New Flunking Sainthood Contest

In conjunction with Jana Reiss’ new book, Flunking Sainthood, we’re pleased to offer a new contest: storytelling. We want to hear your stories of when you’ve been honest about who you really are at Church. Says Jana, “I would like our contest to be for people to tell stories of times they allowed themselves to be really vulnerable and candid in a church setting — both positive and negative stories.”

We’ll pick three winners from the stories submitted over the next few weeks. Winners will received a signed copy of Flunking Sainthood (and Scott Bosworth’s voice on your voicemail). Submit your stories to admin -at- bycommonconsent (the address under ‘Info & Contact’ on the left sidebar). Keep your stories to under 500 words. Any questions? Leave a comment to this post.


  1. Hmm- I am struggling with this. I guess I think the natural state at church is being vulnerable and candid, and so no extraordinary story comes to mind. Of course, what I call vulnerable and candid, others call embarrassing, so I’ll have to think about it more.

  2. Steve Evans says:

    Matt, my experience is a weird mix of trying really hard to try and put on my best Sunday appearance of faith and devotion, while more often than not being very obviously flawed and stumbing over my shoelaces.

  3. I taught Gospel Doctrine in my previous ward, and definitely talked about my many flaws (mostly related to being a mom) while teaching. I have no trouble letting people know I am far from perfect. But it wasn’t expected or required in my previous ward.

  4. We had a lesson on tithing. I freely admitted that I pay tithing only because it pleases God. My firstborn died, the destroying angel did not pass us by. Two more children died. I went years without a home teacher willing to visit me (and yes, even now I buy blue bell icecream and often have pastry or brownies to go with it for home teachers). I’ve not seen the type of blessings people talk about with tithing. But it pleases God.

    So, I endure. I attend. I’m honest about my pain and my failings. I have serious trust issues with God that I am working steadily at resolving. Often I can only pray in order to feel the spirit, to feel grace. I find myself unable to reach for more. I’ve spent years praying and worrying about my children. Maybe the oldest surviving child will graduate with a bachelors in only six years. Maybe she won’t. Maybe the youngest will be able to find a balance with her Tourette’s, medication, and school where she isn’t flunking out and where she isn’t hated by everyone else.

    But tithing? I pay it because it pleases God. That will have to be enough for now.

  5. 500 words? Is this a hard rule, or is 500ish okay? :)

  6. Mommie Dearest says:

    Stephen you inspire me to keep on trying even though I am often tempted to give up. And you didn’t even come close to 500 words.

  7. Stephen,

    I too only pay not out of a deep testimony of it. I’m fearful of having my temple recommend taken away if I ever get into a position where I cannot pay. That fear is the only reason a check is given every two weeks.

    It irks me when people bear testimony that an example of a blessing to paying tithing is always having money to spare. Not having a false sense of wealth for weeks on end also does the same thing…

  8. Steve Evans says:

    #5, let’s say 500 ish.

  9. I imagine most of us have something like #4. I think I understand tithing a little better, after having some particular life events, but the only reason I follow the law of Chastity is because I made a promise in the Temple to do so, and I don’t want to get thrown out of the church. I have to hope that the greater understanding and motivations come from continued obdience. For now, “because God said so” will have to be good enough too.

    I’m sure for others, that extends to the WoW, or home teaching, or porn, or the sabbath, or whatever, because we’re not all perfect.

  10. I was leaving the house to fulfill my stake calling and my children decided they needed my full time and attention at that very moment. I screamed at them at the top of my lungs, eyes and veins bulging, etc. It was ugly and I wasn’t proud of it. Then I went to the auxiliary training meeting to teach the primary leaders in our stake how to talk reverently to the children they serve. “Instead of raising our voices, let’s lower them”, etc. After the meeting, I was walking down the hall with a member of the stake presidency who was complimenting me on my presentation. The hypocrisy of it all hit me full on and I unloaded the whole story on him about how I had just treated my children the exact opposite way a few hours earlier, that I was a hypocrite, etc. His comment was “Shhh!” and he looked around furtively to see if anyone had heard me. It silenced me…for about a day.

    From then on, whenever I met with primary leaders on the ward level or someone said, “I don’t know how you do it all” I told them that story. Without fail they always thanked me, we would have a good laugh and I would see their body language relax. One lady instinctively hugged me. I was just being real and I don’t think there is enough of that in our church. It’s the single most quality I appreciate in somebody. We all know what the ideal is, but few of us allow ourselves to talk about the real. I think once you do, it gives others permission, for lack of a better word, to share their own reality.

    #4 Your example was wonderful. #9 summarized my feelings exactly. I appreciate this forum because it’s where I come for a dose of reality when the ideal-ality (?!) becomes too much to handle.

  11. Okay, I flunked the ‘Flunking Sainthood’ contest! =) Should have read the entry more closely…sorry!

  12. True story, my wife and I like to poke fun at people at church particularly the ones that take themselves way too seriously. We like to scrutinize the weird foods that people bring to ward functions. We like to sometimes like to find the humor in the fact that everyone puts on their theological scholar hat in Gospel Doctrine class in hopes that they will reveal something that no one else has thought about. One time our humor had an unintended consequence. There was a nickname that we had for a little boy it happened to be Quasimodo, he was not deformed or anything he was just homely. Well it turns out that this boy had some health issues which may or may not have been related to his appearance. That was when my wife and I discovered that we may be flunking sainthood.

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