The Celebration of Discipline

I wake up this morning having just finished The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. This is my second time reading through this amazing book, and although this time I didn’t have the thrill of encountering something new and unexpectedly moving, I had the feeling of revisiting an old friend, of catching up and taking tabs on how I’ve been doing.

And now, having finished the book, I wake up and I feel a sense of loss. I want to pick it up again and read more, but the book has said what it was written to say, and left it at that. Now it’s up to me to follow the advice and actually put into practice some of the disciplines it recommends.

In a sense, though, it is so tempting to me to just want to read about them, think about them, and praise their effectiveness. That would be far easier.

It is amazing to me how refreshing and liberating Foster writes about these disciplines. It is toward that spirit of freedom that I am so strongly attracted. I understand why he describes these practices as “disciplines,” which seems a stronger word than necessary but is a crucial reality check in today’s world. Does the fact that contemporary society seems so hostile to these disciplines make them even more attractive to me? In a sense, perhaps they are attractive partly because they feel revolutionary, subversive, and a mockery of what modern society suggests is so important. Incidentally, because Christianity is so closely tied with Western culture, many of these disciplines run contrary to popular Christianity as well. That is, you may find Christians being the most discouraging in your attempts to put them into practice, often offering polite corrections to what they see as threateningly zealous, yet misguided and antiquated practices. In any case, I’d like to think they are attractive because they are a refreshing alternative to the exhausting demands and expectations that our modern lifestyles demand of us. Once put into practice, these disciplines become familiar and they are missed!

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