's theme. These daily devotions help readers understand that spiritual growth is a lifelong journey without a fixed destination-and that there is great compassion for all of us who are flunking sainthood.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 290
Vendor: Paraclete Press
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 7.00 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1612614094
ISBN-13: 9781612614090

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Publisher's Description

In her memoir, Flunking Sainthood, Riess failed twelve different spiritual practices over the course of a year but discovered to her surprise that even the ones she failed most spectacularly taught her something important. In this beautiful daily devotional, readers who want to go deeper into the twelve spiritual practices will find 365 days of guidance, arranged according to monthly practices such as gratitude, generosity, prayer, Sabbath-keeping, and hospitality. Each day includes a short scripture verse, an inspirational reading from a contemporary or classic spiritual thinker, and a brief prayer, reflection, or follow-up action related to the day’s theme. These daily devotions help readers understand that spiritual growth is a lifelong journey without a fixed destination—and that there is great compassion for all of us who are flunking sainthood.

Author Bio

Jana Riess is the author of The Twible and Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor, which was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the best religion books of the year. 

Editorial Reviews

"This book is about how to relax in our imperfections, trust God’s grace, and take authentic and practical steps toward deepening maturity in faith."
-Sharon Garlough Brown, author of Sensible Shoes
 
"This devotional will stimulate your brain, companion your soul, and inspire you."
-Lauren F. Winner, author of Mudhouse Sabbath and Still 
 
"In addition to being a sagely writer, Jana is an avid quote collector. Here are 365 gems, full of mojo in insight for normal folks like us, along with a simple challenge to make each day a wonderful experience of falling forward."
-Brian D. McLaren, author of We Make the Road by Walking
 
"Refreshingly realistic about our human imperfections and heartily confident of grace."
-Marjorie Thompson, author of Soul Feast
 
"Jana is a thoughtful, wise, and compassionate guide to the life of the spirit, and this book will be a daily gift to all of us who are flunking sainthood—but hope to raise our GPA." 
-Greg Garrett, author of The Other Jesus
 
"Relax, spiritual slackers. Somebody else has done all the reading. Now you have a book of poetic inspiration, Bible verses, current bestsellers and ancient thinkers, one for each day. Skip a day? No guilt. Don’t understand? You’ll catch up. What’s the point? Try doing it, anyway. Seriously? Hilariously."
-Lillian Daniel, author of When "Spiritual But Not Religious" Is Not Enough

Relaxing and Flunking Sainthood
When I got my review copy of Jana Riess's Flunking Sainthood Every Day: A Daily Devotional for the Rest of UsI was a little stressed. I'm new to this reviewing thing, and I've got a list of books (and a few games) to review that's pretty long. It was also right before Christmas. I was trying to bake, prepare for my in-laws' arrival, and my side of the family's arrival. I was not looking forward to the juggling, and I was trying to figure out how I was going to get all of this reading done in the midst of everything else. (I realize this chaos was mostly of my own making. I'm not asking for sympathy.) The book arrived in the mail, which I picked up on the way to getting the air in my tires checked because they looked pretty low. I had my two toddlers in tow. It was snowy, but I had to go to the store, and I had to take them with me. While I was sitting in my minivan at Les Schwab, I opened the book, and thought, "I need to read this fast." I tried. I really did. I sped through the introduction with no problem. And then I got to the reading for Jan. 1, two simple paragraphs by Joyce Rupp, a writer I'd never heard of, from what I assume is her book Fresh Bread and Other Gifts of Spiritual Nourishment. Something lovely happened. I felt my tense muscles relax, and my breathing slowed. I forgot that I was reading this book for a review and felt like I was reading it for my own soul. My inner critic shut off, and I let the words do their intended work. Here are a few of them: I am not so certain that we always enter into the new year with our focus on the whiteness, the freshness, the brand-new beginnings in our heart ... Hear the God of new beginnings speak to you about the fresh start being offered.You can read my full review of Flunking Sainthood Every Day here, where I wrote it for News for Shoppers. It includes an overview of the book, why you might or might not buy it, and my conclusions. One more thought I didn't include there: This book appeals to my theology nerd side in ways I can't quite describe. Every day with a new author — either familiar or someone new to check out — gives me a little thrill.


In Flunking Sainthood Every Day: A Daily Devotional for the Rest of Us, author Jana Riess compiles spiritual writing across centuries to create a guide to 12 spiritual practices.
In case you didn’t get it from the title, Riess’s introduction makes clear that perfection is not the goal of this follow-up to her memoir, Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor:
Each day’s devotion features a question for reflection, a prayer, or a short action item to help you integrate the monthly theme into your life. These action items are not intended to be guilt-inducing; please don’t berate yourself if you only do some of them.
 
Why you might want to buy Flunking Sainthood Every Day:
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to do more spiritual reading, you can get a daily fix in this one little volume and read excerpts from well over 250 writers.
Riess deftly manages the difficult task of weaving writings ancient, modern, and everything in between along with her own. She adds a short scripture to boot.
The bulk of the book is the excerpts from writers from Henry David Thoreau to Phyllis Tickle, from St. Ignatius of Loyola to Frederick Buechner. There are poems and hymns mixed in with the prose.
Riess lets the authors do their work. Her comments serve to connect them with the spiritual practice she is focusing on that month. She even includes writers whose experiences do not reflect her own, says so, and leaves readers to their own conclusions.
She also eases readers in to the 12 spiritual practices — fasting, daily work, lectio divina, simplicity, centering prayer, the Jesus prayer, Sabbath, gratitude, hospitality, compassionate eating and creation care, fixed-hour prayer, and generosity. Centering prayer and the Jesus prayer are combined into one month, so January is devoted to the spiritual journey.
The scriptures, readings, and reflections are short. Most are just a paragraph or two. But they are expertly chosen. There is meat here.
 
Why you might not want to buy Flunking Sainthood Every Day:
If you are not interested in incorporating these specific spiritual practices into your life, the book will still hold value, but not as much. You’d probably be happier with a different devotional.
Despite the title, this book won’t let you sit idle, making you feel good. It expects you to work, but acknowledges that sometimes you won’t.
The readings on compassionate eating and creation care — a subject which interests me — were a bit touchy-feely for my taste. That might be enough of a turnoff for you to steer clear.
 
My conclusions:
This is easily one of the best daily devotionals I’ve seen. The readings are diverse, but they don’t feel scattered. Riess has chosen from the very best material available.
I also like the way the book looks and feels. I don’t usually care about that, but when I expect a book to stay on my nightstand for a year, I want it to look good. This is a squarish, chunky book with a bright yellow ribbon to keep your place. It’s cheery, too.
That makes me want to pick it up again and again, which is exactly what I want in a daily devotional. —Teresa Jackson, News for Shoppers



Flunking Sainthood Every DayA Daily Devotional for the Rest of Us edited and compiled by Jana Riess (Paraclete Press) $23.99  You may recall (we hope you do) Riess's hilarious memoir of trying to work through spiritual classics called Flunking Sainthood; it is a refreshing and honest story of what she did (or didn't!) get out of reading often-recommended, sometimes obtuse, spiritual classics. It really resonated with so many of us who wanted a light-hearted study of books by St. John of the Cross, Catherine of Sienna, Theresa, and those who right about centered prayer and keeping sabbath and the like.  Now, she has given us "a daily devotional for the rest of us" and it has great quotes, blurbs, citations, offered one on a page along with her own prayers and proposals for how to apply this stuff into an ordinary life. Marjorie Thompson says it is "refreshingly realistic about our human imperfections and heartily confident of grace." I like Lilian Daniel's quote,
Relax, spiritual slackers. Somebody else has done all the reading. Now you have a book of poetic inspirations, Bible verses, current bestsellers and ancient thinkers, one for each day. Skip a day? No guilt. Don't understand? You'll catch up....

The same author of Flunking Sainthood, who tried 12 spiritual practices but failed at all them, comes to us with a similar and yet different book here.  This new book, Flunking Sainthood: a daily devotional for the rest of us is Jana Riess’ quirky wisdom in the midst of Scripture and another author’s wisdom.  What really makes this devotional a treat is Jana’s careful selections from the pen of other authors and her very practical action points at the end of each day.  Although you will find yourself disagreeing and agreeing with some of the selections in the book, this book will push you toward a more satisfying relationship with God and with others.
Jana points to the contentment we seek in having our house in order, free of cobwebs all the time.  After quoting from Elizabeth Andrew, Jana writes, "Is it possible for you to find God in the process in creating a welcoming place to live, rather than in some ideal finished product (Yes I read those home decorating magazines too. Darn you, Pinterest!) (70)  We strive to have our ducks in a row and our pantries lined perfectly, but we miss the point sometimes that it’s the people who make the home and not the order.  Yet, I will admit that to get the house in order helps us all with our anxious feelings. 
In looking at the Sabbath, Jana quotes from Andy Crouch who writes, "Busy, restless, Sabbath-less people are idolaters…Without remembering the Sabbath, we cease to remember the Creator God who made the world and called it good; we cease to remember the one who brought us out of Egypt; we cease to remember the Eighth Day when God defeated Death" (155-156, from Playing God).  Not attempting to fill the time means breaking from media, from even spiritual practices if these cause us unrest, because the Sabbath is designed to refuel our batteries, to focus our hearts on God’s good gifts and creation. 
Overall, I think this devotional is wonderful in that it challenges us to see the world God made differently, not about rules or hoops to jump through, but infused with God’s grace.  Secondly, this book was unique in that it came with selections from a broad range of authors from church fathers, modern evangelicals, progressive thinkers, priests, and Quakers, etc.  Everyone will find some wisdom here but also a refreshing voice. —Spencer Cummins

If you're inspirationally inclined — meaning you tend to rip wisdom-steeped paragraphs out of whatever your read and pin them prominently wherever they'll stir you to action (the pantry, the dashboard, tucked under the toothpaste) — this little book has, effectively, hauled out the scissors, mastered the clipping and pasting, and packed a year's worth of finely curated wisdom into its pages.
And these aren't your everyday inspirers, the usual host of holy thinkers. Here, you'll find the likes of Marmee from Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" or A.A. Milne's "Winnie the Pooh." You'll find Annie Dillard at her literary best, and St. Augustine of Hippo, C.S. Lewis and Thomas Merton, for a sweep through the centuries. Kathleen Norris and Desmond Tutu are among the enlightened. The index at the back of the book will help you put your finger on thinkers from Angelou, Maya, to Singer, Isaac Bashevis.
It's a book of daily readings centered on 12 spiritual practices Jana Riess explored in her wry and deeply humble 2011 memoir, "Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor." Riess made it abundantly clear back then that trying and failing is more or less the whole point. And in her latest work, she offers day-by-day "courage to laugh at our shortcomings as we pick ourselves up to try, once again, to inch just a little closer to God."
While it's written with an eye and an ear to Christianity, this is a book that transcends denominations. —Barbara Mahany

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