The Disciplined Life: The Mark of Christian Maturity, by Richard S. Taylor. Originally published in 1974. 108 pages.
I couldn’t think of a better book with which to start the new year than this one. Even though I read it three months ago, I am rereading it again so soon because it is 1) a much needed resource in my life at present, and 2) one of those books that you have to read more than once to soak in.
Rather than bother you with my thoughts, other than the grade I’ll add to the end of this review, I think the best advertisement for this book is a few excerpts to give you an appreciation for the spirit and tone of the book. Additionally, I hope these quotes will serve as inspiration until such time as you can acquire the book for yourself, because you should.
On the Western shift from a work ethic to a play ethic:
“When play… consumes a larger proportion of leisure time, money, conversation, and interest than is warranted by its cultural and recreative returns, then the play becomes the mark of a decadent age and the badge of softness rather than strength.”
“There was a time when intercollegiate debating drew big crowds. Now the debates are held in side rooms, while the crowd cheers at the basketball game… the shift of excited popular interest from debates to basketball is a sign of cultural decline.”
“Apart from divine intervention, the nation which produces the most scientists and educators will dominate the world, not the nation that produces the best sportsmen.”
On kindness as an end to itself:
“Kindheartedness is a virtue when coupled with moral stability. Without discipline kindheartedness becomes sentimental weakness. No nation has survived which has become self-indulgent and flabby.”
“The undisciplined mind is always an easy prey for the demagogue and the charlatan. Out of such intellectual dullness and inertia dictatorships are spawned.”
On discipline in matters great and small:
“The advantage that the disciplined person has over the undisciplined one shows up in many ordinary matters of daily life.
The disciplined person picks up his clothes; the undisciplined one lets them lie around.
One wipes clean the bathroom sink that he uses. The other leaves it dirty for someone else to clean.
One plans his work and works to his plan. The other works haphazardly.
One is always punctual in keeping his appointments. The other is notoriously late. One is always on time for the meetings of the church. The other is never on time.
The difference in all these cases is not one of character, but of habit.”
Was I the only one who felt a pang?
It’s a good book. Not perfect, as I had a quibble with one or two points, but the overall thrust is sound, the bad far outweighs any minor quibbles, and it is good inspiration to live life in a way which leads to a more productive life and a strong Christian witness.