Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My NeighborFlunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor by Jana Riess
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up on a Sunday afternoon and finished it around dinner time. I am not saying this is a page-turner, but I found it easy to read and interesting. Jana Riess depicts a year in which she strives to have a new spiritual goal each month according to a different book written by a saint or about the life of a saint, hagiography. While she prefaces the book that she failed at each attempt I found myself routing for her to have that ascetic life she set her sights on. Each month she sets goal, whether it be fasting, fixed prayer times, or expressing gratitude, she comes up short in completely accomplishing the goal by her own standards. Each month she learns a little something about herself and about God although she might not be overt in stating that.

The book is riddled with inspiring and thought-provoking quotes one can only assume Riess came across in her monthly reading and research. There are a few biblical references scattered throughout the book, not enough for my liking but perhaps that is to draw in a bigger audience.

Something that irked me a bit was that I had to keep asking myself whether she would have follow up on the previous chapters and practices and whether they had made a lasting impression. Riess briefly relieved my curiosity at the end of the 11th month when she made reference to deciding to continue a few practices. As for the specific practices and disciples, I am still uncertain as to how she came up with her final list, but nonetheless I found there was a lesson to learn with each chapter even including the chapter which depicted her month of being a vegetarian inspired by St. Francis.

She mentions in the book her husband's family mantra, "If at first you don't succeed...lower, lower your stands," which she acquiesced that she did. I still found her inspiring in that she stuck with setting up goals new goals each month and despite early failure, continuing to strive towards her goal.

Overall I thought it was a good quick read and found it inspiring in my own life. I can definitely see some spiritual practices and disciplines being introduced into my life.

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