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Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, December 24, 2002
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When Richard Foster began writing Celebration of Discipline more than 20 years ago, an older writer gave him a bit of advice: "Be sure that every chapter forces the reader into the next chapter." Foster took the advice to heart; as a result, his book presents one of the most compelling and readable visions of Christian spirituality published in the past few decades. After beginning with a simple observation--"Superficiality is the curse of our age.... The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people"--Foster's book moves to explain the disciplines people must cultivate in order to achieve spiritual depth. In succinct, urgent, and sometimes humorous chapters, Foster defines a broad range of classic spiritual disciplines in terms that are lucid without being too limiting and offers advice that's practical without being overly prescriptive. For instance, after describing meditation as a combination of "intense intimacy and awful reverence," he settles into such down-to-earth topics as how to choose a place and a posture in which to meditate.
Perhaps most interesting and useful is Foster's chapter on the controversial Christian discipline of submission. According to Foster, submission does not demand self-hatred or loss of identity. Instead, it simply means growing secure in the conviction that "our happiness is not dependent on getting what we want" but on the fulfillment that naturally flows from love of one's neighbors. Such wise and encouraging suggestions have helped many readers to discard the idea that discipline is an onerous duty and to move toward a liberating and simpler idea of discipline--whose defining character, as Foster never forgets, is joy. --Michael Joseph Gross
“If everybody in the country could read—and heed—this book, what a difference it would make to the planet.” (Madeleine L'Engle)
“Foster has challenged us to see Christian faith … as a life of spiritual transformation.” (Brian D. McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian)
“Foster has taught me more about prayer and living faithfully than just about any other living author.” (Lauren Winner, author of Girl Meets God)
“This seminal work on the practice of spiritual disciplines is never outdated.” (Relevant Magazine)
“Richard Foster has given us a rare gift... The celebration of each discipline in this book hands us a tool that can be useful in helping us to integrate our inner and outer lives.” (Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B., author of A Tree Full of Angels)
“The best modern book on Christian spirituality..... No other book apart from the Bible has been so helpful to me in the nurturing of my inward journey of prayer and spiritual growth.” (Ronald J. Sider, executive director, Evangelicals for Social Action)
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Top Customer Reviews
I suppose I was worried the book would be sort of a dry theological list of dos and don'ts, of various spiritual practices I should follow. But it wasn't at all. It simply expressed ways of drawing closer to God, in down-to-earth language, with interesting quotes, examples, stories and anecdotes. The advice isn't hard to follow. As the author says, "The Spiritual Disciplines are not hard. The primary requirement is a longing after God."
I read the book, then went back through it and took 10-11 pages of notes that I could read later for my devotions. One quote near the beginning of the book stands out to me (among many others):
"Our world is hungry for genuinely changed people. Leo Tolstoy observes, 'Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.' Let us be among those who believe that the inner transformation of our lives is a goal worthy of our best effort."
There are great principles for inner change. I pray I can put forth the necessary effort.
Pros: This was an unusual journey for our minister to take with the congregation and I was excited by the challenge. Our church membership consists of varying ages and backgrounds. All in all, it was a rather unifying experience. I read most of the chapters but other parishioners did not, yet it was interesting to discuss the ideas presented in a particular chapter both before and after the sermon. The project gained momentum as it went along and the church could not keep up with the books needed for the series. I particularly liked the variety of ideas that were presented in each chapter.
Cons: I am a college educated person but some chapters of the book were rather heavy duty and I was glad when the Sunday Sermon rolled around to hear our minister's explanation/take on an idea presented by the author. This book needs to be discussed with a leader and I always felt like I needed a little more than just the 20 - 30 minute sermon based on a chapter.
Suggestion: This book needs to be read and discussed with a trained leader. I would like to see a sharing of ideas in a small group session at some time in the future.
Foster presents the basic disciplines of the Christian life as the Spirit intends them to be: a joyful adventure in the depths of God. Yes, it might sound mystic because there is some of it. But Christianity transcends mysticism; it's much more than Ascetism or Stoicism. It's real joy for this life. After all, we cannot forget that Jesus was accused of partying too much (and eating and drinking). Christianity, like no other religious or philosophical system, makes sense of the spiritual and physical realities, and Foster illustrates her how this can be achieved.