“Discipline” brings to mind thoughts of punishment — the revoking of privileges perhaps or the administration of some negative consequence.
But as Rebecca Friedlander explains in her recently-published book The Divine Adventure (BakerBooks 2021), Spiritual Disciplines have nothing to do with Godly punishment. On the contrary, they are practices by which a Christian can grow spiritually and “unlock a life of wonder, passion, and flourishing faith”. There is no hard-and-fast list of Spiritual Disciplines; articles/books typically include 8-18 specific practices.
In The Divine Adventure, readers are treated to a discussion of 12 disciplines such as obedience, prayer, community, forgiveness, sacred rest, fasting, pilgrimage, etc. Those new to spiritual practices will appreciate the well-written, clear explanation of each practice. Even those familiar — and even implementing in their own life — the Spiritual Disciplines will find this book insightful.
Each chapter addresses one practice, with Friedlander weaving together Scripture, her own experiences, and ancient texts to explain what the discipline is (as well as, in some cases, what it is not), how it has traditionally been practiced, and how its practice has impacted her own life and/or that of others.
Each chapter ends with opportunities for active involvement on the part of the reader. Several “Your Turn” questions allow the reader to reflect on how a particular practice has played out in his or her life, how it might be incorporated going forward, etc. In “Spiritual Practices”, Friedlander provides an activity/exercise by which the reader can begin to practice that spiritual discipline. The questions and activities at the end of the chapters are not at all intimidating; rather, they are thoughtful and insightful, gently allowing the reader to contemplate that practice’s influence on their life and begin to implement it more intentionally.
Friedlander brings a much-welcome voice that is all too often missing from the conversation about spiritual disciplines. Rather than a dry discussion of a rule-oriented set of steps, Friedlander presents the practices as tools to be incorporated into the routine of life. She readily admits that it may not be easy to find the time or energy to do that, but her warm, engaging style encourages the reader as they do so and offers helpful, practical suggestions.
At the risk of nit-picking, there is one aspect of the book that gives me pause. In the “Notes” at the end of the book, there are several citations for wikipedia, which is not a credible or reliable source. . Additionally, the information found in the wikipedia articles cited could easily have been found from sources that are credible and reliable (it took me less than 5 minutes to do just that). The inclusion of wikipedia-sourced information in a book on such an impactful, scholarly, and spiritually-impactful topic is unfortunate and concerning.
That said, The Divine Adventure, provides a wonderful discussion of the modern-day practice of 12 Spiritual Disciplines and would be a great resource for both individual and group study.
I'm so excited to be able to share with one reader a free copy of The Divine Adventure by Rebecca Friedlander. To be entered into a drawing for a copy of this book, please do each of the following before midnight on Wednesday, July 14:
1. On social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) post a comment in which you: a. ask your friends to visit and read this post
b. include a link to this blog post
c. Tag at least 3 friends
**you must do all 3 things
2. Post via a comment below a link (the URL) to your social media post
A drawing will be held on Thursday, July 15, and the winner will be announced.
I received 2 free copies of this book from the publisher so that I could read this book and provide an honest review *and* host a give-away of one copy.